Carolina History Project
Your Subtitle text
World War I-era letters written from the the "old folks on the homefront"....in Gaffney, South Carolina...way back in 1918...to their soldier boy serving "somewhere in France."

 
This is a World War I brown wool garrison cap that belonged to Thomas Ruppe of Gaffney, South Carolina.  He trained at Camp Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina and then served with an artillary unit in France.  World War I was the first time that garrison caps were issued to the US Army and US Marine Corps.  They are still in military use today, but are styled much differently now.

As you have read on my homepage, I, Dirk Allman, have been marching in Charlotte's Veteran's Day parade, as a World War I doughboy re-enactor, since 1993.  And I am quite beloved to the local branches and posts of the American Legion and The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).  On patriotic rememberance occasions in the past, I have displayed my militaria for all to see, not just of World War I, but of most of the wars that the United States has been involved in as concerns our recent history.  World War I is just about as far back as I can go.  Anything beyond that gets quite expensive and out of financial reach.  But for some reason, back in the 1990's (I don't know if it has changed now) there wasn't much call for World War I-era items.  So, I had no trouble picking it up rather cheaply.  Granted, this was mostly some old uniforms and "homefront" items like sheet music.  But that's all right...there is just so much you can put on display at any one time. 

But back around sometime during the early to mid-1990's, I was at the local Metrolina Expo Flea Market here in Charlotte, as the vendors were setting up...and what do I find...but a nearly complete World War I uniform for sale!  I mean it consisted of the brown wool pants, tunic, garrison cap (as seen above), the original brown wool gloves, the original dog tags that went with the uniform...and a "personal effects" bag....just chock full of old letters that his parents, relatives, and perhaps a few girlfriends, too,...had written him while he was serving "over there" in France  Mercy, what a nice lot to find!  I asked the vendor where he had gotten it all from.  And he told me, if memory serves me right, that it was bought at an auction...sometime back in the 1960's...and had been sitting in an old trunk.... in storage ever since then!  Nearly thirty years later, here it was all out on the flea market table for sale.  The vendor sold some rather nice antiques and collectibles...and their prices were much higher than the flotsam dealers thereabouts.  Their price was $160.00...for everything.  Thank goodness I had some money saved up at the time.  I bought it all...and I have never regretted it.  

actually wore the brown wool uniform in a few Veteran's Day parades.  And shew, you talk about uncomforatble?  It was like wearing a wool carpet!  And boy the rash I would get around my neck...just wearing it for one day.  For these uniforms have what I call "choke-collars," that button at the top and go snuggly around the neck.  (Only the US Marines and Navy dress uniforms use them today.)  I wore it to a VFW Veteran's Day dance once, and not a comfortable thing to dance in by any means...and one veteran there declared, "That's a leatherneck if I ever saw one!"  I have since found out why US World War I uniforms have lasted so well through years:  they were terribly uncomfortable to wear!  When the doughboys got home from France...they couldn't wait to throw them in a trunk...and forget about them!  By World War II, US uniforms were made of softer cotton...and even when the GI's got home from service, they still didn't mind wearing them around the house...and wearing them out.  Hence, why they don't seemed to have survived as well today.     

 

But the story I have to tell you here...is what was found in those old letters in the "personal effects" bag that came with the uniform.  A personal effects bag is a small brown khaki-cloth bag that were placed with deceased soldiers.  Personal effects, in this case, would be the letters that this soldier received from friends in family back in Gaffney, South Carolina, where he was from.  However, there is a good indication that this doughboy, by the name of Thomas Ruppe, survived the Great War quite well.  For I found that he paid his Woodmen of the World dues well into the 1920's.  I can only assume then that he got the personal effects bag second hand...and used it as a convienient place to store his wartime letters from home.  Unfortunately, I don't have the letters that Thomas Ruppe wrote, for those who may have received them are long dead, their estates long since dispensed with.  It would have been interesting to read about what he did in France.  But that is lost to history.  (However, the letters from the "homefolks" do mention that Thomas Ruppe wrote back quite often.)  So, we only get the "homefront" view of the war as seen from Gaffney, South Carolina, in Cherokee County, in upper South Carolina, bordering her northern sister state.  Herein is a sampling of a few of them.  Let's go back in time to just over 90 years ago shall we?  (Here is an update:  In a telephone interview I had with Howard Parris, who lives in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, and is the grandson of Lafar and Beula Ruppe, who are mentioned in the letter below, and is an expert on the Ruppe family tree, told me that Thomas Edward Ruppe was born on November 3rd, 1892...and died on May 16th, 1975, age 82, at the Oteen, North Carolina VA (Veteran's Administration) Hospital, (near Asheville) which is located on Hwy. 70 in the foothills of the North Carolina mountains.  He would have been 25 in the summer of 1918 at Camp Jackson....turning age 26 just before the Armistice was signed in Europe, thus ending The Great War in France, where he was serving with a US Artillary unit at the time.  Howard Parris says he doesn't remember Thomas Ruppe all that well, but remembers that he was quite tall...and ran a barber business in Gaffney.  According to one of the World War I letters below written by his mother, Nevada Ruppe, it seems that Thomas Ruppe was trying to learn barbering while in the US Army.  Thanks for the information!)   


Here is the envelope of one letter postmaked "Gaffney, S. C. Jul. 30, 11:30am...postage 3 cents.  The return address was from his father, John T. Ruppe, Route 9.  It was addressed to his son, Thos. E. Ruppe, 41st. Co., 156 Depot Brigade, 11th Training Battalion, Jackson Branch, Columbia, S. C.  (This was were "Camp" Jackson was founded....now known as "Fort" Jackson today.  Judging by his collar buttons on his tunic and the insignia on the garrison cap above, he served in the US Artillary, the criss-crossed old-style cannons denoting as such.

Thomas Ruppe's father, John Ruppe had rather good penmenship...and is rather easy to read after nine decades, though he had a lot of comma-spliced sentences.  However, if you can't make out the script, here is the letter as follows:  

                                                                                                        Gaffney, R. 9, S. C.
                                                                                                         July 29th, 1918

Thomas E. Ruppe,
                                                                                                        Columbia, S. C.

Dear Son:  Your letter of the 25th received, and was glad to hear from you.  This leaves all well as common.  Cecil has to go and be examined to morrow.  J. B. Godfrey* , Sydney, Ellis, and Pete Ray, all came home Saturday night, but went back yesterday evening.  We are having showers of rain every day now, and crops are growing and looking well.  A crippled negro, named Sylvester Norris, was killed by lighting Saturday, will be buried at the Watkin's grave yard to day.  Dexter Parris, has a big boy at his house, it happened yesterday morning.  Litia and Ignacy (?) got a letter from Burt, Friday sayng he was packing up to leave Camp Jackson.  The mill at Cliffsides** (sic) has shut down this week, Beulah is at Atkisson's, Lafar has not come yet.***  It seems you have too many numbers in your address, however will direct my letter as you gave them.  Will close and the others write some.  Ora McGraw said to tell you to write to her.  

                                                                                                Yours Be,
                                                                                                 John T. Ruppe.

*In the next letter written by John T. Ruppe to his son Thomas, roughly three weeks after the Armistice, it is related that J. B. Godfrey has died in France, a military casualty of the Great War.

**The town of Cliffside and Cliffside Mill is located in Rutherford County, just practically on the border with South Carolina...and just up the road from Gaffney.  Cliffside Mill, and the town it founded, came into being around the turn of the 20th century.  The town is still there, but the mill finally closed in the year 2000.  An excellent website that will tell you more about this historical mill town can be found at www.remembercliffside.com 

***Believe it or not, Beulah and Lafar Ruppe have their very own webpages on "Remember Cliffside."  The stories about their lives are written by JoAnn Huskey, a Cherokee County, South Carolina native, who spent so much time at Cliffside visiting relatives, that she at least feels she deserves "honorary status" as a "somewhat native" of the town.  For this website, she has presented "Cliffside Sketches" in honor of the people who lived there.  She is also in the process of writing a history of Rutherfordton County, to be published at a future date.  (Maybe these letters will help!)  You can access JoAnn Huskey's accounts about Beula and Lafar Ruppe (and see their grandson Howard Parris as well) at these weblinks as follows:

http://www.remembercliffside.com/memories/sketches/hog_killing.html

http://www.remembercliffside.com/memories/sketches/about_aunt_beula.html

Mercy!  What a small world this internet is making!
 

Within that same envelope, was also a letter from Thomas Ruppe's mother, Nevada Ruppe.  Her letter was written in light pencil.  I'll just show a scan from the first page...as that it went on for four pages...and transcribe the rest for you.  Her letter was practically a four-page run-on sentence...with a lot of "creative spelling," but I'll do my best to interpet it.  But leave no doubt about it....it sure is a "Mama's letter," as only a Mama in wartime could write it.  I'm sure that Mamas send emails, that are very similar to this old letter...to their children serving in war zones our country is involved in today.  Maybe not too much has changed.  Let's read on shall we?  (Update: Ruppe family geneaolgist, J. Lee Hunter, as given me more background behind the names mentioned in Nevada Ruppe's letter.  These updates will be seen in the bold print below.) 

                                                                                                            Gaffney, S. C.
                                                                                                            July 29th 1918

Dear Son,

                Your most wellcome (sic) letter received in due time (.) (W)as so glad to here (sic) from you.  This leave me felling very week (sic) and feeling so bad.  (H)ope you are well this morning(.) Thom take care of your self as best you can.  (W)rite in your next letter and tell me what you are having to do  case you not get in to the barbar (sic) business(.)  I was so sorry that you could not get bread enough to eat(.)  I wish I was (there) so I could send you some good corn bread and milk(.)  We have so much good milk to poor (sic) out to the hogs.  (W)ell I went to Gaffney Saturday.  Gran Ma (Christina Lockhart Gaffney 1841-1923) was looking for a letter from you(.)  (D)o write to her(.)  (S)he is all most crazy because that you all have to go off (.)  (S)he told me that you went off so cheerful(.)  I am so gad (sic) that you did(.)  (I)t looked like that we diden (sic) care any thang(sic) for you.  (N)ot one of us to see you leave(.)  I could never stand to see you take that train(.)  Aletha (sister of Thomas Ruppe) said she thought of going to see you off but she said she could never see you leave(.)  You was babtized (sic)  They were all babtized (sic).  (H)ad a good meeting(.)  I never went any until yesterday(.)  Thom, Ora MeCraw (1899-1981) said for you to writ (sic)to her(.)  (S)he is still crying about Walter(Ora married Walter Sanders).  Thom, they come a letter to you the day you left(.)  I don't no (know) who it was from(.)  (I)t was about unsealed but I never broke it open.  I had two crazy stams (stamps) on it and directed it to you (.)  I guess it was from some of your girls(.)  Let me know if you get it(.)  I haven(sic) herd (sic) from Aunt Gertrud yet. (Gertrude was Nevada's sister).  I don't see why she don't write to me.  Lealy has been right sick(.)  (S)he says she dreams every night a bout Summie and you.  Dear Son don't forget to pray and pray for your dear old Mother who never forgets you in her prayers(.)  I do wish I could see you one morning.  Thom, when do you think that you will get to come home(?)  I wasn't expecting you to have you sent yet.  (H)ow is your arm by now(?)  (W)ell I will close for this time(.)  (W)rite as soon as you get this(.)  (D)o write once a week at lest (sic).  (Y)ou , you no (know), every day seems like a week to me(.)  (G)ood by.  (Y)our loving Mother(.)
  
                                                                                                                Nevada Ruppe*

P.S. (W)ell I received a letter from Gertrude today saying she diden(sic) no (know) when she would yet to come...as Grace was at work and she could not leave her(.)  Mother.

*Thanks to a Google search, I was able to track down the burial site of Thomas Ruppe's mother, Nevada Ruppe.  She is buried in the Cherokee Creek Baptist Church cemetery in Gaffney, South Carolina, where her and her husband were members.  Her fervent religious faith that she puts forth in this letter, no doubt, was greatly encouraged by her Baptist "community of faith."  She was born on July 2nd, 1861 and died on February 1947, age 86.  She was 57-years-old when she wrote this letter to her son. 

Here we have a letter that Thomas Ruppe's father wrote to his son several weeks after the Armistice was signed in France in late November of 1918.  It's a very heartfelt letter, written at a time that was a historical watershed in world history:  the ending of the Great War...and the beginning of it's aftermath.  The then rural farming crossroads of Gaffney, South Carolina was not left untouched...as you will see.  I used to read this letter aloud at the local VFW on Veteran's Day.  Here is the original letter with its now old browned India ink.  I have written a transcription following it if you, dear reader, have any problem reading the script.  

    
                                                                                            Gaffney R 9, S. C.
                                                                                            Nov. 28th, 1918

Thos. E. Ruppe
                                                                                       Some where in France
Dear Son:-We received your letter of Oct. 31st.  (O)ne Nov. 26th, which makes 4 letters we have got from you.  We have answered all of them, also sent you a Christmas Box, sent it to your old address.  Litia sent Bert and Goin a box a piece. 

Dewey did not have to go to the Training Camps, and I am looking for Cecil back home almost any day now, but it may be nearly Christmas, before he is discharged. 

Broadus Hames, and J. B. Godfrey* are both dead in France.  Furman Robbs, Richard Hicks, and Albert Grant** have died in camps.  (Probably from the 1918 Influenza epidemic which raged through many of the camps at the time.)

Will keep your heifer (female cow), and pay your Woodmen (of the World) dues, as I wrote you before, but you may never get that letter. 

We are all well as common.  Today is Thanks Giving and rainy day it has been.  (over)

We have gathered some corn and sowed some wheat, but are not done with either yet.

Have your and Cecil's cotton picked but once, will try to get it picked over again right away.

And glad that we have gained the victory over the Germans.

If I were you, I would try to see Paris, see the Eiffel Tower, and the Champes Elysses, and other places of interest,(;) Paris is the finest city on earth, I have been told by men who have been there.

Well I will close, hoping by next summer you will get to come home.  Write again (;) we will be almost sure to get yours, while it is a little doubtful about you getting ours.  

                                                                            Affectionately, Your Father

                                                                            John T. Ruppe***

P.S.  Please write about any of the boys around here that you may see over there like you did in your last letter(;) it makes every body happy to hear from one and all of them.

*As you will recall, J. B. Godfrey was still alive when he went to go for his military medical examination on July 29th.  But he became a casualty of war when he fought on the Western Front...and is most likely, along with his brothers in arms, buried in France.  (Update:  Ruppe family geneaologist, J. Lee Hunter, informed me that the full name of this soldier was Jay Beecy Godfrey.  He was married to Irene McCraw, sister of Ora McCraw.  Irene gave birth to a son born October 27th, 1918--J. B. was killed in France on November 8, 1918....ironically just three days before the Armistice ending World War I.) 

**Albert Grant died in a military training camp, possibly from the 1918 Influenza Epidemic that was sweeping the world at the time.  He is also buried in the Cherokee Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Gaffney, South Carolina.  His tombstone reads "A. P. Grant," born August 4th, 1895 and died in a training camp, don't know which one, on October 15th, 1918, another casualty of the Great War.

***John T. Ruppe, father of Thomas Ruppe, is buried at the Cherokee Creek Baptist Church cemetery as well.  He was born on January 23rd, 1858 and died on his birthday on  January 23rd, 1933, age 75.  He was 60-years-old in 1918 when he was writing his son Thomas serving at Camp Jackson...and then we he was "over there" in France.  I am grateful to Cherokee Creek Baptist Church for keeping a detailed list of everyone buried in their local cemetery.  You can find out more about this historical church by going to www.cherokeecreekbaptistchurch.org 

Thomas Ruppe's dog tags, number 4125474.  I've worn them around my neck in many a Veteran's Day parade.

                                        


Here is a 1917 American Red Cross stamp, similar to Christmas Seals, on the back of one of the envelopes that Thomas Ruppe's parents mailed to him.  I have heard that there are still a lot of Ruppes down in the Gaffney/Cherokee County, South Carolina area.  (Some in Rutherford County, North Carolina, too.)  If so, these are some of your ancestors.  Is it not good to hear them speak again in the words that they wrote?  And these are just a few of the letters, written between 1917 and 1918 by the Ruppes that were stuffed in that personal effects bag.  Yes, written in the midst of such heady history making times, and yet represent so well the bedrock rural-agrairian values that these people had back then.  (And I am sure that those values are still there today.)  There are so many more of these Ruppe/Gaffney letters that perhaps I will transcribe at some future date.  So, if you happen to be in Gaffney, South Carolina, at the Cherokee Creek Baptist Church Cemetery... some quiet sunny afternoon, do look up the gravesites of John and Nevada Ruppe and A. P. Grant...and let them know...that I kept them...and their good everyday deeds from being forgotten.  Is that not the reward of the righteous to have their good deeds remembered?  That their letters would end up on the internet just over 90 years later?  That I even found them to begin with?  What were the chances of that?   Amen. 

UPDATE:  Ruppe family geneaologist, J. L. Hunter, was so kind to send me a photo of Thomas E. Ruppe, dressed in his World War I uniform.  Khaki uniforms were issued stateside for training purposes.  But the doughboys were issued brown itchy wool outfits when they landed in France.  They were fine for winter weather, but the majority of the doughboys' fighting was done in the spring and summer of 1918, during the rather warm French season of "ete."  But the uniforms were probably more comfortable to wear once autumn approached...and the Armistice was near.  If so, this could very well be the uniform I found at the local flea market around 1995.  It did see service in France, as that it had one "hatch-mark" patch at the end of each sleeve, indicating that Mr. Ruppe spent at least six months on the Western Front.  Furthermore, Mrs. Hunter was able to send me a scan of a 1919 newspaper clipping from the Gaffney Ledger in which Thomas Ruppe wrote an "open letter" to all who had written to him from Gaffney, South Carolina during his service in France, but especially to his dear mother and father.  This was on account of the fact that while he was able to receive letters from his friends, family and cousins in South Caroina, his letters he wrote from France, many times, were not reaching anybody at all in Gaffney.  So, writing a letter to the Gaffney Ledger, that miracuously made it across the sea in the aftermath of the Armistice, was, I assume he felt, his best option to getting a message out to one and all.  Not all of the clipping is there, but we are grateful that we finally get to hear Thomas Ruppe's "voice."  Here it is as follows:

"From Thos. E. Ruppe.  Battery B, 122 Reg., A. E. F. in France, Jan. 4, 1919

Dear People:--I hope that you all had a fine Xmas as usual.  I haven't had any at all, hardly.  We worked all the time.  What we had was at night.  Lots of the boys got to feeling pretty good New Year's night, for there is a lot to drink here, although I have never touched a drop.

I have not been well for four weeks or more.  You know I wrote before that I had a cold.  I am not well yet--I am in the same shape that I was last winter.

The winter here is not as cold as it is there.  The ground has not been frozen but one morning this winter.  But it don't forget to rain.  You have no idea of the mud there is here.

Papa, if you notice where the 33rd Division is you can tell where I am.  We belong to it now.  I don't think it will be long before we will get to come home.  I wish that I could hear from you all.  I would like to know if Cecil is at home now, or not:  also about Summie Peele and all the rest of the people, and how everything is going.

Well, I didn't get my Xmas box, but I got about as much as if I had, for I would have had to give the most of it to my friends.  Some of them received their boxes and they gave me part of them. 


I thought I would write a long letter this time, but I am on guard at the kitchen now for four hours.  I am lying by the fire while I am writing this letter.  I don't know whether you can read it, or not, so I will close.  Will write again soon.
                                              Thos. E. Ruppe

P.S. Jan. 11, 1919.  I thought that I would write you all a few lines since we have moved.  I spent Xmas in Steans (?), France, but today we are in Bissen, Luxembourg.  This is a nice place.  I would like to stay here for a while, the people are so nice to us. 

Well, I am the Battery barber now.  That is all I have to do, but it is a plenty.  I worked hard today and also....(and that's all we have of this old newspaper clipping from just over 90 years ago.)  

A few things about this old clipping here.  When Thomas Ruppe wrote this letter to the folks back home, the Great War had been over for nearly two months.  He didn't occupy the Rhineland, but was stationed in Bissen, Luxembourg, one of the countries that Germany quickly conquered on its way to Belgium in 1914.  The 33rd Division he was placed with, was also known as "The Lincoln Division," a National Guard Division hailing from Lincoln's state of Illinois.  Thomas Ruppe was part of the regular army, but I guess due to the horrendous loss of manpower in the war, even regular army personnel were temporarily teamed up with National Guard units in order to "flesh" out their divisions.  Thomas Ruppe did receive two letters in 1919 from a war buddy in Illinois, who had been in with the 33rd.  His war buddy more or less said, that he sure didn't miss the captain that they had...and how he wished he could come and visit Thomas in South Carolina..and have some of that good old watermelon so plentiful down that way!  Also, the fact that Thomas didn't drink is not unusual for people from this area.  (Neither did Seargent York.)  Thomas Ruppe was a devout Baptist, and like most Baptists, eschewed drinking.  And yes, Thomas did hone his barbering skills while in the army, an occupation he would do for the rest of his life when he got back to Gaffney.  The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I will be coming up in the next four years.  World War I veterans worldwide...have dwindled to a precious few, the one's surviving having lived to incredible ages.  I'm glad that I was blessed to be able to find this lot of Great War history when I did...and share it with the world....as that I've been finding out....that there is a good deal of world-wide interest in this one particular page of my website.  Hence, this update.  Feel free to contact me at the email address below if you have any comments.  (For one thing, in the clipping above, I can't make out the name of the French city Thomas Ruppe was briefly stationed at.  That would help me some.)  I may be a little slow to reply, but I do answer all emails.  Thank you so much and do enjoy meandering through the rest of my website.  If you go to my homepage at www.carolinahistoryproject.com, scroll down to the bottom of the page and find out why I got such a wierd interest in World War I.  You might find it amusing.  Let other folks know I'm out here.   And let's hope that, through this webpage, that World War I vet, Pvt. Thomas Ruppe of Gaffney, South Carolina....won't be forgotten.  Again, thank you so much.  I am

Sincerely,
Dirk Allman
Charlotte, North Carolina
USA

Also, read a little more about what Thomas Ruppe's life was like before the war, specifically, some letters he received from his Gaffney cousin, Dola Wilson, who left Gaffney, South Carolina in 1912...and hopped a frieght train to find his fortune in Miles City, Montana...and did right well for himself.  I get the feeling from the letters that his cousin, Dola, wrote to him, that Thomas thought about leaving Gaffney, too...and getting work on a Montana Ranch like his cousin.  Obviously, that was never the path for our dear Thomas.  For in 1915, his mother, Nevade Ruppe, "had a fit" when he decided to move 26 miles south of Gaffney...to Spartanburg, South Carolina...in order to, we believe, go to a barber school.  (I haven't published those letters yet.)  It was a miracle that she survived Thomas going all the way over to France...to war!  Well, anyway, here is the link within my website right here as far as the Dola Wilson letters go:

                                              Dola Wilson

Also, you can get some idea of what Thomas Ruppe did after the war (and some before it), by looking at his old bank books from the Bank of Gaffney, his South Carolina 1920's era driver's license and other paper ephemera of his life from 1913 until 1929.  He was more than just a soldier serving in France.  Here is that link as well.

                          Gaffney, South Carolina:  1913-1929

Ah, Dirk Allman, your webmaster here again, in the middle of this photo.  I'm at the Square in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina on Veterans Day, November 11th, 2008...the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War.  I'm dressed in my World War I uniform, such that it is, for it gets hard to find such stuff after almost 100 years.  I think that the helmet may be British from World War II.  (My actual WWI helmet kind of fell apart.)  I'm wearing a Korean War trenchcoat.  (OK, close enough.  It makes all of the Korean War veterans glad to see it.)  The tunic underneath it is khaki from WWI, and has the patch of the 42nd Rainbow Division, with an artillary ordinance patch on it as well.  All of the buttons have the criss-crossed cannons on them.  The khaki strap you see in the front is to my gas mask bag...with "rubber-aged-and-crumbling" gas mask and canister inside.  And not seen are my baggy khaki pants that came from a local department store and some brown leather ankleboots that I've had since 1982..and look the part.  And over the years, I've used everything from Ace "wrap-around" bandages to just dark brown wool socks for puttees.  Whatever works.   I'm holding an actual 48-star flag behind me.  And the newspaper is an actual November 11th, 1918 Charlotte Observer paper stateing in bold print:  PEACE!  WORLD WAR ENDS AT 6 A.M.  GERMANY HAS SIGNED ARMISTICE.  The only reason I can hold up such a brittle thing is due to the fact that it has been laminated with plastic.  Everybody gets a kick out of seeing that!  It's like holding up one of the Dead Sea scrolls!  I'm flanked by two Vietnam veterans, whose names I can't remember....but all of these veterans sure remember me around here!  And are grateful that I do this rather "off-beat thing."  I have to carry on...for our last Mecklenburg County World War I veteran passed away somtime around the mid-1990's.  Keep on reading all of you folks in the US and around the world.  God Bless You!        

Field Artillery in Action Vintage Postcard


Here's a nice old World War I postcard, courtesy of the website www.cardcow.com.  It depicts "Field Artillery In Action."  (If you can't afford their postcards, this site will at least allow you to cut-and-paste code in which to "embed" these cards into your websites and blogs....and thus give them some free advertising as well!  And these sellers have a stock of about every kind of old postcard genre ever made.)  Anyhow, this US-printed Great War postcard is appropriate, since Pvt. Thomas Ruppe was in the US Artillery.  This scene shown here, is most likely a stateside view of artillery training in the US camps...when they were still wearing campaign hats.  (Pvt. Ruppe, as earlier mentioned, trained with the artillary at Camp Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.)  When The A.E.F got to France, there were seldom any "US-made" cannons for the doughboys to make use of in combat.  For the most part, our soldiers had to learn how to use French-made 75's.  In fact, about the only US-made items that the doughboys brought to France were:  their uniforms, their Springfields, pup tents...and the combination canteen/cup mess kits....and a few areoplanes (using the older-style term) at the very end...which were referred to as "flying coffins" so-called because the gas tanks were so easily hit by flack and pursuing ammunition...which then easily burst into flames whilst in mid-air!  (And parachutes, for the most part....were not an option at this point!)  Yes, during the Great War, almost everything else the doughboys had to use was either French....or British-made.



Update: From the Thomas Ruppe estate, I recently came across this old World War I postcard written to Mr. Ruppe, from his cousin in Gaffney, South Carolina, Annie McCraw.  It was postmarked "Gaffney, Aug 7, 1918, 4 P. M., S. C."  Private Ruppe was still training at Camp Jackson when he received this post card.  It is a romantic-style postcard, depicting a sweetheart daydreaming about her soldier boy....who has gone to serve the colors.  It says:  "EVER IN MY THOUGHTS.  GOOD LUCK AND A SAFE RETURN."  This card had been in one of my traveling World War I display cases for years.



The postcard, as best as I can interpret it, is as follows:

Addressed to:  T. E. Ruppe
                        Battery (C or B)
                        F. A. R. D. 11th Battalion
                        Camp Jackson
                        Columbia, S. C.

From:  R2 # Box 109 Gaffney S. C.
           Aug. 6, 1918


I received your card twoday (sic) and was glad two hear from you and hope you are enjoying your self fine.  I guess you would like two (sic) be here and go to preaching (church) this week.  Annie McCraw.  

Yes, just one of many personal penny postcards from the Great War era, now over 90 years ago, which have survived, showing us all a very human side of the First World War I.  Such sentimental postcards as these...were sent back and forth between soldiers...and their friends, families and sweethearts...from all sides of the conflict.  Something to think about.
 

  

Here's a further update.  I recently came across a website devoted to Cherokee County Veterans, where Gaffney, South Carolina, the county seat, is located.  Below you will see a few of the names of World War I Cherokee County veterans that were killed in the Great War, whose names came off a granite war memorial found in downtown Gaffney.  In fact some of the names mentioned in the John T. Ruppe letter above of, such as Broadus Hames and Jay Bee Godfrey (which should be Jay Beecy Godfrey), who died in France, are seen on this list.  Furman D. Robbes, Albert P. Grant, and Richard J. Hicks, again according to the letter above, died in camps, most likely from the Influenza epidemic, and are listed here as well.  This is just further confirmation as concerns the validity of the letters written by John T. Ruppe, father of Pvt. Thomas Earl Ruppe, back in November of 1918.  The information below, which I am grateful to find, is courtesy of a "rootsweb" posting at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~sccherok/veterans.htm

World War I 

Patsy Holt was kind enough to transcribe the names from a variety of veterans memorials in Gaffney.  This is what she found on World War I:
Landrum Allen
Loyd Allen
Arthur Burgess
Jesse Bobo
Oscar Camp
Coke T. Chesney
Ed Collins
Alexander Crocker
Leander T. Dickson
Glenn Dowdle
Arthur Edwards
Grier Ellis
Richard Gallman
Jay Bee Godfrey
Albert P. Grant
Broadus B. Hames
John G. Hamrick
Richard J. Hicks
Sam Hoey
Thomas Huitt
Summie Humphries
Lorane Hutchinson
Hiram J. Johnson
James H. Johnson
Walker Kirby
Stanley Little
Zeno Littlejohn
Carson D McCraw
Charlie R. McCraw
Coleman A. McCraw
Thomas McCullough
William McKinney
Baxter C. McSwain
Read Morris
Amos Mullinax
James I . Neal
Ellis A. Owens
Lawson J. Owens
Marcus L. Owensby
Rochelle Petty
Lester Phillips
Lewis Proctor
Furman D Robbs
Ben C. Roberts
Crawley Ross
Herbert Q. Sarratt
Virgil D. Sellers
Earnest Sims
William T. Sparks
Paige G. Spencer
L.J.Thompson
Larking L. Thrift
Gaines W. Wilson
James B. Young

 

Just a disclaimer here:  many of the ephemeral artifacts found on this website are now, due to age, in the public domain.  Items and quotes of a more recent vintage, that are used here in part for newsworthy commentary and/or educational purposes, are covered by the Fair Use Act of the The US Copyright Office.  Thank You.

 

dirkallman@carolinahistoryproject.com 

                        

If you like what you read and see on these pages, feel free to drop me few dollars (or whatever coin you use in your country) in order to help take care of some hosting issues.  This website is a labor of love, whose main funding comes from the author.  Any help is greatly appreciated.  Thank you so very much!

Website Builder