California Milita and National Guard Unit Histories
Pasadena Home Guard
(South Pasadena Emergency Defense Corps; 36th and 41st Companies, California Home Guard)
South Pasadena Emergency Defense Corps
by Jannette Jeffries

Information gleaned from articles in the South Pasadena Record and the South Pasadena Courier.

On Wednesday, April 11, 1917 a meeting was held at the city hall to take the first steps towards organizing the South Pasadena Emergency Defense Corps. Dr. James A. R. Scherer, president of Throop College in Pasadena and a member of the state defense council was on hand to explain the work of such an organization. Such groups had been set up in the neighboring cities of Pasadena, Alhambra and Glendale.

The purpose: Defense of South Pasadena and vicinity against all forms of menace to life, property and public order.

Military Organization: The corps shall be organized to conform to the system of the United States army.

Uniform: Simple khaki coat, shirt and riding breeches; campaign hat and leggings, all to be distinctive from uniform of United States Army. Arms to be rifle, pistol or revolver. Cartridge belt.

During the meeting men over forty years of age were urged to enroll in the home guard so that younger men would be free to enlist in the army.Slips of paper were passed out to every man attending so volunteers might list name, address, age, and indicate if he had firearms or prior military training. 107, nearly half the male attendees, volunteered. 31 had prior military training.

On April 18, 1917, the city council met and adopted a resolution requesting that the state legislature pass legislation enabling cities to levy a special tax for the purpose of properly equipping the home guard organizations.

Guardsmen were soon drilling in the evenings and more interest in the home guard was generated. On April 23, 1917 officers were selected and temporarily appointed pending a vote of the members.

The following article appeared in the April 30, 1917 issue of the South Pasadena Record:


Despite the fact that there are more that 100 men in the Home Guard of this city, and all the publicity that has been given the company, there are still people who still do not know full what the guard stands for. The Home Guard or, as it is called in this, the Emergency Defense corps is just what the name indicates. The company is drilling for the purpose of taking the place of the regular militia when that organization is called to the front. Its function will be the defense of the city incase of attacks or riots growing out of the war. And those who believe that it would be impossible for such attack or riots to materialize are poorly informed as to the inflamed minds of the people.

The Defense corps in South Pasadena, as in all other cities, is working hard, without pay and, in some instances, without thanks, to guard your life and property if occasion should arise. The company needs your encouragement and assistance.

This statement brings to mind the need for uniforms, and they are needed - BADLY NEEDED. The corps members are giving their time and energy to their work. They could do much more efficient work in uniform. If you have ever belonged to a military organization you know this to be a fact. So the least that those depending on the guard for protection can do is to aid in securing the much needed uniforms. A committee of citizens will present this matter to the public in behalf of the Defense corps, and it is hoped that every patriotic person will respond in proportion to his or her means. Don't be niggardly with the home guard. You may need them one of these days and you will want to be able to distinguish them by their uniforms.

On May 2, 1917 the South Pasadena Emergency Defense corps reached such importance that a recruiting office was established in the office of the South Pasadena Record

Ladies of the Red Cross society donated their services in sewing chevrons on the sleeves of the officers. The chevrons were red tape stripes on white cloth. The number of stripes denoted the rank of each officer.

It was noted that the work of the Home Guard all over the state had been highly valuable to each community as evidenced by the lack of local disturbances that had been threatened prior to the Guard formation.

During a meeting of officers on Saturday, May 12, 1917, a constitution and by-laws were drafted and adopted. Membership was opened to all men age 18 and older living in South Pasadena. Younger men were urged to join in order to gain experience in drilling and military training that might stand them in good stead for better positions in the ranks of non-commissioned officers should they be called to service. An additional company would be formed if sufficient numbers joined.

I, ....................... being a member of the Emergency Defense Corps of South Pasadena, Cal. Do solemnly swear (...... ) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God. And I do further solemnly swear (...... ) that I will perform all the duties required of me as a member of the Emergency Defense Corps of South Pasadena. So help me God.

In mid June the Southern California Edison Company agreed to place lights on the athletic field of the high school so that the grounds would be brilliantly illuminated. Drilling was moved from the Y.M.C.A. grounds as the athletic field afforded more room.

The corps accepted an invitation to take part in the Fourth of July program in Pasadena.

On Monday, July 2, 1917 the Home Guard of Pasadena was sworn into the State Home Guard and was subject to call of the governor in cases of extreme emergency. All similar organizations had to take the same step or else forego the privilege of wearing uniforms or drilling with arms. By a special legislative act under which an executive demand was made on May 10, 1917, that step was required. Only a certain number of local organizations were to be admitted to the State Home Guard and those who were slow in being sworn in would lose out in the end and the local bodies thus left out would be worthless to the state or to their home cities. Arrangements were under way for the U.S. government to furnish arms, and possibly other equipment to State Home Guard organizations. This did not mean that the state guard could be called outside the state for service, but that it would be fully recognized by the national government, the same as in other states.

A separate Home Guard company was mustered to enroll under the state rule. The movement had nothing to do with the existing Emergency Defense Corps as it was not desirable to disrupt that organization. The State Home Guard would be an authorized military organization, while the Defense corps would not even be permitted to drill with arms. The State Home Guard would be in existence only during the present war and would not be subject to call outside the state for any purpose.

36th Company, California Home Guard
The following article was copied from the December 22, 1917 issue of California Home Guard News. Based on the letter below, it appears that this was a company made up of African-Americans.
Captain, E. L. GAMES

The Captain writes

"My company of 70 men is getting along very nicely. We are drilling every Tuesday night and are up to date in the latest regulations. I keep up the interest among my men by giving a military banquet once each month. It is some expense, but as negroes must do any and everything honorable in support of our Government, we are ready and anxious to give our full service, and stand ready for the Governor of our great State to take us and show us the consideration that the Governor of New Jersey and other States has done toward the Home Guard made up of earnest, willing and patriotic men."


41st Company, California Home Guard
The following article was copied from the December 22, 1917 issue of California Home Guard News.
W. R. Jackson, Captain of the 41st Co., Pasadena, states that we have four companies here, about 250 men, completely armed and uniformed, and we are very anxious for Government as well as State recognition.


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Updated 8 February 2016