On January 14, Janis Weaver Duke came to the Almont Community Historical Society Museum and donated a number of items. Included in the items was a “Friendship Quilt” sewn in 1935, Earl Cochrane’s leather baby booties, Earl’s sister Florence’s hi-top shoes that required a button-hook to button them, their mother’s Ellen’s baby bonnet, ledgers from the Cochrane Store (Aurora Realty and Rustic Bluebird location), and a scrapbook of old newspaper clippings from the early 1900s.
The scrap book is a treasure. It contains numerous articles about the 1909 Homecoming, the 1914 Homecoming, and the extending of the Detroit Urban Railway first to Almont and then to Imlay City including lists of those who contributed to cover the cost of getting the railway here. There are numerous obituaries which include photos (Benjamin F. Johnston’s) and for the purposes of these stories, a couple of articles about General Squier written in 1915 and 1916.
Major General George Owen Squier was born on March 21, 1865 in Dryden, Michigan to Almon Justice Squire and Emily Gardner Squier. He won a competition and was selected for an appointment to the Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1883. He graduated in 1887 with a degree in physics and was ranked seventh in a class of 65 cadets.
His initial posting was at Fort McHenry in Maryland as a second lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery. While posted at Fort McHenry, George took classes in ballistics and electrical science (electrical engineering) at Johns Hopkins University and got his PhD in 1893. He was the first serving Army officer to hold a PhD. He was promoted to first lieutenant on June 30, 1893.
Upon completion of his doctorate, he was assigned to the Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia where he helped found the Artillery Journal. He attended the Artillery School from 1894 to 1895 and then continued on as an instructor from November 1895 until April 1898. While at Fort Monroe, he conducted experiments that perfected techniques to use photography and electromagnetism (radio waves) to measure the velocity of artillery shells within the barrels of cannons and just after leaving the cannon’s barrel, thus improving the accuracy of the cannon. Additionally, he developed the techniques to remotely fire cannons and detonate mines. These experiments proved the importance of radio waves for military applications. This was done at a time when Guglielmo Marconi was still in the experimental stage of developing the radio.
He transferred to the Signal Corps and served as a captain in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). While in the Philippines, he was the commander of the cable-ship Burnside from 1900 to 1902. He was promoted to captain on February 2, 1901 and to major on March 2, 1903. Captain Squier returned to the United States in 1903 and was assigned as the Chief Signal Officer of the Department of California.
It was at this point in his career, that the newspaper article indicates his involvement with Japan during the Japanese-Russian War (1904-1905). The newspaper reported:
“It is recorded in the history of the Japanese-Russian war that Lt. Squier made a big hit with the Japanese government in locating with experience and scientific instruments, the Russian enemy, at the famous siege of Port Arthur, which culminated the struggle. The Japs declared him the greatest man in the world.”
What “scientific instruments” Major Squier employed that are referred to in the article is unknown but the end of the siege involved a naval engagement that lasted more than a week, which resulted in the defeat of the Russian Navy.
In 1905 he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas with the responsibility of establishing the Army Signal School and served as its commander. In 1907, as executive officer to the Chief Signal Officer of the U. S. Army, he recommended the formation of the Aeronautical Division of the U. S. Signal Corp. This was the first ancestor of the U.S. Air Force.
Major Squier wrote the specifications for the Army’s first airplane, the Wright Flyer. He was head of the army board responsible for the performance and trials of the airplane. He oversaw the trial flights and flew as an observer on some of them. On September 12, 1908, Orville Wright took Major George O. Squier on a flight that lasted 9 minutes and 6 seconds. This flight occurred at Fort Myers, Virginia just outside Washington, D. C. Congress adjourned to view the flight and inspect the airplane. This flight established an endurance record for flights taken up to that time.
From 1909 until 1911 he conducted radio experiments at the National Bureau of Standards. During this time, he was awarded several patents in multiplex telephony. These patents were for the technology to permit the transmission of multiple signals across the same wire at the same time. Prior to that time, only one signal could be transmitted through a line, which limited the volume of messages that any telecommunication system could handle. His patents are the basis for our current telecommunications systems, up to and including the Internet.
In 1912 he was sent to London as a military attaché. He was selected by General Leonard Wood, Army Chief of Staff, because Squier’s background and education were needed to understand the complexities of modern warfare. This was done with the anticipation that there would be a conflict in Europe in the near future. While in London, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel on March 17, 1913.
Great Britain’s Lord Kitchener allowed Lieutenant Colonel Squier and another military attaché to go to the front in Western Europe and make detailed observations of the military operations. This was the other part of the newspaper article, which was dated August 19, 1915. His reports on the communication services and methods and the developments in aviation provided the U. S. military with vital information for the improvement needed in these two areas.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.