Many of the Indian draft registrants who lived in major metropolitan cities were laborers. Often Indian registrants couldn’t write their own names and signed with an X and a witness. After seeing thousands of these, it’s easy to draw generalized conclusions about lack of education and opportunity. But those conclusions are not always accurate.
Robert John Gordon is sure and certain proof of that. He registered in Washington DC, a city of immigrants. No one lived in Washington before it was constructed as the capital of our country, so everyone went there for a purpose. No one could really be considered native to that area. So I’m checking the draft cards of every person registered there.
I found Robert John Gordon, born in Wisconsin, living in the Washington Asylum Hospital. I’ve seen this before, and generally residents of an asylum are registered in that mythological Miscellaneous County. But, since this is Washington DC which really doesn’t have counties. I thought perhaps that made a difference, so I looked further.
Under his occupation, it read “hospital intern,” but the real jolt came when I looked at his signature. Robert John Gordon, M.D.
I’m sure Dr. Gordon’s family back in Gordon, Wisconsin was very proud of him. He was certainly one Native person who had overcome what seemed like insurmountable odds to do well.
Hmm, I wonder if the name of the town is a clue perhaps to how this family adopted a surname. Another wild goose to go off and chase…..