Katherine Rose Kreutzer Batig
22 July 1887 - 2 May 1965
April of 1918 was rainy in Southwestern Ohio, with temperatures which ranged in the upper forties to lower fifties, as 30-year-old Katherine Rose Kreutzer arrived at Wilbur Wright Field, Fairborn, Ohio. Pulling her cape around her more closely while shivering in the biting wind, she stepped into a new juncture of her life. She was beginning her period as an Army Corps Nurse. Wilbur Wright Field was a new base. The land had only been acquired one year prior to her arrival. The hospital building construction had started in July of 1917, but an adequate amount of additions to the original structure were not in place until March of 1918. During the construction phase, civilian workers and their families camped in the area, as were the teams of animals used in the construction work. Conditions were very unsanitary. The stench of many pit privies combined with large amounts of animal manure caused the area to become infested with flies and the drinking water became contaminated. Luckily, after Katherine had been at the base a month, all these issues were resolved. The hospital did not have telephone service during the time frame she was at Wilbur Wright Field. In spite of the primitive conditions, Katherine immediately rolled up her sleeves alongside ten other nurses to care for the 353 soldiers who were in the hospital that month. Twenty of the young men were inflicted with communicable diseases which put these young women at risk, and twenty-five others had contracted venereal disease. The work was demanding and the shifts were long.
This was not the first-time Katherine had been away from her home in the small city of Peru, Indiana. She had begun her nursing studies prior to 1914 an hour north of her home at St Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in South Bend. The school had opened in 1907 and was located in the same city as The University of Notre Dame. Hospital based nurses training programs were based on an apprentice model and graduates were given a diploma. Often students staffed the hospital at night and went to classes during the day. Homework was completed between working and classes. Sleep was a luxury for nursing students. Katherine’s nursing program was three years in length. Not all students were accepted and of those that got into the programs, not all made it to graduation. The teachers at Saint Joseph School of Nursing were nuns and the students were not allowed outside unsupervised. Uniforms were light blue. Students had to get down on their hands and knees and scrub the floors. They also had to wash windows. Students could be observed at the upper floor levels sitting on window sills with their legs inside and the window down as far as their laps, washing the upper panes. Katherine had proven herself to be a strong and intelligent young woman by completing the program.
After a summer at Wilbur Wright Field, Katherine received her orders to go to France. She traveled to France on a ship named the Lutetia. In October of 1918 she arrived safely in Beaune, France with the United States Expeditionary Force to work at Base Hospital 61 which had one thousand beds in wooden type A units with an additional 600 beds in marquee tents. The first convoy of patients arrived October 5, 1918. By October 31st, 1490 patients were being treated. Katherine’s home town paper printed a letter she sent home in the November 13, 1918 edition.
Believed to be Katherine Rose Kreutzer in her nursing uniform.
Oct 16, 1918
“Hooverizing” was the term used for Herbert Hoover’s push to limit food consumed such as “Meatless Tuesdays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays”.
A typical duty day for nurses in France during WWI started at 7:50 am and ended at 8 pm. If possible, they were given a rest period in the afternoon. Night shift nurses began their shift at 7:50 pm and ended it at 8 am. If the work load was not too heavy a nurse would get one half day off a week. They were not able to keep their person as clean as they were accustomed to doing. Fleas and lice were common complaints. The food available was less abundant than at home. Sweets were often the thing that nurses missed most. The type of tasks performed by a nurse would be changing of dressings on wounds, administering medications, carrying out orders of the medical staff, bathing soldiers, preparation of poultices, performance of treatments such as cupping, and feeding patients. In addition, the nurses would make beds, clean rooms, mop, dust, roll bandages, sterilize instruments, and tidy the soldier’s lockers. The nurses were sometimes rotated out from the base hospitals to the more mobile units closer to the fields. Many of the nurses who volunteered to serve had lost husbands or sweethearts in the fighting. By the end of January 1919, the hospital ceased to function and Katherine’s unit was back in New York in April. She had served for one year. By 1920 Katherine was in Peru, Indiana working as a private duty nurse.
Nurses quarters at Wilbur Wright Field Hospital near Dayton, Ohio.
Unidentified Nurse charting at Wilbur Wright Field Hospital near Dayton, Ohio.
Hospital unit at Wilbur Wright Field Hospital near Dayton, Ohio.
Katherine came from a prominent local family. Her grandfather,
Jacob Kreutzer, moved to Miami County, Indiana in 1852. Born in
Hesse Germany, he had immigrated to the United States as a child with
his family. After living in Pennsylvania and Ohio, he moved on to
Indiana as a young man and opened a merchandise store on South Broadway
in Peru near the Wabash River. The store sold Queens wear which was
fine china for special occasions. Jacob’s son, John J Kreutzer,
became Katherine’s father. His first job was at the First
National Bank in a clerical position. Then he went into a glass
manufacturing business with business associates. After that he
ran the Peru Grocery Company. For a period of time he was the
City Mayor and also had an insurance
Both Jacob and John J. Kreutzer were democrats. The family was a large part of the first church to be built in the city of Peru, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. As recently as the 1970’s, the young brides of Miami County shopped at the Peru store, still named Kreutzer’s and still run by descendants of Jacob Kreutzer, to register for their bridal gifts, picking out china patterns and other fine items. The John J. Kreutzer family sent three of their children to the great war as two of their sons, Carlos and Clement, as well as Katherine served in WWI. Luckily all three came home.
Sometime after 1920, Katherine moved on from private duty nursing in Peru to Industrial Nursing. She worked at both Studebaker Corporation and Bendix Aviation in South Bend, Indiana. In October of 1931, at age 44, after a lifetime of service to others, Katherine stepped away from her nursing career and married James W. Batig, a tool and die maker and machinist, employed by Sibley Machine and Foundry. They took up housekeeping on East Fox Street in South Bend.
After retirement, the couple returned to the Peru area. In 1964 James Batig passed away at the Logansport Hospital in Cass County. His obituary states his wife, Katherine, was living in a nursing home in Logansport.
Katherine Rose Kreutzer Batig survived until 9:55 a.m. on a Sunday morning in early May of 1965. While her cause of death was Bronchopneumonia, she also had faced with courage the debilitating disease of Parkinson’s Syndrome. She is buried at the St Charles Catholic Cemetery in Peru. Her tombstone is distinctly marked with recognition of her service in the Army Nurse Corps during WWI. Katherine indubitably was a living example of the Army Nurse Corps motto: “Embrace the past – Engage the present – Envision the future”, and a daughter of Miami County, Indiana that current and future residents can value and admire.
Research and biography by Mary Rohrer Dexter
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Barracks Used during Flu Epidemic in Hospital. 1918. Wilbur Wright Field Photograph 14, United States Air Force Museum, Fairfield Ohio. USAF Museum Collection
Bodurtha, Arthur L. History of Miami County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People and Its Principal Interests. N.p.: Bridgeport National Bindery, 2008. 446-48. Print.
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A Corner in Ward Hospital. 1919. Wilbur Wright Field 1919 (photo 4), United States Air Force Museum, Fairfield Ohio. From USAF Museum, Fairfield Ohio
Death Certificate. 5 Feb. 1965. Katherine Batig. Indiana State Board of Health, Cass County Indiana.
Digital image. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MK53-KKW : Accessed 8 October 2017), John J Kreutzer, Peru Ward 3, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) ED 129, Sheet 6A, Family 134, NARA Microfilm Publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), Roll 371; FHL Microfilm 1,374,384. N.p., n.d. Web.
Digital image. "United States Census, 1860", Database with Images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4NT-PBY), John J Kreutzer in Entry for Jacob Kreutzer, 1860. N.p., n.d. Web.
Digital image. "United States Census, 1900," Database with Images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M9MX-YB6 : Accessed 23 September 2017), John J Kreutzer, Peru Township Peru City Ward 3, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) 105, Sheet 6A, Family 132, NARA Microfilm Publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL Microfilm 1,240,393. N.p., n.d. Web.
Digital image. "United States Census, 1910," Database with Images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MK53-KKW : Accessed 23 September 2017), John J Kreutzer, Peru Ward 3, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) ED 129, Sheet 6A, Family 134, NARA Microfilm Publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), Roll 371; FHL Microfilm 1,374,384. N.p., n.d. Web.
Digital image. "United States Census, 1920," Database with Images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF7Y-4W1 : Accessed 23 September 2017), John J Kreutzer, Peru Ward 3, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing ED 158, Sheet 6A, Line 2, Family 151, NARA Microfilm Publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), Roll 441; FHL Microfilm 1,820,441. N.p., n.d. Web.
Digital image. "United States Census, 1930," Database with Images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V11T-G72 : Accessed 23 September 2017), James W Batig, Ward 5, South Bend, Portage Township, St. Joseph, Indiana, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) 97-66, Sheet 9B, Line 53, Family 191, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA Digital Publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, Roll 1135. N.p., n.d. Web.
Draft Card For James Batig. N.d. WWII. South Bend Indiana.
Grave Stone Photo. 2017. Katherine Rose Batig, Miami County Indiana, n.p.
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"Katherine Batig Obituary." Kokomo Morning Times [Kokomo Indiana] 3 May 1965: n. pag. Print.
"Katherine Batig Obituary." Logansport Pharos Tribune [Logansport, Indiana] 3 May 1965: n. pag. Print.
Katherine Rose Kreutzer. N.d. Family Photos, Miami County Museum, Peru, Indiana. circa 1915
Marriage Record. Digital image. South Bend Area Genealogical Society. N.p., n.d. Web.
Nurses Quarters. N.d. Wilbur Wright Field Photograph 13, United States Air Force Museum, Fairfield, Ohio. From the collection at the USAF Museum.
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