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Julia Ann Stahl

Submitted by: Sandra L Sager {great great niece}

Julia Ann Stahl

Julia Ann Stahl born around 1875. Julia Ann Stahl served in World War 1 with the Red Cross. The enlistment was in 1917 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service


Julia Ann Stahl, R.N.

Julia Ann Stahl was born March 12, 1875 in Cass County, Michigan. She was the last of eleven children born to immigrant parents Phillip and Barbara Stahl. Julia’s father died one week after she was born, and she was raised by her mother on the family farm near Dowagiac, Michigan. Little is known of Julia’s early years or why she chose a career in nursing. She may have been affected by the death of her sister Anna Louisa in 1885.

Julia moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in her early 20s and enrolled in the University of Michigan School of nursing which was established in 1891. She completed the rigorous two year nursing program and graduated in 1898 at the age of 23. Julia stayed in Ann Arbor after her graduation and began her professional nursing career. In June of 1907 Julia was elected vice-president of the University of Michigan Nurses’ Alumnae Association, and in February 1914 she was elected as a member of the board of directors of the Washtenaw County Graduate Nurses’ Association.

When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, the Dean of the Detroit College of Medicine asked for and received approval from the Red Cross and the Army Medical Department to establish and equip a medical unit staffed by faculty, staff, graduates, and students of the Detroit College of Medicine (later known as Wayne State University). Nurses were recruited from area hospitals, and Julia Stahl was 42 years old when she volunteered. She was sworn in as a Red Cross nurse that summer with 97 other nurses before travelling by train to New York City to be drilled by Army officers. Upon completion of their brief training the entire medical unit, designated Base Hospital #36, was sent to Europe where they set up hospital facilities in five large hotels in the resort town of Vittel, France.

Although assigned to one of the hospitals, Julia Stahl was frequently transferred to evacuation hospitals near the front lines. She and the other nurses were each issued a gas mask and trained on its use in case of a poison gas attack. The nurses were even instructed to sew a piece of linen inside their clothing containing their name and hospital number. The evacuation hospitals were often shaken by bombings and the nurses could sometimes see the aerial battles through the hospital windows.

Julia celebrated the Armistice on November 11, 1918 with her fellow nurses. The Base Hospital #36 medical unit was disbanded and by April 1919 Julia had been discharged from her Red Cross nursing duties. She returned to her nursing career in Ann Arbor where she worked for another 20 years. Julia Stahl never married or had children, instead devoting her life to nursing. In 1940 Julia Stahl returned to her home town of Dowagiac, Michigan after her retirement. She died in Dowagiac on December 29, 1959 and is buried in Dowagiac’s Riverside Cemetery.

In August 2017 Julia Ann Stahl was honored by the Rebecca Dewey chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution with the posthumous presentation of the Woman in American History Award for her lifelong service to her local community and her country as a Registered Nurse.

Information provided by Sandra Sager, great niece of Julia Stahl.

Sandra Sager image

60d8e9b635e52 Julia Stahl   WWI nurse diary article   resized