New Hampshire WWI Military: A Mystery Recruit Nülo Mahonen

It is a mystery to me why the name of Nulo Mahonen appears on the New Hampshire WWI Honor Roll, in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House.  The presence of a name on that bronze plaque usually indicates that the service man or woman was a native, lived in the state, enlisted from a New Hampshire city or town, or had close family here.  I can find none of these reasons.  So let me tell you about this mystery man.

Snippet of Passenger list arriving in Boston in 1904 on the ship Ivernia.

Nülo Muhonen first appears on a ship’s passenger list, when he arrived in Boston MA on the ship Ivernia from Liverpool England  on 10 Nov 1904. At that time he was 2-years old, born in Finland, arriving with his mother Olga, sister Anna aged 8 and brother Oscar aged 4.  Olga stated she is going to meet her husband Vihtori [Victor] who lives in Quincy, Mass.

By the 1910 U.S. Census, Nülo Muhonen is listed as a “state ward” placed with the Ford family in Chesterfield, Hampshire Co. MA. In looking for his parents, I discovered that his father Victor Mahonen, widow, died 23 Jan 1910 in Bridgewater State Farm, Bridgewater MA of pulmonary TB, with his body being given to Tufts Medical School (so Nülo apparently was an orphan by the beginning of 1910. His older siblings, if still alive, would only be in their early teens).  The death certificate of Nülo’s father, however shows me that his grandparents were Elias & Hannah Mahonen of Finland.

Nülo Mahonen must have attending Cushing Academy in Ashburnham MA, because the Fitchburg Sentinel newspaper of 5 June 1919 mentions Cushing Academy in Ashburnham dedicating a memorial tablet to Cushing boys who died in service including Ray R. Averill, Allyn Berrie, Warren, Cruse, Nulo Mahonen, Gordon Preston, Otis Thomas and Lewis A. Young.

It is known that he was buried in Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn NY. That fact led me to take a look at this next document that gives me a tantalizing bit of information about Nülo Mahonen. The U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Form shows:
MAHONEN, NULON [an obvious spelling error of his first name]
Rank: Recruit
Died 9 April 1917
4th Rct. Co., U.S.A.
Grave No 7586
Info taken from old card

The United States formally entered the fighting of WWI on 6 April 1917.  It appears that Nülo Mahonen may have been one of the earliest recruits, wishing to serve even before he was required to.  On 9 April 1917, the day he died, he would have been about 15 years old. Where and how he died is part of the mystery.

There was a Helmi Muhonen from Finland who lived in the New Ipswich NH area around the WWI era (she married Waino A. Aho), so possibly this is the New Hampshire connection. If anyone has information on Nulo Mahonen/Muhonen and his connection with New Hampshire, please leave a comment.

[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].


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6 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Military: A Mystery Recruit Nülo Mahonen

  1. Janet Barter says:

    The last I knew there were lots of Ahos and other Finns still living in the New Ipswich area.

  2. Amy says:

    Such an unusual name that you’d think it would pop up in most database search engine, so it’s odd that there are holes in his story. With all those New England ties, why was he buried in Brooklyn? I hope you find some answers—I’d love to know the rest of the story. Wouldn’t the army have any information about his death?

    • Janice Brown says:

      Amy, researching WWI service is the most difficult of all the past wars in the U.S. On July 12, 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis destroyed the majority of records held for Veterans who were discharged from the Army and Air Force. So records have to be compiled from other sources such as census records, battalion histories, newspaper clippings, burial records, etc. I spent a great deal of time on Nulo Mahonen and finally decided I was not going to learn more, so I posted it hoping a family member will come forward with the rest of his story. And by the way, thank you for reading. I always enjoy your comments and questions. Oh, and the multiple spellings of his first and last name didn’t help with the research either!

      • Amy says:

        I know your work well enough to know you had searched everywhere, so my question was not about what you had or hadn’t done. I was just surprised the army didn’t have more information—but now I understand! Thanks for the explanation. It also explains why you are doing what you are doing. How that has escaped me for all this time is crazy!!

  3. TQ says:

    The names are right in the passengers list. Niilo was born in 1901 in Karstula, Finland. His mother Olga Maria was born in 1876 and died 1905. His fathers name was Juho Vihtori, born 1874. April 6th, 1917 USA declares War against Germany and in the same time tens of thousands of American soldiers landed in Europe, maybe Niilo was with them.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Thank you for this update. Some of that information is included in the story. As for Niilo, he was classified as a recruit not a soldier, and so this single designation along with his date of death puts a firm question mark about where he died and whether he ever made it out of training camp.

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