Genealogy Items of Interest

Feb. 17, 2010 at midnight
Updated Feb. 16, 2010 at 8:17 p.m.

Frederick W. Matthews, father of Mary Matthews Jones.

Frederick W. Matthews, father of Mary Matthews Jones.

World War I draftees: The year 1919 is an indicator the person might have served in World War I.

Thousands of men came to the United States at the turn of the 20th century to seek a better life for themselves or their families. The usual procedure for citizenship was to file a Declaration of Intention and then in five years, a Petition for Naturalization.

These laws were consolidated by Congress with the Act of May 9, 1918 during World War I. Military petitions took place at the United States District Court close to the training base. Sometimes the judge came to the camp, but many recruits were taken there by the busloads to take their oath.

The family might know if their ancestor served in WWI and where he trained. Men were encouraged to file their DD214 or discharge papers, with the local county court recorder's office where they lived.

This record might show where they trained. The petitions would also be at a Regional National Archives with the Petition number starting with an "M" for Military Petition.

For instance, the NARA Southwest Archives in Fort Worth has Military Petitions and historical records that date from the 1800s to the late 1900s, and includes letters, photographs, maps, architectural drawings, and other documents received from more than 100 Federal agencies and courts in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Footnote has some of them on an index card with a district court number. Footnote.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Stock up on the popcorn and get ready for the new NBC hit show "Who Do You Think You Are?" The family history-focused series will lead seven celebrities, including Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee, Matthew Broderick, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, and Brooke Shields, on a heart-warming journey back in time as they discover more about their ancestors. Tune in to NBC Fridays 8/7c beginning March 5. For more information about the show, go to: This could be the next biggest family history phenomenon since "Roots." NBC.

Contacting Cemeteries: After many years of frustration and getting nowhere researching my grandmother's parents, I decided to look at a map and focus on some addresses I had for family members from a business directory of Topeka, where I knew they had lived.

Close to those addresses, pretty much in the center of town, was a cemetery that had a Web site. The cemetery records were not online, but the address of the cemetery was provided.

I decided to write to the cemetery to see if Grandma Thompson was buried there, and I inquired about her first husband and another set of great-grandparents for whom I was missing death dates. I hit the mother lode.

Everybody was buried there, and the person who wrote back included plot numbers and cause of death.

The cemetery asked if I would consider making a donation, and naturally, I made one by return mail. Salle Maha, Rootsweb.

Happy researching.

E-mail genealogy queries to Martha Jones at



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