Thursday, December 13, 2012


December 13, 2012


Pall Mall, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today is the 135th anniversary of the birthday of one of the greatest heroes ever produced by the great state of Tennessee, Alvin C. York.

He was born here in Fentress County in the small settlement known as Pall Mall.*

*Pall Mall is located in the Wolf River Valley near the KY-TN border in north central Tennessee.  Alvin York's farmhouse & the York family grist mill are located here.  Sgt. York's son, Andrew Jackson York, lives in Pall Mall today.


                         York Grist Mill
                 Pall Mall, Tennessee
   Photo by Brian Stansberry (2009)

Corporal York led 16 Americans in an attack on a German held position in the Argonne Forest near Cornay, France during the First World War.

Leaving his men to guard captured Germans, York proceeded to kill 25 enemy soldiers with his rifle & pistol before forcing 132 more to surrender.

                Sergeant Alvin C. York

Ironically, York, a pacifist & lay deacon of his church back in the mountains of Tennessee, was denied exemption from service on religious grounds.

York was drafted into the 328th Regiment, 82nd Infantry.**

**Alvin C. York, promoted to Sergeant,  was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor & the French Croix de Guerre.  

When he arrived in New York City, York was given the key to the city & a ticker-tape parade.  Back home in Tennessee, he received a farm from the people of his state.

                 Alvin C. York Home
                Pall Mall, Tennessee
Photo by Brian Stansberry (2009)

The 1940 film, "Sergeant York" won 2 Academy Awards.

Alvin York died on September 2, 1964 in Nashville.  His funeral service was held in Jamestown where General Matthew Ridgway represented President Lyndon B. Johnson.

ALVIN C. YORK (1887-1964)

ACY was born on December 13, 1887, the 3rd child of William & Mary York who would go on to have a total of 11 children.

When William died in 1911, Alvin helped care for his brothers & sisters & was forced to drop out of school in the 3rd grade.

He worked in railroad construction & logging to help with family finances.

Before being drafted in the army during WWI, he was involved in drinking & fighting but experienced a religious conversion in 1915 & joined the Church of Christ in Christian Union, a pacifist group.

             Sergeant Alvin C. York Statue***
                  State Capitol Grounds
                    Nashville, Tennessee
             Photo by John White (2011)

***The statue was dedicated on what would have been Alvin's 81st birthday, December 13, 1968.

John Percy concludes his biography of Alvin York with these words:

"Sgt. York is a hero because..(of) his inspiring example (which) transcends time & place.  His story still moves us.  His life is still an encouragement to all who feel the tug of their own blessings & burdens for building a better world.

One look at this backwoods Tennessee farmer with a 3rd grade education & we find ourselves persuaded that, if he can leave such a legacy, so might some of us who follow."


"Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy, The remarkable untold story of Sergeant Alvin C. York," by John Perry, Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1997.