Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Southern Story

The Civil War in black and white.

He asked [Newspaper publisher W.T.] Anderson to help start a Christmas fund for the old soldiers. Anderson, said Pittman, "jumped all over it" and had an article written about Yopp's life and what he was trying to do for the soldiers' home.

They hoped to raise $100, Pittman said.

"The readers of The Telegraph just loved it. Schoolchildren were raising money, and churches, and before they knew it, they had $200."

The fund drive became an annual event, with the money presented to the veterans during a holiday program at the home. The Dec. 23, 1918, edition of The Telegraph ran a photo of Bill Yopp "playing Santa" and presenting a cake and other "goodies" to Thomas Yopp - and $175 to the home.

Gov. Hugh Dorsey attended at least one of the programs and "took Bill under his wing," Pittman said.

The governor arranged for him to speak at the state Capitol to a group of influential politicians. Yopp convinced them to reinstate the pension in 1920.

Bill Yopp, the dynamic philanthropist on the newspaper staff, and Thomas Yopp, the impoverished veteran languishing in the institution, weren't brothers. They weren't even related. Bill was a former slave. Thomas, a Confederate captain, was his former owner and master.

Nice to see a modern newspaper tell the story.