In 1918, just after one year since the United States entered World War I, the West Point Manufacturing Company opened War Service Stations in each of the mill villages. Staffed by a secretary and assistants, these stations coordinated overseas correspondence and at-home war efforts. Located in the same building or nearby were Red Cross workrooms. Women and girls gathered in these workrooms to knit and sew items to be mailed overseas.
The War Service Stations welcomed visitors. Furloughed soldiers often stopped by, or families with a relative in service could visit and browse the war-related maps and newspapers available at the station. They could even ask the station secretary’s help in checking on the well-being of their relative.
One of primary tasks of each War Service Station was to remain in touch with soldiers who had left their mill work to put on Uncle Sam’s uniform. The secretaries mailed letters, postcards, newspapers, and magazines across the military camps in the United States and across the Atlantic.
Shawmut War Service Station ca. 1918 Photograph Collection (C52), Cobb Memorial Archives
Each station created its own bulletin, published semi-monthly, filled with news from the mill and mill village. To compile local news, the stations looked to their War Service Reporters. These young women gathered news from the mills and local residents to inform their far-away readers about life at home.
“Miss Minnie Lou Finney of LaFayette has recently been added to the school faculty,” is one of the notes that appeared in the Langdale War Service bulletin dated February 28, 1919.
The identity of several these War Service Station reporters is known. Miss Annie Ruth Brown, Carolyn McKemie, Carrie Lou Satterwhite, Ruby Bradfield, and a Miss Eva (or possibly something else; her first name is difficult to read) Black. Photographs of the War Service Reporters survive in a scrapbook likely compiled by Miss Carolyn McKemie.
Photograph of the War Service Reporters, likely from an album kept by Miss Carolyn McKemie, Collection 52, Cobb Memoiral Archives
Their efforts to publish an entertaining and informative local bulletin were deeply appreciated by local soldiers. Expressing his thanks, J. H. S. (likely J. H. Stephens of Shawmut) wrote: “If you good people who are carrying on the work of the ‘Home Guards’ could see the eager faces of the Yanks at mail time, as they congregate for mail distributions, I am sure you would agree that time spent in writing to ‘Over There’ boys, is at least appreciated to the fullest,”