VIP Joe shares a story from his research.
For this week’s Military Monday, I thought I would take a moment to share some research I have been working on with the help of the National Archive. When we think about the history of the park it is easy to look at the physical reminders and think these are the only stories to tell. The lighthouses, Army radio room, bunkers, searchlight shelters, and occasional half-buried gun emplacements are easy reminders of the many layers of history incorporated into the Cabrillo National Monument.
Recently while working on some research I was doing about the various military structures within the park, I came across two curious documents that I found interesting. They were a pair of marriage licenses. The first one was dated 1914 and was for two Mexican civilians who were married while being held at the Fort Rosecrans internment camp during the Mexican Border War (1910 – 1919) by the Fort Rosecrans post surgeon.
The other document was far more interesting; it too is a marriage license issued by the post surgeon, this time to a soldier named John Zeluff and his bride Madeline in 1908.
John Zeluff was born March 2, 1876 in Illinois and enlisted in the U.S. Army for the Spanish-American war of 1898. He found that military life agreed with him and re-enlisted after the war, ending up serving with the 28th Company of Artillery at Fort Rosecrans. John and Madeline married on August 18, 1908, she was just nineteen and he was thirty-two. He would continue to serve in the army through the end of World War One.
The couple had three children together during their forty-nine years of marriage; only separating when he passed away at age eighty-one in 1957. Upon her passing at the age of ninety-one in July 1979, Madeline was reunited with her late husband and are both buried together in plot M0193 at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
Every historic site has a story to tell, sometimes the stories are monumental, and others are just ordinary. In this case it is the story and memory of a couple whose story was re-discovered as part of a chance find, while looking for something else. It is easy to look at the physical reminders of our past, but we should never forget the importance of people and how every one of us has a story to tell.