Posted by Jim Wayman on Nov 06, 2018
Susan Rathke of the Emporia Convention and Visitors Bureau introduced Teresa Mitchell from Emporia State University's Educational Theatre Company, who educated us on Emporia's Company L. This information was gained from interviews of several Emporians that were conducted by late Emporian Steve Hanschu about their life experiences and have been archived at the Lyon County History Center. The interviews were adapted into readings and brought to life through the Flint Hills Oral History Project.
We learned about Company L that originated in Emporia during World War I. This company of soldiers either from the region or attending college in Emporia started their training in a camp on the grounds of the Emporia Country Club for a period of time. Their training took them to Fort Sill in Oklahoma, to Liverpool, England, and then on to France for the last twelve months of the war.
ESU's Educational Theatre Company is portraying three soldiers who were part of Company L. Ryan Wollum, one of the ESU theatre students, portrayed Lt. Col Ellis Christensen during our meeting. As part of this week's Veterans Day activities in Emporia, Ryan, as well as two other theatre students, are portraying Lt. Col. Christensen, Col. Arthur Ericcsson, and Cpl. Andrew Fry. It was interesting to hear about how the soldiers were welcomed into the homes of people living in Emporia for meals on Sundays during their training time in Emporia.