Information about hero needed

Last year, yours truly and a host of other Marshalltonians, including the Marshall County Historical Society, played detective to find information about a native son who died in World War I defending freedom.

He was Pvt. Harold Peter Janss.

We are still searching, and again we are asking readers to help with any information on Janss, as almost one year later little is known about him or his family.

We are going public for the second time, because France will honor Janss and 48 of his deceased comrades at a memorial service later this year.

The search began in the spring of 2017, when Martin Hubert of Linthal, Alsace, France, president of its local historical society, contacted the T-R and the city of Marshalltown in hopes of getting information on Janss.

Hubert said then in a email to the T-R he was preparing a short biography about each American befitting of their sacrifice for the upcoming memorial service.

Hubert said he had information on many of the 49, but had not found much on Janss.

So he reached out.

“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.”

The T-R and Hubert know 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 the T-R, Hubert and others know.

“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.

On May 28 last year, the T-R published a front-page story about the T-R’s efforts to get information on Janss and the French memorial service.

We did learn more, but we are trying again.

“I know that it’s not easy, a century later, but if we wait, it will be more difficult,” wrote Hubert.

“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, 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.

This writer, local historian Jay Carollo and many others researched a variety of archives in hopes of learning more about Janss with no success.

Anyone with knowledge about Janss or his family may contact me at the information below.

“I thank you for what you can do to enhance our history and honor a Marshalltown native,” said Hubert.

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Contact Mike Donahey at mdonahey@timesrepublican.com