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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"The War to End All Wars": Cowhey draft registration

After doing the research on William and Thomas Cowey's contribution to the Union forces during the Civil War, I wondered if any descendants of William in later generations had served time in the military.

The answer that I found: apparently not.

I did, however, find some interesting documents during my search. It turns out that all men of appropriate age were required to register for the draft during World War I. Whether or not they ended up serving or not, they filled out some paperwork for the government. The forms filled out by the men who ended up not serving may not have had too much value for the military in the long-term. However, thankfully, these documents were filed away for safe-keeping. Now researchers like me have another bit of family history in their hands.

In this case, I found the World War I draft registration cards for Charles William Cowhey and his brother Ambrose Paul Cowhey. Here is my great-grandfather Charles' card:

It is difficult to read, but I was able to decipher the following information about Charles (much of which I already knew):

  • He resided at 68 Main Street, Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania
  • He was born on August 21, 1887 in East Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania and was 30 years old at the time this document was filled out in 1917
  • His occupation at the time was Foreman for the Atlantic Refining Company, Pottsville, Pennsylvania
  • He was married and had one child (we know that this was his wife Agnes and their daughter Annie, age 3 at the time of this document)

And perhaps the most interesting information on the card, Charles' physical description:

  • Short
  • Medium-build
  • Gray eyes
  • Dark brown hair

Charles' brother Ambrose' World War I draft registration card was also interesting to find. Here it is below:

Ambrose' card states:

  • He resided at 68 Main Street, Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania (He shared a home with Charles, Agnes & little Annie, and his sister Blanche - hopefully a happy arrangement)
  • Ambrose was 34 years old at the time this document was filled out in 1918 - his birthdate was September 22, 1884
  • His occupation was Flagman for the Pennsylvania & Reading Railroad Company, Pottsville, Pennsylvania
  • Nearest relative: Blanche Cowhey (his sister), also residing at 68 Main Street

Ambrose' physical appearance is described as follows:

  • Short
  • Medium-build
  • Blue eyes
  • Light brown hair

Probably my favorite part of these documents is seeing each man's signature at the bottom. It makes me wonder when I see their names scrawled at the bottom of the forms if they knew that they would not be drafted into military service, or if they were concerned about the possibility of going overseas to fight for their country.

Either way, I'm sure that they probably kept a close eye on The Pottsville Republican and the news of world events that were transpiring so far from their close-knit community in Mount Carbon and Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

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