WWII soldier’s dog tag discovered during cleaning of Medina Railroad Museum

Photos by Ginny Kropf: The name of Harold Evans, who lived in Shelby Center, is barely visible on this rusted dog tag found in a partition at the Medina Railroad Museum.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 26 August 2022 at 11:45 am

Harold Evans worked 25 years for New York Central Railroad Company

Joe Kujawa, a member of the Medina Railroad Museum board, holds a dog tag he found in the floor while helping to remodel the museum’s bathrooms earlier in the spring. The dog tag belonged to Harold Evans, who lived in Shelby Center.

MEDINA – Last spring while renovating the bathrooms at the Medina Railroad Museum, an interesting discovery was made.

The work was being done by Museum staff and board members, and while vacuuming up the dust and debris where a partition had been taken out, Joe Kujawa noticed something on the floor. Reaching down to pick it up, he discovered it was a rusted old dog tag.

Joe immediately thought of me, Ginny Kropf, a writer for Orleans Hub and secretary of the Medina Railroad Museum board. He handed the dog tag to me and asked if I could do anything with it. I stared at it and thought I could make out the last name Evans, which immediately sparked my interest.

George Evans lived on Scott Road, and he was my mother’s cousin. He had a son Lonnie who still lives on Scott Road; a son Don, who many people will remember as owner of the repair shop on the corner of Maple Ridge Road and West Avenue Extension; and a daughter Dorothy Flood who lives on Culvert Road.

Harold Evans could possibly be related to me.

I took the dog tag home. It was so rusted the name could barely be seen, but placing a thin sheet of paper over it and rubbing it with a pencil, the letters were just barely legible. The name on it was Harold B. Evans, then his numbers, which weren’t all legible, then Mr. C.B. Evans, RD1, Medina, N.Y. It was later learned C.B. Evans was his father.

Dorothy says she knows of Harold, but said she would have been very young and doesn’t remember much about him, except he was their cousin.

So there is the question of why Harold’s dog tag was in the Medina Railroad Museum. While he most likely returned from the service on the train, he would have disembarked at the depot, which is the Senior Center across the road from the Railroad Museum. So what was his dog tag doing in the former freight house?

Reporters are supposed to be nosey, so I went into action.

A call to Orleans County Historian Catherine Cooper produced copies of a personal item in the Medina Daily Journal Register (date unknown) saying, “Pfc. Harold Evans returned to Camp Gordon Johnston, Fla., Saturday after spending 15 days with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Evans.”

Catherine also found a document which was his draft card, but all the writing is not clear. The final item she found was his obituary in the Medina paper, dated March 25, 1960.

The headline on the article is “Harold Evans, 50, Dies Suddenly While at Work.” The obit reports he worked at H.J. Heinz Company and died shortly after reporting for work. He was born in the town of Shelby on Aug. 3, 1909.

It continues to say Harold was a veteran of World War II and a member of Shelby Baptist Church and the Medina Encampment of IOOF. He had also worked for the New York Central Railroad Company for 25 years before going to the H.J. Heinz Company two years ago.

That explains how his dog tag was found in the Railroad Museum.

His obit continues to say he is survived by his mother, Mrs. Pearl Sleight Evans and several cousins. His father Charles B. Evans died in 1945.

His funeral services were at Barnes-Tuttle Funeral Home, with the Rev. Kenneth Baker officiating. Ken was pastor of the East Shelby and Millville Methodist churches in the 1940s and maybe early 1950s, both churches where I attended as a child and young adult.

Harold is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in West Shelby.

So that is the tale of the rusty dog tag and how it came to be found at the Medina Railroad Museum. I offered to give it to Dorothy or Lonnie, but Dorothy said she and her brother are both elderly and have more stuff than they know what to do with.

So, for now, I’ll hang onto it and if any veteran’s organization or individual reading this would like it, just contact me.