MS-103: Jes Jerry Jessen World War I Letters
Processed by: Kate Boere
Jes Jerry Jessen was born September 13th, 1894. In May 1917 at the age of 22, he enlisted in the army under Company D., 4th Engineers. According to his obituary, Jessen died in January of 1941 at the age of 48 and was survived by his wife, La Vada, and his son Jerry. He was living in Salt Lake City, Utah at the time, working for the Utah Concrete Pipe company and was an honorary member of the American Legion post No. 9.
Scope and Content Note:
This collection contains 109 letters written by Jes Jerry Jessen addressed to his family in Spokane, WA, including his mother and father, his brothers George and Ralph, his sister Helen ("La La") and his aunt Molly between June 6th, 1917 and June 22nd, 1919. These letters follow him through his training in Vancouver, Washington; Charlotte, North Carolina; France; and Germany, where his correspondence ends.
Jessen's letters while in America provide descriptions of life in basic training and of his fellow soldiers. He seems to keep high spirits throughout basic training and often writes of the antics of him and his tent mates and the mud in North Carolina. While in Charlotte, NC he is quarantined for a few weeks due to one or more of his tent mates getting the mumps and measles (20 February 1918, 25 February 1918, 27 February 1918, and 4 March 1918).
When stationed in Europe, Jessen speaks mostly of the beautiful landscapes, food, people and their customs, and his stories of exploring the local towns and seeing movies. When in France, he mentions seeing German air raids (31 May 1918). He was injured when hit by a piece of shrapnel in August of 1918, and even then, his spirits were up, writing of his experiences in the hospital and joking as if it were first class living (12 August 1918 - 30 August 1918).
Letters are arranged chronologically. Folder 1-20 contains two letters addressed to Jessen: one from Helen (24 August 1918) and one from Judith J. Knisel (undated). Folder 1-21 contains miscellaneous empty envelopes.