LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Richard Deweese died in 1918 while serving in the U.S. Army during World War I.
Elizabeth Tucker, Deweese’s great-niece said the only possessions the family has of Deweese are a single photograph and a purple heart awarded nearly 100 years after his death.
“They don’t ever really talk about him other than what happened to him, so I don’t really have any family stories,” said Tucker.
When a woman emailed Tucker saying Scout Antique & Modern in Lexington currently had approximately 75 letters and items that belonged to her great-uncle, Tucker didn’t believe it at first. The very next day, Tucker made the drive from South Bend, Indiana to Lexington to see them for herself.
“I was excited. I was shaking. I couldn't believe it. I have nothing that belongs to Richard,” said Tucker.
Scout Antique & Modern owner Jeff Perkins originally made an Instagram post about the WWI memorabilia to advertise its availability in his store. Perkins surprised Tucker when she arrived by telling her he was giving the items to her.
“So often we look at an item, whether it's an antique piece of furniture or a piece of art, and you appreciate it, but you don't really have that emotional connection to it,” said Perkins. “When it gets to an actual family member and this is part of your family's history, it's so meaningful for that family.”
Tucker smiled at every item she turned in her hands. Sometimes seeing a picture would make her jump with excitement.
“I think that’s my Granny!” she said while pointing at a picture of three women.
Among the artifacts are letters between Deweese and Tucker’s grandmother, bags of tobacco, a razor and family portraits.
“I'm anxious to read these letters to find out more about him as a person. I guess I just want him to know he's never been forgotten,” said Tucker.
Eventually, Tucker plans to donate the memorabilia to the Laurel County Historical Society so people can admire them in the county Deweese grew up in.
“All this stuff needs to go somewhere where it’ll be preserved and he’ll be remembered for the sacrifice he made,” said Tucker.