It never occurred to me that any of my foreign-born ancestors would have ever served in the U.S. Military unless they were citizens. So, I never bothered to look at the Draft Registration Records. When I did, I was surprised to find my grandfather, my grandmother’s brother, and several other villagers’ cards.
What was so fascinating was the additional detail about these people that I had not found anywhere else. I found out that my Grandfather had a big scar down his neck and that he had worked, at least for a time, in a foundry as a molten metal handler. I found another relative who only planned to stay in this country for a short time to earn some money and then return, but he got stuck here during the war. I found another relative who was working in Corning, NY, along with several other villagers, but only for a couple of years. One of my cousins told me that Grandma and Grandpa had friends down in Corning, but had no idea why. It opened up a whole new set of records to examine.
WORLD WAR ONE, DRAFT REGISTRATIONS
During World War I, specifically in 1917 and 1918 all men between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to register with the selective service. Registration cards do not imply they served, only that they registered. This not only included citizens but aliens as well. I found one relative, Illes Tarkulic’ who arrived in the states in 1914, but got “stuck” here during WWII. He was married but he came by himself to earn money for a couple of years.
WORLD WAR TWO
In 1942, another round of draft registrations were mandated, for men between the ages of 45 and 64. The purpose of this registration was to assess the skills and industry each man worked. In the event the War Production Board found that there was a lack of trained/skilled workforce in a particular area, these men may be called to service, stateside. Again, this would include Aliens. Alas, to find my Grandfather, Peter Tarkulich (still an alien), age 54 had registered. It was the one and only place I have ever found his village name very clearly written as “Zboy”, which is close to the present-day spelling, during the first Czechoslovakia government. Before this, it was always written in Magyar(Hungarian), or just “Hungary”
“Austria-Hungary” or even more simply, “Austria”, which was never true.
Ancestry.com holds a great many of these registration cards. Make sure you look at both the front and back of the cards. What is remarkable is that they took care to get the facts right and to use good penmanship.