About a year ago, Margie Richey contacted Jon-Erik Gilot, the Archivist of the Diocese. She said she had some WWI letters from two relatives to share. Jon-Erik informed me and we met with Margie, who gave us permission to scan the letters and photographs. Jon-Erik then rehoused the collection archivally for Margie and her family. In exchange, she granted us permission to digitally share this historically important collection on Archiving Wheeling.
The letters were written by Margie’s uncles, Lester Scott and Charles “Dutch” Riggle, farm boys who grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Dutch’s brother, James D. Riggle, married Lester’s sister, Minnie.
Lester loved music and was a member of a hillbilly and western trio. He was drafted in 1917 and trained at Camp Lee, Virginia, as did so many of the Wheeling men who served in the First World War. Scott served as a Wagoner in the 314th Field Artillery Supply Company, Battery “A” 80th (Blue Ridge) Division in France. He drove a four-line team of mules which provided food and water to the front daily for the troops.
Dutch Riggle was also stationed and trained at Camp Lee and was shipped to France as a PFC with the same unit as Lester.
Approximately 40-50 letters, a few telegrams and other documents, and a dozen photographs have been digitized. The letters have also been transcribed. Most were written by Lester Scott to his sister Minnie or by Charles Riggle to his brother James. The bulk of the letters date roughly from September 1917 to November 1918, with a few extending into spring 1919.
In observation of the centennial of American involvement in the war, beginning September 24th, Archiving Wheeling will begin showcasing these letters and photographs in chronological order, 100 years to the date they were written. These posts will include the original letters, the transcriptions, and audio podcasts of the letters being read aloud by actors, with appropriate related images.
To subscribe to this podcast, go to iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app, search for “From Camp Lee to the Great War,” and click “subscribe.”
For a preview of the “From Camp Lee to the Great War” series, please enjoy the trailer created by the Ohio County Public Library Archives, with Jeremy Richter providing the voice of Lester Scott.