Almost immediately after the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, the women of Tuolumne County, led by Deaconess Elizabeth Dorsey of St. James Episcopal Church, formed a chapter of the Red Cross.

The young women and girls of the county also wanted to show their patriotic spirit and formed auxiliaries to the local chapter. In August, 11 girls, aged 5 to 12, formed the Junior Helpers of the Red Cross. They planned to meet each week to sew items for the Red Cross and to make articles for sale.

In October 1917, following a proclamation by President Wilson, the pupils of the Sonora Grammar School organized into a Junior Red Cross Society. Miss Maggie Fahey, principal and teacher at the school, was the chairman of the organization, which was open to all students. One hundred and seventy-five pupils immediately joined, paying the membership dues of 25 cents.

Maggie Fahey took her position as chairman of the Junior Red Cross very seriously, and appealed to all the teachers of Tuolumne County to urge their pupils to become members of the Junior Red Cross. “Other counties have enrolled every child,” she told the teachers. “Let Tuolumne again come to the front, that we may be proud of our junior citizens, the public school army. Teachers! Your task is ready. Assume it.”

Not to be outdone by the grammar schools, Sonora Union High School also had a Junior Red Cross. Pictured above is Frances Rehm, chairman of the Sonora Red Cross chapter, with some of the high school girls. The students sewed garments for the Belgian refugees and did a great deal of knitting and other work as requests were made. Tuolumne County had reason to be proud of her young citizens.

– Patricia Perry, Sonora City Historian