Monday, February 11, 2008

Last living US WWI Vet

Ol’ Myrt is moving a little slowly this morning, so she would never have picked up on this news item if it weren’t for the Family Research Blog. The story is about the last known living veteran of World War I, and the blog refers readers to the Kansas City Star’s website where Mike Hendricks posted a column titled “Missouri native is last veteran of World War I” which reads in part:

“[…] More than 4 million men and women served in the U.S. military during the Great War. Now, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Buckles is the very last doughboy. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said of the media crush now upon him. Phone messages pile up from reporters around the world. But with some help from his daughter and caregivers, Buckles dutifully returns the calls.

“I feel it’s a responsibility and an honor to answer people’s questions,” the Missouri native told me.”

Comments about this patriotic American have been as poetically simple as “Thank you, Mr. Buckles.”

~ ~ ~


A review published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly Vol. 87, No. 1, pp. 69-70 describes Christina K. Schaefer's The Great WarA Guide to the Service Records of All the World's Fighting Men and Volunteers: "In sum, The Great War is full of good addresses; it provides a quick overview (especially of foreign materials), and it may be the only book ever published in English on foreign servicemen." When you click the link to the book, you'll find the publisher has added a "Search the full text of this book" option through Google Books, which should convince my DearREADERS that this basic WWI reference work must be on your shelves, and those in your local public library's genealogy department.

“Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900,” digital images, ( : accessed 11 Feb 2008); imaged from Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, T289 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives [n.d.]), roll 211. [This Civil War through WWI. Once you locate an ancestor in the index, it is simply a matter of ordering the COMPLETE file from the National Archives. Only “selected” records have been microfilmed, and of course, being a competent genealogist, you’ll want the whole enchilada. A fee-based collection.]

  • Search Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900.
  • Browse Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900.

The U.S. Military Collection at includesthe 24 million WWI draft registration cards from each existing state. [Most databases for WWI are fee-based.]

May I suggest Chapter 20 “Records of the Army, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force” in Mark D. Herber’s Ancestral Trails. The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History, Second Edition. When presented with the first edition, Ol’ Myrt discovered the tiny print and very thin pages in this huge volume provide a plethora of research suggestions with examples from surviving record groups in addition to a bit of “weighing the evidence” advice.

Ol' Myrt here could not finish this blog entry withough making a final comment:

I've always been taught if you have an ancestor that lived during any military conflict, regardless of age, look for him in military records of service, pension, etc. for that time period. If he was young, he could have played the fife; if he was old, he could have rendered patriotic service. You just never know until you look at the surviving records.

How do you do find him? Well, for researchers with US ancestry, see the Family History Library’s Military Research Outline, also available in an easier to print .pdf format, including the following time line of research suggestions:

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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