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Monday, November 12, 2012

Honoring the unknown: who was Claudius Herbert Chamberlin

I am an army brat; proud of my mama in combat boots, and proud of all my family who have served this country through military service.  When Veteran’s day comes around each year I wear my poppy and reflect on the stories that I have been told about my family and their service.  This year I found myself wondering about a mysterious man in my mother-in-law’s picture file.  A man that we know nothing about but is quite dashing in his army uniform.

This photograph was given to me last December with the request to find out all I can on him.  I am sorry to say that I have failed to find out much, and I do not know where else to look or who to turn to for help.  On the back of this postcard is the following information: 

Claudius Herbert Chamberlin
Company F. 20th Infantry.
Ft. Douglas
Age 20

The theory is he may be the son of her grandfather’s older brother, Frank Herbert Chamberlin.  Unfortunately I have no record of Frank from the last time I found him in up-state New York in 1878, at about 15 years old, until his death in San Antonio, Texas in 1934.  Could Claudius be his son?  Yes, but I have no proof one way or the other.

From the style of the uniform I have deduced that he served in the army between the Spanish American War and World War I.  I did a bit of research on the 20th Infantry division at Ft. Douglas.  I know they patrolled the Mexico and US border at El Paso, Texas in 1914 because of the Mexican War.  They ceased to exist in May 1917 when they were reorganized as the 42nd Infantry Regiment.  I even read an interesting article about life at the Fort.  However, still no answers on my mysterious solider. 

One day I will have the answers.  Even if it means I have to spend an hour every time I go to NARA looking through the rolls from Fort Douglas on that darn microfilm machine.  I have made it through the first roll and I think there are about 15 to go.

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