Over this past Memorial Day, we have been reflecting on people who served and supported their country during peace and war times. In our Archive and Manuscript Collections, we have many collections that recall and record personal and organizational accounts of service. In this blog, we would like to spotlight a specific group that started in 1919 and two of its members.
The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) is an auxiliary organization of The American Legion composed of women who served and supported the nation and spouses of American war veterans who wanted to continue to support their country and community as they did during times of conflict. Founded in 1919, the ALA is dedicated to supporting “The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad” (“History“). This 100-year-old organization is founded on a spirit of service, not self. Over the course of their history, they have advocated for veterans, educated our citizens, mentored youth, and promoted patriotism, good citizenship, peace, and security (“History“).
Davenport was no different than many American cities that had citizens wishing they could show support for their country and armed forces. The local unit of The American Legion Auxiliary were an active group within the community and abroad. They presented plays, coordinated veterans’ funerals, developed a drill team of some renown, and more.
Zella Cox and Edith Lucier were early members of The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26 who served at home and aboard to share patriotism and support of the United States Armed Forces. Even though we are only sharing stories about two women, there are many more who helped develop this organization into a flourishing asset in the Quad Cities community.
Zella Dee (Edwards) Cox was born on August 2, 1902 in Belle Plaine, Iowa to Lambourne A. and Abigail Jane (Webb) Edwards. She was married to Charles H. Cox on February 18, 1922. Zella was an active member of the local unit of the American Legion Auxiliary where she served in many different capacities and assisted with a multitude of events throughout her sixty years of service. She was at one time appointed the chairman of a committee.
Edith R. Lucier was born September 15, 1903 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin to Henry and Bertha (Vogt/Voight) Lucier. She married Martin D. Leir on May 29, 1937. Edith was a graduate of the Immaculate Conception Academy in Davenport. She was a bookkeeper at Samuels Jewelry Office for 45 years. She had one child with Martin named Charles M.
Zella and Edith demonstrated the perseverance and skill to serve on various committees and groups within the local unit. They were also active members who were able to travel abroad with the Drill Team.
The documents below show Zella and Edith’s names on the passenger lists from the Cedric, a sister ship to the Celtic and was 685 feet long, documenting their travel overseas.
In 1927, the Drill Corps or the “singing legionaires” attended the opening session of the American Legion Convention in Paris, France. In our collection, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26, we have a scrapbook created by Zella detailing the young women’s adventures across the United States and Europe and many photographs taken of the notable group. There were many articles and photographs taken of the Drill Corps from Davenport, Iowa. Here are a few images from the collection.
During their lives these women dedicated themselves to many causes where the American Legion Auxiliary was only one of them. Zella Cox and Edith (Lucier) Leir lives were celebrated with obituaries published respectfully in the Quad-City Times on May 10, 1984, and May 19, 1998.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26, 2004-07, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, Davenport Public Library, Davenport, Iowa.
(posted by Kathryn)