Two hundred forty-six manuscripts , 1870-1950 and undated, and manuscript volume, 1943-1950, of the Reynolds family of Darlington County, S.C., consists of personal and business records as well as family correspondence dating from 27 December 1870 to 12 June 1944. In addition to receipts, including those for tobacco and cotton sales, there are business records, land and legal papers, bills of sale, bonds, crop liens, promissory notes, and mortgages.
Correspondence from this earlier time period communicates family news and information about the towns of Hartsville and Lamar. Three letters, 26 May-14 July 1918, from Sgt. Darrell Levi Reynolds, a member of the American Expeditionary Force, were written to his father, Ervin Jackson Reynolds, while he was “Somewhere in France” during the First World War. They convey information about the weather, the French countryside, church services, the availability of food, agricultural practices, newsworthy events back home in Lamar, and contacts with European soldiers. “The French and British treat the American soldiers fine,” Reynolds reported, and “they say we are the finest soldiers in the world so you know we are proud.”
The collection also contains a lengthy series of letters, 6 January 1946-3 November 1948, written by American GI Fred Yarborough to June Reynolds, daughter of James Herbert and Amy Connor Reynolds. During this time Yarborough completed basic training at the United States Naval Training Center in Norfolk, Va., then transferred to the Navy Receiving Station in Washington, D.C., and finally was stationed at the Receiving Station in Boston, Mass. In addition to the many letters from Yarborough, there are three from Albert Bundy, an American sailor stationed aboard the U.S.S Toledo. The letters from Yarborough and Bundy were sent to June Reynolds at her home in Timmonsville and at Coker College in Hartsville where she enrolled as a student in September 1946.
Yarborough’s letters discuss his tour of duty and a variety of other topics—weather, base conditions, work hours, inspections, sporting events he attended, Coker College news, dances June attended, news of his own family and the Reynolds, and recreational activities such as movies and shows in Boston. While the letters professed his love for June, they reluctantly acknowledged that she didn’t “care anything about me.” In describing the people of Boston, Yarborough noted—“these Yankees aren’t near as bad as I thought they would be.” And, after hearing Lena Horne and the Bobby Sherwood Orchestra at the Boston Garden, he quipped—“She’s pretty good for a negro! Doesn’t look much like one tho!”
The three letters of Albert Bundy contain information regarding his tour of duty in the Pacific, the black markets of Asia, Asian goods and prices, liberty leaves, the Asian ports he visited during his tour, and the conditions and people of Asia. The most interesting commentary written by Bundy regards his views of the people, particularly the women, of Asia. Commenting about his liberty in the port of Manilla, Bundy wrote—“the girls were pretty nice, but a little on the dark side, you know all these Phillipinos, Indians, and Japs look like a bunch of gooks to me.”
Printed materials filed with the papers include items from the World War I period—YMCA published manuals, France Our Ally, The Service Song Book, and The Soldiers Spirit, and a series of field service postcards sent by D.L. Reynolds to his mother, father, and sister in Lamar. A bound ledger, 1943-1950, contains a variety of information including bank accounts, accounts payable and receivable, cotton and tobacco yields and prices, and amounts of fertilizer used.