Reverend L. T. Lawrence served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Osceola during WWII. The Mississippi County Historical & Genealogical Society recently devoted an entire Delta Review publication to Reverend Lawrence. Lib Shippen, Treasurer of the historical society, spent hours and hours of her time on this project. It’s special and perfect for Memorial Day. I think you’ll agree.
As local boys went off to war, Reverend Lawrence began writing a monthly letter to every serviceman, a sort of hometown newsletter which he called Hands and Hearts Across the Seas. The project grew larger as the war continued. The cost to mimeograph and mail these letters grew too. By the end of the war, Reverend Lawrence was mailing out over 750 letters a month, half to servicemen and half to family members who wanted to keep up with news. The people of Mississippi County helped cover the cost with monthly donations.
These letters are now part of Osceola history.
A part of WWII history.
Each letter includes news of the town, a joke or two, a prayer & scripture reading—heartfelt greetings from Osceola.
The boys immediately began writing back to Reverend Lawrence. Lawrence included news he received from soldiers in subsequent letters. These letters changed lives and in many cases saved lives.
Through Reverend Lawrence’s letters and responses, we have first hand accounts of not only what was happening in Northeast Arkansas (and in the U.S.), but also what was happening from our hometown soldiers’ perspectives from foreign soil. Most of these boys had never been out of Mississippi County. Many have names I recognize today. Some didn’t return.
With permission from the historical society and Ms. Shippen, here are a few excerpts.
Letter No. 1, November 1943:
Dear Friend: …We thought that some of you fellows in the armed services would be interested in a mimeographed letter from us every once in a while. So we are trying it out…Nathan Weinberg has lost a couple of letters out of his sign on the store. It now reads ATHAN WINBERG…Osceola has had an experience with gas, but it is due to the fact that they are canning turnip greens at the canning factory and the odor is strong all over this section… Seriously Speaking—A Bible verse for all of us to ponder in our hearts-“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38,39. Will you take your New Testament now and read the entire 8th chapter of Romans? As you read it, remember that a lot of others are reading it—I believe all who receive this letter will do it. If you do not have a New Testament, write to me and I’ll try to get one to you…Continue Reading