Camp Cody Days 1917-1918
by Rebecca Seybert (condensed)
Although in 1916, there was no planning effort being made to prepare the military for war, situations in Mexico made it necessary for troops to be placed along the border. Regular Army forces were placed along the border first, then turned over to National Guard troops. On March 9, 1916, Mexican forces under Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico, just thirty miles south of Deming.
The United States Government declared war on April 6, 1917, and realized that all military sources plus more would have to be put into action within a short period of time. Secretary of War, Baker, made the decision to establish thirty-two camps across the country. Existing military posts were unable to handle the number of men expected so camps were to be built within ninety days to house them.
Deming had the remains of the National Guard camp and was considered as a possible site for a national camp. On May 17, 1917, an examining board of Brigadier General Henry Green, United States Army; Lt. Colonel W.S. Walker. Corp of Engineers; Lt. J. Kennedy, Medical Corps; and Major S.V. Ham, Seventh U.S. Infantry, comprising the examination board for selection of camps. Meeting with prominent citizens and businessmen of Deming, questions were answered and blueprints of Camp Deming were studied. The group of men went to Columbus and on to Douglas, Arizona. On June 14, 1917, Joe Mahoney, prominent businessman, received word from Senator Fall of New Mexico that Deming had been chosen as the site for the camp and the name would be Cody in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody. Orders were sent that National Guardsmen from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota would be shipped to Camp Cody. If someone had set off a stick of dynamite in the street it wouldn't have caused more excitement. Deming was suffering from the customary summer slump and the prospect of a camp made the future much brighter for everyone.
On Friday, June 1, 1917, the Deming Headlight printed a notice of draft registration and who should register. On June 5, 1917 all eligible males between 21 and 30 were to register in their precinct. With the cooperation of Sheriff Simpson hopefully the day would pass uneventful. Friday, June 8, 1917, 427 registered here Tuesday -- headline of the Deming Headlight Mayor's Proclamation, May 25, 1917. Tuesday, June 5, 1917, will be one of the historical days of the American Republic, and it is my desire that Deming shall establish a proud record in heeding President Wilson's proclamation.
In order that every man between the ages of 21 and 30, inclusive, may be able to register between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., I hereby declare Tuesday, June 5, 1917, to be a holiday, and hereby urgently request all persons to assist Sheriff Simpson and his aides to have every eligible man duly registered according to law. M.A. Nordhaus, Mayor, Deming, N.M., May 25, 1917. (Copy of Mayor's notice in the Deming Headlight.)