It is often said that the ground is hallowed wherever the body of an American soldier lies. The words “Killed in Action” emblazoned on grave markers in cemeteries across our nation serve as a harrowing reminder of the sacrifices made by so many and the debts we owe to the fallen. Standing on one of these graves brings about a sense of respect and awe with the knowledge that beneath your feet lies the mortal remains of someone who paid the price for the American freedoms we cherish. In Maplewood Cemetery in Camillus, there is one such gravestone visible from the road affixed with a bronze marker turned green by time, that of one John Henry Krakau.
John was born on September 26, 1894 in Camillus, NY to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Krakau, both German immigrants. Census records from 1910 indicate that John was, at the age of sixteen, living with his parents, three sisters, a nephew and his grandfather and working as a “disher” in the “knife shop” industry. It is presumable that this was a job he held at the Camillus Cutlery; this however is unconfirmed. It is reported that he later worked as a barber in Marcellus and was a well-known member of that community prior to his enlistment.
His military records indicate that he was 23 at age of enlistment and was of medium height and build with light hair and blue eyes. He was inducted into the army on November 21, 1917 in Baldwinsville, NY and served with the 6th Company 153rd Dep. Brigade and was transferred to Company G of the 310th Infantry. John was promoted to Private 1st Class on March 1, 1918 and to Corporal on May 15th of that year, five days before arriving overseas where he served until he was sadly killed in action while fighting in the Battle of Argonne Forest on October 19, 1918. Records indicate that John was buried the day after his death; his body was disinterred and reburied in a cemetery for American soldiers in the Argonne area on May 7, 1919. In 1921 his remains were again disinterred, prepared and transported home to the states on a ship and subsequently delivered to his family for burial in his final place of rest in Maplewood Cemetery.
John H. Krakau probably hoped to be a “Johnny who came marching home” after his time away at war; it can be guessed that he would have told the stories of his brave fighting in the Great War for years to come as he cut hair and trimmed beards in his barber’s chair in Marcellus. This was not to be; it came to pass that John was not among the lucky ones who returned to the lives they were building back home. Instead, he became one of the many World War I “doughboys” who was called upon to pay the price for our freedom with his young life.
Thank you, John, for your service and your sacrifice.
John Henry Krakau. Findagrave.com
Krakau, John H. U.S. World War I Burial Cards. Krakau HYPERLINK "https://www.fold3.com/image/705165552", John H. U.S. WWI Burial Cards - Fold3
Krakau, John Henry. World War I Draft Registration Cards. Page 1 WWI Draft Registration Cards - Fold3