The Harnagel Doughboys

I do not often express my opinions on this blog, but today I am going to start with one.  I think there is too little attention given to the remembrance of the fact that World War I was fought 100 years ago.  I would have thought more would have been said in our media about this war that cost the lives of so many people, including quite a few Americans.  Today, I have a World War I story to tell that comes out of Perry County.

The story starts with a birthday.  Martin Friedrich Harnagel was born on February 23, 1891 and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  His parents were Gotthold and Rosalie (Palisch) Harnagel.  Martin’s birthday leads me to discuss not only him, but several brothers in that same family.  We have this wonderful photo taken of three Harnagel brothers who all served in the military during World War I.

Harnagel brothers WWI
Harnagel Brothers – Curt (left), Martin (center), Theodore (right)

There were six brothers and one sister in that Harnagel family.  Five of those brothers are shown in this photograph.

Harnagel brothers
Front (Left to Right) Curt, David, Theodore  Back (Left to Right) Arthur, Martin

David, the oldest, became a Lutheran school teacher.  His story was told in a previous post titled, Herr Harnagel.  The 1910 census, even though it is very difficult to read, shows the following situation.

Harnagel family 1910 census Wittenberg
1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Arthur (20 years old) and Martin (19 years old) have occupations relating to what is described as a steam shovel.  Theodore (16 years old) and Curt (14 years old) are said to be farm laborers.  Otto (age 9) was the youngest and still attending school.  David, the oldest, was already a teacher somewhere.  There was a steam shovel operating at the silica pit located near Wittenberg.  Here is a photograph of what may have been the steam shovel at which Arthur and Martin worked.

Marion Shovel X

Four brothers registered for the World War I draft.  Here are their registration forms.

Arthur Harnagel – WWI draft registration
Martin Harnagel – WWI draft registration
Theodore Harnagel – WWI draft registration
Curt Harnagel – WWI draft registration

If you look closely at all these forms, they all say the boys were working in Toledo, Ohio.  They all seem to have jobs associated with some sort of machinery.  I found this entry in the 1918 city directory for Toledo.  That was the same year that World War I was being fought.

Harnagel brothers city directory Toledo OH
Harnagel brothers – Toledo city directory 1918

My suspicion is that David was called to be a teacher at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Toledo, and he convinced his brothers to move there to find work.  Martin is the brother that is missing in this directory.  If you look at this listing of Martin’s military service, you may see the reason he is not in Toledo in 1918.

Martin Harnagel military record WWI
Martin Harnagel military record

Martin had already enlisted in the Army in 1917.  He was the one who apparently had the most combat experience.  He was part of a Field Artillery unit.  Here we see some American soldiers being trained to use artillery for World War I.

World War One artillery instruction

We have this photo of Martin serving in the Army during WWI.

Martin Harnagel WWI

Below is Theodore’s military record.

Theodore Harnagel military record

And here is Curt’s.

Curt Harnagel military record

It does not appear that Theodore or Curt served overseas.  By the time these two were drafted, the war was almost over.

An affectionate term for the soldiers in World War I was “doughboy”.  I understand that term may have been derived the same way that the word “doughnut” developed.  I wonder whether the Harnagel boys had experience with their mother, Rosalie, as early assistants in her kitchen working with dough.  In this family photo, we see some of the Harnagel brothers when you might have referred to them as little doughboys.

Gotthold Harnagel family 1894

Later three of them would become fighting doughboys.  In this early photo of Theodore and Curt, we see how they had early firearms training even before going off to serve their country.

Theodore and Curt Harnagel hunting

Martin would later become a farmer near Keytesville, Missouri.  Other Harnagel boys spent most of their lives in Ohio.

In closing, I am going to share this video that I found which shows many American doughboys being trained to go “Over There”.  It is not often that you see film clips of World War I that have color.   The video is about 3 1/2 minutes long.

One thought on “The Harnagel Doughboys

  1. Thank you for posting a fine article. My father in law is son of David Christian Harnagel and just celebrated his 88th birthday on April 3


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