Archive for October 22nd, 2009

Letter from James Packett, Camp Jackson, SC, 1918

October 22, 2009
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Camp Jackson

SC

Friday 14 – 1918

My Dear Wife

            I will try and write you again as I have wrote you one letter since I arrived at Camp Jackson Sunday evening but have not heard from you yet.  Well dear you no that I am crazy to hear from you & little Ruth it seems as tho you have forgotten me.  But dear I will forgive you for this time as it may be possible that you did not get the letter.  I have been under the weather every since I have been back but I am feeling a little better now.  I hope you are well by this time and be sure and take good care of baby Ruth.  Dear I don’t know when I will get to come home again for they say we won’t stay here very long the company commander said this company should have been made up and sent to France before we were organized they are giving us our equipments as fast as they can they have issued our rifles.  I am going to have my picture made soon as I get the money and send you all one.  Tell Lucile that Louie Richies brother is here in camp with me and he said to ask her if she ever heard from Louie.  Tell Ed I don’t every see Mr. Lively any more and tell Mother Webb that I said to be good and write to me tell all the children howdy and to be good and be nice and take good care of your self for I don’t know when I will get to see you again but dear I hope some day we can be together again and live happy for if I have to cross the waters I am going with a full determination of coming back to you.  So I will close for this time by saying good bye from your husband.

            From      James Packett

to Wife

Address James Packett Pvt

Second Corps Artillery Park

Camp Jackson

S.C.

Truck Co. B.

*****

This letter appears to have been written in June, 1918.  My mother, referred to as the baby Ruth, was born in May, 1918, so I believe that her father James Packett had been able to get leave to go home when she was born.  The letter is dated simply “Friday 14 – 1918”, and June is the only month in 1918, after my mother was born, with Friday the 14th.

Yesterday evening I made a startling discovery, at least to me, about James Packett.  On www.ancestry.com, I found a record of his WWI draft registration on June 5, 1917.  He stated that he had no dependents – no mother, father, wife, child under the age of 12, brother or sister under the age of 12 – who depended upon him for support.  “No one” is how he filled in the blank.  So it appears that he and my grandmother married and had my mother within the year, which certainly isn’t impossible.  That’s not the startling thing.  At the bottom of the sheet, on the signature line, he made an “X”.  He couldn’t write his name.  He couldn’t even sign his name.  I’ve heard of people who couldn’t write anything except to sign their name, but my grandfather couldn’t write his own name.  It’s hard for me to imagine that someone in the 20th century couldn’t WRITE THEIR OWN NAME.

Yet we have these letters that my grandfather wrote from Camp Jackson and from France.  I would now doubt that he achieved reading, and writing in cursive, in only a year.  So when I compared the letter above with the one that I previously posted, it is clear that the handwriting is different.  Different people wrote these letters, none of whom were my grandfather. 

When he came home from the war, he went back to work in the textile mills.  He was also a preacher.  So how did he read the Bible?