WWI exhibit coming to Conger House

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


While Conger House has long displayed Washington County?s contributions to a variety of armed conflicts throughout American history, this year World War I will be featured in the dining room of the house.

Deborah Johnson-Wagner, a member of the Conger House board, said the display is made up of items that had been donated to Conger House over the years by people who had family members serve and who wanted to make sure the artifacts are saved for the future as learning tools. She said not only could people visit the items in the local museum inside Conger House, but family members of the original owners can view them.

?We have a table set up in the other room where people can sit down and actually look up their relatives who served in World War I,? she said. ?The book includes both men and women.?

Conger House board member Joanne Breen said the display had been set up because the country is observing the 100-year anniversary of World War I. She said because World War I actually took place over two years, this is the second summer the display is being presented.

Items on display include items owned by Lt. Stanton Kalk, who history recognizes as the first maritime casualty of World War I. Johnson-Wagner said after his ship, the Jacob Jones, was torpedoed, he worked to get as many people off the ship in lifeboats as he could. She said he had gone between the life rafts to ensure they were weighted properly. He ended up dying of exposure and exhaustion. Two ships were named after the Washington native.

Also on display are several uniforms and accessories, including a uniform from local soldier Henry Burdeau. Breen said that there was also a display of women who served in World War I, most as nurses.

There is also a small display on Jesse Radda. Johnson-Wagner said he graduated from Washington High School in 1917 and went into the military in 1918. Radda returned to Washington and was known for his bugle playing with the Leon Beatty American Legion Post. He was known for playing Taps at funerals, attending somewhere between 386 and 500 services. He and his family also created the Radda family orchestra.

People wishing to see the displays can visit Conger House on the third Sunday of each month or special arrangements can be arranged to see the display by contacting a Conger House board member.