Private Konstante Berestechki is a bit of a mystery. There are records that show that during WWI he served in the U.S. Army in Company A, 301st Engineers, and that he died of disease while serving overseas in Germany. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with honors, and credited to New Hampshire. His name is even listed on the Roll of Honor in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House. But who was he, how old was he, and where did he enlist?
Private Berestechki’s records show that he was born in Russia and originally inducted on 1 May 1918 into the U.S. Army. Konstante Berestechki was a Private in Company A, 301st Engineers when he was shipped from Brooklyn NY to Europe aboard the ship Katoomba. His service number was 2721820. He stated his residence as Wolynska Gut Russia, and his father as being Kondrat Berestechki. It was slightly unusual not to list a USA connection but this was not the first I’ve seen.
His burial record shows that he died on 6 December 1918 in Germany. The Official U.S. Bulletin published Dec 26, 1918, shows under “Died of Disease, Privates:BERESTECHKI, Konstante. Kendrat Berestechki, Wolynska Cut, Russia.” It is known from the History of the 301st Engineers that in December 1918, after the Armistice was announced and while the 301st was in the vicinity of Germany that the battalion was hard hit by an influenza epidemic. It is entirely possible that Konstante contracted this.
Konstante was at first buried in Grave #2, American Section, #1294 Mondorf Local Cemetery, Luxembourg, Germany. The U.S. Military Transport Passenger List shows his remains were returned to the United States aboard the ship Pocahontas from Antwerp, Belgium arriving in Hoboken NJ on 18 October 1920. On 12 November 1920 the body of Private Berestechki was re-interred in Arlington National Cemetery, grave 718.
I have found only one person with the same last name in New Hampshire, and it was in the 1920 U.S. Census, there was a 24 year old woman, Hama Berestechki [so born about 1896] living at 47 Brown Avenue in Manchester New Hampshire. She was single and immigrated in 1914 from Russia. She was still an alien (not naturalized) and was working painting leather (seasoning) in a tannery. She had a female roommate named Reni Wasmerski, also from Russia who did the same type of work. This implies that possibly Private Berestashki enlisted from Manchester or that area of New Hampshire. There was another family with the surname Berestecki that immigrated about the same time (c1914) from Russia and settled in Massachusetts. They could potentially be related to Konstante.
Private Konstante Berestechki should not be forgotten. If any of my readers have information on this soldier or his family please leave a comment or contact me directly.
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].