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Lost and Found: A World War I Soldier's Prayer

It seems that the most interesting discoveries are made when and where you least expect them.


When Nell Gibson passed away a few months ago, she bequeathed to the Travelers Rest Historical Society her home, an historic structure formerly known as the Spring Park Inn, which dates from the early 1800s. A few years ago, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Society is currently in the process of having it restored to its 1880s appearance when it was a thriving inn beside the Swamp Rabbit railroad line.


While going through the furnishings and other memorabilia that the family left in the house, one Society member discovered among the papers of the late Marion Neves Hawkins, which she had entrusted to Mrs. Gibson, an historic gem. It is a single sheet of paper that sheds light on the innermost thoughts and concerns of a soldier who was soon to face the horrors of World War I. A handwritten prayer (transcribed below the photo of it), it apparently had been left by the soldier in a pew of the First Presbyterian Church in Greenville.



The soldier's name, home state, and unit are unknown, but he was most likely from North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, or possibly even South Carolina, and he had to have been in the 30th, 81st, or 20th Division because those were the units being trained at Camp Sevier in Greenville and its associated Camp Wing in Travelers Rest. Consider his thoughts and concerns as he composed the following prayer:


Our gracious Father in Heaven I come to you in humbleness asking forgiveness for all my sins and all my faults. I pray Thee grant what I am about to ask of Thee, please Lord above make the terrible war to end soon hasten the day when we can once again live in peace happiness and harmony with our brothers the world over.
Bless--my wife and keep her safe from all harm and evil bless mother and make her well again. Bless Dad and keep and protect him and bless all earths inhabitants. Father in Heaven I know I am not worthy of Thee but please help me to be a man [grant?] me the wisdom and courage and the strength I need not only for the present time I am a soldier but for all the days to come. Make me a Christian like Paul and Christ who travel the roads of Galilee. Bless this Church I am in today bless the minister and all persons connected in the work of it; I know no one here but I feel at home be cause it is the House of God
In closing, God I thank Thee, if it can done and through you all things are possible, grant and help me in the things I have asked of you
I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ who gave His life so that we might have life eternal.
Amen

I got goosebumps when I read that note because I was researching Camp Sevier and Camp Wing at the very moment my fellow Society member notified me of the find. Such discoveries truly bring history to life!


Now I find myself anticipating what other historic gems await us in that treasured structure!

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©2020 by Dennis L. Peterson