This week class assignment for my genealogy course at the Salt Lake Community College, was to work with vital records. We had some reading and videos to watch online. Then we needed to enter into our research log all the vital records collections on FamilySearch that we could search online. Along with the vital records we needed to search the Social Security Death Index and Military Records.
We only needed to search these records for one person in our database, record our result on the Research Log and hand it in. I decided I would work at my grandfathers on both sides of the family. My family is from New York and there were few vital records on FamilySearch that I could look at. Oh, there are some listed but the county and time frames are just not available that I need. My paternal grandfather, Marshall Harris, is my youngest grandfather and I was able to find his World War II draft registration. There was no image but I could use the index. I was also able to find him on the Social Security Death Index.
My maternal grandfather, John Henry Weatherwax, Jr., is much older. I actually found his World War I draft registration card, with an image. I never knew this grandfather, he died when my mother was 14 years old. Very few pictures of him have survived, since most were destroyed in a house fire a long time ago. The couple of photos in my possession are all black and white.
On the front side of the WWI Draft Registration Card I saw his signature for the very first time. It was a new sensation for me. I could find nothing familiar in his hand writing since I had never seen it before. I was thinking it would look like my mom's but they are nothing a like. Seeing his signature on that card gave me an odd connection to him. He was real and he really signed this. It made me wish I could hold the actual card in my hand.
When I flipped the draft card over I was greeted with his physical description. He was of medium height and medium build. My photo's showed he was thin, but none let me judge his full stature. Then I saw it noted that he had blue eyes and light brown hair. What a shock. My mother and all her siblings had dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. I had just assumed her father would too. Since my photos of my grandfather are black and white I wasn't able to tell his true coloring. The hair did look light but I assumed he was gray since he was older in them.
I just can't tell you how many times it just keeps popping into my head "Grandpa had blue eyes." I have sat and marveled on that fact. I don't understand why but I just feel closer to him just seeing how he signed his name and knowing what color his eyes and hair where.
I've wondered how he felt about the possibility of going to war? He was 35 years old and had a wife and 6 children at the time, plus a farm to run. He lied about his age and made himself 2 years older. He must have thought it would make him less eligible to be drafted, even though they were taking men up to the age 45 at the time. I guess it all worked in his favor because I have no knowledge that he was ever actually drafted.
I do believe my heart has been turned to this grandfather by this whole experience.
See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day.