Kane County History: Julius Amandus Anderson’s WWI Memorial Trapunto Banner

Kane County History: Julius Amandus Anderson’s WWI Memorial Trapunto Banner

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was contributed by Jennifer Putzier, director of the Batavia Depot Museum.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, it is a fitting time to feature this unique trapunto embroidery, a recent gift to the Batavia Historical Society from Patricia Entile in 2018.

Trapunto banners were popular souvenirs from China, Japan and Southeast Asia, and were custom ordered to feature details about the trip. Most often, they were commissioned by sailors, and were popular from the late 1890s to the start of World War II.

Trapunto is a layered or filled embroidery that has additional stitching, padding or loft to give the embroidery a three-dimensional effect. These banners were often made from silk, making them as delicate as they are beautiful.

This trapunto banner was commissioned for Julius Amandus Anderson, who rose to the rank of quartermaster after enlisting in the Navy on April 12, 1916. It reads “In remembrance of my cruise Hawaii Philippine China and Japan.”

It’s unclear what ship he would have been on that took such a route, but there were several German ships that were harbored in the Philippines that the United States seized and converted for use by the Navy when it entered into World War I on April 6, 1917.

The banner is brightly decorated with the flags of the nations visited as well as the U.S. flag. In the center is a photo of Julius Anderson in uniform, and at the bottom are photos of his parents, Charles and Anna Anderson. There are two painting of ships attached as well — likely ones Anderson served on either during that cruise or preceding it.

Anderson’s military career was cut short, not as a casualty of war, but from illness. He died at sea while his ship, the USS Pocahontas, was on route to France on Oct. 3, 1918. The USS Pocahontas was another seized and repurposed German vessel that was serving as a troop transport in the Atlantic.

Though the cause of death is listed as lobar pneumonia, Anderson may have been a secondary victim of the Spanish influenza, which was raging across the globe during WWI. Having the flu weakened the lung tissue, making survivors very susceptible to lung infections.

Risk of death from the Spanish flu and subsequent infections was highest for young adults, ages 25 to 30 — and Anderson was 26.

Julius Anderson memorial at West Batavia Cemetery.

If he died of the flu, he was not alone. In just the first two weeks of October 1918, there were three deaths caused by influenza and lobar pneumonia on the USS Pocahontas.

There were eight Batavians who died in service during World War I: Andrew M. Anderson, Julius Anderson, J.M.P. Benson, Victor Benson, John Duffy, John Kelly, Carl B. Mier and Elmer Peterson.

A memorial stands for all who gave their lives during both World Wars, as well as the wars in Korean and Vietnam.

An additional marker stands for Julius Amandus Anderson in West Batavia Cemetery, in tribute to his life and service and in memory of his shipmates on the USS Pocahontas.

About the Batavia Depot Museum

The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a partnership between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society. The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was the first of its kind built in 1854, and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

Inside, the city’s past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place. Open seasonally, March through November. Hours are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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