Rediscovering old family documents: my grandfather's WWI commission

I was at my mother’s place over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and we started poking about in some old boxes hidden away at the back of a cupboard. We turned up a few interesting bits and pieces, including the document, signed by King George V, commissioning my paternal grandfather into the AIF in 1914.

We’ve decided that it definitely has to be preserved and framed.

Isn’t it great when these types of old family records come to light again?

Completely cool. I discovered my mother’s “passport” to Alaska from WWII. My father was working up here after all dependents were evacuated following Pearl Harbor. To come up for a visit, one had to have approval from the Army and a passage document with a photo.

My mother has my her grandfather’s naturalization certificate framed and hanging on her wall, and a WWII bond that her grandmother had bought. One of these days, we should find out how much it’s worth just for grins and giggles.


I love old stuff like this. I think my brother’s got our grandfather’s WWI commission. We’ve got his Degree of Pharmaceutical Chemist, KS State, 1909, and his MD from Creighton, 1913.

We’ve got my other grandfather’s medical degrees from Sydney Uni framed up on the wall.

I found a few interesting documents online while researching my genealogy. On this page I have posted the ship’s register with my great-grandfather’s family’s names from when they immigrated from Sweden in 1903; I have the pages with their names from the 1920 and 1930 Census, and a copy of my great-grandfather’s WWII draft registration card from 1942. I found all these on

My grandfather was an indentured orphan – he was sent from New York, where he was abandoned as an infant, to live with a Nebraska farm family till he turned 21, at which point they turned him loose in the world with $200 and a new suit of clothes. My cousin is the designated keeper of his indenture papers. Needless to say, that’s a treasured family document!

There’s a painting of the badge of the AIF in my grandmother’s album - she was a doctor - done by a (initials unreadable) McKay, no 1423.

When my mother’s cousin was shot down over Guadalcanal, the family received a signed letter from the President about his death - we have that framed in our dining room along with his Purple Heart, and other medals.

I think the absolute coolest thing I found during my genealogy research was my great-grandfather’s military file from the Civil War. Normally, these files just contain mustering records, etc. But this one was special.

My g-grandfather and g-grandmother had divorced, it seems, and he had ended up committing suicide years later. When my g-grandmother applied for his pension, she was told she had to provide either a marriage certificate (which she didn’t have), or would have to give a deposition and obtain similar depositions from people who knew of their relationship.

All of the depositions were in his file, but the gold medal of the lot was g-grandmother’s. It detailed their entire life together, and provided a wealth of genealogy information, including places, dates, names, etc. Turns out they lived for a time in Devil’s Lake, ND when it was still largely Indian Territory. The document led to many other findings and I ended up writing a comprehensive story line about their lives to pass on to my own children, complete with photos of his Civil War company, and a letter from him about his capture at Bull Run.

we’ve got a pay stub from when mother-in-law worked in the oval office…for JFK.