Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Charles “Jack” Hoey-WW1-The Zimmerman Telegraph

“Jack” Hoey joined the United States Army on April 3, 1917 at Ft. Leavenworth. He trained at Camp Funston, in Kansas. He was a bugler in Co. E of the 35 Infantry and a qualified sharpshooter. The 35th Infantry Division Served on the Mexican-US border during the first World War and was stationed at Nogales, Arizona in 1918. It fought a border skirmish on 27 August 1918 during the Battle of Ambos Nogales. Except for his initial military training, Jack spent his entire military career on the Mexican/U.S. border.

Feb 1, 1917 the German Government once again began unrestricted submarine warfare which meant that all ships with an American flag would be torpedoed. The Germans believed this action would likely bring the Americans into WW1.

The Zimmerman Telegram involved the German Government and the Mexican Government. This was a secret document issued on January 11, 1917 from Arthur Zimmerman, German Secretary of Foreign Affairs to the German Embassy in Mexico. It suggested that if the United States came into the war, Mexico should come into the war on the German side. For this act Germany would provide a large sum of money to Mexico, and that Mexico could reclaim Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The British intercepted this note, but it was not until Feb. 19th when the British presented this note to the American Embassy in England. After several days of deciphering the telegram the information was given to President Wilson. He released the information the the press on 28th of Feb. This telegram served to increase hostile feelings, already existing, between the U.S. and Mexico. On March 3 Arthur Zimmerman admitted that the telegram was genuine. The U. S. entered the war April 6, 1917.

Many believe unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman Telegram (The Mexican Government rejected this German proposal) were two signifiant items that resulted in the United States entering WW1.

Because of the issues between Mexico and the United States prior to WWI and the added hostile feeling resulting from the Zimmerman Telegram, the United States maintained an army along the Mexican border.

Jack was born Charles Dewey Hoey on May 2, 1898. His father died when he was 9 and his mother died when he was 15. For two years Jack and his younger brother, Frank, lived together until Jack joined the army on April 3, 1917, three days before the U. S. entered WW1.

In his youth he would help people unload railroad box and coal cars for a nickel. He was a student in Tonganoxie and went to school with Jean Harlow. The movie star, Jean Harlow, was actually Harlene Carpenter, but she took her stage name, Jean Harlow, from her mother. Jack said in an interview that Jean Harlow, the mother, was a very attractive person and because of her beauty “some of the teachers were hard on her”.

jack-hoey-card-ccIn 1920 he went to San Antonio to be a cowboy and partake in rodeos. He was quite good and was a champion steer roper three times. His greatest achievement was being the champion of the rodeo given at the Democratic National Convention in Houston. For that he won $2800.00 plus a large silver belt buckle. In 1958 at the age of 60, he gave a bull dogging demonstration. During the 1960’s he was honored at the American Royal as being a cowboy of yesteryear.

jack hoey/rocky reagan

Rocky Regan & Jack Hoey

When Jack was in El Paso, Tx for a rodeo, a movie company came looking for stunt riders. Jack became a stunt rider for Buck Jone for $10.00 per day, including his horse. Later the movie company offered him a movie contract to make 5 silent movies. He was paid $100.00 per week. Four of these movies were made. One of the movies, Tracy the Outlaw, is available to see at Tonganoxie Community Historical Society (TCHS), but the 5th movie was never made because talking movies had just entered the scene. The movie company paid him $4800.00 to buy out the contract for the 5th movie.


Jack Hoey

The movie company offered him a contract to make talking pictures. He turned the offer down and went back to rodeos. Many years later, during a recorded interview by TCHS, he said that was a mistake. He would have been excellent in talking movies because he had a very musical deep bass voice plus he was photogenic.

In 1977 he moved back to Tonganoxie to be near his brother, Frank Hoey. In March 29, 1986 he died at the VA Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas.

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. John Fincher

    Interesting story, about Charlie Hoey as I didn’t know much about him other than he was an actor and stunt man. I remember seeing Charlie when he moved back to Tongi in the late 70’s I still have an antique bed frame that belonged to Charlie, I acquired after my Aunt Helen passed away. Frank’s wife Helen was my maternal grandfathers sister. Frank was a prison guard at Lansing before working at Quisenbury Funeral Home.

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