Sunday, July 28, 2013

Military Monday - Maurice's Life Before Hazel

Beth Israel Cemetery, Hazleton, PA
I'm continuing with my research into my "Nana's" family today with a World War I draft registration for her husband, Maurice Blum.  His obituary (here) was filled with so much information regarding his involvement in various organizations, but was lacking in his personal life.  No mention of how old he was.  No mention of where he was born or lived prior to Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  No mention of when he came to America.  Very little information about his marriage to Hazel, and only a passing mention of a sister living in Tel Aviv (a name would have been nice here).  What we do know is that he served in World War I so I went for his WWI Draft Registration.

Maurice wasn't living in Hazleton or even Luzerne county when he registered for the draft and he wasn't married to Hazel yet, so how could I be sure that I had the right WWI registration?  It wasn't hard to discover this.  There are lots of great records out there that touched on Maurice's military service like his WWII registration which not only listed Hazel as his wife, but gave his birth date and birth location. That birth information was exactly matched in a World War I registration in Allentown, Leigh County, Pennsylvania.  I can be pretty certain that this is the right Maurice.  I know stranger genealogical coincidences have occurred, but this with matches that corroborated it from census records that I know to be him and veterans burial records help to solidify this match (a visit to his grave when home also was helpful, but that's tomorrow).

So what did I find about Maurice and World War I and why is it important.

WWI Draft Registration*
Name and Age - Maurice L Blum / 22
Home Address - 609 N 6(th) Allentown PA
Date of Birth - April 10, 1895
Citizenship - declared intention
If not citizen, what nation are you a subject - Warsaw, Russia
Occupation - (unk) foreman silk mill
Employer - Allentown Silk, Allentown
Dependents - sisters
Marital status and race - single / caucasian
Prior military service - None
Exemption claims from military service and grounds - Two sisters in Europe

And about how Maurice looked (although there was a head shot of him with his obituary) - he was of a medium and slender build with blue eyes and light brown hair.

Remember that the borders to countries change.  They still do and always have.  Heck state and county borders in our own country do the same!  We all (should) know that Warsaw is in Poland not Russia, but at the time this was apparently not the case.  Even if you don't remember your history very well, what Maurice tells us in this registration lets us know that Warsaw was under Russian control then.  We also see that he is responsible for the support of 2 sisters that are still in Europe (presumably in Warsaw)  and that Maurice was not yet an optometrist.

From this registration I know his date and place of birth and can find him a bit more easily in the census records knowing that I may not find him in Luzerne county.  I can use his birth information to help narrow down searches including finding him on passenger lists and naturalization records.  Only two sisters are mentioned here and we know that one was alive and well in Tel Aviv in 1971, but we don't know her name or when she eventually passed on.  One hard to read record can yield a lot of information that will help me to find more and get to know Maurice (and thus Hazel) a little better.

*WWI Draft Registrations can be viewed from many genealogy search sites, both paid and free of charge like our wonderful National Archives!