Thursday, May 08, 2014

Ensuring the name is correct is the first step in finding your Ancestors

I wrote a post on Face Book a few months back in regards to a possible African American WWII military Veteran.  The overall point that I was attempting to make at the time was for over five years I attempted to confirm William Montford of Jacksonville, North Carolina, served in the U.S. military ca. 1917, with little results. 

William Montford
Died in France, September 26, 1918

I discovered during my search through various WWI war records that there were not only combat deaths but, those caused by disease.  What sparked my interest in regards to the possibility of “rediscovering” and giving long overdue respect for William, as a “forgotten” military veteran, was an inscription on this man’s headstone within the Diggs Cemetery, “Died in France.”  His date of death was in 1918, a period of time when the United States was involved in the War-to-end-all-wars.

As mentioned, I have attempted to use various military, genealogy and individual research techniques to obtain validation if this William Montford was in fact a military soldier during WWI.  A common saying within historical and genealogic research is, “coming to a brick wall.”  Each time a restart of my search was conducted I, too, came to a brick wall.  No military records could be located.  The fire at the National Archives was a main factor.  To add to this challenge there were no genealogic discoveries.  Local residents could not remember an Ancestor who died in 1918.  An added note to this particular graveyard is that it is made up of multiple family cemeteries that were “relocated” to Diggs cemetery.

Recently, I was introduced to an official report, written ca.1919, of military deaths that occurred during WWI, “Soldiers of the Great War.”  This text was brought to my attention due to the help of some keen genealogy researchers I met through Internet social media.  The death report, with images of soldiers, is listed by state and each death was recorded.  Not only was combat deaths mentioned but, there were also illness and accidental deaths listed.  This is where I found my first tangible, “possible” connection to my quests.

Reported among the list of names of soldiers who died in France within Volume II of this book were the men who joined from North Carolina.  One surname was discovered who lived in Jacksonville, Onlsow County, North Carolina—William Munford.  I determined through census reports that there were Munford families living in Onslow County.  Records indicate ,however, there were no males that meet the age prerequisites for a William Munford to be serving in WWI.

William Munford
Jacksonville, (North Carolina)

Having correct information on a subject to conduct genealogy research is extremely vital.  If done haphazardly, a whole family tree may be distorted and contaminated from the roots to top branches.  Confirming and then re-confirming correct spelling of Given and Surnames is vital.

I am now closer to declaring William Munford, listed within the book “Soldiers of the Great War; Vol. II,” is in fact, William Montford buried within Diggs Cemetery with the headstone inscription—Died in France (1918). 

In time, hopefully, we can give this gentleman the recognition that was deserved, but not given in his lifetime, for a multitude of reason, and present to our next generation an opportunity to teach their next generation of our heritages.
Thank you for taking the time to reading this and other posts that I have written.

Here are links that will give you an idea of the work that I conduct in regards to finding our "Forgotten Veterans" and protecting our endangered cemeteries.


Books that I have written

Semper Fi !  

Remember our military Veterans.  Say hello and thanks to them the next time you see one.


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