bookmark_borderPost-384: Genealogy research project

I have been spending time off and on the past few months working on a highly research intensive genealogy project. It traces my great-grandfather’s “line” (as the genealogy-ism has it) back several centuries, across New England and back to 1630s Massachusetts. Before that, limited information is available but it seems the original ancestor was a Puritan out of Lincolnshire, England.

It’s been fascinating making new discoveries and connections all along the way.

Continue reading “Post-384: Genealogy research project”

bookmark_borderPost-371: Great Grandfather No.4 before draft board, 1917

The is a snapshot of one of my four great-grandfathers in 1917-1918. I wrote it upon my discovery online of their WWI draft registration cards.

The others, in order of Father’s Father’s Father to Mother’s Mother’s Father, are:

Below I transcribe the draft registration card, provide a picture of the man, some comments on how the war period turned out for each man, and most ambitiously I try to re-create how they would have likely stood on the war. While I never knew any of these men, I did now their children in their old age (my grandparents).


Great-Grandfather 4
Born in Connecticut; of Colonial New England stock. Had lifelong ties to New Britain, Connecticut, often by residence, often by employment, and until his death for family/social reasons. He did not have to appear before the draft board in 1917 because he was still 19. Having turned 20, he was registered in June 1918 and was conscripted into the US Army:
[Transcription of draft registration card]

Registration Card

1. Name in Full: Earle Hazen
2. Home Address: 69 Church St., New Britain, Conn.
3. Date of Birth: April 13, 1897
4. Where were you born? East Berlin, Conn., USA
5. I am: A native of the United States. (Crossed out options are: ‘Naturalized Citizen’; ‘Alien’; ‘I have declared my intention [to naturalize]’; a Noncitizen or Citizen [American-]Indian’)
6. If not a citizen, of what nation are you a citizen or subject? [blank]
7. Father’s Birthplace: North Hero, Vt.
8[a]. Name of Employer: Landers, Frary, & Clark
8[b]. Place of Employment: New Britain, Conn.
9[a]. Name of nearest relative: M.H. [Mahlon] Hazen (father)
9[b]. Address of nearest relative: East Berlin, Conn.
10. Race: White (crossed out options are: ‘Negro,’ ‘Indian,’ or ‘Oriental’)

“I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true.”
[Signed,] Earle Hazen


Registrar’s Report

1[a]. [Height:] Medium
1[b]. [Build:] Slender
2[a]. Color of eyes: Blue
2[b]. Color of hair: Dark
3. Has person lost arm, leg, hand, eye, or is he palpably physically disqualified (specify)? None

[Signed by the Registrar of the City of New Britain, Connecticut]

Date of Registration: June 5, 1918

Picture
A middle-aged Earle Hazen (right), on his daughter’s wedding day (June 1942), 24 years after he appeared before the draft board. I believe the stout-looking figure in the background grinning and loitering is Walter Kosswig (no jacket) — see post-370 for Walter’s WWI(-era) profile. The older woman is Earle’s wife Catharine (nee Buchholz). The bride and groom are my mother’s parents. The yellow-paper handwritten caption is the work of my great aunt Ethel (Kosswig) Hinchliffe, who put together an anniversary scrapbook in 1982. “Ernie” refers to my grandfather, who is looking down.
 

Earle Hazen, circa 1930, with wife and daughter (my grandmother)

Why was Earle not registered in 1917? Why was he drafted in 1918? What was going on in his life in the 1910s? What would have been his position on intervention in the 1914-1918 war?

Continue reading “Post-371: Great Grandfather No.4 before draft board, 1917”

bookmark_borderPost-370: Great Grandfather No.3 before draft board, 1917

The is a snapshot of one of my four great-grandfathers in 1917-1918. I wrote it upon my discovery online of their WWI draft registration cards.

The others, in order of Father’s Father’s Father to Mother’s Mother’s Father, are:

Below I transcribe the draft registration card, provide a picture of the man, some comments on how the war period turned out for each man, and most ambitiously I try to re-create how they would have likely stood on the war. While I never knew any of these men, I did now their children in their old age (my grandparents).


Great-Grandfather 3
Born in Leipzig, Germany, but never lived there (in the US from age 1 in 1887); a near-lifelong resident of New Britain, Connecticut; in his 20s, he followed father’s trade into the printing business. Subject to draft registration in June 1917. This card was submitted when he appeared before the draft board of New Britain, Connecticut:

1. Name in full: Walter G. Kosswig
2. Home Address: 202 Hartford Ave., New Britain, Conn.
3. Date of Birth: July 10, 1886
4. Are you: a natural-born citizen, a naturalized citizen, an alien, or have you declared your intention (specify which)? Naturalized citizen
5. Where were you born? Liepsic [Leipzig], Saxony, Germany
6. If not a citizen, of what country are you a citizen or subject? [n/a]
7. What is your present trade, occupation, or office? Paper Roller
8[a]. By whom employed? Case, Lockwood, & Brainard
8[b]. Where employed? Pearl St., Hartford, Conn.
9. Have you a father, mother, wife, child under 12, or a sister or brother under 12 solely dependent on you for support? (specify which): Wife and two children and mother in part
10[a]. Married or Single? Married
10[b]. Race: Caucasian
11. What military service have you had? None
12. Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)? Only on ground of dependent

I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true,”
[Signed,] Walter G. Kosswig


Registrar’s Report

1[a]. Tall, Medium, or Short? Medium
1[b]. Slender, medium, or stout? Stout
2[a]. Color of Eyes: Blue
2[b]. Color of Hair: Light
2[c]. Bald? No
3. […]Disabled: No

[Signed by the Registrar, Thomas Shuhan]

Date of Registration: [Not noted, but will have been June 5, 1917, the date of the first draft registration for men ages 21 to 30.]

Picture
Walter G. Kosswig (in black hat) with future wife Hulda (Hilda) [1885-1974], while both were dating in their early 20s. Savin Rock Amusement Park, Connecticut, 1907.

Walter G. Kosswig [1886-1952] was not drafted and did not serve in World War I.

Why was Walter not drafted? What was going on in his life in the 1910s? What would have been his position on intervention in the 1914-1918 war?

Continue reading “Post-370: Great Grandfather No.3 before draft board, 1917”

bookmark_borderPost-369: Great Grandfather No.2 before draft board in 1917

The is a snapshot of one of my four great-grandfathers in 1917-1918. I wrote it upon my discovery online of their WWI draft registration cards.

The others are:

I transcribe the cards below and provide some comments on how the war period turned out for each man. I think I can re-create, with a degree of reliability, a lot of what they were like and how they would have likely stood on the war. Some things I do not know and will pose them as questions. While I never knew any of them, I did now their children in their old age (my grandparents).


Great-Grandfather 2
A native of Norway but in Iowa from about age 6 in the early 1880s; Farmer. Although over 40 when the US entered the war in April 1917 and thus not subject to the first call up, he was required to register in 1918. This card was submitted when he appeared before the draft board of Winnebago County, Iowa:
Picture

Registration Card

1. Name: Bert B. Sveen
2. Permanent Home Address: RFD No. 3, [i.e., rural area near] Forest City, Winnebago [County], Iowa
3. Age in Years: 42
4. Date of Birth: 1875
Race: White
U.S. Citizen[ship]: Citizen by father’s naturalization before registrant’s majority
Present occupation: Farmer
Employer’s name: Self
Nearest relative: Mrs. Dina Sveen (wife) at RFD No. 3, Forest City, Winnebago [County], Iowa

“I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true,”
[Signed, Bert B. Sveen]

Registrar’s Report: Description of Registrant

Height: Medium
Build: Medium
Color of Eyes: Blue
Color of Hair: Light Brown
Has this person lost arm, leg, hand, eye, or is he obviously physically disqualified (Specify.): No

I certify that my answers are true; that the person registered has read or has read to him his own answers; that I have witnessed his signature or mark; and that all of his answers of which I have knowledge are true, except as follows: [Blank]

[Signed by the Registrar of Winnebago County, Iowa]

Date of Registration: Sept. 12, 1918

Bert B. Sveen (left), circa 1920s

Bert Sveen [1875-1966] was not drafted and did not serve in World War I.

Why was he not drafted? What was going on in his life in the 1910s? What would have been his position on intervention in the 1914-1918 war?

Continue reading “Post-369: Great Grandfather No.2 before draft board in 1917”

bookmark_borderPost-368: Great Grandfather No.1 before draft board in 1917

The is a snapshot of one of my four great-grandfathers in 1917-1918. I wrote it upon my discovery online of their WWI draft registration cards.

The others, in order of father’s father’s father to mother’s mother’s father, are:

I transcribe the cards below and provide some comments on how the war period turned out for each man. I think I can re-create, with a degree of reliability, a lot of what they were like and how they would have likely stood on the war. Some things I do not know and will pose them as questions. While I never knew any of them, I did now their children in their old age (my grandparents).


Great-Grandfather 1
A native of Iowa; Farmer; Danish ancestry dating to the 1880s. this card was submitted when he appeared before the Weld County, Colorado, draft board as mandated by law:
Picture

[Transcription of draft card]

Registration Card
1. Name: Peter Christian J—
2. Home Address: Osgood, Colorado
3. Date of Birth: 1893
4. Citizenship: Natural-Born [U.S. citizen]
5. Where were you born? Miller, Iowa, USA
6. If not a citizen, of what country are you a citizen or subject? [No response; not applicable]
7. Occupation: Farmer
8[a]. By whom employed? Self
8[b]. Where employed? Osgood, Weld Co., Colorado
9. Dependents: Wife
10. Married or single? Married
11. What military service have you had? No
12. Do you claim exemption from draft? No

“I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true,”
[Signed,] Peter Christian J—.

Registrar’s Report
1[a]. Tall, Medium, or Short? Medium
1[b]. Slender, Medium, or Stout? Medium
2[a]. Color or Eyes: Grey
2[b]. Color of Hair: Brown
2[c]. Bald? No
3. […]Disabled? No

I certify that my answers are true, that the person registered has read his own answers, that I have witnessed his signature, and that all of his answers of which I have knowledge are true, except as follows: [blank].

[Signed by the registrar for Precint 57, Weld County, Colorado]

Date of Registration: June 5, 1917

Peter C. J— (left), late 1918, with wife Ethel and infant son. (The infant is my grandfather. The infant was a lifelong Iowan, like his father. The infant would be involved in farming from boyhood in the 1920s to the mid 1950s, except for two to three years in the Army Air Corps, 1943 to 1945.)

Peter C. J— [1893-1979] was not drafted and did not serve in World War I.

Why was Peter C. not drafted? What was going in his life in the 1910s? What was his (likely) position on the 1914-1918 war? I think I can offer insights into these things as follows:

Continue reading “Post-368: Great Grandfather No.1 before draft board in 1917”

bookmark_borderPost-367: Portraits of four great-grandfathers as young men, in 1917-18, in front of U.S. draft boards

It is still November 2018 as I write, the centenary month of the end of World War I.

In 2014, I wrote a brief post saying that one of my great-grandfather’s had a “piece” of that war; in fact, all of them had at least some piece of the era, as young men in the 1910s. Specifically and concretely, each of my four great-grandfathers had to register for the draft (conscription) in 1917-1918.

I have located all four their draft registration cards and will post the originals and transcribe them in four posts to follow (1, 2, 3, 4), followed by comments/thoughts on each of their individual cases and circumstances in 1917, and some informed conjecture on what they may have thought of the war.


In May 1917, the USA was on the way to raising a multi-million-man army which was to reach a size of 4.35 million when all was said and done, up from a meager peacetime strength of one-hundred-some thousand (1916).

In another sign of lukewarm enthusiasm for the war, only 75,000 U.S. men had volunteered in the month after Congress voted to approve President Wilson’s declaration of war (April 6, 1917), and so in May the government began to plan for a then-unprecedented national registration system for all young-adult men, and a tiered system of eligibility for conscription (based on “exemptions”). All young men had to appear in person before draft boards of their city or county on appointed days to register, under threat of prison for no-shows:

Continue reading “Post-367: Portraits of four great-grandfathers as young men, in 1917-18, in front of U.S. draft boards”

bookmark_borderPost-366: The Book-as-Time-Capsule: My Great Uncle’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930 edition)

I wrote in 2017 about the film All Quiet on the Western Front [1930], which I rewatched recently in honor of the centenary of the end of the 1914-1918 war.

(See also Post-365: Scenes from the End of the Great War, Plus 100 Years.)

Picture
Scene from All Quiet on the Western Front, WWI film

The 1930 film was based on a 1929 novel, Im Westen Nichts Neues ([lit. “In the West, Nothing New [to Report]”) by a German veteran of the 1914-1918 war. The book was a major hit of its time.

A June 1930 printing, English translation (“All Quiet on the Western Front”) was among my grandfather’s books, and it is the rediscovery of it that is inspiration for this post.

Aged a not quite ninety years, here is the book as it appears today:

My grandfather died in the late 1990s but his books and other papers and files remained intact until the 2010s (as my aunt continued to reside in the house) at which time I was able to discover many of them, preserved as they were twenty years or so before, some from decades earlier still.

The oldest few books in the house I believe belonged to my grandfather’s grandfather [1857-1917], which I base on years of publication, subject matter, language, and especially the font used (a few of the oldest volumes use that awful font called Fraktur). Some of the books were those my grandfather bought himself. Others somehow ended up, this way or that way, over the decades, at the house (which my grandfather, his wife, daughters, and other relatives lived in from the 1940s through the 1990s), as in those from relatives. This copy of All Quiet on the Western Front is one of those. It originally belonged to George Kosswig, my grandfather’s brother.

Now, I think this is a great discovery not because it is a rare book (which it is not; it would be easy to find for free in any library, and probably without difficulty online for free somewhere in PDF form, in a pinch, if you really want the text). It is rather, I would say, an example of a “time capsule” in book form.

This book-as-time-capsule idea came to me suddenly to me from the inner cover of this copy of All Quiet: Continue reading “Post-366: The Book-as-Time-Capsule: My Great Uncle’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930 edition)”

bookmark_borderPost-98: Wishing Well for Surgeries

I know I said that post-97 would be my last post for a while. I’m making this one instead of packing, because I’ll be far, far “AFK” (Away From Keyboard) for almost a week.

Next week, the first week of July 2013, two important people to me will be having surgery.

One is my younger sister, Kate. The procedure has been planned for a long time. It has to do with her heart. The date has been moved around a lot, but my mother tells me it is now fixed on July 2nd. I’d heard “late July” just last week.

The other is my friend Jared. Jared’s surgery will be in Ilsan, Korea. that’s the city I used to live in, and the city he’s lived in most of the past six years. I will visit him in the hospital during his recovery in July. He may be out of work for up to two months. Jared has meant more to me, in Korea, than he may ever know.

Contrasts
My sister, Kate, is, actually, the “least intelligent” person I’ve ever personally known, in that she was born mentally-retarded and deaf (although, it may be possible that she was, in her younger years, “socially smarter” than I ever was, at a raw “dealing with other human beings” level). Kate cannot talk or understand any words. She can do some basic sign language. / Jared is, meanwhile, is very likely the “most intelligent” person I’ve ever known personally. He is a fascinating man (e.g., though accepted into Harvard, he declined to attend). I feel like I become smarter myself just being around him. He’s also been around the world. He inspired me to start this blog, whatever that’s worth.

I wish both well.  My sympathies extend clear across the IQ spectrum.

Please, be alright.

Here is a picture of my sister from the ’90s. I took it with me to Korea in 2011, where it has remained on my wall.

I miss seeing my sister. It’s been almost two years.