American Legion Post 7 finds long-lost letter from 1938


BUCKHANNON — During the effort to go through their historical records of Post 7 they came across a letter written in 1938 to the Legion Post. The letter was handwritten on stationary in response to what Post 7 suspects was an invitation to the American Legion birthday celebration held each year. Annie Latham Bartlett is the Post Mother because the American Legion Post is named after her and her husband’s (Leonidas Bartlett) son Frank B. Bartlett, who was killed in battle in 1918.

The letter reads:

“Greetings.

I regret exceedingly that owing to a previous engagement I will be unable to meet with you on this happy occasion. I have always appreciated the honor you bestowed upon the memory of my beloved son in naming the post for him. It takes great courage to die for one’s country and it also takes great courage to live worthily for one’s country. And it is gratifying to our community to know that our Legion post stands for decency and law and order and can be depended upon to do their part in any emergency. Wishing you a pleasant evening and many, many happy returns of the day. With prayers and love.

Your Post Mother,

Annie Latham Bartlett”

Bartlett’s father was George R. Latham. George Robert Latham was a 19th-century Virginia farmer, lawyer and politician who helped found the state of West Virginia during the American Civil War. During this time, he served as a colonel in the Union Army. Latham later served one term in the United States House of Representatives representing West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district from 1864 to 1866, as well as became U.S. Consul in Melbourne, Australia from 1867 to 1870 before returning to West Virginia to farm and hold various civic offices.

Latham then briefly lived with his elderly father-in-law and relatives before moved to Buckhannon, the county seat of Upshur County, West Virginia, where he farmed as well as served as school superintendent from 1875 to 1877, Latham also supervised a district of the United States Census for the 10th Census, the first census division of West Virginia. Latham died in Buckhannon, Upshur County, West Virginia on December 16, 1917. He was interred in Heavner Cemetery in Buckhannon.

Mike Wallace of Post 7 expressed, “Clearly, she was a classy lady and a proud Gold Star Mother. But there was far more to this fine lady as can be discovered in a quick online search. Her father had quite a resume as well from having three horses shot from under him at the battle of bull run to being a U.S. Representative to Australia.”

Wallace concluded, “Isn’t it funny how something as simple as a newly discovered letter nearly 90 years old, can reveal so much! I’ve only been here four years in Buckhannon but don’t recall ever hearing about this proud lady.”

If anyone would like to submit information for a story involving Upshur County history, please email [email protected] with details.

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