About Alvin C. York
Born into a family with eleven brothers and sisters meant that each of the kids had to help make ends meet by any means possible. This was usually done by form of hunting, fishing, hired manual labor, and after the passing of his father it meant assisting with the care of younger siblings. As Alvin grew in age he found work in construction and logging. He often was cited for stammering along drunk and picking fights with the locals. At the age of 17, York vowed to change his ways and devoted time to the Church of Christ
York was drafted for World War I and was shipped off to France after completing training in Georgia. He enlisted into the 82nd division as an infantry private and was sent to France in 1918. In October of 1918, York and his soldiers captured over 130 prisoners after firing through small arms fire and encouraging opposing German forces to surrender. He had engaged with over 10 combatants at his machine gun position not
including the fatal blows to six German soldiers with small arms during this event. These actions by Alvin C. York were praised by several foreign countries and he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
After serving in the war, Alvin came home and formed a foundation to support education in rural Tennessee. This project came to be the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute. He also became the project superintendent for the construction of the Byrd Lake Reservoir. In 1941, a box office movie directed by Howard Hawks and starring Gary Cooper was released to showcase York’s incredible war efforts.
Alvin York Gristmill
Powered by the Wolf River, the Grist Mill was used to grind grains into flour. The two story building was designed to allow the river flow beneath it to turn the turbine which powered the mill. The tour around the building showcases the inner mechanisms and process used to produce meal flour. After the state purchased the mill in 1967, refurbishments were made such as a new roof and paint. The mill is no longer in operation and serves as a place in history.
Activities at the Park
After finishing the guided tour of the Grist Mill, Alvin’s Home, and the Burial site, you and your family can enjoy a few other activities that are offered. On site, there is a World War I reproduction trench behind the York home that places perspective on what it was like fighting in the trenches. Also on property is the Visitor’s Center which houses vintage store displays and interpretations on the life of Sergeant York. Also in the center is a novelty gift shop.
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Alvin C. York Biography
The story of Alvin C. York isn’t well known nor is it publicized. One veteran and author named Douglas V. Mastriano dedicated years of research to uncovering the actions of York in World War I. In Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne, Mastriano dives in detail on the life of York including the early years, the formative day of October 8th, and his actions after returning from war.