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WELCOME TO BREMERHAVEN

My grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, was transferred to Wiesbaden, Germany in 1950 (before the Army Air Corps became the Air Force). Upon arriving at the Port of Bremerhaven aboard the Gen. Patch on July 20, 1950, the U.S. Band greeted him and my grandmother, Vesta. Wikipedia says that Bremerhaven means “Bremen’s Harbor” in Bremen (which was in the free Federal Republic of Germany).

The ship – USNS General Alexander M. Patch (T-AP-122) (picture of it as it is berthed at Bremerhaven in 1950 can be found here – exciting to think that this might just be at the same time my grandparents had arrived!) was named after the General who took “command of the Allied Forces in New Caledonia” in 1942 (from NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive; 2012; NavSource Naval History)

Luckily, while they were in Germany, they were able to take side trips to other places on the weekends. The picture above was taken on August 5, 1950, when they went with another lady, Mrs. Mulligan, along with a Bavarian guide to see the Nymphenburg Castle, Home of the Bavarian Kings.

Besides all of the photos, I also have several years’ worth of letters my grandparents wrote my parents. Those letters detail all the little trips around Europe they took as well as their day to day life in Wiesbaden.

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Last summer I found a large quantity of postcards that had once been in my grandfather’s collection which my mother had put away.  I brought them back home with me.  Most of them showed scenes of World War I or buildings in Europe.  Most were black & white.  A few, however, were tinted.  The following three postcards show (what appears to be the same) soldier and young woman “pining” for each other.

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“Cette lettre contient
mes plus tendres
baisers!”

“Find in this Letter
my sweetest
Kisses!”

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“Ton image cherie
est constante
a mes yeux!”

“I always have
in my Eyes your
beloved Face!”

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“I’m thinking of you”

On the bottom right of the first two are: DIX  975.  The bottom left of the last one is: FURIA 2071.

Apparently, these cards were made in Paris, but with the American Flag in the third one, leads me to believe they were American Patriotic cards produced for the Americans fighting in France to send home to their sweethearts.

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This is the 4th and final article in this series on Military Records. You can read the first three in the series at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. These records can offer up quite a bit of information including your ancestors’ and collateral relatives’ vital statistics, birth date and location, residence at the time of registration, type of military service, campaigns they might have been involved in, next relative, occupation, address of their employer, identifying marks, their signature, and reason for infirmities if they applied for an Invalid Pension.

In Part 3 I used my great-grandfather’s (James Emory House) Application for Invalid Pension as an example. I will continue with his papers to show who he served under, campaigns he took part in, and the reason he applied for this.

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My great-grandfather appeared before a clerk of the Common Pleas Court of Coshocton County, Ohio on September 6, 1887 to submit this Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension.  In it he stated the date and place he enrolled to serve the Union and the State of Ohio in the Civil War and also what company and regiment in which he served.  The document lists that James’ regiment was commanded by Col. E.R. (Ephraim) Eckley and mentions that my great-grandfather was honorably discharged at Washington D.C.

When he was discharged from the service he was 23 years old and stood 5 ft. 8.5 inches, had dark complexion and hair and grey eyes.  It goes on to read, “That while a member of the organization aforesaid, in the service and in the line of duty at Near Corinth in the state of Missipi on or about the               day of April, 1862, he contracted a disease of his stomic which the doctors called catarrh of his stomic. That his disease of his stomic continued to afflict him untill he was discharged and has continued to afflict him more and more untill the present time.”

The continuation of the document tells the location of the hospitals where he was treated: one in Tennessee and also in St. Louis.  It also says that James did not have any other military service except serving for the Union.  His occupation prior to and following military service was Farmer and that he was considered one half disabled.

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In a General Affidavit dated June 21, 1888, 63 year old S.M. Baldwin of Butler County, Iowa stated that he was James Emory House’s sargent and later his First Lieutenant and knew James personally while in the service of Company “H”, 80th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteers.

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(Further transcription) That while in line with his duty as a soldier near a place called “Corinth” in the State of Tennessee some time in the month of Apl 1862 he the claimant contracted a trouble in his stomach and was sent to Hospital at St. Louis and after his return to the company it appeared that he could bear but little fatigue and was constantly complaining of trouble in his stomach.

The above paragraph gives me an approximate time and place that my great-grandfather’s illness began and that it was so severe he actually had to be hospitalized.  I also learned who his immediate superior was by this General Affidavit.

In another affidavit, given by William Derr who personally knew James House, the affiant stated that my great-grandfather contracted the catarrh of the stomach about April 30, 1862 and was sent to a hospital in Tennessee for about 10 days and then to a St. Louis hospital.  He returned to duty in July 1862 which indicates that the hospitalization lasted about 3 months. 

james_house_pension8Above is the Declaration for Invalid Pension that my great-grandfather submitted.  This application states that on July 9, 1890 James, at age 48, residing in Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, made a declaration that he was the same man who enrolled as a Private in Company H of the 80th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on December 26, 1861 to fight in the Civil War.  Furthermore, that he served at least 90 days and was honorably discharged on May 22, 1865 at Alexandria, Virginia.  He asked for Invalid Pension due to the fact that he could not earn a living because he suffered from “disease of stomach, piles and heart, Catarrh of head and throat, and total loss of sight of right eye.”

It is not clear if he lost his sight due to the infirmaties he suffered from military service or had contracted glaucoma or macular degeneration.  Catarrh of stomach/head/throat, etc. is categorized as “An inflammatory affection of any mucous membrane, in which there are congestion, swelling, and an alteration in the quantity and quality of mucous secreted. In America, especially, a chronic inflammation of, and hypersecretion from the membranes of nose or air passages. in England, an acute influenza, resulting from a cold and attended with cough, thirst, lassitude and watery eyes; also, the cold itself. ” (Causes of Death in the Late 19th Century)

In August 1912 the Adjutant General official document read:

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF PENSIONS
Washington, D.C., Aug. 22, 1912,
Respectfully returned to the Adjutant General, War Department for a full military history and a personal description with age at enlistment.
2 Enclosures

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THE ADJUTANT
GENERAL’S OFFICE
WASHINGTON, AUG 27, 1912
Respectfully returned to the
Commissioner of Pensions
with the information that in
the case of
James E. House Co. H, 80th Reg’t, Ohio Inf
the records show personal description
as follows:
age 19, height 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches,
complexion dark, eyes grey, hair black
place of birth Coshocton Co, O
occupation farmer
Age at reenlistment 21 years.
The revocation of the muster out to reenlist as veteran and muster in as veteran is canceled, he was a veteran volunteer from Feb. 21, 1864 when reenlisted as such.
The military records furnish nothing in addition to that shown in former statements.
Geo Andrews, Adjutant General

On April 30, 1923 when James was 81 years old a Declaration for Pension was applied for: james_house_pension12
This application stated that James required attendance by another person because of his disabilities that included: totally blind in right eye, bronchial asthma, chronic indigestion, prostatic trouble, kidney trouble, rheumatism, weak and emaciated.  Furthermore, it stated that since leaving the service he had lived in Coshocton County, Ohio and the State Soldiers Home of Ohio (Erie County), and he had been unable to work.

On the bottom of that declaration is a stamp that specifies that the “Declaration accepted as a claim under Sec. 2 Act of May 1, 1920.”

And the final page in the file is dated October 1924.

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Above is the drop report stating that James House, who had received $72 a month with the last payment sent in August 1924, had been dropped from the roll due to his death which ocurred on Oct. 1, 1924.

From all of the information contained in James House’s pension file, I can conclude that he never did return to full health after being afflicted with catarrh during his service in the Civil War and that even though he had been able to work as a farmer after he was discharged, he couldn’t work full time and earn enough to live on.  I believe that as he aged the disease and other disabilities weakened him.

The overall picture of my great-grandfather’s life became much clearer after reading through this file as I could put dates to events in his life. 

I urge you to see what kind of picture you can get of your ancestors and collateral relatives with the aid of their military files (if they have any) in order to “flesh” out the person or persons you are looking for.

I hope this four part series has given you more avenues to look when doing research and inspired you to see what other stones can be turned over in order to document events in your ancestors’ lives.

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In Part 1 I discussed how Military Records can help you get a complete characteristic profile of your ancestors and collateral relatives. The WWII Registration Records (“Old Man’s Draft”) in 1942 list color of eyes and hair, type of build, and height as well as birth location and date and their signature. To a lesser extent so does the WWI Registration Records of 1918.

In Part 2 I listed examples ranging from employer to possibly a wife or other relative who is listed as knowing the address of the person registered. That informaton has helped me place the individual with the correct family.

In this article I will give examples of how Civil War Pension Records or Invalid Pension Records are also useful in determining dates of marriage, children’s names and birthdates, and type of duties the individual performed in service to the country.

When I first started on this genealogy quest ten years ago, it didn’t take me long to make contact with a cousin who had copies of our shared ancestor’s Invalid Pension application documents.  He copied those and mailed them off to me.  Seeing how valuable those sheets of paper were, I sent off to the National Archives for my own copy (before prices went way up!).  It seemed to take forever before I received them – but only after I got a reply that stated what they had found and how much I needed to send before I got the actual copies. 

Most of the information on the service of my maternal great-grandfather, James E. House, was posted here in a biography I wrote about him. However, as I began my search for Grandfather House, I realized that there were other people in the Coshocton area of Ohio who shared the House surname. I mentioned this to the cousin who had sent me information, and he reasoned that he thought he’d placed James in the right family based on what was on the Invalid Pension application. That’s when I thought I should pay closer attention to these records.

One page in particular was a voucher sent to James requesting that he complete and send back in order to receive his next quarterly payment.  The questions concerned whether he was married, what proof he had of the marriage, names of children and dates of their birth.

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First, Are you married?  If so, please state your wife’s full name and her maiden name.

Answer, Frances V. House   maiden Frances V. Ogan

Second, when, where, and by whom were you married?

Answer, By A.Y. Kingston J.P., Washington, Guernsey Co., Ohio May 26, 1873. 

(I believe this was probably the next question.) Third, what proof of marriage exists?

Answer, Marriage certificate also in records in probate judge’s office, Cambridge, Ohio.

This tells me the exact date and place of the marriage between my great-grandparents and where the marriage record was located.  His wife’s maiden name has been reported differently by descendents yet in James’ own hand, he listed the maiden name that I believe is correct (albeit probably a maiden name acquired as either a foster child or adopted daughter of the Ogan household.)

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Fourth, Were you previously married? If so, please state the name of your former wife and the date and place of her death or divorce.

Answer, Yes. Barbara S. House, died July 10, 1872 in Guernsey Co, Ohio

With this last bit of information, I was able to clarify which James House (out of the few I’d found in and around Coshocton) was my great-grandfather.  I also learned the date of death of his first wife which until I had this paper, I knew was sometime between the birth of her last child and the date of my great-grandparents’ marriage.

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Fifth, Have you any children living? If so please state their names and dates of birth.

Answer, E.F. House Dec. 17, 1886.  Belle D. Ruby Apr 23, 1868. Lucina Conger Sep 13, 1869.  Florus A. House Apr. 21, 1873.  Jno W House Aug. 31, 1874. James W. House June 20, 1876. Julia A. House Sep 20, 1880.  Ella M. House June 22, 1882.  Alva L. House May 9, 1886.

Date of Reply June 4, 1898 and his signature.

My first thought was “I have my great-grandfather’s signature!”.  Then my next thought was “Oh, he married Frances AFTER their first child was born!”  That first child had been “in question” as to being Barbara’s (the first wife) or my great-grandmother’s.  With James listing Barbara’s death as prior to Florus’ birth, that answered that question.

Other pages in the Pension forms included General Affidavits of persons who had known my great-grandfather either prior to and after his service or during his service in the Civil War.  One of those affidavits I realized were given by James’ parents, Florus Allen House and Julia A. House – my great-great-grandparents!  I saw that they had also signed the affidavit!

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Florus’ and Julia’s ages were listed which also gave me another documentation on their approximate birth years and the township and county in which they lived in 1888.

With just these two pages of James House’s Invalid Pension Application, I acquired information on three generations – my great-grandfather (James), his parents (Florus and Julia) and his two wives and children.

Next – more information from my grandfather’s Civil War papers.

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In Part 1 I explained what a valuable resource Military Records can be in locating vital characteristics of ancestors and collateral family members. I was able to deduct that most of my Grandpa Amore’s brothers and cousins were similar in height, build and eye color. That gives me a clearer perspective on how I ended up with blue eyes and being “vertically challenged”. I also discovered how my grandfather signed his actual name – even though it had been spelled or listed differently in other places – though not by him.

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In this article, I will give examples of how I was able to place certain individuals with the correct spouse or parents. Some of them I was unsure of and some of them I had listed as “unrelated” in my family file until I discovered documentation placing them in the correct family.

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Adam Christian Goul (3rd cousin of my maternal grandfather, Glen R. Johnson) was located as part of the C.M. and Elizabeth Goul household in the 1900 US Census – except I only knew that his middle name began with a “C” and the month and year of his birth.  Once I located his World War II Draft Record (called the “Old Man’s Draft”), I discovered his middle name was Christian (obviously after his father).  Since I have discovered that there are many people named “Adam Goul” in my maternal grandfather’s family, I was firmly able to say that this was the same person as in the 1900 US Census by comparing the date and place of his birth and location of residence given on the Draft Record and place this Adam Goul with the correct parents. 

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William Harrison Goul (another cousin of my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson) has been listed in my family file as William Harry Goul until I found his WWII Registration Record.  Since I also have a William H. Goul and many men with the name “Harry Goul” in my file, I wasn’t sure which one this was. This particular gentlemen is listed as Harry W. Goul in the 1900 US Census and as William H. Goul in the 1910 US Census.  On the Registration record he listed his daughter as Geraldine and that cinched it for me since she was listed as his child in the 1910 US Census.  william_h_goul_military

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1900 US Census

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1910 US Census

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John Monroe Wilt (1st cousin of my maternal grandmother, Vesta Christena Wilt Johnson) has been listed as John Wilt, son of Charles and Margaret Wilt, in my family file.  I did not have a middle name nor a correct birth date.  His WWI Military Registration Record listed his age as 18, birthdate as Feb. 4, 1900 and his wife as Elizabeth.  His employer was his father, Charles.  With at least three different men named John Wilt in my file, this record allowed me to place the correct information for this particular man.

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If you have added individuals as “unrelated” in your Family File because you are sure they are related to someone somehow and have some basic information (birth date/location or wife’s name) – study the information presented on Military Records concerning nearest relative, employer, birth date and location in order to turn them into a “related” individual. 

Stay tuned for Part 3!

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On this Veteran’s Day I say a prayer of thanks for bringing those in my immediate family who served in the military safely home. Back in May, I wrote Those Who Served. That post concerned my great-grandfather, James E. House, my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, my dad, and my uncles, Norman and Gail Amore.

I wanted to also list other family members who have served in war and peacetime. My first cousin, Rick, was drafted into military service during the Viet Nam war. I remember how scared I was when I found out. My former brother-in-law also served overseas during the Viet Nam war and was gone about a year (if I remember correctly). I remember my sister lived with us part of the time and whenever he was able to contact her, they said “Roger” and “Over” a lot! Two of my other first cousins also served in the Viet Nam war. One of my first cousin’s sons went into the Navy and served during the first Gulf War.

Going back further, my great-grandfather’s nephew, Jesse R. Amore (b. 4 Apr 1898 d. 4 Sep 1964) was a member of Company I, 166th Infantry regiment in Germany. When the American Expeditionary Forces crossed into Champagne-Marne, France, he was taken prisoner of War and was declared Missing in Action on July 15, 1918 and released five months later on December 6, 1918. He was Honorably Discharged on April 24, 1919. Jesse lived until the age of 66 and died on Sep. 4, 1964.

Jesse’s cousin, Leonard Studor Amore (b. 1895 d. 1972), also served in Germany with the American Expeditionary Forces during WWI.  He was in Company B, 166 Infantry.  He was severely wounded in action on on July 28, 1918.  He was Honorably Discharged on May 17, 1919.  He had full military honors at his funeral.

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My grandmother’s brother, Jesse Wilt (b. 1897 d. 1958 ) served during WWI and was hospitalized after a mustard gas attack. He is buried in Dayton National Cemetery.

Jesse’s son, Fred (b. 1920 d. 1994), served as a Naval Lieutenant and Port Commander in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Fred went on to become a Special Agent with the FBI before retiring after 31 years. He passed away at the age of 73.

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My grandmother’s other brother, John (b. 1893 d. 1964), also served as a cook during WWI. He became a logger in Oregon where he spent the remainder of his life.

My great-grandmother’s great-grandnephew, Pfc. Frank Given (b. 1945 d. 1965), died in the crash of a military C-130 transport in Hong Kong Bay on August 23, 1965.  He was serving with the 3rd Marine Divison in Viet Nam at the time of his death.

And for all those other ancestors and collateral family members who have served in the United States Military from the Revolutionary War through the current War on Terrorism, I give you my thanks and know that words are never enough to express that sentiment.  By loving this country and accepting not only the rights, but the responsibilities, that brave men and women have fought and died for, I hope to honor their memories and their lives.

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Yesterday I spent a few hours scanning letters that my grandparents wrote to my parents while my grandparents were stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany.  It has been several years since I read them so it was a chance for me to re-read while I was scanning.  I try not to handle these pages from the early 1950s very much in a way to keep them from picking up too much acidic content.  When I received them from my mom, they had been placed in a large manilla folder and kept in her basement.  To be clear, my mom’s basement is finished and air conditioned so they haven’t been in damp, musty or too hot conditions.  All of them are still readable and intact which is rare since most of them were handwritten or typed on very thin onion skin paper.  Remember, they were being sent from Germany to the United States so to pack a lot of pages into one envelope for the regular price of a stamp, they used very thin paper.

My grandparents wrote letters at least once or twice a week and they were in Germany for three years so I have many – MANY – letters to scan.  And that’s just of the Germany letters.  There are also letters they wrote to my parents when my parents were stationed in Japan twice.  Letters my grandfather and grandmother wrote to each other while they were courting, when my grandfather entered military training after they were married, when my grandfather went to France during WWI, and letters from my grandmother’s siblings and mother to her.

Here are some excerpts from the Letters from Germany.

 

Most of the letters are little more than reciting the more mundane chores of daily life or the functions that my grandparents attended.  For genealogical purposes, they provide a window into their lives that I wouldn’t have if not for these letters. My grandparents also took several weekend trips into other regions or countries during their time in Europe.  My grandfather took my grandmother to the area he was in during WWI in France and showed her spots she had only read about in his letters.  My grandmother saw what was left of some of the concentration camps from WWII.  They went to Holland and saw windmills and tulips.  They shopped in Garmisch. One thing that was always consistent in the letters they wrote from Germany: they missed their children and grandchildren terribly.  No matter where the military sent them, their hearts were always wherever their family was.

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Many of my family members have served in the Armed Forces at one time in their lives.  Most of them volunteered to serve their country while at least one that I know personally – was drafted at a time when big swooping changes were occurring throughout the nation.

My great-grandfather, James Emory House, was a member of Company “H” of the 80th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers during the War between the States.  He enlisted the day after Christmas in 1861 and was honorable discharged on May 27, 1865.  Three and a half years of his 82 years were spent marching through the South.  He was engaged in the famous Battle of Vicksburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea.  At some point in his life, he shook hands with the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.  During his time at Vicksburghe incurred a stomach illness that disabled him later in life.  It is unknown what battle scars he suffered that weren’t visible on the outside but ones he possibly lived with in his nightmares for the rest of his life.  To read his pension application papers, please go to Civil War Papers on my genealogy website.

Glen R. JohnsonMy grandfather, Glen Roy Johnson, enlisted in 1918 – just a couple months after his first son was born.  He went to Omaha, Nebraska for training as part of the Army Signal Corps.  In July 1918, he sailed for France during World War I and the troops were inspected by Gen. John J. Pershing.  Glen (or Granddad as we all knew him) was part of the 14th Balloon Squadron where observation balloons were taken 1-3 miles from the front lines to scout for army artillery.  The men in the observation basket would telegraph information down the cables to the sentinel on the ground.  It was extremely dangerous for an enemy shell could hit the balloon and cause the 38,000 cubic feet of hydrogen to become a raging inferno in an instant.  He survived France and was discharged in 1932 as a Private but he won a reserve commission to Quartermaster Corps eight years earlier in 1924 due to his Civilian work at what used to be called Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio (now Wright Patterson Air Force Base).  When WWII began, he again went into active service with the Army Air Corps which later became the United States Air Force.  He served through the Korean War and was released from active duty in the fall of 1953.  He retired from the Air Force in 1958 as a Colonel.  During his tenure, he spent three years in Weisbaden, Germany as a supply chief. (Photo above left is my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson.)

Dad in UniformMy father enlisted in the Army Air Corps in November 1939, a mere 5 months after graduating from high school.  In August 1942 he was assigned to  Reykjavik, Iceland for 15 months as an airplane mechanic for the air transport command.  It was in Reykjavik when he first heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.  He returned to his hometown of Coshocton, Ohio on December 1, 1943 as a Staff Sergeant.  Between that time and 1953, he was stationed in Milwaukee and Great Falls, Montana.  Then he was assigned to Japan for three years and after two years back in the states in Columbus, Ohio as a recruiter, he went back to Tachikawa AFB in Japan for another three years.  While in Japan he was assigned to the 6400th Transportation Squadron.  Upon returning to the states after the last tour, he was stationed at Tyndall AFB outside of Panama City, Florida where he retired from the Air Force after 20 years of military service. (Photo at left is my Dad in uniform.)

 

Norman Amore receiving Bronze StarMy uncle, Norman Amore, entered the Army in December 1942 and was shipped overseas in March 1944.  In Germany his platoon leader was mortally wounded by enemy artillery fire, and Norman, calmly removed his wounded crew member to a station to be treated.  For that brave act, he received the Bronze Star. (Photo at left is my Uncle Norman Amore receiving the Bronze Star.)

 

 

 

Gail and Lloyd AmoreMy father’s two oldest brothers, Gail and Paul Amore, also served in the military. (Photo at left is my Uncle Gail and my Grandfather, Lloyd Amore.)

Three of my first cousins and a brother-in-law served in the Vietnam War.  Luckily, all four men returned home.  What they saw, I do not know. 

I am thankful that my relatives all came back from Wars and military service alive and in one piece.  These men served their nation honorably and bravely – never knowing what the next set of orders would send them.  They are heroes by being ready to defend our freedoms.  Freedoms that so many take for granted and so many in other countries struggle to attain.  These brave men and women who put on a military uniform, a police uniform or a firefighter’s suit each and every day to keep us safe – whether it’s from evil half a world away, down the block or that out of control fire in our garage – they are heroes and if not for them, we may not know the freedoms and happiness we have today.

As Memorial Day approaches, please stop and thank every hero you see.  Stop in at your local police or fire station to thank them.  Send cards and letters to the men and women around the world stationed far away from loved ones to say thank you.  Write a moving tribute about your hero.  Place flowers and flags on the graves of those who served.  Attend a parade, stand when the flag goes by and place your hand over your heart in honor of those who’ve helped keep us free.  And never, ever forget  

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