In honor of the passing of the last US WWI veteran this past Sunday, I’m posting a photo of the dog tags and trench lighter of my Great Grand Uncle Alex Kownacki. He was from Milwaukee and had been a member of the 127th Infantry – Wisconsin National Guard. I found his draft record a few years ago, but hadn’t been able to find anything else about his life. Then my father found a listing that had him killed in action on September 7th, 1918 in Cierges, France. This would explain how only one of his dog tags made it down through the family. Later, I was able to locate the cemetery in Milwaukee that he was reinterred in a few years after the end of the war. He was only 22 when he was killed in France.
This silver dollar sized token came from the 1897 meeting of the National Education Association in Milwaukee. (I know that they currently hold annual meetings, but back then I can’t be certain how often they met.) The NEA formed in 1857 and today it is the largest professional employee organization with well over 3 million members. They represent every level of faculty & staff that work in the education field ranging from Pre-K through graduate school, and apparently one of my ancestors was once a member.
This NEA medal has a hole in the top that I believe was added. There was a trend back then of taking tokens like this and then converting them into necklaces. So I believe this is what happened here. Besides that hole, it is in pretty good shape. The details of Milwaukee Bay are still nice and crisp and the Wisconsin State Seal on the flip side is also pretty decent (thought it appears the State Seal has changed a bit since then). I know this came from my Mom’s side of the family, but as to which ancestor owned this I can’t be certain. I do know that this side of my family had a line that lived in Fond du Lac, so maybe that is the side this came from.
I guess I’ve got something to look into.