“Only by full help of the public can Utah’s warriors be honored.”
– Joan Geyer, Tribune
In the midst of World War II on September 12, 1942, Governor Maw issued a proclamation creating the Department of War History and Archives within the Utah State Historical Society. A call was issued to all citizens to help document the military service of all veterans in Utah within this new office, along with copies of records from the U.S. Selective Service and various military branches. In 1957, the Utah State Archives was officially created within the Utah State Historical Society. One of its first tasks was to register the graves of all veterans buried in Utah.
Photograph from “A Man With a Grave Task” July 16, 1950, The Salt Lake Tribune
The man in charge of this registration was Robert W. Inscore. A World War II veteran, he was also the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Utah war veterans. In a 1950 Salt Lake Tribune article, he described himself as a “connoisseur of graveyards.” He combed through graveyards up and down Utah, from well-tended to severely overgrown. Along with uncovering headstones, he came across poison ivy, hornets, and one angry rattlesnake. Working with Mrs. Lee Eire, information was gathered from city directories and other sources, he would then write or call upon families to confirm details.
In addition to the compiled data on Utah veterans (now available online), Inscore also assisted families with the process of obtaining the free grave markers or headstones for veterans who perished either in service or following honorable discharge. Today, extensive correspondence survives in the thousands of pages documenting inquires to other states (for previous or subsequent military service), individuals and families, and various offices and branches of the Federal government (Series 17529). By 1959, it was reported in the Utah Historical Quarterly that over 250,000 separate records had been filed on the project. Inscore worked at this task until 1965, possibly fulfilling his promise to the Tribune’s reporter fifteen years previous that “[if] this job ever gets routine, I’ll quit it.” Ultimately Inscore left behind a legacy of valuable hard-won information on thousands of Utah veterans.
Do you have relatives with military service who lived in Utah? Consult these research guides to find out more information on finding records compiled for or created by the Military Records Section.