Thirteen soldiers who formed a bond fighting in the Spanish-American War as part of the 17th US Infantry on Cuba and in Puerto Rico, transformed their sense of fraternity and caring for their fellow soldiers into what would become the most influential and distinctive Veterans organization in the nation.

           Meeting in a tailor’s shop at 286 E. Main St. in Columbus, Francis Dubiel called to order the first meeting of the American Veterans of Foreign Service on September 29, 1899.  Their duty had ended 13 months earlier with the close of the Spanish-American War.  They gathered to remember their comrades killed in action and to see what they could do to help those who returned from battle.

             They were relentless in their efforts to find former members of the disbanded 17th Infantry Regiment to enlist them in their new cause-the creation of a Veteran’s organization to look after their interests.

           James C. Putnam pedaled his bicycle through Columbus neighborhoods tracking down members of the regiment.  In early 1898, he had met James Romanis, a Veteran who had been distressed to see the number of ill Vets who came to his pharmacy.  The two privates joined forces to build a support organization for Veterans because of what they perceived to be an uncaring government.

           Romanis placed a notice in the Columbus Dispatch calling for a gathering of vets.  They met at the Main Street tailor shop  in September 1899.

           Naming the group the American Veterans of Foreign Service, Putnam identified the AVFS’s purpose: “To promote in all ways

Original meeting announcement from 25 September 1899 edition of the Columbus Dispatch

fraternal the general welfare of the men who have borne the brunt of battle, to foster true patriotism as true defenders of American principles, cooperating in celebrations of patriotic anniversaries, and maintaining a status for the Veterans, placing him in the front rank of American citizenship.”

           Membership was open to any U.S. Soldier, Sailor, or Marine who had honorably served outside the continental limits of the U.S. or would do so in future wars.

           Putnam filed the paperwork to have the group incorporated in Ohio as a non-profit organization a week after the first meeting.  He paid the fees from his salary as a fireman.

           Thus, Headquarters Camp One was operational.  Other camps soon sprung up in Hamilton, Marion, Marysville and Delaware Ohio.  Then, camps opened in Sparta, Il. And Portsmouth, N.H.

           Romanis started a letter-writing campaign to Vets of the recent war to let them know about the group and its plans.  By

Marker at 286 E. Main Street

1903 Romanis had organized a 10 man legislative committee to prepare a pension bill for Veterans and to present it to Congress.  The group had entered the political arena.

           During the early 1900’s, other groups began organizing in the West and in Pennsylvania.  The amalgamation of groups occurred in the early 20’s.  Headquarters Camp One had become part of Camp Lawton, eventually becoming VFW Post 1598 in 1928.

           The group took its number from its first location, 1598 High St.  The Buckeye Post eventually built its current home across from the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

Buckeye Post 1598

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