Monday, March 3, 2014

Indian Regiment sent to battle in WWI

By Marian Matyn

An oversized scrapbook donated with some Vernon Township (Isabella County, Mich.) records includes an undated article and photograph labeled “20 Indian Boys From Government School at Mt. Pleasant Accepted for Service in Army and Navy.” This immediately peaked my interest! I identified the piece as being from the defunct Mount Pleasant Times(MPT), June 7, 1917, page 1. I wanted to know more about these men and searched online records as well as collections in the Clarke. Most of their names are spelled numerous ways and sometimes they are identified in the records as white, other times as Indian, Ojibwe, or Chippewa. This is common for Native American research.

There are records for many of the men in the census, death records, veteran burial record, Indian rolls, enlistment records, veteran hospital records, and school records.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the information I found on these men:

Eight men had some type of enlistment records and all enlisted in Mount Pleasant on June 2 or 4, 1917: Samuel Shananquitt, James Negack, Clifford Rice, Samuel Asher, Paul Mackey, Silas Bush, Charles Marksman, and Alex Kagebitang. Why June 2 to the 4? Registration Day in Isabella County for the draft was Tuesday, June 5, 1917. All males between 21 and 30, except for a few exceptions, were to register (MPT, May 31, 1917, p.1).

Three men listed in the article, Dewey Beauliu, Charles Shaw, and William Noquon, remained elusive.

Two brothers, Grover and Austin Mandako, wanted to enlist but were prevented from doing so by their parents.

Frank Mackey died in France of wounds from battle in August (must be 1918). He is the only man who died during the War.

L.[ouis] Gouthier is mentioned in the article, but not in other records.

Other men in the image who enlisted were: Floyd Curtis, Clarence Portman, Clarence Portman, W. Gesick (Wasso or Owosso Geshick?), Xavier Miott, Antoine Bonno (Antoine A. Bonneau?), and William Tyosh. Also listed was the athletic director “Chief” Nevitt.

The Clarke has an extensive amount of documents from WWI as part of our holdings. If you are interested in seeing original WWI propaganda posters for the U. S. Food Administration, buying Liberty Bonds, or donating books to the men on the front, check out the hallway exhibit case in the first floor corridor of the Park Library at Central Michigan University.