Friday, December 13, 2013



Pall Mall, Tennessee (JFK+50) Sergeant Alvin Cullum York was born 136 years ago today, on December 13, 1877, here in Pall Mall.

ACY was the 3rd child of William and Mary York.  William's death in 1911 left
Alvin to care for his brothers and sisters and forced him to drop out of school.

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

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

When first drafted, Alvin applied for exemption from military service on religious grounds.  His application and appeal for exemption were denied by the local draft board

Alvin was assigned to the 328th Regiment, 82nd Infantry.

York Grist Mill^
Pall Mall, Tennessee
Photo by John White 

^Alvin's brother, George, is sitting on the porch just left of the lower window.

As a corporal, Alvin York led 16 Americans in an attack on a German held position in the Argonne Forest near Cornay, France during WWI.

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

Corporal York, promoted to Sergeant,  was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre.  

When he arrived in New York City, York was given the key to the city and a ticker-tape parade. 

Back in Tennessee, he received a farm from the people of his state.

                Sergeant Alvin C. York

*Pall Mall is located in Fentress County and the Wolf River Valley near the KY-TN border in north central Tennessee.

AY's farmhouse and the York family grist mill are located here.  Sgt. York's son, Andrew Jackson York, lives in Pall Mall today.

**The Church of Christ in Christian Union, originating from the Methodist Episcopal Church, was founded in 1909 in Columbus, Ohio.

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

The 1940 motion picture SERGEANT YORK won 2 Academy Awards.

Alvin C. York died on September 2, 1964 in Nashville

His funeral service was held in Jamestown where General Matthew Ridgway represented LBJ.

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

The statue pictured above was dedicated on the anniversary of 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 and place. 

His story still moves us.  His life is still an encouragement to all who feel the tug of their own blessings and burdens for building a better world.

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

Alvin York's Neighbor
York Grist Mill
Pall Mall, Tennessee
Photo by John White


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