Pullman in the First World War


In 1881, George Mortimer Pullman purchased 3,000 acres of land on the far south side of Chicago. He wanted to build a utopian factory town to build and service passenger cars.

The Factory complex occupied more than 300 acres, with a town bordering the factory complex to the north and south. The town was annexed by the City of Chicago in 1889 along with Hyde Park Township and became a neighborhood of the city.

The early part of the 20th century saw the greatest extent of employment and manufacturing at the factory. Many of the 10,000 or so employees that worked at the Pullman Company during the war years lived in the Pullman neighborhood or the adjacent Roseland neighborhood.

During George Pullman's time, the United States had a very small standing army (perhaps 100,000 men) and would rely on locally raised militias and troop levies to fill the ranks. It was considered the height of civic responsibility to raise and train a reserve unit in one's town. 

The company was formed shortly thereafter in 1882. According to the Chicago Times, Nov. 15, 1882: A military company has been organized at Pullman to be known as Company G, 2nd Regiment, Illinois National Guard. The officers are: James A. Price, Captain; William Swart, 1st Lieutenant; S.H. McNalib, 2nd Lieutenant. The organization has 45 members, and it is expected that the number will be considerably increased. 

It is not clear when the company was disbanded; however, there is an oblique mention of the militia company in an article about the strike. On July 8, 1894, the Tribune reported that yesterday the fact was made known also that the Deputy Marshals were searching Pullman and Kensington for a lot of guns, purchased some years ago from the city by an independent company of militia which has since been abandoned. There were 300 of the weapons, the old pattern in use at the time of the 'Haymarket Riots.'

ome time between 1883 and 1894, the militia was disbanded. Pullman residents and employees were accustomed to being part of military service of some kind.

Much of the information in this presentation was published in the Pullman Car Works Standard, a company magazine that was distributed to all employees. As Pullmanites entered service, the magazine was shipped to them wherever they were stationed.

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