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Honoring those who served

In the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 — one hundred years ago today — the guns fell silent.

On the battlefields of Europe, where war had raged for more than four years, the survivors breathed a sigh of relief.

It was over.

Rogue River Courier

The War to End All Wars, it was called.1

Of course, it wasn’t that, not at all, and the toll of its carnage was staggering: more than nine million dead, more than 21 million wounded2 — and that’s only the combat numbers. When you add in all causes of death, that war took the lives of somewhere between 5.2 and 6.4 million troops on the Allied side and 3.4 to 4.4 million troops from the Central Powers.

From the United States, more than 53,000 combat deaths. From Canada, more than 56,000. From Australia, more than 61,000. From the UK, 744,000. From France, 1.15 million. And those were the “winners.” On the losing side, from Austro-Hungary, 1 million. From Germany, 1.8 million.3

Among them, on that losing side, my grandfather’s brother, my grand uncle Arno Werner Geissler, killed in Galicia on 22 June 1915.4 And his brother-in-law Franz Oskar Oettel, who died 21 July 1915 in a battle on the western front called the Barrenkopf.5

It was — as all wars are — a terrible war.

And it gave rise to what today is called Veterans Day.

First proclaimed in November 1919 by President Wilson,6 Armistice Day became a national holiday by statute in 1938.7 In 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day.8

It joined the list of three-day-weekend holidays in 19689 but was returned to its original date of November 11th by statute passed in 1975, effective in 1978.10

And so, today, November 11th — Veterans Day11The Legal Genealogist joins those who pause to thank every man and woman who has ever served this nation, wearing the uniform of its military services.

So many of them from my own family.12

Among them, my brothers, sister and nephew-in-law:

Evan H. Geissler, U.S. Air Force
Diana M. Geissler McKenzie, U.S. Air Force
Frederick M. Geissler, U.S. Army
Warren H. Geissler, U.S. Air Force
William K. Geissler, U.S. Marine Corps

My mother’s siblings and first cousins:

Billy R. Cottrell, U.S. Navy
Monte B. Cottrell, U.S. Navy
David F. Cottrell, U.S. Navy and U.S. Army
Jerry L. Cottrell, U.S. Air Force
Michael V. Cottrell, U.S. Air Force
Philip Cottrell, U.S. Marine Corps (killed 1943)
Frederick Merledon Gottlieb, U.S. Army
Sam Walter “Pete” Harris, U.S. Army

Among what we call the outlaws (my mother’s brothers-in-law and my nephew-in-law):

J.C. Barrett, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force
Miller (Ray) Childress, U.S. Navy
John C. Epps, U.S. Army
Thomas T. Williams, Jr., U.S. Air Force (Reserve)
David Tolliver, U.S. Navy

And those who went before:

Clay R. Cottrell, U.S. Army, World War I
Gilbert F. Cottrell, U.S. Army, World War I
Jesse Fore, fifer, Captain Michael Gaffney’s Company, South Carolina Militia, War of 1812
Elijah Gentry Sr., Private, 1st Regiment, Mississippi Territorial Volunteers, War of 1812
Elijah Gentry, Private, 1st Regiment, Mississippi Territorial Volunteers, War of 1812
Boston Shew, Private, Captain Carlton’s Company, North Carolina Militia, War of 1812
David Baker, Corporal, 3d Virginia Regiment, Continental Line
William Noel Battles, Private, 10th Virginia Regiment, Continental Line
John Pettypool, 1771, Militia, Granville County, NC
William Pettypool, 1701-02, Militia, Charles City County (Va.) Dragoons
Nicholas Gentry, cir 1680, Militia, Mattapony (Va.) Garrison


Image: “War Is Over,” Rogue River (Ore.) Courier, 11 Nov 1918, p.1; digital images, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress ( : accessed 11 Nov 2018).

  1. See Wikipedia (, “The war to end war,” rev. 21 Oct 2018.
  2. World War I,” ( : accessed 11 Nov 2018).
  3. See Wikipedia (, “World War I casualties,” rev. 11 Nov 2018.
  4. Verlust-Liste Nr. 0596 (20 Jul 1915), World War I Casualty Lists, 1914-1917, digital image, ( : accessed 27 Jul 2012); citing Deutsche Verlustlisten 1914 bis 1917, Berlin, Deutschland : Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt).
  5. Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875 – 1939” (Funerary Records 1875 – 1939), entry for Franz Oskar Oettel, citing Bremen Standesamt 1915, Seite (Page) 968, Nr. 3334; database, Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen ( : accessed 22 June 2018).
  6. Armistice Day,” WWPL Blog, posted 11 Nov 2011, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum ( : accessed 11 Nov 2018).
  7. “AN ACT Making the 11th day of November in each year a legal holiday,” 52 Stat. 351 (13 May 1938).
  8. “An Act To honor veterans on the 11th day of November of each year, a day dedicated to world peace,” 68 Stat. 168 (1 Jun 1954).
  9. “An Act To provide for uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays, and for other purposes,” 82 Stat. 250 ( 27 Jun 1968).
  10. “An Act To redesignate November 11 of each year as Veterans Day and to make such day a legal public holiday,” 89 Stat. 479 (18 Sep 1975).
  11. Yes, I know technically it’ll be recognized tomorrow.
  12. The list would be so much longer if I even began to list the cousins!
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