Hidden Heroes of WWII (Part II): DeKalb County women on the home front

This is part II of an ongoing series to honor women from DeKalb County, Illinois who served during WWII. This part of the series will focus on the efforts of women on the home front. In the next few posts, I will highlight several local women-led organizations that supported the war effort and the community during WWII, including the American Red Cross, the Women’s Ambulance Safety Patrol, the Cadet Nursing Corps, and the Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Corps. 


During WWII, huge efforts and sacrifices on the home front contributed to American victory. Women in particular contributed to the war effort in unprecedented ways. For the first time, women became enlisted members of the U.S. military, and the almost 150 DeKalb County women veterans were honored in part one of this honor roll. On the home front, there were scores more who filled war jobs in local factories, joined local organizations, donated blood, organized fundraisers and scrap drives, knitted clothing and wrapped surgical dressings, planted victory gardens, worked on local farms, and more. Women adapted to rationing by carpooling, walking, canning homegrown produce, and going without new stockings, shoes, and kitchen wares. Continue reading “Hidden Heroes of WWII (Part II): DeKalb County women on the home front”

Hidden Heroes of WWII: an honor roll for DeKalb County women (Part I)

“Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women… This was a people’s war and everyone was in it.” – Oveta Culp Hobby (as quoted on the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.)

For_your_countrys_sake_today__for_your_own_sake_tomorrow_1944
Women played an essential part of the war effort, both in the military and on the home front. This recruiting poster encouraged women to join the military for their own sake, and for their country’s sake. (Image source: UNC Greensboro Women Veterans Project)

World War II was the first time in American history that women were allowed to enlist in the military. Even today, these groundbreaking women remain on the sidelines of WWII history and many of their stories have been forgotten. Few of these women faced enemy fire or had the opportunity to serve overseas, but they were heroic nevertheless. When it was not expected of them, they left their homes and their families to serve their country. They served as essential behind-the-scenes members of the military, serving as officers, recruiters, clerks, storekeepers, control tower operators, nurses, pharmacists, and more. Women could enlist in special reserve units of the military starting in 1942, including the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC, dropping the “Auxiliary” in 1943 to become WAC), United States Naval Reserve WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, Coast Guard SPARS, and Air Force WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots). The Army Nurse Corps (ANC) was established in 1901 and the Navy Nurse Corps in 1908, but these women were not considered part of the Army or Navy until later, when they were given retroactive veteran status. The approximately 350,000 women nationwide who enlisted in these reserves “released a man to fight” overseas. Whether they enlisted out of patriotic duty, sense of adventure, or another reason, they became an essential part of the military. Continue reading “Hidden Heroes of WWII: an honor roll for DeKalb County women (Part I)”

A cool day in October, 96 years ago

Today I’m remembering my Nana, who was born 96 years ago today. Continue reading “A cool day in October, 96 years ago”

A Patriotic Parade on Lincoln Highway

Happy Independence Day, America! Although this photo was probably not taken on the 4th of July, these children are certainly in a patriotic mood! This postcard was produced between 1915-1920, and shows a parade on Lincoln Highway during an unknown event (possibly Decoration Day?). The Daily Chronicle building, which still stands on the north side of Lincoln Highway near First Street in downtown DeKalb, can be seen in the background.

Postcard - DeKalb - Lincoln Hwy - 1904

(This scanned postcard is part of my growing collection of postcards from DeKalb County, IL. See the start of my digital collection here.

EDIT: this post was updated to reflect a more accurate date for this postcard. Although Cyko postcards of this type were usually produced between 1903-1905, a building in the background of the photo was not completed until late June 1915, so the photos could not have been taken before that date.

Bio: Johann Heinrich and Marie Peiter

Peiter_JH_MG_portrait_front
This is a photo of Johann Heinrich Peiter and his wife, Marie Gertrude (Stockhaus) Peiter. A reprint of this photo was found in the Wischmeyer family photo archive, and is the second oldest Peiter/Wischmeyer photo that we have. It was likely taken shortly before Johann’s death in 1912. (Image source: Wischmeyer family photo archive, privately held.)

My 3rd great-grandparents, Johann and Marie Peiter, were German immigrants that settled in Marion County, Missouri, just west of Hannibal. They lived in the small town of West Ely, Missouri for about 50 years and were well-loved members of the tight-knit community. Many of their descendants have stayed in the West Ely area, but some of them are now located in the Chicago area.

Johann Heinrich Peiter was born 22 August 1839 in Lintorf, Hannover, Germany. He was the son of Caspar Heinrich Peiter and Marie Elenora Stolte. (His mother passed away in Germany in 1858, but his father Caspar followed him to the USA, where he passed away in 1897.) Johann went to school at Osnabreck, Germany, where he learned the mason’s trade. He married Marie Gertrude Stockhaus when he was 23 years old on 10 May 1863 in Germany. She was born 14 September 1838 in Rabber, Hannover, Germany, and was the daughter of Johann Heinrich Stockhaus and Maria Elisabeth Henrichsmeyer. Continue reading “Bio: Johann Heinrich and Marie Peiter”