“Write Real Soon” : Samuel Riggins WWI Letter Collection
This collection of 101 letters written by Sam Riggins, a young man from Liberty, South Carolina to his future wife, Arabella Smith, is a wonderful example of blossoming love during war.[i] Both grew up in the small town of Liberty, South Carolina before its Textile Era (1900-1980). Sam’s christened name was Samuel Leonard Riggins, born October 4, 1875, and his death was recorded on April 13, 1974. Arabella “Arrie” Smith was born in 1897 and she passed away in 1948. Sam then married Catherine Janice Ponder in 1949 who was a schoolteacher.[ii]
AMAZON BOOK LINK: “Write Real Soon”
Liberty, South Carolina, the town Sam and Arabella lived in was incorporated March 2, 1876, and members of the town changed the name from Liberty Springs to Liberty. The town was included in the Pendleton District, which in our contemporary era consist of the counties of Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens. During the Antebellum Period (pre-Civil War), most of the members of the community were subsistence farmers and did not own slaves. After the Civil War, Union soldiers remained in the area until 1868 and Reconstruction divided the Pendleton District into Pickens and Oconee Counties.[iii] The Charlotte-Atlanta Airline Railway made Liberty a stopping point on its route. Liberty did not receive its post office until 1873 and after 1901 became a booming textile community with the first cotton mill in the area.
Sam was stationed in the Military Branch around Chattanooga, Tennessee and trained in Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, South Carolina, before making his way towards deployment to France as a Sergeant. He remained in Company “C” of the 16th Machine Gun Battalion and was a part of the 6th Infantry which earned the nickname “The Sightseeing 6th Infantry Division.”
[i] This collection of letters is the personal collection of Dr. Ruth Looper of Hiawassee, Georgia, Professor of Literature at Young Harris College. Sam Riggins and Arabella Smith were her grandparents and she was most generous in allowing Rainbow Crow Publishing to edit the collection for our First World War Letter Collection Series.
[ii] Ancestry.com, “Samuel Leonard Riggins,” ancestry.com/genealogy/records/Samuel-leonard-riggins-24-2xgmt9, accessed July 16, 2021.
[iii] libertysc.com, “City of Liberty: Start Here, Travel Here,” libertysc.com/history, accessed July 19, 2021.