O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon man turned in Army deserters, got $100 reward in 1918

Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.
Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president. rkirsch@bnd.com

It was a Sunday evening, June 30, 1918, when two men showed up at the house of John Boling in Lebanon and asked if they could have a place to stay for the night.

Though they were dressed in civilian clothes, Boling suspected they might be deserters by the way they acted. Nevertheless, he invited them in, but he asked questions. It didn’t take long for them to admit they left Scott Field a month before. They said they were sorry and wanted to go back but feared the punishment.

The next day, Boling came to O’Fallon to talk it over with Postmaster William Evans. The postmaster called Scott Field, which quickly sent soldiers to O’Fallon and then to Lebanon to retrieve the men.

Why did they desert? They said they became drunk while on leave and were afraid to go back. But they soon tired of being on the lam and wanted to return. For his trouble, Boling got $100 from the government, the going rate for the arrest of two Army deserters.

75 years ago: July 15, 1943

The O’Fallon Public Library board held its first meeting Tuesday night. Officers were elected and plans made for the first year as a city library. Miss Helene Tiedemann was named president; Mrs. Elmer Hartman, vice-president; Mrs. Clarence Distler, secretary and Miss Jeanette Reiss, treasurer. Miss Alice Grabowski was appointed temporary librarian. The Woman’s Club will continue to assist in the library’s upkeep until the 1943 taxes are paid and the city assumes full responsibility.

50 years ago: July 18, 1968

Faced with the crowded conditions of classrooms, the Board of Education of O’Fallon Grade School District 90 tentatively agreed to rent two classrooms in the First Baptist Church of O’Fallon. Enrollments in the district indicate the need for at least two additional classrooms and the space is not available in any of the present school buildings.