A Draft Card and Immigration

In my seemingly never-ending drive to uncover lost details of family history – both here in America and in Hiroshima – many surprises have popped up.  Stuff I could have not even imagined.

For instance, finding out my grandfather went camping – complete with a Coleman stove from that time (circa 1915).  It’s odd even for me to see Japanese immigrants camping let alone in shirts and ties:

Grandfather Hisakichi on the right with the Coleman stove next to him. Mr. Fujii is in the center.  His importance will be noted in another story. Circa 1915.

Or that Grandmother Kono – also from a small farming village in Hiroshima as my grandfather – would pose for a picture on the running board of a brand new 1918 (c) Chevrolet Touring happily holding my Aunt Shiz:

chevrolet kono
Grandma Kono and Aunt Shiz, July 1918. The car is owned by Mr. Fujii, the owner of Hotel Fujii and shows up clearly in another photo. Seattle, WA.

I don’t think even she could have ever dreamed she would be sitting on the running board of an American icon from the poverty she had lived in before coming to Seattle as a picture bride.


On other subjects, I’ve developed unprovable conclusions based on detailed inspection of such photos… but I guess there’s no harm in believing them.

For instance, there are quite a few lefties in my dad’s side of the family.  I’ve always wondered from whom that trait came from.

Well, in the few photographs remaining of Grandfather Hisakichi, I see some glaring patterns:

Here he is on the right, holding a cigarette in his left hand:

hisakichi cigarette
A motley crew indeed.  Grandfather Hisakichi on right, holding cigarette in his left hand. I know when I (ahem) smoke a cigar, it is in my right hand. I am right-handed.

In July 1922, he is photographed here holding his hat in his left hand; however, as in his other photos in a suit, his gold chain (perhaps a watch) leads to a left vest pocket.  I am unsure of which direction a watch would have been pocketed:

Hisakichi park
(L to R) Dad, Grandfather Hisakichi holding his hat in his left hand, Aunt Shiz. Unidentified park, July 1922.


But there is one undeniable fact.  While I cannot find the actual US Immigration manifest, the 1930 Census discloses Grandfather Hisakichi (legally) immigrated here in 1898 when he was just 17 years old.

But because he was a documented immigrant, the government knew he was here.  He had to register for the draft in 1918!  WWI was raging then.  He was 38 years old.

WWI Draft Registration Card________________________________________

So there is a benefit to illegally immigrating to the US.

“They” wouldn’t know you’re here.

…All in jest, of course.

41 thoughts on “A Draft Card and Immigration”

  1. Fascinating stuff, Koji … I sent you an email with picture of Grandfather’s place of residence in 1918.

  2. Very interesting, Koji. Have you checked Ancestry.com for yoour grandfather’s immigration manifest? I was surprised and delighted to find such information on my grandparents’ arrival. I always thought my grandmother was a picture bride, but actually, she arrived a few years before my grandfather did, and she came with her parents.

    1. Yes, I did. I have all post-1898 but it may be his name is badly misspelled. For instance, I have found one of him but his first name was input as “Highkick”. lol Same for my grandmother. It is such a simple name (Kono) but it’s been mis-input in several ways. When did your great-grandparents come?

      1. My grandmother arrived in 1914 and my grandfather in 1917. Isn’t it fascinating? I wish I knew how they met and what brought them to America.

  3. ” I am unsure of which direction a watch would have been pocketed.” Left handed, he would have kept his watch in the vest pocket on the right side of his body.

  4. You’re right – information you never would have dreamed of! I keep telling people when they ask me for advice in researching – I answer- Don’t give up; eventually one fact will led to another and so on… You’ve been proving that for me with every post!! I love the photos, Koji!

    1. Thank you, gpcox! Two days ago, I got a FedEx from my Hiroshima cousins… Its a Japanese book about my uncle’s regiment on Leyte. One report shows it was the 12th Cav that engaged my uncle’s 41st Regiment (which was annihilated) and not Smitty’s 11th Airborne… Still trying to read it…but its in darn Japanese! Lol

      1. You’ll figure it out with no problem! I have confidence, friend. That’s an amazing gift, can’t wait to hear some of it.

  5. Wonderful Koji! More MOre More!!!! With every family post I am convinced this is leading to a book. It must. There is so much yet to be discovered, I know. This is wonderful.

    1. イバラ様、明けまして御目出度うで御座います。今年も宜しく! 郵便代高ったでしょう。。。買ってもらって御免ね。。。有り難う!!

  6. the camping photo (and coleman stove) was my fav of this post – but I agree with Linda – these are precious and priceless family photos – wow!
    oh and just a thought, but I heard that smokers hold their cigarettes in the non dominant hand – and I did back in the 80’s – but cigars might be different (cos they are so jumbo you need your strong hand to hold them – lol – jk)

  7. Isn’t there a Japanese figure for !!!! ? I had to smile when I saw that gorgeous Japanese writing with exclamation points after it…maybe !!! is universal!?

    Koji, these articles you’re writing are absolutely fascinating; bringing us into a whole new world and SO interesting! THANK YOU!

    1. Thank you, geeez! Actually, the ! in Ibara’s are mostly due to the fact she is totally bilingual…although ! is used a lot in their comics. I’ve not seen it in prewar publication, however.

      1. That it’s not prewar says a lot, doesn’t it. I guess it’s American but sure does fit the bill for all languages…
        Having spoken Armenian as a child, and still understanding quite a bit but not speaking much, and then learning French and German fairly well (maybe 60% on both), I REALLY admire the bilingual….what a gift.

  8. Thank you very much for handling the reply to AWAX. I did not want to take a chance on giving incorrect Japanese historical information. Still my friend bailing me out – aren’t you!!

  9. I just received a very interesting comment – can you supply an answer?
    “I wonder what the Japanese thought of the Navajo code?”
    If not, do you have an idea where I could start such a search?

    1. Interesting… but I will defer to Mustang USMC for fact-based answers involving the USMC! I’m pretty sure they heard it on the islands but that’s as far as I will go! 🙂

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