Armistice Day in Utah, 1918

Courtesy Utah State History

Courtesy Utah State History

© 2007 Utah Humanities Council

The Story:

On November 11, 1918, the signing of the armistice with Germany that effectively ended World War I became the spark that ignited a series of all-out, raucous celebrations across Utah.  It’s not hard to imagine why Utahns met the news of the war’s end with more than a touch of loud revelry.  The United States had only been involved in the war for a little more than a year and a half, but in that time more than 100,000 American soldiers had been killed or died of disease.  (More than 600 of those fallen soldiers had come from Utah.)  On the home front, Utahns sacrificed by going without meat on certain days, using meat and sugar substitutes, donating to the Red Cross, and buying war bonds.

When the war ended, people were understandably ecstatic.  In Sevier County, citizens poured into the streets, bells rang nonstop, cannons roared, and flags began appearing outside homes and around public places.  The people of Richfield arranged an ad hoc parade, complete with a giant effigy of Kaiser Wilhelm, the German leader, chained to the bed of a truck.  According to the local newspaper, a nighttime raid on a stockpile of dynamite in Salina provided a troop of merrymakers with enough ammunition to make people wonder if they were hearing “an allied bombardment of a German front line.”

Courtesy Utah State History

Courtesy Utah State History

Festivities in Price and Manti were more subdued, but no less genuine.  Another effigy of the Kaiser was hung up in Manti and burned, and the entire town turned out for a community barbecue, while the mayor of Price declared an official holiday and citizens hauled giant logs down from the surrounding mountains to build a bonfire that eventually warmed more than two thousand revelers.  The war was over, and celebrations like these seemed to function like a collective sigh of relief.

Sources:

See news reports about how Utahns celebrated the end of World War One in the following Utah newspapers: Richfield Reaper (November 16, 1918); Manti Messenger (November 15, 1918); and [Carbon County] News-Advocate (November 14, 1918).

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2 responses to “Armistice Day in Utah, 1918

  1. This is wonderful! Those Sevier County folks really know how to party, no? Love the pictures, too.

  2. Ardis-

    Reading the sources, I couldn’t help but conclude that all of the raucous partying really was a huge collective release. An obvious conclusion, I know, but I really hadn’t thought deeply about the tensions and anxieties war generates, until I actually sat down and read the papers from 1918.

    Aren’t the photos great? There are more like them in the the USH online photo collection.

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