14 Replies Latest reply on Nov 10, 2021 11:07 AM by Rebecca Collier Branched to a new discussion.

    Seeking Navy records of John & Martin Faulkner

    Joseph Felice Wayfarer

      A while back, I was paging through an old family photo album when we came across a photo of a WWI era U.S. Navy sailor.  I have enclosed a copy of this image in the form of a jpeg file.  At first, I had no idea about the identity of the sailor. However, a couple weeks later, while paging through another album we came across a wedding portrait of John and Amelia Faulkner, my mother's grandparents on her mom's side of the family.  The groom in this portrait matched exactly with the person in the sailor photo.  Therefore, we are guessing that the sailor is John Faulkner.  However, John had two brothers Martin and Thomas so perhaps it could be one of his brothers too.  I have enclosed an image of John Faulkner's wedding portrait with a zoomed image of John from this photo for comparison with the sailor image.


      John Faulkner was born on May 1, 1889 in England.  He came to the U.S. along with his brother Martin in 1911.  John worked primarily as a carpenter while living at 658 Thayer Street in Philadelphia with wife Amelia.  They had two daughters Eleanor (b. 1914) and Hilda (b. 1918).  Sadly, John passed away from cancer in January 1933 and was interred at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Philadelphia.  Unfortunately, there is no obituary that can be found for John that may confirm any military service in the U.S. Navy. According to Jim Dunigan, an historian with the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum in Georgia, the white cord wrapped around the right arm of the sailor in this photo is a Seaman Branch cord.  This indicates that this sailor was between Apprentice Seaman to Seaman First Class in terms of rank.  Unfortunately, I believe the National Archives are closed right now because of the current situation, therefore I have not made an attempt to submit an SF-180.  What I have done is conducted a photo analysis of the image in Paint Shop Pro.  By applying the negative image filter, I was able to discern the name of the ship on the tally.  I believe the ship's name reads U.S.S. Sampson.


      Do you have any ideas on who else I may be able to contact to learn if my great grandfather John Faulkner or his brother Martin Faulkner served in the U.S. Navy? Any ideas would be really appreciated. Thank you.



      Kerri Davis, of the Canadian Museum of History commented on my inquiry below:


      Hi Joe,


      Thanks for all this good additional research. I suspect you’re finding all the same documents I’ve found on Ancestry as well. I’m quite certain that the border crossing card from 1924 is an American document, a crossing that went from Canada to the United States, I believe Halifax, NS to Buffalo, NY. The forms used for Canadian entries are quite different, as you could see from the LAC links I sent earlier.


      Anecdotally, I also had a great grandfather whose American draft card I found online. In that case, it was simply a matter of him being considered and then rejected for service due to illness. So the draft cards are not evidence of active military service.


      I was able to find a British military service record for a Martin Faulkner, with many documents listing Halifax UK as his home base, and a reference to Catherine Faulkner being his mother. This Martin Faulkner was a merchant sailor and worked in the shipyards as a labourer in the British reserves during the first world war. His medical records indicate that he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis in his knee, an affliction he acquired in 1916 in Boston (!). The border crossing card you first sent also mentioned Boston in 1916, so the pieces are starting to fit together. His service record indicates he enlisted in 1916, was called up to service in 1917, and discharged in 1919. He was a class W reservist;  'for all those soldiers whose services are deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment'.


      I feel more confident that the image you have of the man in uniform is Martin Faulkner. I would normally save copies of these records to share with you, but my Ancestry account through the museum won’t let me save the service record. If you do have access to Ancestry, I’d recommend searching for military records of Martin Faulkner and I’m sure you’ll find the same. If you don’t have a membership, you can perhaps try their free trial period and then cancel before then end of the trial. The British military service records are not available through their national archives. You can read a bit more about them here: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/british-army-soldiers-of-the-first-world-war/.


      I hope this is somewhat helpful and all the best of luck in your research.



      Kerri Davis

      Coordinatrice, services de conservation

      Musée canadien de l’histoire

      Coordinator, Curatorial Services

      Canadian Museum of History