William Julison was born August 30, 1916, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the fifth of six children born to Gustav and Marie Anne Scherer Julissen (Yulissen). Gustav, an ethnic German from Russia, was born near Tallinn, Estonia, August 17, 1867, and Marie Anne in Selz, Russia, December 2, 1877. Gustav was pressed into the Russian Army at age 15 and met Marie in Odessa while working in one of Czar Nicholas' many estates near Odessa. They were married in 1902 and lived in the village of Mixtov where their first three children were born. Gustav saw service in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904. He immigrated with his family to the United States in June 1906 via Antwerp, Belgium, and Canada, before arriving in Neche, North Dakota, in September 1906. The family moved to Grand Forks shortly thereafter to join sponsoring relatives, Marie's parents, Barbara and Joseph Scherer. Gustav worked for the Great Northern Railroad for 35 years as a section hand and then a car repairman. Gustav died in Grand Forks February 3, 1948, and Marie Anne June 28, 1950.
William Julison grew up in the Dyke Avenue/Washington Street neighborhood of Grand Forks. He graduated from Central High School in 1934 and then worked for Griffith's Department Store and odd jobs until the fall of 1937 when he enrolled at the University of North Dakota majoring in art and journalism. He left UND Spring semester 1939 because of unsatisfactory scholarship and went to live with his sister, Mary, who was teaching in Milwaukee. Unable to find work, Julison enrolled in Company 1604 CCC Camp, Gays Mills, Wisconsin, on July 30, 1939. He joined other CCC men who were in the same boat "coming from big families, no jobs, and disgusted with hard times." He participated in a variety of work: Soil Conservation Service topographical projects, limestoning, and KP, latrine, and dispensary duty. He was also a columnist and the cartoonist for the Camp's daily newspaper Kickapoojian. Julison was discharged from Company 1604 CCC Camp on June 30, 1941, and the Camp was disbanded in July 1942.
Julison registered for the Draft at Company 1604 CCC Camp on October 15, 1940. Instead of having his induction papers transferred to North Dakota, he chose to join some of his CCC enrollees and was inducted August 3, 1941, at Prairie Du Chein, Wisconsin. He received his basic training at Camp Grant, Illinois, and then was stationed at Chanute Field, Illinois, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Harding, Louisiana. He was sent overseas in December of 1944. He served in England and France and then spent approximately one year in Germany where his knowledge of the German language enabled him to serve as an interpreter. He also worked in the air disarmament program decoding Nazi aircraft development secrets. Throughout his five years in the Army, Julison was also a cartoonist/illustrator for army post newspapers, worked in public relations, and produced art work for various projects. He was awarded an ETO Certificate of Merit and a Bronze Star and was discharged May 16, 1946, as a Master Sergeant.
Julison spent the summer of 1946 working for the Progress, a weekly newspaper in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, before joining the Grand Forks Herald as a sports writer and cartoonist. He established a free-lance illustration/commercial art service shop called the Art Mart in 1956, contracting work in illustrating, designing, printing, cartooning, photo-retouching, posters, and T.V. slides. He maintained this business at several downtown locations before moving it to his home in 1967.
Julison never married but nurtured close ties with his extended family, especially his nieces and nephews. He was a member of the Grand Forks Quarterback Club, the American Foreign Legion, and was a lover of classical music, a sports enthusiast, and a silent western movie buff. William Julison died July 1, 1988.
Donation; Accession 88-1614
The William Julison Papers date from 1908 to 1988, although the bulk of the material is from 1930 to 1988. The papers originally measured 62.5 linear feet and were completely unorganized. Therefore, at the time of acquisition, it was deemed expedient to do only a cursory appraisal of the material on site. Upon processing, the papers were rearranged to reflect Julison's personal life, his work as a commercial artist/cartoonist, and his interest in sports and silent western films. The Julison Papers are arranged into seven series:
Series 1: Personal and Family
Series 2: Art Mart
Series 3: Sports
Series 4: Grand Forks and North Dakota History
Series 5: Silent Western Movies
Series 6: Oversize
Series 7: Photographs