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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Letters from the Front

Part 4 WWI

Even though these letters of Miles W Adams, Amos Baird and Jess Tharp were written one hundred years ago, many of the themes are the same thing that young men would write today. i.e. Please send money, or candy and cookies; “how’s my car”; “what’s happening at home?” In an excerpt from one of Adam’s letters he says:

“I can't get enough sweet stuff like candy and cookies. If you have a $5.00 bill to spare, please send it. This European money is nothing like our good money. It is just like so much newspaper or wallpaper.”

In another letter, Adams writes:

“You might send candy and cookies quite often, as I will be very glad to get them. They are very hard to get over here. You might put in some Beech Nut scrap tobacco for Amos and some Horseshoe or Star tobacco for Jess. I don’t chew but they do.”

Baird wrote to his father, dated March 8, 1918:

“I made an allotment of $10 per month to be sent to you by the government: I would like to know whether you receive it or not. We got one man wounded but he shot himself while unloading a gun. Has either one of the Barcroft boys enlisted yet? Tell them that I said they had better enlist so they can come to France for it is a pretty fair country. Tell Wilbert that the shrapnel shells bounce off our steel helmets.”

On April 20, 1918, Baird asked his father to:

“Tell all the people at May Chapel Church "hello" for me. You asked me about tobacco, yes, send all the tobacco you can, either Star, Horse Shoe or Climax plug. Miles and Jess told me to tell you, “hello”.

Baird sent another letter May 16, 1918.

“I received your box of tobacco of February but haven’t had time to get the one from April 4th. The next you send, please send some kind of plug, for Beechnut isn’t very good anymore, and send plenty of Bull Durham smoking tobacco. My first allotment was held back, February pay. You should get it this month; of course, they will send it.”

In a letter to his sister, on April 23, 1918 Baird said to:

“Tell Albert, the draft will get him just the same, that he can't hide behind a woman's skirts just by getting married. Why, yes, I get plenty of mail from my girlfriend as you call her. She sent me a box for Christmas and one for my birthday, and then a box of cookies. Pretty nice of her, I think, don't you? And she sent me the score of the Basketball Tournament.”

A Lawrenceville paper published one of Adams’ letters on May 23, 1918.

“Has Aunt Naomi had any more trouble with our vacuum cleaner? Tell all of my relatives, friends, sweetheart and enemies (except the Boche, Turks and Austrians) that I still love them.”

The experiences the three privates shared during the battles did not keep them from describing, for the folks back home, the countryside they were seeing. Adams wrote on April 23, 1918:

“Nearly every small town has ‘ville’ attached to it. The towns over here are pretty much like our own in name, but as to the streets and houses they are a whole lot different. The people over here, instead of living on farms, live in small villages and go out from town to their farms (small patches). Some of the large fields have two or three acres in them. The French people charge forty-eleven different prices.”

Ed Note: Miles M. Adams served one term as Lawrence County Treasurer from 1934-1938. During the year of 1935 he led the state tax collectors in the total amount of county taxes collected. The amount of tax payable in Lawrence County in 1935 was $41,796 and Adams collected $41,336. Adams died at age 68 in California.

Amos Baird moved to Hammond, Indiana, after the war and became a barber. He died at age 58. More research is needed to complete the story about Jess Tharp and Paul W. Bayard.

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