I never met Uncle Benno, but my husband Howard seems to hold very fond memories of him. He married Howard’s grandmother’s next older sister, Jane Elizabeth McDonald on 26 Oct 1922 in Huron County, Michigan.
Benno Frederick Christian Hahn was the son of German immigrants, August R. and Fredericka (Boettcher) Hahn. When the United States declared war in April of 1917, Benno was already 26, elderly by military standards, but he ended up in the Army anyway. Because of his German parentage, he was not allowed to serve in the infantry, so he was assigned to the Ambulance Corps.
As Howard remembers it, Uncle Benno had Parkinson’s disease, because he had an arm with a serious tremor, so severe he would sit on it to keep it still, and wore a spot in his recliner from the vibrations.
It wasn't until a few years ago that we learned it was not Parkinson’s – Uncle Benno had been wounded in the war, hit in the head by shrapnel in the land of his ancestry and carried his badge of courage throughout his life.
Evidence of his struggle is poignantly shown in his signature on his draft card in 1942 – the “Old Man’s Draft” as it became known because men between the ages of 45 to 64 years of age were required to register.
Below are Mr. & Mrs. Benno Hahn and Mr. & Mrs. Howard Keillor, probably about the late 1920s.