Sunday, February 16, 2020

Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, in Wilmette, Illinois.

Father Edward Joseph Vattmann (1840-1919) was a retired U.S. Army Chaplain (Major) who lived at 1733 Lake Avenue in Wilmette. Active in local affairs, he was a familiar and well-loved figure around the village. His close friend, Theodore Roosevelt, was known to pay a visit to him at that house on occasion. During World War I, Father Vattmann came out of retirement to serve at Fort Sheridan in Highwood, Illinois.
When the news came to Wilmette that World War I had ended, Father Vattmann put on his full dress uniform, arranged for a band, and went across the street to St. Joseph School, where he insisted that all the students should be let out of class and assembled in the schoolyard. Each child was given a small American flag to wave in celebration of the Armistice, while the music played. For Ed Schuett, who was a seven-year-old at St. Joseph School, the memory was still fresh over 70 years later. "It was one of the happiest occasions that I can ever remember. It was so exhilarating."
Father Vattmann died the following year. His house still stands on Lake Avenue. A small park in Wilmette is named for him, and a large catholic monument stands guard over Father Vattmann's grave at the Fort Sheridan Cemetery on Sheridan Road in Fort Sheridan, Illinois.
But the most poignant reminder of this local legend can be found in a small grove of trees in Gillson Park across from the Lakeview Center. On November 11, 1921, Wilmette Post № 46 of the American Legion dedicated a planting of thirteen trees to commemorate the Wilmette men who died in World War I. The original trees have all been replaced now, but the grove is still there, and so is the small boulder to which is affixed a bronze marker. Twelve of the names on the marker are those of young men who died in the war. The thirteenth name, included as a tribute of esteem and affection by his fellow citizens, is that of Rev. Edward J. Vattmann.

Edward Joseph Vattmann is buried at the Fort Sheridan Cemetery in Highwood, Illinois.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. Here's my waymark of something similar in Lagrange:


The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is RATED PG-13. Please comment accordingly. Advertisements, spammers and scammers will be removed.