CPS Unit No. 104,

CPS Unit No. 104,

CPS Unit No. 104                  Ames               Iowa                Agriculture Extension Station

Compiled by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist at Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA for the CPS Memorial Website. Received January 21, 2011.


In operation April 1943 - February 1946

Director = R.E. Buchanan [called Dean Buchanan & Dr. Buchanan b/c of his educational degree and/or role at Iowa State College?]

Assistant Directors = Byron Thomas; Alfred W. Johnson

Had a side camps at Crystal Lake & at Howard County Experiment Farm near Cresco


Assignees included: Richard H. Barrows; Eugene H. Bonham; William R. Bridges; John E. Brush; H. Lee Carlson; Hubert Diekvoss; Wayne E. Dunn; E. Lee Eisold; Charles Esswein; Warren L. Farmer; Wilfred Goodman; R. Schyler Griffin; John O. Grimm; C. Willis Gurthrie; Willard E. Haines; Wesley P. Hein; Earl Hodges; William L. Jones; Gordon Lewis; Lee W. Lumpkin; Robert M. Lumpkin; Robert T. McCoy; Charles T. McLaughlin; Charles H. Martin; Corwin Y. Matlock; James E. Meier; Walter W. Miller; Clifford C. Moles; George C. Morris; Edgar N. Northway; Allen R. Osborn; Henry F. Palsmeier; David B. Parke; Clarence M. Pearson; Donald W. Regier; Frank Ripley; Reynold Russel; J. Olcutt Sanders; Eugene V. Schenkman; Frank H. Sehnert; Glenn H. Shoun; E. Bayne Snyder; John H. Staby; Harold D. Starkey; Donald E. Sweitzer; George S. Swope; Edward P. Thatcher; Byron G. Thomas; Raymond S. Trayer; Robert Waltmire; Byerly M. Ward; Arthur C. Weeks; Ralph T. Wood; Richard Yerkes


Order No. 104 from Lewis B. Hershey, April 27, 1943:

“The work to be undertaken by the men assigned to said Ames Project will consist primarily of Labor in connection with farms, research work on better utilization of peat and mulch soils, and in connection with the development of experimental areas and shall be under the technical direction of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts. The camp, insofar as camp management is concerned, will be under the same institution.”

[In Box 5a of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Mss. article by John Brush (AFSC Correspondent), July 31, 1943:

“The CPS unit of the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station was opened April 27 with the arrival of ten men from Merom, Ind….. At a time when the need for agricultural labor in Iowa is so desperate that Jamaicans are imported and Italian prisoners-of-war are sent out under armed guard to the fields, it is easy to understand the welcome with which even conscientious objectors are met….

It was seen that to maintain the regular experimentation of the Station and to make available to farmers improved seed varieties would be of greater benefit to agricultural production than to assign the same number of men to private farms. By the end of May the quota for this unit had been filled from various [CPS] camps….

Old CCC buildings, obtained from a site some sixty miles distant, were sawed in half, moved on trailers, and set down in a grove on the Agronomy Farm, about two miles south of Ames. The housing facilities, when finally completed, will resemble closely the accommodations found in the CPS forestry camps. We enjoy secluded rural surroundings, but with ready access to campus and town. Through the month of June and most of July ten men have been located in the side camp at Crystal Lake, 100 miles north, where vegetable crops are grown on a drained peat area. At Ames the work has to do with corn, soy beans, oats, and various forage crops. Besides these two main farms, there are, scattered in various parts of Iowa, many experimental plots which must be planted, cultivated, and harvested. Most of the work is what might be described as ‘hired hand’ labor, which is supervised by Iowa State College professors who are conducting the experiments. Hard labor is at a premium and this makes a great different in attitudes. Especially for the non-farmers it is a process of learning, for the profs. are glad to explain the significance of the particular research in which they are engaged.”

[In Box 37a of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Mss. article by John Brush (AFSC Correspondent), August 15, 1943:

“During the past three or four weeks the men at Ames have been helping in corn detasseling and pollination, entailed by the corn breeding experiments here. Hybrid corn offers one of the best examples of the value of research in practical agriculture…. Pollination, which must take place under carefully controlled conditions, requires a great deal of hand labor at the stage when the tassels are appearing and the silks emerging from the ears. Approximately 75,000 hand pollinations are made annually at the station. The result of such labor has been the steady improvement of one of the most important crops of the nation….

In Ames we have met everywhere with friendliness and interest, in contrast to the experience of some of us in other camps where public relations constitute a problem at times…. At the local FOR group, in the Quaker meeting, and in the Methodist church men from the camp were welcomed and accepted into fellowship. It is natural that with such a wealth of opportunities for social activities outside the camp [because of it being a college town]…the group activities of the camp should not be much developed. No need is felt for formal organization and election of camp officers; no educational or recreation program is planned. The tempo of life and the variety of individual interests seems to approach more nearly what we once knew in normal life before induction into CPS. That is perhaps the chief difference that we have noted in the transition from the main camps to this special service unit. The large camps with their isolation from the community beyond are thrown back upon their own resources and have developed into almost self-sufficient communities, however confined and limited to male monotony.”

[In Box 37a of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Mss. article by John Brush (AFSC Correspondent), October 11, 1943:

“Before dawn today, six men left on a four weeks’ corn harvesting trip in western Iowa; before the end of the week another five will travel to plots in the eastern part of the state. Three men have gone out to assist in pop corn picking and several more workers have been requested for corn shucking here. About six men are needed to cut and thresh soy beans. At the Crystal Lake Station the vegetable harvest is finished, but some fall plowing remains to be done. Construction of a root storage cellar and the soil conservation survey are being pushed forward…. In a special meeting convened….[it] was decided to concentrate all further efforts toward completing the most urgent construction at the Ames camp since the entire unit will be occupying these quarters during the winter months.”

[In Box 37a of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Report of visit by J. Huston Westover, January 16-17, 1944:

“This was a routine visit. I came away feeling that this was an excellent unit, doing a very acceptable job in a worthy area.

We have almost 50 men in this unit doing various kinds of farm work and substitute farm work in the winter time. There are a number of men without any farm experience, but they have shown up well in comparison with more experienced farmers. Dr. Buchanan has been careful in his assignment of men to various jobs…. The University and town apparently have received the unit quite well in recognition of the need for their services.

Byron Thomas, who is an experienced farmer himself, appears to be an excellent assistant Director for this location. He has kept the respect of the farmers and takes advantage of leadership opportunities….. Evelyn Thomas is somewhat immature and unusually quiet, but I believe her presence is an asset to the camp. The Thomas’ tell me that they plan to find funds for their expenses, especially as they have a baby, by having Evelyn do some of the camp laundry….

There is an active Friends Meeting in Ames which I attended one evening at the home of Kenneth and Eliza [Elise?] Boulding. Without a doubt the Friends have been of real spiritual assistance and excellent friends for our men.”

[In Box 37a of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Letter to Arthur Gamble (Friends CPS) from Byron G. Thomas (Assistant Director), May 12, 1944:

“During May this year the men are distributed about as follows:

6 men at Ames and two at Crystal Lake are doing all the overhead work, including assistant director, cooks, cleanup, gardening, and canning.

4 men are doing construction work. This involves the preparation and erection of portable building sections which are being made into cottages at Crystal Lake for faculty people to live in while there supervising the work. The construction crew does the complete job, including wiring, plumbing, painting, roofing, etc.

2 men are at Cresco in Howard County on an experimental farm which has been set up to study the soil-drainage problem there.

2 men at Crystal Lake work on the plots in the peat soil…caring for potatoes, onions, cabbage, beets, etc…. Their work varies from driving Catepillar [sic] tractors to surveying for drainage to pushing wheelhoes and weeding by hand.

1 man works entirely on the maintenance of machinery and construction of new machinery.

2 men are working with Vegetable Crops Subsection caring for sweet-corn plots etc. here at Ames.

1 man is working with Agriculture Engineering Subsection plowing, planting, testing machinery, etc. on their farm.

16 men are working with Farm Crops and Soils Subsections here on the Agronomy Farm and out over the State, planting oats, corn, soybeans, etc.

1 man is assigned to the Poultry Farm….

1 man is assisting in the development of artificial hemp retting[?] processes.

1 man is assisting in the development of new processes in the utilization of corn products….

1 is working with the Botany Department again planting corn and other crops….to study disease resistance.

1 of the fellows is doing some work with the publication of bulletins and photographic work in connection with the general program of the college in stimulating the food production program of Iowa farmers.”

[In Box 126 of Section 1, Series C,1, Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Mss. article by Edward P. Thatcher, February 20, ____:

“The unit at Ames has one more month officially remaining of winter work. We say this with crossed fingers because high water prolonged our indoor season last year. We hope that leaves nothing to retard our prompt start this year…. Since January 1, there have been men employed in the following divisions of Iowa State College: Seed Analysis and Testing Laboratory, Agricultural Engineering, Farm Crops, Soil Science, Botany, Horticulture, Plant Chemistry, Genetics, Home Economics, College Publications, College Farms, Bacteriology, poultry farm, dairy farm, and swine farm.

Members of the unit are frequently drawn to the campus for organized and unorganized entertainment. Basketball games have attracted the attention of some. The highlight of the social season was a concert given in the largest of the college auditoriums, on the evening of January 30 by our basso, Gene Bonham. The net receipts going to AFSC amounted to $237.80.

At camp we have frequently entertained dairy testers, from the Brethren units. They are now training in Ames….”

[In Box 37a of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Report by Adrian Gory, July 6, 1945:

“It seemed to me that the men at Ames are living in an atmosphere more like a home than a CPS camp. The men and their families are part and parcel of the community. Sixteen men are married and seven of these have families. Outside interests receive the major share of the men’s intentions with a consequent lessening of camp activities. While living an ‘almost’ normal life in CPS is not to be frowned upon, the general negativism at Ames has, I believe, limited to a great extent the value that CPS may have in gathering together men of pacifist leanings. CPS is considered primarily a negative thing to be blotted out as much as possible by personal consideration. There is little camp activity -- there is little concern about what is happening in the rest of CPS. Men at Ames realize that their lot is better than most CPS camps and units and prefer to hibernate where they are rather than request a transfer to a less desirable place.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the fact that here, an agricultural experiment station, only 20% of the men plan to go into agricultural work. One wonders on what basis the men were transferred to Ames in the first place. A few of the man have neither the inclination nor the ability to serve well in an agricultural station. Now and then these men, recognizing their own limitations, request a transfer.

Dr. Buchanan, who seems to hold [the] respect of the men, is very liberal in his administration. When one man was assigned to Ames who was totally unfit for agricultural work, Dr. Buchanan placed him in the University to work on publicity. The Dr. has been willing to adjust the hours of work of the men in order that they might avail themselves of educational opportunities at the college. At the present time there is only one man going to school, although I was told that last winter ten or twelve men took courses. Dr. Buchanan has offered to keep the men on after demobilization if they plan to continue school. For those who plan to do undergraduate work, he has promised to see that they have the opportunity to work their way through. They would live where they are at present and the CPS camp would be considered a college dormitory. For men doing graduate work, Dr. Buchanan has said that he will get them fellowships. Because of the small number of men at Ames who wish to avail themselves of this opportunity, I approached Dr. Buchanan on the possibility of other CPS men availing themselves of the offer. He assured me that he would do whatever could be worked out.

Public Relations are not a problem at Ames. Many of the men live in town, and some of the wives work at the College. One man sang on a radio church program in the morning during the week I was there and five men sing in the local choir. Another man has spent part-time running a restaurant in town.

In spite of some anti-AFSC feeling, a large number of men, together with their wives, came to the discussion on demobilization. Questions were asked in a friendly tone and a number of men came up later to discuss some point or talk personally about themselves and their futures.

From all of this, I gather that the men at Ames could respond to a request for more unity of purpose in bearing testimony but they will need leadership and inspiration in order to develop a concern in the part they can play in carrying the peace testimony beyond the period of CPS.”

[In Box 37a of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]


Report of visit by Samuel D. Marble, Aug. 1, 1945:

“The most revealing item …is…there is very little new to report…. The men are leading a good, comfortable life, eating the best food in CPS, going to more parties, square dances, and church functions than any other unit in the whole system. The men are aware of their deluxe condition and are a wee bit embarrassed by it. They realize that there are dozens of men in the system who would probably like to be in their shoes but somehow the recognition of this factor does not spur them to make a more vigorous exploitation of the potentialities of the Ames situation.

There is a reason for this lack of activity and it is the ancient “cherchez la femme.” More than the majority of the men are married. Most of the wives also fall in the category of mothers or are rapidly achieving that status. As a consequence, the interest of the men in camp is constantly drawn outside and is focused on their home activities. The problem of wives at Ames is an ancient and perplexing one and need not be expanded here, other than to say that the situation has been met in part by placing most of the married men and their mates in the summer side camp locations. Any man who goes into a side camp can live with his wife, generally in a separate house, in conditions which I think are singularly favorable for men under the assignment.”

[In Box 37a of Section 1, American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service Records (DG 002), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]