World War I

Pfc. Alvin Detlef Petersen, 163rd Depot Brigade, Camp Dodge, World War I

April 15, 2020
Alvin Detlef Petersen at Camp Pike, Arkansas, 1918

Alvin Detlef Petersen was born on 17 December 1895 in Teeds Grove, Clinton County, Iowa to parents Jerry and Anna Petersen. He was the grandson of German immigrants who had settled in Iowa.

He was a farmer by trade and registered for the first draft of World War I on 5 June 1917 in Andover, Iowa. He married Alvena Gehlsen a year later on 10 July 1918 in Clinton County, Iowa. Fifteen days later, on 25 July 1918, he enlisted at DeWitt, Iowa and began his seven months of military service.

He was likely first sent to Camp Pike in Little Rock, Arkansas – where the photo above was taken.

The back of the real photo postcard was inscribed with his name and residence, and the name of Ewing Photographers located across from the depot at Camp Pike.

At some point during the intervening months he received a promotion to Private First Class and was also transferred to Camp Dodge in Des Moines, Iowa where he became part of Company 2, [Unknown Battalion], 163rd Depot Brigade. He was honorably discharged at Camp Dodge on 18 January 1919. His first son was born a few months later.

Alvin Petersen returned to farming in Andover, Iowa where he spent the remainder of his life. He died on 21 July 1967 in Andover and was buried in the Andover Cemetery.


  • Find A Grave, database with images, ( : accessed January 2020), memorial 6352723, Alvin Detlef Petersen (1895-1967), Andover Cemetery, Andover, Clinton County, Iowa.
  • Military, Final Pay Voucher, Alvin D. Petersen, 3810246, Pfc, 163rd Depot Brigade, Camp Dodge; Official Military Personnel File; National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO.
  • “Regional Deaths,” obituary, The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), 22 July 1967, p. 13, col. 6-7; image copy, Newspapers ( : accessed January 2020).
  • “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed January 2020), card for Alvin Detlef Peterson, number 72, 5 June 1917, Local Draft Board No. 2, De Witt, Clinton, Iowa; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509, World War I Selective Service Draft Registration Cards.
  • United States Army Center of Military History, Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War, Volume 3, Part 2, Zone of the Interior: Territorial Departments, Tactical Divisions Organized in 1918, Post, Camps, and Stations (Washington, D. C: Government Printing Office, 1949).
  • “United States Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed April 2020), card for Alvin Detlef Petersen, serial number 3 810 246; citing FHL microfilm 105280703, NARA microfilm publication 76193916.

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