I originally thought that this was from WWII, but after a bit of research I discovered that I was off by a war. These half-dollar sized coins were created by the Treasury Department as a little gesture of thanks to individuals that were Liberty Loan workers during WWI. The Liberty Loans were basically U.S. bonds that individuals bought to help the Government pay for the war without incurring any further debt (a rather novel concept in today’s world). I found an article from the April 14, 1919 issue of “Greater New York - Bulletin of the Merchant’s Association of New York” (Volume 8, No. 15, p. 24) describing these Victory Liberty Loan medals. In the article it mentions that the metal used came from cannon captured by U.S. troops during the Battle of Château-Thierry, which was part of the Second Battle of the Marne. I’m sure these little tokens were appreciated by many that did what they could during the war the end to all wars. At least I know it meant enough to someone in my family that it has managed to be passed down through the years.
These four buttons were in a collection of other various pins, and thanks to the wonders of Google I was able to figure out a bit of the background. Mr. Traeger ran for, and won, the position of Cook County Sheriff in 1914. Before becoming Sheriff he was the City Comptroller for Chicago, though wasn’t a lifelong politician. I found this out from a set of Chicago Daily News photos of him that mentioned he had previously been a banker in the city. He won the 1914 election but left office in 1922. During his time as Sheriff my Great Grand Uncle Wm. H. Ehemann was working as the County Agent for Cook County, so it is a very safe bet to say that they knew each other and this is most likely the avenue that brought these buttons into my possession.
An interesting thought occurred to me while looking up the background on Traeger. He was of German descent, along with my above mentioned Uncle, and while that on its own isn’t that striking, it is when you think about the mad rush of anti-German sentiment that struck this county during World War 1. For these men to not only run for office at that time, but in the case of Traeger actually reference his ancestry in the campaign pins, shows two things. One that they must have been at least halfway decent men to carry themselves through those hard times, and two it shows just how strong the German population was in Chicago back then.