History of Legion post namesake found
John Schloss served in World War IJohn Schloss Post No. 125, the Madras post of the American Legion, was named in honor of the first enlisted man from Jefferson County to die in World War I.
But somehow, through the years, any other information about John Schloss was forgotten and remained a mystery to Madras Legionnaires until an old article turned up this week.
While researching old Madras Pioneer news articles for another history project, Family Finders member Sharon Dodge came across the following article in the Feb. 20, 1936 edition of The Pioneer:
It is right and fitting that Jefferson County be reminded that the American Legion post of Jefferson County was named John Schloss post in honor of the first man of this county to lose his life in the World War.
I knew John Schloss well when he worked at the Hay Creek Ranch at the time that is now spoken of as the "Golden Days." Mr. Berkeley, a true southern gentleman, and his gracious lady presided there and John was one of many remarkable young men that pitched hay. Since then many of those fine young men have graduated into positions of trust.
John Schloss was a handsome fellow of sterling character. he possessed a beautiful voice.
It was his good fortune to be at Hay Creek before the dry years, when they raised an abundance of hay and grain. How well I remember Mrs. Berkeley's first model-T Ford. She learned to drive in the hay fields among the shocks with instructions and encouragement from John Schloss and others.
When any of the neighbors were sick or in trouble it was Hay Creek that responded. Many local men worked there so it is natural that there was a common interest. Each man worked well and loyally. Jerry Schooling (an old pioneer who worked at Hay Creek for 50 continuous years) once said of John Schloss, "He never was in too much of a hurry to be a gentleman."
John was one of the first to enlist from Jefferson County and lost his life when the transport "Tuscania" was torpedoed off the cost of Scotland.
He had secured a leave of absence to visit his old home. He had often told of his parents and two sisters of whom he was very fond.
They were traveling in darkness when a German submarine hit them. John and 64 others got off in one of the first lifeboats launched. In their haste to get away from the sinking ship they made rapidly for what they thought was the shore. Too late they saw they were heading for a steep rocky cliff and their boat was dashed to pieces.
Out of the 64, three were saved. They were washed up on a ledge in the cliff where they were able to cling until morning when an old Scotchman looked down and saw them. With the help of others he lowered a rope and they were lifted to safety.
Batey Allen, another man from Hay Creek, was one of the three saved. He now lives near Redmond.
The bodies of the 61 drowned were recovered and were wrapped in canvas and buried in two long trenches.
The irony of it was that the body of John Schloss was washed ashore 10 miles from his home. In a short time his body was delivered to his family and they had the satisfaction and consolation of giving him a proper burial. The rest were buried properly as soon as possible and monuments erected to their memory.
The author of the above communication was not named in the news article. However, the following week, the Feb. 27, 1936 edition of The Pioneer noted how interested readers had been in learning about John Schloss, and that another sailor aboard the same ship had been found living in Bend. The man, William J. Lee, enlisted in Umatilla County and had not met Schloss until the day of the torpedoing of their transport.
"(Lee) tells a very graphic story of the torpedoing and has photographs of the transport in its floundering condition and other scenes incident thereto," the second article said. Following the war, Lee was employed with the S.P. & S. Railroad.