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WWI casualty Bolding wrote of mud, shells and willpower
World War I Cpl. Paul E. Bolding’s photograph hangs inside the American Legion hall named in his honor on Riverside Drive. At the time, it was believed Bolding was Hall County’s first fallen serviceman in the war.

A century will have passed Monday since the beginning of World War I, which started July 28, 1914, when Austria declared war on Serbia. The United States didn’t enter until three years later, declaring war on Germany.

Many Hall County men joined the fight in Europe. Among them was Paul Elbert Bolding, who had attended Sardis School and was the son of a prominent judge, W.E. and Lucinda Bolding. The judge’s ancestors built Bolding Bridge and Mill.

Paul Bolding, born Sept. 6, 1892, joined the U.S. Marines May 5, 1917, trained at Paris Island, S.C., and three months later was on a ship with the 75th Company, 6th Regiment to France. The following spring he fought in the Toulon Sector, Aisne, Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel offensive in early fall and Meuse-Argonne in late September and early October.

Wounded in action Oct. 3, 1918, Bolding died that date and was buried in Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at Belleau Wood, France.

He was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal with various battle clasps and stars.

The Boldings in August of that year received a message that their son had been wounded July 10, but they later got a letter from Paul that he had not been wounded. However, he did suffer wounds on July 19, but returned to battle.

He was the second Hall County resident to die in World War I. The first was Pvt. James T. Bales, who died Sept. 26, 1918.

In a letter May 8, 1918, Paul Bolding wrote this:

“Dear Mother,
“I know it seems like a long time to you all between letters, but if you could see the conditions I have to write under, I don’t think you would blame me.
“I have received three letters in the last few days. One from Wid, (sister) and one from Blanche, and Aunt Blanche R. You tell them I was glad to hear from them, and I will try to write them soon.
“We are allowed to tell that we are in the trenches. I have been in for some time; now I can’t describe the feeling of being under the enemy’s fire for the first time. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. We have a lot of mud to contend with; it rains most every day. We have to sleep in dug-outs, and some of them have from four to ten inches of water in them.
“The most we have to do is to keep clean and dodge bullets, and shells at times. It seems as every nerve in our body will break. It takes a lot of will power to hold myself together.
“Mother, I wish I could remember all the funny things that happened among the boys here. If I ever get home, I will have lots to tell. I feel like I’ll be able to cheer you and Dad up a bit anyway.
“I want you to be happy and don’t lose any time in writing to me.
“Well, I can’t describe the country around here to you, so I won’t have very much to write.
“I bet that you are having plenty of strawberries. I wish I could get hold of a good berry pie.
“You and Dad take care of yourselves and write me as often as you can.
“Paul E. Bolding, 7566 Regiment, U.S.M.C.”

While Bolding’s body rests in a cemetery in France, he is memorialized with a monument in Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville.

When American Legion Post 7 organized in Hall County in August 1919, it was named in honor of Cpl. Paul E. Bolding. Edgar B. Dunlap, who also fought in World War I, was its first commander.

One of the first WWI veterans to return to Hall was T. Arthur Moore, whose No. 258 had been the first drawn when the Selective Service System went into effect.

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Many newspapers still have editorial platforms, stating their positions on various issues of the day or hopes for the future. In the early 1900s, the Gainesville Eagle had a “Flatform.” Editor Durward Craig described it thusly: “The junebug has the golden wing; the lightning bug has its light. The bedbug has no wings nor light but gets there just the same.”

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and at

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