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1918 May 06
On May 6, 1918, Benjamin Franklin Clark wrote to his sweetheart Flora Hamilton of Enders, Arkansas. He described his first few months after joining the service during World War I at Camp Pike, near Little Rock, Arkansas. Some of the topics he discusses in the letter include vaccinations, working in the kitchen - "Kitchen Police," the soldiers' schedule at Camp Pike, entertainment, the Y.M.C.A. building, his students in Vilonia, his friends back home, friends from Arkansas State Normal School in Conway (now University of Central Arkansas), the food, swearing, and gambling. He discusses President Wilson's daughter, Margaret, singing at the camp.
Benjamin Franklin Clark was born in Enders, Faulkner County, Arkansas, and taught school in Vilonia, Arkansas, prior to being drafted in 1918. His service during World War I included training at Camp Pike (Pulaski County, Arkansas) and Camp Taylor (Kentucky). Clark was honorably discharged November 28, 1918, and returned to teaching. During the war years, he corresponded regularly with Flora Hamilton of Enders. After the war ended, Clark and Hamilton broke off their courtship, and the letters only give hints of the circumstances surrounding this event.
The Clark-Hamilton Papers contains over 100 courtship letters from Benjamin Franklin Clark to Flora Hamilton between 1914 and 1919. The letters describe Clark's day-to-day activities, which included teaching school in Vilonia, attending classes at Arkansas State Normal School in Conway, and military training during World War I.
Camp Pike, known as Camp Joseph T. Robinson since 1937, is located in present day North Little Rock, Arkansas. Named in honor of Brigadier General Zebulon M. Pike, Camp Pike served as a home and training camp for the 87th Division (National Army) and then as a replacement training facility after the division deployed to France during World War I. Construction totaling about $13,000,000 on the camp began in June 1917 and was substantially complete by November 1917. The post was a demobilization station and home for the U.S. Third Infantry Division as World War I came to an end. Between World War I and World War II, the camp served as the headquarters of the Arkansas National Guard. During World War II, Camp Robinson became a replacement training center, primarily for basic training and medics, and a German prisoner of war facility. As of 2014, Camp Joseph T. Robinson serves as a 33,000-acre training facility for the Army National Guard and is the headquarters for the Arkansas National Guard.
Camp Pike Ark.
May 6, 1918
I got the box of
roses friday, and imagine
if you can how glad I was
to get them. They were the first
I have seen since I have been
in camp. I had just written
a letter to my students at Vilonia
and told them that there was no
one here to give me flowers as
they had done. Have been waiting
for a letter with them but have
not received it yet. I cannot feel
at home here yet but think I can
become accustomed to this kind
of life to some extent at least
I was inoculated the second time
yesterday for typhoid and nearly
all of our company are sick today.
some just fall like they were dead
when they get the shot I have
stood it fine
in full uniform and line up
for "Reveille" (roll call) at 6:18 -
and we have to hustle around for we
have so much lacing to do - We
have breakfast at 6:30, dinner at
12:30 and sup
you, I could tell you some of the
things he said. Saturday night
I heard President Wilson's daughter,
Miss Margaret sing. It was pretty
good but I have heard lots better.
my time to work in the Kitchen
this sunday. We have to work
there about every ten days.
I'm glad Benton Township is doing
so well now buying liberty bonds
and thrift stamps.
am trying to think who you are.
I know your face." He said
"you ought to, I went to school
to your". Then I recognized Jesse
Sublet from Barney.
I have found lots of boys fro
together before. But I do not
consider that any temptation to
me for I have no thoughts
whatever of partaking in such.
I must close and got to work -
There are hardly enoCO. E. 345th Inf.
Camp Pike Ark.
LITTLE ROCK, ARK, [postmark]
MAY 6 [postmark]
6 PM [postmark]
PIKE BRANCH [postmark]
U.S. POSTAGE [stamp]
3 CENTS 3 [stamp]
Miss Flora Hamilton
Letter (7 pages) and 1 envelope
Military camps; Military training; War; World War I, 1914-1918; Draft; Soldiers; Military cookery; Entertainment; Presidents
Clark, Benjamin Franklin; Hamilton, Flora
Camp Pike, Pulaski County (Ark.)
MS.000581, Item 70
Clark-Hamilton papers, MS.000581
Arkansas State Archives
Arkansas State Archives
Letter from Benjamin Franklin Clark to Flora Hamilton, 1918 May 6, Clark-Hamilton papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
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Military History | United States History
Clark-Hamilton Papers finding aid: http://www.ark-ives.com/documenting/manuscripts/fulldetail.aspx?id=215