Oakland Remembers World War I: Sen. Christopher C. Wimbish
On April 6, 1917, Congress declared war on Germany and the United States officially entered World War I. Over four years, the total number of military and civilian casualties in the Great War climbed to over 38 million, with over 17 million killed and 20 million wounded. The United States mobilized over 4 million military personnel, a group that included many Atlantans. More than 500,000 Georgia men registered for the Selective Service Act and the state was home to more training camps than any other in the country. Several WWI veterans and citizens involved in the effort are buried at Oakland Cemetery.
Lt. Christopher C. Wimbish was born in Atlanta on Feb. 6, 1895. His parents were Christopher C. Wimbish Sr., a customs collector, and Maggie Baker Wimbish, a leading Atlanta educator. Wimbish attended Houston Street Public School in Atlanta and received a degree from Howard University in Washington D.C. He returned to Atlanta and worked as a life insurance agent. When war was declared in spring 1917, he volunteered for service in the infantry. He was commissioned as a first lieutenant and served with the 366th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division, an African American infantry division formed with soldiers from across the United States. According to military records, the 366th regiment saw action in Alsace, the Argonne Forest, and Lorraine. After peace was reached in November 1918, Wimbish remained in France for several months. He returned to America aboard the Aquitania in February 1919 and was honorably discharged in April 1919.
After the war, Wimbish attended Northwestern University law school in Chicago. He graduated in 1925 and was admitted to the Illinois Bar. He became a member of the legal firm of Temple, Brown, and Harewood. In 1927, Wimbish was named Assistant State’s Attorney. He held this post until 1931, and later served as counsel for the City of Chicago. After making his name as a prominent attorney, Wimbish entered Chicago’s political arena. Originally a Republican, Wimbish switched to the Democratic Party and campaigned to be the Democratic nominee for the Illinois State Senate in 1938. Unsuccessful in 1938, he was elected to the Illinois State Senate from the Third District in 1942 and served until 1954. After his time as a senator, Wimbish became a trustee of the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago in 1958.
He held this position until his death on December 27, 1962, and Sen. Christopher C. Wimbish was buried in Oakland’s African American Burial Grounds in the Wimbish family lot.