Posted by Paul Rawlins on November 10, 2010 in Collections

I never met Gene S. Jacobsen (who is listed as Jacobson in the World War II Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941–1945, database, a misspelling I’m sure happened often). But Jacobsen was the man who made the Bataan Death March real to me, as well as the horrific conditions that waited for the men who survived it: the death ships, the POW camps, the mines. Jacobsen was one of only 65 from his squadron of 207 to make it back, and reading a draft of the account he wrote years later made me wonder how any of them survived. But there they are in the records: Lloyd Huth, Joseph Barna, Nelson Quast, and several dozen more.

Gene Jacobsen and the men of the 20th Pursuit Squadron are just some of the stories you can find amongst the new databases we’ve released in time for Veterans Day. There are plenty more. We’ve added application papers for West Point, 1805-1866, to the U.S. Military and Naval Academy Registers, 1805-1908, collection.  They include a file on Abner Doubleday, a career soldier who returned the first shot from Fort Sumpter, where he was second in command, to begin Union action in the Civil War. He also had good handwriting.

By the way, West Point is where Doubleday was toiling away as a cadet during 1839, the year he supposedly invented baseball back in Cooperstown.

West Point provided scores of officers on both sides of the Civil War, which divided classmates as well as a nation. George Pickett’s West Point file includes a reference to his resigning his commission to serve with the Confederate Army.

If you have Pennsylvania ancestors who fought for the country, you’ll want to take a look at the Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-1999, database. County veterans affairs offices started creating these cards back in 1929, but their work stretches all the way back to the French and Indian War. The database includes a record for Lucille E. Desmarais, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2/16/43 through 9/22/45. Which has me wondering if this is the former Lucille E. McClarren of Nemacolin, PA, the first enlisted female Marine in WWII. (I’m just working on a hunch and a handful of similar dates and locales right now, if anybody knows the answer.)

And those are just the U.S. collections. We’ve also brought online almost 2 centuries worth of British military medal records:

And there are new First World War grave and burial registers for Canadian soldiers as well. You can find an introduction to some of the military collections at here.

So take a minute this Veterans Day and get to know a veteran. I never met Gene Jacobsen, but I’ll never forget his story. There’s a saying that begins, “Old soldiers never die…” By taking time to remember them this Veterans Day, they won’t just fade away, either.


  1. Deb H

    Spam entries on these blog posts are becoming more and more prevalent – see #’s 2-5 above. Several on previous posts also. Isn’t this blog monitored to eliminate this kind of thing? I can see one or two getting through but in the last month there have been a lot. Just wondering…

  2. Patrick Simpson

    I found new information on three family members using California, WWI Soldier Service Cards and Photos, 1917-1918. I discovered the middle name of my Great Grandmother (Lucinda Young Payne), which appeared in one of the cards. A very informative record set

  3. bromaelor

    Pam, I’ve complained many times about how easy it is for spammers to fill the Ancestry blog with rubbish but Ancestry don’t seem too worried about it??? Perhaps they are getting a cut?

  4. Gayle

    off topic but I thought i’d try : can someone tell me how to say this name? ” Francisvek Myszczcynski” my polish great uncle Thanks for the help

  5. BEE

    I’ll try…
    His first name would be spelled Franciszek and pronounced – Frahn-she-seck
    The surname would be Myez-chin-ski or chen-ski,
    or close to it!

  6. Peggy

    I wonder why I cannot seem to find my dad’s Navy WWII records on ancestry? I have tried and tried. I have a photo of him in his Navy uniform on Ancestry, also a pic of his ship the LST555. I have his discharge papers, but not on my pages. Still, I cannot find his name, I have searched for almost every spelling. Please do not forget him!

  7. Gayle

    # 7 Bee Thank you so much for the help , it’s taken me 8 months to find great uncle’s resting place . I’m going there tomarrow & I want to say his name correctly. I’m proud of my polish roots.

  8. Gayle

    # 8 Peggy , almost all of my people were in the navy . I can’t find them on Ancestry, yet. Hopefully soon they’ll get more info for us. Keep the faith.

  9. BEE

    Good for you Gayle. Check out “A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II” – we Americans of Polish descent have much to be proud of.

  10. Dawn Rilk

    Mr. Rawlins, this comment is regarding Lucille E DesMarais. Yes, she was Lucille E McClarren the 1st enlisted Woman Marine in WWII. I am her daughter and would love you speak with you anytime.

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