Forty & Eight

La Société des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux – The Society of the Forty Men and Eight Horses, an independent fraternal organization of veterans, popularly known as the Forty & Eight, was organized in 1920 by American Legionnaires as a fun and honor society.

Now composed of veterans of both World Wars and the Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm conflicts, it draws its origin from World War I when young Americans were sent to France to fight a war to end all wars. The narrow gauge railroads of France had boxcars (Voitures) that carried little more than half the capacity of American boxcars and these voitures were used to transport the men and horses to and from the fighting fronts.

On the side of these little boxcars was stenciled the capacity of each, holding either forty men (hommes) or eight horses (chevaux), and these voitures became the trademark of our organization.

If one could laugh at the train ride from the coast of France to the trenches crowded in these little boxcars only recently vacated by eight horses, one could surely adapt to the changes in his life when he returned home. Membership in the Forty & Eight is by invitation only for recognition of service to the American Legion and/or its programs.

The first Voiture Locale in the State of Missouri, and the third in La Societe, was organized through the efforts of Harry H. Pierce, Kansas City, Pierce having been initiated at the Promenade in Cleveland, September 29, 1920. Charter was granted November 4, 1920.

Voiture 38, St. Louis, followed, application for Charter having been made by Colonel John H. . Parker, January 27, 1921. The premier officers elected were: Dr. H. S. Renfrow, Chef de Gare; Francis N. Curlee, Chef de Train, George M. Hagee, Commissaire Intendant and Carleton E. Branch, Correspondant.

At St. Joseph, Mo; the Grande Voiture of Missouri was organized by delegates from the three existing Voitures. At a dinner meeting, to which all Voyageurs were invited, Co!. John H. “Gattlin Gun” Parker, St. Louis (38) was elected Grand Chef de Gare and Rulif M. Martin, Kansas City (3) Grand Correspondant.