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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sgnt. Alvin C. York

Alvin C. York was an American war hero during WWI. He received a Medal of Honor and his story was told in the film Sergeant York.

Born on December 13, 1887, in Pall Mall, Tennessee, Alvin C. York was a blacksmith who was drafted into the army during WWI. While serving in the 82nd Infantry Division, he took command and captured a total of 132 German soldiers. York was promoted to the rank of sergeant and received the Medal of Honor. His heroic story was told in the film Sergeant York (1941). He died in 1964.

Alvin Cullum York (1887-1964) was one of the most decorated soldiers of the First World War.  A recipient of the Medal of Honor and the French Legion of Honour, York is considered one of the greatest of Tennessee’s native sons.

This collection includes selected items from the holdings of the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) relative to the life of Alvin C. York.  The most important of these are photographs from Fentress County documenting a 1940 visit with York and Jesse L. Laskey, Harry Warner and Warner Brothers Pictures, Inc., executives from California.  These photographs were taken by Albert F. Ganier, Sr., of Nashville, Tennessee, who was hired by Laskey and his associates to accompany them on their tour of Fentress County.

Sergeant Alvin C. York in military uniform, circa 1919

There are other items selected from the Department of Conservation Photograph Collection (RG 82); the Library Photograph Collection; the Myrtle Crowley Goss Papers (MSS 1993-035); the “Looking Back at Tennessee Collection;” the Sgt. Alvin C. York Scrapbook; and several other small collections at TSLA.  These selections document the life of Alvin York in his later years, both in his business and civic life.


Alvin Cullum York was born in the hills of the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee on December 13, 1887.  He was the third of eleven children of William Uriah York (1863-1911) and Mary Elizabeth (Brooks) York (1866-1943).  The family was poor but hardy.  They lived in a cramped two-room “dogtrot” cabin.  William York worked as a blacksmith to supplement the family income.  The father and sons harvested what they could from their small family farm.  Mary Elizabeth cared for her family and house, and hand-knitted all the family clothing.  The York sons received minimal education; most only attended for perhaps at total of nine months because they were needed to work the family farm.  Alvin himself earned perhaps a third grade education.  Alvin had obtained the reputation of being quite a sharpshooter, and added to the family’s dinner table many a free turkey won during shooting competitions.

After the death of their father in 1911, Alvin York became the head of the family household by virtue of being the oldest sibling still living in Fentress County.  York accepted a position in railroad construction and logging—a busy industry in the plateau known for its lush natural resources. He earned a reputation for being a skilled worker and took comfort in the welfare of his family. He was also known for frequenting saloons, hard drinking, and rowdy behavior. As a result, York had a number of arrests for unruly conduct. After pleadings from his mother and his mentor, Parson Rosier Pile, York cleaned up his life in January 1915. “I have never backslided…I am a great deal like Paul, the things I once loved I now hate” (Skeyhill 144).

York decided to convert to Christianity during church revivals of Rev. M. H. Russell—“the evangelist of the mountains.” He became a faithful Christian, joining the church and becoming one of its elders.  He led the church singing and became known as the “Singing Elder.”

York was employed on the local highway in the county when the First World War broke out.  Later, after the United States became involved in the war in 1917, Alvin York received his induction orders from the U. S. Government.  He was twenty-nine years old and had never been more than a few miles away from home.  He visited the general store of Parson Pile in order to send his military draft registration.  York had reservations about serving in the war based on his religious convictions, but upon later reflection he determined it was his duty to fight in a war against the evils of the world.

The Alvin C. York Memorial on the southeast corner of the State Capitol grounds, Nashville, Tennessee

After basic training, Private Alvin York served at Camp Gordon, Georgia, in Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd U.S. Army Infantry Division.  Deeply troubled by the conflict of his personal Christian beliefs and his infantry training, York sought advice from his company commander, Captain Edward C. Danforth and battalion commander, Major Gonzalo E. Buxton. Both advised York through Biblical references “He that hath no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one.”  He was granted a 10-day leave of absence to return home and consider his course in life.  York went into the hills of his beloved land to meditate and pray; he returned convinced that God meant for him to fight and serve his country. 
Cpl. York and his company were sent to the battle lines in Western Europe.  During an attack on his battalion along the Decauville rail line north of Chatel-Chéhéry, in the Argonne Forest of France on October 8, 1918, Sergeant Bernard Early, four non-commissioned officers and thirteen privates, including York, were ordered to penetrate behind the German lines and take out the nest of machine guns.  The group was largely successful in their endeavor, capturing many Germans who were preparing a counter-attack against Americans. However, machine gun fire broke out on a ridge.  Many in the unit were killed or injured. The losses put Cpl. York in charge, and he and seven infantrymen worked their way into position to take out the German guns.  York encountered several Germans and attacked their position, killing many and capturing others.  He “got hold” of a German Major who said that he would make the others give up.

In Alvin York’s words: “I told him he had better.  I covered him with my automatic and told him if he didn’t make them stop firing I would take his head next.  And he knowed I meaned it.  So he blowed his whistle and they came down out of the trench and throwed down their guns and equipment and held up their hands and begun to gather around.  I guess, though, one of them thought he could get me.  He had his hands up all right.  But he done had a little hand grenade concealed, and as he come up to me he throwed it right at my head.  But it missed me and wounded one of the prisoners.  I hed to tech him off.  The rest surrendered without any trouble.  There must have been about fifty of them” (Skeyhill 229-230). According to York’s Congressional Medal of Honor Citation, York and his men, captured a total of 4 officers and 128 men.
The Second Elder Gives Battle magazine article by George Pattullo

York’s heroism had met with great success.  Curiously, the accomplishments of Cpl. York and his regiment were reported only in routine field reports from the Meuse-Argonne action of October 8, 1918; no soldier names were given.  The history of Company C, 328th Infantry, A.E.F. was reported by journalist George Patullo of the Saturday Evening Post, who singled out York as a hero.  This brought attention to the heroic actions of Cpl. Alvin C. York. Prior to discharge, York was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Upon returning to America, Sgt. Alvin York was welcomed as the great American hero of the First World War. Ticker tape parades, medal ceremonies, news conferences and interviews awaited the Tennessean. The Tennessee Society of New York and Congressman Cordell Hull of Tennessee sponsored York while in the Empire State.  However, York had deep reservations on the fame he received and the circumstances that had brought it.

Upon his return to Tennessee, Alvin York was received as its greatest citizen since Andrew Jackson. York married his sweetheart, Grace, with the wedding ceremony performed by Gov. Albert H. Roberts. He purchased farmland in Fentress County with loan guarantees provided by the Nashville Rotary and citizens of Tennessee.  He and Gracie started their family, and York tried to put the war behind him.

For years, filmmakers had tried to convince Alvin C. York to produce film adaptations of the hero’s action in the Argonne.  York refused, remarking he didn’t think it proper to exploit the incident because it was against his Christian beliefs.  As early as 1919, Jesse Laskey from Hollywood had attempted to convince York to sell his story for the silver screen.

In the 1920s, York started the Alvin C. York Foundation with the mission of increasing education opportunities for those in his region of the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee. From this, the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute was created.  York also began work to open an interdenominational Bible school, but the onset of the Great Depression would inhibit this mission. The Depression also endangered the Institute that York had started in December 1929. 

Alvin C. York and Jesse L. Lasky, circa 1940

With times worsening, York relented and agreed with Jesse Laskey and Harry Warner, president of Warner Brothers, to sell his story for a motion picture.  Laskey and his company visited Fentress County in 1940 and “sealed the deal with York.”  Initially, York’s idea was to raise needed funding for his educational initiatives in the Plateau region, but Laskey and Warner convinced him the motion picture was needed to boost patriotism and awareness of the American people.  One stipulation by York was that Gary Cooper portray him, as Cooper was one of few motion picture actors that Alvin York was familiar with.

Early in 1941, Laskey was displeased with the results of film stills made by the studio of the Fentress County-Cumberland Plateau area that York and his family inhabited.  Laskey and his executives ventured to Jamestown, along the way hiring Albert Ganier of Nashville as photographer at the recommendation of an acquaintance of Laskey who was familiar with Ganier’s work.  The resulting photographs are included in this project.  These photographs assisted production designers in their design work on the upcoming film project.

“Sergeant York” premiered in the summer of 1941 and was a success for Warner Brothers. It garnered two Academy Awards, one for Gary Cooper’s portrayal of Alvin York, and a second for its use of sound.

Alvin C. York toured the United States during the Second World War for the War Department, delivering patriotic speeches and promoting the war effort.  He served on the Selective Service Board in Fentress County.  He offered his service to the U.S. Army for action in Europe; however, his age and illnesses prevented any participation.

York lived his final years in Fentress County as a loyal American with several business interests and as a beloved father and husband.  He and Grace were parents to eight children—six sons and two daughters, most named after American historical figures. One of his sons, Thomas Jefferson York, was killed in the line of duty serving as constable in Tennessee in 1972.
Close up of Alvin C. York a few days before his 52nd birthday in 1939

Alvin C. York suffered declining health after his war days and suffered a stroke in 1948.  Further strokes and health problems followed, and he was confined to bed by 1954.  York died of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 2, 1964, at Veterans Hospital in Nashville.  He was buried in Pall Mall near his farm, and was followed by his wife Gracie in 1984.

On December 13, 1968, a grand memorial to Sgt. Alvin C. York was unveiled on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol—a tribute to one of the state’s greatest heroes.

Works Cited

Skeyhill, Thomas J., ed.  Sergeant York: His own life story and war diary. Garden City: Doubleday, Doran, and Company, Inc., 1928. Print.

How long my ancestors have lived in Tennessee is farther than I can tell. They were the first persons that settled this country. My great-great grandfather was the first white man to settle here. When Grandpap first came he lived in a rock house, a cave, near Wolf River in the Pall Mall Valley. We live under the mountain, down in the river-bottom sections, a little over 500 feet from the top of the mountain, a distance of five miles. The Pall Mall Valley is located in the northeast part of Middle Tennessee, three miles from the Kentucky line.

My great-great-grandfather, Coonrod Pile, took up this land and owned all of the valley and part of the mountain. He was the first white man there and took first choice. There is a bunch of Piles still around here.

Grandpap York was in the Mexican War and helped storm the heights of Chapultepec. When he came back from Mexico he was taken sick at the head of the creek and died there. They call it Rock Creek. My grandpap on my mother's side, William Brooks, was a Northerner. He came down with the cavalry from Detroit, Michigan, and after the war he got into it with some bushwhackers. There was no law and everybody toted a gun. And they said he shot down one of their leaders; but they never proved it. But they killed him just the same. They hooked him to a mule and dragged him through the streets of Jamestown, the county seat, and they shot him to pieces. So, you see, my ancestors were all pioneers and soldiers and God-fearing people, too, like most all mountain people. We lived in a one-room log cabin. I can't say for certain whether grandpap built the cabin or not. I think he did. It was built out of hewn logs, hewn with a broad ax. They cut down the trees, hewed the logs, and built the cabin right there. The logs were chinked with clay and sticks. The inside was pasted with newspapers and colored magazine covers.

My father was a blacksmith. He ran his shop in the same cave where my great-great-grandfather spent his first night when he came into the valley, the first white man to get by the Creeks and Cherokees. In that same cave is where I got my early days of blacksmith training. He was very fond of hunting and shooting. Father would do his hunting every day, and if he had any blacksmith work he had to catch up with he would do that of a night. He was a good shot. He loved shooting very much, and always won every match. His advice was always to be accurate in shooting. He would always advise me to take more time and study this more. I grew up with him, hunted with him and worked in the blacksmith shop with him.

My mother was a hardworking woman, a good mother, and very religious. She always tried to instruct us to do the right thing. There was eleven of us, eight boys and three girls. We were all tolerable sized. I was the third boy, and the largest of the bunch. We are all living today, all except my father. God took him a few years before the war.

In my young days we had practically no schools in the mountains at all. The roads were bad and we had no money. The schools that were there were run about two and a half or three months a year. I got about to the third grade. There were over 100 of us in a little room and our seats were split logs with no backs on them. After I left school I never did get to go to school anymore. I worked on the farm and in the blacksmith shop. And I hired out to my neighbors and worked on their farms for forty cents a day. When I got a little bit older, I went out and worked on the railroad awhile. I might say, too, that in my early days I got in bad company and I broke off from my mother's and father's advice and got to drinking and gambling and playing up right smart. I read about Frank and Jesse James. I thought if Frank and Jesse could be crack shots I could too. I used to gallop my horse around a tree with a revolver and muss up that tree right smart. And I got tolerably accurate, too. I used to drink a lot of Moonshine. I used to gamble my wages away week after week. I used to stay out late at nights. I had a powerful lot of fist fights. I never was whipped, except when my mother and father whipped me. I was wild and bad for five or six years.

Then I saw it was no use, that I was missing the better things, and I decided to change my life and be a better boy. I knew all the time I was going along this kind of life, deep down in my heart, that I was doing things that were not right. Mother was continually pleading with me to quit my way of doing and change my way of life and be a better boy. And one night, after being very drunk and fighting, I got in after midnight, and found my mother sitting up waiting for me, and I asked her, "Why don't you lie down?" And she said, "I can't lie down. I don't know what's going to become of you when you are out drinking, and so I wait until you come in." And then she asked me, "Alvin, when are you going to be a man like your father and your grandfathers?" I promised my mother that night I would never drink again; I would never smoke or chew again; I would never gamble again; I would never cuss or fight again. And I have never drunk any whiskey, I have never touched cards, I have never smoked or chewed, and I have never fought or rough-housed since that night. I was very fond of tobacco, too. I used to smoke and chew. And there was plenty of cheap whisky. You could always get it. And I was big and hard, over six feet and weighed upwards of 180 pounds. And when I quit, I quit all. I am very glad I did. I am a good deal like Paul, the things I once loved, I now hate.

And then I was saved. My conversion was under the preaching or during the revival of the Rev. M. H. Russell, from Indiana, an evangelist to the mountains. He was an evangelist who preached very close. All that was not right he fought.He had a wonderful meeting there. He had more conversions than any one man that has ever been through the valley. Well, the way he impressed me was by his true speaking of the Scriptures. I knew the Scriptures, and when he spoke from them he spoke truly, giving the punishment for the wicked and the place of happiness for those who are in Christ Jesus.

"But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."
~ John 1:12 ~
I had already told my mother I would quit the things I had been doing, and at that time I had already quit gambling and drinking and fighting and was ready to begin another life. I joined the church and became an elder. I was teaching singing schools and led all the singing in the church before I went in the army. That is why they used to call me the Singing Elder. Pastor Pile was the pastor of the church I belonged to. Pile is a very pleasant and a very handsome man. He is not the pastor of the church at present. He is first elder, and superintendent of the Sunday School. He also has a store and a farm. He practically runs the store himself. His wife and sister-in-law oversee the farm.

I don't remember whether I was working on a farm or on a road when war first broke out. But when we came in I was driving steel and blasting on the road that is now called the York Highway. I was earning a dollar and sixty cents a day. Had anybody at the time said the road was going to be named for me, I would have told him that I didn't believe it ever would. After the war was going on, before America declared war, we were continually reading the papers. I thought it was a very, very tough war. We decided long before we received our call that America would be in it. Then I got notice to register at R. C. Pile's store at Pall Mall, the post office.

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
~ Psalm 18:2 ~
I kept a diary right through the war. I kept a little notebook in America and then when we went to France I bought one of those little black French notebooks. I carried this little diary in my pocket. I wrote in it in camp, on the ships, and in the fox holes and trenches at the front. No soldier in the American army was permitted to keep a diary. It was against the rules, and anyone caught carrying it with him was subject to court-martial, because the carrying of the diary, telling places you had been, what happened, and what outfit you belonged to, if you happened to be captured, would give such information to the Germans as we did not want them to have. The captain, when the company was lined up, would ask if any man had a diary. He was Captain Danforth of Augusta, Georgia. And one day he asked me if I was keeping a diary. I told him I was not admitting whether I did or didn't, and he told me it would betray a lot of valuable information to the Germans if I was captured. And I told him that I didn't come to the war to be captured, and I wasn't going to be captured, and that if the Germans ever got any information out of me they would have to get it out of my dead body. And so the captain kept going, and I kept the little diary, and I have it right now in a safe-deposit box in my bank in Jamestown, Tennessee.

Alvin Cullum York (December 13, 1887 – September 2, 1964), known also by his rank, Sergeant York, was one of the most decorated soldiers of the United States Army in World War I. He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing at least 20 German soldiers, and capturing 132 others. This action occurred during the United States-led portion of the broader Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France to breach the Hindenburg line and make the opposing German forces surrender.


Alvin Cullum York was born in a two-room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee. He was the third of eleven children born to William Uriah York (15 May 1863 – 17 November 1911) and Mary Elizabeth (Brooks) York (1866-1943). k'William Uriah York was born in Jamestown, Tennessee, to Uriah York and Eliza Jane Livingston, both travelers from Buncombe County, North Carolina. Mary Elizabeth York was born in Pall Mall to William Brooks and Nancy Pile, and was the great-granddaughter of Conrad "C3 \oonrod" Pile, an English settler who settled Pall Mall. William York and Mary Brooks married on December 25, 1881, and had eleven children. The York children were, in order: Henry Singleton, Joseph Marion, Alvin Cullum, Samuel John, Albert, Hattie, George Alexander, James Preston, Lillian Mae, Robert Daniel, and Lucy Erma. The York family is of mainly English ancestry, with Scots-Irish ancestry as well. The York family resided in the Indian Creek area of Fentress County. The family was impoverished, with William York working as a blacksmith to supplement the family income. The men of the York family harvested their own food, while the mother made all the family clothing. The York sons attended school for only nine months and withdrew from education because William York wanted his sons to help him work the family farm and hunt small game to feed the family.

Claim of Appeal for conscientious objector status by Alvin York.
When William York died in November 1911, his son Alvin helped his mother in raising his younger siblings. Alvin was the oldest sibling still residing in the county, since his two older brothers had married and relocated. To supplement the family income, York first worked in Harriman, Tennessee, first in railroad construction and then as a logger. By all accounts, he was a very skilled worker who was devoted to the welfare of his family. York was also a violent alcoholic prone to fighting in saloons and accumulated several arrests within the area. His mother, a member of a pacifist Protestant denomination, tried to persuade York to change his ways.
Despite his history of drinking and fighting, York attended church regularly and often led the hymn singing. Arevival meeting at the end of 1914 led him to a conversion experience on January 1, 1915. His congregation was the Church of Christ in Christian Union, a Protestant denomination that shunned secular politics and disputes between Christian denominations. This church had no specific doctrine of pacificism but had been formed in reaction to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South's support for slavery, including armed conflict during the American Civil War, and opposed all forms of violence. In a lecture later in life, he reported his reaction to the outbreak of World War I: "I was worried clean through. I didn't want to go and kill. I believed in my Bible." On June 5, 1917, at the age of 29, Alvin York registered for the draft as all men between 21 and 31 years of age were required to do on that day. When he registered for the draft, he answered the question "Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?" by writing "Yes. Don't Want To Fight." When his initial claim for conscientious objector status was denied, he appealed.
In World War I, conscientious objector status did not exempt one from military duty. Such individuals could still be drafted and were given assignments that did not conflict with their anti-war principles. In November 1917, while York's application was considered, he was drafted and began his army service at Camp Gordon in Georgia.
From the day he registered for the draft until he returned from the war on May 29, 1919, York kept a diary of his activities. In his diary, York wrote that he refused to sign documents provided by his pastor seeking a discharge from the Army on religious grounds and refused to sign similar documents provided by his mother asserting a claim of exemption as the sole support of his mother and siblings. He also disclaimed ever having been a conscientious objector.

World War I: 

York was drafted into the United States Army and served in Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division atCamp Gordon, Georgia. Deeply troubled by the conflict between his pacifism and his training for war, he spoke at length with his company commander, Captain Edward Courtney Bullock Danforth (1894–1974) of Augusta, Georgia and his battalion commander, Major Gonzalo Edward Buxton (1880–1949) of Providence, Rhode Island, a devout Christian himself. Citing Biblical passages about violence ("He that hath no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one." "Render unto Caesar ..." "... if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight."), they persuaded York to reconsider the morality of his participation in the war. Granted a 10-day leave to visit home, he returned convinced that God meant for him to fight and would keep him safe, as committed to his new mission as he had been to pacifism. He served with his Division in the St Mihiel Offensive.
During an attack (Meuse-Argonne) by his battalion to capture German positions near Hill 223 (49.28558°N 4.95242°E) along the Decauville rail-line north of Chatel-Chéhéry, France, on October 8, 1918, York's actions earned him the Medal of Honor. He recalled:
The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn't tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from ... And I'm telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out ... And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.
Under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early, four non-commissioned officers, including recently promoted Cpl. York, and thirteen privates were ordered to infiltrate the German lines to take out the machine guns. The group worked their way behind the Germans and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German soldiers who were preparing a counter-attack against the U.S. troops. Early's men were contending with the prisoners when machine gun fire suddenly peppered the area, killing six Americans and wounding three others. The fire came from German machine guns on the ridge. The loss of the nine put Corporal York in charge of the seven remaining U.S. soldiers. As his men remained under cover, guarding the prisoners, York worked his way into position to silence the German machine guns. York recalled:
And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush... As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting... All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.
During the assault, six German soldiers in a trench near York charged him with fixed bayonets. York had fired all the rounds in his M1917 Enfield rifle, but drew his .45 Colt automatic pistol and shot all six soldiers before they could reach him.
German First Lieutenant Paul Jürgen Vollmer, commander of the First Battalion, 120th Landwehr Infantry, emptied his pistol trying to kill York while he was contending with the machine guns. Failing to injure York, and seeing his mounting losses, he offered in English to surrender the unit to York, who accepted. By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines. Upon returning to his unit, York reported to his brigade commander, General Julian R. Lindsey, who remarked "Well York, I hear you have captured the whole damn German army." York replied "No sir. I got only 132." His actions silenced the German machine guns and were responsible for enabling the 328th Infantry to renew its attack to capture the Decauville Railroad.
York was promptly promoted to Sergeant, and received the Distinguished Service Cross. A few months later, an investigation by York's chain of command resulted in an upgrade of his Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor, which was presented by the commanding general of the American Expeditionary Force,General John J. Pershing. The French Republic awarded him the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor. When decorating York with the Croix de Guerre, Marshal Ferdinand Foch told York "What you did was the greatest thing ever accomplished by any soldier by any of the armies of Europe."
In addition to his French medals, Italy awarded York the Croce di Guerra al Merito and Montenegro decorated him with its War Medal. He eventually received nearly 50 decorations. York's Medal of Honor citation reads:
After his platoon suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading seven men, he charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.
In attempting to explain his actions during the 1919 investigation that resulted in the Medal of Honor, York told General Lindsey "A higher power than man guided and watched over me and told me what to do." Lindsey replied "York, you are right."
Homecoming and Fame: 
Before leaving France, York was his division's noncommissioned officer delegate to the convention which created the American Legion, of which York was a charter member.
York's heroism went unnoticed in the United States press, even in Tennessee, until the publication of the April 26, 1919 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, which had a circulation in excess of 2 million. In an article titled "The Second Elder Gives Battle", journalist George Patullo, who had learned of York's story while touring battlefields earlier in the year, laid out the themes that have dominated York's story ever since: the mountaineer, his religious faith and skill with firearms, patriotic, plainspoken and unsophisticated, an uneducated man who "seems to do everything correctly by intuition." In response, the Tennessee Society, a group of Tennesseans living in New York City, arranged celebrations to greet York upon his return to the United States, including a 5-day furlough to allow for visits to New York City and Washington, D.C. York arrived in Hoboken, N.J. on May 22, stayed at the Waldorf Astoria, and attended a formal banquet in his honor. He toured the subway system in a special car before continuing to Washington, where the House of Representatives gave him a standing ovation and he met Secretary of War Newton D. Baker and the President's secretary Joe Tumulty, as President Wilson was still in Paris.

York with his mother and younger sister at the family home in June, 1919. One of the offers he turned down was for a vaudeville tour that was worth $30,000.
York proceeded to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, where he was discharged from the service, and then to Tennessee for more celebrations. He had been home for barely a week when, on June 7, 1919, York and Gracie Loretta Williams (February 7, 1900 – September 27, 1984) were married by Tennessee Governor Albert H. Roberts in Pall Mall. More celebrations followed the wedding, including a week-long trip to Nashville where York accepted a special medal awarded by the state.
York refused many offers to profit from his fame, including thousands of dollars offered for appearances, product endorsements, newspaper articles, and movie rights to his life story. Instead, he lent his name to various charitable and civic causes. To support economic development, he campaigned for the Tennessee government to build a road to service his native region, succeeding when a highway through the mountains was completed in the mid-1920s and named Alvin C. York Highway. The Nashville Rotary organized the purchase, by public subscription, of a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm, the one gift that York accepted. However, it was not the fully equipped farm he was promised, requiring York to borrow money to stock it. He subsequently lost money in the farming depression that followed the war. Then the Rotary was unable to continue the installment payments on the property, leaving York to pay them himself. In 1921, he had no option but to seek public help, resulting in an extended discussion of his finances in the press, some of it sharply critical. Debt in itself was a trial: "I could get used to most any kind of hardship, but I'm not fitted for the hardship of owing money." Only an appeal to Rotary Clubs nationwide and an account of York's plight in the New York World brought in the required contributions by Christmas 1921.
After The War :
In the 1920's, York formed the Alvin C. York Foundation with the mission of increasing education opportunities in his region of Tennessee. Board members included the area's congressman, Cordell Hull, who later became Secretary of State under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, and Tennessee Governor Albert Roberts. Plans called for a non-sectarian institution providing vocational training to be called the York Agricultural Institute. York concentrated on fund-raising, though he disappointed audiences who wanted to hear about the Argonne when he instead explained that "I occupied one space in a fifty mile front. I saw so little it hardly seems worthwhile discussing it. I'm trying to forget the war in the interest of the mountain boys and girls that I grew up among." He fought first to win financial support from the state and county, then battled local leaders about the school's location. Refusing to compromise, he resigned and developed plans for a rival York Industrial School. After a series of lawsuits he gained control of the original institution and was its president when it opened in December 1929. As the Great Depression deepened, the state government failed to provide promised funds, and York mortgaged his farm to fund bus transportation for students. Even after he was ousted as president in 1936 by political and bureaucratic rivals, he continued to donate money.
In 1935 York, sensing the end of his time with the institute, began to work as a project superintendent with the Civilian Conservation Corps overseeing the creation of Cumberland Mountain State Park's Byrd Lake, one of the largest masonry projects the program ever undertook. York served as the park's superintendent until 1940.
During World War II, York attempted to re-enlist in the Army, however at fifty-four years of age, overweight, near-diabetic, and with evidence of arthritis, he was denied enlistment as a combat soldier. Instead, he was commissioned a major in the Army Signal Corps and he toured training camps and participated in bond drives in support of the war effort, usually paying his own travel expenses. Gen. Matthew Ridgway later recalled that York "created in the minds of farm boys and clerks...the conviction that an aggressive soldier, well-trained and well-armed, can fight his way out of any situation." He also raised funds for war-related charities, including the Red Cross. He served on his county draft board, and when literacy requirements forced the rejection of large numbers of Fentress County men, he offered to lead a battalion of illiterates himself, saying they were "crack shots." Although York served during the war with the honorary rank of Colonel in the Army Signal Corps and as a Colonel with the Seventh Infantry of the Tennessee State Guard, newspapers continued to refer to him as "Sgt. York."
Personal Life: 
York suffered from health problems throughout his life. He had gallbladder surgery in the 1920's and suffered from pneumonia in 1942. Described in 1919 as a "red-haired giant with the ruddy complexion of the outdoors" and "standing more than 6 feet... and tipping the beam at more than 200 pounds", by 1945 he weighed 250 pounds and in 1948 he had a stroke. More strokes and another case of pneumonia followed, and he was confined to bed from 1954, further handicapped by failing eyesight. He was hospitalized several times during his last two years. York died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964, of a cerebral hemorrhage. After a funeral service in his Jamestown church, with Gen. Matthew Ridgway representing President Lyndon Johnson, York was buried at the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall. His funeral sermon was delivered by Richard G. Humble, General Superintendent of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. Humble also preached Mrs. York's funeral in 1984.
York and his wife Grace had eight children, six sons and two daughters, most named after American historical figures: Alvin Cullum, Jr. (1921–83), George Edward Buxton (1923– ), Woodrow Wilson (1925–1998), Sam Houston (1928–1929), Andrew Jackson (1930—), Betsy Ross (1933– ), Mary Alice (1935–1994), Thomas Jefferson (1938–72). Thomas Jefferson York was killed in the line of duty on May 7, 1972, while serving as a constable in Tennessee.
After York's death, his wife sold most of the York farm to the State of Tennessee. The farm is now open to visitors as the Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park.
Source: wikipedia


What Did Delaware, Boys?

Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware? 
Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware? 
Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware? 
I ask you now as a personal friend, what did Delaware?
She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey. 
She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey. 
She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey. 
I tell you now as a personal friend, she wore her New Jersey.
Other verse pairs include:
Oh, what does Iowa? She weighs a Washington. 
Oh, what does Idaho? She hoes her Maryland. 
Oh, what does Tennessee? She sees what Arkansas. 
Oh, where has Oregon? She's gone to Oklahoma. 
Oh, what did Massa-chew? She chewed her Connecti-cud. 
Oh, how did Flori-die? She died in Missouri.
Here's a second version of the song, which appears to go to a 
different tune than the song above.
What did Delaware, boys?
What did Delaware?
What did Delaware, boys?
What did Delaware?
She wore a brand New Jersey, 
She wore a brand New Jersey,
She wore a brand New Jersey,
That's what she did wear.
Why did Cali-phone ya, 
Why did Cali-phone?
Why did Cali-phone ya,
Was she all alone?
She phoned to say "Hawaii"
She phoned to say ("How-ah-yee")
She phoned to say "Hawaii" 
That's why she did phone.
Where has Oregon, boys,
Where has Oregon?
If you want Alaska, 
(I'll-ask-a) where she's gone. 
She went to pay her Texas
She went to pay her Texas 
She went to pay her Texas,
That's where she has gone.
What did Mississip, boys, 
What did Mississip?
What did Mississip, boys,
Through her pretty lips? 
She sipped a Minna-soda,
She sipped a Minna-soda,
She sipped a Minna-soda, 
That's what she did sip.
How did Wiscon-sin, boys? 
She stole a New-brass-key,
Too bad that Arkan-saw, boys,
And so did Tenna-see.
It made poor Flori-die, boys,
It made poor Flori-die, you see, 
She died in Missouri, boys,
She died in Missouri!