Lineages, Inc.

Known as the Great War prior to WWII, WWI raged for a few years before the U.S. entered the conflict. This war only occurred a few decades before WWII, so some families had members serving in both wars. Some men who registered for the WWI draft also registered for the WWII old man’s draft.

A man who served in WWI may have sent a son off to serve in WWII. Women who had husbands serve in WWI may have had sons serving in WWII. Daughters of WWI vets may have had brothers or sweethearts serving in WWII.

My ancestors were among these people—I found my WWI ancestors on the same family lines I had discovered my WWII ancestors on. In my previous blog, I wrote of Garners, McElhinneys, Bishops, and Walters registering for the WWII draft; some had served. I found draft registrations on the Garner, McElhinney, and Walter lines. I found service records on the Bishop line.

All men between eighteen and forty-five were required to register for the draft, or males born between 1872 and 1900. If you have male ancestors born during that time, look up WWI draft registrations for them. Note that men not of age who were overeager to serve may have lied about their age. Also, note that a draft registration does not guarantee service.

To demonstrate what can be learned from draft cards, we will examine the ones I found for my ancestors. These ancestors are three great-great-grandfathers on my paternal side. The other great-great-grandfather on that side was born in the 1860s, so he was too old to register for the draft.

Phares Smith Garner registered for the draft at age eighteen.[1] He was born on 9 July 1900; his draft registration form did not ask for his birthplace. He was a native-born citizen of the U.S. He resided in Bareville, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and worked as a cigar maker in Rothesville, which is in the same county. His nearest relative was Phares L Garner, who lived at the same address. The draft card stated no relationship, but it is known from other research that Phares L Garner is his father. Phares Jr’s physical description was medium height, medium weight, brown eyes, and brown hair.

Joseph McElhinney lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was thirty when he registered for the draft. [2] He was born on 26 February 1887 in Cully, Donegal, Ireland. He was still a citizen of Ireland when he registered. It is known from other records that he naturalized in the early 1920s. His occupation was a chauffeur, which lines up with family lore. He supported his wife and two children and claimed exemption from service for their support. His physical description indicated he was medium weight and height, had blue eyes, and had light brown hair.

Warren William Walters was also thirty when he registered for the draft.[3] He lived in Trappe, Montgomery, Pennsylvania. He was born in Trappe on October 21, 1886, making him a natural-born citizen. He was self-employed with carpentring [sic]. He supported his wife and four children and claimed exemption for their support. His physical description indicates he was of medium height and weight and had brown hair and brown eyes.

On my mother’s paternal side of the family is my great-grandfather, Harold James Bishop, who served in WWI. My mother’s maternal side was in Australia, so I did not seek WWI records for them.

An index of a WWI questionnaire was attached to his FamilySearch page. [4] The image to the record could only be viewed at a FamilySearch center or FamilySearch Library. Of course, the images have more information than the index.

The first section of the questionnaire addresses family information, occupation, and residence. Harold J Bishop lived in Kaysville, Davis, Utah. His parents were Lucy B and Amos H Bishop. He was married to Jessie H Bishop, and they had not had children yet. He had one year of high school education and had taken a business course. Before his war service, he worked as a stenographer and bookkeeper for Utah Power and Light Company in Ogden, Weber, Utah.

The following section indicates that Harold voluntarily joined the service on 9 August 1917. He trained at Fort Douglas, Utah, from 17 August to 16 September 1917, then went to Camp Grandhill from 18 September 1917 to 10 September 1918. He was also in Camp Mills about two weeks before embarking for France. He served in Ambulance Company 343, 311th Sanitary Train in the 86th Division under Hugh B Sprague. In St Nazaire, France, he served at Base Hospital No. 101.

The next section details his journey to France and his service there. He left for France on 17 September 1918. He remarked that they had experienced an influenza attack three days out from land, so they landed in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and stayed at Moxham Hospital. He was there for three weeks, then sailed from Quebec, Canada, to Dartford, England, arriving on 26 October 1918, then landed in France on 30 October 1918.

Another section states that he entered as a private. He was promoted to Private First Class on 1 August 1918 and to Corporal on 16 August 1918. Both these promotions occurred before leaving for France. He was discharged on 20 July 1919.

The last section lists casualties, which was blank, suggesting he had not been wounded in service. His photo is included with the questionnaire.

A service card summarizes the same information in the questionnaire but specifies that he served in the MD Red Cross Ambulance Company #27 (Ambulance Company 343 311 Sn Tn) until 21 September 1918. [5] After that, he served in the Base Hospital. The service card also specifies that he received no injuries.

Unlike WWII research, I found the WWI records more easily online. I did not have to place an order and wait for records to arrive. The most detailed record type required going to a FamilySearch Center. What do you know about your WWI ancestors? If you need help finding records of their service, Price Genealogy can help.

By Katie

Photos are in the Public Domain


[1] “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images, Ancestry ( : accessed 3 November 2023), card for Phares Smith Garner, serial no. 3119, G, Lancaster County; National Archives and Records Administration. M1509.

[2] “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 November 2023), card for Joseph McElhinney, serial no. 83, 17 22 ward, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; NARA microfilm publication M1509.

[3] “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 November 2023), card for Warren W Walters, serial no. 17, Trappe Upper Prooidence, Montgomery County, PA; NARA microfilm publication M1509.

[4] “Utah, World War I Service Questionnaires, 1914-1918”, database, FamilySearch ( : 15 August 2019), Harold J Bishop, 1917.

[5] “Utah, World War I Army Servicemen Records Abstracts, 1914-1918,” database, FamilySearch ( : 2 September 2019), > image 1 of 1; Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City.



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