Monday, November 21, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Veterans Day (Late!)

I know I'm over a week late with this, but I'm going to participate anyway!  Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings put out his usual fine quality Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge last week:
Is the bloom off of the Genea-Rose here?  There has been very poor participation in SNGF the last two weeks, likely because the tasks were too hard or too esoteric.  I'll try to fix that this week!
(No, Randy, at least on my part, the problem has been lack of time, more than anything else.  I'll admit on a couple of occasions the challenge just didn't fit or apply to me or my family, so I skipped those.  But mostly I've just been busy lately.  Keep 'em coming!

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  To celebrate Veterans Day, pick one of your ancestors or relatives with a military record and a gravestone.

2)  Tell us about your ancestor's military service.

3)  Tell us about your ancestor's gravestone - where is it, what is the inscription, when were you last there?  Show us a picture of it if you have one available. 

4)  Write your own blog post about this ancestor and his gravestone, or share it in a Comment to this blog post, in a status line on Facebook, or in a Google Plus Stream post. 

Here's mine:

My ancestor of choice is Estel E. Dillman, my paternal grandfather.  I've written about him several times before.  He's easily the best-documented of my ancestors when it comes to military service, and I recently made a trip out to his gravesite.

Estel was the product of a dysfunctional home, his father left home after his mother died in 1920, and Estel and brothers were taken in by the Sacksteder family in New Albany, Indiana.  Estel's sister Reva was taken in by someone else.  Estel's older brother Orville Wayne fudged his age on the papers and enlisted in the Navy early to escape the family situation.  Estel followed suit a few years later.  I've recently been piecing together more of that time period.  I have a copy of the paper Mrs. Sacksteder signed to vouch for Estel when he enlisted.  It includes their address at the time.  He enlisted for the same reason as Wayne, to get out of that family situation and make something of himself.  He enlisted in 1927, at age 19.

His service record papers include pages on which he states his intention of making the Navy a career, but we know that sometimes life events have a way of changing our plans.  While in the Navy, he met a man named Jack Cornett from Beadle County, South Dakota.  Jack liked to hear news from home, and so became a pen pal to Alta May Day, who would later become my grandmother.  At some later point, Jack introduced Estel to Alta, and the two became an item.  Estel got out of the Navy and moved to South Dakota to marry and make a life with Alta.  They were married in February 1931.

What with the Depression and all, things just didn't go that well for Estel and Alta, so he decided to go back into the Navy to help boost their nest egg.  He re-enlisted in 1937.  In late 1941 the United States entered World War II, and Estel remained on active duty.  He served until the end of the war, and would have stayed in had the Navy honored a pledge to let Estel serve stateside.  However, he got wind of their plans to station him in Japan, where his family could not live with him, and so he took advantage of the draw down in forces following the war to leave the Navy and head back to South Dakota.  Within a couple of days of his return to Huron, South Dakota, he had a firm job offer from the local power plant.

Estel and Alta's grave marker is in Restlawn Cemetery, a few miles south of Huron, South Dakota.  I visited the site about a week before Veterans Day and took this picture:
Estel E. and Alta M. Dillman grave marker in Restlawn Cemetery, Huron, Beadle County, South Dakota.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman