Sometimes I go to Ancestry.com specifically to see what new records collections are available. Today, I saw Ancestry had a new collection called U. S., Veterans Administration Master Index, which “contains a card index created by the Veterans Bureau (Veterans Administration) for each veteran who had insurance applications, conversions, veterans who had filed claims with their agency, and veterans who were paid a WWI bonus.” I decided to search for William Thomas Graham, my great uncle that served during World War I, and found him. But the Ancestry collection was just an index — no images. Luckily, the collection is also available at FamilySearch with images and for free!
Sometimes genealogy is like science, in that we must revise old theories when new data is collected. There’s some new data here that I didn’t know before, and some of it contradicts some conclusions I’d drawn in previous articles.
“GRAHAM WILLIAM”. Okay, we knew that part.
“Pvt Co F 348 Inf Co F 34 Inf”. William’s rank, private, and unit, Company F of the 348th Infantry Regiment. I’m not certain what the “Co F 34 Inf” part refers to, as I haven’t been able to find any reference to a 34th Infantry Regiment that served during WW1. There was a 34th Infantry Division that served in that war, but Company F wouldn’t be a proper formation directly beneath a division, there would have to be a brigade and a regiment in between.
“Oak Flat Ark”. This entry indicates place of residence at time of enlistment. Oak Flat was a populated place northwest of Dennard in Van Buren County, Arkansas. William’s 1917 draft card had his residence as Watts in Searcy County.
“Sn 2 109 438”. William’s service number.
“Died 9/12/20”. 12 September 1920, the date of William’s death.
“Born 1/20/94”. 20 January 1894. William’s birth date? Not according to his draft card, which reads 20 February 1894. Or the 1900 census, which reads January 1893.
“Enl 12/3/17”. This is the date William was enlisted (either by choice or draft) into the Army, 3 December 1917.
“Dis 5/24/18”. William’s discharge date, 24 May 1918.
William never left Arkansas during the war!
Well, this certainly contradicts my WW1 Centennial post claiming that William was still in France when peace broke out on 11 November 1918, and my post about S. S. Chicago returning the 87th Division home in February 1919. William apparently didn’t even make it to France, as the 87th began arriving there in August 1918, three months after his discharge. Heck, William was already out of the service before the 87th even departed Camp Pike, Arkansas for Fort Dix, New Jersey in June 1918. It looks like William never left Arkansas during the war!
It’s curious that William served only five months. Recalling the non-stop nosebleed that killed him in 1920, I wonder if the brevity of his service was medically related.
“SCD”. Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability. Yep, his discharge was medically related.
“C” indicates there was an insurance application with some type of reference number (account numbers, perhaps?)
“A” indicates adjusted compensation, again with reference numbers.
“T” is war risk insurance with reference numbers.
“I” indicates a permanent disability, with reference numbers.
Ancestry.com. U.S., Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT. USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2019. Original data: United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2019.
“United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QPV7-X219 : 27 October 2019), William Graham, 24 May 1918; citing Military Service, NARA microfilm publication 76193916 (St. Louis: National Archives and Records Administration, 1985), various roll numbers.