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Sunday, October 9, 2011

World War I Draft Registration Cards

Ancestry dot com has been celebrating 15 years of being in business and has offered free access to some of its records. Today it is World War I Draft Registration Cards. I was looking to see if I could find something new in that department, but I didn't.  I would like to share a few records I had previously downloaded for the Jowers and Gilley families from the aforementioned website.

The first card belongs to my grandfather, Hilliard Edgar Jowers. He registered for the draft on September 12, 1918. He was 36 years old at the time, married about 11 years, had 3 living children: Sammy (who died almost 3 months after the date of this registration), Hubert and Mozelle, and one child on the way who was born 4 months after the draft registration date, Thomas Henry.

Hilliard Jowers lived in the country, RFD #5, near Hartford, Geneva County, Alabama. He was a farmer. He didn't list an employer's name, so he may have been an independent farmer. His birthday was written as July 27 1880, when in fact he was born on that date in 1882. I don't know why there is a discrepancy in the year. He was of medium height with a medium build, had dark brown (D. B.) eyes and black hair.

The interesting thing about this registration card escaped me the first few times I looked at it after I initially downloaded it. My grandfather probably couldn't read or write as evidenced by the "signature" at the bottom of the left page. Sandwiched between his middle and last names is this:  X and the words "his mark." I never knew about that until I saw this card. It made me a little sad to know about it. I was 10 years old when he died and he was 75 years old. That he couldn't read or write was never discussed in my family.

He was a farmer all his life, having grown up in a farming family and farmed as an adult. He and my grandmother, a farmer's wife, raised nine children to adulthood. Today we would probably view it as a hardscrabble life, but in his later years, my grandfather was able to buy a house and land in Holmes County, Florida, near the spot in the road named Leonia. I'm not sure the exact year that happened, but most of the nine children had "left home."

The remaining World War I draft registration cards were for my grandmother, Annie Gilley Jowers' five brothers. Except for Green Gilley, I have seen my grandmother's brothers at family reunions at her home near Leonia, Florida.

Marvin Gilley, born November 28, 1879, was 39 years old when he registered for the draft. His permanent address was RFD Black, Geneva County, Alabama. That's where his wife, Lula Gilley, lived. (Lula Bell Jowers Gilley was the sister of my grandfather, Hilliard Edgar Jowers.) Marvin Gilley worked as a logger for Alabama and Florida Lumber Company in Holmes County, Florida, just over the state line. At the time of his registration, September 19, 1918, he had two sons. He was tall, of slender build, with brown eyes and dark hair.

Ernest Gilley lived in Holmes County, Florida when he registered on September 12, 1918. His address was RFD #1, Noma, Holmes County, Florida. He was 34 years old, married and a farmer. He was tall,  had a slender build, brown eyes and dark hair. His wife was listed as Mrs. Ernest Gilley. (My research notes show her first name was May, but I don't know her maiden surname.) He had four children at the time.

Lee Gilley was 28 years old when he registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. His date of birth was May 20, 1889 and he was born in Newlon, Alabama. (I haven't been able to locate Newlon, Alabama on a map.) He was a farmer who worked for Leon D .... (can't figure out the last name) in Hartford, Geneva County, Alabama. He had a wife and one child. According the my research his wife was named Fannie and the daughter was Ruby Lee Gilley.  He was tall, had a slender build, had brown eyes and black hair.

Warren Isaiah Gilley, born January 18, 1894, registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. He was 23 years old. He was born in Wicksburg, Geneva County, Alabama and lived in Bonifay, Holmes County, Florida at the time of the draft. He was a logger who worked for Babois Lumber Company in Bonifay, Florida. He had a wife at the time. His wife's name was Essie, according to my research. Like his other brothers he was tall with a slender build, brown eyes, black hair.

Green Gilley was the youngest of the Gilley brothers. He was born November 27, 1897 (year is unreadable on the draft and I wrote the date from my research notes).
 He was 20 years old when he registered for the draft on September 12, 1918. He was a self-employed farmer and married to Lela M. Gilley (no maiden surname listed, but I have now learned her full maiden name was Leila Maude Steverson). They lived in Hartford, Geneva County, Alabama. He was tall and slender with BLUE eyes and LIGHT hair.

While he was the youngest Gilley brother, he was the first brother who survived to adulthood to die. He was 25 years old when he died in 1923, leaving a widow and three very young children.

So . . . there you have it for the World War I draft registration cards for the Jowers and Gilley families. To my knowledge none of them participated in the war.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to see the names that were popular in the South back then. Thanks for the descriptions--you could almost picture them.