American Legion Post 173
The American Legion had its origin at the end of World War I in France when 17 men representing the branches of service former a “non-partisan, non-politic, non-militaristic” organization to serve all servicemen, whether they served overseas or stateside, and makes no distinction between enlisted men and officers.
Eight posts of the American Legion were active in Logan County
in 2003: Post 173, Bellefontaine; Post 266, Belle Center; Post 381, Huntsville; Post 426, West Liberty; Post 599, Zanesfield; Post 603, West Mansfield; Post 652, DeGraff, and Post 745, East Liberty. Bellefontaine Post 173 has the distinction of being the first, the largest and the only post among these to have a both a permanent home and full-time canteen.
The first efforts to organize in Logan County came in August 1919, when area servicemen banded together to form a local post. Former Major E.K. Campbell called the meeting to order and gave the men present an idea of what a temporary organization might involve. Fred Hamilton was chosen to act as temporary chairman and Joseph Cooke as temporary secretary.
Those in attendance signed a petition for a charter, which was forwarded to state headquarters, approved and then sent on to national headquarters in New York. The group also decided to name the post after Harold R. Kerr, the first Bellefontaine serviceman killed in World War I. He served with the Marines and died in action in June 1918, near Chateau Thierry, France. The post’s charter, carrying the signatures of 32 individuals, was approved and received in Bellefontaine in October 1919.
In January 1921, County Commissioners give the second floor of Memorial Hall to the recently formed Harold Kerr Post for use as a clubroom. A large room on that floor was used for meetings and had kitchen facilities as well. The first floor of Memorial Hall was given to the Eugene Reynolds Post of the Grand Army of the Republic and kindred organizations.
After outgrowing facilities there, Post 173 in 1943 settled into the third floor of the Powell Block at the corner of east Columbus and Opera. Subsequent moves took the organization to the building on north Main that would later serve as the Calvary Baptist Church and then as the MacGillivray Law offices, to the former Orr Mansion now occupied by the Logan County Museum, and to the upper floor of a building in the 100 block of west Columbus.
Finally, post officers and members voted to construct their own post facility, which was built in 1968 at its current location, 120 Colton Avenue.
An integral part of Post 173 for many years has been the sponsorship of drum and bugle corps. The first group organized as the Bellefontaine Drum & Bugle Corps, played for the first time in February 1931 at the grand opening of the Holland Theater. They traveled widely over the next few years and won several competitions, including first in the state.
The post again organized a corps known as Satan’s Angels in 1952, consisting of musically talented men from Bellefontaine and Logan County who performed in numerous competitions all over the state and nation over the next decade. In its first state event in 1952, Satan’s Angels placed fourth. The next year they won first place in the state, a title the group held for many years.
Satan’s Angels also competed nationally. In 1953 they came in 14th at the national competition in St. Louis, and improved to 6th nationally at the competition in Washington D.C. in 1954. Satan’s Angels sponsored annual music festivals at the Bellefontaine High School — at first called “Music in Motion” and then “Summer Serenade” — that brought other groups and spectators from all over the Midwest.
Over a 7-year period, Satan’s Angels traveled more than 32,000 miles, won 65 trophies in 57 competitions, participated in 160 parades and played before approximately 4.5 million people. Satan’s Angels disbanded in the early 1960s but were followed by a junior corps that enjoyed many of the same successes as the senior group.
Legion Post 173 currently has more than 1,000 regular members and persons in the following affiliate organizations: Ladies Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion (S.A.L.) and the Forty & Eight, an honor society of Legionnaires. Officers and members of these groups take pride in emphasizing community service through the sponsorship of such programs as Veterans’ Support, Boys State and Girls State, Youth Sports, Children and Youth programs, Scholarships, Oratorical Contests and Americanism and Government programs. – Written by David Wagner for Historic Glimpses of Logan
County, Ohio, 2003