Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Addition to the Roll: Company 755 and Camp Lebanon


Recently I came across a photograph that identified a previously unknown (to me at least) Civilian Conservation Corps company that worked in Kansas. According to the C.C.C. Legacy camp lists, Company 755 worked on projects in Oregon and Nebraska. Apparently they also slipped in a short stint in Kansas over the winter of 1933–1934. The photograph in question is a panorama of camp buildings with the caption "C.C.C. Camp – Co. 755 – Lebanon, Kan. – Jan. – 1934".

Company 755, Camp Lebanon, Kansas- 1934 (Scott Stanton Collection).

The photograph is part of the family photograph collection of Scott Stanton whose grandfather Douglas Stanton, Sr. served with Co. 755 from the end of November 1933 through early April 1934 when he was discharged to accept employment back home at Logan, KS. Stanton served as a Local Experienced Man (L.E.M.) at Camp Lebanon.

Douglas Stanton, Sr., Camp Lebanon, 1934 (Scott Stanton Collection).

Interestingly, two accounts of C.C.C. alumni in Glenn Howell's "C.C.C. Boys Remember: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps" (1976) refer to work at Lebanon without noting Co. 755. However, Hugh Glenn's account mentions his friend "Doug Stanton" who he split costs with on rides home to Logan occasionally. Glenn's account is illustrated with several pictures, including a shot of Camp Lebanon from a different angle, as well as shots of the crew and the L.E.M. crew including Doug Stanton.

Company 755 crew in the field (C.C.C. Boys Remember- Hugh Glenn Collection).
Reviewing the Lebanon Times from September 1933 through April 1934 provided a nice account of the work of Co. 755. The company worked on a number of farms in northeastern Smith County, generally north of Lebanon. Their focus was soil conservation, much like that of the nearby Esbon camp, reshaping and filling gullies and building small earthen check dams, brush dams, and pond dams. The C.C.C. presence was the result of extensive work by the "Commercial Club", an organization of local business leaders. It is clear that local efforts hoped to land a major project building a lake in the vicinity of where the camp was located and disappointment is apparent in the eventual project focus although enthusiasm for the C.C.C. presence was overwhelming. It is also clear that those business interests that sought to bring the camp to the Lebanon vicinity were rewarded through the economic boost the camp naturally brought with it in purchasing supplies for camp construction, contracts for daily consumables, and the more limited, but still notable buying power of 200 young men during the duration of the camp.

Early on it was noted that the company that would be arriving was provided in part to keep a company from more northern climes in a location that would allow them to continue to be active during the winter. Presumably, although never explicitly mentioned, the company would head back north in the Spring. That is exactly what happened when Company 755 broke camp in Kansas and headed for Albion, Nebraska in mid-April 1934. The company, while coming from Oregon, was stocked primarily with new recruits from Nebraska when it arrived in Kansas. This and the fact that several thousand new Kansas recruits were coming into the C.C.C. during the third enrollment period led to the Nebraskan dominated Co. 755 to be placed on projects in its "home state" making room for a Kansas crew a short time later.

A number of details converged to complicate identifying this project previously-

1) The location of the camp was only about 6 miles west of another C.C.C. camp near Esbon. Lebanon is mentioned in other newspaper accounts I have researched from late 1933 and early 1934 (Scott County Record and Toronto Republican for example), but I had assumed that the proximity to Esbon simply reflected an alternate reference to that camp.

 2) Lebanon was the location of a camp only three months after Co. 755 moved on to Albion, NE when Veteran Co. 1778 arrived from work on Frontier Park at Hays. While it remains to be demonstrated, I assume that the original camp location on the Neal Brown farm north of Lebanon was re-occupied by this later company.

3) No camp newspaper to identify it in CCC newspaper collections. This also occurred with Co. 731 and Camp McGinnis north of Scott City at Scott State Park, another camp that was not noted on available lists of Kansas camps.

4) The short duration of the work. Company 755 and (the original) Camp Lebanon were only occupied between October 1933 through mid-April 1934. Again, this is a comparable situation to the Scott County camp.

Company 755 makes an addition to my roll of Kansas projects and camps. Now that I've had a couple of instances where projects and companies have limited visibility in the record (apart from National Archives research), I am going to have spend some time tracking down a few other inconsistencies  I've come across in my research mentioning the C.C.C. in places that had no camp nearby. With so much other research awaiting me, I've generally not given these oddities much thought. It is clear however that there is a whole facet of the Kansas C.C.C. history that will require some additional diligence to bring to light.

1 comment:

Rick Nichols said...

Bevitt - I happened upon your blog the night before last as I was trying to learn a little more about what might have been going on in Atwood, Kansas in the 1930s. My aunt had told me that her uncle and his wife had lived in Atwood at one time and that she and her younger sister had even visited them once. Turns out my aunt was able to locate her 1935 diary and find the entry relating to the trip. She mentions the CCC camp in the entry, so apparently, as I had begun to suspect, Edward Clarence Britt was working at the camp during the summer of 1935, in what capacity I don't really know. I saw the picture of this camp that you posted on an earlier blog entry. I am making mention of my great uncle's connection to Atwood through the CCC in a poem I will be reading publicly tomorrow in St. Francis, Kansas.