World War I Draft Begins

William Vaughn and Clarence Jarvis, 1917. World War I Army soldiers from Mendocino. William Vaughn on left and Clarence Jarvis on the right. Photograph was taken in Fort Lewis, Washington on October 31, 1917. (The Vaughn Family Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

September 18, 1917 – William Vaughn, John Figaro, and Robert Mathison departed Mendocino to serve in the military during World War I. They were the first to be drafted from the Mendocino community, although many others had already enlisted. During the next four days, Guiseppe Reilli, John Bertolini, and Clarence L. Jarvis followed. The draftees’ first stop was Ukiah where they waited for a train to Washington State.

More than 70 other Mendocino County men joined them on the train ride to Washington. The Ukiah papers reported, “When the train pulled out from the local depot last Sunday at 2:50 p.m., there were fully a thousand people waving a fond farewell to the drafted boys who were leaving for the training camp at American Lake, Wash. The soldiers-to-be were taken on a special which pulled in from Eureka with two coaches of comrades and two more cars were attached here. The boys were all in the highest spirits and sounded many hoorays as the train whistled out, while their relatives and friends left behind were not so jovial, and there was many a tear stained cheek. The local band accompanied the boys as far as Hopland.”

Within two weeks of arriving in Washington, William Vaughn and Clarence Jarvis were appointed corporals and put in charge of eight soldiers each. Shortly afterwards, Vaughn was disqualified from serving due to a physical disability and discharged from the military. Jarvis was assigned to the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, where he became an Ordnance Sergeant and instructor in the operation and repair of machine guns and small arms.

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