Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Kansans of the Great War Era: Carl Barnhart

Carl, along with Mr. Charles Papenhausen, decided to enlist together April 21, 1917 in Kansas City, MO. Carl at that time was teaching at Hazel Ridge School which is about 2 miles south of where he lived.  Carl asked the school to be relieved of his contract.

The recruiter suggested that because they both were high school graduates they should enlist in the signal corp instead of the engineers as planned. They were immediately sent to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis where they received their uniform, inoculations and they were sworn in. On April 29th they went back to Ft. Leavenworth. There it was crowded and the food was very poor. While at Ft. Leavenworth, Carl went to visit his parents several times. Once he walked back to Ft. Leavenworth.

From Leavenworth he was sent to Monterey, CA. It was the 19th of December when Carl learned he was heading to the front. That Christmas Day enroute was spent in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Here the group organized a football team and played the local high school football team.

Carl sent a telegram from Lawrence, KS to his parents requesting that they meet him in Kansas City, which they did. It was cold and snowy.

May 14th, 1918,  Carl left Camp Greene for Camp Merritt, New Jersey. He then went to Washington DC. Their leave was cut short, they wrote letters, and had no passes. It was here that they entered the troop ship, “the von Steuben”. On May 26th it took them out of Hoboken, New Jersey to Brest France on June 12, 1918.   While on ship Carl was placed on watch with Naval personnel. (Carl and Charley Papenhusen had parted company at Ft. Leavenworth.)

They detrained at “Liz sur Oreg” on the 12th of June. Now they were at the front. Carl saw action at Chateau Thierry.  In fact all of his action was in France.

His army medals read “Aisne-Marne” on one bar, St. Miliel on another bar. ( the battle of “St. Miliel” was known to the allies as “D” Day.) another bar read “Meuse Argonne” and the 4th bar reads “Defensive Sector”. Carl also served in the Army of Occupation from November to July 1919.

He served with the 8th Field Signal Battalion of the 4th Division of the regular US Army. He was discharged at Louisville, KY as a Corporal.

After the war Carl was a science teacher at East High School in Wichita, KS. He taught there for 32 years.

I knew Carl Barnhart. He always returned to his home place for the summer. He and his sister owned the farm near the little town of Neeley. He was known as an amateur astronomer, a gentleman farmer, and a bee keeper. He was known to hire high school kids to help him in his work.

He also had several unique cars. The one I remember was a 1938 Layfayette. He would loan this car to Bob McKone and we would go to Lawrence to the movies.

Carl never married and his estate was auctioned.

Perry Walters is a life long resident of the Tonganoxie, KS area. He graduated from Kansas University with a BS in Education with a minor in history and an AB in Science. He received a DDS degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He joined the Navy and served two years on active duty. One year was with the Fleet Marines in Okinawa. He retired from the Naval Reserves. He later received a Masters Degree in Periodontics and directed a graduate program in periodontics. Later he directed a hospital based dental clinic. After retirement he and his wife became active in the Tonganoxie Historical Society where he is the editor of their newsletter. He also films and edits movies of local people who know history.

1 Comment

  1. Lyndon Drew

    Mr. Barnhart also taught science at Wichita West High School. Here is a story about his Lafayette cars published in the school newspaper (West Word, May 25, 1961).

    The West Word is honored to have as its last “Pride of the Parking Lot” Mr. Dennie Bretz’s 1937 Lafayette. This “beauty,” which is well known to all West High students, has quite a history behind it.

    According to Mr. Bretz, math teacher and coach, somewhere in the past the car was bought by Mr. Carl Barnhart, head of the science department at West, for reconditioning. After having it painted and the motor overhauled, he found a 1936 Lafayette Coupe in better condition.

    He bought the ’36 and sold the ’37 to Mr. McCaffrey at East High for his son to drive. Luck was with Mr. Bretz as Mr. McCaffrey’s son refused to be seen in it. In February of 1958, Mr. Bretz became the proud owner of the masterpiece for the astounding sum of $40.

    As a matter of public information, Mr. Barnhart sold the ’36 coupe to Mr. Harold Froning, senior Counselor.


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