Researching Missouri World War One Military Personnel

New: May 29, 2002: The Missouri State Archives has finally put online a database of the 145,000 Missourians that served in the U.S. Army and Marines. This includes 327 nurses in the Medical services. Make this free database your first stop on researching your Missouri WWI ancestor. http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/soldiers/

Military service personnel records are kept at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Mo. In 1973, a fire at the NPRC on July 12, 1973, destroyed about 80 percent of the records for Army personnel discharged between November 1, 1912, and January 1, 1960. (See exception below.) Records of  the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps personnel were not damaged. According to the NPRC "certain basic information is needed to locate military service records.  This information includes the veteran's complete name used while in service, service number, branch of service, and dates of service.  Date and place of birth may also be helpful, especially if the service number is not known." Note: Without the service number many requests have been denied, so this is very important in most situations. You will need to submit form SF 180 to request records from NPRC.

Exception: Millions of records, especially medical records, had been withdrawn from all three groups and loaned to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) prior to the fire. The fact that one's records are not in NPRC files at a particular time does not mean the records were destroyed in the fire. In addition by using alternate sources, NPRC may often be able to reconstruct a veteran's beginning and ending dates of active service, the character of service, rank while in service, time lost while on active duty, and periods of hospitalization. NPRC is usually able to issue NA Form 13038, "Certification of Military Service," considered the equivalent of a Form DD-214, "Report of Separation From Active Duty," for the purpose of establishing eligibility for veterans benefits. To see if an individual soldier has surviving records write: National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132-5100.  See also Facts About the 1973 St. Louis Fire and Lost Records 

See also "They Answered the Call" about Military Service in the United States Army during World War I, 1917-1919.

Pension Records:

The Department of Veteran Affairs has benefit claims files. These files are located at the regional office nearest to the residence of the veteran at the time of application. 

St. Louis Regional Office
Federal Building, 400 South, 18th Street
St. Louis, MO 63103
1 (800) 827 1000

See also:
Johnson, Richard S. How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military. 7th ed. Ft. Sam Houston, Tex.: Military Information Enterprises, 1996.

Cemetery Records:

The American Battle Monument Commission has a microfiche register of  134,548 veterans who died and were buried in American military cemeteries overseas. This information gives: name, service number, last organization, some awards, last rank, and burial place. For this one must write to:

National Personnel Records Center
(Military Personnel Records)
9700 Page Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63132

If you would like to visit one of the National Cemeteries in Missouri:

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
2900 Sheridan Road
St. Louis, MO 63125
314 260 8691
Location: Cemetery is located approximately 30 miles Southeast of Lambert International Airport. From the airport take first right after leaving Airport Dr. Travel approximately 1 mile, then turn left onto I-70 to I-270 South approximately 24 miles. Turn left onto the Telegraph Rd. exit. Travel North to third traffic signal and turn right onto Sheridan Rd. (cemetery on your right).

Jefferson City National Cemetery
1024 E. McCarty Street
Jefferson City, MO 65101
314 260 8691
Location: Cemetery is approximately 5 miles West of Memorial Airport. From the airport, take Hwy. 54 turning left (West) across the bridge to Jefferson City. Take Hwy. 50 exit East and travel to Clark Ave. (5 traffic lights). Exit on Clark Ave. and turn left (North) at the T intersection with a traffic light, turn left (West) on McCarty St. Travel 1 block to the cemetery on your left.

Springfield National Cemetery

1702 East Seminole Street
Springfield, MO 65804
 417 881 9499
Location: Cemetery is located on the South side of Springfield, 1 block North of Battlefield Mall. From the Municipal Airport, travel Kearney St. for 6 miles to Glenstone Ave. Turn right (South) on Glenstone, proceed 4 miles to Seminole St., turn right on Seminole. Travel 1 block to the cemetery entrance.

Other National Cemeteries

National Grave Locator (This very helpful, but only includes those veterans that are buried in a National Cemetery)

For Battlefield Cemeteries Overseas (like in France): see American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC)

The Andrews Project can provide free photo and lithograph requests for descendants of American soldiers buried overseas. To make a request one must fill out the request form and mail it to:

American Battle Monuments Commission
Courthouse Plaza II, Suite 500
2300 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201

 (Phone: 703-696-6897 )

If you would like to place flowers on your World War I ancestor's grave, for a fee, the ABMC can also provide this service for the following World War I battlefields where Americans are buried: 

Aisne-Marne (Belleau, France)
Brookwood, (Brookwood, England)
Flanders Field (Waregem, Belgium)
Meuse-Argonne (Romagne, France)
Oise-Aisne (Fere-en-Tardenois, France) 
St. Mihiel (Thiacourt, France)
Somme (Bony, France)
Suresnes (Suresnes, France)

[Price List for Flowers]   [Floral Decoration Order Form]

Alternative sources:

Troopship Manifests

Troopship manifests provide a nearly complete listing of all Army personnel  that went overseas. .Unfortunately, these records are not microfilmed and are not indexed by name.  They are located at the National Archives and Records Administration at 8601 Adelphi Road in College Park, Maryland 20740-6001. These records contain a wealth of  information for the World War I researcher. For example, next to each soldier's name is listed his rank, unit, an "emergency contact", and the relationship of that contact (father, mother, sister-in-law, ect.) with their street address. Usually the soldier's service number is also included.

As I stated earlier, troopship manifests are poorly indexed. Without knowing the ship's name a soldier's regiment or battalion was transported, it can be very difficult to locate an individual. The only type of index that appears on these documents is the contents at the beginning ( first 2 or 3 pages) of each manifest, a listing of all the units* on board that ship is recorded. It also gives the order they appear on the manifest. *Often the contents section only designates the division the personnel belonged (i.e. 90th Division, for example). To find the exact unit one would have to page to the section of the manifests where the men of the division are listed. In other cases, some men may not even be assigned to divisions and are simply "replacements" (i.e. Camp Cody Automatic Repl. Draft Infantry, for example) that will be assigned to fill vacant ranks as needed once they get to France.

Since these records are not microfilmed, it is necessary to obtain xerox copies at a price of  a $1.00 a page. Many of these transport ships are very large, carrying as many as 5,000-6,000 troops. For instance, copying an entire troopship manifest for the superliner, Mauretania, would cost as much as $100. So if you have the name of the ship, and especially helpful would be the date of the voyage (often these ships made many trips back and forth), the NARA personnel should be able to simply copy an individual page your soldier appears on. For military historians, on the other hand, may want more copies so they can get all the men of a particular unit/regiment. For them they may want to also locate the manifest for the troopship bringing the unit back to the United States, which would include names of replacements that had joined the unit at a later date.

World War I Civilian Draft Registration Cards

While this will not provide proof that an individual served in the war, it does give the names of males born between 1873-1900 that were living in 1917-1918. Not everyone was drafted, but these cards contain other helpful information.

Ancestry Free Draft Card Database:

 

Missouri Discharge Cards


Contains the following information:  residence, birth place, date of birth,  military organizations served in, and assignment dates.  Also each record has the individual's serial number recorded. This number is often important in requesting records from Military Personnel Records Center.

 The Missouri State Archives reports, "Alphabetical file of discharge cards for Missouri men who served in World War I.  There are some claims records covering 1917-1923. Access to the Archives is provided through the research room. Written requests are answered by the reference staff. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday. Saturday hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Microfilm and published materials are available in the research room; records from the Archives' stacks should be requested in advance for use on Thursday evenings, Saturdays or holidays." Missouri State Archives, 600 W. Main, P.O. Box 1747, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102 Telephone: (573) 751-3280

Online Research Requests:  http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/email.asp

St. Louis County Library has copies on microfilm of both Navy and Army Discharge cards:

More information is available from their website at: http://www.slcl.org/branches/hq/sc/sc-gennew.htm#ww1army


National Guard World War I Service Cards:

The National Guard service cards for World War I date from 1917-1921 The information includes:  name, birthplace, age, physical description, and the company served. Microfilm rolls at the St. Louis County library are copies of original documents located at the Missouri State Archives. An example of this type of record can be found at: http://www.slcl.org/branches/hq/sc/images/sc-ww1natgd.htm

Missouri Adjutant General WWI Service Questionnaires:

In 1919-1920 the Missouri Adjutant General sent out questionnaires to World War I veterans across the State.
The questionnaires not only requested military service questions like battle's fought but also questioned each veteran about their birth, occupation, children, parent's names, where parents born, ancestry back to a Civil War or Revolutionary war soldier. At least one soldier, a son of an immigrant stated they were the son of a German soldier of the Franco-Prussian war that was fought on some of the same battlefields in France in the nineteenth century. Even for soldiers killed in action, questionnaires were returned by the next of kin. Some questionnaires contain copies of letters written home by the soldier, photographs, newspaper clippings, and even occasionally, a diary.

These accounts can put tears in one's eyes. For example in one letter, a St. Louis soldier, Corp. Norman Elmer Brooks, of the 138th Infantry wrote home asking that his younger brother not be too hopeful of his return, writing, "Don't be surprised if I am killed". He was, on 26 Sept 1918 at the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne. Not all of the ones in these questionnaires are soldiers. There is a return from the parents of Red Cross nurse Katherine Woodfin Cecil, who died in service from disease. Her parents reported "Cecil Place", a street in St. Louis was named in her honor. Sometimes even the parents died after hearing about their son's death. The mother of Pvt. Joseph A. Boggiano dropped dead at the moment she heard her son serving in the 128th Infantry was killed in action at the Argonne on Nov 10, 1918.

For everyone questionnaire returned, the State of Missouri sent the veteran or next of kin a Missouri WWI service medal. So if the soldier himself was killed sometimes there are even two or three questionnaires (one from the parents, another from a sister, ect.) returned for the same individual.

The availability of these questionnaires varies for different counties of Missouri. While the Missouri State Archives  (600 W. Main, P.O. Box 1747, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102 Telephone: (573) 751-3280 ) 
has a majority of them, some are held at local libraries around the State.

St. Louis City and County:  Questionnaires are kept in the Library and Research Center of the Missouri Historical Society, 225 S. Skinker, St. Louis, Mo.  Phone: 314-746-4599  (Note: Hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) website: http://www.mohistory.org/   

Kansas City:  Kansas City Public Library (Special Collections Department, located on the 3rd floor of the Main Branch located at 311 E. 12th Street, Kansas City, MO  64106-2454  Phone: 816-701-3505) Directions: see http://www.kclibrary.org/locations/maindir.htm

Although Kansas City has the largest number of questionnaires available for the city, the Liberty Museum (100 W. 26th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108-4616 Phone: 816-931-0749) has 149 in their collection. It is not certain if these are duplicates or not. In addition the Missouri State Archives has one Kansas City questionnaire, that for a "Cole", in their collection in Jefferson City.

The Missouri State Archives has the questionnaire for the following Missouri Counties: Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Audrian, Barry, Benton, Bollinger, Boone, Buchanan, Butler, Caldwell, Callaway, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Carter, Cass, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dade, Dallas, Daviess, Dekalb, Dent, Douglass, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Gentry, Greene, Grundy, Kansas City (one for "Cole"), Ozark, Perry, Pemiscot, Pettis, Phelps, Pike, Platte, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Ray.  Note: At last check, MSA did not have any questionnaires from other counties of the State (for example, Jefferson, Iron, St. Charles, St. Francis, or Washington counties).

Will these "lost" WWI questionnaires be found ?

It is possible these records are not lost but simply housed at an unknown location (local historical society, library or courthouse).

Patricia M. Luebbert, the Senior Archivist at the Missouri State Archives, makes the following explanation:
"Much of the WWI information has been lost or misplaced somewhere in state government through the years.  The Records Management and Archives Division's of the Secretary of State's Office did not come into existence until 1965.  Until that time the State of Missouri did not take adequate care of its state government records.  Even today old state government records will turn up in buildings being renovated."

"In June of this year (2001) we (the Archives staff) brought some 350 cubic feet of military records into its custody.  There is a portion of these records that are from WWI.  We have not yet have time to a detailed inventory and assessment of these records."

Other WWI records are still being located in county courthouses throughout Missouri. As you can see it is an ongoing process."

Miscellaneous Sources:

Newspaper Obituaries: Copies of World War I era Missouri newspapers on microfilm are available at various libraries and archives in the State.

Online Newspaper Sources: Index to St. Louis Post Dispatch 1918 Obituaries, Death Notice and the Burial Permits listing (courtesy of  Keith B. Zimmer, Periodical Reading Room, St. Louis Public Library) Central Library, 1301 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63103 Phone: (314) 241-2288

Also consult the World War I obituary index at. http://www.slpl.lib.mo.us/libsrc/obit.htm#list

"Soldiers of the Great War" (1920), 3 volumes by W. M. Haulsee (gives name, rank at the time of death, and place of residence) Most, but not all, of these listed are from St. Louis.  (Courtesy of Thomas A. Pearson, Special Collections Department, St. Louis Public Library) Central Library, 1301 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63103 Phone: (314) 241-2288

 


Missourians in World War I

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