2018 Goal Achieved

It was a productive year. My favorite goal this year was my version of 52 Ancestors. I was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

I needed a systematic way to work through my gedcom file. I have been working from the same file since I started building the tree in 2003. After moving between several genealogy file management systems, my sources were junky, incomplete, or non-existent on earlier added profiles. Locations were not uniform. And, somehow the notes had duplicated multiple times. I didn’t know where to start. When I looked at the full file, I was overwhelmed. Continue reading 2018 Goal Achieved

WWI Research Ideas

Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to Janis Minor Forte discuss records generated by the WWI selective service registration process. The DuPage County Genealogical Society hosted her talk, “Even Gangsters Had To Register: WWI Draft Cards and the Selective Service Records They Produced.”

I never knew that so many documents were created beyond the draft registration cards. The big questions is whether they were kept by an ancestor’s home county. Continue reading WWI Research Ideas

Norbert Felix Walczak: A South Side Son Rises to Naval Commander

While sorting through photos that my mother had brought home when her mother died, I found a frame holding photos of one of my mom’s cousins, Norbert F Walczak and the ship he commanded, the USS Zellars. (1)

Besides my grandfather and David’s great uncle Carl, Norb is another relative whose service I waished to recognize this Veterans Day weekend. Continue reading Norbert Felix Walczak: A South Side Son Rises to Naval Commander

Herb Hays: From the Farm to the Pacific

It started with a photograph. The image behind the blog title includes my father and his parents. (1) Dad is in a miniature version of Herb’s navy uniform; and, I wanted to find out more.

Using a combination of interview, newspapers, and muster rolls, I pieced the story together that took Herb from the farm in Ogle County to the Harbor of Japan in the final months of WW2.

Herb Hays, my paternal grandfather, enlisted in the Navy on 9 May 1944 at Chicago, Illinois. (2) My grandmother said that he enlisted in the Navy rather than wait to get drafted in the army because he didn’t want to sleep in a foxhole. (3) Continue reading Herb Hays: From the Farm to the Pacific

Carl Edward Mescher in WW2 Navy Muster Rolls

We can use the WW2 Navy Muster Rolls to follow our ancestors through their WW2 navy careers. While conducting my research, I saw two types of reports in the muster rolls: a full crew list submitted at the end of a quarter and a list of crew changes that was submitted at any time. Digital images are available on Ancestry and Fold3.

In the Ancestry.com collection, I found 30 entries for my husband’s great uncle, Carl Edward Mescher dated between 31 Oct 1940 and 1 Aug 1946. (1)

According to the 31 Oct 1940 muster roll (2), Carl Edward Mescher enlisted on 23 Jul 1940 in St. Louis. The report indicated that Carl was received onboard the USS Pennsylvania for duty on 12 Oct 1940 from the Naval Training Station (NTS), Great Lakes, Illinois. His service number was 3373442 and his initial rating was AS. Continue reading Carl Edward Mescher in WW2 Navy Muster Rolls

Digitization Highs and Lows

When reading about the “Family History Microfilm Discontinuation,” I had mixed thoughts. I loved the progress LDS has made on digitizing the microfilm in its collection, but I was concerned that the Polish records that I was concerned that these records may not be a priority.

Today, I took a moment to review the films for Pilzno and Konin Poland. The good news is that these films are 89% and 79% digitized, respectively. I was surprised and thrilled. I was already putting a research plan together in my head.

But, then I opened a link to the digitized images for one of the films, and was greeted with:

“To view these images you must do one of the following:
Access the site at a family history center.
Access the site at a Family Search affiliate library.”

I went through all the films and saw the same or similar messages. So while the images are available, they are not yet available on my home computer.

One group of records, Poland, Tarnow Roman Catholic Diocese Church Books, is available as an index of over 1 million records. So for a few of the Pilzno records, I can use the index as a starting point, but I will want to view the images to see what was indexed.

I am fortunate in that I have two locations near me where I should be able to view these images.

Take a Break

Stepping away from the details of work can give you a new perspective.
Yesterday, that moment of joy was watching the eclipse with family. My husband and I are lucky enough that he has family in southern Illinois, an area that experienced totality. Just the event itself inspired and awed me. Experiencing it with several generations made it even more special. We ate moon pies and sun chips. We had our official glasses, but made pinhole cameras from a shoebox and sheets of paper (used separately). We also expanded the light show with a colander and a mirror (also used separately). Continue reading Take a Break

Did Bryant Serve?

The questions raised in “Serving on the Home Front,” came when I was browsing draft registration cards. I browsed the draft cards looking for my Great Grandfather, Bryant Edward Hays. I had started thinking about him while I was reading a novel about a family that lived through the two world wars. Born in 1888 and married in 1916, I wondered whether he served.

He did register for both drafts:

The World War I Draft Registration Card lists Bryant Hays as married and engaged in farming for himself in Polo, Illinois. His card indicated that he had not served previously. He cites “wife & farming” as the reasons why he is claiming an exemption from the service. (1)

Based on the draft categories, marriage may have given Bryant a temporary deferment and farming may have given Bryant a temporary exemption. (2)

The World War II Draft Registration Card lists Bryant Hays as living in Milledgeville, Illinois. The card does not ask about prior service nor provide space to claim an exemption. He used the card that was intended for men born after 28 Apr 1877 and before 16 Feb 1897. (3)

His 1930 Census listed “No” in the column for whether a person is a veteran or not. While this is not absolute proof, it is a good indication that Bryant did not serve in the armed forces.(4)

I look forward to exploring the ways in which people served on the home front in WWI.


(1) “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Apr 2017) Card for Bryant Hays. Citing “World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” Washington, D.C.: NARA, M1509, Roll: 1614436.

(2) “Selective Service Act of 1917” Wikipedia/org (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_Service_Act_of_1917 : accessed 10 Apr 2017)

(3) “U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, ” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 2 Apr 2017) Entry for Bryant Hays. Citing United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. NARA Branch l, NAI Number: 623284; Record Group Number: 147.

(4) 1930 U.S. census, Ogle County, Illinois, population schedule, Buffalo Township, enumeration district (ED) 3, Sheet 1A (penned), Page 268 (stamped), dwelling 12, family 12, Bryant E Hays household; index and digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 7 Jun 2017), citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 546.


#WW1 #Genealogy

Serving on the Home Front

Recently, when I was browsing through WW1 draft registration cards, I started thinking about the individuals who didn’t serve.

What was the role of the citizens who stayed home? How did they serve their country? What were the different roles in the community?

As examples, I’ve started pinning posters for farming, victory gardens, and rationing.

Besides the roles people fulfilled, I’m also curious of the psychological impact on those that stayed home. Was there guilt, anger, shame, or pride?

I would be interested in talking to anyone else who has these same questions.

#WW1_HomeFront #Genealogy

Header Image: “An opportunity to show patriotism, 13 Jul 1917” Newspapers.com (http://newspapers.com : 13 Jul 2017), clipped by “jlbartimus.” Originally appeared in The Daily Chronicle (De Kalb, Illinois), 13 Jul 1917, Page 3.