World War I began on this day, July 28

On this day, July 28 in 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. This was the beginning of WWI. The U.S. had hoped to remain neutral but that was not to be and in April of  1917 we entered the war. My grandfather, my great uncles and their contemporaries were required to register for the draft in 1917. My great uncle Andrew Soderstrom and my great uncle Richard Peterson were called to serve. The rest were luckily not called but World War I draft enlistment records still exist that tell us a bit about our ancestors and who they were, what they were doing and what their family situation was at the time.

my great uncle Hugo Henry Alvine was born in 1875. In 1917 he was married to my great aunt Sarona Kallman and they had 2 boys. He was already 41 so not likely to be drafted. I learned from this registration that he was medium height and build with blue eyes and light hair. He lived in Chicago, Illinois and worked for Marshall Field as a clerk.

My great uncle Richard Reinhold Peterson was born in 1892. 1917 found him unmarried and only 25, primo for drafting. Uncle Richard served in France and before discharge was given his citizenship. Richard was a Chicago chauffeur of medium height and build, with blue eyes and light hair. He had the good sense to marry great aunt Tekla Kallman before he went in to the Army.

My great uncle Uno Markus Palm was born in 1883. At 34 and married to my great aunt Olga Kallman, he wasn't chosen to serve. He was a tall, medium built man with blue eyes and light hair. He filed first in California and registered in Alaska where he said he was a miner. His wife was in Washington state. I don't know much about this fellow. Seems he was a bit shifty. Aunt Olga had the good sense to leave him or the good luck that he left her, I don't know which. She said he was "a ladies man" and in true Swedish style that's all she would say about that!

My great uncle Andrew Olaf Soderstrom was just the man our country was looking for. He was born in 1888 and unmarried, plus he had military experience back in Sweden.   He was a machinist for the Deere company in Moline, Illinois. He served in the cavalry but before he left he married great aunt Ruth Abrahamson. Tall with a medium build, blue eyes, light hair and that square jaw, he made quite a good looking soldier didn't he?

My great uncle John Emil Jacobson was born in 1878. A farmer from Illinois, he was recorded as medium height and build and you guessed eyes and light hair. Pushing 40, married to great aunt Anna Abrahamson, with 4 kids and one on the way, he also was not a good candidate to draft. 

And of course my grandfather Richard Severin Kallman. Born in 1887 he was the right age but he was already married to my grandmother Lydia Abrahamson. They had 3 children whom he supported as a chauffeur in Chicago. He was of medium height and medium build with light hair and light blue eyes. Interesting to note that his right index finger was 'crippled". The family joke was he was rejected because that was his trigger finger. Most likely that was a beginning sign of the terrible rheumatoid arthritis he would later suffer from.

These documents give us a little glimpse of who the ancestors were at the onset of World War I. I really like seeing their personal signatures also. The "WAR TO END ALL WARS" is what they called World War I. Boy, how I wish that had been the truth.

 **click on documents and photos to enlarge for easier viewing**

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