Remembering WWI

Brothers Charles and Frank Butler, who were born in Jacksonport, and brothers Joe and Frank Zatlin, who were long-time Jacksonport property owners, were soldiers at the European Front during World War I. Their letters to family at home were saved by Ellen Butler Zatlin, who united the two families through her marriage to Frank Zatlin in 1921. Excerpts from the soldiers’ correspondence of 1918 and 1919 form a book recently published by the Jacksonport Historical Society (JHS).

Capt. Charles E. Butler was a real war hero. He earned the Purple Heart, two Silver Stars, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the French Regimental Fourragère. Collectively the four men reveal their patriotism, the horror of war, and concern for their families back home. This brief book provides an interesting picture of their experiences during the Great War and their time in France and/or Germany after the Armistice.

Although the Butler men were raised on a farm in Door County and the Zatlin brothers came from Chicago, their concerns and reactions are similar.

The letters were not discovered until the summer of 2013; they had been stored in a cottage attic on Lakeshore Road. Following her careful reading of the yellowed and tattered letters, Phyllis Zatlin has woven together the stories told by her father Frank Zatlin and her uncles.

Remembering the Great War: Letters from the Front may be ordered for $7 plus postage and handling from JHS on the website, It is also available at Bley’s Grocery in Jacksonport and Jefferson Street Books in Sturgeon Bay.