A small Bible given to a U.S. soldier by his girlfriend during World War II is being returned to the soldier’s son.
Peggy Burns was excited to learn that not one, but two people with connections to the woman and the soldier have come forward after she offered to return the item that once belonged to her mother-in-law.
Burns, who lives in a suburb of Sacramento, Calif., told the TimesDaily she had a Bible that was given to Pvt. Ulysses Saint by Mary Ellen Sanford. The small Bible contained a personal message from Sanford to Saint, the date, March 23, 1944, and a Sheffield address.
Burns and her husband ended up with the Bible and other items after her mother-in-law died about 16 or 17 years ago, she said.
After a story appeared in the TimesDaily on Tuesday, several people contacted the newspaper with information about Saint and Sanford.
Larry Saint, of Russellville, was one of them. Wayne Utley, of Leighton, was another.
“My dad’s name was Ulysses Saint,” Saint said. “He was in World War II in 1944.”
Saint said his father was stationed in New Jersey in 1944, which was five years before Larry Saint was born.
“My sister and mom went to New Jersey and lived there,” he said, adding his father had driven a work bus that carried Reynolds Metals workers in the Leighton and Nitrate City areas to the plant.
Saint spoke to Burns on Tuesday and said she was going to mail the Bible to him later in the day.
Sara A. Smith lives in Nitrate City and said she knew Mary Ellen Sanford.
Smith said Sanford had a boyfriend who drove a Reynolds work bus. She said the area around the plant, which is now Wise Alloys, used to be a Sheffield route.
“She lived with her mother in Nitrate City,” Smith said. “She had this boyfriend, but I don’t think she married him.”
Utley said his mother is Mary Ellen Sanford, who passed away a couple of years ago.
“It’s interesting,” Utley said. “I’ve got a half sister that’s going to be interested in it also.”
Utley said he also was planning to contact Burns.
“I just want to touch base with her,” he said.
Utley said he would not have a problem with Saint keeping the Bible because it was originally given to his father.
Burns said she’s glad she will be able to return the Bible to one of Saint’s family members.
“That’s the whole purpose for me to search,” she said. “I will be very happy to mail it to him.”
The one piece of the puzzle that’s still missing is how the Bible ended up with Burns’ mother-in-law.
Burns said her mother-in-law, Pauline Carpenter Burns, never lived in Alabama. Saint said Pauline Burns was raised in Hobart, Okla.
“I don’t have any relatives old enough to know,” Saint said. “I don’t have anybody to ask.”
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.