The Great War Comes to Orange County

The Great War that devastated Europe must have seemed so far away to those living in southern California. World War I lasted from 1914 until November 1918. Once the United States entered the war, it became necessary to find able-bodied men from all over the country. Every man had to register. And so they did.

June 5, 1917 was a very big day for the Escalante and Romo families of Orange County. Four out of six brothers showed up to fill out their paperwork. These papers were left to show us what everyone was doing, almost 2 years to the day after Leonardo Sr. dies.

Jose Escalante's WWI Draft Card, June 5, 1917.

Jose Escalante’s WWI Draft Card, June 5, 1917.

Above is the eldest Escalante son, Jose Maria, aged 31 years. He was living in New Delhi, CA. He was a laborer. He had dependents, a wife and child. Sadly, he did not name them. They also seemed to have disappeared in the next 5 years. Could it have been the Spanish Flu pandemic that killed them?

Leonardo Escalante Jr's WWI Draft Card. June 5, 1917.

Leonardo Escalante Jr’s WWI Draft Card. June 5, 1917.

Leonardo Jr. was 29 years old here. Hey! He was still a barber. He had dependents, his mother and siblings. They lived in New Delhi. He was described as tall, which wasn’t a typical Escalante male descriptor. Also, three of his fingers on his left hand were disabled.

David Romo Jr's WWI Draft Card, June 5, 1917.

David Romo Jr’s WWI Draft Card, June 5, 1917.

David Romo Jr’s differs from the Escalante boys in that he is living in Santa Ana, CA. He is working at Tustin Hill Citrus. Ahhh, the citrus trees of California….I digress. His listed dependents are his parents, wife (Carmela), and 2 children.

Manuel Romo's WWI Draft Card. June 5, 1917.

Manuel Romo’s WWI Draft Card. June 5, 1917.

Manuel Romo, Anna’s second son, also lives in Santa Ana. He stated that his dependents were his parents and brother and sister. He was working for a man named Sherman Emmett. These guys were not running toward getting married were they? Manuel and Leonardo were almost 30 and both single. No teenaged love affairs here.

So those were the four older brother that were the crux of their families. Eventually the two younger Escalante brothers showed up to fill out their forms.

Carlos Escalante's WWI Draft Card, June 10, 1918.

Carlos Escalante’s WWI Draft Card, June 10, 1918.

Carlos’ draft card showed him living in Delhi. He was supporting his mother and sisters. He didn’t mention his little brothers. He was working for Manuel Romo. Now that’s interesting. Was Manuel now a supervisor? I love that the information taker, Birdie Swanwick, spelled Rufina’s name: Bfina Escalinti. Getting used to that new typewriter, Birdie??

Ruben Escalante's WWI Draft Card, Sept. 12, 1918.

Ruben Escalante’s WWI Draft Card, Sept. 12, 1918.

And last, but not least, Ruben Escalante got to register. He was living in Gloryetta, CA. Gloryetta, from what I can tell, was also a small town in the same vicinity as Delhi. They even had their own post office at one time. If not for forms like this, one might not even remember these little towns existed under the sprawling cities that are currently there. Ruben worked for Sherman Emmett too. He lived with his mother.

These forms really give a quick, but full snapshot of what the family was doing at the time. The men were working to care for their families. The Escalante men were taking care of their mother who still had little ones to raise. The 24-year span of childbearing could make life difficult for a woman who was a widow. But her sons stepped up to the plate to assist her.

Now, having been with the Romo’s so long, it would seem that the families would stay together forever.  In 1919, the Escalante’s went to visit someone in Mexico. Rufina returned via Calexico. My guess was that everyone went to see grandchildren from her daughter Maria. She also had a sister in Calexico, Guadalupe Valenzuela de Garcia. Was it a family meeting that decided they should all move for better opportunities? Whatever the reasons, the Escalante’s decided to leave their extended family of 20 years. They moved to Calexico, California. A move which changed the Escalante family. Forever.

2 thoughts on “The Great War Comes to Orange County

  1. Ilianna Escalante

    I’m really enjoying your posts. If there is anything i can do to help please let me know. Feel free to email me any docs you need translated to English. I will be in Calexico next week. I’m more than happy to visit specific places, take pictures, make copies etc…. 🙂

    1. murpher2 Post author

      Thank you so much! It has been fun to share family with the family. I will rack my brain to think of things I can have you search for me. Give me some time and I can email you a few things for translation. 🙂


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