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Howard Supple Papers

Collection 138



The Howard Supple papers are contained in one box and cover the years 1917-1919. Apparently, his legal name is George Howard Supple, but he signed all his letters Howard. In 1972, the Society acquired this collection which spans the years he served in the Army during World War I. It includes letters he wrote home, postcards and miscellaneous clippings and pamphlets. The letters are arranged chronologically and much of the collection is centered around the time he spent in France.


Howard Supple was born on August 1, 1897 in Michigan Valley, Osage county, Kansas. He grew up and lived there until June 1917 when he enlisted in the Kansas National Guard, Company “C”, First Regiment. His company was called into federal service by presidential proclamation in August 1917. He served at Burlington, Kansas, until October 1917. During this time Company “C” was merged with Company “C”, Second Kansas Regiment and became Company “C” 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Division. In October 1917, they were moved to Camp Doniphan at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to train for combat.

In April 1918, Supple and his company were transported overseas to combat areas across the western front in France. They served there from May 1918 to November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed. During this period the company was attached to the British Expeditionary Forces in the Amiens Sector. Later, they served with the French Army in the Vosges Sector and finally became part of the independent American Army. Supple and the company were billeted in Sampigny, France from November 1918 to March 1919. Sampigny was a heavily damaged town on the Meuse River near St. Mihiel. This was a waiting period before transported back to the United States. The company returned to the states in April 1919 and was discharged in May 1919 at Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas.

While in the service, Supple spent most of the time as company clerk. He was a Private and a Private First Class until January 1918 when he was appointed corporal. In October 1918, he was appointed Battalion Sergeant Major, and this involved a transfer to Headquarters Company, 137th Infantry.

Scope and Content

The bulk of the Howard Supple papers consist of letters he wrote to his family. They were addressed either to his mother or one of his sisters. There is one letter addressed to a friend of his, Glen McDaniel. There is also a letter to his sister Hattie from Irl Nicolay, a cousin who also was in the service. These letters describe Supple’s daily duties as well as the company’s activities. While he was in France, the letters give some insight into the war situation and the lives of people in France during the period immediately following the Armistice. The collection is one-sided in the sense that it consists only of Supple’s letters home. This fact sometimes makes it difficult to follow the train of thought.

Also included in the collection are a number of postcards with pictures of various places in France and the United States. Supple apparently purchased them while in the military and noted how the places depicted related to Company “C”. There are also several pamphlets, including an Army Song Book, a pay book and various items relating to trips that Supple took while on leave. Clippings dated after he returned to the United States are also part of the collection.

Supple made up a short biographical sketch of the time he spent in the Army and a listing of the letters in the collection. This can be found at the end of the collection. A short history of Company “C”, written by Supple, including a listing of all the men in the company, can be found in the Historical Society Library.

Contents List

Box List

Folder 1: Correspondence, August - December 1917
Folder 2: Correspondence, January - July 1918
Folder 3: Correspondence, August - December 1918
Folder 4: Correspondence, January - May 1919
Folder 5: Miscellaneous pamphlets
Folder 6: Miscellaneous papers
Folder 7: American Postcards, WWI
Folder 8: European Postcards, WWI
Folder 9: European Postcards, WWI

Kathy Barlow, Intern
May, 1980