Monthly Archives: September 2013

Mystery in an Indiana Cemetery

The excavation of Caleb B. Smith

True Story 

The link shows pictures and legal documents of the excavation 

 *below is a link that tells more on the mystery that you will want to read 

On November 21, 1977, when I was 14, I witnessed the exhumation of a body in a small city cemetery in Connersville, Indiana.  My parents took me out of school that day because they knew that there would never be another historical opportunity to see such a thing.

                The body was being exhumed because it was believed to be the body of Caleb Blood Smith, who was President Abraham Lincoln’s former Secretary of the interior and the first Presidential cabinet member from Indiana.

                There was a mystery about where Smith was buried. In 1864 his wife, Elizabeth Watton Smith, paid $500.00 for the plot of her choice in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Smith, who had died suddenly on January 7, 1864 while serving as a federal judge, had been buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Indianapolis. Mrs. Smith decided to have her husband’s body moved to Crown Hill Cemetery.

                There was no protection from vandals in Greenlawn Cemetery, and boys from the town would frequently run carelessly through the cemetery knocking down markers. Mrs. Smith also feared that her husband’s body would be desecrated by a group of Southern dissenters called the Sons of Liberty; so she tried to have is body moved where no one would be able to find it. Apparently, the Sons of Liberty had broken into one grave in an attempt to find Smiths body. That organization was feared as they came from the South to the North, stealing from the Northerners’

                It was my grandfather, John Walker whose interest in the mystery prompted him to request permission to excavate the body. He was a free-lance writer and periodically THE LINCOLN HERALD publishes articles that he had written about Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Herald is a monthly magazine published by Lincoln Memorial University Press in Harrogate, Tennessee. While he was doing research of Lincoln, he discovered the story of Caleb B. Smith

                My grandfather received permission from the city of Connersville and Caleb Smith’s great nieces, Norvella Thomas Copes and Nancy S. Hurley, to have the body exhumed. The consent to exhume stated that the exhumation must be carried out with “a proper careful and dignified opening of said grave” Urban Funeral Home did the removal with a back hoe. Present at the excavation were my parents and myself, and Smith’s family.

                We were huddled close in a tent lit by candles. The day was gloomy and overcast and the candles cast eerie shadows on the faces of the people in the tent. Urban funeral home had set up the shelter for us and it was a good thing because it was a very cold, windy miserable day and the temperature was 25 degrees that day.

                The body was finally exhumed but it was not the body of Caleb B. Smith. It was the body of William Watton Jr. who was Smiths brother-in-law.

                The casket was brick lined with a glass cover. The glass was broken; when the workers from the Urban Funeral home were trying to locate the casket with a probe it broke the glass. And you could hear the glass break from above the ground when he stuck that probe in. That was really scary to me. The casket was raised by putting two very heavy chains at either end of the casket and bringing it up.

                What I remember seeing was the face which looked black, the clothes were dry and intact, and there was a silver name plate on his casket which was badly corroded. Norvella T. Copes kept the name plate, and my grandfather, John Walker was offered a collar button, the kind that was used to hold the collar on back in those days.

My grandfather, mother, father and I left before the workers from the urban Funeral home put the body back into the ground.  *For more info-http://community.wikia.com/wiki/User:Indiana_unsolved_mystery This link offers some documents and pictures on the excavation.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Fall

 

Remembering the days of old, when father raked the leaves of

Golden, yellow, brown and orange

Jumping into the huge crisp pile, I tossed them all about

 As my father raked them on top of me

I would creep out from under the pile laughing.

With leaves hanging on my hair and clothing

 What a wonderful season. What a wonderful reason

Just to play in the leaves.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Transcribed WWII letters Pt 2

ImageGermany Nov 29, 1944

Dear Winnie,

I am feeling very good today. Our section went back to take showers for the first time in several weeks. It sure makes a fellow feel quite different to get the mud and dirt washed off his body and get into a clean change of clothing on our trip back to the showers, we traveled over much of the ground that our men have fought so hard for lately.

There is something in seeing this ground a fellow has helped take that makes him much prouder of all the men he serves with. In addition, it helps him forget the hard task that may lie ahead. This is much like the feeling I used to have when I’d hoe corn all day in a weedy field and then would walk through the clean rows of corn on my way off the hill.

There was something about the clean hills of corn waving in the wind that made me forget all about the weedy ground that had to be hoed the next day.

We have church services yesterday, the men love to sing and they made this little town ring with their sons. Everybody is tired and worn out with this business of war so we all seem to get much benefit out of that Chaplains services.

I received the church bulletins. I wish you would send me one each Sunday. I met the boy from California I told you about at church and he was still all right. He is one of the few who comes with me who is still with us.

Some of the boys are receiving their Christmas boxes so I supposed I would get some before long. Asbel said he mailed me something, and Lelia said she and French were sending me a box. I cannot send you any present, but I have applied for a small money order and you can buy something for yourself.

I finally got my wooden shoes censored and wrapped, so I will them mailed tonight. I had to send them in such a large box that I am afraid they will be sent back to me because of the weight when they are censored at the boss censors. I am sending three pair of shoes and I think you should be able to wear the largest pair. Of course you will be able to tell JoAnne and Margaret Lee’s. If yours happen to be a little big, you can stuff some straw in them. That is the way I see these farmers around here wearing them sometimes. If they happen to be too small which I doubt just find someone who is handy with a jack knife and let them cut them to your size.

I’m sending another news article; let me know when you receive all of them. Write me all the news from back home to keep me up to date.

Love,

Johnny

Germany December 5, 1944

Dear Winnie,

It has rained and snowed again today and the mud gets deeper and deeper. The Red Cross girls ventured up with their coffee and donuts yesterday. They were not allowed to drive their big club mobile up this close so they brought their wares on a jeep. I think they would go right up to the front line if they were allowed to. We have some Congressional Representatives over here now investigating the conduct of the war. However I will bet they never get as close to the front as these Red Cross girls. At least I have never seen any of the others who have been over here around the part of the front I’ve been on.

I read where Bing Crosby said that the closer he got to the front, the snappier the men looked and the higher their morale was. He said the men didn’t need entertaining like the men in the rear and in the hospitals. I can agree with him on the entertainment question and the boys do shave and clean up every day when possible. But I wonder if Mr. Crosby ever talked to any of these boys who have been away from home for two years, and who have seen their “buddies” drop one by one all the way from  Normandy Beach head to the Siegfried line. I wish some of the politicians there at home could visit some of the front line boys often we have been on a drive for about a week. Better still if they could have spent the week with the boys. Then and only then would they know what we mean when we speak of “crawling in the mud” If some of those fellows could talk to us after we have just “sweated out” an artillery barrage and have heard the hissing of shrapnel so dangerously close.

However, there is nothing wrong with our morale. At least there’s nothing so bad that a trip home won’t cure. I wish they would leave the entertainers and Congressional representatives over there to take care of the Home Front and let the military leaders, The Red Cross girls and the soldiers take care of this Front. According to the papers, we are doing better than their home front, but we are low on ammunition. I hear that thousands of workers quit their jobs early in September when the papers told them that we were “on the high road to Berlin” If this is true it simply means that the enemy will take advantage of our weakness.  Many of our buddies will fall in Berlin before we “pitch tent”.

I really hope this ammunition shortage is just a story to keep the “Home-Front” folks on their toes until this war is over, because we sure do not want any slip ups now. It is bad enough to have the weather against us, and the “trench Foot” disease to try to prevent without having to worry about a shortage.

Love,
Johnny

 

 December 7, 1944 Germany

Dear Winnie,

Remember where we were on this day three years ago?

Do you recall how JoAnne cried and how upset she was when she heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor? We were at war and laughed at her for thinking her daddy would have to go to war. Never the less, she was right.

I just received your letter about you planning to work. You don’t have to work, but if it will take your mind off this war go ahead and work anywhere you wish.

Keep smiling,

Love,

Johnny

 

December 12, 1944 Holland- Red Cross Stationery

Dear Winnie,

I told you a few weeks ago that I was at the bottom of the list on the trip to Paris, well the first Sargent came to our room last night looking for someone who wanted to go on a forty-eight hour pass to Holland. Since all the other fellows were waiting on the Paris pass, I was selected to go.

I’m not in a hotel room, these rooms have electric lights, running water, rugs on the floor and clean white sheets on the bed. I can hardly believe it; I have not slept on a sheet since I left home.

Then we ate in a beautiful dining room and Dutch servers it was wonderful for us at least it was for me. I enjoyed it.

Love,

Johnny

December 16, 1944 Germany

Dear Winnie,

My letters have gotten a little longer lately, that’s because I’ve not been on the front for several days. It’s hard to write a letter when you are on the line.

Now that you are working, I guess you will not get to go to Second Creek. The roads are probably bad there too. You said you missed me so much when you were out there last time, but I know the trips there did you a lot of good even if you did have to walk alone without my hand to hold.

Nothing was ever more soothing to me than walking up and down wading in the creek, how true some poet spoke when he said something like this.

“The little cares that fretted me, “I lost them yesterday

Among the fields above the sear

Among the wind at play

Where drowsy poppies nod

Where ill thoughts died and good is born

Out in the fields of God.

 

I have one more little package that I will send home in a few days but not to be expecting anything of value because it’s only a few enlarged pictures of a little town I visited. The old fellow I bought these from said he shook with fear every time he saw our large fleets of bombers pass over because he said his son was a slave working in some of Germany’s war plants.  

 He said many of his people were forced to work in Germany but he knew it was necessary for us to bomb the German war plants in order to win the war.

I will try to send the package of climbing vine seeds in the boxes too. I also have a small picture of a windmill scene drawn on a piece of wood that I will send too.

I saw a movie last night called Mrs. Parkington with a lot of Christmas scenes that made me homesick. Do you have the tree up yet? Wish I could be there.

Love,

Johnny

 

Germany December 19, 1944

Dear Winnie,

I have not had any mail since I received the five letters from you all in one day, quite a hold up in the mail right?  I don’t get the newspaper; I wish you would send me some clippings from the Hazard, paper. I wonder if Clarence Combs still writes for the Herald. Let me know who all got to come home for Christmas. Tell me what happened to the Home Guard. Do they have uniforms and have they seen any combat yet? Do not tell any of them I think they are funny, but that is just a joke to me. Boy how we could use those fellows over here.

You never told me who takes care of the kids while you work. I think working is good for you if you don’t have a job that is too hard on you. I will have to call you “Winnie the breadwinner” from now on.

If Ruth Lee is not working, she should have some time to write me, and I have not heard from Bobbie for some time. I hope he gets home for Christmas. Let me know about him and Bethel and the little Benton’s.

What are the plans about you and the girls going to Carolina after the war?

Love,
Johnny

December 21, 1944

Dear Winnie,

I received to nice boxes today, one from Frank, and the other from Asbel. Everyone is receiving packages now so we all have a good supply of cokes and candy.

We had services today, which I guess will be our Christmas service. The church in this town was completely demolished so we had our services in a large storeroom. Several of us went looting and we picked up two beautiful religious paintings around four feet long and two feet wide. Since there was to be a Catholic service following ours, we gathered up several crosses and crucifix and such as they have in the Catholic Church. These were all placed in a corner through during the protestant service.

We found a small evergreen tree and dolled it up and it gave us a little of the Christmas touch. Thought this war far removed from the kind of Christmas service most of us are used to there was still much about the service that carried our thoughts back to other days since we are accustomed now  to making the best of what little we may have, I don’t think we are the folks that should be felt sorry for but rather I feel sorry for all the folks at home who have all the opportunity for worshiping in beautiful churches and yet don’t take advantage of it.

Love,

Johnny

New Year’s Eve Germany

1944

Dear Winnie,

In a few hours, this old year will end and a new one will begin. When I try to think back over the events of this past year it seems like it has been a century, but I guess it has seemed that long or even long to you. Eight of us fellows had a nice snack of coffee and fruitcake tonight and we really enjoyed it but we home we do not have to celebrate the coming of another year in this same manner. Well as rough as this old year has treated us we should not think too harshly of it because things could have been ever so much worse. Let us hope and pray that this New Year will bring all of us home again and that peace will reign over all the earth, Happy New Year to my wonderful family.

Love,

Johnny

Jan 5, 1944 Germany

Dear Winnie,

I’m not receiving any mail from anyone in three weeks. However I have let much of my mail go unanswered because I have been busy.

I’m sorry it turned your stomach about the story of the dead Jerry, but I thought I’d better give you a sketch of this like so you would not still think I was in training camp.

I sent a drawing to JoAnne last night. You tell her I have grown feet like a duck too. That guys feet reminded me of the “mud splitter” you told Eva Lees Combs about.

I drew a pass yesterday for a shower and a movie. The picture was shown in a large cellar. The film had been broken and the title of the picture was not shown, but I think the title was “Two girls and a sailor” It was a very good picture.

The weather is very cold over here now and the War is still hot. If you are reading the papers,  I guess you know as much about what is going on over here as I do.

Let me know if you receive the funny pictures.

Love,

Johnny

 

Jan 21, 1945 Germany

Dear Winnie,

Today is Sunday, but these days are so much alike that it does not seem like it.  It seems so strange living in these war-torn German towns and seeing now one but “Yankee” soldiers. Some civilians have returned to the German towns to the back of where we are. Most of the towns are strictly G.I. There are five of us living in a cellar. That is where we sleep but we have a room fixed up on the ground floor where we spend most of our time. We have a good stove with plenty of coal. We also have a table, chairs, and an alarm clock that still runs in spite of all the shells and bombs that have been dropped close to it.  You should see us running like a bunch of rats when the “Jerries” start bombing.

Love,

Johnny

Germany Jan 21

Dear Winnie,

Well here one month of this year is gone. Before long, I will be wondering if I am going to be home for next Christmas.

Jan 31, 1945

I couldn’t write much yesterday. Maybe I can get this letter finished tonight. I had to some some kind of shot for typhoid or something today and my arm is so sore that I can hardly use it. Nevertheless, I guess we need all the shots we can get because we sleep in these dirty cellars so much that we are apt to take any disease in the book.

However, right now, my friends and I have a better place to stay than we have had since we have been in Germany. Our room is the envy of most everyone in the Company. It was very dirty at first we cleaned up and “looted” us a nice rug for the floor and a couple of studio couches to sleep on. We have a good heating stove, and a nice table to write on. We even have an electric light. We have a beautiful picture of the last supper and it covers nearly one wall. We also have beautiful mirrors and a wash stand.

Love,

Johnny

 

Germany Feb 11, 1945

Dear Winnie,

I didn’t think I would get to write you again for several days when I wrote you last, but I had another day or two to spare so I am taking time to write you again.

You won’t guess in a hundred years what I did last night. I made a big batch of fudge candy and it was unbelievably it was good. Some of the fellows said they wished they could send some of it to their wives. I will bet you if you had some of it there and could tell the folks how close to the “jerries’” it was made, you could sell it at a good price for souvenirs of Germany.

I guess you wonder where I got the stuff to make it. The kitchen crew was hauling food up to us and when they have sugar, milk or anything left over they bring it to us. So we make something sweet from it.

Love,

Johnny

Germany Feb 18, 1945

Dear Winnie,

This is the first V-mail I have written in several months, but I hear they are getting a lot better service now, so I decided to try them again. Let me know how many days it takes this letter to arrive.

Not getting much mail these days, so I don’t feel like writing. One day I received three letters from you and now I’m not getting any.

I drew some funny pictures but the censor would not pass them. Maybe those with pictures are getting slowed down. I’ll never know.

More coming later Sgt arrive and has a duty for us.

Love,

Johnny

 

 

Feb 26, 1945

Dear Winnie,

I haven’t been able to write lately. I guess you’ve been able to read the papers and know what’s going on. You remember I told you everything that a fellow worried about and things always turned out all right.

We must have worried a plenty because we are all okay now. We had out thought luck before this thing ever come off. We have a new platoon leader but I have been so busy that I have never seen him.

I got a sweet letter from you today, the one written after you received the Valentine greeting. I was afraid it would scare you but I thought you would be pleased after you got over the shock I guess it was like hitting your finger with a hammer. It felt good when it quit hurting.

March 5, 1945

Dear Winnie,

I have been having a hard time getting this letter finished, but I hope now to be able to write a few letters. I received the letter telling about the nice services. Since you are more interested in church now, the Sundays should not be so lonely.

You have not mentioned the bracelet I had Burnis fix for you. I hope you get it because I thought you would like it. I will not be able to buy anything for anyone soon because I have to save a little for my trip to Paris. That will be in about two-months. We are not allowed to send home any more souvenirs from Germany except Germany army equipment and I do not think you would want any of their helmets or anything like that.

Love,

Johnny

 

March 26, 1945-Germany

Dear Winnie,

I am trying to write you all the long letters I can because I know I will h have to fall back to one the one sentence a week. I am really surprised that I haven’t been writing you that kind of a letter this week. I finally received a letter from my “buddy” who had been with me through France and Germany. He is in a hospital in Paris. I will try to send you his letter. This is not the same boy I told you about meeting when we both dived for the same fox hole. That fellow was killed several months ago. He had a wife and two children. This last one is the Catholic boy I told you about, I’m glad you saw some of the ball games, Seems like I had lost interest.

Love,

Johnny

Germany 1945 April 6

Dear Winnie,

I am glad Margaret Lee got her little dress. However, I just figured she was too rough for such gifts looks like she would be more of a woman like her sissy. The doll I ordered for her should be about her style because it too looked rough. I will bet this woman is leading you a wild life but since Mary Jo, and Jane helped to spoil her, you should turn this problem child over to them. I wonder if I rated that much attention when I was only three years old.

I do hate to miss seeing this woman grow up and the other two “gals” too.

I received a nice letter from Bethel yesterday.  I don’t think I have ever answered her last letter but I will try to answer this one and the one before. Tell her I will get a letter to her soon. She said Bobby was his usual self. Drinking and etc., she said she thought she was one of my special friends too and rated flowers. She was only joking of course but if I had known, Bobbie was not sending her flowers, I would have.

I hated to hear about George Lewis being sick and from that way, you wrote he needed a doctor and could not get one. I hope that was not the case because someone will have to answer to me for that. This idea of the church making up huge amounts of money to be sent to help these foreign countries is all right only after they have helped their own needy,, and sometimes I am afraid they will never look around to see if someone needs help. I cause you to do without many things so I could help those people to see that they should live for each other.

The mere fact that I succeed in getting them to go to church regular is not worth a cent unless they put in a practice what they learn. You will agree that there is no better place than Second Creek for a person to practice his religion.

I have been in several different countries since I have left home and I will have to admit that I have seen nothing to compare with the poverty we have right there at home.

Of course the people in there conquered countries have little food now because the German’s stole it all but one can tell by observing the homes the furniture, that in formal times these people lived well. I visited a mining section in Holland and I did not tell anyone I was from a coal country because I was afraid they would ask me to compare the two. Most of these people still think America is a load of milk and money. I don’t mean to compare countries because after all, there is none that can compare with the good old U.S.A. with all its freedoms but what I would like to get across is that I would like our people to get our religion working again.

We tried to re-make other countries with it. Moreover just think not all of this argument started because I thought George got a doctor.

Seems like I am getting farther away from home all the time, but you know we always claimed that the longest way around was the shortest way home. I hope this is the shortest way.

Love,

Johnny

 

Germany April 11, 1945

Dear Winnie,

I think I have a touch of spring fever. The weather has been so nice here for several days. I am not in a town that was not damaged by the war and the people are going about as if nothing ever happened. They act like such good people; they smiled and want to be friendly. When we first came into Germany several months ago, the people were sullen and would not ever look towards us but now they know they have lost the war so they want to pretend as if they had nothing to do with the suffering that has spread over the world.

These people have had plenty to eat and they wear better clothes than I have ever seen. These girls all have silk or rayon hose. Some people who have not been affecting by the bombing have been living far better than we have ever lived. I was in a different city last Sunday, one that had been declared an open city because of the hospitals and I wished you could have seen the crowd going to church. The whole town must have turned out and they were all dressed well. Many of the small girls were dressed alike and they wore a crown of white roses. The church was Catholic as are most of them.

As these people were going to church in their finery they had to walk by the starving slave labors who filled the streets and I wondered as I watched those people if they could have any religion. These slave laborers are mostly French, Dutch and Russian. The French and Dutch are nearly all Catholic. I wondered how these German Catholics would worship the Lord and still treat their own brethren of the same faith as they did.

I received your Easter letter yesterday, I am sorry it rained I would have liked to have seen you all dolled up but if the picture turns out good that will be the net things to seeing you. I like the letters you write so well. A few months ago your letters were so short. I guess you were busy running things back home.

Last winter was a tough ordeal but your many letters did help. Tell JoAnne she will have to take care of your mother’s day gift because I was not able to send anything at this time. You might give JoAnne and me some money to buy gifts with and I will repay our debt when I get a chance to get a money order. You could get Ma something from you and I and you can tell her that I will try to send her some flowers for dad’s grave, Memorial Day.

I am very sorry to hear that George was worse, but I am glad to hear that pearl was out doing something about it. I bet you would not trade your place in the new church to anything. Isn’t it a shame that many of our folks there will not take more interest in the church?

I enjoy the bulletins so much, be sure and send one every week. I wish you would give my address to Nancy Eversole or whoever is the church secretary because they use the address I had when I first came over seas and my Sunday school lessons are two months old when I get them.

If I hear of many more people saying you are getting prettier, I am going to have you go into mourning and wear nothing but black and a veil at all times. I will let you know about that when I see your latest picture.

I’m sorry I couldn’t send you the material I had because it was very nice. Many of the fellows sent yards of it home, but the officer I had asked to censor mine said it could not be sent without a bill of sale and since we cannot trade with the Germans that is impossible. Some of the officers censor packages without looking at them, but I do not want to send anything unless it is legal.

Sometime when you see Edgar Dixon ask him how Martin Nager is getting along. I do not know whether you know Martin or not you might ask Bethel about him

How do you like this heavy German stationery I had to trim it before I could use airmail envelop. I doubt it goes airmail.

Love,

Johnny

May 4th 1945

Bremen, Germany

Hello Sweet,

I have walked all over the churchyard this evening, seems like I can think better when I am all alone. This old graveyard is so pretty. There are many beautiful old monuments and the grounds are so well taken care of. Some workers are here almost every day. Moreover, there are so many different kinds of flowers. However the prettiest of all I think are the ones I call pansies, they are the same kind use used to say looked like little men. Yes, I remember that and a lot more things you thought I had forgotten or never noticed.

Those crazy Germans had such a beautiful country that I cannot understand why they wanted to get in a War and get it all torn up for. These people in this section claim Hitler didn’t like them and will not even visit their town because they did not want this War. However, they are like the rest of these ”Jerries” they want on the winner’s side. These people are scared to death of the Russians because the Russians don’t treat them gentle as we have to do.

Once when one of our armies captured one of the ringleaders of this bunch of murderers, the papers reported that he was given a chicken dinner and allowed time to pose for pictures. He should have been given a kick in the head all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. If they had only let the infantry boys worked these towns over when they were fighting mad, I will bet these people would have known there was a war going on. I guess you think I have grown tough on this job, but I was just hoping the job would be done so thorough that the boys twenty years from now would not have to go through this same thing again.

I hate to hear that ma is having the same trouble again. I know she would have fared much better if she had stayed with you. But she just wouldn’t so there is nothing you can do about it. However, if you would stay there during the summer months that would be nice. Maybe if you insist she comes with you so maybe she could shake this stomach trouble.

I am so pleased with the way you have JoAnne doing in school’ I think you deserve the credit for this for plugging along with her when she was going so slowly. Maybe some of those unmarried woman teachers are better than I thought. I know Mrs. Baker helped JoAnne a lot.

I didn’t receive any mail today most of the boys got mail today except for me. It sure makes me feel forgotten. I hope I didn’t say anything in those letters to make you stop writing altogether. I just live in your letters.

I wish you could catch that big yellow moon the next time it comes along and hold it tight until I get there. I guess you had better let it go bother someone else because I’m afraid you would have to hold it too long.

Hopefully I can come home soon.

Love,

Johnny

Bremen Germany 1945

Hello Sweet,

Something I forgot to tell you in yesterday’s letter and that is about JoAnne’s birthday. I did not want you or her to think that I had forgotten it. The trouble is I thought I would have her gift mailed in time for her birthday. But it is not quite finished yet. Here is what happened; my Dutch friend has me meet one of his friends who is a goldsmith or jeweler. This man makes fine rings for all the high class “jerries” in this section, but right now of course there is no sale for anything like that. He showed me some beautiful rings with all different birthstones.

I figured they were just ordinary rings but he said most of them were priced at 25 thousand marks. That’s $2500 in our money.

I have met this fellow several times once he asked me when JoAnne was born and the next day he showed me a stone, and I think it is the same color as the one I bought for her once. He said of this I will make your daughter a beautiful ring. He has the ring all formed now with the stone he showed me and with two small jewels of some kind on either side. Of course this little ring is not like his expensive ones, but I know JoAnne will like it because it’s handmade and because I know the man who made it. When the ring is finished, I am going to take a chance on mailing it in an envelope so be on the lookout for it in a couple of weeks. I have another little surprise for you in a few weeks.

I love you,

Johnny

Bremen Germany June 20, 1945

Dear Winnie,

Did you know that I saw you for the last time exactly one year ago yesterday?? Sometimes it seems as it has been years and then again, it seems as yesterday.

I received JoAnne’s picture today and I think she is simply adorable. I am glad you told me the photo did not flatter her one bit because I could hardly believe she is so beautiful. I hope her manners are as charming as her pictures. I know they are. She’s a real lady, I was so pleased when I got your letter and found that you were in Sharonville, you should have done even sooner. I really no not believe there is much chance of me getting to come home for several months. But you can keep hoping I am doing fine. We get enough to eat now; my time is pretty well occupied at present. I will try to write you tomorrow and let you know what I am doing.

I have your pictures all ready to mail, and today was the day  to mail packages but I was away and not I will have to wait another week. When this arrives, have some open it carefully. It is mailed together. The pictures are only paper and they will be easily torn. These pictures are drawn something like the one I sent you before. If I stay here long, I hope to have my pictures finished in oil paint.

I will show JoAnne’s picture to the jeweler who is making her ring. I noticed she isn’t’ wearing a ring. Did she lose the one I got for her? On the other hand, am I just dreaming that I bought one?

 Sometimes I think I am dreaming about everything, if I am, what a nightmare.

Love,

Johnny

 June 28, 1945 Bremen, Germany

Dear Winnie,

I have been very sad today. Most of my buddies who I have been with so long left this morning for home and that long looked for discharge. Last night the company gave these boys a grand party. This was one get-together that I shall never forget. It was a farewell to most of us and we knew it. The company commander provided these barrels of beer and lots of wine for all who drank. None of them got very drunk because they were too busy relieving their “hot spots” with their “buddies”. On every side you could hear a fellow saying to his buddy, remember the way we took St. Louis? Boy we will never forget that Rose River crossing will we? They re-fought every battle from the Normandy beach head to the Albe River. Everyone was checking their address books over and over to be sure they had gotten everyone’s address. One fellow started a dollar bill around to have it autographed by everyone present and in a few minutes’ stationery bills of Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and England was making its rounds.

Finally a large cake was unveiled and it had bake for all 85. On the cake was written these words “SO LONG SUCKERS, WE HAVE HAD IT, 29 LETS GO HOME”

So many of the fellows said they dread the net day because they knew they would cry when they started to leave. The Company Commander has only been promoted to this job a short time. He formerly fought with the boys as a platoon leader and when he was called up for a speech, he climbed up on a table wand with teachers in his eyes, he delivered his speech.

Here is his speech- “Fellows, it’s been nice. “he could nt say anymore and he did not need to because those words included everything we had been through together. When the CO jumped down from the table, the boys shook the hosue with thir applause. I wish you could have heard these fwllows singing our battle songs. “The Dandy Fifth” and the “Thundered and seventy fifth infantry for the last time together. Everyone had a grand time, but it was heart breaking. We were spared the ordeal of seeing the boys mount the trucks and leave. About an hour before they were to leave the remainder of the company was formed and we marched off to see a movie. When I came back and saw everyone gone, I felt like I had been to a funeral.

There isn’t’ much difference, because it is unlikely that I will ever see anyone of them.  You would not think that a rough bunch of soldiers who had helped kill Germans and had endured all the hardships of this war would act like a bunch of kids. However, I guess the whole bunches of us are nothing but crybabies. I had to cry on someone’s shoulder, so I pick you.

Love,

Johnny

June 29, 1945 Bremen, Germany

Dear Winnie,

I wrote you a sob letter last night so I thought I have better to try to write you a better one tonight.

I received your letter today telling me that you had the hives. I was sorry to hear that but maybe that is a good way to discourage the wolves. But I guess if I was to see you that way, I’d say I’d rather you have a pack of wolves after you. I do hope you get to feeling better though because I want you to enjoy your vacation so much. I do not suppose it is much of a vacation though when you have to be bothered with the kids. I wish you could have a vacation without them. One like you had in south Carolina.

My Dutch friend tells me that is to have his artist friend paint my pictures next week. He wants to know if I want the picture painted with my uniform or one of his suits. He has about fifteen different suits, which would you rather have? I am also taking lessons in German from this fellow. Do you think I will ever learn? I am also helping him with his English. This fellow has about the perfect manners of anyone I ever met. Next week he wants me to meet a countess, who is a friend of his, but she is a German and I just do not care to meet any Germans. He says that a princess from Berlin visits him every summer and he expects her soon if she is not dead!

I have always wanted to see what a Princess looked like, so I guess I will drop around and see her if she arrives. No, I did not ask him how old she was. Some princesses are over forty you now and besides don’t I already have a queen?

I have decided that since I had to go stay over here I might as well take in everything over here. I am taking typing, photography and my German lessons in the evening after supper. I am also learning the new job I am working on, so you see I do not have any more spare time. I do not even go to the canal and boat ride anymore.

Did you receive the packages I told you about? Please let me know that you received them. I sent the field glasses and they are very expensive.

Oh, some advice our friend Jonah is a wolf of the worst sort, so be careful about accepting anything from him. He has smooth manners, and is quite likable. So don’t loan him any money. Remember all that glitters is not gold.

Good night sweet,

Love,

Johnny.

 

July 29 Bremen, Germany

Dear Winnie,

Well here I am back home again and all tired out. We were stranded in Holland for almost two weeks. These fellows here had almost given up for lost. There was a mix up on the transportation some way. The officers in charge of our group thought we were to get off the train from France at the same place we boarded it in Holland and that is what we did after nearly week. One of the officers got a call through and told them were we were. They finally sent trucks after us and then we had a 400 mile trip in an open truck. I only got in a few minutes ago, but I thought I had better write you the first thing I did. The fellows I room with are not in and I can’t find a single letter from you. I sure hope when they came in that they will find me some mail.

That was the worst part about being away so long. I find the letter I wrote before I left was not mailed. I sure hope I have some letters here telling me about your trip. I think I would mail this other letter if it were three weeks old.

July 6, 1945 Bremen

Dear Winnie,

I hope I can be writing my letters with a typewriter soon, before long as I am getting pretty well along with my lessons. A fellow who is going home in a few days has given me a portable typewriter, and it is a very good one. So now, I can practice all I want to. I bet typed letters will be a relief to you because I know you have had a time trying to figure out some of my letters.

I am also learning quite a bit about photography. I have learned how to take pictures with different kinds of cameras. We have studied making prints from the negatives and how to develop them. Next we will study enlarging. When I get home, I might buy some equipment and make a hobby of this. It is very interesting. I guess you know I will be spending money on books or something. So maybe I will have something different to spend money on.

The artist worked again this afternoon on my painting. I think it’s going to look good. I believe it would have been a better painting if I had used a nice suit, but I kind of like the white shirt. Let me know what you think.

I am anxious to hear from Helen Campbell about the ring. I sure hope it gets there and I hope JoAnne Likes it. I also hope that you like the picture I am having painted too, because I am having this done just for you and if you like it and hang it where you want.

I had hoped you would stay out in Ohio, but if you are in Hazard for the August election here is a few fellows I want you to vote for, Sam Ward for Circuit Judge, Calloway Napier, our good friend who is running against Billie Baker. I wish you could meet Mrs. Napier sometime, she is very nice. I doubt if you could be Charles Duff for Jailer. There are some people running I’d like to vote against. I think you know who they are.

I can understand Margaret Lee thinking her daddy is only a make believe Daddy, but you tell JoAnne she is too old to think I am only a dream.

Love,

Johnny

 

July 11, 1945 Bremen Germany

Dear Winnie

Well I am at last going to Paris. I leave in the morning; I only wish I could keep on going until I got home. It burns me up every time I think about having to stay over here so long. They have had millions of fellows over here who stay in the rear and who are just in the way. Many of them have more points than I have. I think it is a joke not giving us points for our combat medal and who never saw a Jerry unless he was a prisoner. The boys in our band who stayed miles behind the line proudly wear the combat badge! Here I go complaining again after I promised not to. I’ll write again from Gay Paris’

Love,

Johnny

Belgium July 14, 1945

Dear Winnie,

I guess you are surprised to hear of me being in Belgium. I am on my way to Paris and I wrote you a letter the day I left but I forgot to mail it. I hope some of the boys found it and mailed it for me. We are going most of the way by truck ad it is very slow because we must travel on the bad roads because the convoys hauling all the food are using the good highways. I am seeing a lot of country I never saw when I went through Belgium before. Tomorrow we go to Holland to be there for a few days and we will enter France. The prices on everything are very high, and the boys think the people do not like us as well as the Germans do. One thing I have noticed and that is that the people do not throw roses to us anymore. I would like to throw you a rose, Sweet.

Love Johnny

 

July 29, 1945 Bremen

Dear Winnie,

We have been encouraged to use V-mail lately but I found an airmail stamp so I will try to send this airmail I wrote you a v-mail last night but this one bay beat it to you. We were stranded in Belgium and Holland almost two weeks. They would not let us be stranded when the war was going on. If they let us go on Pass, they always had trucks waiting on us to rush us back to the Front. Now there are fellows scattered all over France, Belgium and Holland trying to get home.

Today is Sunday and I was so worn out I didn’t get up and go to church this morning. This is one of the few services I have missed since I have been over here. I received the papers from Calloway today. I will take them to the Chaplain tomorrow and I see what he can do. However, the way these request have been turned down lately, I do not have much hope of getting any results.

If I can get a large envelop tomorrow I will send you some pictures of the places I visited in Paris. I was actually so tired when I got there that I could hardly enjoy anything. However it is the most beautiful city in the world and I saw some wonderful sights. My guide was a girl about twenty-five years old and she worked in a large bank next to the Opera. Paris was having a three-day holiday (Bastille Day) so she had three days off. She did not charge anything for her service but it cost plenty just the same. These French people are money crazy. Anything you buy is sky high and then you must pay an extra 10% for service.

In addition, if you forget and leave money on the table while you are eating a waiter will come along and scoop it up. This girl called for me at my hotel at eight in the morning and we would walk or ride the subway to all the pints of interest. She attended classes in English at night so we always parted at six o’clock. Then I would visit some of the U.S. So places at night. I will try to tell you more about Paris tomorrow.

Winnie about your plans for living in Cincinnati, I can’t say I approve of it because it is the kind of thing that doesn’t work out. I know you are not happy living in Hazard either. So do what you think is best just be careful.

I liked the little poem I found in one of your letters. I was afraid I did not have mail when I got back but the mail clerk bought me fifteen letters.  I got two from Blanch Walker, three from Asbel, one from aunt Spice and Peggy Campbell and nine from you, I know you have been traveling about too. In one of your letters you said you enclosed a picture of Margaret Lee with her doll but it was not there. I got the one with the girls on the steps. Did you ever receive the article about catching the eel? I thought that would be so funny that you would have to mention it. I would like to help you catch one right now.

Love,

Johnny

July 31, 1945 Bremen

Dear Winnie,

I can tell you my secret now. I was only kidding about studying astrology. I wanted you to tell Burnis where you would be in August so he could send you the ring. I know by the time you receive this letter you will have received your ring. I only wish I were there to put it on that third finger. Burnis described the ring to me and I believe you will like it. I hope is one that is fit for a queen.

Honey, all of our years together this last one has to believe one of our best. In spite of all the hardships we have gone through we have been together and very happy.

Love you darling,

Johnny

 

Bremen August 4, 1945

Dear Winnie,

I haven’t got any mail from you in a while, but I haven’t written you for a while either. I have been busy. I could have got an emergency furlough if you sent an urgent appeal through the Red Cross. Then I would have had to come back to German after 30 days. It would be bad to come back to Germany but I would do almost anything to spend time with you.

The Chaplain was going to the Red Cross and see what he could do and he promised to me about it Sunday. I do not expect it to do any good, but I do wish you’d stay in Hazard until I find out about this.

I sent you a telegram that should reach you by August 11, let me know if you receive it. I’m dying to know what you think of the ring.

I will try to tell you about the Arc Di Triomphe. At a distance, this Arc does not look very impressive because it is not a pretty design. As view from half a mile away it just looks like a large square stone with a hole in the center of it. Nevertheless, as you come closer, you see that it does have some beauty.

There are some beautiful statues and figures carved on the sides of it. This monument was built by Napoleon about 1806 to celebrate his victories. It was not completed however until thirty years later. This Arc Di Triomphe cost nearly two million dollars. Someone told me that our soldiers in the last war paraded through this Arc Di Triomphe down the Champs Elysee and come to the Arc Di Triomphe that they marched to it and went around it instead of through it. She said the French people were very sensitive about the Arc Di Triomphe and the Germans knew it. The Germans wanted to keep the French in good humor as possible. Therefore, instead of marching through the Arch de Triomphe like conquerors they made a turn and walked around it. Underneath the Arc is the tomb of the French Unknown Soldier. This is a sacred spot.

Love,

Johnny

Duffield, Holland

August 9 1945

Dear Winnie,

I am in Holland by the sea. It is very nice here but I sure would like to take a boat and sail straight towards home. The Chaplain is with us on pass and he is a nice fellow to be with. Tomorrow I am going to take a boat and visit the largest Holland town of Grainger. The Canadian Army in this town, but they say we are welcome to go there.  I am going to try to buy some Tulip bulbs while I am there.

We are all trying to get started to the USA show, so I will try to write you from Grainger tomorrow. I cannot mail a letter from there but I will try to write anyway.

Love,

Johnny

Worpswede, Germany

August 13, 1945 (typed letter)

Dear Winnie,

Warpswede is the little village where we are now staying. This is the place where the entire colony of Artists lives. Living here is just like living in the country back home. There are trees almost everywhere and it is so nice and quiet. There is hardly anything to remember one of the wars. A man gave me some pictures of this place and I will enclose them in this letter. You can tell by the pictures that this is a peaceful looking country. Some of the pictures are by Martin Koblo the German artist who painted my pictures.

I will send you some more pictures of Paris soon, but I guess you are tired of hearing so much about Paris.

I am going to eat my birthday dinner with my Dutch friend. I received a package from Asbel so I will have a few extra things for our dinner. There is a little girl who lives next door to this fellow, who is just JoAnn’s age and she is invited to eat with us. Last year I ate my birthday dinner in a foxhole in Normandy and my dinner consisted of a box of K-Rations, but I was very thankful that I was even able to eat.

You can see that I am still making plenty of mistakes in my typing. Maybe I will learn how to operate one of these crazy things if I will just keep plugging along. Honey I hope you like these pictures even if they are of Germany. Worpswede is just outside the once great city of Bremen. The city of Bremen is destroyed.

Love,

Johnny

August 17, Warpswede

Dear Winnie,

I received the stamps and envelopes today. They came at a good time because I just ran out.

You told me about taking your ring to the jeweler but you did not say about when you received it. Maybe you did tell me and I just missed it.

It does not look like there is much chance of be getting home before next year. I wonder if I can get a job that is any good when I get out of this mess. I hear that there are many out of work now.

Love,

Johnny

 

August 22, 1945

Warpswede

Dear Winnie,

The weather is still nasty and my cold is no better. It’s funny but with all the bad weather we had last winter and sleeping out in the rain and snow I never had a single cold, but now I have one that I can’t get rid of. Most everyone here is having the same trouble.

We are living in some nice homes here now, but this week the Battalion Commander is moving us out of these homes into a dirty run down hotel.

One of the medical officers inspected this building and condemned it, (This officer was immediately transferred) because the rooms were too small and they are placing four men in each room. This place is unhealthy from every standpoint. However these good people must have their homes back. Of course the officers are not moving out of their nice place. They are living like a bunch of Kings.

Who would have ever thought last winter, when we were on the road living like a bunch of rats, That we would ever have to eat beside these dirty rascals. Now the jerries march right thorough the chow line with us and eat at the same table. The officers have them doing little odd jobs just so they can feed them.

There was one order that came down from higher headquarters stating the rations could not be drawn for civilian help. Therefore, in our Company, food is drawn for about 110 soldiers and about 30 Germans have to be fed out of it too. Our food is scarce enough as it is without letting these “Huns” help themselves. The Battalion Commander says feed them and that is that. I just wish all these people at home how the Army does things. In addition about the way the officers treat the soldiers. There is some good officers, but they are few and far between. When you find an officer who treats the Soldier like a human being, he seldom gets a promotion.

I know you think I am complaining a lot but I did not kick about conditions when the War was going on. Maybe I hate these Germans too much, but I blame them for all my troubles. When I see these people pretending like they are so nice and innocent I think about the tough going I had in France and Germany and about all the fellows who had to die in order for us to get here and I just felt inside. I wish I could get out of Germany, but I guess there is no hope for a while.

There is a rumor making the rounds that we may be home this winter, I hope it is true.

I got your letter yesterday telling me about the ring, I am glad you liked it so much.

I am sorry to hear that Calloway got beat but most of the fellows I would have voted for won. I don’t know why anyone would have thought I was in favor of Billy.

I wish and hope to be home by Christmas. Last Christmas I could see why I could not be gthere, but this time I will be more homesick forever.

I got a nice package from Burnis today.

Love,

Johnny

 

LaHarve France

September 24, 1945

We were supposed to have sailed before this date, but everything is as the Army always has it. All messed up. The rumor now is that we will leave this camp around the last of this week. We may be sent to another camp to wait some more. The food is better here than it was in the 29th. The German prisoners serve the food but we do not have to eat with them as we did in my old Company. I should be at Camp Atterbury around October 15. I will call Asbel from there, I wish you could be out there, but I guess you will be too busy with the kids to leave home. I would like to ride home with you. It rains all day long here and this camp is a sea of mud. We are all living in tents so you know how uncomfortable it is.

Love,

Johnny

Sept 26, LaHarve France

Dear Winnie, (I’m on my way home)!

I have really done a lot of traveling today. I rode from the North Sea in Northern Germany to the extreme southern part of Germany in an open truck.

There I joined the 7th Armed Division after a few days we took truck again for another day and went east into Germany where we caught a train. I wish you could have seen our Pullman. We were all crammed into cattle cars. Here we spent the next five days and nights.

If we said from Le Harve it will be within the next 10 days, but there is a rumor that we might cross the channel and sail from England. That would take much longer. Anyway I’m on my way home!

Love,

Johnny

  These are the last of the WWII letters I hope you enjoy these and enjoyed part one. What is ironic about these letters is a few years after the war is that my mother married a German “Jerry” named Jerry.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Transcribed WWII letters Pt 1

Transcribed Letters from WWII to my grandmother Winnie from my grandfather, John Walker. These letters represents the time during WWII.

 

Service Mans Tabernacle-Fort Thomas Kentucky

Dear Winnie,

I just stopped in at this place to hear some folks singing some good Baptist songs. They have folks on the street to invite you in. I guess they will have someone preach later on, but they told us to sit down at the tables and write the folks back home. Now they are signing “At the Cross” and it sure does sound good.

Well we have had a busy week as Couch says, we are doing things we never expected to do, kitchen, police, etc. I am expecting to be shipped out any day now, but if I do not leave before Sunday,, I will call you Sunday at 11. “Love lifted me”, is being sung now. If I have to leave unexpectedly, I will call Bethel to see how you all are. I think I will come back to this place tomorrow night.

Love, Johnny

Service Men’s Tabernacle

Dear Winnie,

I let the boys go to Cincinnati alone tonight. I decided to come here, rest, and write some letters. I have been here so long and have made so many trips that I am beginning to run low on funds. There will not be any men shipped from here before Monday evening so I am sure to get your letter if you mailed it.

I have had a few hard days here on K.P. but I have made friends with one of the orderly Sgt. who gives me easy jobs. I was called last night to work K.P. at the hospital. I was up at 4:30, reported for work and worked until 7:00 and my friends sent a man with a guide all the way across the camp to relieve me. He said next time I was called for K.P. to tell the other officer in charge that I was on special detail for him. He does not have anything special for me to do, but I sure am relieved to get off K.P. Think of washing pots and pans for 2000 people. Boy, that job is a man killer.

I have had a bad cold. The doctor’s gave me some pills and I am better now.

Bethel said you were all well so I didn’t have to ask about you. The folds here at the Tabernacle said they had not mailed my record but they would tomorrow.

(Sunday at Sharonville, Ohio)

I found this letter in my pocket, don’t guess you have read it yet, I do not charge anything for back issues. I am fixing to leave for Cincinnati. I am going to see a show, and go to camp early. We have to be in by 11:30 tonight. I think I will go in early for we will have a long trip tomorrow. We leave in the morning and from the way we are packing everyone thinks it will be a long tip, Texas or Florida or somewhere like that, of course that might be wrong but we packed sloths and etc., and the fellows who have gone close have not been instructed to do so. Triplett is on shipment with me, but Vernon Couch is left behind and he does not know a single person. I guess he is blue, he and Triplett had their wives come up and they are spending the weekend with some folks in Cincinnati. I could not hear you very plain on the phone. I’m with the folks now, but not it’s time for me to go.

Love to all,

Johnny

Dear Winnie,

Thursday Night                         (written on Camp Croft stationery-no date)

Well here I go, breaking over again. I swore I would not write you but once a week, but I have received so many nice letters from you since then. I thought it was nothing but fair to answer some of them. Do you wonder if that is the only reason?

It rained last night for the first time since I have been here. We made our first hike last night too. Wasn’t that a coincidence? This red mud was up to our shot tops in places. There was lots of complaining as we trudged along in the darkness and the rain, but I recalled the long hard pulls I had made from the head of Second Creek to Faulkner’s Garage through the rain, snow and the mud and my pack seemed to grow lighter, so I kept my thoughts to myself and marched on in silence.

Do you think there could be anything worse than that winter I spent on the road between our house and the garage? In addition, Drew always managed to work me an extra half hour at noon and all for $12.00 a week. I shudder every time I think about that.

Love,

Johnny

Written on Camp Croft stationery no date

Thursday Evening

On maneuvers

Dear Winnie,

I have a few minutes before I fall out and for another night problem so I will spend them writing to you. We have 130 hours to spend out in the woods at night yet. So far, we have only been out eight hours at night this week. For us to make the 130 hours is going to keep us out nearly every other night.

                It was very thoughtful of you to send me that telegram. I had been wondering about how many days it would be before I could hear the results of the election. I hope this election has showed the people that they can abolish something’s if they will stick together. Well that is enough about that. I signed my final paratrooper stationery today and now all I have to do is wait until I get back in camp and be examined again. I want to tell you about a little trip you might be fixing to make.

If I have to stay over here, a week or so you will be put up at the Morgan Hotel for another shot stay and a night soldier will be knocking on your door every night. So after my seventeen weeks are over you are going to be seeing me either there or here of course if I get sent right on to Ft. Benning we will have to wait a few days until I find out how things work down there. Columbus Georgia Is the closest town. Ft. Benning. It is about 12 miles they say and I do not know whether I will be allowed in town every night or not.

Love,

Johnny

Letter written on Camp Croft stationery

Friday night

Dear JoAnne,

I am sorry that I have not answered your two letters, but I have been busy. I hope you are taking good care of your mommy. Why don’t you get her to tell you what to write and you and her together write me a long letter? Tell me how you are doing in school. It is not long until Easter; maybe I could send you something. Be sure and treat Margaret Lee well.

 Love,

Daddy

 

Camp Croft

Sat Night Feb 2

Dear Winnie,

Well the week on the rifle range is over and everyone is alive, but many of these green horns let their guns off in spite of all the precautions taken.

While we were on the range, everyone was urged to keep their rifles pointed down range towards the targets. There for, the guns that were discharged come close to no one.

I never was much of a shot, but I did not have any trouble qualifying. I did not expect to do that. I did not come close to making expert though.

Today we stood and fired all day in the pouring rain. We had to lie on our stomach and fire many shots and the water was about three-inches deep. After wallowing all day in this water and mud, I was glad to see this old barracks for the first time.

I received both packages and I sure enjoyed them. I change socks every day and sometimes twice if I get my feet wet. Therefore, I sure could use the socks and handkerchiefs too.

Is there any use to say anything about the candy except to wonder where you gathered all the sugar? You see when we are not away out in the field, we do much o our training close to the barracks, we usually see about two training films a day. The movies play a big part in our training usually when we come back from a film we go to the barracks to change some of our equipment and it sure is a lifesaver to grab a bite of candy or something on the run.

I had a nice box of candy from Blanche and Frank.  Frank wanted to know if I smoked. If you write them, tell him I do not, but I like it when he sends me cokes.

Tell me you received your check I was just a little afraid it would be late. You are the manager so spend it how you please, but do not do without anything in order to save for me. Because I think, there will be work after this war when I get back. In addition, if I do not, I will get a nice funeral (That last crack is supposed to make you laugh)

I had not received many letters, but I have received some of the nicest ones. Blanche and Aunt Elfey write such encouraging letters.

I am planning on going to church tomorrow in Spartanburg.

I had a talk with our Chaplain who is Capt, Harry Green out on the rifles range and I bet you can’t guess where he is from and who he knows. He is from Kentucky, and he knows Brother Stevens better than I do. You ought to hear him mock Bro Steven’s laughing. I guess I will have to attend his services now. There are seven other Baptist Chaplains on this post.

I do not think I ever told you how big this place is. There are about twenty thousand soldiers training here all times we have our own Post Offices, Telegraph stations and everything here on the post if you ever have to send another telegram send it to Camp Croft, otherwise I might have to go to Spartanburg to get it. If there was to be any serious illness or anything and you would need me, go to the Red Cross first and I could get away twice as fast. I hope that never happens do not fail to let me know in case I am needed for anything. It’s after 10 and the lights are going out… To be continued

Love,

Johnny

 

 

 

Dear Winnie

Written on Camp Croft stationery –No date

If it’s not too much trouble I wish you’d send me two books. “God’s plan with Men” and “Preaching From the Prophets”. If Brother Stevens has the last one just let it go. The boy who went to Church with me wants to read it.

There is a Miller boy here and he goes to church regular. He lives with Ellat Stacy at Glomar. He worked for Hazard Ice Cream before he entered the service. He has been here about 9 weeks and seems to be all right, but I have never heard of him before. Maybe Chester knows something about him, find out what you can about him and let me know.

I’m sending out a letter I received from Mrs. Heffenberger. She’s another one who doesn’t know me well. I had another nice letter from Manuel and one from Ballard. I think I will send Jimmy’s last letter too, and I think it’s cute.

I am having trouble finding time to answer letters. Sometimes you cannot hear your name being called when there is mail call. I wish you could see these fellows running over each other when someone shouts MAIL CALL!

Tell JoAnne to mail her letters.

Love,

Johnny

 

Letter from Camp Croft No date

Dear Winnie,

Some thief stole some money here in the barracks and the entire company has been restricted to the barracks until the money turns up. We have been here two night now, but we go on guard duty Saturday night so I guess after we serve over the weekend on guard we will be released. That does not seem fair to punish the entire company for the dishonesty of one man, but that’s the Army.

I took some more shots. Saturday and I was sick for two or three days, but I am all right now. I had a high fever while I was in Spartanburg and could not enjoy my meal and bed as I had hoped to.

Today we marched some distance and practiced on digging foxholes, they have to be dug three feet long, two feet wide and five feet deep. After you go to all that trouble, you just reverse the process and fill the hold. Then start a new one.

These have to be dug deep because a little later we have to dig one and let one of these big tanks run over us, so we will be used to the real thing.

The fellows try to make everything too real. I will tell you all about it when I come to it. Nevertheless, there is one place where you have to crawl under barbed wire lying on your back with machine gun bullets flying 19 inches overhead.

Germany April 10, 1944

Dear Winnie,

Today is such a beautiful day here in Germany. Right now, I am on a beautiful farm, which has been untouched by the war. I am sitting out in the sun all alone writing this letter. All kinds of birds are singing. People are working in the fields as if there is not a war going on. This farm is much like one of our blue grass farms except there is no sign of tobacco or race horses.  All the horses are the large workhorses. There are some fine flocks of white leghorn chickens and several hogs and sheep. The houses on these farms are regular mansions. I would lie to stay here for the duration, but the sounds I can hear in the distance take all the joy out of life. I am glad you like the things I sent you through the PX. They did not have much to choose from. I wanted to send you a nice ring, but I don’t know your size. In addition, after I missed the size of your foot so far I was afraid to guess again.

I hope you had the pictures of the girls made for Easter. I wish you’d send the same size as the last one so I can place it in the same folder. Moreover, about the pictures I wanted made of the girls. If they are not all speaking terms this would be a silent picture. You tell them that this is not to be a talkie. According to the papers, we will know shortly after the war is over whether or not we will have to remain over here for the occupation of Germany, be sent to the Pacific War, or be sent home. They say it’s all figured out and we will be told as soon as Germany surrenders. I will let you know as soon as I hear the good word, but I think it will be several months after the war before anyone gets home. I don’t think that I am going to be able to write as often as I did for a while, but there is very little to worry about, except I am really missing you.

Love,

Johnny

 

Written on Camp Croft stationery

April 30, 1944

Dear Winnie,

Here I am writing by campfire. It was very cold here last night and I rolled and tumbled all night, about three o’clock I felt like an iceberg. We walked about eight miles today to see the planes. We have been kept very busy all day. It has been a busy day getting all set up today. In the morning we take down our tents and go on an all-day problem. You should see our ten and our flower garden. We found an old deserted farm where the house had been torn down and left the flowers. We dug up and replanted two kinds of the flowers and they help the looks of the place a lot.

Do not know what kind the flowers are. I will put you a blossom or two in this letter and you tell me what they are. We had white ones on Second Creek.

I got my candy today and it could not have come in a better time. I also received a nice box of cakes and candy from Aspel. I got a nice letter from the First Church there and a later with it from Nancy Eversole.

These two-weeks will be a tough ride but it will help to get me in shape for the paratroops. The first Sgt. Said today that he would have our approval soon, Therefore, I hope I get this line out before I am shipped to a P.O.E. station. I really believe the war will be over before I can get the paratrooper training over.

Vince and I have the only campfire in our area. I am going to try to get some of the boys to write their names and addresses on a piece of stationery so we can keep in touch. These boys are from different states so it seems funny for us to all meet here in these woods around this campfire.

Love,

Johnny

 

Sunday July 23, 1944-Somewhere in France Dear Winnie,

I have been so many different places in the last two months and I have left them all so suddenly that I can hardly tell whether I am coming or going.

I am now in France and I guess to stay until the war is over. I will change places a lot but I am thinking it will all be on foot from now on.  The woods here are full of German soldiers. I can see them everywhere.

We had an air raid alarm last night and you should have seen us G.I’s dive into our foxholes. Enemy planes passed overhead and our anti-aircraft guns sound like July 4th for a few minutes. Nevertheless, the planes passed on overhead and I do not think they dropped any bombs near us.

I am sharing a tent with a nice boy from California. I have been with him since we were assigned together in Maryland. He is a church member (Presbyterian) and we get along fine. We have our trench dug and our tent stretched over it so if the Germans fly over it tonight we can sleep right on.

Let me know if you received the 20 dollar money order. You should get a 15 dollar increase in your allotment next month. Money is no good over here for there is no place to spend it. I am sending you some bills for your scrapbook let me know if you get them. The English bill is worth two dollars, and the French is worth 10-25 cents.

We have church services in an open field here today and we sang all the while the Chaplain was bringing his message our own planes were circling in the sky over our heads or either flying straight towards Germany. The message was one of the most interesting and surely was the most impressive I have hears since I have been in the Army. In the distance, we could sometimes hear the sound of the big guns. Sometimes the Chaplain had to almost shout to make himself heard above the noise but he had a wonderful deliver and he experience the meaning of Christian living and the part Jesus plays in our lives far better than most Chaplains. No one here has received any mail for nearly two weeks; it is because we have been moved so many times. You can imagine how tickled we will all be if we ever are settled again so we can get mail regular. My address will remain the same until I tell you different.

I long to see you but it is certain that I will be here until the end of the war. I haven’t seen a newspaper, or listened to a radio for more than two weeks. Even If I had, I’m sure that the war isn’t near over yet.

If the war ends before the election maybe some of the smart boys will get us home before Nobember. I know we will be allowed to vote where we are but many of the people are apt to be clamoring for the fathers to come home as soon as the war ends.

It’s getting so dark, I cannot see to write, we are having a black out and the sirens are blaring.  so I will stop writing.

Love, Johnny

Somewhere in France V-Mail

July 26, 1944

Dear Winnie,

I am getting mighty tired of acting like a Boy Scout. This camping out and sleeping on the ground is okay for a few days, but having to do this for months on end is enough to make me want to go home.

I took a bath yesterday for the first time in a week since I’ve been in France. There has been no time until today that we were able to do this.

I have had no mail from anyone since we left England.

Love,

Johnny

Somewhere in France V-mail

August 1, 1944

Dear Winnie,

It’s only ten more days until our ninth, or is it tenth Anniversary of our wedding. The years had sped by so fast that I have lost track of them. We have has some good years, and some grand times. I just hope the next ten years won’t go by so fast. I want to make each hour, day, week, month, and year count as we continue to attain the happiness we have always wanted.

I wish I could spend the autumn with you and the kids. We would all go to second creek and gather walnuts and would play games and go to the stir-offs and eat foam right off the molasses pan. I would like to see Margaret Lee turned loose in the country, she’d enjoy it.

We haven’t received any mail yet, but there are so many things that have to be shipped here that are more important that we can’t afford to complain too much right now.

Hoping to hear from you soon

Love,

Johnny

 

 

 

August 5th, 1944

Dear Winnie,

I have been moved around so many times lately that I have not been able to write, but now I have been assigned to a regular outfit and I should be able to write and receive mail too. I hardly know what my job is with this company, but I am no longer in a Rifle Company. I hear that there have been a few casualties in this Company since they have been in combat.

I haven’t received any mail yet, but if you will use this new address I would get a letter within the next month. I will finally get the letters you have already written but it will take them sometime to get to catch up with me. I have been letting a very pretty moon go to waste over these Normandy apple orchards. I do not speak a word of French you now. I knew I was doing wrong when I studied Latin in high school. About the only phrase I remember in Latin is ”Amo Pell” which means, “I love the girl”. If I had studied French may I would have remember that much. Oh well, I will just may wait until we can make use of the Kentucky moon. Tell Joanne to take good care of her Mimi and Margaret Lee,

Love,

Johnny

Somewhere in France August 17, 1944

Dear Winnie,

Yesterday was my birthday and I at a dinner box of K’rations instead of the usual birthday dinner. However I have already started planning for next year, Fried Chicken, baked chicken, and all that sort of stuff.

I heard a phonograph playing American records in the field where we are resting and I went to investigate and I found a large kitchen mounted on wheels. It was one of the American Red Cross club mobiles, and there were four American girls serving donuts and coffee.  This must be a modern war, but it sure was a treat to see some Americans besides these G.I.’s

We will be resting for a few days now, so I should be able to write a few letters. I’ve still not received any mail, but I’m hoping it come through soon.

Tell JoAnne and Margaret Lee how much I love and miss them both and give them a hug and kiss for me.

Love,

Johnny

 

Somewhere in France August 19, 1944 V-Mail

Dear Winnie,

I have not heard the rumor about Christmas furlough, but I wish it were true. If they ever this this father back in the states, he will be a grandfather before they seem him again and that is no joke. One more time in all, I ever intend to cross that ocean.

Dinah Shore was here today and we all gathered in a cow pasture to hear her sing. She is from Tennessee but she talks and sins almost as well as a Kentuckian.

Tomorrow is Sunday and I am hoping to attend church services, but we are doing some training and I am afraid that I will miss it. I thought this period was over for a rest, but I guess the army is like the officers the same the world over.

I wish I would have spent that vacation with you in the country. However, I could not be satisfied long until this war is over anywhere; I was pretty well worn out by my training when I was home, so I could not rest much anywhere.

Love,
Johnny

 

 

August 28, 1944 (v-mail) Somewhere in France

Dear Winnie,

I received the letter yesterday that you wrote the day before you started your trip. I hope you had a good time and got to see all the folks. I had a letter from Asbel and he was expecting you. I have only received the one picture from you; did you send pictures of the kids?

Do you know where Ballard French Walker Landed? I guess I was far from there but maybe I could get up with him. The people here sure are proud to see the “Yanks” Some of them throw flowers and kisses. I said throw remember. No, I do not want to know about French but maybe you could learn something. I never got to see the fellow again who had plans for the house.

I ran into my religious friend yesterday and he has been doing well He fires mortar shells at the Germans and he likes it. I do not think he would care now if he killed a thousand of them. I am well as usual.

Love,

Johnny

September 11, 1944

Dear Winnie,

I am still well and feeling fine, just waiting for the war to end so I can start worrying about missing the boat home. I like the birthday present you sent me fine. I did not get your letter until long after my birthday, but I knew you had not forgotten.

We are back for a few days rest now, but I guess we will be going back to the front just any day.

When a fellow is on the front and everything is so tough he thinks he will write and try to describe just how he feels and how awful everything seems but what he gets back a few miles he wants to forget all about it so I guess that’s why I don’t write you anything about it. We had church services yesterday afternoon. A Chaplain visited us from another battalion. He was very good. Maybe we will get another Chaplin before long. Take good care of the kids and yourself. If you are still in Ohio, write my mother and tell her I’m okay.

Love,

Johnny

Sept 16, 1944

France

Dear Winnie,

I mailed you a letter today, but it was written several days ago. We have been very busy and I did not have an address to get it censored. We have been having a very exciting time lately rummaging through those German forts that they have been forced to abandon. We find all kinds of souvenirs but there are not many things we can send home. I found a German Clock that I am going to try to send home. If it gets there and still runs you can you can count the hours until I get home. We have been sampling all the different kinds of canned food the Germans left, but I do not care for any of it.

I hope it is not long until we get another rest and then may I can get caught up on my letter writing. We have been going almost night and day lately but with victory in sight, we can work lots harder. Use your own judgment as to where you live until I get home, and then maybe we will just be Gypsies.

Love,

Johnny

Sunday October 8, 1944 France

Dear Winnie,

We are still taking a rest, but I am afraid it is about time to go up again. I saw many people going to church today. These people around here do not act like there has ever been a war. They work in their fields and the battle going on sometimes less than a mile away. It is nothing strong to be right up on the front line month the bursting shells, look around and see some man or woman walking or riding a bicycle down the road. The French were the same way. They would stand and watch the fighting just like it was a ball game.

If we don’t have to move today we may have services. We have not had any services for some time now. I received a good letter from Brother Petrey today.

Love,

Johnny

Somewhere in Germany

October 11, 1944

Dear JoAnne,

Your mother tells me that you have started taking music lessons. I am so glad for I know you will be able to play for me when I get home.

I know you love your teacher because she is so nice. She used to be my teacher too. I cannot buy anything here right now but when the war is over, I will buy you something and mail it to you from Germany

Love,

Daddy

 

October 17, 1944-Germany

Dear Winnie,

It has been raining daily here. I don’t blame the Germans for trying to move to a new country it it rainse like this all the time.

We finally got a new Chaplain and he is a young Baptist preacher from Kentucky. He was a pastor of a church near Ashland Ky. He was educated at Berea College and the Baptist seminary in Louisville, He plans to re-enter the Seminary if he gets through the war. The Chaplain was married just a few months before he left the states so I guess he is about as anxious to come home as I am. I was completely out of reading material with the exception of my new testament but for now the Chaplain has given me a Bible with the old and new testaments and some religious magazine so now I am all set to catch up with my reading.

Love,

Johnny

October 19, 1944-Germany

Dear Winnie,

It’s still cold and rainy and of course the war is going on and on and on.

The mountains must be beautiful there. There is nothing more beautiful than those hills just after the first frost. After all my plans to leave them, I bet we spend the rest of our lives right there. I am glad you bought some new clothes. I would like to see you in your new outfit. If you and JoAnne and Margaret Lee grown a day older in looks before I get home, I will not know any one of you.

The fellow I live with now is a Catholic, but we get along fine. A few nights ago, I had to help do a job far out in front of our front lines, and when I started to leave he told me he would say prayer for me and when I returned several hours later he was he had prayed for me for two hours.

Since we have been in Germany, no one travels alone. We use what they call the “buddy system” In addition, where one fellow goes his friend tabs along too. The officers use the same system.

I hope you have mail my Christmas packages because it sure takes them a long time to arrive.

You girls remember what I said about growing old because I’m getting old enough for all of us. Sleeping on this wet ground has made me feel like a fifty year old.

Love,

Johnny

 

 

 

 

October 21, 1944 Germany- in a Fox hole

Dear Winnie,

I receive your letter of Oct. 12, in nine days. There must be some more behind because I had not heard about Margaret Lee being sick and in the letter. You said she was better I know you will take the best care of both kids. Therefore, I don’t worry. I liked JoAnne’s letter a lot. She tells me more than I expected. I’m glad she wrote me a long letter.

I will try to get her some souvenirs of the country and some of the other countries close here if I ever get to visit the other towns when we are not under fire. I think we will all be given a short rest before long and if we are, I will try to mail you and JoAnne some kind of a present.

Please send me Bob’s APO number. If there is anyone you know with APO 20 let me know about them too.

Let me know if you went to the baptizing. I wish you would select some books from my library and give them to Maggie and Callie. You know about what they would need. If you can locate the book “in his steps: let them have it. I thin Wanda or Mary Combs borrowed it.  Tell them I was asking how they were doing.

It’s still cold and rainy here.

Love,

Johnny

Germany- November 6, 1944

Dear Winnie,

I could not write every day as I promised, but I will be able I think to write more often than I have for the past month.

The weather is very disagreeable; the sun seldom shines more than a few minutes. The weather is very much like the March weather we are used to at home. However, as bad as the weather is there seems to be very little sickness among us.

I heard that Doctor Gabbard may have won on the election returns. Is that true?

I haven’t received any mail for several days, but lately my mail comes in bunched of four or five, so I should get some soon.

I spent two days in Holland on a pass but I could not buy anything with their money. They were just not interested in money because there is nothing for them to spend it on either. One fellow offered me ten of their dollars for four packs of cigarettes, but I did not have the cigarettes. I finally managed to trade a woman out of two pair of wooden shoes. I watched the fellow make the shoes and it was very interesting to see how fast a piece of wood could be turned into something to wear. The woman spoke good English and she said there was not much wood available to make shoes. Tell JoAnne that if she can interest people there in this wooden shoes situation that we might open a shoe shop there and make our entire Second Creek timber into shoes.

Be sure to have some funny pictures made of Margaret Lee and send them to me. We have our own daily stationery over here and I am sending you an article written by some of our nurses. They are doing a great job over here. Guess they have as many hardships as the rest of the soldiers. I am sending JoAnne some Holland (German) Stamps for her collection. The dark stamps are the kind the Germans had made after they took over Holland Asbel said Charles told him that he did not get much to eat where he was, but where I am the food is good and there is enough of it. Of course it is Army grub and it could not be compared to our fried chicken and I do not expect to fatten up here but if it doesn’t get worse, then I will be satisfied.

When you have those pictures of my girls’ mail them to me as soon as you can please.

I received a letter from Mrs. Baxter and she said she would stop and see you when she came to Hazard to vote.

Send my Perky’s address if you happen to have it. I love it as usual I had a letter from his wife a few days ago. If you will tell me what her first name is I will answer it when I have the time.

I’m glad Mr. Burns is buying a farm. I do hope he does not buy one somewhere of the Creek, and tell him I said so. I wish I could be with you and the girls this winter, but I will be lucky to get back soon I hope.

 

 

November 12, 1944-Germany

Dear Winnie,

I received the letter yesterday that you wrote Halloween Eve. I could just see the kids going to and from school with their costumes. In addition, I could imagine all the tricks and stunts they would try to pull. I was thinking of those kid stunts Halloween night too. I went with some fellows out in front of our lines to fix up some surprises for “Jerry” (Jerry’s are what they called Germans) we placed a booby trap where we think the enemy will walk. If the Jerry happens to stumble into it there will be a loud explosion of a dead German or more.

It’s getting colder over here and it’s still raining. Today we were issued a sweater that will help some. We already have over coats long underwear and overshoes.

Love,

Johnny

 

Germany Nov 13, 1944

I just received your letter about my mother having trouble with her nose. That may be the reason she has the headaches so often. That must have been a painful operation but I suppose she is well by now.

I do not guess you could do this by Christmas but I think you would order me a Bible from the Baptist bookstore do not buy one of those student books with the reference. Nevertheless, get one made of extra good stationery and very large print. If you do not have a list of the books ask Brother Petrey if he has something you could order from. He will know about what kind of Bible ma could best. Did you ever send that company a check for the lost book I ordered?

Love,
Johnny

 

Nov, 25, 1944

I have not have time to write lately, and these officers have been too busy doing their own jobs to be bothered with censoring mail even if I could get to write. I know you folk worry when you don’t hear from me, but the officers and the men are doing all they can to get this thing over with as soon as possible. Sometimes they go 24 hours a day. Therefore, we can spend much time writing. When I get a few days’ rest, I will try to write more.

I sent you a clipping from our Newspaper about a month ago written by a nurse. I am sending you another clipping written about her.

I haven’t received but one letter from you in nearly a month. In the last letter you said you had bought a house and had moved, but you did not say where. I suppose there are some letters still on their way to me.

Love,

Johnny

Germany Nov 26, 1944

Dear Winnie,

Today is Sunday, but I had forgotten the date until I ran into the Chaplain at breakfast this morning. We are too close to the Jerries’ to have any services.

It’s STILL raining daily and there is mud everywhere!

I bet you will miss Brother Petrey stopping into see you since you have moved out on the hill. I have never had time to answer his letter yet.

JoAnne’s writing has improved. I thought someone had written for her. You never told me whether you got the piano home or not.

I have received letters from Blanch, JoAnne and Asbel, but none from you in a month. I guess the letters are still running behind.

Love,

Johnny

 

Germany Nov 27, 1944

Dear Winnie,

We get to rest for a few days so I will be writing you and others letters.  We still are having inspections, drills and training. The kind I disliked in basic training but we are not being shot at this time. The Jerries are still throwing artillery too close to use at times and the enemy planes annoy us sometimes at night but this compared with the front is like the difference between sitting at home by a warm fire getting ready to go to bed and sitting in a death cell waiting to be executed.

I had a letter from Bobby and he said he would like to be over here with me. I was thinking of him when I was eating my Thanksgiving turkey. Our dinner mean could not be sent up to us because the road were under enemy surveillance but just after dark.

Love,

Johnny

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Letters from WWII

Letters from WWII

One day a huge box of photo albums from my mother arrived and inside one of the albums was dozens of old letters, after I looked through them more closely I noticed that those very old letters were those that my grandfather sent to my grandmother during WWII. I did not know these existed, I was very happy to have them in my possession, I was delighted.

My mother found those letters when my grandparents moved into their last home. They were left as trash in a garage on a dirt floor in the early 1960’s. When my mother found them, she saved and kept those with her for years until she retired to Florida, then she sent them to me. I had requested my mother to mail me all the pictures in her home so I could put them on Ancestry.com and save them forever.

Those WWII letters have been traveling around for many years; some came from South Carolina, where my grandfather, John Walker III had taken Basic Training. Many mailed from places my grandfather was stationed, England, Germany, France and Holland.

Those letters were fragile and some written on stationery that was very thin, stationery normally used for patterns, other stationery was as thick as construction paper. Some of the stationery was regular lines writing paper; stationery from Camp Croft or the Red Cross, there was also plain unlined paper and V-mail.

Some of the letters were curled and wrinkled so much that I had to iron many just so I could read them. Few of the letters were held together at the top with scotch tape, to keep all the pages together, and the tape was yellow as the telephone book called, “Yellow Book” it had stained the stationery. Those were not the only stains; it looked like there were other embedded stains from however long those letters had been sitting out there in the dank dark garage.

In spite of the fading and wear and tear and the fragility of the letters, I was still able to transcribe them. I did my best. I put them in order year by year , then month by month. The pages of the letters had been mixed up and it was my job to figure out which ones went where. I went through them and matched them up according to the similar paper, ink color, or pencil, (or folds, rips and tears that matched up in each piece of similar stationery, and style of writing).

I noticed the style of writing was different with a few of the letters. Some of the letters had darker ink, or I would notice the writing was sloppy, or that my grandfather had pressed down hard on some of the stationery when he was writing. I noticed that his neatest written stationery was the last one where he was coming home. It was one sheet with neat cursive writing.

My next step was to preserve the letters by scanning them individually by date and post them on my Grandfathers page at my Ancestry.com account. When that was finished I had to do some re-adjusting to make sure I did cropping if necessary. Some of them I had to turn sideways and scan because the letters were larger.

So I did the letter in two parts by scanning the top and bottom half separate. I did manage to scan a few large ones instead of turning them sideways. That was a plus. After I scanned the letters in I transcribed each one and saved them on my Grandfather’s Ancestry site.

I contacted the library of Congress via E-mail after all my preservation had been completed. I asked them if they would take them and put them on the Veterans History Project that I created for my grandfather and they were interested. That late summer I packed them up and shipped them off by United Postal Service to their final destination on May of 2009.

Leave a comment

September 24, 2013 · 3:51 pm

Rev. Walker

Rev. Walker

My great grandfather, Rev. John Walker heard the “call” to preach at an early age and spent the remainder of his life being obedient to that experience. He had spent many years as an independent Baptist Preacher when he met and heard Rev. A.S. Petrey in 1897. That meeting changed the direction of John’s ministry. He and my great grandmother became charter members of the First Baptist Church of Hazard, Kentucky, a church associated with Southern Baptists. He was soon ordained as a Southern Baptist and for the next 40 years supported their cause.

Rev Walker continued to preach in the rural sections of the mountain counties, but his work mainly centered on Walkertown and second Creek. The Second Creek church, was organized in 1915. Out of this church came the Second Baptist Church of Hazard, located in Walkertown. Rev John Walker served both these churches until 1924 when he persuaded Rev. A.S. Petrey to take the pastorate of the Walkertown church. Though he officially resigned in 1931, John Walker continued to serve his people without remuneration until his death Jun 4, 1940

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Rev. John Walker retires-This is the letter he wrote to his congregation

Allais Ky,

Sept 30, 1931. To the Second Creek Baptist church, having served you as pastor since the organization of this church in 1915 to Sept 5th, 1931. Except the short periods that Brother Lewis served and J.E. Moore, during this time I have helped you to build a church house, which we all should be proud of, Have built up the membership of this church more than once. have aided you financially at all time, have helped you to maintain and run a good Sunday School. As my health is such that I am unable to do pastoral work  as it should be done, I hereby resign the pastorate of this Church to take effect from date of this resignation as your retiring pastor. I hereby recommend Brother Billie Baker as your next pastor and hope you will take legal steps to elect him pastor. At an early date. May God bless you all  and build you up in the most holy faith. Your retiring pastor J.W. Walker.

Leave a comment

September 23, 2013 · 5:57 pm

Rev. John Walker

Rev. John Walker

Reverend Walker chose a spot high on a hill next to the spot where his grandparents, Judge John Walker (Who was the son of John Walker, (1789-1857) and Polly Devers (1796-1870)) and Elizabeth “Polly” Combs, ( who was the daughter of Jeremiah Combs 1780-1853) and Cynthia Sumner (1791-1840)) were buried and in the early 1920’s.  Anne Walker, Aunt of Rev. Walker turned the first shovel of dirt to build the original building. In 1924 A.S. Petrey was to take pastorate of Second Baptist church in order for Rev. John Walker to spend more time with his Second Creek Baptist Church. When the present day sanctuary, was erected, the name of the Second Baptist Church was change to Petrey memorial Baptist church.

Below is what is written at the Petrey Memorial Church about Rev. John Walker

In 1915, Rev. Walker organized the Second Creek Baptist church after he had been preaching there for over twenty years. In 1921 Rev. Walker, who had been holding church services in homes of the residents of Walkertown, organized the Second Baptist Church at a meeting he conducted under a large sycamore tree, near the spring which had belonged to his grandparents Judge John walker and “Polly ” Elizabeth Combs. Rev. Walker knew that it was the wish of his grandparents that a Baptist church be built on their lands. So, with some funds he ha secured from his Second Creek Church the building of the Second Baptist church was in the making.

Leave a comment

September 23, 2013 · 5:56 pm