Following the close of World War I in 1918, a group of Wells County veterans met in the Summer of 1919 in the court room at the Wells County courthouse, to discuss plans for forming an American Legion post according to the plan as previously outlined in Paris, France.
During this first organization meeting the late Dr. Fred A. Metts was chosen as the presiding officer, and thus he became the first commander. However, at that time, only tentative plans were made and completed for applying for a charter.
Plans were developed for naming the new Bluffton post after Grover Sheets, of Liberty Township, who was the first Wells County soldier to fall in action in France.
In the Winter of 1919 Grover Sheets Post was completely organized and a charter was granted.
In 1920 the newly organized post was ready to operate and the late Hoyt H. Hartman was elected the first full-term commander. From 1919 until 1922 the new post was forced to meet twice a month in the court room at the courthouse.
Not until 1922 did the post finally secure quarters and they were on the third floor of the building now occupied on the ground floor by the Snug Restaurant. A year later the post headquarters was moved onto the second floor of the McAfee building over the bakery and has occupied this suite of rooms since that time.
WANTED A NEW HOME
Since the founding of Grover Sheets Post, 30 years ago the members have looked forward to the day when they could have a new home. In the beginning, little headway was made toward laying aside any surplus of funds for a home. The American Legion is one of the most exclusive social organizations in the world. Its membership is confined exclusively to the honorable discharged veterans who served their country in time of war.
Membership dues in the American Legion are only $4 per year, so it is obvious that the Bluffton post could not pay rent or even continue to exist in any permanent home were it not for the revenue derived from social activities sponsored by the post. In fact, officers of the club report, the present new home could not have been built now or hereafter had it not been for the fact that Grover Sheets Post sponsored social activities.
The American Legion in general and Grover Sheets Post in particular have strived in the past to do everything possible for the aid of crippled war veterans, the widows of veterans and the orphans and those dependent on veterans. Were it not for the American Legion and the militant women of the Auxiliary, the world would soon forget the sacrifices made by veterans in giving so much to preserve our freedom and our present way of life in this great land we love to call America.
From the day a few veterans met in our Wells County courthouse until the present there has been a dream in the minds of all loyal Legionnaires about a home, a sanctuary, in which they could some day meet, without fear of the landlord or anyone, and have the privilege of meeting buddies who served with them in the great wars.
DREAM COME TRUE
From the beginning, the dream of a new home seemed impossible. It did take 30 years to make it become a reality, and today, members of the post who served in World War I find it extremely regrettable that so many of their comrades have passed on without having had any opportunity to enjoy the home now being dedicated.
While the idea of sometime erecting a new home was ever new in the minds of Legionnaires, not until 1943 was anything done about it. Even then, and in three years following, it seemed that although money was available, the members of the post could never agree on a set of plans.
Not until 1948 was a final action taken. Commander Henry Troutman, who had long been a supporter of the new home plan, and his executive committee, inaugurated new plans for starting a building program. These plans were well advanced when the next commander, Richard Huffman began his duties, but under his administration the final plans were finally consummated. Commander Huffman was forced to resign in the middle of his term and Dale Decker took over his duties as commander in a highly commendable manner. He has worked splendidly with all committees on building problems and is also heading the program committee for dedication.
STRIVE FOR IDEALS
Of course, every member of Grover Sheets Post 111 has hoped he would live to see the day that he might enjoy the privileges of a new home for the post. Already many of the World War I veterans know that their days in the new home are numbered. That is why they welcomed veterans of World War II into their post, believing that in these fine young Americans, many of whom almost paid the supreme sacrifice in defense of our country, could safely pass their torch of ideals, which will and must be protected into the future.
These ideals are set our very concisely in the preamble to the American Legion constitution and are as follows:
"For God and Country we associate ourselves together for the following purposes: To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America; to maintain law and order; to faster and perpetuate a 100% Americanism; to preserve the memories and incidents of our association in the great wars; to inculcate a sense individual obligation to our community, state and nation; to combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses; to make right the master of might; to promote peace and good will on earth; to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice; freedom and democracy; to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness."