Alvin Cullum York (December 13, 1887 – September 2, 1964) was one of the most decorated American soldiers in World War I. He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others. This action occurred during the U.S.-led portion of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, which was part of a broader Allied offensive masterminded by Marshal Ferdinand Foch to breach the Hindenburg line and ultimately force the opposing German forces to capitulate.
Alvin Cullum York was born in a two-room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee, on December 13, 1887, the third of eleven children born to Mary Elizabeth Brooks (8 August 1866 - 21 May 1943) and William Uriah York (15 May 1863 – 17 November 1911). William Uriah York was born in Jamestown, Tennessee, to Uriah York and Eliza Jane Livingston, both travelers from Buncombe County, North Carolina. Mary Elizabeth York was born in Pall Mall, Tennessee, to William Brooks and Nancy Pile, and was the great-granddaughter of Coonrod Pile, an English settler who settled Pall Mall in Tennessee. William York and Mary Brooks married on December 25, 1881, and had eleven children. The York siblings are, in order: Henry Singleton, Joseph Marion, Alvin Cullum, Samuel John, Albert, Hattie, George Alexander, James Preston, Lillian Mae, Robert Daniel, and Lucy Erma. The York family is of English, Irish, Choctaw, and Cherokee ancestry.
The York family resided in the Indian Creek area of Fentress County. The family was impoverished, with William York working as a blacksmith to supplement the family income. The father and sons of the York family harvested their own food, while the mother knitted all family clothing. The York sons only attended school for only nine months and withdrew from education because William York wanted his sons to help him work the family farm and hunt small game to feed the family.