East Tennessee Love Letters that Crossed Oceans: A WWI Story of Patriotism, Courage and Devotion

Published: 22 February 2024

By Amber Lynn Carroll
via the Living East Tennessee website

Tennessee letter

One of the World War I letters between Roy Hawk of Cleveland, Tennessee and Mabel Thornton of Knoxville, Tennessee.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  —  The McClung Historical Collection was sent a piece of history that tells the story of a love during World War 1 from an East Tennessee couple’s perspective.

James M. Hawk is the grandson of Roy Hawk of Cleveland, Tennessee and Mabel Thornton of Knoxville, Tennessee a loving couple who weathered the storm of World War 1 to continue a courtship that would last a lifetime.

The grandson discovered the letters after his father’s passing and was amazed that he was reading not only untold family history, but American history as well.

“I found these letters in shoe boxes in their original twine all bundled up,” said James M. Hawk. “But most of them were undisturbed.”

The letters tell the tale in his book My Dear Mabel: A Grandson’s Lessons in Love, Faith, Patriotism and Courage in Letters from World War I that can be found within the McClung Historical Collection in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Part of it, was each other proving to the other that they were worthy and perhaps wanting to be true,” said Hawk. Throughout Hawk’s book, it’s evident these lovers triumph and rely on their love, Christian foundation and sincerity to live life together while oceans apart.

Read the entire article on the Living East Tennessee website here:

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