Thursday, January 24, 2013

Alvin C. York, Cordell Hull & Albert Houston Roberts

Cordell Hull (far left) standing next to Alvin York
My dad and I have always bonded over movies (and UT Football) There are far too many movies that I remember watching with him to even begin to count. Some that jump immediately to mind, however, are the westerns, Shane and The Cowboys, actually pretty much any John Wayne movie is strongly associated with my dad.  Another movie that made an impression on me was the 1941 classic, Sergeant York.  So when I decided to take my day off of work and make a trip to Pall Mall, York's hometown, I knew that I wasn't going unless my dad would go with me. Luckily, he excitedly agreed!  So I quickly charted out our trip, which to my delight would include a visit to a Governor in nearby Livingston, TN, and we were off!


For those of you who don't know the story of Alvin York, I believe that you can get the jest of why he is famous from his Medal of Honor citation which read, "After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machinegun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machinegun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns." If you've not seen the movie, I would highly suggest it, as from all accounts, it was incredibly accurate at telling of York's time before, during and briefly after the war.
Bust of Alvin C. York outside of his home

Alvin York's home
Pall Mall is a very small town tucked away in the hills and valleys of north east Tennessee, sitting about ten miles from the Kentucky border. The area is amazingly beautiful and the sites related to York's life remain pretty much as they were while he was still living. Unfortunately, the General Store, which belonged to York, was closed for the winter, but the house where he spent the years following the war was open. The house remains as it was at the passing of his wife in 1984. Amazingly, one of his surviving children, Andrew Jackson York, is actually a park ranger and on hand to answer questions about his father or the house. The grave site is about a half a mile from the house and is well maintained with an amazing view of the surrounding hills. While the town is a bit out of the way if you have any interest in World War I, Alvin C. York or Tennessee, I would highly suggest that you take the time out to visit.

While York was the most famous Tennessean to be involved in World War I, it could be argued that Cordell Hull, who was Secretary of State for eleven and a half years under Franklin Roosevelt, was the most famous from World War II. Hailing from the small town of Olympus (present day Byrdstown, in Pickett County), TN, Hull had an illustrious career, first in law and later in Politics. Serving as a Congressman for 22 years, he was credited with authoring the income tax laws of 1916 and 1918, as well as the inheritance tax law of 1916. Named by FDR as Secretary of State in 1933, he would be the driving force behind the United Nation, and along with his staff, draft the initial charter for this organization. FDR would later call him the 'Father of the United Nation', and after his retirement, due to health issues, the Norwegian Nobel Committee would award him the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
The Cordell Hull Museum
Interestingly, upon arriving in America from his exploits in the War, Alvin C. York was greeted by the then congressman, Cordell Hull. The two would strike up a friendship that lasted their lives. Upon, Hull's death, York took up the banner to establish a museum dedicated to his friend to be located at the site of the cabin where Hull was born which we were also lucky enough to visit on our trip. While the museum is rather small the amount of artifacts that it houses and their historical significance is rather astounding. Again, if in the area, it is well worth stopping by and taking in this location.
Cordell Hull's Birthplace

#38

Name: Albert Houston Roberts
Birth: 4 July 1868
Death: 25 June 1946
Age at Death: 77 Years, 11 Months, 22 Days
Interment: Good Hope Cemetery, Livingston, TN
Term in Office: January 15, 1919 – January 15, 1921
Political Party: Democratic


Albert Houston Roberts was born on July 4, 1868 to John and Sarah Roberts of Overton County, TN. At a young age his parents moved to Columbus, Kansas, briefly, but returned to Tennessee, where Albert attended Hiwasee College. He was admitted into the Bar in 1894 and practiced law in, and around, Middle Tennessee. In 1918, he defeated Republican, Hugh B. Lindsay for the Governorship of the state. Coming into the office at a time of mounting state debt, Albert would oversee the overhaul of how taxes were assessed. He would also call a special session to consider ratification of the 19th Amendment, which would give women the right to vote. Tennessee would become the 36th State to ratify the amendment, giving the national government the final state needed in order for the amendment to become the law of the land. The unpopularity of his new tax code, as well as his support for the 19th Amendment, doomed his reelection chances and he was defeated in the election of 1920. Following the election he would remain in Nashville, opening a law practice. He died in Nashville on June 25, 1946

Bonus Pictures:

My Dad & Major outside of the York House
Major, myself and Andrew Jackson York

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