Canton’s Museum Photos Depict WWI Homecoming


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These photos from the Canton Area Historical Museum show scenes from Haywood after the end of WWI. They depict a celebration held May 3, 1919, honoring those returning from Europe after fighting in “The War to End All Wars.” The men were part of the Ambulance Company that was originally formed in Canton during 1914. The company in 1917 became part of the Sanitary Train under the authority of the federal government.

Note the arrangement of the tables designed by the Ladies’ Red Cross. The H is inside the O and it stood for Old Hickory.
According to the May 4, 1919 Sunday edition of the “Asheville Citizen Times,” the program consisted of a parade, a “welcome home address” by Lt. Governor O. Max Gardner, a special dinner and a baseball game. Special certificates were given signed by then Canton mayor.

Carolina Ponton, the museum curator, said two of the photos have rarely been seen. They were possibly taken during the same day but at a different location.
“The first is from an old postcard,” she wrote. “It looks as if the train has just arrived and the local town’s folk are waiting to welcome the soldiers. The second photo was found recently at a yard sale and contributed by Jimmy Clontz. This photo was possibly taken a little later at the same event as well as from a slightly different angle. The crowd is comprised of recently disembarked soldiers, locals carrying umbrellas as well as someone making a speech on an impromptu platform.”
It has been suggested the photos could possibly be of the soldiers embarking to leave Canton on their way to Camp Sevier in South Carolina on July 25, 1917. If anyone has any information concerning these two photos, contact the Canton Area Historical Museum at 646-3412.


Photo and Article Credit to Vicky Hyatt@ The Mountaineer

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