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Trash to treasure

Soldier’s century-old letter returned to family

Larry Wetherington, a Crawfordville, FL, resident
Larry Wetherington, a Crawfordville, FL, resident, reads a 100-year-old letter that his grandfather wrote during World War I. Image: WCTV

A letter written in 1918 by a World War I soldier has been returned to his family, thanks to a history lover and his son.

After being injured while escaping a sinking naval ship, Charles Wetherington ended up in a Northern Ireland hospital, where he mailed the letter to his father in Lenox, GA.

Decades later, in the 1980s, Julian Vickers, a Lenox resident and landfill worker, discovered the letter in the trash.

He held onto his find for years before recently giving the 100-year-old note to his son, Daryl Vickers, a Glenville, GA, resident and genealogy enthusiast, who was researching the Vickers family tree.

“He wanted me to see if I could also trace the soldier’s family,” Daryl said.

Daryl researched the Wetherington family tree, found Charles’s grandson, Larry Wetherington, on Facebook, and asked him if he wanted the letter.

“We were excited that someone found it and set it aside,” said Larry, a Crawfordville, FL, resident. “My wife and I opened the letter carefully because the letter and envelope were 100 years old and fragile.”

Charles died in 1963, and his grandson calls his wartime writings “a family treasure.”

Daryl said mailing the letter gave him “a real good feeling. … I think a lot of people would like to get something that one of their grandparents wrote.”

The letter’s return was recently the subject of a news report on WCTV, a local CBS station in Florida. The story is helping to bring attention to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, which will be the subject of a new stamp from USPS next month.

Larry marvels at how far the letter was able to travel all those years ago. “It’s amazing that in 1918, we had a postal service that was capable of getting a letter from Belfast to Georgia,” he said.

Larry and Daryl have become friends, but Daryl is curious if Larry is also family.

“My mother’s grandmother is a Wetherington, and all the Wetheringtons from my mom’s side are from the same area as Larry’s family,” he said. “I’m trying to see if we’re related and how.”

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