My passion for WWI Vermont material is endless and I make every effort to track down unique, original photos and objects related to Vermonters in the Great War. It’s not easy to find and often comes at a price; 26th Division material is popular with French collectors and fetches a high price when purchased on eBay. In this case, I was able to purchase a studio photo of a 102nd Field Artillery Vermonter of Battery A . Curtis J. Sawyer was born in Middlebury, VT on September 13th, 1893 – nearly 120 years ago!
He worked at hotels most of his life, having worked at Clark’s Hotel in Boston in 1917 when he registered for the draft. Previously he served as a clerk for City Hall in Barre, VT – not far from where I work! He started his career early at the age of 17 (at least) and worked as a clerk and hotel man unit his death. He is listed as being tall with a slender complextion with blue eyes and brown hair. He lived nearly 90 years and died in 1980 in Arlington, MA – not far from Boston.
WWI Vermont Roster Entry
1910 Barre, Vermont Directory
Sawyer in Burlington, VT 1910
Middlebury News Reference
Sometimes it takes a good bit of time to lock down the identity of the sitter in a photograph. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of dozens of research friends and an equal number of archive websites. With that said, I was able to purchase, research and identify and post a positive identification of a recent eBay purchase! It’s not an easy endeavor, but it’s something that will be worthwhile at some point in the future.
Russell Studio Portrait
Backside of the RPPC
What are we working with for an identification? The soldier has a definite first name of Russell and is cousins with a male named Forrest Martin of Watson, Illionois in 1919. Given the intro and body wording, he’s likely to be close to the recipient.
I started by researching the recipient, Forrest Martin, and found his 1900 census entry:
1910 Census Forrest Martin
From here I decided to research his mother and father in search of a series of siblings to track down as aunts and uncles to Russell. An aunt or uncle would produce a cousin which should provide me with the proper identification for the 33rd Division soldier!
After over an hour of searching (tiring for sure) I was able to identify his mother’s sister as a Laura A. Humes. Laura had a son named Russell in 1897! When I clicked on his military burial record it all came together. Please keep in mind that this took hours of research!
Forrest’s Aunt Laura
Russell Humes’ Burial Card
Russell Humes, first cousin of Forrest Humes (recipient of the postcard), was in Company G of the 130th Infantry Regiment of the 33rd Division in WWI. He achieved the rank of Corporal and was wounded in action at some point during his service. His portrait photo was taken in 1919 long after his wounding. He passed away on 11-5-1957 at the age of 61.