Records, Resources, and Repositories

Veterans Research, Identifying Local Resources

Image of Albert Nelson (right) and comrade. WWI, France
Albert Nelson (right) with comrade, WWI France

My mother is from New Roads, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, and has subscribed to her hometown newspaper, The Pointe Coupee Banner for many years. Back in September she shared an article that was written by  local historian, Brian J. Costello. The article, part of a series, was written in recognition of the Centennial anniversary of World War I ¹.  In it, Costello recounts the “rally day” held on August 26, 1917 in New Roads at which time the parish bid farewell to its departing soldiers.  The rally, parade, and celebration was sponsored by the Pointe Coupee Chapter of the American Red Cross and  other local organizations. The other organizations were the Woodmen of the World Camp 271, the Woodman Circle, and the Knights of the Maccabees.   He  lists  information  about parish residents who volunteered or were drafted to serve, where they were from, where they served, and if they were a casualty or survived. Costello, explains how this information was compiled by Simeon “Sim” Parent, the secretary of the local Red Cross chapter and can be found in two volumes compiled during the war and immediately afterward , “World War Record for the Parish of Pointe Coupee and Home Service Section Records of the Pointe Coupee Red Cross Chapter”.  Ironically, my grandfather and his future wife and family would go on to live on Parent street which undoubtedly was named after this man’s family.

As  I read this article, I was clued into a few  new sources of genealogical records- local chapters of the American Red Cross and of course hometown newspapers. 

Image of Pointe Coupee Banner Article with Albert Nelson
Albert Nelson listed among  Soldiers in Pointe Coupee  Banner Newspaper /Red Cross Record

Listed among those from the parish who served in the war effort was my maternal grandfather,  Albert Nelson, Wagoner ,Casual Company, 27th Supply  Company,  350th, Field  Artillery ;Battle of Argonne Forest, France. After a  major Army reorganization ,  Albert Nelson would end up  in a support company in the 92nd Division. In his personal diaries he writes about being trained in Camp Upton. He was one of approximately, 370,000 African Americans  who participation in World War I.

 A few years ago I came upon the application for Albert Nelson’s headstone marker.² I compared the two sources of  information  They contained pretty much the same information. This made me wonder if  the Red Cross  records could have been a source of information for headstone application.

Image of Headstone Application for Albert Nelson

So be sure to check with the genealogical and historical societies, libraries, and of course the Red Cross  Chapter where your ancestor or relative resided  to see if there might be information about veterans that you are researching.

Here are some links for  additional information.

A Brief Look at African American Soldiers in the Great War

Meuse-Argonne Offensive

How the American Red Cross Works

Fighting for Respect: African American Soldiers in WWI

I want to thank the men and women who have sacrificially served this country and the staff of the Pointe Coupee Banner for providing me with extra copies. Oh, and by the way, with regard to the soldiers in the featured image on this post, the soldier on the right is my grandfather, Rev. Albert Nelson.

¹Costello, Brian J. “Centennial of World War I: Part One of Two” The Pointe Coupee Banner [New Roads, LA] September  7, 2017

² U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Original data: Applications for Headstones for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1941. Microfilm publication M1916, 134 rolls. ARC ID: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

Applications for Headstones, compiled 01/01/1925 – 06/30/1970, documenting the period ca. 1776 – 1970ARC: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.


  1. Henry Smith

    My grandfather’s brother (my great uncle) Richard Smith, Jr., enlisted from St. Charles Parish and served in the 370th regiment out of Chicago, part of the 92nd Division that was assigned to the French. He was wounded twice, once in the hand and second time in the hip. When I spoke to him about it he was in his 90’s. He said that it was a night battle and he said that it was in Switzerland, which would have been a violation on the part of both armies of Swiss neutrality. He said that he went down, blacked out, and when he came to he crawled out in the middle of a road where he was picked up, carried across the border into France, strapped to a bunk on a train and spent two months at a hospital in Paris.

    1. Karen Galloway Post author

      Henry, thanks for sharing. What a great thing to have a first hand account of your great uncle’s WWI experiences. I would have loved to have heard my grandfather’s first hand account of his experiences during the Great War.

  2. Roenia Grimes

    Great Article on Dad,
    He was. a great Husband, Dad, Civic Leader, Journalist, Soldier and Pastor (Servant of the Most High God).
    From Ma

  3. Brenda Nelson Browne

    Thank you Karen for the informative article. We are fortunate that you do all this research and help us to know so much about our family and in this case our dear grandfather, Albert Nelson. It is a great tribute to him on Veterans Day. Love, Brenda

    1. Karen Galloway Post author

      Brenda, thank you. Your encouragement means much to me. It is an honor to help tell our ancestors stories. Your parents have laid the ground work by sharing and preserving our history through stories, pictures, and other mementos. I am extremely gratefully to your mother for capturing our family memories through her photography and organizing, preserving, and sharing them with the family.

  4. Reginald Matthews Lemay

    My great uncle, Henry Lemay, was a veteran of WWI. His sister-in-law, and my paternal grandmother, Alice Batiste Lemay, lived for years on Court Street in New Roads. I don’t know if Henry was attached to the 92 nd and therefore I am uncertain about whether he served in France during the war. I can get that info. What I am struck by is the participation of African American soldiers in the “rally day” send off. Can I get Costello’s newspaper article? Do you have additional information about black WWI in New Roads or Pointe Coupee?

    1. Karen Galloway Post author

      Hi Reginald,
      I am not absolutely sure to what extent soldiers of African descent were welcomed to participate in “rally day” send off activities. I would like to know more myself. Here is the number to the Pointe Coupee Banner Newspaper ,
      (225) 638-7155. I would also check at the Pointe Coupee library. I think Brian would give us an honest answer about that.

    2. Karen Galloway Post author

      A footnote to my previous comment. In Part two “Pointe Coupeeans and the work of the local Red Cross”, Brian J. Costello describes the local Red Cross Auxiliaries. The says that there were 21 White and 34 African American Auxiliaries. He provides more details of their location, membership, and contributions in the article. The article was in the September 14, 2017 issue of the Pointe Coupee Banner.

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