Thomas Morrill Mewborn Papers, 1917-1932, 1974

Manuscript Collection #791

  • Descriptive Summary
    Title: Thomas Morrill Mewborn Papers
    Creator: Mewborn, Thomas Morrill
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Papers (1917-1932, 1974) of a World War I veteran who served in the 310th Ambulance Train, 78th Division, including correspondence, documents, historical reports, rosters, ephemera, memorabilia, photographs, postcards, printed forms, and printed materials.
    Extent: 0.57 Cubic feet, 2 boxes, ca. 1000 items , consisting of correspondence, rosters, historical reports, printed material, magazines, newspapers, postcards, photographs, clippings, and memorabilia
  • Description

    The Thomas Morrill Mewborn Papers collection includes two boxes of material on Thomas Mewborn and the time he spent in the 78th Division, 310th Ambulance Company, during World War 1. The Collection includes a wide range of materials including personal correspondence, diaries, historical reports, photographs, postcards, memorabilia, and other printed material.

    A large portion of this collection is written and printed material. There are two war diaries kept by Thomas Mewborn, one from May 5th to December 23, 1917, and the other from June 2, 1918 to June 8, 1919. These diaries give the daily perspective of Mewborn throughout his training and deployment in France during the war. There are also twenty-six items of correspondence in the collection, including Christmas cards to and from Mewborn, items from the Brotherhood of Saint Andrews, and a King George V letter to Soldiers of the United States. There is also an order by Major Eric A. Abernathy authorizing Thomas M. Mewborn to wear the War Service Chevron, an announcement by the Adjutant General’s Office informing soldiers who enlisted or were drafted since April 1, 1917, that they can be discharged if there is sickness or some other form of distress in their family, and a letter from E.B. Owen requesting a donation to the memorial committee to erect a memorial for former students of North Carolina State College who lost their lives in World War I. After the war, there was also a letter from Frank Rusling to Mrs. Mewborn including an account of the trip made to France by Lloyd Owens and Ralph Noble in 1974.

    Thomas Mewborn also kept historical reports and rosters relating the 78th Division and the 310th Ambulance Company. A small scrap of paper has the war itinerary where Mewborn had been throughout the war, including training. Records of combat Divisions of The American Expeditionary Forces show the date of arrival in France, prisoners, ordnance, and front line advance. A roster for Company 310 Ambulance train includes men’s ranks, home addresses, and men who served in the division but were transferred or discharged. The historical report of Ambulance Company 310, written by commanding officer Captain Charles E. Maxwell, includes all movements taken by the ambulance company between July 1, 1917, when the company was organized, and March 30, 1919, when the report was written before the company came back to the US. Mewborn also included the minutes for a reunion of some of the men from 310 Ambulance Corps on June 25, 1927. There are two poems written by Thomas Mewborn, one titled Ambulance 310, and another, In Memory; as well as The song of 310. It was written by Hyman H. Cohen soon after the 310 ambulance company reached France and while they were in a little village called Vitrey training. There is also a hand written and typed copy of a record of 310’s actions throughout the war, possibly created by Mewborn.

    Personal Printed Material kept by Thomas Mewborn includes several religious materials. There is a Pocket Pictorial Gospel of St. John, Daily Readings of the New Testament, a pocket New Testament, and a confirmation card showing that Mewborn was confirmed on May 9, 1918 at the Camp Dix church. Mewborn also kept a small pocket English/French dictionary as well as a copy of Rough Rhymes of a Soldier, by Sergeant Leo T. Brinson. There are also a few other small things that Mewborn kept from his deployment like his troop billet for U.S.S Santa Barbara, a schedule of trains between Trenton and Camp Dix, stamps with service stars, and checks for 585 Thomas Mewborn from the National Discount Counter of Paris. He also kept 15 trading Cards of Allied Leaders. There is also a United Daughters of the Confederacy Certificate of Award of Cross of Service, awarded to Thomas Mewborn on May 4, 1926.

    The military and printed informational material in the collection includes When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Victory Songs, France Our Ally, The Dauphine Leave Area: A Historical and Geographical Sketch, Henry’s Pal to Henry, Songs Suggested for the National Victory Sing, Yank Talk, What Your Money is Doing for Your Boys, To the homeward bound Americans, and This is the Hut the Y built. There are a few magazines and pictorial Histories including Pictorial History of the 78th in France and a few Camp Dix Pictorial Reviews.

    Thomas Mewborn kept a few different newspaper clippings that related to the war and the part he played in it. He kept a copy of The Dauphine Doughboy volume 1 number 8, from March 8, 1919, published for American troops posted near Grenoble, France. A clipping of, Reidsville Boys Tell of Terrible Fighting of Thirtieth Division, tells of the actions of some of the men from Reidsvill in the 13th division and what they saw when fighting. The clipping, Was a Grand Fight Old Second North Carolina was in, tells of an advance by the 30th Division on September 29. More Praise Given Lighting Division is a clipping that praises some of the actions of the 78th Division fighting in France. Another clipping has information on the reunion of 310th Ambulance Company, and Information about the Santa Barbara steam ship that they came back to the states on.

    Thomas Mewborn liked to collect postcards and only sent a few of them to Mae Bechtel. There are a total of 66 post cards in the collection. 16 of the postcards are from or relating to Camp Dix and the time that Mewborn spent training. Another 16 postcards are from Mewborn’s time in Semur, France. There are also 30 postcards that he got in other areas of France including some with pictures of Grenoble, Paris, and Rheims, as well as other places in Europe like Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, and Russia. There are also two postcard books in the collection, one from Grenoble, and the other from Uriage-les-Bains, as well as a Paris-Lyon-Palace photo guide book.

    Thomas Mewborn included 34 photos of his time in training and in France. Some of the photos show Mewborn drying his cloths, washing his mess kit, or getting ready for a hike. Other photos show parts of the 78th division including the cavalry and artillery pieces. Most of the photos show soldiers in moments of relaxation.

    There are some items of personal memorabilia of Thomas Mewborn in the collection. There are several service medals and ribbon bars as well as the uniform patches and rank insignia from Mewborn’s uniform in the collection. Some of his personal belongs are included like his dog tags, Swiss pen knife, belt buckle, and thread puller. There are a few uniform buttons and pins along with souvenir pins and welcome home and reunion buttons. The collection also has Mewborn’s the Daughters of the Confederacy Cross of Service Medal.

    In the oversized folders for this this collection there is a Trench and Camp map from Feb 25, 1918 as well as a panoramic photo of Ambulance Company 310 at Camp Dix, New Jersey in 1917 and an ambulance company reunion portrait from the 1930’s.

  • Biographical / Historical Note

    Thomas Morrill Mewborn was born on September 14, 1895, in Farmville, North Carolina. Mewborn entered into military service on May 31, 1917, at Raleigh, North Carolina, and was sent to Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He was then transferred to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, where he became part of the 78th Division 310th Ambulance Company. From there he was transferred again to Camp Dix, New Jersey, with his division. With the 78th Division he sailed for France on June 12, 1918, and was also promoted to corporal in June of 1918. Mewborn returned to the U.S. on May 29, 1919, and left the military on June 15, 1919. Shortly after leaving the military he married Mae Bechtel of Bordentown, New Jersey. After his war service, Mewborn worked in insurance and opened his own agency in October, 1925, in New Jersey. Mewborn died suddenly at his home on March 26, 1937, at the age of forty-one, and is buried in Bordentown, New Jersey.

    Ambulance Company 310 was created on July 1, 1917, and spent most of the next year training. When the company was sent to France, they embarked on the Cunard Liner Mauretania. Their troop ship landed in Liverpool on June 11, 1918. The company made its way to Southampton and left on Caesarea on the 12th arriving in Le Havre, France the same day. They trained for a few days before moving to Vitrey where they continued to do drills and medical instruction during the day and collect the wounded at night. By the 25th of August the company had moved to Pagny-sur-Meuse where preparations were being made for the St. Mihiel offensive. At Villers-Daucourt, the company helped evacuate 6,000 wounded men. Near the beginning of October the company was ordered to rejoin the 78th Division in Rarecourt as they moved on to Montblainville, and then to Apremont and Lancon. After October 17th, the men from the company were sent in every direction to help where they were needed and little was done as a full company. By November 18th after the armistice, the company had been moved to Semur, France, where many men took the opportunity to use leave to travel around France. The 78th Division was demobilized at the end of the war in June of 1919.


  • Administrative Information
    Accessions Information

    March 21, 2000, 1 container, 0.25 cubic feet; Papers (1918-1927) of a World War I veteran who served in the 310th Ambulance Train, 78th Division, including correspondence, booklets, leaflets, a historical report, clippings, roster, songbooks, and miscellany. Donors: Misses Constance Mewborn and Margaret Mewborn.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Constance Mewborn
    Gift of Margaret Mewborn

    Access Restrictions

    No restrictions

    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    Thomas Morrill Mewborn Papers (#791), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

    Processing Information

    Processing completed October 2, 2018, by Timothy A. Smith

    Encoded by Apex Data Services

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