Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Lewis family letters

Abstract

The Lewis family letters collection (dated 1950-1954, undated; 2.25 cubic feet; 5 boxes) comprises 490 letters and enclosures written and sent by Lewis brothers Marvin, Raymond, and William primarily to their mother, Mrs. Willie Belle Lewis of Coxs Creek, Kentucky, during their service in the United States Army in the Korean War, in the early 1950s.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Lewis family letters
Extent
2.25 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Families -- Kentucky -- History -- 20th century
Families of military personnel -- United States
Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Personal narratives, American
Farm life -- Kentucky -- Nelson County -- Anecdotes
Postage stamps
Letters.
Rural families -- Kentucky.
Correspondence.
Korean War, 1950-1953
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into series by major author. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Processed by Jeffrey Witt under the direction of Ruth E. Bryan, Director of Archives
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0001: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Lewis family letters, 1950-1954, undated, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
The Lewis family, from Cox's Creek, Kentucky is made up of Richard Lewis (1902-1979) and Willie Belle Girdley Ulery (1909-1993) and their children Marvin Richard (1927-2011), William S. (b. 1930), Raymond T. (b. 1932), Howard Jack Garnett (1933-1984), and Mary B. (b. 1936). Richard worked as a farm laborer and construction worker.
Three Lewis sons served in the military during the Korean War. Oldest son Marvin was in the U.S. Army at least by September 1950. Third son Raymond followed, going into service in March 1951. Second son William was drafted in May 1951. Daughter Mary married J.T. (surname unknown) in 1951. William married Catherine (surname unknown) in early summer 1951, and son Raymond married Anna Hardin in June 1952. Fourth son Howard was a farmer and a milk truck driver in Coxs Creek and was around 17 years of age during the period covered by the collection.
After the war, Marvin owned and operated a construction company, Lewis Construction, and was a member of Riverview Baptist Church in Coxs Creek. He had two sons, Timothy D. (who predeceased his father) and Michael. At the time of Marvin's death on July 21, 2011, Raymond, William, and Mary were still living. Howard had died on February 25, 1984.
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The Lewis family letters collection (dated 1950-1954, undated; 2.25 cubic feet; 5 boxes) comprises 490 letters and enclosures written and sent by Lewis brothers Marvin, Raymond, and William primarily to their mother, Mrs. Willie Belle Lewis of Coxs Creek, Kentucky, during their service in the United States Army in the Korean War, in the early 1950s. Other letters and enclosures received by Mrs. Lewis came from the brothers' friends Acie Lee Moore, and John and Glen Bell as well as from girlfriends/wives Anna Hardin/Lewis and Catherine Lewis. The collection also includes letters from extended Lewis family members and other friends of the brothers. Several of the letters are addressed to Howard (nicknamed Jack or Moose) Lewis, the one brother of the four not in the military. There is one letter from sister Mary Lewis (Dec. 14, 1950). The father, Richard Lewis--illiterate according to U.S. census records--is not represented. The collection overall provides a social history of a rural farming family, especially the cycle of planting and harvesting crops; a window into the interests and concerns of the local young men; and reveals a family conversing together, highlighted by three sons serving in the United States military. The collection is divided into three series, each for the three Lewis sons that were serving in the Army. These letters cover each brothers' initial entrance into military life through their training and deployments--Marvin and Raymond to Korea and William to Hawaii. Marvin writes to his family from training camps in Kentucky and Virginia and his stations in Japan and South Korea, while the few letters sent to him from family are from their home in Cox's Creek. Common themes throughout the letters from both the United States and Korea are a desire to hear from family; Marvin and his brothers' military service; the family farm's yearly cycle of planting and harvesting, with occasional comments and comparisons about the current weather where Marvin was stationed and home; and Marvin's use and eventual mastery of a new camera(s). Also throughout, Marvin reassures his family that he is fine, and they should not worry. He focuses less on his hardships and more on his concern for home and family. He discusses the barracks he lives in, being in the hospital, visiting his brother and friends, working in the 2nd Engineering Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division, and his countdown to his return home and discharge. Raymond writes to his family from camps in Maryland, Arizona, and Texas, and overseas in Yokohama, Japan and South Korea. Common topics in the letters include the daily farming cycle of the family's life in Coxs Creek and Raymond's relationship with his girlfriend and eventual wife Anna Hardin (who began signing her letters Mrs. Raymond Lewis in June 1952). Their on and off relationship is openly discussed by Raymond with his mother, Willie Lewis, throughout the entirety of the correspondence. The letters directly addressed to Jack Lewis focus on work (both of theirs), girls, and his prospect of military service. Military topics in Raymond's letters include training activities, the amount of Kentucky boys he recognized (March 1951), camp surroundings, and rumors of assignments and deployments. Like his brother, Marvin Lewis, Raymond served in an engineer unit driving trucks and bulldozers. In addition to these general comments, Raymond routinely writes about having/needing a car or motorcycle and about money, either back pay, credited debt, loaning money, or sending and requesting money from home.
William and his wife Catherine write to his family through his training and non-combat deployment to Honolulu, Hawaii. William worked in the Signal Corps training as a message clerk and later in electrical power and maintenance. William's letters reflect his loneliness and misery more than any other voice in the collection. Other major topics in the letters include inquiries and comments about life in Coxs Creek and the receipt of letters from family (especially brothers Marvin and Raymond Lewis) and Kentucky acquaintances. However, when wife Catherine eventually comes to live with him (July 1951), her presence is the catalyst for a more upbeat tone in the letters, which focus on their idyllic home life as a married couple. William and Catherine were religiously centered. Their letters often mention church services, Bible verses, revivals, and teaching Sunday school.
The Lewis family letters collection is part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Marvin Lewis, 1950-1952

Correspondence, 1950-1952

Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1950 September - October

  • Box 165, folder 1
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1950 November - December

  • Box 165, folder 2
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 January

  • Box 165, folder 3
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 February

  • Box 165, folder 4
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 March

  • Box 165, folder 5
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 April

  • Box 165, folder 6
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 May - June

  • Box 165, folder 7
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 July - August

  • Box 165, folder 8
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 September

  • Box 165, folder 9
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 October

  • Box 165, folder 10
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 November

  • Box 166, folder 1
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1951 December - 1952 January

  • Box 166, folder 2
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1952 February

  • Box 166, folder 3
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1952 March - April

  • Box 166, folder 4
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1952 May

  • Box 166, folder 5
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1952 June

  • Box 166, folder 6
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Letters from Marvin Lewis, 1952 August

  • Box 166, folder 7
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Letters to Marvin Lewis, 1952

  • Box 166, folder 8
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Enclosures, 1950-1952

Currency: South Korean and Japanese bills and coins, 1951-1952

  • Box 166, folder 9
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Dinner menus and Ruler of the 180th Meridian International Dateline certificate, 1950 November -1952 January

  • Box 166, folder 10
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Marksmanship medal: B.A.R., carbine and rifle, 1951

  • Box 166, folder 11
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Military orders, citations, and allotments, 1950 September -1951 August

  • Box 166, folder 12
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Newsletters and bulletins: The Warrior, The Fort Myer Post, U.S. Army Field Church Services bulletin, and Pacific Stars and Stripes clipping, 1950 December -1952 June

  • Box 166, folder 13
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Valentine cards, 1951 February

  • Box 166, folder 14
Comprises three cards enclosed with Marvin's letter dated Feb. 19, 1951, addressed to Raymond.
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Raymond Lewis, 1951-1952

Correspondence, 1951-1952

Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 March

  • Box 167, folder 1
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 April

  • Box 167, folder 2
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 May

  • Box 167, folder 3
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 June

  • Box 167, folder 4
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 July

  • Box 167, folder 5
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 August

  • Box 167, folder 6
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 September

  • Box 167, folder 7
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 October

  • Box 167, folder 8
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 November

  • Box 167, folder 9
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1951 December

  • Box 168, folder 1
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 January

  • Box 168, folder 2
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 February

  • Box 168, folder 3
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 March

  • Box 168, folder 4
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 April

  • Box 168, folder 5
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 May

  • Box 168, folder 6
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 June

  • Box 168, folder 7
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 July

  • Box 168, folder 8
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 August

  • Box 168, folder 9
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Letters from Raymond Lewis, 1952 November - December

  • Box 168, folder 10
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Enclosures, 1951 Mar.-1952 Jan.

Comprises nine enclosures received with Raymond Lewis' letters and includes film negatives, typed general orders (date unknown), a newsletter, and a magazine clipping. The date of the letter that included each enclosure is written on each item or on the item's sleeve. Each letter that included an enclosure is labeled [enclosure]. Arranged in alphabetical order by type of enclosure.

General orders; The Chapel Call newsletter; a white ribbon; clipping re: Statler Hotel and 1951 Ford, 1951 March -1952 January

  • Box 168, folder 11
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Negatives, 1951 April - 1951 September

  • Box 168, folder 12
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William and Catherine Lewis, 1951-1952

Correspondence, 1951-1952

Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1951 May - June

  • Box 168, folder 13
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1951 July

  • Box 168, folder 14
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1951 August

  • Box 168, folder 15
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1951 September

  • Box 168, folder 16
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1951 October

  • Box 168, folder 17
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1951 November

  • Box 168, folder 18
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1951 December

  • Box 169, folder 1
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1952 January

  • Box 169, folder 2
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1952 February

  • Box 169, folder 3
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1952 March

  • Box 169, folder 4
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1952 May - July

  • Box 169, folder 5
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1952 August

  • Box 169, folder 6
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Letters from William and Catherine Lewis, 1952 September - December

  • Box 169, folder 7
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Enclosures, 1951-1952

Church bulletins: Hill Baptist (Ga.); First Baptist (Ga.); Olivet Baptist (Ha.), 1951-1952

  • Box 169, folder 8
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Photograph: Clarks Hill Dam, South Carolina, 1951 July 21

  • Box 169, folder 9
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Bell family letters to Lewis family, 1951-1952

  • Box 169, folder 10
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Letters from Anna Hardin Lewis, 1951 March - 1952 September

  • Box 169, folder 11
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Letters from Anna Hardin Lewis, 1953-1954

  • Box 169, folder 12
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Letters to Howard Lewis, 1951-1952, undated

  • Box 169, folder 13
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Letters to Willie Lewis, 1950-1954

  • Box 169, folder 14
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Letters from Acie Lee Moore, 1951 March - July

  • Box 169, folder 15
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Letters from Acie Lee Moore, 1951 August - 1952 November

  • Box 169, folder 16
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Church revival advertisements, undated

  • Box 169, folder 17
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Newspaper clippings, undated

  • Box 169, folder 18
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Photographic postcards, undated

  • Box 169, folder 19
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UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center is open by appointment only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Materials must be requested at least 5 days before your appointment.

Researchers must have an SCRC Researcher Account to request materials. View account set-up and use instructions here.

Questions? Contact SCRC via our Contact Form.

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You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.

If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.