Confusion about a WWII Draft Registration Card: Signed by a registrar of one draft board and stamped by a different one.

I can't find my great grandfather, Davey Stirman Smith, in the 1940 census. I thought his WWII Draft Registration Card could help me find him, but I'm left with more questions than answers. Why are there so many different locations on his draft card:

  • His address is initially recorded as Box 224, Tipton, Tillman, Oklahoma. Note that the form instructs the applicant to print the address, but his was typed.
  • However, the typed address is crossed out using what appears to be a blue inked pen. A different address is written about it in what appears to be a black inked pen, Rt 2, Iowa Park, Texas.
  • The penned address corresponds to the information about the registrar for Precinct 33, Iowa Park, Texas, who signed his registration card on 16 October 1940.
  • The typed address corresponds to the local draft board in Frederick, Tillman County, Oklahoma that stamped his card, indicating that he belonged in that jurisdiction. 
  • His place of employment is Globe News Publishing Company in Amarillo, Texas. 

Many questions arise from this record.

  • If the registrant was suppose to print his address, why was his typed? Why was it crossed out and written over? Was it crossed out at the same time the new address was recorded? If not, why does the color of ink appear different for the line placed through his old address and the updated address written above?
  • When was the address changed?

Some Background Information:

These locations are along the Texas/Oklahoma border (except Amarillo, that's west Texas). Tipton, Oklahoma is about an hour drive from Iowa Park, Texas. 

Davey married his wife Myrna in 1934 in Comanche County, Oklahoma. Myrna's parents lived in Tillman County from 1909 - 1970, and they apparently stayed in the area until the mid 1940s, when they moved to Iowa Park, Texas. Davey and Myrna didn't relocate to Iowa Park until after their first two children were born. They also worked together as owner-editors of a southern/southwestern Oklahoma newspaper, The Gould Democrat. So, I'm just trying to figure out when that Iowa Park address might have been recorded.

Note: The draft card can be viewed on Ancestry. I've attached an image showing the proximity of the locations to each other.

Submitted byEEon Sat, 04/15/2023 - 11:45

Hello, AncestryWithTaylor. Welcome to our forum.

You've done an excellent job of analyzing this registration card. Your background information helps, including the map which is highly relevant to the situations involved in this card. I've also gone to the Ancestry database and examined the card in context to analyze differences and similarities with others from the same registration act.  The answers to most of your questions likely depend upon Smith’s personal situation—a point you would know, but I wouldn’t.  That said, I naturally have a few thoughts about your questions:

Typed vs. handwritten?

To my knowledge, with registrations for men born February 17, 1897–December 31, 1921, there was no requirement that the cards be handwritten. The form itself, in the blanks for name and residence, do say “print.” However, that would be an instruction not to write cursive. The intent was to ensure that the name and address were as legible as possible. Whether it was printed by hand or printed on the typewriter would not matter.

Comparing this to entries for 20–30 cards before or after, we find other examples of cards for this same registration act that are also typed. See images 331 and 343, for example. In both of these cases, the cards are completely typed.  That may have bearing on your other questions.

When was the address changed?

I perceive two different hand-writings on this card, front and back.

  • Dark ink: This almost certainly was written by the registrant, Davey Stirman Smith. The ink and the letter formations are consistent with his signature.  
  • Light ink:  This appears in two places: (a) The Texas address that was penned above the typed Oklahoma address on the front side of the card; and (b) the signature of the registrar and the date that appears on the backside of the card.

To me, this suggests that the date on the backside (Oct. 14, 1940) is the date the Texas address was penned above the already-typed Oklahoma address—and the date Davey came in to complete the card.

Why three geographic places?

The Amarillo address for his employer, a news company—while he lived several counties away—suggests that he may have been employed as an "agent" selling subscriptions for the Amarillo newspaper. These agents frequently worked a several-county area.

The circumstances detailed on this card also suggests that Davey Smith’s residence may have been flexible—living at times in Wichita County, Texas, and, at other times, across the county/state line in Tillman County, Oklahoma, where his in-laws were.  Seven thoughts here:

  • The typing on the card, front and back, appear to have been created on the same typewriter.
  • Because the backside identifies the registration district as being in Iowa Park, Texas, we may assume that the card originated with that Texas registrar, who began the card by typing in Smith’s name and the only known address for him—a post office box across the line in Oklahoma.  
  • The fact that his Oklahoma address was a post office box suggests that when he arrived in Oklahoma, he did not have a fixed place of residence there.
  • The fact that his Oklahoma post office box was known to officials in Texas, suggests that he had (at least fairly recently) been considered a resident of that Texas county.
  • The fact that the card began with someone typing his name with an out-of-state post-office box, then was laid aside, suggests that the Texas registrar believed him to be a resident of her county who had not yet complied with the registration Act. Thus, she created a card, located an address for him (either from some public record or from a local kinsman), and then contacted him at the P.O. box to tell him to come in and register.  He did.
  • The fact that she then wrote a local address above the Oklahoma address suggests that the rural address given as “Rt. 2, Iowa Park, Texas” was a local address to which he was attached.
  • The fact that the stamp, below the signature and place of the Texas registrar,  states that Tillman Co., Texas “[had] jurisdiction of the registrant,” suggests that his card was then sent by Texas to Oklahoma because he told the registrar that he was now “permanently” living in Oklahoma.

Other thoughts/questions:

  • In what county was he enumerated on the 1940 census, a few months earlier? What was his occupation then?
  • Have you found kinsmen living on that rural route out of Iowa Park?
  • Have you explained why he married in Comanche County? Was he a soldier at Ft. Sill at the time?

Submitted byancestrywithtayloron Tue, 04/18/2023 - 15:16

Thank you so much for your reply, Elizabeth. Your thoughts are very helpful!

I feel silly for not realizing that the instructions to “print” mean not to write in cursive—duh!

Regarding your other thoughts/questions:

  • Frustratingly, I can’t find him in the 1940 census! I was hoping that the draft card could help me figure it out.
  • I’m not sure why Davey and Myrna married in Comanche County other than proximity, as it borders Tillman County to the right. Based on Davey’s obituary, they married in Lawton, the county seat of Comanche County, which appears to be the biggest city in the area. He wasn’t a soldier at Ft. Sill, but that’s a good guess.

After finding additional records, I've learned that the Iowa Park address on his draft card was his parents’ permanent address (though they lived all over north Texas). Now I’m wondering why he gave his father-in-law’s information when he registered. 

Anyways, thanks again! I attended your “Elusive Ancestors” webinar last week and LOVED it! You’re a wealth of knowledge. What I would give to spend a day in your head!

Submitted byEEon Thu, 04/20/2023 - 08:28

You have an intriguing situation or two there, Taylor; but it does look like you're on your way to solving it.  And thanks for the kind words.