According to the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census, between 5,064-6,584 foreign-born people lived in Harrison County. The majority originating from Italy, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Hungary, and Greece. Scroll down to see some of their contributions and challenges they faced during World War I - Click on the images for an enlarged version
Serving During the War
As the U.S. officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917, Harrison County’s immigrant populations actively participated in the war effort either by joining military service or supporting war effort fundraisers.
History of Harrison County by Dorothy Davis
Clarksburg Exponent January 15th, 1918
Clarksburg Exponent March, 27th, 1917
Clarksburg Exponent October 15th, 1918
In fact in Harrison County, many yet-to-be naturalized immigrants expedited their citizenship in order to serve in the military.
Clarksburg Telegram August 23rd, 1918
Clarksburg Exponent August 1st, 1917
Clarksburg Exponent May 1st, 1918
Impact of Anti-German Sentiment
Despite immigrants demonstrating their earnest support of the war, many Harrison County natural citizens were suspicious of immigrants especially those from Germany. This increased anti-German sentiment led many local clubs and government agencies to issue German-targeted policies:
The Marcato Music Club banned members from performing works from German composers.
City of Clarksburg passed an ordinance requiring all un-naturalized male Germans 14 years and older living in the city to register with the police to be photographed and fingerprinted between February 4-9, 1918.
Clarksburg Rotary Club passed a resolution petitioning the U.S. government to crack down more on pro-German sympathizers.
WV Department of School prohibited teaching German as a foreign language at all public schools.
Clarksburg Telegram November 9th, 1917
Clarksburg Telegram August 7th, 1917
Clarksburg Exponent 1918
Clarksburg Telegram August 5th, 1918
However, the local citizens’ concerns of German spies in Harrison County turned out to be unfounded. These rumors often created hysteria among the natural citizens and fear of retaliation among the immigrants.
Clarksburg Exponent April 15, 1917
On April 14, 1917, a simple act of raising a West Virginia flag that appeared to be a German flag from a distance created a small mob outside of the Locust Avenue home of Oden and Anna Leatherman. The mob reportedly shouted, “No German flag flies in Clarksburg.”