From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Durham, John Granvail

(born: 1896  -  died: 1999) 

John G. Durham had been the oldest African American veteran in Illinois. He was born in Campbellsville, KY, according to his World War I Draft Registration Card. The son of Thomas F. and Mary L. Durham, he and his family lived in Ireland, KY, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.

John was a cook in the U.S. Army during World War I, serving in the 803rd Pioneer Infantry, 2nd Army. He entered the service on August 2, 1918 and went to Camp Grant, then overseas on September 17, 1918. He engaged in the Meuse-Argonne 2nd Defenses and was discharged
May 9, 1919 (according to J. W. Greenaway, "With the Colors from Aurora, Illinois, U.S.A., 1917, 1918, 1919 online).

In 1936, Durham was settled in Aurora, IL, where he co-founded the American Legion Post #798, the first for African Americans in Aurora. The post closed for a few years when Durham died, but it was scheduled to re-open and include a Buffalo Soldier Museum.

Durham was also the commander of the Kane County Council of the American Legion and later commander of the 11th District Council. He was the first African American Santa Claus in Aurora and a member of the Aurora Police Auxiliary and Chamber of Commerce.

For more see M. Hogarth, "Taps calls vet home," Beacon News, 8/18/1999, News section, p. A1; and "RECOGNITION OF KANE COUNTY WORLD WAR I VETERANS: John G. Durham," in Kane County, IL: County Board Minutes.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Taylor County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Campbellsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Ireland, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

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NKAA Source: The Beacon-news (newspaper)

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“Durham, John Granvail,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-19 18:14:53