WV History: Chester Merriman, Youngest Soldier of WWI

I came across an interesting fact when looking at demographics for WWI, the youngest person to enlist for World War I was Chester Merriman of Romney, WV. He was reportedly 14 at the time of enlistment, but lied about his age to gain entry. I went to the newspaper archives and was able to find this:

 -
CLIPPED FROM: The Leader / Hinton, West Virginia
03 May 1928, Thu  •  Page 2

Looking through the WV Archives, I found a birth record for a Merriman male child, both in Romney on December 8, 1902. He is the next to last entry in the book on that set of pages. You can see it here: http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=2585355&Type=Birth

Using the above data, I was able to find his WWII registration card in the Fold3 Archives, for your viewing here:

And then….jackpot! I found his WWI records where he noted his birthdate as 4 Dec 1899 (not 1902)!

Name:Chester Arthur Merriman
Record Type:Military Service
Birth Date:4 Dec 1899
Military Date:8 May 1919
Residence Place:Romney, W VA
Source: Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940

And with a little extra luck on my side, I was able to find two Army Transport Passenger Lists where Chester is noted on the manifest. Using the manifest information, I was able to also find images of the vessels which are noted as his mode of transport.

U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939

Source: The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 109
Name:Chester A. Merriman
Departure Date:7 Apr 1919
Departure Place:Brest, France
Arrival Date:20 Apr 1919
Arrival Place:Graf Waldersee Brest Hoboken
Residence Place:Romney, West Virginia
Mother:Nellie Merriman
Ship:Graf Waldersee
Military Unit:BASE HOSP. 202
Rank:Private
Service Number:441,547
Notes:BASE HOSPITAL 202

Additional research on the vessel turned up this blurb:
Graf Waldersee was assigned to the Cruiser and Transport Division, NOTS. She arrived at Brest, France, 30 March, and embarked 1,526 passengers, mostly homeward bound veterans; departed 7 April and arrived New York 20 April 1919. In two subsequent voyages from New York to Brest (18 May-2 June and 7 30 August), she returned 4,108 additional civilians and troops to the United States. She decommissioned at Stapleton, N.Y. 25 November 1919 and returned to the USSB.

U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939

Source: The National Archives at College Park; College Park, Maryland; Record Group Title: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985; Record Group Number: 92; Roll or Box Number: 377
NameChester Merriman
Departure Date8 Jun 1918
Departure PlaceNew York, New York
Arrival PlaceNew York, New York
ResidenceRomney W VA
Next of KinHoward Merriman
RelationshipUncle
ShipAquitania
Military UnitMD
RankPrivate
Service Number441547
NotesCamp Grenleaf Draft Replacment Company No 6 May (Med D)

Merriman passed away Sep 25, 1975 and is buried in Wardensville, Hardy County, West Virginia, USA

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