Tag Archives: World War I

- Mug Shot Monday: Kenneth Frederick Thomas, No. 15150


Photograph of Kenneth F. Thomas, #15150, Escaped Inmate Card, Records of the Virginia Penitentiary, Series II. Prisoner Records, Subseries B. Photographs, Box 42, Accession 41558, State Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

Welcome to Mug Shot Monday!  This is the latest entry in a series of posts highlighting inmate photographs in the records of the Virginia Penitentiary.  Kenneth Frederick Thomas, the subject of this week’s post, was either a bigamist or a decorated World War I hero.  Thomas’ version of his military service and his The Hangover-like courtship and wedding, stand in stark contrast to the evidence gathered by two Virginia governors.


Virginian-Pilot, 17 March 1918

Kenneth Thomas arrived in Norfolk in early March 1918.  On Saturday, 9 March, Thomas, dressed in the uniform of an aviator of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), attended a dance at the Fairfax Hotel where he met 20-year-old Rose Eugene Swindell.  Thomas wooed Swindell with tales of air battles with the Germans on the Western Front as a Canadian pilot.  Thomas’ stories, reported the Virginian-Pilot, “blinded the young girl and she married her romantic suitor” on 12 March.  The newlyweds lived at the Lorraine Hotel until the bridegroom was arrested 16 March by agents of the United States Department of Justice at the request of Canadian authorities.  Thomas was wanted for desertion and bigamy.


Virginian-Pilot, 25 March 1918.

Upon his arrest, Thomas told a very different story than the one he told his bride.  He claimed he was an American citizen, had never served in the Royal Flying Corps, and was a victim of mistaken … read more »

- I’ll drink to that! Governor Henry Stuart Records Processed


Drawing by W.R. Cassell for a ceremonial flask to be used by Governor Stuart and the Governor of California to combine the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Virginia. Governor (1914-1918 : Stuart). Executive Papers of Governor Henry C. Stuart, 1857-1918, Panama-Pacific International Exposition - Decorations, etc. State government records collection, The Library of Virginia. (Box 42, Folder 4)

The Executive Papers of Governor Henry C. Stuart, 1914-1918 (LVA accession 28722) are now available to researchers as part of an ongoing project to arrange and describe the papers of Virginia’s governors that have been lost thus far in the archival backlog.  Once housed in acidic boxes with some metal pins and staples, Stuart’s papers now have been reboxed and refoldered.  More importantly, the papers have received detailed archival processing in order to unearth some of the gems below.  Though not the most important administration of the 20th century, it is clear Stuart’s was eventful and the records illustrate the significant moments of his term in office.  From the unveiling of a statue to Virginia’s dead at Gettysburg to the country’s initial involvement in World War I, Stuart’s papers are a valuable resource for early 20th century Virginia researchers.

-Craig S. Moore, State Records Appraisal Archivist

- New Discoveries in World War I Questionnaires


Photograph of Lt. Richard Fuller Woodward's grave in France, Miscellaneous Reel 4701, Virginia War History Commission, Series II. Virginians of Distinguished Service Records, 1922-1925, Accession 37219, state government records collection, Library of Virginia.

Created in 1919 by Governor Westmoreland Davis, the World War I History Commission’s task was to collect, edit, and publish source material concerning Virginia’s participation in the Great War. The Commission also conducted a survey of World War I veterans in Virginia using a printed questionnaire mailed to each soldier or nurse by local branches of the Commission. The soldier or a family member completed and returned the questionnaire to the local branch, which forwarded a copy to the Commission’s Richmond office. In June 1928, the Commission disbanded, transferring all records to the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia). An invaluable source of genealogical and military information on Virginians who served in World War I, this collection of nearly 14,800 questionnaires was processed and microfilmed in 1996 and digitized in 1998.

When I joined the State Records section in 1999, I began processing the remaining records of the World War I History Commission. Much to my surprise, I discovered additional questionnaires filed separately, which had not  been filmed or included in the digital collection. As it turned out, staff of the Commission had set these records apart from the remainder of the collection by design.

In preparation for its first source volume, Virginians of Distinguished Service of the World War, published in 1923, the World War I History … read more »