Local Veteran Records

The Hometown History column is presented by the Fenton History Center and The Post-Journal. Each Friday, a distinct item from the Fenton History Center collections or archival special collections will be featured. Learn about your hometown history through parts of its past.

If one of the items featured brings back some memories or brings up a question, please contact the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 or information@fentonhistorycenter.org to share your memory or get an answer to your question.

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An attempt to list all armed forces members from Chautauqua County who had been killed in action during wartime in the 20th century began in 1986. Many of the volunteers working on this project were the town and village historians in Chautauqua County. Evelyn Adams, then Celoron historian, was the coordinator. The project became known as the Veterans Listing Project.

Records at the Fenton Museum were consulted along with The Post-Journal’s “Men in Uniform” files. The list soon changed from just the KIA to include all veterans from wartime who had lived in Chautauqua County when they entered the service and all those who lived in Chautauqua County after their discharge. Originally the plan was to make the list and publish a book with the names and the service. As time went on and the list became longer, the cost of such a book became prohibitive. The wars considered in the beginning were the Mexican Border War (May 9, 1916-April 5, 1917), World War I (April 6, 1917-Nov. 11, 1918), World War II (Dec. 7, 1941-Dec. 31, 1946), Korean War (June 27, 1950-Jan. 31, 1955) and the Vietnam War (Aug. 5, 1964-May 7, 1975). In more recent years, the project has expanded to include the Civil War and the wars between the Civil War and the Mexican Border War.

The project found various homes over the years as it worked through records at different repositories. The volunteers that worked on the project expanded to include more than the historians. The last number of years the project’s office was housed in the basement of Jamestown’s Municipal Building. As the volunteer roster declined and many of the veterans were identified, little activity continued in the office.

Office space was needed by other agencies, and the Veterans Listing Project Office was assigned to another agency. To save all the cards and other information from the office, the office contents were transferred to the Fenton History Center’s Research Center at the Hall House. The list is actually thousands of cards that have been filled out with personal, service and family information on each veteran as the information became available from the many sources the volunteers used.

The files will not be made available to the public at the Hall House because of some of the more sensitive information that was gathered. Some sources of information were recorded, but what information came from what source can not be determined. The project did not obtain any written permissions from any of the living veterans to make their information public, so the files will not be out for the public to peruse. Research Center staff will use the file to answer inquiries with the non-sensitive information and the information that is available from other public sources. This collection has not yet been processed into the Special Collections at the Research Center, so it is not all immediately available to answer inquires at this time.

Many cards only have the name, rank and branch of service and possibly a birth or death date. Other cards have more information and some have extensive family information and a more detailed service record. As yet the office files have not yielded a list of what sources and repositories were used throughout this project. If such a list surfaces, we will know if there are additional places to look for information.

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The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County’s history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.

Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.

If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.