A Capsule History of American Legions Post 157 Vivian, S.D., 1922-2019
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:44am admin
This history of the Vivian Legion was done as part of the South Dakota American Legions collection to honor the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.
The Webster-Larson Post 157 of Vivian, S.D. has a 98-year interesting lineage. During the summer of 1921, interested veterans of WWI, who were living in the Vivian area, began their quest to establish a Legion Post in this small, sparsely populated, community where several of its eligible young men had served in WWI. Guided by a returning veteran of WWI, Vivian School Superintendent, C.A. Aisenbrey, an application for a charter was submitted in December of 1921. The American Legion granted the charter to Post 157 of Vivian, S.D. on Jan. 26, 1922 and was ratified by a unanimous vote of the Post’s fifteen charter members on Feb. 4, 1922. The Vivian American Legion was officially identified as Webster-Newman Post 157, honoring Harry J. Webster and Elmer L. Newman, both of whom had lost their lives in WWI. Aisenbrey was officially elected to be the Post’s first Commander. Post 157 was issued two future charters; in 1928, the post voted unanimously in June of 1928 to change its name to: Webster-Rowland Post 157. This change was in response to receiving information that Elmer Newman, who had no local relatives and had only lived in Vivian about two months, had been honored by three other Legion Posts, while Pvt. Carl Rowland, a WWI casualty, had never been honored, but had been a resident of Vivian for several years before enlistment, and that his wife, Harriet and family, had remained in the community several years after his death. This Charter was ratified on Dec. 11, 1928. A third charter was granted to Post 157 on Oct. 20, 1947, changing the name to; Webster-Larson Post 157. (Honoring Pvt. Edwin Larson, a paratrooper who had given his life during the D-Day invasion.) The Post’s name change would ascribe honors for a veteran of both WWI and WWII.
The Vivian Legion had several different “homes” in Vivian. The first was a rented room in the old schoolhouse, to L.V. Millers barbershop, then in March of 1928, the Legion purchased the F.W. Fahrenwald Highway Garage, immediately converting it to the Legion “Home” from whence, the Vivian dances became notorious. In the 1960’s the Legion members fabricated a home above the stage in the new Vivian Hall.
Since its founding, Post 157 has invited and accepted all veterans who desired to become Legionnaires for “God and Country”. Available records show an unofficial total of 147 veterans have been members of Post 157 at different times, notable among them was Allison Meyers, a veteran of the Spanish-American war. Many WWI veterans maintained their Post 157 memberships throughout their lifetime. Several WWII veteran Legionnaires have been honored with 50-year membership pins, including Dave Moore, currently a member for his 73rd year. Numerous Legionnaires have been honored with 40-year Viet Nam memberships, a half-dozen have 45-year Korean War memberships, and three have Desert Storm/Enduring Freedom memberships. At its utmost, Post 157 rolls counted 40 members. During the 1920 ’s and 30’s, several members of our Post were from neighboring towns, including eight members from Draper, S.D. who, requested that an occasional meeting be held in Draper. On Feb. 11, 1929, the first meeting of Vivian Post 157 was called to order in Draper. For several years Post 157 held two meetings per year in Draper and partnered with the Murdo Legion Post 75 to conduct Memorial Day services at Draper. For many years the Presho and Vivian Legion Posts have shared Memorial Day speakers.
Throughout its existence, the Vivian, S.D. Legion Post 157 has provided military funeral honors, including a flag presentation to families of eligible veterans of both the community and our surrounding area. Perpetually, over the ensuing years, Legion Post 157 has enriched the community by sponsoring Boys State, Boy Scouts, shooting clinics, firearm safety, Easter Egg hunts, Jr. Legion baseball, basketball trophy’s, coyote, jackrabbit and pheasant hunts, movies, talent shows, rodeos, roller-skating, dances and scores of pancake or chili feeds.
The Vivian Webster-Larson American Legion Post 157 continues its legacy of bettering our community. Their latest project was undertaken in 2016, when Legion Adjutant, Terry Patrick, proposed the addition and installation of four telescoping flagpoles at the Vivian Cemetery. The four poles, each bearing a colorful insignia flag representing one of the four major branches of service, align east and west, adjacent to the taller center pole, from which our American flag is flown. Each Memorial Day or military burial, these flags wave proudly, accentuating our patriotism, pride and respect. The Webster-Larson American Legion Post 157 motto: For God and Country,” continues its legacy in Vivian, S.D.
After the successful chartering of American Legion Post 157 in 1922, eligible and interested community ladies began the preliminary formulation of a Post 157 American Legion Auxiliary. The Vivian American Legion Auxiliary, ratified their charter on May 26, 1924, identified as Webster-Rowland Post 157, with 14 members signing. The Auxiliary membership zenith was 60 members, immediately following the Korean/Viet Nam wars. From its beginning, the Post 157 Legion Auxiliary was, and is today, equally resolute in their betterment of the community. Contributing selflessly, the Auxiliary has provided money, blankets, quilts, clothing and shoes for both local welfare and the Red Cross, sold poppies, organized “bond” and salvage drives, conducted Polio clinics in the 1950’s, operated concession stands for various events, hosted card parties, provides 30lbs. of candy yearly to our Veteran’s Homes, organizes Memorial Day programs and wreath placement, sponsored Girls State since 1947, with Sylvia Hullinger Fuoss, being its first selection, appraise “Poppy Posters,” and have distributed dictionaries to 3rd-grade students at Lyman Elementary School for many years. The Auxiliary motto: “For Service, Not Self,” still resonates throughout the community!