By Pat Perry

For The Union Democrat

Although World War 1 was over in November 1918, the United States Government was still trying to raise money to pay for the war.

In April 1919, a Victory Liberty Loan drive for $5 billion was announced to start on April 21. Charles H. Segerstrom was county chairman for the drive, as he had been for the four prior loan drives.

To promote the purchase of the Victory Bonds, the government created Victory Loan Trophy Trains. The train that came to Sonora had traveled throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. It was scheduled to travel over 5,000 miles in 29 days, with 100 scheduled stops.

On the morning of May 9, the first blast of the train’s locomotive whistle announced its coming. Thousands of people poured into town to see the train, passing into and through the three cars which contained trophies recovered from the battlefields of Europe. The last car contained a small whippet tank that was run off the train and put through some stunts.

Speeches were followed by successful efforts to sell the Victory bonds. John Keagy, of Jamestown, was promised a rough ride in the tank for purchasing a $750 bond. The war machine was put in motion and Keagy was hauled across and along the railroad track, up over rough ground, with all the sudden twistings and turnings the little fighting devil machine was capable of making.

Charles H. Segerstrom took $2,500 worth of bonds, receiving a sword and a tank ride.

At the conclusion of the drive, Tuolumne County had exceeded its goal of $268,450. For all of the five bond drives to finance World War 1, Tuolumne County had purchased or subscribed to over $1 million in bonds, which equaled approximately $100 per man, woman and child in the county.

Charles Segerstrom’s sword is on display in the World War I exhibit at the Tuolumne County Museum, 158 Bradford Avenue.

This article was taken from the Chispa publication of the Tuolumne County Historical Society, Tuolumne County During World War I, which was written by Pat Perry, Historian for the City of Sonora.

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