1. Grandma Nell came from a large Wells family. One of her brothers, Walter Frank Wells (1889-1940) served in the army overseas in the First World War. He was injured, possibly shot AND gassed, and died in middle age. He is buried at the National Cemetery in Los Angeles. Walter must have been the writer in the family, as Grandma Barrett kept several of his letters, from stateside duty before going overseas, to a war-front hospital, to a recovery hospital back in the states after the war. Most are on some type of Red Cross or YMCA stationary. Here his draft registration cards of 1917.
I don’t quite understand the two dates at the bottom of the second card. Although most of the major European countries had been at war since August, 1914, the United States did not declare themselves in the war against Germany until April 6, 1917. On May 18, the Selective Service Act was passed and required men of a certain age to register for the draft. The first date of registration was June 5, 1917 for all men between 21 and 31. That is one of the dates on the above card.
That first registration was more of a single event than the beginning of a process. On June 5th, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young men all over the country went to their local offices to fill out the paper work. Just on that one day! Many communities closed businesses and shops, held parades and otherwise celebrated the event.