County plans memorial tree planting
It has been 100 years since a memorial tree was planted in Russellville honoring the soldiers from Franklin County who lost their lives in France during World War I, and the Russellville City and Franklin County Bicentennial Committee is doing its part to remember this part of the county’s history.
April 23 there will be a tree planting ceremony at the Franklin County Archives at 5 p.m. Accompanying the tree will be a historical marker explaining what it symbolizes
According to documents found by Bicentennial Chairperson and County Archives director Chris Ozbirn, in 1919 the president of France, Raymond Poincar,e gave the state of Alabama ten trees from the forest where so many Alabama soldiers lost their lives during the Battles of the Meuse-Argonne. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive took place in 1918 and was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers. According to an article from the archives, it was the deadliest battle in American history.
In 1919 Alderman Wilmer W. Ramsey wrote to the State Forestry Commissioner and asked if the City of Russellville could be a recipient of one of those trees. His request was approved, and the memorial tree was planted at the intersection of Jackson St. and Lawrence St.
The latest known local remembrance of the tree was in the 1940s. It is assumed the city tried to replant the tree in a different location, where it died not long after.
Ozbirn said she has been working for a long time trying to get another tree just like the one planted in 1919, but it hasn’t worked out. The 1919 tree was identified in the 1930s as a victory oak. Ozbirn has been told the nearest American cousin to that tree is the white oak tree, and that is what will be planted in April.
COUNTY HEROES KILLED IN WWI
Felton Childers – Hodges
John A. Bates – Phil Campbell
Albert T. Bonds – Red Bay
Thomas J. Ray – Red Bay
Marion Self – Red Bay
Terrel S. Sims – Red Bay
George Brewer – Russellville
Walter B. Farned – Russellville
Columbus E. Hunter – Russellville
Oscar O. Kent – Russellville
William L. Pace – Russellville
Joseph H. Smith – Russellville
Thomas H. Taylor – Russellville
Thomas B. Taylor – Spruce Pine
Robert M. Berry – Vina
James D. Lindley – Vina
Edd Morrow – Vina
Bob Patterson – Red Bay
Willie Bolton – Pleasant Site
Roscoe Roberson – Russellville
Hollins Walston – Russellville