The Creation of the Shawnee National Forest 1930-1938

originally titled - Birth of the Shawnee National Forest, 1933-Present

Part IV: Personnel


The personnel of the Shawnee Purchase Units has fluctuated during the four and one-half years it has been in existance, influenced by the varying emergency programs that have been effective during these years.

The original personel consisting of the Forest Supervisor, two Acquisition Chiefs of Party, Executive Assistant, stenographer, and 17 field assistants, was rapidly expanded as CCC camps were occupied and land acquisiton work progressed, until in Februray, 1935, 234 people were payrolled by the Supervisor's office.

This was increased by 78 names the following July, when the first Emergency Relief Act (ERA) program began. Due to loss of camps and leveling off of emergency programs the number payrolled declined to 92 in May 1938.

During its existence, the administrative personnel of the Shawnee has been changed frequently. The first Forest Supervisor was Donald R. Ball, who had been a Forest Ranger on the Chequamegon National Forest. In June, 1934, Mr. Ball was transferred to the Chequamegon, and was succeeded on the Shawnee by Clarence E. Knutson, who had been a principal Forest Ranger ont he nicolet National Forest. Mr. Knutson was transferred to the Chippewa National Forest in September 1935, and was succeeded by Gerald S. Horton, who had been Assistant Forest Supervisor on the Hoosier Purchase Units.

In February, 1937, Mr. Horton was transferred to the Regional Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was succeeded by Galen W. Pike, who had been Forest Supervisor on the Gardner Purchase Unit at Springfield, Missouri.

During the first two years of its existence, the Shawnee did not have an Assistant Forest Supervisor, but due to the increasing administrative work-load this position was authorized on June 1, 1935, and Favre L. Eaton, who had been Forest Ranger in charge of the Shawnee Ranger District, became the first man to hold this position on the Shawnee.

In October, 1936, Mr. Eaton was transferred to the Flathead National Forest at Kalispell, Montana, and was succeeded by A. L. Richey, who had been Assistant Forest Supervisor on the Manistee Purchase Unit.

James B. Ruckman was the first Executive Assistant on the Shawnee, arriving here from the Huron National Forest at East Tawas, Michigan, where he had served in a similar capacity. Mr. Ruckman supervised the setting-up fo the Shawnee office and records.

In April, 1936, he requested a transfer to a northern forest for reasons of health, and was sent to the Chippewa National Forest at Cass Lake, Minnesota, and E. L. Bersley, who had been Executive Assistant on the Chippewa, was transferred to the Shawnee.

In December, 1937, Mr. Bersley was transferred to the Clark Purchase Unit at St. Louis, Missouri, and was succeeded by L. V. Huljeson, Assistant Clerk, who had been transferred to the Shawnee in September, 1934, from the Superior National Forest.

At the outset the Shawnee Purchase Units consisted of but two units or Ranger Districts, known respectively as the Shawnee and the Illini. The first Forest Ranger in charge of the Shawnee was Mr. Eugene V. Phelps who had arrived on the forest in October, 1933, as Acquisition Chief-of-Party. Mr. Phelps was succeeded in August, 1934, by Favre L. Eaton who was transferred from the Sleepy Cat Ranger District, White River National Forest, Colorado. Mr. Eaton had previously, during the winter of 1933-34, been detailed to the Illinois to supervise CWA activities on one of the units.

In February, 1935, Mr. Eaton was detailed to mthe Forest Supervisor's office in preparation for his ultimate appointment as Assistant Forest Supervisor, and at that time the Shawnee was split into the Sontefort and Rosiclare Ranger Districts.

John O. Wernham, who had been District Forest Ranger on the Illini, became Forest Ranger in charge of the Stonefort District and Horace A. Lucas, who had been Assistant Ranger on the Illini, became Acting Forest Ranger in charge of the Rosiclare District.

William E. Bates succeeded John O. Wernham as District Forest Ranger on the Illini. Mr. Bates previously been Acquisition Chief-of-Party, and was transferred to me Shawnee in December, 1933, from Region One.

In March, 1933, the Illini was divided into the Delta and Big Muddy Ranger Districts, and Mr. Estes became Ranger in charge of the Delta District. Marvin G. Angle, who had been Assistant Ranger on the old Shawnee District, became Ranger in charge of the Big Muddy. Mr. Wernham later was assigned to the Rosiclare, and Mr. Lucas to the Stonefort.

In January, 1936, a temporary office was set up at Metropolis, Illinois in the post office building, and Stanley B. Olson, who had been transferred to the Shawnee from the Chippewa National Forest, was designated as Acting Ranger in charge. The area administered by this office was the proposed fifth Ranger District fro the forest, to be known as the Dixon Springs Ranger District.

In May, 1937, William E. Bates and John O. Wernham were transferred to the Supervisor's office, the former in charge of Forest Management, an the later to head up Recreation and Lands.

Mr. Estes was succeeded on the Delta Ranger District by Horace A. Lucas; Mr. Lucas one Stonefort, by Robert S. Dimmick who had been Assistant Ranger on the Stonefort and on the big Muddy; and Stanley B. Olson succeeded Wernham on the Rosiclare. Eugene V. Phelps was assigned to the Metropolis office.

Among the men who have acted as Assistant Ranger on the Shawnee are John E. McQueen, Earl W. Simonton, Eugene V. Phelps, Robert S. Dimmick, F. Carter Quinlin, Marvin G. Angle, Wilfred M. James, Robert M. Obrist, Horace A. Lucas, Clarence A. Bittinger, Conrad A. Fischer, James G. MacAllister, and Charles E. Reynolds.

In July, 1937, due to reduction in CCC camps, and reorganization in the Region resulting in a scaling-down of Ranger Districts, it was ncessary to consolidate the administration of the Big Muddy District with that of the Delta Ranger District, and the entire territory then assumed the name of Delta Ranger District, a sub-unit office only being maintained at Murphysboro, Illinois, in charge of Wilfred M. James, Assistant Ranger. Mr. James was transferred to the Shawnee from the Clark Purchase Units in the fall of 1937. In September, 1937, W. Duncan Giffen, who had been a Forest Ranger on the Manistee Purchase Units, succeeded Robert S. Dimmick as District Forest Ranger on the Stonefort.

Dimmick became Camp Superintendent at Camp Eddyville F-4. In July, 1937, it was ncessary to discontinue the office at Metropolis, Illinois, and Eugene V. Phelps became CCC Assistant on the Delta.

During the early years of the unit two nurseries were maintained, one known as Ware, on the Illini, and the other known as Junction, on the Shawnee. Norman D. Koleman was the first superintendent at Ware, and was succeeded by John E. McQueen.

William W. Grogan, Charles e. Reynolds, and John E. McQueen were successively superintendents at the Junction Nursery. Both nurseries were abandoned and the Junction area was converted to a demonstration planting.

Most of the personnel of the Shawnee Purchase Units, particularly administrative and supervisory, have been transferred from northern or western forests. However, numerous local people have been employed, both in clerical and field positions.

Ottice F. Burden, Kenneth Smith, and Carender Mathis are among the local people who have been with the forest almost since its inception. In addition, local residents, especially rural, have been woven into the organization through employment as keymen, forest guards, fire-fighters, and road laborers, in addition to the local people that have been employed through enrollment in CCC Camps, and under the emergency programs, such as ERA.

NEXT: Part V: Forest Infrastructure
BACK: Part III: Establishment

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Created August 5, 1996 by Jon Musgrave