A Narrative History of The People of Iowa


"To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die."  Lieutenant Laurens Corning Shull made the supreme sacrifice for his country when fatally wounded in the famous Chateau Thierry drive, at Soissons, France, but he will live on in the hearts of the many who knew and loved him.  Born in Sioux City, Iowa, on the 17th of January, 1894, he had reached the age of twenty-four years when he gave his life for democracy.

Deloss C. Shull, the father of Lieutenant Shull, may without invidious distinction be termed the foremost lawyer of Sioux City, if not of Iowa.   The son attended the grad schools in his native city and entered the high school there in February, 1909, completing the four-year course in three years and a half.  During his high school course he was prominent in all activities in the school and especially in athletics.  He won his letters in basketball, football and baseball each year he was in school, and in his senior year he was captain of both the football and basketball teams.  In October, 1912, "Spike," as he was affectionately known, entered the University of Chicago, being graduated from that institution in June, 1916.  In the course of his university career he was elected to most of the leading student organizations and held offices in his classes and positions on committees.  He was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, the Three Quarters Club, the Skull and Crescent, the Order of the Iron Mask, the Owl and Serpent and in his last year was selected a University marshal.  He was president of the Young Men's Christian Association during his junior year and attended the Y. M. C. A. conference of student leaders at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.  His chief fame at that time, particularly in the outside world, was gained through his athletic reputation, and his gigantic figure became a familiar one on the baseball, basketball and football teams of each of his last three college years.  His play at whatever game he attempted was marked by a conscientiousness that set an example for every college athlete of his time, and his skill, aided by the extraordinary strength of his great stature, was excelled by few of his fellows.  He was best known as a football player.  His sophomore year he played on the 1913 University of Chicago championship team of the Western Conference.  He was chosen by most critics at the close of that season "All-Western" tackle, and was unanimously selected by all critics as "All-Western" tackle in 1914 and 1915.  In 1914 he was favorably commented upon by Walter Camp and other critics for "All-American" elevens.  He was captain of the baseball team his last year in the university.  During his course he won eight athletic "C's," three in football, three in baseball and two in basketball, having dropped basketball his senior year.

Upon graduation from college Laurens C. Shull became associated with the Messrs. Charles and Clyde Brenton, bankers in Des Moines, Iowa, who were warm friends of his family.  He was sent to one of their banks, the Farmers' Bank of Woodward, Iowa, where, beginning at the bottom, he was rapidly promoted within a year's time to the position of vice president.  During his stay in Woodward, a town of one thousand population, he coached the high school football team, and began refereeing football and basketball games throughout the state of Iowa for various colleges.  While at Woodward he became affiliated with the following fraternal organizations:  Woodward Lodge No. 460, I. O. O. F.; Peaceful Lodge No. 454, A. F. & A. M.; and B. P. O. E. Lodge No. 407, which was at Perry, Iowa, a short distance from Woodward.

On May 15, 1917, he resigned his position in the bank and entered the First Officers' Training Camp, which opened on that date at Fort Snelling, Near Minneapolis, Minnesota.  At the end of the training he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve Corps, and because of his unusual ability as a soldier and a commander of men, was selected for immediate duty in France.  After a two weeks' furlough at home he reported on the 26th of August, at Hoboken, New Jersey, for assignment to a transport.  Sailing on the 7th of September, his ship landed at Liverpool, England, whence he was dispatched to France for training in a British Army School.  Completing his course, he was assigned to the Twenty-sixth Infantry, Company F, First Division, in December, when that division was occupying a portion of the line in the Toul sector.  Company F was in the battalion commanded by Major Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.  He was later transferred to Company G, of the same regiment, which company he was commanding when he was fatally wounded on July 19, 1918, at Soissons, in the famous Chateau Thierry drive.  For his action in leading his men against a German machine-gun nest on that day he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by his commanding officer.

The following intimate review of the life and character of Lieutenant Shull appeared in a memorial booklet:  "Of the many who gave their lives in the World war there was one whose sacrifice was complete.  With everything before him that youth, health, seriousness of purpose and the love of literally hundreds of friends could offer, he laid down his life willingly for his country's sake.    It was with mingled emotions that Laurens Corning Shull answered the call to war in the spring of 1917.  But because his feelings were mixed should he be considered the more valorous soldier and should his memory be richer.  His was a nature which abhorred war, shunning instinctively not only war's barbaric practices but the stiffness and ceremony of things military.  He deplored dissension.  Disagreement of any kind, regardless of whether he was involved, always depressed him.  He rebelled moreover at an exacting discipline which implied both punctiliousness and subserviency, and knowing army discipline, neither the pride of soldiership nor any thought of the rewards of victory heartened him as he enlisted.  But he did enlist and at the first opportunity, because deep in his nature was an immediate response to duty.  Never in his life inspired with the spirit of adventure, this conflict between duty and dislike of the job to be done had been continuously in the back of his mind from the time when the possibility of America's entrance into hostilities first became apparent.  When the day for action came, however, his decision was instantly made; and at once he left for camp.

"In a time of war's aftermath, when encomiums and stories of heroism are common, the phrase 'a sense of duty' loses force by repetition.  But those who knew 'Spike' can utter the phrase in connection with him only with a consciousness of its fullest meaning.  This was once said of him:  'Spike never failed to square up with his duty as he saw it, even in things like football.  He never liked the game, but he thought he ought to play it, and he always went in with all his tremendous might.'  Instantaneous response to duty was a tenet of his philosophy and in the crisis it immediately fought down his dislike of war.  His battle with himself, however, though decided instantly, was no mere contest with a doubt, but the smothering of a profound instinct.  And for this reason he deserves added tribute.

"The coming of war found 'Spike' vice president of the Farmers' Bank of Woodward, Iowa.  To Woodward he had gone from college, chiefly for experience, as his plans were still vague.  By sheer application, hard work after hours, he had earned promotion to the position of a vice president in the bank.  Of no petty aid, it must be remembered, to his rapid promotion was his genial, lovable manner with everybody he met.  After seriousness of purpose this lovableness was the most outstanding of his obvious characteristics, and his command of the affections, the sentimental affections, of the men around him was constantly the wonder of his friends.

"He was supremely happy in his work at Woodward.  Writing on July 5, 1918, from France, to Clyde E. Brenton, of Des Moines, he said:  'Two years ago today I went to Woodward to gain my banking career.  I remember well how Mrs. Brenton drove us over and just how I felt in landing in that town of seven hundred people.  Determined to stick it out and learn something, I went to work on that bloody adding machine.  I was off some twenty thousand dollars when I finished, and Dick thought it a good joke.  Honestly, my back almost broke over that machine.  But I'll never forget that ten months, especially that mortgaged property which so gallantly stands unmoved, and those two ball games on the Fourth two years ago - the last I have played.'

"Though when he went there he knew nobody in town, he soon made friends, and, besides, he ploughed into the mass of work before him with all the tremendous earnestness that typified him.  His soul was essentially a peaceful soul; his dreams were dreams of peace, and he found much of content in the simple life of the town.  His easy smile at once won him an enviable position in the hearts of his new friends.  His great stature (he was six feet four inches tall) had earned him the sobriquet of 'Spike' as early as his high school days; and at Woodward, too, he at once became 'Spike,' rather than 'Laurens,' to the townspeople.

"When war was declared the following spring, 'Spike' entered the First Officers' Training Camp at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, electing to serve in the infantry.  Without fondness for the work, he nevertheless, as a matter of course, threw all his consciousness into the grind, and in August was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve Corps.  His diligence was rewarded, moreover, by selection as one of sixty from the camp of twenty-five hundred for immediate overseas duty.  A two weeks' furlough was allowed this special detachment of officers for a visit home; then they reported for duty in the early part of September at the port of embarkation, Hoboken, New Jersey, sailing for France on September 7, 1917.  The convoy landed at Liverpool and the detachment was dispatched to France.  'After a very short stop in England,' says one of his letters, 'I found myself in France one crisp September morning, and I traveled for the first time on a French railway (two miles per hour), the trip lasting several days, but finally reaching our destination, the Third British Army School.'  Here the men for a month were rushed through a course of training at the hands of British instructors, comprising chiefly raiding, bayoneting and the latest phases of the technique of trench warfare.  'Finishing my training there,' he adds, 'I spent several more days on a French local, at last joining the First Division, American Expeditionary Forces, Company F, Twenty-sixth Infantry.'  This was on November 12th, when the Twenty-sixth Infantry was billeted in the little village of Giveroval in the Gondrecourt area, a training area later to become familiar to many other American divisions.

"In this dreary spot 'Spike' first felt the pangs of the hunger for letters from home; letters, of course, written but interminably delayed in those first days of un-organization.  He writes:  'Letters mean a great deal to one so far away, especially when one is unfortunate enough not to be able to parley French.  I never, as a result, have a chance to elevate myself by talking to a woman; it is always to some private or brother officer.  I know my parents will start educating me all over again when I return home.'

At the time of 'Spike's' joining his division, the Twenty-sixth Infantry had just returned from its first occupation of the trenches.  Though the Twenty-sixth was in what was officially dubbed a 'rest' period, army men know well that a unit was usually relieved at the front so that it might take up even more strenuous activities behind the lines.  So with this regiment, though the weather at that season was fearfully cold an damp, the men 'rested' by beginning a series of maneuvers over the training area which often kept the troops out for several days and nights without cover.

After two weeks of training at Giveroval, 'Spike' was granted his first leave, which allowed him a week-end in Paris.  On his return to camp he became quite ill with a persistent case of grippe and was left behind on two maneuvers that lasted the greater part of a month.  *   *   *   The long training period finally ended the last week of February, 1918, and the organization broke camp, preparing to move up to the lines.  At four o'clock on the morning of March 3d the troops moved out from Giveroval and were transported to the Toul sector, that portion of the Allied line particularly identified with the American effort.  The Twenty-sixth Infantry relieved part of the First Infantry Brigade of the same division, which had held the line since the latter part of January.

While encamped here, 'Spike' wrote to his father one of his most charming letters.  'I am writing this letter,' he says, 'on a cigar box by candle light.  The paper belongs to the company clerk and the pencil to the first sergeant.  The cigar box contains about forty American cigars which the Y. M. C. A. man brought to this forsaken village.  As I told the Major tonight, the only satisfaction in life around here was this box of cigars. He helped himself and that's why I have only forty.  My room is only half mine, as the company commander sleeps with me, or rather I sleep with him.  We have a bed just five and one-half feet long and four feet wide.  He is a big ox like myself, so you can imagine how comfortably we rest.  His being in bed is probably the cause of this letter, as I was kept up tonight figuring how I was going to get in.  The reason we are so selfish about this darned bed is that it is the first one we have seen since March 1st.  I almost wrote you for a picture of a bed, but now that we have one of the precious things it will not be necessary.

How we got to this town is quite a story.  One fine cold rainy day (as usual) we packed up and set out.   We finally landed in a ditch or series of ditches resembling Perry Creek more than anything I have seen since the good old days back in the Bancroft school.  Inasmuch as I have reached the doddering age of twenty-four I can assure you I did not enjoy the mud holes as much as when I was ten.  I can imagine my delight fourteen years ago if only such a place had been at my disposal.  But the real beauty of the place was the big hill directly in front of us.  This was known as Mt. _____.  I might as well as not tell you the name of the mountain, as I saw it printed in the Sioux City Tribune, but as all good officers say to their men, Obey the Censor's rules.  Well, it was a great place.  Every night we put up sandbags and revetments in the endeavor to cut off the view from that demned mountain, only to have them blown down in the daytime.  As the company front was so wide, it was necessary to establish a system of outposts, and as second in command of the company I had to visit these places every night.  Between the German planes and occasional shells, plus the fire of my own company, I managed to have several very interesting times going from position to another.

'One night, especially, I was ordered to patrol all the wire in front of our section, which was a distance of one and one-half kilometers.  I picked three men and started out.  We found plenty of wire and old trenches, all of which helps to give a man the shakes on a rainy night such as it was.  I finally reached a position where I had agreed to meet a gallant officer of our company, but I found him missing.  I walked along the parapet of the abandoned trenches searching for him and after some hesitation I started to examine the wire.  As there were several belts, it necessitated my going through wire for some distance in front of the position where we had agreed to meet.  After examining each belt I crawled under and stepped over the wire until I arrived back at the position, but still no officer.  My pet sergeant and I walked along the parapet of the old trench wondering where he could possibly be.  All of a sudden, "Halt, who's there?"  rang through the air.  It was one of those Tennessee Halts which is Bang-Halt!  I doubt if you could have put a dime between the side of my head and that bullet.  I dropped in a shell hole between the wire and the parapet and found my sergeant had beaten me to it.  How we both got in that little shell hole is more of a mystery than this bed proposition which now confronts me.  After firing twelve rounds of pistol ammunition at us at a range of about fifteen yards, they notified a close-by automatic gun post to open up on us, which was done.  Being close to the old trench I managed to crawl out of our shell hole during a short lull in the proceedings and make myself known to an officer who was just getting ready to throw a hand grenade into the shell hole.  He had his orderly with him and was having him wind up, too.  This was the officer I was suppose to meet and he had either forgotten about my being out there or he was mistaken about the time of my arrival.  Anyway, he took me for a German in spite of my frequent call, "It's Lieutenant Shull."  I told the Major it was safer in front of the German trenches than in front of ours.  Little things like that are bound to occur, especially since the Americans aren't acquainted with the appearance of the German soldier and particularly because they're all too damned anxious to shoot the enemy.

'One dark night after we were thoroughly fed up with the place some good old Irishmen from New England relieved us.  Long hikes in artillery formation and other long hikes in location formation, a trip in motor buses, a twenty-four hours' ride in French box cars and two days' more hiking put us in this little abandoned village.  We all know what we are here for.  The British are having a fight for their position, and we are with the French army and hope to hit them soon.  This will be my last letter for some time.  Don't worry, as I am feeling fine, and with fire in my eye.  I am good for ten Germans if the artillery misses me.  Of course, this might be bragging a bit - but, Dad, I'll try hard to get all I can.

'This bed begins to look better each minute and my captain sprawls out a little more each ten minutes and if I hesitate much longer I'll never be able to get in.  Send me socks, candy, tobacco and the Sioux City papers.'

On the night of April 1st 'Spike's' brigade was unexpectedly relieved by the Twenty-sixth Division.  Withdrawing several kilometers the tired troops rested for a few days and then entrained for the Gissor training section.  Here they maneuvered for two weeks preparing for what portended to be the greatest of all attacks.  The First Division, together with an English and a French Chasseur division, formed the infantry in the maneuvers, and, according to the plan, they, supported by the tanks and artillery and cavalry, were to make the first real counter attack at Albert.  At this time, the German offensive was at its height, and as soon as it lost its momentum the counter attack was to be launched.  

During the spring of this year both the troops and officers of the Allied armies were concerned over the plans of the coming German offensive, which everybody knew would be launched as soon as the bad weather lifted and the roads dried.  It was consequently the first mission of the infantry holding the lines at that time to capture prisoners for cross-examination.  Company G, to which 'Spike' had been transferred, received orders almost nightly for prisoners, and the men and officers of the company patrolled constantly.  'Spike,' oblivious to danger, did a great deal of patrolling - in fact, practically all of the patrolling for his company - and supervised all such work for his battalion, of which he was raiding officer.  This work, some of the most hazardous and nerve-trying of modern warfare, gave him his first real opportunity, and his devotion to his duty and his skill earned him the trust and admiration of his commanding officers and his men.  And it was as much the loyalty of those serving under him as the confidence of his superiors that won him a cherished reward, a recommendation for promotion.  Though he never lived to pin on his silver bars, Major McCloud's testimonial swelled his heart with pride, particularly the frank admission of his inability to appoint 'Spike' to company commander when he was ranked by three brother officers.  Major McCloud's recommending letter follows:


Headquarters 2nd Bn., 26th Infantry.

France, June 18, 1918.

From:  The Commanding Officer, 2nd Bn., 26th Infantry.

To:  The Commanding Officer, 26th Infantry.

Subject:  Promotion of Officer


1.  It is recommended and requested that 2nd Lieut. Laurens C. Shull, U. S. A., 26th Infantry, be promoted to the grade of First Lieutenant.

2.  This officer has been in France for nine months, six months having been spent under my command, and I have found him to be an excellent man, a born leader.  His services in the trenches have been performed in the most efficient manner.

3.  It is my intention to make Lieutenant Shull a company commander when his present company commander leaves for the U. S. as an instructor on or about July 6, 1918, but as he is only a Second Lieutenant and is ranked by three Lieutenants in his Company this is hardly practical.

4.  I consider that this officer is the best in my battalion under the rank of Captain.

5.  Prompt action is therefore requested.


                                                                                                 J. M. McCloud

                                                                                                Major U. S. R. A. 26th Infantry.


In the meantime a sudden change in the orders directed the First Division to Montdidier, and the division entered the lines on the outskirts of that village, then held by the enemy and merely a mass of ruins from artillery fire.

'This was real war,' reads Lieutenant Small's diary.  'We had no trenches and were forced to organize shell holes as best we could.  The enemy fire was terrific and we were gassed almost nightly.  The nights were terrible sessions, since we had to remain quiet lest our locations be revealed and we be bombarded with gas shells.  During this period we made the first real American attack, capturing the village of Cantigny, giving us the advantage of a great observation point and straightening out our line.  We patrolled and raided continuously and 'Spike' did his share and more.  On one evening when Spike and I were on a raiding party we took up our position at 7:45 P. M., but did not attack until 11:45 P. M.  During this time Spike and I sat in a shell hole looking up at the sky, talking over old times and wondering if those selfsame stars overhead were the ones we had seen on peaceful nights at home.  The time passed wonderfully fast and we were so surprised when the attack started that we both forgot our guns, which were beside us with bayonets fixed.  The party was, however, a success and it just happened that our guns were not needed.'

The division was withdrawn from the Cantigny sector on July 10th and after a few days' rest received re-enforcements to replace the hundreds of casualties sustained in the now celebrated Cantigny engagement, the first action on a major scale carried out by American forces.  A forced march immediately followed and on July 18th the First Division made the famous counter south of Soissons.  On the second day of this attack Lieutenant Banyon, of the Twenty-sixth Infantry, lay wounded in a shell hole when 'Spike' came by in command of his half company.  He stopped on seeing Banyon, gave him a cigar, lit it for him and then continued on his way to the front, less than a thousand yards away.  Moving into position in the line, Company G joined in the attack. Through two separate advances on that day 'Spike' led his men with exceptional courage and skill, but in a third attack, while charging a German machine gun nest, which had blocked the advance of his men, he was hit in the abdomen by a machine gun bullet.  The bullet passed through the liver, striking the hip bone and then lodging in the leg.  He was transported to American Red Cross Hospital No. 1 at Neuilly, a suburb of Paris, where for some days his condition showed gradual improvement.  Infection had set in in his leg, but with the fine care given him by his nurses and doctors it was thought he might recover.  Nowhere did his popularity show itself more than during his sickness.  His men, as well as his brother officers, made most frequent visits to him, and the radiance of his personality gained the love of those attendant upon him.  The medical officer in charge of his case, Dr. Clarence Wilton Way, said he was the nerviest and bravest man he had ever known.  On August 5, 1918, he died, the poison from the bullet having spread through his system.  The words of his hospital chaplain, Rolfe P. Crum, testify to his love of his God:


'My dear Mrs. Shull:

'I know how grief-stricken you are at this time when you have just received the news of your son's death in this French hospital.  I wish to extend to you in this way my sincere sympathy.  I attended your boy up to the last day and had prayers with him on that day.  He was quite conscious and wanted me to write to you and his father for him, telling you he was getting along all right.

'It must be a comfort to you to know in his last hours he thought of you at home and of his Father in Heaven.  He died bravely, like the true soldier he has always been.  I  do not think he suffered nearly as much as many I have attended.  It was rather a gradual weakening.

'How proud you ought to be of that boy!  In college, a well known athlete (all the men know him by reputation) and one who in life played the game well and stood for honor and fair play in the world.  The gift of his life to his country and beyond that to the cause of liberty and righteousness in the world, which is God's cause, partakes of the nature of the sacrifice on Calvary.  Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.  To this end he was born and for this purpose he came forth in the world.' "


Lieutenant Shull was buried in the American cemetery at Suresnes, on a lovely hillside overlooking Paris.  Upon receipt of the news of his death, letters, telegrams and all manner of testimonials poured into the home of his parents.  The few that follow typify the hundreds that were received, indicating in particular the wide range of his friendship.


"My dear Mr. Shull:

"Words cannot express my appreciation of that beautiful picture.  It is now being framed together with the letter and will always hang in the most prominent part of my library.

"I am witnessing a sight from my office window that I shall never forget and that have never seen the like of though I have lived in Chicago fourteen years.

"The stores have all closed, 3:30 P. M.  The streets are packed full.  The city is ablaze with flags.  They are throwing confetti out of the office windows till the streets look like a big snow storm.

"The noise is so great I can hardly hear my typewriter click.  What will it be tonight?  This is what dear 'Spike' and his noble brothers have accomplished, and there is not sentiment enough in the world to express our love and admiration for them.  *   *   *  I wept over 'Spike's' picture.  We all did.  And I cannot keep back the tears when I go into the street and see this celebration, thinking of him.

                                                                         "Most sincerely yours,

                                                                                    "Schuyler C. Brandt."


My dear Mr. and Mrs. Shull:

I appreciate more than I can tell your sending me the photograph of 'Spike.'  I have been at the point several times of writing you but I could not gather heart to do it.  Words on such occasions are meaningless unless you know the soul which utters them, and I have hesitated to break in upon your holy grief.

The news of 'Spike's' passing came to me most unexpectedly because I had not known that he was on the fighting line, and like hundreds of his other friends, I was greatly shocked.  I have thought of him and of his supreme sacrifice it seems almost every day, since the news of his death came.  'Spike' had made a host of friends in Chicago and he is being frequently spoken of.

The last time I saw him was when the big handsome boy appeared in my office and asked for a recommendation to an Officers Training Camp.  He told me that he wanted to get into the Fort Sheridan Camp where so many of his friends would be, and in his droll way (referring the draft) said, 'Mr. Stagg, they'd get me the first thing, I'm so big.  So I'm going to fool them and enlist.'

From his talk I gathered that 'Spike' did not look upon his enlistment in the boyish spirit of adventure but as a duty.  He gave me the impression that he felt that there was no sufficient reason why he should not go and he was going to offer his services freely.

During the three years I was his coach in football, I got a good insight into his nature and character and I grew to appreciate and to admire and to love him.  'Spike' had an unusually true and honest soul with a serious-mindedness to duty which does not come to many people until well along in middle life.  I remember the serious manner in which he came to me privately on two occasions and told me that I was mistaken in my criticism at a certain time that afternoon so far as he was concerned.  I assured him that what he said was true and that he should have been excepted from my comments, but that in making criticisms, for the sake of emphasis I sometimes generalized and made them inclusive to produce an effect on the men as a whole.  This frank straightforward protest seemed to me to be simply the expression of his splendidly true and conscientious nature and I respected him the more for it.

'Spike's' life at the University was clean, sincere, manly and brave.  He was universally respected and loved by many.  Speaking of him as I knew him, I have said several times that I did not know any young man more fit to appear before his Maker.  His life has been beautifully true and his death has been supremely noble.

I shall frame his photograph and place it in our Honor Gallery among the athletic trophies which 'Spike' fought so hard and loyally to bring to his University.

With deepest sympathy, I am,


                                                                                     A. A., Stagg.


C. P. Summerall, major general in command of the First Division of the United States army, wrote in part as follows:

I know of no officer in the records of this division whose service has been more gallant and whose character as a man has impressed itself more lastingly upon the division.  The fact that he was beloved by his men gives proof of the fact of his genuineness of character and straightforward manliness which appeals to a soldier.  May I express to you my sympathy in your loss and my pride as his division commander in his record as a soldier?

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt wrote:

Indeed I do remember Lieutenant Shull. He was a very good fellow.  He died of wounds, as I recall, which were received at Soissons.  I always noticed in him devotion to duty, fearlessness and real capacity for leadership.  In the final analysis a man's command are those who form the best estimate of him.  A good leader invariably has the devotion and confidence of his soldiers.  Lieutenant Shull had this to a marked degree.  He was a fine type of American, one of whom we may all be proud.

The concluding pages of the memorial booklet previously mentioned are herein quoted:  "The test of worth by which the gold in a character is assayed is the persistency of a memory to abide and the freedom with which homage is offered.  Judged by this, 'Spike's' was a nugget of rare value, for some of the expressions that followed the news of his death and the services held in his honor revealed a feeling among hundreds that amounted to a virtual idolatry.  The preceding letters are eloquent testimony of the affection he unconsciously created for himself in the hearts of whomsoever he met.  They were, moreover, a spontaneous tribute, and they were followed by a succession of memorial services from the summer of his death to the winter of 1921 - surely proof that his memory is engraved beyond erasure in the minds of the host that loved him.   The first of these services was held at Woodward, Iowa, where 'Spike' so promisingly began his business career.  It was apropos that this town should first do honor to him, for the people there were the last to come into the warm radiance of his personality.  They really loved him.  The news of his passing was like a bombshell to them, and the farmers of the adjacent country, who all knew him through their transactions with him at the bank, bought Liberty bonds like men suddenly possessed with the imminence of danger to their land.  Liberty loan sales mounted and mounted, as the result of the taking of this loved friend, and placards appeared bearing his photograph and the inscription:  "Will You Buy Bonds For Him?"

The service took place on the 25th of August, 1918, as soon after the receipt of the word of his death as a gathering could be arranged.  A friend, present during the ceremonies, describes the setting:  'There is a beautiful grove located in the south part of Woodward, and here had been constructed a platform which was decorated with flowers and flags, and over which was suspended the flag later to be unfurled, carrying one hundred and four service stars, representing those who had entered the service from that community.  A little above the center of the flag, surrounded by the other stars, was one golden star, symbolizing the completed career of Laurens.  North from the platform were constructed seats to accommodate a large audience, on three sides of the grove there was a large circle of closely parked automobiles facing the platform, and back of these was another tier of automobiles, all of which were filled with people.  It was difficult to estimate the number of people present, but I should say at least two thousand were there.'

The ceremony comprised addresses by men in public life in that part of the state, among whom was Charles R. Brenton, of Des Moines, and singing by soldiers from Camp Dodge, Iowa.

The next service occurred a few days later, on September 1st, in the First Baptist church at Sioux City, 'Spike's' home church, and where his mother for so many years was organist.  The series of addresses considered him from infancy through the chief phases of his life.  G. Y. Skeels spoke of him as 'One of Our Boys,' William Mckercher talked of 'The Boy in High School,' C. W. Britton considered him as 'The Man in College,'  E. E. Lewis spoke of 'The Spirit of the Soldier,' and the Rev. E. H. Stevens, pastor of the church, closed with 'The Supreme Sacrifice.'

Another service was held on March 20, 1921, in the Hyde Park Baptist church, Chicago, Illinois, the pastorate of the Rev. Charles W. Gilkey, 'Spike's' close friend and advisor during his college years, and who united him with the church.  This service was, in addition, the occasion of the dedication of the Soldier's Memorial Window, installed to commemorate those of the church membership who had lost their lives during  the war.  Letters were read about these men, and among them one written by A. A. Stagg, athletic director of the University of Chicago, appearing on another page.

On stone columns near the Memorial Window are set bronze tablets; that for 'Spike' reads:


In Memory of


Second Lieutenant, Company G

Twenty-sixth Infantry, First Division, U. S. A.

Born January 17, 1894

Died August 5, 1918

In France

Of Wounds Received in Action

In the Service of His Country


A most enduring honor is the dedication to him of one of the memorial columns of the new University of Illinois Memorial Stadium at Urbana, Illinois.  These columns, commemorative of war heroism and sacrifice, were designed to consecrate the memories of those of the University who served.  As a mark of regard for other college men in the service of their country, the board of trustees decreed that, symbolic of their respect for these men, reverence should be paid them, and the name of Laurens Corning Shull was selected for one of the columns.  This selection was significant in its representation of an institution which was Illinois' keenest athletic rival, and indicative of a generous esteem for a young warrior who fought his hardest against Illinois' teams.

Probably the most impressive ceremony was the funeral at Sioux City on December 11, 1921.  The body, after resting three years in the American military cemetery outside of Paris, was returned and laid to rest on that day in the family vault in the mausoleum in Graceland Park cemetery after a whole city and hosts of friends from different parts of the middle west had paid their tribute.  The morning before there appeared in the Sioux City Tribune a characterization by a close friend, Lieutenant Fred W. Pierce, describing with intimate touch the place 'Spike' occupied in his homeland:  'The home - Iowa - was the shrine of the boyhood of this great son.  He found joy in the study of its natural grandeur.  To know, and to know how to live, Iowa was a privilege this man held dear.  The meadows, the hills and the forests thrilled him.  He loved to walk with his chums out into the countryside *  *  * where his spirits were bathed in the cheer of the blossoms.  Often the setting sun looked back to meet the admiring gaze of the boys-Laurens and his chums sitting on a grassy crest in the hills that border the Sioux, watching the colors that played in the skies.   *   *   *  Tomorrow the setting sun will bid peace to the homeland that has laid to rest a defender-a prince of the land of Iowa.'

The church services were held under the auspices of the Edward H. Monahan Post of the American Legion and the Laurens C. Shull Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and were attended by hundreds of the townspeople, friends and relatives, and the Laurens C. Shull Post of the American Legion of Woodward, Iowa.  The funeral address was delivered by Charles W. Gilkey.  Mr. Gilkey, in telling the story of 'Spike's' uniting with the church, revealed in vivid words the more fundamental significances of his character:  'In the perspective of the three years and more since Spike gave up his life for his country and the greater cause which she had made her own, w have come to see more clearly some things to which, in the shock and sorrow of that first terrible news, our eyes were blinded with tears.  Plainest among these is the real secret of his enduring memory and influence among us.  It was natural, and perhaps inevitable, that not only the newspaper pictures but our own thoughts of him that were most frequent then, should be those that recall him in his football helmet, his baseball suit or his military uniform:  the worthy representative of young American manhood at its best, whom we all remember as an all-around athlete on many a hard-fought field, as a college leader dominating the campus, as a handsome young officer off for France.  But now, after this interval, we can begin to see that what distinguished him among many notable athletes and campus leaders in the rapid succession of college generations, what underlay both his athletic achievement and his magnificent record as a soldier, was something deeper and more characteristic than his uniform, his superb physique, or even his lovable personality-it was the stuff of which his character was made. *   *   * His conscientiousness was no gloomy hairsplitting; it was the driving force that made his achievement so honorable, and his character so triumphant.  And it was most of all characteristic of the religion about which he talked little, but felt very deeply-in and by which he lived and died.  I shall never forget the night he knocked on my door in Hitchcock Hall, and opened the conversation with characteristic directness: "Mr. Gilkey, I want to join the church."  When I asked him what lay back of his apparently sudden decision, he went on:   "My father is the finest man I know; and I've been realizing lately that if I don't put up my flag as a Christian and keep it up, I'll never get to be the kind of man my father is." '

Following the church service, the funeral cortege consisting of scores of automobiles, more than five hundred ex-service men in uniform, and led by the American Legion band, proceeded to the cemetery.  In the Mausoleum the full funeral ritual of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was performed by the Laurens C. Shull Post of that organization.  The title of Past Post Commander was awarded and the badge of the Cross of Malta placed upon the casket.  Three volleys were fired and Taps, the ultimate tribute and the final farewell, was sounded."

G. C. Rippetoe, captain of infantry in the United States army, wrote D. C. Skull, under date of October 27, 1924, as follows:  "I met your son in September, 1917, at the Third British Army Infantry School and was later joined the Second Battalion, Twenty-sixth Infantry.  We became very good friends and were much together up to the time he was fatally wounded.  I was within seventy-five yards of your son when he was hit and saw him fall.  I knew by the way he fell he was very badly wounded and sent a first aid man to him.  Hard as it may seem, we have not the time and would be severely dealt with if we stopped to help our friends who fall.  In this attack we were pushing forward many of the officers of the Second Battalion had already fallen.  Your son was then commanding the remnants of G Company.  I had the company on his left.  We were advancing across an open flat field.  'Spike,' as we called him, was leading his attack with his pistol in his hand when I saw him suddenly go down.  I was sorry I could not go to him, as we had been very good friends, but it was necessary I carry on the attack.  Your son was one of the most popular officers in the Second Battalion, Twenty-sixth Infantry, with both officers and enlisted men.  I have seen two or three of the men who served under him, since the war, and they mentioned little things he had done for them."


~ source: A Narrative History of The People of Iowa with SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY, BUSINESS, ETC., by EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M. Curator of the Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa Volume IV THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc. Chicago and New York. 1931
~ transcribe by Debbie Clough Gerischer for the Great War