by Peggy Nuckles
PETER AND ANNA THEISS
In one of the German provinces along the Rhine, Peter Theiss was born. Since his birthday fell in July he started school a year behind others who were born in earlier months. Then as his parents were farmers and hard pressed for help to earn a living, they prevailed upon the priest and officers to allow the boy to leave school early to work in the fields. The priest consented as the child was small. He was so small that as a youth he escaped the army - thus he never received a common school education in Germany, He never attained a man's stature growing to less than five feet and two inches.
At the age of twenty-seven, he emigrated to America. His first home was in Parkersburg, West Virginia, from there he went to Marietta, Ohio, and then to Denver and Pueblo. After living about three years in Colorado, he came to Kansas City, where he remained for a month or two before heading to Warrensburg, where he came with only five dollars in his pocket. Here he began work for Hartman & Markward upon the Magnolia Opera House in the fall of 1889.
Later, that year, he partnered with a fellow countryman to build a brick bakery and start a business blocks away from downtown in a hollow at the corner of Oak and Washington Avenue. This put the partners $1,000 in debt. When it bcame apparent that the bakery was failing, Peter Theiss' partner left Theiss with the debt. In the spring after opening the bakery, Theiss married Anna Giersig, who like him had been born in Germany and come to the U.S. as a young adult. This wife had no money but she had courage and faith of a higher order. Peter had learned to be a stone mason in the old country and he followed that trade throughout his life. He made money contracting stone work around town, and paid the debt. Because of this, he always found people willing to give him unlimited credit.
Peter and Anna's first child Henry was born March 31, 1892. Although the couple had eleven children in all (two died in childhood,) Henry and their second born, Mary were the parents of subsequent generations to live in Warrensburg.
His second child, Mary Elizabeth Theiss was born June 29, 1893, at 520 North Washington in Warrensburg, where Peter had built a house with stone walls. It is still standing and occupied. Peter Theiss was raised a Lutheran and Anna was Catholic. He allowed Henry and Mary to be baptized on August 13, 1893 by Fr. James Walsh, as agreed when he and Anna were married.
As a young father, Peter was bothered and troubled about all the time that went to waste between jobs. Having been reared on a farm, his mind naturally turned to the country where every hour could be used. Theiss did not want to rent, he had the desire to own. And as he said, "How to get a farm without money was a very serious proposition." A man who had paid off a large debt, for a worthless property, hesitated at more debt. While this desire for a home and a farm revolved in his mind, he heard of a waste place north of town, a place that everyone had passed for fifty years as being worthless. An abandoned quarry occupied part of this stony hillside. A mortgage of four hundred dollars covered these poor twenty-seven acres. The owner wanted to sell, and Theiss wanted to buy. But when Theiss went and looked at the place, he passed it up as an impossible farm. But, Theiss wanted to get to the country and this stony hillside lived in his mind. He thought of it and dreamed of it a week. Then it took shape and he could see there was a chance, and after thinking it over concluded that he who came from the mountains of Germany could make a home and farm of this place. Theiss agreed to assume the encumbrance of $400 on it, and the seller was released from the debt.
Theiss looked across the Post Oak bottom where he saw rich acres lying unused, some of the richest land in the world, and he imagined a farm of three hundred acres. With the deed to this stony plot there came the necessity for a house and out of the refuse from the quarry, he built the first concrete house ever constructed in Johnson county. Built on the edge of the quarry, it was plain but substantial and comfortable. Then followed hog wire around the entire tract, and in this enclosure Theiss put some old cows. He continued to contract stone work to pay for the materials that he had bought on credit.
Meanwhile, Mother Theiss wrote occasional articles for the "Family Table" column of the Missouri Ruralist. Missouri Ruralist editor, John Case, wrote that she exhibited "a wide knowledge regarding state and national affairs and, although self-educated, showing every evidence of a cultured mind."
There were many Sunday gatherings at the Theiss farm. Many of the attendees were people of German ancestry. At most of these gatherings, the men would engage in religious discussions and arguments. Peter Theiss was knowledgeable of the Lutheran Catechism. When Mary was five or six years old, she started sitting behind her father's chair listening. She decided that the Catholic Church was either something awfully bad or awfully good. She did not know which. She and her mother had some talks about religion, but her father would not let her go to the Catholic Church.
During the dry year of 1901, adversity seemed to trail Peter Theiss, but he held his head and did not get scared although he had fifty shoots and no corn. The scorching winds and burning days were about to play into his hands. Overflows and burning drought had discouraged the owner of forty acres of Post Oak bottom and Peter Theiss was able to trade his gold brick of a bakery for this forty acres of bottom land covered with slough grass. Then he traded the shotes for 16 heifer calves. Out on the slough grass went these young heifers to hustle for themselves till spring, and they came through the winter. And in the second spring, there came to the Theiss home sixteen more wobbly-legged calves with their satin coats. And with them came a flood of milk, and the question of how to handle it. The problem was solved by the purchase of a cream separator, possibly the second one in Johnson Conty. Theiss milked early in the morning before he went to work, and late at night after he came home, for he was still building foundations.
The industry and thrift of Theiss appealed to many farm owners and they sought him out wishing to rent his farms, but he refused. The right of possession and proprietorship appealed to his old-world mind. As he expressed it. "Ten acres of my own is better than five hundred acres of a rented place." With the love of home, the pride of ownership was the knowledge that all improvements were made for his benefit and comfort. That no man could say to him, "you will have to move out and give possession on a certain day." It was his from the center of the earth to the sky, to do as he pleased with, to handle it as he saw fit.
Peter Theiss (Father), William Theiss, Frank Theiss, Henry Theiss
As a new farmer, Peter had new problem. His feeding of these cows did not get results. He didn't know how to feed, how to make a cow do her best. Peter Theiss had never heard of protein, carbohydrates and balanced ration. So he began to read of them in a copy of Hoard's Dairyman that he picked up somewhere. Then he subscribed to the paper and continued to use it as a guide to his dairying operations. He found he was in a technical business, and he hunted the technical literature of that business. He took other dairy papers, and a bee paper, a trade paper, and papers in every subject in which he was interested. He read the text, then he read the advertisements for he frequently found the newest, most up to date and the most improved ideas in them. And when he found anything worth while he went after it and got it. Hoard's Dairyman preached against the dual purpose cow, and Theiss was convinced. He concluded the special purpose cow was best, and he started a herd for milk purposes only. Jerseys were his choice and he stayed with them, keeping pure bred and registered sires, ever getting the better animal with a milk record behind him.
In first his sale of Jerseys held on the farm no one would buy, but in the fall of 1912, he sold Jerseys to the value of $1800. He did not sell the best of his cows and had more cows left than he sold. In July, 1912. a year of drought with the pastures burned up, the Warrensburg Creamery wrote him a check for $105. And he used cream and butter at home.
Peter Theiss built the first silo in Johnson County and that silo was concrete. Thus he had canned succulence for his cows, green stuff in winter, and this meant a larger and richer flow of milk. In 1912, he built another silo larger and better than the first.
This meant the first silo proved its worth and its value.. He fed hay rich in protein, cow pea hay, sweet clover hay, and other legumes as he thought best
He bought the first manure spreader in Johnson County and out of his cow barn with concrete floors and walls and concrete drains for catching the droppings from his cows as they stood with their heads in the stanchions came the fertility of the earth which he returned to his stony upland acres where it did the most good. Whenever he took a load of produce, milk and cream to town, he would go by the livery stable and load his wagon with horse manure. He fertilized his fields this way. And on land that once would not grow ten bushels of corn to an acre, he could count upon eighty bushels. This was to the credit of the manure spreader.
He made his upland rich with the manure spreader while his lowlands were made productive with tilling and drainage. The forty acres where the heifer calves, the first ones of his dairy farm lived through the winter following the drought of 1901 was tilled and cropped sometimes giving two crops in one year.. In one year, it grew a crop of wheat, then followed a crop of corn that filled the silo, then between the rows of corn was sown wheat again. But as a rule a legume crop followed a grass crop. The land was kept busy.
At first, all work on the Theiss farm was done by horse power, but he bought a tractor that plowed five furrows at once - five plows one foot each, and behind these plows came a harrow and a drag. The land was plowed, harrowed and dragged at one operation. His idea was to get it in condition at once and get the seed into the ground as quickly as possible.
After Theiss had finished work on his own place, he found time to go and do work for others with his tractor. In 1912, he plowed one hundred and twenty acres in the Blackwater bottom that had not been plowed for twenty years. In 1913, Theiss put in two hundred acres of wheat in this Backwater bottom for this tractor never had to stop and rest or blow on account of the heat.
Peter Theiss raised his hogs on sweet clover, the wayside weed found along the roads, that marvelous legume that grows seven feet high with a root system in proportion. The seed was worth eighteen dollars a bushel, with hundreds of bushels of seed going to waste in Johnson County. Every plant produces thousands of seed that Peter Theiss turned into pork at the value of eight cents a pound, and butter fat of the value of twenty-five cents a pound. He read much, he thought much. He consulted the farm adviser and got all the new ideas and thoughts possible for his place. He sought labor-saving devices, looked for the best legumes, and he was awake to the necessity of educating himself and his children in the new farming. He said, "Some of the children will go to the short course at the University."
But, this German did not think only of making dollars and adding acres to his farm; for Peter Theiss thought of comfort and convenience in his home and his barns. Just before the Blackwater bridge, was a fertile farm with plain, substantial buildings, built more for comfort than show. In the basement of the house was a small gasoline engine that operated an electric plant that supplied light in every room of his home, light in the barns to milk by when it was dark, and lights where ever he choose to put them. This same gasoline engine pumped water from a great reservoir in the quarry into a pressure tank that forced water all over the
house and on the place. He had an abundant supply of water for the quarry was about 100 feet square and about sixty-five feet deep, with water about thirty-five feet deep. The water in the house was hot and cold for he had a modern furnace through which pipes were carried to heat the water for family use. This gasoline engine also ran the cream separator, and the washing machine and the wringer for Mrs. Theiss and children. And the home is heated in cold weather by this furnace from one fire. This was a home of German thrift and plenty, with comfort and convenience. He would kill a beef, a hog or a sheep his family's use. Then there were chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. He also had many stands of bees, those tireless workers.
At some point he hung a sign at the gateway to his place that announced, "Prospect Hill Farm." Peter Theiss made a success upon a rocky hillside that others could not see anything in. He had a quaint saying, "I keep no boarders." He said, "A cow works all day and boards herself; a bee works all day and boards itself." So with everyone on the Theiss place, he was busy. There was no time for discontent. They planned ahead and he had plans for the future that he and his children talked over.
But, asked what he considered the largest element in his success, he unhesitatingly answered with one word, :wife." He said "her faith never failed from the day that she was marred to a man one thousand dollars in debt. She saw beyond and saw all would come right, her faith in our success never failed. That was better than the confidence and credit of all my friends. She was strong when I was weakest. She too saw the farm that my mind saw out there and she too saw the future would bring us a home and make the future secure. When I doubted, she had full faith. She has borne my children, and they shall keep me young, there are two words in English that mean much, home and mother and our children and myself have both through a woman who has faith."
In 1915, when Mary was twelve, Madeline Wills whom she had gotten to know at the Quarry School https://1973whsreunion.blogspot.com/2018/02/1891-1922-quarry-school.html was going to make her first communion. She asked Mary to go to church with her, to see her new white dress. Mary's father reluctantly agreed to let her go to the Catholic Church that morning if she had all of her chores finished before she left home.
She walked to the Pickel home, (Madeline had been born in New York City and had been taken off the Orphan Train, to be a companion to Clara Pickel who was an only child.) The Pickel home was a half mile closer to town than where she lived. She rode to town in a car with Madeline. When she entered the front door of the Sacred Heart, she had an experience she could not explain. It was like a bright light came on and she was surrounded by it. From then on she knew she had to be part of the church. Her father did not want her to go to church, but she was strong willed and finally got his consent. Even though she was a girl, she was already keeping records for the farm and reading papers to her father that were printed in English.
She had to have all of her work finished before she was allowed to go to mass. Sometimes she would walk the three miles to church, catching a ride if she was lucky or she would ride an old gray horse. She kept her catechism under the catalogs in the outhouse so she could study without interference. Mary started taking her younger sister to church when she was about seven. They would usually ride an old gray horse, and tie it up to the hitching rail on the West side of the church.
Mary started attending Mass regularly after she was about thirteen and encouraged her brothers and sisters to join the church. She felt a very strong calling at Sacred Heart. All of her siblings were baptized and all became active at Sacred Heart except her older brother Henry.
From the time Madeline Will Kurtz received her first communion, she and Mary were close friends. She often visited the Theiss home on Sundays. They had picnics, made homemade ice cream and played games. This was much more fun for a teenage girl than at the Pickel home, which was much more reserved.
Henry Theiss, the family's oldest son married Katherine Roberts, January 3, 1916 and moved from the family home. His first son, Robert, was born October 8 1916. Although Robert and Albert lived close by and attended Quarry School, they were not close to the rest of the family. Their stories are separate from the rest of the family and are told in the second half of this article.Through the years, the Theiss farm prospered with Mary being manager of the operation. Mary had a number of young suitors but she never became serious about anyone in her teens and early twenties.
In the summer of 1918, during World War I, a man came to the Theiss farm and said he was the state milk inspector. He had never been there before, but they took him at face value. Anti-German sentiment was very prevalent in the United States at this time and there were several house and barn burnings in Johnson County that appeared to be the result of this. The man looked over the Theiss milk operation and left late in the day. The next morning, Peter Theiss went out to the old quarry. A heavy storm had blown many bee gums into the reservoir below and with line and grappling hooks he began to reclaim the lost property.
There was considerable excitement in Warrensburg last Sunday afternoon when word was sent to town that Peter Theiss just north of town, was dead and that his body had been recovered from an old quarry hole just back of his residence. Mr. Theiss went to do some work with his bees about 9 o'clock in the morning. and was not seen until pulled out of the old quarry hole about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The family became alarmed at Mr. Theiss' prolonged absence and had searched the place for him. Luther Hatfield and J.W. Lawhorn neighbors were called to assist in the search. About 2 o'clock, one of the Theiss children discovered Mr. Theiss' hat on the ledge of the quarry hole and as soon as possible they secured a skiff and proceeded to drag the hole. They soon recovered the body.
Coroner D. E. Shy and Prosecuting Attorney Rothwell went to the scene of the tragedy and decided that the death was accidental. The old quarry hole is located near the residence and Mr. Theiss kept his bees very close to the old hole. The sides are perpendicular a ledge being down a few feet. It is presumed Mr. Theiss went to look after some bee hives which had been blown into the hole and while there slipped and fell to the ledge below, striking his head, knocking him unconscious. Then he fell into the water and died immediately. As the cap was found on the ledge of the quarry hole, this theory is reasonable.
The funeral services were held from the family home in charge of Rev. Roy Priest.
There are and have been so many rumors in regard to the death of the late Peter Theiss that it is well to mention the fact. From the best information to be had, it is only justice to say that the rumors are entirely without foundation. His death was purely accidental. In such cases there is entirely too much talking.
Note that his hat was found a 2 o'clock in the morning and that his body wasn't recovered until the next morning. Mary went to her grave thinking that foul play was involved with her father's death.
MARY, SOPHIA, ANNA, FRANK, CARL, WILLIAM, AND LOUIS THEISS
After her husband's death, "...Mrs. Theiss rallied, took charge of the farm which by then, well-stocked and grown to many times its original acreage, demanded good management, kept her children in school and faced the world with a brave face if with a sad heart. But the shock was too great. Mary the oldest daughter was away at school and Peter's widow knew nothing of the business part of the farm. But Mary was well prepared for what was to come, and with her mother's blessing she took over the management of the farm. Seven children were at home at this time including a brother Johnny who died of pneumonia at age five the winter after Peter's death.
"After that the mother simply grieved herself to death. A few months later, she lay beside her husband. The Theiss home, still with three small children, had no directing head. "There was only one thing to do," Mary Theiss told me, "and that was to go ahead, keep the children together and do the things that father and mother had planned to do.
"...Mary had been operating on a strong faith in God and sheer determination. She asked the judge in Warrensburg to make her the legal guardian of the minor children and the judge agreed. And so this "slip of a girl" became administrator of the Theiss estate; but more than that, a mother to her motherless small brothers and sister and a counselor for the older ones. Soon, all the children younger than Mary were baptized and attending Sacred Heart regularly because of her influence.
"As the months went by it was found that many of a rural community were looking to this unassuming young woman for leadership and constructive planning. In every essential a home maker, Mary Theiss developed into a successful farm manager. There were 22 Jerseys in the farm herd, many of them registered, and every day cream went to Warrensburg and the owners were rewarded with a substantial check. Calves and hogs got the milk and the combination proved a profitable one. "
A large confectionery in Warrensburg afforded a good market for milk and cream, although it could not use the whole output. The chickens and calves got the skim milk. The brooder house was heated with a sheet-iron stove. And five hundred healthy, hustling Barred Rocks stood in the chicken yard. They sold enough eggs for setting to pay for having their chicks hatched and to buy their feed.
A family council was held every morning. Under Mary's directing leadership each decided what tasks he was to complete for the day. No help was hired except for silo-filling.
The general earnings of the farm went into a communion fund but each member of the family had his own savings account and his own checking account. "I want them to know the worth of a dollar," Mary explained, "and to feel that they are standing on their own feet. Those who have gone to the state university have almost altogether paid their own way. Anna and Carl and Louis have practically paid their own school expenses this year and bought their own clothes.
Sophia, who was next oldest, had a semester in home economics at the state university. William went to the university to take a semester of the short course, but was stricken with influenza and had to abandon school. Frank, as the best judge of field crop seeds, won a gold medal given at the state university by the Missouri Corn Growers' Association. He had a silver cup that was engraved with the fact that he was state champion.
"I figure that our getting ahead depends a good bit more on what we do here on our own farm than on what the lawmakers do at Washington or Jefferson City," Mary said.The 140-acre farm was mostly rough pasture land, too rocky to cultivate. They put 30 acres in corn and 11 acres in hay. The silo was the mainstay for feed. Cost accounts on several enterprises helped to solve management problems and financial records of all transactions were kept.
Boys' and girl's club work appealed to May as opportunity to develop farm enthusiasm n her flock. There were no boys' and girs' clubs, so she went out among the neighbors and organized some. And on the piano in the neat living-room of the Theiss home were three engraved silver cups, all denoting state championships won by members of the family
"Mary encouraged her brothers and sisters to join poultry clubs. Johnson County folks never had exhibited much club enthusiasm but it soon began to flourish where it had never grown before. Frank won fourth place with his Poland's in 1919 and came back in 1920. More over he had the honor of placing second in the race for the pep trophy. But sister Anna went one better. After a contest which was warm from the start to the finish, the coveted Pep trophy for leadership was assigned to the Johnson County Poultry Club and it adorned the Theiss piano for Anna was the winning leader. "I was the happiest girl in all Missouri," she wrote. "But club membership has meant more than the winning of prizes."
"Their sister Mary took up the work of encouragement and inspiration. Club work had become part of the lives of the Theiss children. Their teammates were just members of an enlarged family The youngsters were absorbing information and obtaining training that was to prove valuable. "You will be surprised at hearing from me," Mary Theiss wrote to John Case, "but I wanted you to know what the club work has meant to us. Frank's training in record keeping has proved of great value in keeping our farm accounts. and Anna has become a regular little business woman. Your friendship and encouragement has meant even more to Frank tho. If it had not been for the help and encouragement that came through our club associations, I doubt that it would have been possible for us to continue the home life and the work as we have done."
"Untiring industry was a part of the Theiss family life. Every hand was needed on the big farm but sister Mary visioned for her brothers and sister the education which she craved but had been denied.so over to Columbia journeyed Sophia, the second girl to take the short course in home economics and there too went William to study mechanics during the winter months. At home the others did double duty. Frank took a short course in agriculture. "I want to be a farmer and a good one,: Frank said.
"It will mean getting up earlier in the morning and harder work for all of us at home," said Mary, "but if it is humanly possible, every one of the children is going to get an education. All of us are willing to sacrifice to bring this about."
The Theiss family was featured in an article in Farm Magazine in 1924.
Madeline Will and Frank developed a close friendship. Frank was a handsome young man but Madeline's guardian, Mr. Pickel, did not feel he was a good match for Madeline. He forbid her from seeing him. Madeline would go for walks on Sunday afternoon and and end up on the Theiss farm unbeknownst to Mr. Pickel. When he found out, he enlisted the help of the priest at Sacred Heart to stop anything serious from developing between the two. The Priest made a point to catch Frank alone shortly thereafter and threatened to break Frank's leg if he did not stop seeing Madeline. This was very traumatic to Frank and he stopped attending mass shortly thereafter. A few months later the Pickel family sent Madeline to New York where she worked for an insurance company and married William Kurtz
The Theiss home did not go without motherly guidance for a sister of Mrs. Theiss came to live with the children. The Theiss home was a real home. The intangible atmosphere which marks the presence of a homemaker was found within those concrete walls.
Mary Theiss led her brothers and sisters in making a good living by intelligent and efficient farming, and preparing every one of them to be capable, useful citizens. Apparently without thought of herself, she joyously devoted the years of her youth to a task that she might have avoided.
"I intend that each of the youngsters shall graduate from school, and be prepared to take good care of himself," she said. After that was done, she thought of a home for herself. There was a splendid young man who realized that Mary was well worth waiting for
All was not work, however. The entire family entered into the spirit of play as heartily as they undertook any farm task. In play as in work, sister Mary was the directing head. When it came to the pep trophy presentation meeting it wasn't difficult to discover that Mary Theiss was the moving spirit. Not that Anna hadn't won her trophy fairly and unaided, except for the encouragement and inspiration afforded by a big sister who was frankly proud of her. But in the larger program of community effort, Mary was the acknowledged leader.
The Kurtz family returned to Warrensburg and Sacred Heart before 1950 to care for Clara Pickel in her old age. Madeline was always a close friend of the Theiss family and after William Kurtz died she was a guest in the Theiss homes for holiday dinners,
Notice that neither Albert nor Robert attended this reunion although both of them lived in Warrensburg.
Frank Theiss and Madeline Kurtz were good friends in their twilight years, but Frank said he would not consider wishing himself on any woman in his health condition at that time. Frank did return to the church in the last few years of his life while almost blind and in a nursing home.
HENRY, ROBERT AND ALBERT THEISSRobert Theiss joined the local national guard unit as a private in March 1934. He was 17 years old.
Henry Theiss (above) was the oldest son of Peter Theiss. Henry was married and gone from the farm before his father's death, so, although they attended the Quarry School with their aunts and uncles, his sons Robert and Albert were not brought up on Prospect Hill Farm under the guidance of Mary Theiss. Not as much is known about their childhood adventures.
The below wedding announcement is interesting because Robert never married Margie Hachenberg. His first wife's name was Jean Kesterson.
When National Guard units were called to federal service in 1940, Robert Theiss was appointed captain and commanding officer of Company L, Third Missouri Infantry He served in this capacity until his commission in the U.S. Navy Reserve in March 1943. As a reservist, he was able to attend the University of Chicago where he received his master's degree in physical science. From there he served as aerological officer in Naval Weather Centrals at Kodiak, Adak and Attu Islands, Territory of Alaska in the Aleutian Islands.
Robert helped to organize the Mattthews-Crawford American Legion Post 131, Department of Missouri with continuous membership until his death. He served in most post offices and numerous committees throughout his 58 year membership including treasurer and Past Commanders Club.
In December 1950, Robert Theiss was recalled to active duty serving as Fleet Weather Central and Typhoon Tracing Center aerological officer in the Territory of Guam and aboard the USS Valley Forge (CV-45) on which he served a seven month tour providing weather forecasts for fighter/bomber squadrons on daily bombing runs over Korea. He later received orders to NAS, Hutchinson, Kansas, a naval multi-engine aircraft training base through June, 1953.
In 1958, Robert was elected district commander of his American Legion Post, receiving the National Achievement Award for outstanding service in membership and enrollment in 1960 and 1962.
His brother Albert chose to join the Veteran's of Foreign Wars.
Robert was appointed Warrensburg's postmaster by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
In 1962, he again received the American Legion's National Achievement Award for outstanding service in membership and enrollment
Sandra and William Theiss were brother and sister, the son and daughter of Albert Theiss.
Robert and Jean Theiss visited Congressman William J. Randall in the mid '70s,
In 1988, Robert Theiss became a founding membr of the Rusty Zipper Club, where he met daily with 35 or so other members to keep current on Warrensburg activities.
Robert, remarried after the death his first wife, Jean. He married Dorothy Jean Timmons in 1993. In 1997 and 1998 he spent many weeks researching records so that post 131 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars could place flags on city cemetery graves on Memorial Day. He identified more than 550 veteran's graves and charted their location.
He also took time to visit the 1998 American Legion Convention held in New Orleans.