I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
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Recalling veterans of 'Last Man Club'
By Barry Schrader.................................November
Miller enlisted in World War I at DeKalbs recruitment
center March 24, 1917, and served in the U.S. Infantry, seeing
action in France and Luxembourg. He returned stateside on the
U.S.S. Chesapeake in May 1919, being discharged from Camp Grant
in Rockford in June 1919. He married Ruth Wangler in DeKalb in
August 1917, and they had one son and two daughters. Miller was
a DeKalb firefighter, rising to the rank of captain during a
20-year career that ended in 1958, later working for Skorbergs
Furniture Store and also serving as a city alderman.
With tomorrow being Veterans Day, I thought it appropriate
to share this story as reported in the Daily Chronicle over a
Back in 1940, some 35 veterans
of World War I who all belonged to American Legion Post 66 in
DeKalb many also former members of the Legions drum
and bugle corps decided to form a Last Man Club.
The purpose was to meet annually until there was only one man
The formal name of the organization
was La Societe des Combattants Qui Finera La Mort du Dernier
Homme. They adopted the French name since most of the vets
served there during the war, but it boils down in plain English
to Last Man Club. Its first president was Maynard
Ebbesen, the youngest of the 35, born in 1902, but not the last
man to survive in the club.
At their yearly socials, they would drape a table in black with
a white flower honoring each man who died during the past 12
months. The attendees always drank a toast to their departed
comrades. They adopted a bugle as the clubs symbol, and
it was displayed on a pedestal with a blue ribbon at members
funerals over the years.
The most talked about
club keepsake was a bottle of French cognac, which was kept sealed
and meant to be opened and a memorial toast offered by the man
who outlived all his fellow veterans. That turned out to be Hollis
Roy Miller, who made that lonely toast in 1984, according
to a Chronicle story.
The handmade gavel used by the Last Man Club and these
wooden disks with numbers imbedded in them are now archived in
the Joiner History Room. The disks went with the small flags
on the tables as they met each year. Orginally there were 35Roy and Ruth Miller are pictured on their 74th wedding
anniversary, the same year he died.
died in November 1991 at the age of 93 and is buried at Fairview
Their late grandson Pats wife, Pam Brockhaus, still resides
in DeKalb. When I called her home number to inquire about the
status of the bottle of cognac, Pam told me the bottle, unfortunately,
had been broken by accident years after Millers death.
But she still has a diary with entries about World War I written
by some local veterans in the club. Hopefully that will end up
at the Joiner History Room.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115