Sedalia Missouri American Red Cross

Sedalia Auxiliary of the Red Cross
Pettis County Chapter of the American Red Cross

After the Battle of Solferino in 1859, Henry Dunant from Switzerland organized the European Red Cross Movement to train national relief societies that could provide neutral care during war. In 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross charter was founded in Geneva, Switzerland. A year later, other European countries created their own charters such as the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War in 1870 and the French Red Cross Society at the Geneva Convention. The American Red Cross movement began in 1881 in Washington, D. C. with Clara Barton campaigning after she returned from a visit from Europe after the Civil War. She led the first relief efforts overseas to the American military forces during the Spanish-American War. In 1900, the United States government officially chartered the American Red Cross.

In 1914 the United States entered the First World War and several Red Cross chapters began forming across the country. The state of Missouri had not established a unit of the American Red Cross until Clemence Joseph Kahn developed a chapter in Sedalia. She was born in 1873 in Alsace-Lorraine, France and moved to Sedalia when she married Arthur Kahn of Warrensburg, Missouri in 1896. Arthur Kahn came from a prominent Jewish family, also from France, who ran the St. Louis Clothing Co. store in Sedalia. Clemence followed the war closely and learned about the national relief societies in Europe. She formed the Sedalia Auxiliary of the American Red Cross in her home at 901 W. Broadway Blvd. and S. Prospect Ave Streets in Sedalia, on October 15, 1914, with just six charter members who began fundraising and recruiting additional members. In October Clemence attended the District Federation of Women’s Clubs’ meeting in Washington, D. C for the assistance of the Red Cross War Relief Fund overseas. Sedalia’s first major contribution to the National Red Cross was the Kirmess Donation Festival in December. The next year, Mrs. Arthur Kahn wrote to the Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D. C. to request the approval of a chapter for Sedalia and began accepting men into their society. By 1917, the Sedalia group was granted an official Red Cross charter for Pettis County, the first Red Cross organization established in Missouri. Mrs. Clemence J. Kahn died on July 2, 1949, and is remembered as a successful civic leader in the community.

The Red Cross of Pettis County worked to provide aid to war veterans and family members, disaster emergencies, and blood drives. The Pettis County chapter of the Red Cross moved the headquarters from the home of Arthur and Clemence Kahn to the courthouse in 1917 when the courthouse on Ohio Street served as the draft registration office for World War I. Men volunteers of the Red Cross were required to wear a khaki armband. The Red Cross office moved to four different locations on Ohio Street between 1929 to the 1950s. By 1955, the Pettis County Red Cross organization merged with the fundraising project United Way Fund Drive or the “Red Feather” administered by Community Chest as a coalition of other organizations committed to the welfare of those in Sedalia and Pettis County. The Red Cross office remained at 112 W. Fourth Street from 1957 to 1978. In 1978, the Sedalia-Pettis County United Way and the American Red Cross office moved to the one-story building at the corner of 222 S. Lamine and 123 E. Third Street. Today, it is currently located at 1400 South Limit Avenue and West 14th Street in the State Fair Shopping Center.



901 W. Broadway Blvd., Sedalia, MO 65301 ~ Located on the corner of 901 W. Broadway Blvd. and S. Prospect Ave Streets