Selective Service

Selective Service began on May 18, 1917 with the passing of the Selective Service Act, this gave the government the right to raise a national army through compulsory enlistment.[1]  Once called men were first given the physical examination, if the examination was passed then exemption could be brought up. Some men were automatically exempt, such as ministers and German “aliens.” Exemption could be claimed by the man, his wife or a third party, affidavits and proof was always required to be presented. [2] There were five classes of exemption starting with one who had no exemption, two which contained men with wife or children but did not mainly depend on him or wives could work. Three contained men who were maybe older or government employees, class four was any man whose family mainly depended on him, and five contained aliens, ministers, men unfit for serving etc. The boards would not pick from one class until the others before it were completely exhausted. Conscientious objectors were not considered exempt, but could only serve in a role declared by the President as non-combatant. [3]

The board within McPherson county was made up of a county clerk, sheriff, and the county physician. The county clerk and board are then responsible for making a list of all the eligible men, renumbering them and sending it to Washington. Once the list comes back the board goes through the process of examinations, exemptions, etc. [4]

First 250 Called For Examination (2)List of Exempted Men (1)

The first group to be called contained 250 men within the McPherson county, they were split into three groups for examination. It was believed that the quota of 77 men was going to be met within this first group of 250 that were called. [5] Despite their beliefs, this list was not enough, the board had to go about calling 100 more men to meet the quota. In the midst of more men being called, 31 McPherson men were officially sworn into the army and preparing to be sent off.

31 McPherson Boys Sworn In

As more men were called an issue rose, in the southern area of the county, call for exemption was high due to the faith of most of the residents. Most of the men called in the southern area were Mennonites, who are believers of peace and considered conscientious objectors to war. This upset the majority of the men from the north who were called, because they knew that the weight of meeting the quota of 77 for the county would rely mainly on them. Due to the great number of Mennonites in the southern part of the county who would not be chosen by the board to serve due to their beliefs. It was stated in the Lindsborg paper that while men were upset, no protesting or other ways of retaliation came. [6] This was due to the fact that the country was in a time of war and the last thing it needed was division in any form, so nothing ever came of the unsettlement.

Picture of McPherson county













[3] Lindsborg News Record, July 27, 1917

[4] Lindsborg News Record, July 20, 1917

[5] Lindsborg News Record, July 20, 1917

[6] Lindsborg News Record, August 10, 1917