Saturday, June 24, 2017

From “A” to … “Y” They Answered When Uncle Sam Called


Charlie Ackman was a married 39-year-old, tall with a slender build, with gray eyes and black hair.  He was a resident of Cynthiana and a section foreman with the L.& N. Railroad, and he was the first.

The 1918 draft registration card of Charlie Ackman.

A tall, blue-eyed, black-haired Henry Yarnell was a married 28-year-old farmer and a native of Broadwell in Harrison County.  He was the last.

The 1917 draft registration card of Henry Yarnell.

Just what was it that this two did?  Uncle Sam was calling on men from across the U.S. to register for the draft as required by the Selective Service Act of 1917 and both did what many would do just by showing up on Registration Day in 1917 and 1918.

The records of Messrs. Ackman and Yarnell are the first and last registrations you come to respectively in the microfilmed records, now digitized, of World War I draft registrations from 1917 and 1918 that exist for Harrison County, Kentucky, nearly 3,200 in all.

Henry Yarnell registered during the first registration on June 5, 1917.  There were three in all in the fifteen months from June 5, 1917 to Sept. 12, 1918.  At first Uncle Sam only wanted men aged 21 to 39.  The age range was extended to 18 to 45-year-olds for the last registration, when Charlie Ackman filled out his card over a year later.

It appears from search of Harrison County records that neither was called upon to serve with Uncle Sam.  The collection of cards they helped to fill out form what might be considered a rather unique and detailed census of nearly a quarter of the population at the time it was created., a record that the genealogist of today uses as an aid in filling out blanks in family trees.  In 1917 the info on the cards was helped to fill in the ranks of an Army that made all the difference in winning World War I. 

To learn more about the draft and Registration Day just look to the next post on this blog, which was taken from the print edition of "Winning World War I" (Issue No. 3 (June 2017)).

(Images are from's United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.)

(The the texts above were originally published in the June 2017 issue of the Harrison Heritage News, the monthly newsletter of the Harrison County (Ky,) Historical Society, in a special supplement entitled "Winning World War I").  Here the texts are presented with some slight revisions and additions to the original.)

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