Johnston-Blessman Post 38

Historical Information

This page is currently under construction and not all information is contained within. 

Based on research conducted by the Appleton Historical Society, and information contained in historical documents, the following outlines Appleton American Legion Post 38's rich history.

The American Legion was formed in Paris, France after World War 1 on March 15, 1919. Shortly thereafter, the Appleton American Legion Post applied for its establishment as part of the National Charter on August 26, 1919. It listed as its name Oney Johnston. So who is Oney Johnston?

Sergeant Everette “Oney” Johnston, was the most senior enlisted soldier from Appleton to die in the conflict. He was also a proud member of old company G prior to World War 1.  Sgt. Johnston was serving in Chatteau Thiery, France on the morning of July 29, 1918, when the 42nd Rainbow Division advance came under heavy enemy fire along the Ourcq River. Oney led his platoon to safety in a ditch, but this was only temporary. Eventually a German machine gun honed in on his position, as he witnessed his men being decimated by enemy fire. In a final act of bravery, Oney was hit with deadly shrapnel attempting to carry one of his wounded to safety.  The endorsement for establishment was approved on August 29, 1919, and the Charter was issued, commanded by John Turner serving as Post Commander. (Source: Appleton Post Crescent) 

The members listed on the founding document include the following: Allan B. Ellis (Lt. Col., National Guard), Richard A. Rolfe, Frederick W. Hoffman (Col.), Gustave J. Keller (2nd Lt.), Karl W. Haugen, Henry L. Nabberfeld (1st Lt. Marine Corps), Henry Schmidt, and Homer H. Benton (the original application was illegible in sections therefore not all founding members are listed and not all members rank/grades could be located). 

On December 11, 1931, Post 38 incorporated itself for the "sole purpose of protecting individual members thereof from liability in the event of litigation against said Post;" however, it wasn't until some 9 years later, on February 28, 1940 (Commander Frank H. Wilson/Post Adjutant Stanley A. Staidl), that the members of Oney Johnston Post 38 applied for an Application of Supplemental Charter. 

On March 3, 1947, Post 38 (Post Commander, Carl J. Schroeder) put forth a resolution to official change the name of Post 38 from Oney Johnston to Oney Johnston-Edward Blessman. It passed by an overwhelming majority of  93-7 in favor for the name change. This Post Application for Permanent Charter as Oney Johnston-Edward Blessman application was signed by the Charter Members including: Charles C. Baker - Commander, L. Hugo Keller - Adjutant, William Zilake - Treasurer, Alfred C. Bosser - Service Officer, George C. Stickney - Chaplain, Eric Madisen - Historian, Lothar C. Graef - Athletic Officer, and Arthur Bucks - Sergeant-At-Arms. So what is the signficance behind Edward Blessman and what is his connection to Appleton?

Lt. Edward Blessman was born in Nott, North Dakota, but was raised in Appleton Wisconsin. He graduated from [then] Appleton High School, and went on to graduate from Lawrence College. On 4 February 1942, USS Marblehead (stood out of Surabaya, Java, as part of a mixed American-Dutch cruiser-destroyer force under Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman, Royal Netherlands Navy. Japanese flying boats from the Toko Kōkūtai (Toko Air Group), however, spotted the force as it attempted to transit the Madoera Strait to attack the Japanese invasion fleet bound for Borneo. Thus forewarned, Japanese naval land attack planes bombed the allied force. At 10:27, a stick of seven bombs from a Mitsubishi G4M1 "Betty" bomber of Kanoya Kōkūtai straddled Marblehead. The first of the two bombs to hit the ship penetrated the main deck and exploded near "wardroom country," the blast ripping through the light sheet metal bulkheads that comprised the boundaries of the compartment. Blessman, who, as the ship’s senior aviator had no air defense station and was in the wardroom at the time, was killed instantly by the concussion. (Souce: US Naval Academy)

In the Post's infancy, it operated from a former church building located at 800 N. Superior St. This building itself has quite the history. 

  • 1906-1930 was the German Methodist Church
  • 1930-1938 was the First Reformed Church
  • 1938-1953 was the American Legion Post 38
  • The building them became the home of the Moose Lodge for many years.

In 1953, Post 38 built and finally moved into its new Post building, which is now its current location at 3220 W. College Ave.  




Updated: 4 October 2021