Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tennessee's Favorite Son

What did you do for lunch today, well we ended up spending a little over an hour with the son and grandson of Sgt. Alvin C York.
We're camped in Crossville, Tn and took about a 40 minute drive north to the little town of Pall Mall, which is also the home town of Sgt York. His house is now a State Historical Site and open for tours. The house is the same as it was when the York family lived there with all the same furnishing, also a lot of artifacts have been added to explain Sgt Yorks life and experiences in WW I.

There are a few different versions of what happen on October 8, 1918, during the Meuse -Argonne Offensive in France, but what is basically accepted is that Seventeen soldiers, York included, infiltrated behind the German lines in an attempt to take out the German machine guns. They had managed to capture a group of German soldiers when they fell under machine gun fire which killed 6 and wounded 3 of the Americans, leaving York in charge of the remaining soldiers.
When the engagement had ended more than twenty Germans lay dead, 132 soldiers, including 4 officers, and thirty-five machine guns which were manned by these soldiers became discouraged and surrendered to York and his six comrades.

Sgt York received the following awards, Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross , War I Victory Medal , American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal ,French L├ęgion d'honneur ,French Croix de guerre with Palm , Italian Croce di Guerra ,Montenegrin War Medal.
After he returned home from the war he married his sweetheart, Gracie Williams and raised 7 children, founded the Alvin C York Agricultural Institute, opened a Bible school and operated a mill on the Wolf River in Pall Mall.

He tried to re-enlist for WWII but was turned down because of his age, so he supported the war effort by doing bond tours and giving speeches and was instrumental in forming the Tennessee State Guard in 1941.

He spent the last ten years of his life confined to bed, due to a stroke, in his home in Pall Mall, he died in 1964 and was buried with full military honors at Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall.
We were the only ones in the house while we were there, the house is exactly as it was when the family lived their until Gracie York died 1984 at which time it was turned over to the State of Tennessee. The entire house is open for you to tour and normally a family member will be there to answer any questions. After we toured the house we went out back and took a walk across the
property to the Wolf river, then down the bank a ways to a suspension bridge that we walked across to the Wolf River Cemetery where we visited the family plot. The view from the cemetery was fantastic, it overlooks the valley with it's meadows filled with grazing cows and a background of the Tennessee Mountains with all the rocky outcrops.

While we were talking with the son Andrew Jackson York, I asked him if anybody every asked him what it was like have Gary Cooper for a father ? He said that nobody had ever asked him that but quite a few people have told him that Audie Murphy did a wonderful job of playing his dad in the movie.
Right across the street from the house is the old General Store that the family owned, it's now a gift shop run by the state, just down the road and across the narrow bridge is the old mill which has a nice picnic area.

No this is not an April Fools Joke.

1 comment:

Pris Weathers said...

Thanks Jim! I am going to add it to my Tennessee places to visit list. It is really nice that the state puts so much value in preserving his legacy and that you shared it on the internet.