WINCHESTER — When Thomas Adams sent his 1-year-old niece a postcard wishing her a merry Christmas before leaving to serve in World War I , he probably didn’t realize it would become one of her prized possessions.

Stephens City resident Frances Unger brought the postcard and other memorabilia that belonged to her uncle to the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives at Handley Library on Nov. 18. To commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the United States joining the war on April 6, 1917, the library put out a call to the community to bring in their WWI items. The charge was led by archivist Becky Ebert and Gene Schultz, a board member of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society and the Handley Library,

“World War I was such an important war,” Ebert said. “It was the first worldwide war for our nation. We want to take the time to recognize those soldiers.”

Unger, who turns 100 in January, brought items including a photo of Adams and his family posing in front of his family home in Gainesboro when he was about 12 years old; a certificate from President Woodrow Wilson given to Adams’ family after he was killed in combat; a pair of eyeglasses believed to belong to Adams; and his card when he enlisted in service. The items were given to Unger by her niece, Frances Faye Adams of Virginia Beach.

Unger said she was honored to have the items from her uncle.

“I’m thankful he served our country,” she said.

Adams was the son of Martin and Harriet Adams and the brother of Unger’s father, Ernest. He was born on Sept. 15, 1886, in Frederick County and lived in Gainesboro until 1913.

Unger said her uncle reported to service on April 2, 1918. He served in the Company L 320th Infantry. Adams was killed in combat in France on Sept. 29, 1918, along the Meuse River.

Schultz did some research on Adams prior to Nov. 18.

“Thomas Adams was the first soldier killed in action from Frederick County that I have found so far,” he said.

Adams was initially buried in France. His body was brought to Mount Hebron Cemetery and buried there with military honors on Sept. 9, 1921.

Unger was 4 years old when she attended the funeral. She still remembers jumping at the loud pops during the 21-gun salute.

Unger came to the archives with her daughter, Frances Unger Ring, of Stephens City. Ring said they have family members who served in the Civil War. Unger also has a great, great-grandfather, William Adams, who served during the Revolutionary War.

Charlie Robinson, 60, visited the library with photographs of his grandfather Harry D. Robinson Sr. and great uncle Charles A. Robinson decked out in a WWI uniform. The Winchester resident said the two brothers were the youngest of five children. Although they answered the call for service, the war ended before they had the chance to go overseas.

According to Robinson, his great-uncle Charles was the youngest lieutenant in the United States at the time.

“They gave him the title on his 18th birthday,” he said.

Along with the photos, Robinson brought a red banner with two blue stars that was hung for the brothers in their family home on Market Street. There is also a pin from Charles’ hat.

After serving in the military, Harry served as president of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival from 1948 to 1950.

Franklin Maphis, of Winchester, brought discharge papers from his father, Joseph Maphis Jr., as well as a photo of the WWI veteran in uniform. Maphis, 82, said his father enlisted on June 2, 1918, and was discharged on Aug. 6, 1919. Joseph also served as chairman of the draft board later in life.

Some of the memorabilia brought to the library will be showcased in a display case outside of the archives. Ebert said the library has several activities planned next year to commemorate the war’s anniversary. Those with WWI memorabilia may still bring items to the library during regular archive hours of 1 to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 1 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

— Contact Jackie Puglisi at jpuglisi@winchesterstar.com Follow on Twitter @LifeWinStar