Clayton E. Moneymaker American Legion Post 237
The history of Clayton E. Moneymaker American Legion Post 237, Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, dates nearly to the 1919 origin of the American Legion itself. The American Legion was founded under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr. with veterans of the American Expeditionary Force, in Paris, March of 1919, only five months following the armistice ending the Great War (World War One). The earliest origin of Post 237 began in June of 1920, with the activation under a temporary charter of the Peter Crump Post (the first post in Madison County) under the leadership of Captain Edward C. Betts (Commander) and S. W. Harris (Adjutant).
Throughout its history, Post 237 has been a leader in the growth and development of Huntsville and Madison County, as well as supporting our Nation’s military service veterans. Its membership rolls include celebrated military heroes from Madison County, distinguished city, county, state, and national government leaders, and respected leaders in civic and public service, as well as private business.
Support of Veterans and Contributions to the Community
In 1925-1926 the Post was reorganized as Huntsville – Madison Co. Post No. 37, holding its meetings at Riverton School near the Flint River. This early Post was active in securing bonuses, war risk insurance, compensation and hospitalization for veterans. It recognized Armistice Day in a grand celebration featuring later U. S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. A permanent charter was issued for the Post in 1926. During the 1920s the Post maintained a country store, established a polo field, established the Voiture of 40 & 8, and hosted an American Legion Department convention whose guests included Governor Graves and Colonel Colstigan (Commander of the old 69th New York Regiment). It sponsored a Boy Scout Troop; sponsored events raising funds for Christmas charities, and raised thousands of dollars to fund a local infants hospital. It led a movement for creation of a municipal airport, and sponsored a prize fight ($7,800.00 with 60,000 in attendance) for the development of local industry. In the 1930s the Post sponsored a junior baseball team, recreational projects and playgrounds, a Boys Club, amateur boxing, and aided in the creation of a livestock market.
Plans for a Federal government Works Progress Administration project for the construction of a War Memorial Building and an American Legion Home were destroyed with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (7 December 1941). During World War Two, the Post organized the establishment of air raid stations throughout Madison County, provided donations to the Red Cross, collected records of fighting men, presented American flags to schools, and sent cigarettes to Madison County men for Christmas. In addition, it appropriately donated its WWI German cannon, located at the Court House, for the wartime scrap metal drive. Company 13, Alabama State Guard was formed for Home Guard Duty as the National Guard was called for Federal service. Participating in a War Bond Drive, the post sold $162,500 in war bonds, receiving the honor of naming two bombers. Following the war the post hosted a celebration honoring Cecil H. Bolton and Paul Bolden, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients from Madison County. It also sponsored a junior baseball team and Boys State. It secured the assistance of the U. S. Army for funeral salutes, secured clothing for needy families, and presented flags to local schools.
During the 1950s and 1960s the Post provided funds for a new hospital wing, a home for orphans, aided veterans and their families, provided Christmas gifts to the families of deceased veterans, raised funds for handicapped children, assisted tornado victims in Fayetteville, Tennessee, supported a clothing center for underprivileged children, and contributed to the YMCA. In the mid-1960s, a Post Honor Guard was created which participated in the American Legion National Convention in Dallas, TX. In addition, it adopted the 93rd Evacuation Hospital in South Vietnam.
In the 1970s and 1980s the Post provided copies of the American Legion Magazine to schools, the hospital, and the library; and with the Post Auxiliary, sold $5,200 in poppies. It sponsored Memorial Day services at Maple Hill Cemetery; and distributed POW-MIA bracelets naming missing servicemen. In 1973 it held the Mike Christian Day parade (a U. S. Naval officer who was held prisoner for six years in South Vietnam). He was given a post lifetime membership, as were Medal of Honor recipients Cecil H. Bolton and Paul Bolden.
From the 1990s to the present, the Post has remained active in the support of veterans and the community. Among its many civic contributions and veterans support activities are the providing of donations to the Tut Fann Veterans’ Home, and the Huntsville Police Citizens Foundation. It has continued to sponsor Boys State, and student Oratorical contests. Also, it has participated in Operation Stand Down, and in the Melinda Fike Memorial Motorcycle Run. The Post hosts various forms of entertainment for its members and guests including bingo, live music, and outstanding food and drink service; and maintains a spacious ballroom. It supports, and is supported by, the Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, and the American Legion Riders. In this writer’s view, the most meaningful service Post 237 provides to our community is presented by The Honor Guard which conducts military funeral rites for veterans.
Changes in Post Names and Location
From the first meetings of Peter Crump Post in 1920, and its reorganization (1925-1926) as Huntsville – Madison County Post No. 37, the Post has undergone a number of changes. The Peter Crump Post and County Post 37 first held its meetings at Riverton School near the Flint River. Throughout its early years, meetings were held in a variety of locations. In the 1930s meetings were held in the homes of Post members throughout the county. The hope for the construction of a War Memorial Building and an American Legion Home by a Federal government Works Progress Administration project was destroyed with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1945-1946 County Post 37 was allotted a room in the National Guard Armory for its meetings. About 1950 a Post home auditorium, costing $20, 000, was completed, with the value of the Post home and equipment at $60,000. A Post home was established (1956-1957) at 313 South Memorial Parkway. The Post name was changed in 1965 to Cecil H. Bolton Post 37, and its home relocated to the former Parkway Country Club. In 1967 the post was re-established as Huntsville – Madison County Post No. 200, which leased a building at 202 Andrew Jackson Way at Five Points. In 1972 it was merged with Post 275 as County Post 237, located at 421 Jefferson St. With the construction of I-565, this site (now part of the Depot Museum of the Early Works Museum system), is where the Post built its present home, completed in 1983, at 2900 Drake Avenue. In 2015 County Post 237 voted to change the Post name to Clayton E. Moneymaker American Legion Post 237 in honor of this distinguished past Post Commander, and Adjutant, whose years of self-less service to this American Legion Post has provided an example of leadership and dedication to all who knew him.
Source: Yim, Patrick J. and Lott, Ted. History of The American Legion, Huntsville – Madison County Post 237, 2900 Drake Ave. Huntsville, Alabama, 1920 to 2012.
Submitted by Kenneth A. Carpenter, Post Historian