Hutcheson Case Study

Here is another record which reports Oril’s date of birth which was within his lifetime — and theoretically present. However, it provides another possible date of birth for him.

The third registration for the draft for World War I called men of Oril’s age.1 The maximum required age was pushed back from age 31 to age 45. A man had to sign his registration card, attesting to the fact that the information was correct. Even with that attestation, there have been errors.

The card I am interested in states:

blockquoteOril O. Hutcheson2
320 E 12th St., Tucson, Pima, Ariz.
Age 44, Date of birth: August 23rd, 1874
White, Native born citizen
Ry Conductor for Southern Pacific
Nearest Relative: Mrs. Ettie May Hutcheson

Errors can creep in simply through human error — or they can be introduced if someone chooses not to tell the truth. If you think about it, Oril likely didn’t have a birth certificate (they just weren’t that common around 1880), so how is anyone going to prove that he lied?

In this case, two years before, he reported he was was 38 years old. Now he says he is 44. Why fudge? Self preservation. The draft cut-off was 45 so the likelihood that Oril would be called if he said he was 44 was slim. If he had reported that he was 40, and the war dragged on for another five years, he could have been drafted. (According to his death certificate and headstone, his correct age at this time was 41.)

1. Encyclopedia of Genealogy (http://www.eogen.com : accessed 17 Dec 2010), “U.S. World War I Draft Registrations”.
2. “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database and images, Ancestry.com (http:\www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Dec 2010), Oril O. Hutcheson, serial no. 296, order no. A4755, Draft Board O, Pima County, Arizona; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

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