In search of Pvt. Janss

France slated to honor Marshalltown native

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Loosely translated, the caption on the photo reads: Oberlauchen Cemetery of the Tomb. Soldiers in the Vosges near Lake Lauch.

On the 100th anniversary of America’s entry in World War I, a French historian is working to learn more about a Marshalltown native who died on French soil, defending freedom.

The Marshalltonian and soldier was Pvt. Harold Peter Janss.

Martin Hubert of Linthal, Alsace, France, is president of the local historical society.

He knows Janss was a member of the 130th Machine Gun Battalion, 35th Div., and was killed-in-action Aug. 27, 1918 in Alsace.

Records show Janss also lived in Springfield, Mo., where he entered military service.

But that is where the Janss trail ends in the United States as far as Hubert knows.

Hubert is anxious to learn more about Janss because in 2018, Hubert and fellow countrymen will be honoring him and 48 other American soldiers.

“In September, 2018, our historical society will commemorate the 49 U.S. soldiers who were killed in our mountains in Linthal — Alsace — and originally buried there, he said. “We want to build a second memorial monument, since the original was destroyed by the Germans in June 1940 (during World War II) as they invaded Alsace. Next year’s event will be organized in cooperation with he U.S. Consulate in Strasbourg and the French-American Friendship Association of Alsace.”

Hubert said he continues to research about the lives of all 49 soldiers, and wishes to write a biography on each.

But he knows little about Janss.

“It would be fantastic if the local newspaper could publish an article about my need to know more about Janss, or his family,” said Hubert.

“I know that it’s not easy, a century later, but if we wait, it will be more difficult. Such a article will demonstrate that these brave young soldiers, who gave their life for our freedom, are not forgotten neither in France, nor in their own birthplace.”

One local resident learned Janss is buried in Plot D, Row 33, Grave 40, of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.

Randy Kessler, commander of Marshalltown’s Frank Glick American Legion Post 46, also was helpful in providing information showing the 35th Div. was connected to the Missouri and Kansas National Guard.

It trained at Camp Doniphan in Fort Sill, Okla.

W.M. Wright and Peter E. Traub were commanding generals.

However, there are no Janss listings in Marshalltown city directories at the turn of the century.

Local historian Jay Carollo and the Marshall County Historical Society have been working to learn about the Janss family early years in Marshalltown with no success.

Anyone with knowledge about Janss or his family may contact Hubert directly via email at

“I thank you for what you can do to enhance our history,” said Hubert.