Armistice Day saw large crowds in Quincy

A large U.S. flag was hung from the Halbach-Schroeder building, 500 Maine, on Nov. 11, 1918, as Quincy celebrated Armistice Day. The celebrations started about five minutes after the city received word that Germany had surrendered. | Photo courtesy of the Quincy Area Historic Collection at the Quincy Public Library
OCLC Preservation Service Center
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 9, 2019 12:01 am

Monday marks Veterans Day in the United States. First recognized as Armistice Day after the end of World War I, the day was marked with jubilee when word reached Quincy that Germany had surrendered.

The first word that the Armistice was signed by Germany hit Quincy at 1:46 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918, when an Associated Press operator took received the message "Flash -- Armistice Signed."

Quincy historian Carl Landrum wrote in a December 1974 column that once the word reached the Quincy Police Department the alarm was turned over the phone to the Fire Department, which started ringing fire bells at 1:51 a.m.

Quincy residents had been expecting the news that war was over, and once the fire bells starting ringing, 500 people poured into downtown marching behind the American flag.

"The parade of 500 swelled into a parade of 5,000 as the night wore on," Landrum wrote. "The bells continued to ring. In eight hours the crew of No. 1 engine house rang the firehouse bell 67,200 times."

There were reports of bonfires lighted in the streets with a large one at Fifth and Maine made from Halbach-Schroeder dry goods boxes.

Train and factory whistles blew without stopping and the chairman of the Victory Committee E.B. Hillman proclaimed that a "celebration should begin, no matter what time of the day or night the word came."

People who came downtown crowded around newspaper buildings waiting for additional news of the peace, and thousands gathered in Washington Park for impromptu speeches.

"Halbach-Schroeder displayed their huge American flag on the face of their building and there were many, many smaller flags carried in the parade," Landrum wrote. "One man showed his contempt for the Kaiser by carrying a dead chicken and a rabbit in the parade meaning that the Kaiser was 'chicken' and 'ran like a rabbit.' "

John Schoeneman, editor of the Quincy Journal wrote the next day: "The Kaiser was licked, kicked off the throne and democracy was enthroned -- the democracy which was even now being demonstrated as the true spirit of Americanism."

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