Tiffin American Legion post celebrating 100 years
On this Veterans Day, and for much of the year, the Tiffin post No. 169 of the American Legion has been celebrating its 100th anniversary. The local post received its charter Oct. 25, 1919.
The history of the organization nationally and in Tiffin was recorded in a booklet dated June 25, 1950, called “History, Honor Roll and Calendar of Events.” Information recounted here is an abbreviated version from the history in the booklet.
“The idea of the American Legion was already in the minds of the fighters in France before the last shot (of World War I) was fired on Nov. 11, 1918,” according to the Tiffin post’s booklet.
The national organization was formed first under the guidance of World War veterans, notably Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who was instrumental in scheduling the first organizational meeting March 17, 1919. The first American Caucas was in St. Louis May 8, 1919, and by an act of Congress Sept. 16, 1919, the national organization was formed.
The first convention took place Nov. 10, 1919, in Minneapolis, and the national headquarters were established in Indianapolis.
By the end of 1920, the Legion had enrolled 845,186 members, and a major focus was on care of disabled veterans. The organization made recommendations to Congress, many of which were enacted, including a law authorizing the building of veterans hospitals.
When war was declared in December 1941, more than 100,000 American Legion members had registered for military service. The organization also established blood banks and organized many other war-related efforts.
During these years, the Legion sponsored the GI Bill of Rights, which was the most comprehensive piece of legislation dealing with veterans ever enacted.
In addition, the organization was active in getting benefits for the families of veterans, and was instrumental in taking care of more than 6.7 million children between 1925 and 1950.
The national American Legion Auxiliary was organized in 1919 as well, and Sons of the American Legion was founded in 1932.
As of 1950, the Legion nationally had more than 17,000 posts and 3.5 million members.
Among those was Tiffin’s post, which “was one of the pioneer posts organized in Ohio, and in the United States,” according to the booklet.
A meeting in Tiffin was arranged by John E. Priddy, of Findlay, who was the American Legion organizer for the Northern Ohio District. Robert L. Rohe was elected acting commander, Ralph Keller was acting adjutant and Orin J. Cory was acting finance officer.
Early meetings took place in the basement of the courthouse, in Maccabee Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and in the Lincoln Rooms of the Grand Theater.
At a meeting Oct. 13, 1919, a committee was appointed to formulate the constitution and by-laws, and the charter was received Oct. 25, 1919, with about 20 members. Officers were Commander Robert L. Rohe, Vice Commander Scudder Chamberlain, Adjutant Ralph Keller; Finance Officer OJ Cory and Historian Harry S. Woods. Due to time constraints, Rohe resigned and George C. Wiseman was elected commander.
Early in the 1920, the Tiffin post met with other nearby posts to organize the Seneca County Council.
The Tiffin post moved to its current building – then called the Troxel Building – Nov. 1, 1926.
During the early years, post members organized flags being placed downtown, signs being erected at the entrance of Tiffin warning motorists to protect children and formed several types of recreation teams and leagues for members such as basketball and bowling.
In October 1930, the post had 370 members. That year, a local youth baseball team was organized, and in 1931, the Dough Boy Orchestra was formed.
During the Great Depression, the local post distributed 500 baskets to needy families. In December 1932, the Legion and auxiliary sponsored a relief drive for clothing, furniture and other items and opened a relief and supply room in City Hall. Members donated their time to operate the effort.
During those years, the post was active in “Buy American” campaigns and many community activities.
During the mid-1930s, Sons of the American Legion was established in Tiffin, and a boy was sent to take part in Buckeye Boys State for the first time.
In February 1938, 12 members from New Riegel requested a charter for a New Riegel post, and it was granted March 7, 1938.
The booklet reported many community activities in the 1940s and 1950s including donations of cash and an oxygen tent to Mercy Hospital in 1944 and helping to equip the newly founded Calvert High School band by donating $200.
This year, the local post has been displaying historical photos, mainly of parades and other community events through the years, as well as its wall with a display of photos of most of the commanders through the years.