Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sgt. Alvin C. York

On a knoll in the Valley of the Three Forks of the Wolf River lies a pioneer cemetery that also is the final resting place of one of the most decorated soldiers of WWI. Alvin Cullum York is perhaps today most often remembered, if at all, because Gary Cooper played him in the now-classic movie Sergeant York. But to his neighbors, Alvin York was, and remains, very much a hero.

Alvin York's wartime exploits were sufficient to garner him the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, the French Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre, and the Italian Croce di Guerra. But his neighbors honor him for his humility and his generosity. In Pall Mall, Tennessee, he wasn't Sgt. York, he was simply Alvin. As far as I can determine, he never used his fame for personal gain. But he did use it to benefit his neighbors, most notably getting a highway built connecting Jamestown with the larger world (The Alvin C. York Highway, now U.S. 127), Jamestown its first high school (The York Agricultural Institute), and an interdenominational Bible School (financed with proceeds from the movie).

The Alvin C. York homeplace is now preserved as a state park and museum (Sgt. Alvin C. York Historic Park) and includes the grist mill he operated for many years.

With advance reservations, or just plain luck, you can have a tour by Alvin York's youngest son, Andrew, who works part-time as an interpreter at the home.

And spend some time at the cemetery, looking up at the Yellow Doors and cliffs of the Cumberland Plateau that Alvin York loved so well. It's a beautiful spot.


  1. Beautiful post this morning; and lots of great info. I loved that movie but never gave it much thought as to whether this was a real person.

  2. Very interesting. I also loved the movie and need to read more about the real Sgt. York.

  3. Interesting and informative as ever, Jim. I always enjoy visiting "Wayfarin' Stranger" and a small thankyou to you will be found on my current post.