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Nearly 100 years ago, thousands of North Carolina men shipped out to Europe to serve in the Great War. Who were they? Where did they come from and how did they serve? Who were the men and women who served at home and overseas?
A searchable database of North Carolina's World War I service cards, compiled after the war, is now available online at Family Search (familysearch.org) and can help answer those questions. Using data from cards maintained at the State Archives of North Carolina, the database, searchable by name, includes place and date of induction, residence, and place and date of birth for officers, enlisted men, nurses, medics and chaplains who served in an official military capacity during World War I. Branches of service include the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The actual service card is viewable through the database and contains additional information such as rank, unit, overseas service date and date of discharge from active military service.
“These service cards serve as a fundamental resource for those wishing detail about 80,000 North Carolinians who served their country during World War I,” said Matthew Peek, Military Collection archivist at the State Archives. "The searchable database created by Family Search makes our records freely accessible to everyone as we head into the 100th commemoration of American’s entry into World War I.”
The project is part of North Carolina’s official commemoration of the centennial of America’s entrance into World War I. “The State Archives preserves many World War I archival records and we are pleased to partner with Family Search to make this military information easily accessible,” said State Archivist Sarah Koonts. “As the 100th anniversary of America’s involvement in the war approaches, we’ll be working with other divisions within the department to create programs that honor those men and women who served our country.”
World War I created the modern world by undermining European aristocracy, shifting national borders, industrializing warfare and expanding the public realm of women, among other effects. North Carolina emerged from this first global conflict less rural, more worldly, and better equipped to serve the nation through industry, military installations, and shipbuilding enterprises at our ports.
The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources World War Centennial Committee will oversee the state’s official commemoration of World War I. For more information and to learn more about commemorative activities, please visit our website at:
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World War I Memorial Dedicated in Yanceyville 1929
"A large number of people gathered in the public square at 3 o'clock to pay a permanent tribute to the Caswell men who while bearing arms for the nation died during the World war. A granite rock has been placed in the square and on it is a copper plate bearing the names of 16 men who gave their lives. There was a large turnout for the event and the ceremony was impressive. Allen Gwynn of Reidsville, himself a service man making the address. The memorial is not far from another, commemorating Caswell's part in the Civil war and it is near the German machine gun which Caswell secured as a war trophy."
Source: The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 7 February 1929, Thursday, Pages 1 and 3.