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City to city

Abbeville County Museum contains artifact from Abbeville, France

Jenny Kelly has a story to tell--a story about Abbeville.

And Abbeville.

Kelly, from the Abbeville County Historical Society, has been working diligently to publicize the treasures of the Abbeville County Museum.

Among those treasures is a medallion from Abbeville’s namesake in France.

Kelly provided newspaper clippings from The Press and Banner and from the Anderson Independent--clippings which together tell a story of gratitude from the people of France to the people of America.

According to The Greenville News, the mayor of Abbeville, France, sent in 1945 a medallion bearing a bronze coat of arms to the mayor of Abbeville.

The mayor of Abbeville just happened to be Fred West, the grandfather of the present owners of The Press and Banner--Lamar and John Riley West.

The medallion, accompanied by a letter of greeting from the mayor of Abbeville, France, was brought to America by Captain Ned Mabry, according to the article.

This flag at the Abbeville County Museum was presented to the City of Abbeville by Abbeville, France, following World War II. (Staff photo by Henry E. Green)
This flag at the Abbeville County Museum was presented to the City of Abbeville by Abbeville, France, following World War II. (Staff photo by Henry E. Green)

The letter read, “The Mayor of the city of Abbeville, France, sends his cordial greetings to the population of Abbeville, South Carolina, and expresses the wish to see tightened ties which bind the two sister towns together across the sea.”

Established in 1184, Abbeville, France, is located on the Somme River, and the town was bombed by the Germans during World War II, according to the Greenville News.

Also in 1945, Abbeville, South Carolina, sent out a message to Abbeville, France.

Anderson-based radio station WAIM, in compliance with a request from the Overseas Branch from the Office of War Information, “recorded a talk made in French telling the people of Abbeville, France, about the Abbeville here in South Carolina, named for the French city.”

The talk was made in French by Professor H.A. Spann, “Professor of French at the Boys High School (in Anderson)."

The record was immediately flown to New York, “and from there it will be flown across the Atlantic.”

The script was written by Mayor West, who, the article noted, was also editor of The Press and Banner.

In that script, Mayor West described the sympathy which residents of Abbeville, South Carolina had for their sister city when Abbeville, France, was bombed.

West goes on to describe the history of his town and the role the Huguenots played in the settlement of it.

John de la Howe named Abbeville, South Carolina for his native city in France, West said.

Present-day Abbeville, the mayor continued, was a thriving community.

West concluded the script on an optimistic note:

“But all know that the roots from which came the first Huguenots to settle here are firmly fixed in the soil of France and Abbeville as will all France look to the future with confidence and the knowledge that tyranny and fear will be banished and that freedom and peace will prevail; that France will again be great with a new strength, a new hope and a greater destiny.”

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