Posted in Letters, Military, World War 1

“[They] gave thier Lives where we only gave our service. But we were all willing.”

Pvt. A.L. Gooch on his motorcycle, WWI 89th Div., Military Police
Pvt. A.L. Gooch on his motorcycle, WWI 89th Div., Military Police

[This is 14h in a series of letters written by Private A.L. Gooch to his family in Duncan Arizona, while a part of the American Occupation Forces in Germany after WWI.

This letter was written 23 Jan 1919, after the end of the war but before Pvt Gooch had returned home.  This letter is the last in the series of letters from Pvt Gooch to his family during WWI – at least the last of those I have found.  In this letter, Pvt Gooch (known as Nig) was recovering from the Spanish Flu, had returned to his company, and was looking forward to his return home at some point. Original letters are in possession of Dayna Gooch Jacobs, King City, California. Envelope missing. Continue reading ““[They] gave thier Lives where we only gave our service. But we were all willing.””

Posted in Archives and Libraries, Civil War, Family History Library, Indian Wars, Mexican War, Military, National Archives, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Websites, World War 1, World War 2

Looking for military records? You are gonna like this!

military 1

Want to find your ancestor in military records? Here is an efficient way to identify all military records on FamilySearch, and to narrow your search by collection. It is then easy to search within a single collection.

On the FamilySearch home screen click “Search” and then “Records” in the dropdown menu.

FamilySearch Military 1

Do NOT enter a name to search, but instead click on “Browse All Published Collections.” Continue reading “Looking for military records? You are gonna like this!”

Posted in Civil War, FamilySearch Wiki, Mexican War, Military, Military pension, Research tips, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, World War 1, World War 2

Cheatsheet: Table of Wars and Ages of Servicemen

Military records are a valuable source of genealogical information—one of the best!  Military service records, bounty land files, and pension files are some of the more commonly used in this record group, but don’t stop there.  Draft cards, discharge papers, prisoner of war records, veteran cemeteries, soldier homes, and veteran/lineage societies can be rich resources for the researcher.

Do you know if your ancestor served in the military?   The FamilySearch Wiki provides an Ages of Servicemen table to help determine this. From this table I created the Table of Wars – Ages of Servicemen downloadable cheatsheet with a timeline of wars servicemen might have been involved with, according to their birth dates at the time of the conflict. This is a table for wars the United States was a part of, but since most of these wars involved foreign countries, it can be a helpful tool for your foreign-born ancestors, as well.

We tend to think of wartime service for veterans, but don’t forget that men and women served in peacetime, too.  Use this cheatsheet to determine if your ancestor might have been part of a military conflict, and then check the FamilySearch Wiki for search strategies specific to each war.

Table of Wars - Ages of Servicemen.  Source:
Table of Wars – Ages of Servicemen. Source:

Downloadable Cheatsheet:  Table of Wars and Ages of Servicemen

Posted in Directories, Research tips, World War 1

Pinocchio: Records don’t lie (or do they?)

The Fairy Tale Genealogist is at it again.  Let’s find out what became of Pinocchio, using records from and good photo-editing software.Pinocchio 1You all know that Pinocchio was the wooden puppet whose wish came true when he became a real, live boy.  But I’m wondering if he may have had second thoughts when the draft board came calling during WWI. Continue reading “Pinocchio: Records don’t lie (or do they?)”

Posted in Artifacts, eVetRecs, Military, National Archives, National Personnel Records Center, Research tips, World War 1

“Burned” WWI Personnel File for Allen Lee Millard Gooch

Using the online eVetRecs at the National Archives website I ordered a World War I service record for my grandfather, Allen Lee Millard Gooch.  I knew my chances of getting a file were slim because in 1973 a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, destroyed 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), including 80% of personnel discharged 1 Nov 1912-1 Jan 1960.

Indeed, I received a reply to my request that said my requested records were part of the 1973 fire.  I was sad.  Then, amazingly, I received a thick packet with much, or possibly all, of my grandfather’s file with copies of the “burned” records!  Here is a page:

This record–an “Application for Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed Discharge Certificate”–proves that you never know just where you will find some of the best information.  This record provides us with:

  1. Full name
  2. Place/date of enlistment and discharge
  3. Military unit
  4. Physical description
  5. City and State of birth
  6. Approximate birth year
  7. Probable residence after discharge
  8. Occupation
  9. Signature

This is only one of many pages in this record, and the others are equally interesting.  I may post some more soon.

This record also proves you should never give up just because you are told a repository burned.  Yes, the records burned, but hey—not entirely!!  Let’s hear it for the 42 fire districts that responded to the alarm and battled the blaze for 2 days.


I received an unexpected bonus one day when a box containing replacement medals for my grandfather’s WWI service arrived in the mail:  A Purple Heart, a WWI Victory Medal, and a medal for his participation in the battles of Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel.  What a treasure!  I will post photos soon.

To learn more about the Military service records and Official Military Personnel Files go to

Pre-WWI military records can be ordered here: