Mobley Family Papers

1904-1953 [bulk 1917-1919 and 1943-1945]. 1 box (20 folders), 109 items. MSS. COLL. #96

NOTE:  The numbers cited in parentheses, e.g. 1:5, refer the researcher to the Series#:Folder# in which that name/topic will be found.


This collection consists primarily of correspondence, printed materials, military records, postcards, and maps relating to James Mobley’s service in World War I and Howard Mobley’s service in World War II. James Mobley was captain of Company G in the 3rd Infantry of the North Carolina National Guard, while his son Howard was a sergeant in the 4th Platoon of the 760th Engineer Supply Parts Company. Both were lifelong residents of Reidsville, North Carolina. Most items belonged to James and relate to his service in France, but a highlight of the collection is the transcript of an interview with Howard conducted by WBIG Radio. Researchers interested in local veterans of World War I or World War II may find this collection useful.

Arrangement: This collection is organized in two series and arranged within series by document type. The series are: Mobley, Howard, 1943-1945; and Mobley, James, 1904-1953.

Provenance: This collection was donated by Howard Mobley’s daughter, Mariann Mitchell, in July 1990 and assigned the accession number 1990.69.3.

Processing: This collection was organized and the finding aid was prepared by intern Justin Evangelisto in August 2022.


James H. Mobley (1883-1955), known as “Captain Jim,” was born in Rockingham County to Sue Ratliffe and John W. Mobley. In October 1902, he enlisted in Company G of the 3rd Infantry of the North Carolina National Guard. He married Edna Venable in 1907, and the couple remained lifelong residents of Reidsville, North Carolina. He received promotions to 2nd lieutenant in 1907, 1st lieutenant in 1912, and captain on July 20, 1917, taking command of Company G. His unit was stationed on the Mexican border from October 1, 1916, to March 27, 1917, and then it was enlisted in federal service and became the 120th Infantry. James Mobley fought overseas with the regiment in the Battle of the Somme and the Ypres-Lys Offensive. After being discharged on January 10, 1919, he served another year from April 1921 to July 1922 as a captain in the regiment, which by then had been returned to the North Carolina National Guard. In his civilian life, he worked as an oil distributor and served as the secretary-treasurer of Reidsville Motor Co. He was a member of the Rotary Club, the local lodge of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics, and the board of stewards at Main Street Methodist Church in Reidsville.

Howard Reid Mobley (1908-1984) was James and Edna’s only child. He married Sarah Johnston in Halifax, Virginia, on June 9, 1930, and they lived in Reidsville where he worked as a foreman. The couple had two children, daughter Mariann and son Howard Reid Jr. Enlisting on November 24, 1943, Howard Mobley Sr. joined the 2nd Squad, 4th Platoon of the 760th Engineer Parts Supply Company. This company served in England, France, the Philippines, and Japan, with most of Howard’s service spent in Paris from September 18, 1944, to May 18, 1945. In his civilian life, he was a plant manager for American Brands Inc. and a member of Main Street Methodist Church in Reidsville.

Biographical Sources: The sources used to compile this biographical note include materials in this collection,, and the obituaries of James H. Mobley (Greensboro Daily News, March 10, 1955) and Howard R. Mobley (The Greensboro Record, February 8, 1984). Details on the 120th Infantry’s whereabouts were obtained from Official history of the 120th Infantry “3rd North Carolina” 30th Division, from August 5, 1917, to April 17, 1919: canal sector, Ypres-Lys offensive, Somme offensive, by John Otey Walker (1919).


The types of materials in this collection include correspondence, printed materials, military records, sheet music, photographs, postcards, maps, and service flags. About three quarters of these items relate to James Mobley’s service as lieutenant, then captain, in the 3rd N.C. Infantry. Most items date to his time in France during World War I, although his full length of military service is recorded. The correspondence from his time in France is numerous but brief since it consists of postcards. Also of note are military records and pamphlets. The rest of the materials relate to his son Howard’s service in the 4th Platoon of the 760th Engineer Parts Supply Company during World War II. Of particular note is the transcript of an interview on WBIG Radio in which Howard recounts some of his experiences as an engineer. This collection offers insight into the 3rd N.C. Infantry as well as the 760th Engineer Parts Supply Company through military literature and records collected by the Mobleys.


1. Mobley, Howard.  7 folders (27 items).  1943-1945.

This series consists primarily of military records and pamphlets. The military records include temporary passes, a list of soldiers in the 4th Platoon, and a list detailing Howard’s movements during his service (1:3). The most interesting items are correspondence (1:1) and a transcript of an interview Howard did with WBIG Radio about the role of engineers in the war and supervising the engineering depot (1:7). Several military pamphlets on subjects such as France, first aid, and going back to civilian life are included along with a field manual for engineers (1:4). Also of note are a service flag (1:5) and a few issues of the Army Navy Hit Kit of Popular Songs, sheet music issued to soldiers during World War II (1:6). A few non-military items include an application for a gas ration (1:2) and a playbill for a performance of Volunteers for Victory by his daughter Mariann’s Girl Scout troop (1:4).

2. Mobley, James.  13 folders (82 items).  1904-1953.    

This series contains materials relating to James’ service in World War I, particularly military records, maps, pamphlets, and a large collection of postcards. Noteworthy items include his service card, certificate of service, military identification, a list of soldiers with rank and duty, correspondence detailing his entire military service both before and after World War I, and some special orders. The maps depict the Paris metro, Belgium, and the front line at Ypres (2:3), while the pamphlets focus on infantry tactics or bureaucratic procedures such as how to prepare morning reports and army payrolls (2:10). The correspondence consists primarily of postcards that James sent from Paris to his relatives in the United States. Three photographs include one of a man driving a Gulf Refining Products truck and two of Camp Chickamauga, August 19-26, 1906, one a panorama of the camp and the other showing soldiers in formation (2:6). Other items of interest include French ration stamps (2:5), a Red Cross service flag (2:12), a songbook, a pocket New Testament (2:8), and a sales contract for a truck (2:5).


11Mobley, Howard-- Correspondence (1944)
2-- Gas Ration Application (1944)
3-- Military Records (1943-1945)
4Mobley, Howard-- Printed Materials (1943-1945)
5-- Service Flag (n.d.)
6-- Sheet Music (1943-1945)
7-- WBIG Radio Interview (1945)
21Mobley, James-- Broadsides (1917-1918)
2-- Correspondence (1918)
3-- Maps & Chart (1918)
4Mobley, James-- Military Records (1917-1953)
5-- Miscellaneous (1918-1929)
6-- Photographs (1906-1919)
7Mobley, James-- Poetry (ca. 1918)
8-- Printed Materials -- Books (1904-1918)
9-- Printed Materials -- Infantry Journal (1922)
10Mobley, James-- Printed Materials -- Pamphlets (1915-1918)
11-- Printed Materials -- Programs & Playbills (1918-1919)
12-- Service Flag (1919)
13-- Sheet Music (1918)