eBay has been a consistent source of fantastic portraiture for PortraitsofWar for over five years. The material that pops up on the web is easy to acquire and makes for a fun and interesting research project. In this case, I was able to track down an identified photo of a US airman wearing a brim-up cap and sporting a light beard. The photo is identified on the reverse as a Harry Kolacinski.
Harry Kolacinski in WWII
Harry was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. His major biographical information can be found below:
Harry’s 1936 Yearbook
Harry in 1936
Harry passed away in 1986
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.