Studio shot, no. 176: James Edward Barnes.

James Edward Barnes (1926-1955), in his World War II uniform.


In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Frank Barnes, 22, farm laborer; wife Iantha, 17; and children James E., 4, and Oza, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 311 New Bern Street, owned and valued at $700, John Scott, 82; wife Sarah, 42, cook; son-in-law Fate Daill, 38, tobacco factory laborer; Fate’s wife Iantha, 32, tobacco factory laborer; their children Ollie, 15, and Clyde, 10; and grandchildren James, 14, Inza, 13, and Atha Barnes, 12.

James Edward Barnes registered for the World War II draft in 1944. Per his registration card, he was born 26 February 1926 in Wilson County; lived at 410 Lane Street; his mailing address was 1018 1/2 Wainwright Avenue; was unemployed; and his contact was Iantha Dale.

On 26 May 1947, James Edward Barnes, 21, of Wilson, son of Frank Barnes and Iantha Scott Barnes, married Dorothy Lee Watson, 18, daughter of John McNeal and Virginia Pendergrass, at Watson’s grandmother’s house in Toisnot township. Elder William Mercer performed the ceremony in the presence of Joseph Knight, Leland Pendergrass, and Jannie Barron.

James Edward Barnes died 5 December 1955 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 29 February 1926 in Wilson County to Frank Barnes and Iantha Scott; was married; was a World War II veteran; worked as a candy cook for Acme Candy Company; and lived at 307 Lane Street, Wilson. Informant was Dorothy Lee Barnes.

Dorothy Watson Barnes applied for a military headstone for James Edward Barnes on 6 December 1955 via Talmon Hunter of Hunter’s Funeral Home. The application indicated that he served in the U.S. Navy as a Steward’s Mate 2nd Class between June and November 1944

Photo courtesy of user scottywms60.


  1. Mine if I point out something. Mr. Barnes date of birth is either incorrect or he was in the Korean War not World War I. The age for serving in World War II was 21 -45 and he was not old enough to have served. 21 and 45
    On Sept. 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Selective Training and Service Act, which was another name for the draft. It required all men between the ages of 21 and 45 to register for the draft.

    1. That is incorrect. The act was amended after Pearl Harbor to require registration of all 18-64 year-olds. See As noted, Barnes registered in 1944, the day before his 18th birthday. (He was born on February 29 in a leap year.) He was called up and served several months in the Navy in 1944, which was very much during World War I.

      1. Thanks for letting me know that. I didn’t know. Growing up, I knew three men who were World War II veterans, and one man, who was a World War I veteran. None of them ever mentioned anything about the draft being amended. I guess they all died never knowing that.

        Therefore, I decided I wanted to know did these men know and just didn’t want to talk about it. If they didn’t want to talk about it, that was understandable.

        To learn more about it I asked a 98 year old veteran who I befriended some years ago. He went in the war in the Spring of 1944 and he said it was amended but the 18 years old didn’t see combat until the Korean War. That’s when it became official for 18 year olds to see combat. There was such a public outcry about it because the legal age of adulthood was 21 not 18.

        He also said that signing up for the draft didn’t always mean the person saw combat or even a boot camp. He said every man’s name on the draft list didn’t mean he eventually became a solider. He was listed on the roster just in case he was needed.

        I asked him about the picture. He said it could be a real uniform or it could not be. That anyone could have a picture taken wearing faux or real uniform, some photography studios provided them.

        I asked did he see any 64 year olds? He said, “if you don’t want to count the generals and commanding officers, then there were no 64 year olds out there.”

        He did say some men had been in World War I were also in World War II and often times brothers of the same age group were called up to serve. And some served on the same battle ship or in the same platoons.

        I asked does he have any idea why the vets whom I knew didn’t mentioned this amended bill? He laughed and said, “What was the point of talking about it if it didn’t happen?”

        I don’t know. I am retelling what elderly people said who lived through it.

        I was able to find the tombstone application and I can see the confusion in finding his actually military record. There are so many men by the same name.

        I see Mr. Barnes only served four months and a few days. That’s unusually. He left nearly a year before the war was over. It doesn’t say why? As I flip through records I see he was drafted two days after D-Day, June 6, 1944. I assume he was one of those intended to replace those lost during the Invasion of Normandy.

        I thank him for his service.,edward,barnes

      2. I’m not sure why you’re questioning this man’s service and uniform. He (1) has a draft registration card and (2) applied for and received a military headstone. He took a photo in his uniform, and his obit mentions his service. This blog is full of examples of 18 year-olds who registered for the draft and served. And of course registration didn’t mean that a person was actually drafted. Few older men would have met the physical requirements. The point is that once the US actually entered the war after Pearl Harbor, 18-20 year olds had to register.

      3. I did a quick search: in addition to World War II draft registrations of 18, 19 and 20 year-olds, my blog contains examples of men who registered in their 50s and early 60s. Were they drafted? Probably not. Did they see active duty? Surely not. But they registered.

      4. I look at fully things no matter who present them. It’s nothing to do with who it is. I don’t know him but it is sad his life was so short.

        I ask questions because I am a history buff. It’s nothing personal. In my research I’ve come across many military accounts, especially from World War I and II that are not real. Sometimes the record being claimed belongs to someone else all together different.

        I admitted I was not aware the draft bill had been amended.
        I’m aware of what’s on your blog and think you perform an excellent job in listing these things that would otherwise go unknown.
        I have been reading your blog since it was first put online. I have seen the others but upon later search some, a few turned up older or younger than the enlisted age. I never said anything because I figured how were you to know the age given at the census count in 1930 or 1940 was different than the age given when registering for the draft.

        Excuse me, but I wasn’t aware no questions were not allowed. I was retelling the experiences of people who were alive and served back then.

        Why I questioned Mr. Barnes’ service? Because it’s blank. At first, I was not questioning his service, your response made me question it. I was just curious because it is history. As someone with an ongoing fascination for all things historical I found it interesting. I questioned his service because the record is pretty much blank and I’m wondering how did that happen? There’s no assigned unit, crew, or platoon. The only record of his service is the munster of a ship crew roster and that could easily mean simply the roster list of transporting them the war or training them.
        Yes, he’s listed as Steward’s Mate 2nd Cl on the tombstone request record but I can not find the record created by the military itself. The headstone request card is created by the mortician. Not the military.

        Nothing about his martial status, previous education or occupation or unit is listed. If he was on a ship, then which ship? I found several records of a James Edward Barnes on different ships and I know all of them couldn’t have been him. All of that is listed in a soldier’s record. I could know as many soldiers as there have been to come out of my family. The birth dates are a little off. But I figured that may had been because most African Americans only had a grade school education back then and date of birth wasn’t something people kept up with.

        Like I said, yes, I have seen the others, but a few upon later and further research, some turned up older or younger than the listed age on the draft card. I never said anything because I figured how were you to know the age given at the census count was different than the age given when registering for the draft?

        I am sure you can understand’ why’ someone who were on the battlefield and sea from 1942-1945 see things differently.

      5. I welcome questions. I also welcome corrections. However, your comment that James Barnes could not have served as noted because 18 year-olds were not drafted was incorrect, and I responded to that. My blog posts do not purport to be full research projects. Photographs and other documents are annotated with basic census and vital stats info to give interested people a start for further research. If you wish to investigate Barnes’ military history, feel free to do so. If you determine that he was a fraud, please let me know. However, pointing out that his headstone application does not note every step of his service does not establish fakery. A mortician submitted the application (and provided the info required), and that information was vetted before the headstone was approved. As for your inability to find Barnes’ military records, I assume you mean online? My own grandfather’s WW2 records are not online either. In fact, they no longer exist. They were destroyed in a fire in Saint Louis in 1973, along with 17 million other records. I can assure you, though — he was drafted at age 35 and served three years. I am glad you have enjoyed my blog, and I hope you continue to do so. Again, I welcome comments, questions, and corrections. I strive for accuracy. However, that means that comments containing inaccurate info will be corrected as well.

      6. I never remotely said Mr. Barnes committed fraud. I was wondering why was his record incomplete. Why was he being lacked? Why was it left the way it is?
        The military storage fire in St. Louis didn’t not contain all the military records of the 16–18 million individuals records whose record was destroyed. This is just one copy. There were three copies made and plus each state has a copy of the record of every native son shipped over seas.
        Yes, I meant searching for the record online.

        Again, I’m aware of the great record lost in the 70’s that destroyed lots of records. But each of these records had a copy that was not in St. Louis.

        “Removal and salvage of water- and fire-damaged records from the building was the most important priority, according to NPRC Director Scott Levins. Standing water—combined with the high temperatures and humidity—created a situation ripe for mold growth. This work led to the recovery of approximately 6.5 million burned and water-damaged records, Levins said.”

      7. I don’t mind correction if I am wrong. I have no problem with that, but I collect information from many different sources and analyzed it.

  2. This man is my grandfather. If you know any other sites where I could get more information/ pictures I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

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