Captain Thomas Yopp, Bill Yopp, Ten Cent Bill

By —— Bio and Archives December 13, 2010

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imageWhy do some merchants and media call it just a holiday? People stand in line at malls after Thanksgiving and rush through the doors to buy, buy and buy.

Is this Christmas?

Partly, but the true meaning of the Christmas Season is about the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is also about helping people.

During the year of our Lord 1919, the folks of Atlanta, Georgia, were preparing for Christmas. This holy day was a special time for family, friends and children. People went to church or synagogue and gave thanks to God for their many blessings.

There were, however, some who were not as fortunate!

The aging veterans of the Confederate Soldier’s Home were proud men who had braved many a battle in the 1860s. One of these men was former Captain Thomas Yopp who saw battle in such places as Fredericksburg, Virginia where a cannon ball shell knocked him unconscious.

The man who stayed with him until he recovered was his servant who had also joined the 14th Georgia Regiment. Bill Yopp was more then a servant; he and Thomas Yopp were friends who hunted and fished together.

Bill Yopp, a Black Confederate veteran, was sympathetic to the men of the Atlanta’s soldiers home who had been his compatriots in arms over 50 years earlier.

During the War Between the States, 1861-1865, Bill Yopp was nicknamed “Ten Cent Bill” because of the money he made shining shoes. He did this for the soldiers at a dime a shine and ended up with more money than most of his comrades. The soldiers did not mind him doing this and took care of him when he was sick.

During the Christmas of 1919, Bill wanted to pay back the kindness that was shown him. He first caught a train to Macon, Georgia where he was offered help by a newspaper editor. He then took a train to Savannah where he raised Christmas money for the veterans.

Just weeks before the Christmas of 1919, Bill had raised the money and Georgia’s Governor Hugh Dorsey helped him distribute envelopes of three dollars to each veteran. This was a great deal of money in those days.

The old Confederates were speechless. Tears were shed because of Bill Yopp’s good heart and kind deed. Many of those men had little or nothing. Bill was invited to come into the home’s chapel to say a few words.

Bill Yopp was presented a medal of appreciation for his support of the soldiers and was later voted in as a resident of the Confederate Soldier’s home where he spent his remaining years.

Bill Yopp died on June 3, 1936, the birthday of the Confederacy’s President Jefferson Davis. Bill was buried at the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia.

Christmas is about love, forgiveness, old friends, family and the child who became Savior of the world.

2011 marks the 150th Anniversary of the War Between the States and the Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans is airing a video on TV commemorating this time in American History. See more information.

Please read Charles Pitt’s book “Ten Cent Bill” for more about Bill Yopp.

Merry Christmas!

Calvin E. Johnson Jr. -- Bio and Archives | Comments

A native of Georgia, Calvin Johnson,  Chairman of the National and Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month Program

He is the author of the book “When America Stood for God, Family and Country.”

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