The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - 99

IMAGE AT LEFT AND ON FACING PAGE: COURTESY OF THE VIRGINIA ROOM, ROANOKE PUBLIC LIBRARIES

HISTORY | ROANOKE, 1917

soldier perched himself on a lumber pile at
the Exchange Lumber Company and played
ragtime on his guitar much to the delight of
a large crowd.
Eventually, quiet settled over the Magic
City as the last of the trains pulled away. The
Roanoke paper reported, "The city looked distressingly deserted. In the downtown section
and in the parks, not a soldier was to be seen."
In addition to the Second Virginia Regiment, there was Roanoke's Coast Artillery
Company (First Company) that entrained on
Easter Sunday for Fort Monroe, later to New
Jersey, and then ultimately to the war front in
France. Niney-eight Roanoke men were part
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of this company. Besides these two companies
already in uniform, some 2,500 Roanokers
enlisted in 1917, including 450 black men
who found themselves part of a segregated
military that refused to allow them to move
up in rank. For those that did not qualify for
the service, usually due to age, there were
four local companies of the Virginia National
Guard. These men guarded the rail lines and
depots of the Virginian and N&W during the
war's duration.
The Roanoke Chapter of the American Red
Cross, formed in 1916, opened its first headquarters in 1917 in the Hammond Building
located on South Jefferson Street. The rent-

free space allowed the chapter to initiate much
work in raising relief funds for Belgian, Armenian and Syrian war victims. In 1917, the
chapter adopted a French orphan, providing
funds for the child's care and transport to the
United States. The chapter established knitting
units to make garments for the men overseas,
formed Mothers' Clubs to raise funds, and
opened a canteen near the Hotel Roanoke
and N&W Passenger station to provide soldiers heading to the East Coast with coffee,
sandwiches, cigarettes, magazines, candy and
other items of appreciation. The canteen was
under the watchful eye of Miss Lucinda Terry.
One soldier coming through stepped from the
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - November/December 2017

The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - Intro
The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - Cover1
The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - Cover2
The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - 3
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The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - Cover3
The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - Cover4
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