29 May 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: Joe Wilson's WWI Draft Registration

I have very few relatives who served in the military during World War I. As far as I can tell, they all, in compliance with the law, registered for the draft. But, nearly all of them, apparently, had valid reasons not to serve (mostly involving being the sole source of support for family and parents), and most did not. My grandfather, Joseph Wilson, registered in on 5 June 1917. And did not serve.

"World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 March 2008), card for Joseph Wilson, no. 59, Bronx, New York; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509.

Items in red will be discussed further, below.

No. 59
1. Name in full  Joseph Wilson
2. Home Address 2086 Vyse Ave N.Y. N.Y.
3. Date of birth  October 11, 1889
4. Are you (1) a natural-born citizen, (2) a naturalized citizen, (3) an alien, (4) or have you declared your intention (specify which)? 1
5. Where were you born?  Kazan Russia Russia
6. If not a citizen, of what nation are you a citizen or subject?  ------
7. What is your present trade, occupation, or office?  Salesman
8. By whom employed?  Empire Knitting Mfr
    Where employed?  10 Varet Bronx NY
9. Have you a father, mother, wife, child under 12, or a sister or a brother under 12, solely dependent on your support (specify which)?  Father Mother Wife
10. Married or single (which)?  Married
    Race (specify which)? Caucasian
11. What military service have you had? Rank, branch, years, Nation or state  -------
12. Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?  Yes Dependant

I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true.
/S/ Joseph Wilson      
31-9-15-A                                    REGISTRAR'S REPORT 

1. Tall, medium, or short (specify which)?  5 X 5
    Slender, medium, or stout (which)?  stout
2. Color of eyes  Blue
    Color of hair  Black
    Bald  No
3. Has person lost arm, leg, hand, foot, eye, or both eyes or is he otherwise disabled (specify)?  ----------

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
/S/ HH Kutner        
Precinct  54 ED 34 AD
City or County  Bronx                                     June 5/17
State  NY

The 1 under item number 4 indicates that Joe was a natural-born citizen of the United States. Of course, the item immediately below (birth in Kazan, Russia) contradicts this information. In fact, Joe was a citizen by virtue of his father, Saul Wilson's naturalization. Saul was definitely naturalized - I have found his name on New York City voting lists.[1] But I have been unable to locate his naturalization papers, which likely were filed with a local court (in either Columbia, Albany or New York Counties) before 1906.

This WWI draft card was one of the first records I located confirming my grandfather's birth in Kazan, Russian Empire. The town is actually not the larger, more well-known city of Kazan in the interior of Russia, but a small village, close to the border with Lithuania, also known as Koziany in today's Belarus. At the time my grandfather and his parents and siblings left in the 1890s, Koziany was in the Vilna Gubernia of the Russian Empire.

I do not know what "5 X 5"means under the Tall, medium or short description on the second page. I suppose it could mean he was 5 feet, 5 inches tall - which might be about right.

1. Board of Elections, City of New York, List of Enrolled Voters, Bronx Borough, Seventh Assembly District, 12th Election District, page 16, Saul Wilson and Hattie Wilson; Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 17 October 2013).

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