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Barr-Johnson-Hill Post No. 111, American Legion

Deep River, Washington

The American Legion was organized in Paris on March 15-17, 1919. The Deep River Post was organized on June 8, 1932 with Claude C. Cochran, Commander and C. Arthur Appelo, Adjutant. The Department of Washington assigned the newly formed Post number #111.

The name was chosen to honor three local men who perished during World War I. BARR-JOHNSON-HILL Post #111. All three fought in France in the great battle of Meuse-Argonne Sep. 26 to Oct. 31, 1918 with the American First Army under General Pershing.

Willie M. Barr was born in Grays River on Jan. 21, 1893. He entered military service at Camp Lewis on Oct, 1, 1917. His unit, Company D, 36th Infantry arrived in France on July 16, went into action on Sep. 26. Barr was wounded in both legs on Oct, 10, 1918 and lay on the battlefield for 48 hours until evacuated to a hospital for treatment. He was returned to the U.S. on the hospital ship, "Comfort". His right leg was amputated on March 13, 1919. He subsequently died in a New York hospital on April 23, 1919. He is buried in Grays River Grange Cemetery.

Henry J. Johnson, a resident of Salmon Creek, brother to Mrs. Elmer Erick, lived on a farm in Section 5/10/8, located northwest of Deep River Logging Co.'s. tunnel. The farm was later owned by Mathias Hyrkas. Johnson entered the Army at Camp Lewis, was sent to France, died from wounds suffered in the Argonne battle on October 8, 1918. His burial place is not known to the writer.

Werner John Hill was born in 1893 and lived in Naselle with his parents, John and Lizzie Hill on the farm near the Whealdon School (which later became the House of Prayer - Rukous Huone). Hill followed the same pattern as Johnson and died in October 1918 at the Battle of Argonne. He is buried in Peaceful Hill Cemetery in Naselle.

The Deep River Legion Post first met monthly at the Deep River Theatre owned by the Deep River Sewing Circle. At their June 28, 1932 meeting, C. A. Appelo arranged for a movie from Warner Bros. Pictures, called "Naggers at the Race Track" and "Hitting the High C's" for post entertainment.

At the Legion meeting of Sep. 20, 1932, the following were elected: C. C. Cochran, Commander; Seth P. Hall, Senior Vice-Comdr.; Ed. Habakangas, Junior Vice-Comdr.; John Schwinden, Chaplain; C. Arthur Appelo, Adjutant; Wayne Rangila, Sgt.-at-Arms; DeWitt Barr, Service Officer; Louis Baxter, Sr. Color Bearer; Charles Mattson, Jr. Color Bearer; Messrs. Porter, Barr, and Manula, Membership Committee. Messrs. Barr, Manula and Baxter were appointed to the Committee on Lease.

The Auxiliary Unit #111 was organized on Nov. 4, 1932 with Grace Seablom, Knappton Postmaster, as President and Agnes E. Appelo, Secre-Treas. Ila Habakangas was elected Historian. Unit #111 was chartered on January 13, 1933 with the following members:

Anna Anderson

Ila Habakanges

Martha Puskala

Agnes E. Appelo

Mabel Helwig

Grace Seablom

Louise Baxter

Sophie Kallunki


Mrs. C. C. Cochran

Helen King

Jessie Barr

Gertrude Gillett

Louise Lawrence

Lizzie Hill

Edna Guenkel

Helen Matta

Alina Niemi

Continuing Legion activities, C. A. Appele wrote to Governor Martin from Oneida, Wash. on Dec. 12, 1933, enclosing Post #111 petition requesting that a portion of Federal Relief Funds be spent on the Grays Bay Road rather than spending it to beautify existing highways. "People living in this vicinity for a half century have no roads at all and no relief work for those able to work." The Petition enclosed had 55 resident signatures.

On Jan. 16, 1934, Post Service Officer, C. A. Appelo wrote on behalf of the Legion to Mr. Hinish of the U.S. Corps of Engineers and to Pacific N.W. Flood Control Assn., seeking repair of the dikes along the Deep River from a Congressional grant authorizing repair of recent flood damage. Copies were sent to: Swanson, Rosburg; Lott, Skamokawa; Jasper, Puget Isl.

J. William Rull, Post Education Chairman, wrote to Governor Martin on Feb. 6, 1935 stating that the Tax Levy for School Dist. 4, Deep River failed to bring sufficient funds to run the school for the full term in 1935. Mrs. Vira Bowman, County School Supt. stated that the schocl would have to close by late Feb. 1935 due to lack of funds. This would deprive approximately 40 children the opportunity of education for the full 9 month term. The stated need was $500.00 in funds to complete the full term. Apparently the money was found since the writer took his state exams and graduated from the eighth grade of Deep River School in May 1935 and doesn't recall any interruption of school that spring.

Barr-Johnson-Hill Post continued a strong community service sale and gradually grew in size and influence. Meetings were held at the Deep River Theatre building until 1939 when the Post took over the vacant Deep River School building for their meeting place. It had been closed in 1938 following consolidation with the new Rosburg Elementary School. This continued until the building was torn down in 1947. Meetings were then held at the Rosburg Community Hall.

In 1953, the Rosburg Hall burned forcing the post to meet at the Grays River Valley Elementary School. A parcel of ground was purchased from Romer Bjornsgaard located across from the Rosburg Store as a site for a new building. Instead, the Post decided to buy the vacant Congregational Church building at Deep River in 1955. It was moved and remodeled by Lattie Metcalf ten years ago and now serves as a meeting place for the Legion Post and Unit as well as a Community Center. The upstairs meeting room was dedicated to the memory of C. Arthur Appelo, who was instrumental in starting the Post and served the Legion for 45 years until his passing in 1977.

In 1940, the Deep River Post seent Carlton E. Appelo to the First Evergreen Boys State at Camp Murray, Wash. It has continued sending a boy each year since. The Auxiliary has participated in the Girls State program since its inception.

In 1958, the Auxiliary started an annual Valentine Sunday Smorgasbord at the Naselle School Cafeteria as their major fund raising activity.

In January, 1974 (the third Saturday), the Post started an annual Crab Feed. It soon outgrew the capacity of the Legion Hall at Deep River. It has been held at the Rosburg Hall since.

For two decades, the Legion Post #111 has held a Christmas Party at the Rosburg School. Both the Post and the Unit have supported the Hospital program at Barnes VA facility as well as participating in local, community service projects. Members of the Auxiliary visit the Peninsula Rest Homes weekly providing recreation and entertainment to Veterans and residents. The Junior Auxiliary members participate in dancing and singing.

The present Commander of Barr-Johnson-Hill Post #111 is Robert Torppa. The Auxiliary President is Shirley Grabenhorst and the President-Elect is Sonja Chapman.

Researched and written by Past Commander Carlton E. Appelo, July 27, 1984.

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