Harry B. Dorst Post 24 –
Looking Back and To The Future
The all county American Legion Post was
first organized and received a charter from the Kansas State Department
to function under the name of McPherson Post #1. The first organization
of the post was conceived and put into operation by the untiring efforts
of Fred E. Ellis, a Major during World War 1.
In August, 1919, manila-colored flyers were seen on the walls
of McPherson County public buildings and propped against local department
store show cases. Throughout McPherson County, as in other counties
throughout the United State, soldiers, sailors, and marines who had
served honorably between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918, were
summoned to the ranks of the American Legion. The American Legion
of McPherson County passed through three stages of development between
the years 1919 and 1924: patriotic, Legion, and civic. McPherson
County Post#1 received its first temporary charter dated July 14, 1919.
The men who signed the petition for that first temporary charter were:
Fred E. Ellis, show salesman; Harry B. Dorst, painter; C. B. Hopkins,
city worker; Louis C. Hubbell. druggist; A. W. Bremyer, insurance; C.
L. Heaston, car dealer; G. Elliott; B. B. Blair; Paul Reeme, car dealer;
Fred L. McMurray, window trimmer; Glenn Coughenour, mail carrier; Ross
A. Etter, druggist; Thomas M. Canfield, printer; L. A. Mingenback, insurance;
Robert Ranstrom, grocer; S. N. Mallison, doctor; Harry L. Cougenour,
florist; and Lawrence S. Bailey, cook.
On November 18, 1919, McPherson County Post #1 was renamed Harry B.
Dorst Post #1 in honor of Lieutenant Harry B. Dorst of McPherson.
Dorst had served in Company “D” of the 137th Regiment; during
his service in World War 1. He was cited for bravery in action and offered
a Captaincy which he refused on the grounds that this higher rank would
take him away from his men. Dorst, a signee of the original McPherson
County Legion charter, died in August, 1919, of blood poisoning caused
by a crushed finger. Harry B. Dorst, better known as “Cull” was
one of those officers that nothing was too good for his men and was
always doing everything and anything he could for them. It was
this trait of character that won for him good will and friendship of
all of his fellow men.
During this era, the American Legion was meeting at Conn Hall, upstairs
at 121 ˝ N. Main. The county post proved to be inadequate for
the number of people involved in Legion activities. The Harry
B. Dorst Post # 1 was, consequently, to split into eight smaller and
closely-knit posts in the early 1920’s. These eight posts were
organized in McPherson, Lindsborg, Marquette, Canton, Moundridge, Galva,
Roxbury, and Windom. Dorst’s name survived the county organization
transition and became attached to the city of McPherson’s local post#24.
At the meeting of November 22nd, 1921, the following resolution
was read and adopted:
Major Fred E. Ellis met his death on the morning of September 29th,
Major Fred E. Ellis was the founder of the Harry B. Dorst Post as well
as suggesting the name for said Post and was during his life time its
most active and trusted member, a man respected, revered and beloved
by all the people of this community and honored as a sturdy and gallant
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED AND ADOPTED
that Harry B. Dorst Post 24 secure an enlarged photograph
of the late Major Fred E. Ellis and the same be hung in the Legion Hall
on the walls in conformity with the picture of Harry B. Dorst and that
a silver plate be placed thereon with these words “Major Fred E. Ellis,
137th Infantry, U.S.A. Founder of Harry B. Dorst Post #24.
The early years of the American Legion in McPherson County and City
were centered around the Legion’s sense of its responsibility to uphold
national patriotism, the responsibility to the Legion itself as an organization
of status and power, its responsibility to its members in social or
personal benefit matters, and finally, its responsibility of civic duty.
enough, after William Flynn, the Chief Justice of the department directing
raids against radicals, “declared,” as reported in The McPherson
Weekly Republican “that the backbone of the radical revolutionary
movement in the United States has been broken,” the Republican
in the following months became less prone to carry “Red Scare” articles.
The mass deportations from the “home of the free” were to diminish in
the succeeding months of 1920 and 1921.
The veterans’ super-patriotism dimmed with the passing
of the I. W. W. threat, the absence of the inevitable Communist world
revolution, the emergence of the Women’s Auxiliary Legion in June, 1921,
and the mere passage of time. The Harry B. Dorst Post shifted
its major emphasis from immediate postwar vigilantism to one of
being responsible family men and community leaders of the early 1920’s.
On October 24, 1922, the Post moved from Conn Hall to the 3rd
Floor of the County Courthouse where a room could be had at no cost
to the Legion.
During the years 1928-29 a committee was appointed to find more suitable
quarters for the American Legion. The City of McPherson extended
an invitation to the Legion to renovate the 2nd floor of
the City Hall for its use. The first meeting was held in the new
Post Headquarters at 115 South Main (present Peoples Bank parking lot)
on March 12, 1929.
On January 9, 1947, the Post purchased the land and building at 401
N. Main. Over the years, many have thought of a new building and
relocating but every time this building has been remodeled and remained
home for Post 24. It seems to be place to be for many community
Harry B. Dorst Post 24, 401 N. Main, is the home of the American Legion,
American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion and the American
Legion Riders all working together dedicated to helping build a better
community in McPherson, Kansas.