Museum commemorates 100th anniversary of America’s involvement in World War I

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, March 30, 2017

Polk’s soldiers highlighted in program and in exhibit

The Polk County Historical Association will be presenting their monthly program Tuesday, April 4 at 2:30 p.m. at the Polk County Historical Association museum located at Walker Street in Columbus.

This month’s program commemorates the 100th anniversary of America’s involvement in World War I, by honoring the Polk men and women who served in “The Great War,” which the United States officially entered April 6, 1917.

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The program will feature short biographies on several who served; information about the camp Wadsworth firing range just outside of Landrum, a branch of the Spartanburg training camp, in which artillery and rifle training took place; the effects of the Spanish influenza epidemic in Polk County; and the doughboy monument erected in 1925 to honor those who lost their lives in service to their country during the war.

The names inscribed in that monument are Zibo Wilson (Coopers Gap), Jesse Lewis (Mill Spring), Wallace Lankford (Tryon), Ralph Walker (Mill Spring), Columbus Constance (Saluda), Lawson Williams (Green Creek) and Levi Butler.

Another Polk County born native, Cumbee Pace, also died in the war in France but is listed as a Henderson County soldier because he enlisted in nearby Henderson County.

Also, a man named Cole Dean Ross, buried in Polk County’s Sandy Springs Cemetery, lived right across the Spartanburg, S.C. line, and was closely associated with Polk County.

One story is how Henry D. Thompson, 87, of the Holberts Cove section reminisced in 1983 how  he was present when Zibo Wilson from Coopers Gap and Jesse Lewis from Mill Spring were killed on the same day.

The last World War I veteran survivor in Polk County is believed to be Colonel Norman Frost who moved to Tryon after his service in World War II, after marrying Tryon native Betsy Doubleday. He died at age 97 in 1999 and is buried in the Tryon Cemetery a few headstones down from Wallace Lankford, who lost his life at sea in 1918 during the war.

Everyone is invited to both attend the program and view the new exhibit. The museum is open Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is free and donations are accepted. For more information, call 828-894-3351.

– article submitted by James Metcalf

The Polk County Historical Association museum features a new exhibit on Polk County doughboys, which features such items as:

• A shell retrieved from the Glassy Mountain artillery range.

• A gas mask and trench coat carried by AP (Pinkney) Williams during the war. Pickney, a longtime Green Creek store merchant, lost his brother, Lawson, in the war.

• A ship pennant from the USS Stevens, a ship commanded by Rear Admiral Zogbaum, who later retired to Tryon.

• A photo of an African American machine gun unit which included a dozen of Polk’s African American men.

• Letters from “Somewhere in France” by Joseph Mills sent to his father, Tryon’s Justice of the Peace, Thomas Mills.

• A draft registration certificate belonging to George Summey of Saluda, who died in 1918, in the Spanish influenza epidemic.

• And many other items.