World War I Era Letter

This week I am jumping ahead twelve years to 1917 because I found a World War I era letter with some rich history that I’m excited to share.

This letter was written to J.W. Key from a friend of his, Private Seth Mitchell. If you’ve been following the site thus far, you’ll remember Cora Key and her father, J.C. Key from the two previous letters. J.W. (or Will, as he was called) was Cora’s brother and J.C.’s son. Will was also my grandmother Jane’s uncle.

This letter from Seth to Will was written October 3, 1917 from the Marine Barracks in Parris Island, South Carolina, which has been a site of Marine Corps recruit training since 1915. If you notice the letterhead, it reads “War Work Council” and then below, “Army and Navy Young Men’s Christian Association,” or the YMCA as we know it today. The YMCA has an extensive history of providing aid to the military since the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. In 1914, two years before this letter was written, the YMCA established 31 Army and Navy YMCA branches across the United States. In 1917 when this letter was written, the YMCA had just launched a tremendous initiative to provide aid to World War I soldiers. If you’re interested, you can read more about their history here.

Without further ado, the letter:

War Work Council

Army and Navy Young Men’s Christian Association

“With the Colors”

Paris I.S.C. 10/3/1917

Mr. J.W. Key

Tallapoosa, GA.,

Dear Will!-

How is everything out there? The Marine Corps is alright I suppose, it is not any worse than I thought it would be. And there is certainly a higher class of men here than I expected. In my Co, the 43, we have fine men all of them and of course we are going to try to make a record.

I do not know all of them and will not as we are in two bunk houses but the men in mine are mostly from the north & middle west though we have them from the west and some few from the south. I am the only farmer in the whole set. Most of the men here think that why they treat them so bad is that they are preparing them for the warmer country Ha! Ha! Though you will remember that most of the men never knew what manual labor was–

Have to tote oyster shells from the beach over a bridge for about 260 yards over a lagoon. The bridge is only about 3 ft wide & most of the time it is broken & only one 12 inch plank to walk on. Think of 2 or more companies on that thing at once!!

Lucky that we do not have to bring out more than 6 buckets full in two or three days which is only about 1 hrs work, of course that is not the only work [over]. I have done almost everything in the week I have been here. Though I do not work near as hard as I have done at home.

Won’t you write me sometime & let me know how things are going around home? Would be glad to hear from civilization again. You see we do not get to see anybody but a few marines–no girls whatsoever.

Your Friend


If you should write address:

Pvt J.S. Mitchell

Co 43 Marine Barracks

Paris I.S.C.

Haven’t got homesick yet and in good health but it hot!

Published by


Welcome, I'm Jessica. I renovated and moved into my grandparents' old home in early 2018. When my grandmother Jane was alive, she loved to sit outside on a swing with her cat Boots (who still lives here) and read. As we were cleaning up around the house I found a box of letters sitting in a swing outside that she was going through in the time before she passed. I stored them away and recently started reading through them myself. 100 Years of Letters is intended to share those family letters (some of which are over 100 years old) with the world and to keep the history behind them alive. Curl up with your coffee, a cozy blanket, and possibly a cat, and join me on this journey through history!

One thought on “World War I Era Letter”

  1. Thank you for the great job preserving and promoting history. This is my heritage too…my mother was Lola Ann Key Gladden…daughter of Benjamin Stanley and Hazel Ellen Law Key…and grand daughter of J. C. And Edda Jane Key.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s