It All Began in 1919

In 1919 members of the American Expeditionary Force convened a caucus in Paris, France from March 15 to 17 to form a patriotic veterans’ organization. That was followed up in May with the St. Louis Caucus, where the name “American Legion” was officially adopted.

On July 15, 1919, after many World War I veterans returned to civilian life, a group of them met in Utica to form a local post. After approval of the application on Aug. 20, 1919, Utica Post 229 became a reality.

The post’s first meeting, with about 150 members, took place Aug. 28 in the old Infantry Armory on Rutger Street. Chester W. Davis, a local attorney who was a major in the 27th Division, was elected president. The activity of the new post went into high gear as members competed to serve on various committees.

At the next meeting on Sept. 11, 1919 — just five days before the U.S. Congress chartered the Legion — membership soared to more than 200, and by January, the post boasted more than 500 members.

It is interesting to note that Post 229 member Egbert Bagg was County Chairman, an office now known as County Commander.

As a not-for-profit, federally chartered organization, the Legion is one of only a few such organizations in the country. Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion currently has about 2.3 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide. These posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

In Oneida County there are 24 posts. Next is the the District level. There are ten districts in the New York Department. Post 229 and Oneida County are part of the 5th District.

Over the years membership in Post 229 went up and down. By 1987, when the post moved to new quarters at 409 Herkimer Road, membership stood at 290.

Its current membership campaign goal for 2021 is 362.