Thursday, August 25, 2016

Courting Miss Nora - April 7, 1918

W.T.'s brother John was inducted into the U.S. Army in Wilkesboro on March 30, 1918.  The first month, he was assigned to the 16 Company 4 Training Battalion 156th Depot Brigade and sent to Camp Jackson, South Carolina, for training.  Tom had been in Camp Jackson over 6 months (since September 2017). 

    April 7, 1918

Hello! Nora –
           I saw John Sunday and was with him nearly all day. I think he wrote you a letter. He is liking all right so far but what are you going to do now for a fellow while he is a way. Wish I was up there so I could come to see you ever Sunday.

 [April 7, 1918 – page 2]

I did hate to leave home but I had it to do tho’. I am sorry that I didn’t get to talk to you any while I was up.  I had a whole lots to tell you but maybe I can soon get off again soon to stay longer.  Will you stay at home all the summer.  I will send you a good picture when I get them. That one I sent you won’t not very good.

[April 7, 1918 - page 3]

It is raining hard down here today and I am not doing anything much.  Wish I was up there to your home. Say Nora we boys went fishing Saturday and you bet we sure did have one more good time.  We caught lots of fish too.  Wish you could bin long with us.  I and  John is going over town next Sat. if he get his uniform but we won’t go with any of the girls.  I will see that he don’t go with any of them.  They sure is some good looking girls over town but none like you.  Don’t you get married while John is in the army. Ha.  I am with very Best wishes your true friend.
Mech W. T. Snyder

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Courting Miss Nora - March 15, 1918

W.T. is still at Fort Jackson, S.C.  I just love his first sight of an ostrich at the Columbia Zoo (page 3).

On page 5, he heard the other boys, such as his brother John Snyder, won't be drafted until the autumn.  But John was inducted into the U.S. Army in Wilkesboro on March 30, 1918.

The W. A. Bumgarner family (page 6) were Nora's uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. William A. Bumgarner, who had 2 sons and 2 daughters.  Mrs. Bumgarner was Mary Alice McNeil, Nora's father's sister, called "Aunt Alice".

                  March 15, 1918
Hello! Miss Nora -
     Will take greatest pleasure in answer to your letter.  Was more than glad to hear from you again. Say Nora, I wonder, didn’t you get that large picture I sent you.  If you didn’t, I sure will send you another one, but hope you got it.  They wasn't very good tho'.  Now you send me one of yours.  Say, Miss Nora, I am coming up next week and I will

[March 15, 1918 - page 2]

bring my Kodak box and we will have some pictures made and I can get one of yours that way. Ha. The reason I didn’t get off last week.  They was two of our boys all ready and our Captain won’t [wouldn't] let but one or two out at a time.  I think I can get off next week. Hope so any way.  It [has] been real hot weather down here but guess it [is] not so very hot up there yet. The woods and grass are green.

[March 15, 1918 - page 3]

It looks like real summer time down here.  The girls out in their white dresses.  Wish you could see be down here and see the boys drill some time.  It [is a] sight in the world how many boys they are here just the same size and all the time ready for form and believe me we have fun too.  I and my church went to Columbia Park last Sat. Eve. and believe me we sure did have some more fun. We taken some pictures.  I will send you one when they get back if they are good.  I wish you could see that Park.  Believe me they sure is something in there to see. Large Deer and camel.  arich to [Ostrich too]. ‘Bout the size of a mule with feathers on them and wings too.  I never saw such things in all [the] days of my life.  Their neck are ‘bout long as you are - 5' long or 5½.

[March 15, 1918 - page 4]

to the prettiest place I ever saw.  When the war is over we will go through, Nora, and take a good look as we go long.  And the long river is nice too.  They have got steam boats on it and the longest bridge I ever saw.  The soldiers down here sure do see lots of fun over town with the girls.  The whole town is lit up at night with gas and believe me it sure does look good at night.  I am glad the

 [March 15, 1918 - page 5]

boys up home do not have to go away to camp until next fall.  Guess John is some glad of that.  I am for him anyway.  I wish the war would come to a close so all of us boys could go back home. I want to see home so bad I can’t hardly wait until next week comes.  Are you going to look down the  road this time.  Guess you won’t for I didn’t come the other time.

[March 15, 1918 - page 6]

I hope I won’t fool my folks this time.  My sister sent me a large box of apples and believe me I sure did eat apples. They was fine.  I would like to see Mr. W. A. Bumgarners folks.  I sure did enjoy going to see them always when I would come home from W.S.  Tell your sister a big old Hello and the rest of them too. I can leave Columbia one Eve. and get home the next day late. Wish you was down here to go to the moving picture shows with me ever Wed. and Sat. nights.  They are good and something new  ever night.  I would give anything most to be with you.  I could enjoy myself fine I know. Tell your Father I have got some thing very funny to tell him.  So I will close for this time.  Hoping to hear from you again soon. I am with Best wishes your true friend. Mech. W. T. Snider

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Courting Miss Nora - March 2, 2018

Even though 6 months have passed since W.T.'s last letter to Nora (that I have), he's still in Camp Jackson, near Columbia, S.C. as a private in the U.S. Army. 

March 2, 1918
Hello!  Miss Nora-
          I rec'd [received] your letter all ok and was real glad to hear from you again. I wonder what you are doing for a little bit of fun.  I am having a good time tonight making music.  Wish you was here.  I could play better I know.  I sure do want to come home.

[page 2] Guess maybe I will get to come next week or I am going to try and get a pass any[way].  And if the captain will let me come look out down the road and you  will see me coming. Ha. You know it's bad to be a way from home especially in in the camp in war time. I did want to see old John before he went away but guess he will be gone before I get to come home. Tho' don’t differ when he goes.  I will see him. I can get off long enough to visit him most any two or three days at a time. Tell your Pop to raise ever thing he can to sell for it going to take something to run all the soldier.

[page 3] Ever thing is so high [expensive] down here.  It [is] a sight in the world and what will it be next fall.

Say Nora I sent one of my large pictures home.  They cost ten dollars a doz.  Wish you could see one. I am going to have one half doz. more printed and I will send you one.  So be a real good girl.  I am yours.
Mechanic, W. T. Snider

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wiley Thomas "Tom" Snyder drafted for World War I

The first of three drafts was on June 5, 1917, when all American men between the ages of 21 and 31 had to register for the draft.   Here is Tom's draft card:

Tom registered in Winston-Salem as Wiley Thomas Snyder.  His card lists his age as 21 and birthday as January 29, 1896.  [This is incorrect - he was actually 25, born January 29, 1892.]  Tom’s address was Devonshire in Winston.  He was a machinist at R. J. Reynolds’.  He was single with no dependents.  He was medium height, stout, with blue eyes, and light hair.  He signed the card “W. T. Snyder.”   His photograph is below -- I guess this is how "stout" looked in 1917!

Tom was inducted into the Army in Winston-Salem on September 18, 1917.  He was a mechanic in Company D, 1st Battalion, 321st Infantry, 161st Infantry Brigade, 81st Division (the “Wildcats”). He was immediately sent to Camp Jackson (now Fort Jackson) near Columbia, S.C., for training.  

The first group of soldiers had already arrived at Camp Jackson on September 5,  so he was in one of the first groups there.  Upon arrival at Camp Jackson, no matter what time of day or night, the recruits were lined up, given a bed sack, and taken to a field with a straw rick and told to fill up their bed sacks.  Then they marched back to camp, got a sewing kit, and had to sew their bed sack closed.

The men lived in tents and had to cut timber and build barracks and other buildings.  Supplies were lacking, especially uniforms and guns.  Company D started target practice using wood sticks instead of rifles.  Every soldier was issued a gas mask and taught how to use it because WWI was the first war in which poison gas was used as a weapon.

Tom spent eight months at Camp Jackson.  Below is a photograph  of him in his uniform, probably taken around February 1918. 

Background for this post is from R. Jackson Marshall III, Memories of World War I: North Carolina Doughboys on the Western Front (Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1998).