Beautifully engraved certificate from the Army-Post Development Company
in 1918. This historic document has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of a train. This item is hand signed by the Company’s President and Secretary and is
over 92 years old.
The Army Post Development Company was organized with a capital stock of $300,000; which company, composed of the leading business men of Little Rock and North Little Rock, bought and consolidated a number of small farms and offered the Government 3,000 acres of land in fee simple for the cantonment. In addition to this, indeterminate leases on 10,000 acres adjoining were obtained and turned over to the Government.
On June 11,1917, the war department announced that Little Rock had been selected as one of the sites for training camps, and that $3,500,000 had been appropriated for the construction of the necessary buildings, etc. On June 23, the contract was awarded to James Stewart & Company, of New York and St. Louis.
Maj. John R. Fordyce was selected to superintend the work as construction quarter-master. The cantonment was named Camp Pike, for Brig.-Gen. Zebulon M. Pike, who, as a lieutenant in the regular army, explored the Mississippi River to its source soon after the Louisiana Purchase, and later led an expedition into the Southwest, discovering and naming Pike's Peak in Colorado. It was at Camp Pike that the Eighty-Seventh division, composed of drafted men from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi was organized and trained. Accepting the offer of the people of Lonoke to furnish a tract of 960 acres, rent free, the Government in November, 1917, began the establishment of an Aviation Field near that town.
Following the custom of the war department of naming aviation schools or camps for flyers killed in service, the Lonoke camp was named for Capt. Melchior M. Eberts, who was killed while making an exhibition flight at Columbus, New Mexico, on May 8, 1917. Twentythree young men of Arkansas were among the first to enter this aviation school to prepare themselves for the air service abroad, but the armistice was signed before any of them were actually inducted into service. In addition to the aviation field at Lonoke, the Goverment expended about one million dollars on an aviation warehouse and the development of the picric acid plant at Little Rock, though neither was completed in time to be of service before the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. The following table shows the whole number of men furnished by Arkansas for actual service:
In the United States army 66,437
In the navy and marine corps 55,359
In the coast guard 66
Of these were killed in action, 292; died of wounds, 112; wounded in line of duty, 1,751; died of disease, 417; accidental deaths, 16; committed suicide, 1; drowned, 2; murdered, 3; died from other known causes, 8; cause of death undetermined, 27; captured, 24; missing (presumed to be dead), 7. The total casualties sustained was 2,660. This total, however, does not include those who died in camps in the United States.
History from the Arkansas History Commission and OldCompany.com.