Will Jamison was born in Lexington County, South Carolina, January 1, 1896. His parents, Melton and Anna Ammock, were farmers. The 1910 U.S. Census reports that “Willi” was the fourth of nine children. Tellingly, the same census reports that Melton could neither read nor write, though Anna could do both. Their firstborn son, twenty-year-old Matthew, also could do neither, but his eighteen-year-old sister Fibbi and sixteen-year-old Mary could read and write. Will had attended school in the past year, but at fourteen still could neither read nor write, and his twelve, ten, and eight-year-old siblings had not attended school in the year prior. All of this testifies to a family for whom literacy was still a desired luxury, and the tasks of subsistence farming an absolute necessity.1
At some point Jamison moved to Sumter County and registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, as shown here. Before he joined the Army he worked as a laborer at J.J. Reader Saw Mill in New Zion, South Carolina. He was drafted on May 27, 1918, and trained at Camp Jackson in that state.2 Three months later, as a Private, he sailed on the SS Great Northern transport ship out of Hoboken, New Jersey, headed to France, for what would be the last three months of the war.3 The Germans had resumed unrestricted submarine warfare on February 1, and the Allies had only just organized a convoy system where groups of merchant ships sailed together protected by warships. Soldiers like Jamison were likely aware of the submarine threat during the transoceanic crossing.
Jamison served in Company C of the 520th Engineers. Engineers provided the Army with a wide array of capabilities including railway and road building. These units also repaired bridges and trenches. Racism and racist policies ensured that most African Americans performed hard labor during the war. After seven months of service overseas, Jamison boarded the SS Winifredian on May 29, 1919, arriving in Boston on June 9.4
Jamison was discharged June 25, and at some point later he must have moved down to Florida, because his Florida death certificate indicates that he had been living in Tallahassee, though he died in Lake City. He may have been at the Veterans’ hospital in that city. The only other details for the last eighteen years of his life are from the same document: he had still been a laborer, and he was divorced.5 According to his interment card, shown here, Jamison died on September 4, 1937 and was interred in St. Augustine National Cemetery on September 9, 1937. He is located within Section A, beneath Grave 213.6
1U.S.,“1910 United States Federal Census” database on-line, https://ancestry.com: accessed July 10, 2018) Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.Original data: “Thirteenth Census of the United States,” 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA."United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch
2 U.S.. “Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917–1918” database on-line, https://ancestry.com: accessed July 10, 2018), Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.Original data: War Department, Office of the Provost Marshal General, Selective Service System, 1917– 07/15/1919. “Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Service, 1917–1918.” NAI: 578684.
3 “U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939,” database, Ancestry (https://ancestry.com: accessed July 10, 2018), entry for Will Jamison.
4 “U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939,” database, Ancestry (https://ancestry.com: accessed July 10, 2018), Will Jamison.
5 "Florida Deaths, 1877-1939," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FPH7-K6F : 9 March 2018), Will Jamison, 04 Sep 1937; citing Lake City, Columba, Florida, reference cn 15060; FHL microfilm 2,115,030.
6 “U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962” database on-line, Ancestry ( https://ancestry.com: accessed July 10, 2018), ( Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.Original data: Interment Control Forms, 1928–1962. Interment Control Forms, A1 2110-B. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.
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