Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont Public Library System

Finding Aid for the Eleanor Woods Lavelle Papers, 1916-1982



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Lavelle, Eleanor Woods, 1923-2008
Title: Eleanor Woods Lavelle Papers
Dates: 1916-1982
Abstract: Eleanor Woods Lavelle was the daughter of Tom and Lottye Woods. Tom fought in World War 1, and Eleanor collected and transcribed the approximately 76 letters he sent to Lottye during the war. The collection also contains family photograph albums and memorial books.
Identification: AC-573
Extent: 2 cubic feet in 5 boxes
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont Public Libraries,  695 Pearl St,  Beaumont, TX 77701

Biographical Note

Thomas Jefferson Woods was born in Hico, Texas, on June 1, 1891, to Andrew Johnson Woods and Susan Ella [Anderson] Woods. His father had moved to Texas from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, sometime between 1877 and 1889. Andrew and Susan were married on March 15, 1889, and their first child, a daughter, was born on December 30, 1889.

When the United States entered World War 1, Tom Woods was employed in the automobile business at Central Motor Company in Waco, Texas. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at Hamilton, Texas, on September 19, 1917, after the United States had entered World War I. He joined the 5th Division as a member of Ambulance Company #30, in the 5th Sanitary Train. His company reached France sometime in June 1918, and saw action at Alsace, Lorraine, Saint Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne. Tom wrote that on Armistice Day, he was at the French town of Sedan. He remained in Europe for approximately the next nine months as part of the Army of Occupation. The 5th Division was based in Belgium and Luxembourg, and Tom appeared to be stationed most frequently in Aspelt, Luxembourg. In mid-July 1919, Tom landed again in the United States. He was officially discharged on August 9, 1919.

While in the Army, Tom wrote frequently to his sweetheart, Lottye Marie Fewell. Lottye was born in Iredell, Texas, on June 26, 1898. She had an older sister, Grace, a younger brother, Willard, and a younger sister, Lucille. Tom met Grace first, but later met Lottye, and the two began courting. After his return from Europe, Tom and Lottye were married on October 26, 1919.

By 1930, Tom and Lottye had moved to Port Arthur, Texas. He continued to work in the automotive industry. Their only child, Eleanor, was born on August 20, 1923, in Waco, Texas.

Tom died on November 26, 1958, and was buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in Port Arthur. Lottye died on March 4, 1982, and is also buried at Greenlawn Cemetery

Eleanor married Lewis Elmer Henderson, and their son, Ryan Woods Henderson, was born on October 29, 1943. Tragically, Ryan died at age 6, on March 22, 1950. Eleanor and Lewis later separated. Eleanor went on to marry Johnnie Lavelle. She became a Certified Professional Secretary in 1954, and worked for many years as a legal secretary, and as a Senate Secretary for Texas Senator Carl Parker. She died on October 7, 2008.


Scope and Content Note

This collection contains a set of letters written from Tom Woods to Lottye Fewell while he was in the Army during World War 1, and several photograph albums from the Woods' family life.

The letters number approximately 76, and were written from March 21, 1918, to October 24, 1919. Tom was initially stationed at the Travis training camp in Houston, Texas. He wrote of army discipline, his boredom at camp, his desire to go home and see his loved ones again, and his competing desire to see the war in France. In May, his company was transferred to Camp Upton on Long Island, New York, in preparation for being shipped to France. The company remained there until early June.

Tom wrote one letter from on board ship to France. The date on this letter was censored, but he wrote his first letter from France on June 17. For a time, his unit was away from the front lines, but his letters indicate that by late July, he had seen action. His letter from August 2 notes that "One gets so use to the noise and fuss that he hardly notices it. When the firing is extra heavy you keep on the look out then," while a letter from August 10 mentions that one of the men in his unit had gone to the hospital to be treated for shell shock.

On September 2, Tom wrote, "I see and hear more of the war every day and can say it is much more pleasant to have these shells break some distance away than for them to be only a few yards. I had heard how big trees were cut down but did not believe it until I saw it done. It is very true and not hard to explain. When one of the big ones come by you can almost see them they make so much noise. When they break near a man all you can find is a foot or an arm and you bury that like it was all of him."

During this time, the 5th Division fought in battles at Alsace, Lorraine, Saint Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne. Tom wrote on November 18 that he was at the French town of Sedan on Armistice Day (November 11). This letter also contains his most detailed descriptions of his actions during the war.

After the war, Tom's division remained in Europe until July 1919. He stayed primarily at Aspelt, Luxembourg, but also did some traveling to Belgium and Germany. During these months, he wrote often of his overwhelming desire to be home, and of his experiences meeting Europeans.

The final letters in this set were written by Tom upon his return to the United States. He was honorably discharged from the Army in August, and returned to Waco, Texas. He continued writing frequent letters to Lottye until their marriage on October 26, 1919.

Intermixed with Tom's letters to Lottye are four letters written to her from other people, and one letter that she wrote to Tom in September 1917.

The collection also contains two photograph albums. The first photo album is a baby book for Ryan Woods Henderson. It includes handwritten details of his growth and development, and photographs of his very early childhood. The second album is also a family album of the Hendersons. Most photographs depict Ryan, but other family members are also included.

Two memorial books are included in the collection. The first is a memorial book for Tom Woods, who passed away in 1958. The second is a memorial book for Lottye Woods, who passed away in 1982.

Finally, the collection holds a framed diploma from The Institute for Certifying Secretaries, granting Eleanor Lavelle the degree of Certified Professional Secretary. This degree was awarded in 1954.


 

Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into 4 boxes. The letters are arranged chronologically.

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

The original letters are in fragile condition and must be handled with care. Except for exceptional circumstances, researchers will be asked to use the transcribed letters instead of the originals. Images of the original letters may be viewed online.

Copyright

The Tyrrell Historical Library holds copyright. The researcher must secure permission to publish. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Tyrrell Historical Library. The researcher assumes full responsibility for complying with copyright, literary property rights, and libel laws.


Index Terms

Personal Names
Lavelle, Eleanor, 1923-2008
Woods, Thomas, 1891-1958
Woods, Lottye Fewell, 1898-1982
Organizations
United States--Army--American Expeditionary Forces
Subjects
World War, 1914-1918
Locations
Aspelt, Lux.
Houston, Tex.
Koblenz, Ger.
Mondorf-les-Bains, Lux.
Genres/Formats
Diplomas
Personal correspondence
Photograph albums
Picture postcards
Visitors' books

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Item], [Folder], [Box], Eleanor Woods Lavelle Papers, 1916-1982, AC-573, Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Michael Getz, 2012.

Processing Information

Processed by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2013 February.

Finding aid revised and encoded by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2013 February..


Detailed Description of the Collection

 
Box Folder
1 1 Nickel with handwritten note, 1916 August 18



 
Box Folder
1 2 Lottye Fewell, Iredell, Texas, to Tom Woods, 1917 September 27



 
Box Folder
1 3 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 March 20



 
Box Folder
1 4 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 March 21



 
Box Folder
1 5 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 March 23



 
Box Folder
1 6 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 March 24



 
Box Folder
1 7 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 March 26



 
Box Folder
1 8 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 March 28



 
Box Folder
1 9 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 1



 
Box Folder
1 10 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 4



 
Box Folder
1 11 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 5



 
Box Folder
1 12 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 6



 
Box Folder
1 13 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 7



 
Box Folder
1 14 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 8



 
Box Folder
1 15 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 8



 
Box Folder
1 16 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 9



 
Box Folder
1 17 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 11



 
Box Folder
1 18 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 12



 
Box Folder
1 19 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April [14?]



 
Box Folder
1 20 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 16



 
Box Folder
1 21 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 19



 
Box Folder
1 22 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 21



 
Box Folder
1 23 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 22



 
Box Folder
1 24 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 23



 
Box Folder
1 25 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 25



 
Box Folder
1 26 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 27



 
Box Folder
1 27 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 28



 
Box Folder
1 28 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 April 30



 
Box Folder
1 29 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 1



 
Box Folder
1 30 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 2



 
Box Folder
1 31 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 4



 
Box Folder
1 32 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 5



 
Box Folder
1 33 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 7



 
Box Folder
1 34 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 9



 
Box Folder
1 35 Telegram from Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 10



 
Box Folder
1 36 Tom Woods, Houston, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 10



 
Box Folder
1 37 Postcard from Tom Woods, in transit to New York, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May [?]



 
Box Folder
1 38 Tom Woods, New York, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 17



 
Box Folder
1 39 Tom Woods, Camp Upton, Yaphank, Long Island, New York, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 20



 
Box Folder
1 40 Tom Woods, Camp Upton, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 22



 
Box Folder
2 1 Tom Woods, Camp Upton, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 25



 
Box Folder
2 2 Tom Woods, Camp Upton, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 30



 
Box Folder
2 3 Tom Woods, Camp Upton, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 May 31



 
Box Folder
2 4 Postcard from Tom Woods, Camp Upton, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 June 3



 
Box Folder
2 5 Tom Woods, on board ship in Atlantic Ocean, to Lottye Fewell, date censored



 
Box Folder
2 6 Postcard from Tom Woods, France, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 June [?]



 
Box Folder
2 7 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, postmarked 1918 June 17



 
Box Folder
2 8 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, postmarked 1918 July 3



 
Box Folder
2 9 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 July 4



 
Box Folder
2 10 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, postmarked 1918 July 6



 
Box Folder
2 11 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 July 11



 
Box Folder
2 12 Susan Ella Anderson Woods, Hico, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 July 15



 
Box Folder
2 13 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 August 2



 
Box Folder
2 14 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 August 10



 
Box Folder
2 15 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 September 2



 
Box Folder
2 16 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 September 20



 
Box Folder
2 17 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 September 26



 
Box Folder
2 18 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 October 8



 
Box Folder
2 19 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 October 10



 
Box Folder
2 20 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 November 13



 
Box Folder
2 21 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 November 18



 
Box Folder
2 22 Tom Woods, Europe, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 November 28



 
Box Folder
2 23 Tom Woods, France, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 December 6



 
Box Folder
2 24 Tom Woods, at border of France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 December 10



 
Box Folder
2 25 Tom Woods, Longwy, France, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 December 20



 
Box Folder
2 26 Iuata/Quota[?] Woods, Tom's sister, Hico, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1918 December 21



 
Box Folder
2 27 Postcard from Mrs. N. Boardman to Lottye Fewell, 1918 December 23



 
Box Folder
2 28 Tom Woods, Le Mont-Dore, France, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 January 2



 
Box Folder
2 29 Tom Woods, Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 January 10



 
Box Folder
2 30 Tom Woods, probably Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 January 19



 
Box Folder
2 31 Tom Woods, probably Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 January 21



 
Box Folder
2 32 Tom Woods, probably Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 February 2



 
Box Folder
2 33 Tom Woods, probably Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 February 25



 
Box Folder
2 34 Tom Woods, probably Mondorf-les-Bains, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 March 17



 
Box Folder
2 35 Tom Woods, Aspelt, Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 April 4



 
Box Folder
2 36 Tom Woods, Aspelt, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 April 10



 
Box Folder
2 37 Tom Woods, Koblenz, Germany, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 April 21



 
Box Folder
2 38 Tom Woods, Koblenz, Germany, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 May 8



 
Box Folder
2 39 Tom Woods, Aspelt, Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 May 11



 
Box Folder
2 40 Tom Woods, Aspelt, Luxembourg, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 May 18



 
Box Folder
2 41 Postcard from Tom Woods, probably Aspelt, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 May 28



 
Box Folder
2 42 Tom Woods, probably Aspelt, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 June 15



 
Box Folder
2 43 Tom Woods, probably Aspelt, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 June 22



 
Box Folder
2 44 Three letters: Lola [?] to Lottye Fewell; Joyce Mc[?] to Lottye Fewell; Cora Freeman to Lottye Fewell, 1919 July 13



 
Box Folder
2 45 Postcard from Tom Woods to Lottye Fewell, upon his arrival in the U.S., 1919 July 21



 
Box Folder
2 46 Tom Woods, Camp Merritt, Cresskill, New Jersey, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 July 24



 
Box Folder
2 47 Tom Woods, Camp Merritt, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 August 2



 
Box Folder
2 48 Postcard from Tom Woods to Lottye Fewell, in transit to Texas, 1919 August 5



 
Box Folder
2 49 Telegram: Tom Woods, Camp Travis, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 August 10



 
Box Folder
2 50 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 August 13



 
Box Folder
2 51 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 August 17



 
Box Folder
2 52 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 August 18



 
Box Folder
2 53 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 August 27



 
Box Folder
2 54 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 1



 
Box Folder
2 55 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 4



 
Box Folder
2 56 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 5



 
Box Folder
2 57 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September [?]



 
Box Folder
2 58 Lottye Fewell to Tom Woods, 1919 September 9



 
Box Folder
2 59 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 9



 
Box Folder
2 60 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 12



 
Box Folder
2 61 Joyce [?] to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 13



 
Box Folder
2 62 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 16



 
Box Folder
2 63 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 18



 
Box Folder
2 64 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 24



 
Box Folder
2 65 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 25



 
Box Folder
2 66 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 28



 
Box Folder
2 67 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 29



 
Box Folder
2 68 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 September 30



 
Box Folder
2 69 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 1



 
Box Folder
2 70 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 2



 
Box Folder
2 71 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 3



 
Box Folder
2 72 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 4



 
Box Folder
2 73 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 5



 
Box Folder
2 74 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October [?]



 
Box Folder
2 75 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 7



 
Box Folder
2 76 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 8



 
Box Folder
2 77 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 9



 
Box Folder
2 78 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 13



 
Box Folder
2 79 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 13



 
Box Folder
2 80 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 14



 
Box Folder
2 81 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 15



 
Box Folder
2 82 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 15



 
Box Folder
2 83 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 17



 
Box Folder
2 84 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 18



 
Box Folder
2 85 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 19



 
Box Folder
2 86 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 20



 
Box Folder
2 87 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 22



 
Box Folder
2 88 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 23



 
Box Folder
2 89 Tom Woods, Waco, Texas, to Lottye Fewell, 1919 October 24



 
Box Folder
2 90 Souvenir de France postcard from Tom Woods to Lottye Fewell, undated



 
Box
3 Dearest Lottye: Letters from a World War I Doughboy to his Texas Sweetheart. Three typewritten, transcribed copies of letters sent from Tom Woods to Lottye Fewell, 1918 March 20 to 1919 August 2



 
Box
3 Baby book for Ryan Woods Henderson, 1943-1950



 
Box
3 Henderson family photo album, 1943-1950s



 
Box
3 Memorial book for Tom Woods, 1958



 
Box
3 Memorial book for Lottye Woods, 1982



 
Box
3 Framed diploma, issued to Eleanor Lavelle by The Institute for Certifying Secretaries, granting her the degree of Certified Professional Secretary, 1954