Profiles from the Archives: Michael P. Traynor

Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist

Michael Purcell Traynor was born on August 14, 1892, in Charleston, S.C., to Charles E. and Elizabeth Purcell Traynor. Michael’s father Charles was from Bologna, Italy, and was a police officer in Charleston, S.C.. It appears that “Traynor” was not the family’s actual surname; rather, following Charles Traynor’s emigration from Italy to the United States, their last name underwent several different anglicized spellings (including “Trainer”). Michael Traynor was named after his mother’s Irish father Michael Purcell.


Michael Traynor worked as a file clerk for a railroad company in Charleston in 1910. His life would change when, on October 14, 1910, his father Charles died of tuberculosis in Charleston at the age of 51. Michael took up supporting his mother, sister, and brothers, following his father’s death. He moved to the town of Wadesboro in Anson County, N.C., just before the war. Prior to registering for the draft, Traynor was working in Wadesboro for the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway, which had its southern terminus in Wadesboro.

Upon entering military service during World War I, Michael Traynor was appointed an Army Field Clerk for the U.S. Adjutant General’s Department on May 17, 1918—in which position he served until he was discharged. Before shipping overseas, Traynor was stationed in Washington, D.C., and Hoboken, New Jersey. He sailed for France on June 7, 1918, and served overseas until July 5, 1919. Traynor was honorably discharged on July 7, 1919, at the Port of Embarkation in Hoboken, New Jersey.


On January 16, 1923, Michael Traynor married Percy T. Garner in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the couple settled down to live. Beginning after 1919 and through the 1930s, Traynor worked as a clerk for the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem. Eventually, he became a secretary to an attorney for the company. At the time of his death, Traynor was working as a representative for the Security Life & Trust Company in Winston-Salem. Michael P. Traynor died of a heart attack on December 14, 1947, in Winston-Salem, N.C., at the age of 55, and was buried at Salem Cemetery in the same city.


This blog post is part of the State Archives of North Carolina’s World War I Social Media Project, an effort to bring original WWI archival materials to the public through the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ (NCDNCR) various social media platforms, in order to increase access to the items during the WWI centennial celebration by the state of North Carolina.


Between February 2017 and June 2019, the State Archives of North Carolina will be posting blog articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts, featuring WWI archival materials which are posted on the exact 100th anniversary of their creation during the war. Blog posts will feature interpretations of the content of WWI documents, photographs, diary entries, posters, and other records, including scans of the original archival materials, held by the State Archives of North Carolina, and will be featured in NCDNCR’s WWI centennial blog.