CPS Camp # 133

CPS Camp # 133

CPS Unit No. 133      Wooster          Ohio                Agriculture Experiment 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, Feb. 24, 1944 –

Administered by the AFSC

Strength of unit = 9 authorized

Wage rate = $50

Board & laundry allowance - $9/weekly

Director = Dr. Edmund Secrest

Assistant Directors = E. LeRoy (Bud) Mercer Jr.; Goss Twichell

Requested unit to close on March 31, 1946


Assignees included: Richard Palmer Abell; Richard Lancaster Burling; Ralph Kendall Curtis; William Thomas DeVol; William Farmer?; Otis Ellis Hoskins; Robert L. Kimball; Lawrence Jarvis King; Eugene LeRoy [Bud] Mercer Jr.; Francis W. Pyle; Goss Browne Twichell


Seacrest stated that the assignees were a great help and that no public relation difficulties had been experienced.



Report by J. Huston Westover, January 19, 1944:

 “….Until more housing space can be found for men assigned to this unit, it will be impossible for us to count on a large group in the unit. Men, for the time being at least, are to be housed as boarders in various private dwellings around the grounds. There seems to be no possibility of finding a single large space where our men could live together. There is no available CCC camp in this vicinity….


Dr. Secrest is quite wary on public relations matters, possibly because he has several fingers in political pies in his area. He will be satisfied for us to start out with a smaller number of CPS men and enlarge the unit slowly. The men whom we selected for the first seven places are men who seems [sic] sure to make a good impression on their fellow workers.

Although men are needed at almost every point around the station, men will be located at only the most suitable situations to being with reference to public relations; then, as they sell themselves, they can be spread wider….”

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

Letter from Bud Mercer, March 2, 1944:

 “….When I arrived little work had been done on arrangements for living quarters and food details. I stayed one night with a man and woman who take roomers regularly. They knew I was a CO and finally asked me to leave because they were afraid what their son might think or do when he came home from Great Lakes Training Base every 3 weeks. The old lady was ok but the old man put the squeeze on. There were limited possibilities in the neighborhood for rooms. This was near the Experiment Station, but far from a satisfactory eating place. The Boarding house deal never worked out. The lady they thought could feed all of us has other work. So the best combination of things seems to lead us to the CCC Hotel in the town of Wooster. The CCC has 3 floors. 30 rooms for rent. No women except the landlady, a widow. It is clean, old, roomy. The land lady (Mrs.) Kate Smith is like an old shoe. She keeps the roomers under control and doesn’t allow any ‘monkey business.’ All of us will be able to live on the same floor and for the most part next to each other. Plenty of freedom and opportunity for a little group living. A social room might be in order if we increase by 3 or 4….


Ollie Diller has been really wonderful to us. He is a genuine C.O. They like the so called ‘Religious Objector’ and it is easy to see that both Secrest and Diller would lose a little interest with the radical talkitive [sic] element we know of in CPS. Secrest is very sympathetic towards the AFSC relief program. Herein lies the wedge.”

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


Report/Letter from Bud Mercer, March 13, 1944:

 “….We have been feeling our way along on living conditions here in a crowded Ohio town of about 10,000. There are many industries here which accounts for the shortage in rooming conditions. We are located in a hotel…. We eat breakfast and supper in restaurants and make up our lunches before going to work…. We walk to work, about one mile, unless we are picked [up] by other Experiment Station employees…. The fact is that we enjoy the hike. Of course we don’t refuse the rides.

Public Relations is a horse of a different color. We have learned from reliable sources…that before our arrival Experiment Station employees indicated…that there would be a mass strike if the ‘COs worked at the station.’ We also learned that some employees even threatened to quit their jobs if COs were hired. None of this of course has happened. Their [sic] finding out gradually [that] we don’t have horns…. Station employees are still quite cool towards us…. But it is early yet….”

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


Report on visit by J. Huston Westover, March 23, 1944:

 “I paid a brief visit to this new unit. It was easy to see that the five carefully selected men now there are taking hold well and they have earned for themselves the praise of all with whom they have worked or had contact….


LeRoy Mercer, our assistant director here, has started off as a capable administrator, handling both work and public relations matters skillfully. There appears to be no reason to anticipate unfavorable public relations in this situation….


At present the unit is living at the CCC Hotel in town, which is a very modest rooming house, somewhat shabby but clean….”

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


Report/Letter from Bud Mercer, April 21, 1944:

 “….Captain Montaque of Selective Service….arrived early Tuesday morning…. [He] was concerned about the high maintenance cost which is now stabilized at $63.00 per man…. He was satisfied with the food expense and the laundry but was definitely disturbed by the fact that we had to spend about $18.00 per month per men [sic] on lodging…. [He] had opportunity to visit our domicile. He talked at great length with Kate Smith, dear Kate, about the rates. He was assured in advance that these were the lowest in town. She learned from him that we were COs but stood up for us from the word go. She told me all about the visit after he had gone. He accused us of chiseling on the room rent and she sailed into him. She said we were clean wholesome boys and had all kinds of respect for us. Captain Montaque wondered if we couldn’t double up and she dove in on that saying that he wouldn’t want to be so uncomfortable as that and didn’t see any reason why they should double up…. Well Kate still loves us and she put the Captain in the hole….

Public Relations at Wooster are good now. If anyone has hard feelings towards us they don’t express them…. As far as the Station employees are concerned our testimony is WORK.”

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


Report/Letter from Bud Mercer, June 24, 1944:

 “….Our new friend [landlady], Mrs. Martin, is an 185 pound divorcee. She serves us meals regularly in the Ohio country fashion with emphasis on the carbon and protein diet with vegetables and fruits taking a poor third and fourth. It should be said however that she is amenable and will eventually modify her diet to suit. It so happens that she has 4 other boarders besides the 5 of us…. Very accommodating and bends over backwards to get along…. She appreciates the quiet we frequently observe before meals. Likes a good laugh and it so happens that we are able to get every body on the line about once each day. The other boarders are slowly becoming good friends….


One man in the Entomology Dept. is the biggest griper [against COs]. He is an active legionaire [sic] and feels that the Station should close down and all men should go to war or collect scrap…. His right hand man for the summer months is a school teacher from nearby Apple Creek. The legionaire blats off to him regularly about us in hopes that he will get things rolling but it is unfortunate that his audience is also a c o though the legionaire doesn’t know it…. The c o is a Mennonite. The pay off is that the legionaire has a son who came home from North western with Pacifist ideas and declared himself a co. This almost tore the family wide open and almost put our friend Gui in the asylum. His son is now in a modified c o position….


My opinion of Secrest and Kramer as administrators at this point is very low. They are nice guys. Particularly Secrest, but they are really quite terrible in managing the affairs of the Station…. Secrest is a nice policy man but that is as far as it goes…. They don’t even have an up to date personnel program nor a good system of handling department budget. In fact there are no such things as budgets. The departments don’t know how much they can spend in a year. They must trot to the director every time they want to spend any money…


At Wooster (We don’t know we are drafted) (might go to jail if I did).”

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



Letter from Ellis Hoskins, October 26, 1944:

 “My wife and I arrived here September 21, 1944 after a three weeks furlough in Iowa and Illinois…. As you no doubt know, I work in the Dairy barn with Ralph Curtis. It is considerable change from my work in North Dakota but a change no doubt is good for all of us. (I won’t be dozing brush at 40 [degrees] below zero here) Ha!


Elva works at the Bursars office here at the station as a secretary. She enjoys here [sic] work very much, and has a room at the southwest corner of the station grounds.


We enjoy the other men of the Unit and consider it a privelege [sic] to be at the Experiment station….


Stoffregen and Allinger were up from Coshocton and we had a general ‘bull session.’ Dave hates Coshocton about as bad as Trenton but still likes to reside in the state of Ohio.”

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

Report by Bud Mercer, Nov. 3, 1944:

 “[The] project started on February 24, 1944 under American Friends Service Committee administration…. Assignees reported within the first two weeks. Unit strength…never over five men…. Employees threatened to quit or even strike if CPS men were employed at the station. None of that happened. In many respects, we are accepted by most as regular employees…. There are others…who can’t stomach the proposition that we are C.O.s…. The [station?]…pays $100.00 per month per assignee for our services. The cost of food, laundry and lodging is deducted by the station from the $100.00 salary. The balance is forwarded to Selective Service for deposit in the ‘Frozen Fund’ of the U.S. Treasury. Assignees get an allowance $15.00 per month for clothing…. Four [sic] the first 10 weeks in Wooster the unit was housed in the city hotel. Each assignee having a private room and eating on an allowance in the local restaurants. The Unit moved May 14 to the 3rd floor of the administration building of the Experiment where assignees now live in one large room, dormitory style. Also on May 14, 1944 the unit started eating in a nearby boarding house…. Laundry has always been sent to a wash lady in Wooster.


The Agricultural Station needed CPS men to serve as ‘stop gaps’ in the laboring forces within the various departments…. At present two men are working in the dairy barn about 58 hours per week. They feed, clean, generally maintain a dairy herd of 50 milk cows, plus 30 heifers and bulls. The diary has been hit the hardest by labor shortage. CPS men have revived the dairy barn and given the encouragement for experiments with the herd knowing that it will get regular and competent maintenance.


One man has been laboring for the entomology department and taking many field records.


A fourth man has been placed on the maintenance crew for the entire station property. He assists a carpenter in keeping the buildings in good repair and constructing new facilities to experiments.


The fifth man is employed in the fruit farm as a general laborer – picking, cultivation, are the principle occupations.


All work at the Agricultural Experiment Station is experimental in nature with an eye towards application to the condition of the state of Ohio…. Most all assignees are definitely interested in agriculture and are well qualified for their work here. The spare time of the men is consumed by study of pacifism and related subjects, some study in agriculture, and participation in town activities (F.O.R., churches, student interest group, hospital visitation).           

This is almost a normal operation. It could happen in private life very easily – sometimes we don’t know we are drafted.”

[In Box 141 of Section 1, Series C,1, Center on Conscience and War Records (DG 025), Swarthmore College Peace Collection]