World War I discharge records from the early 1900s will be donated to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington D.C. after being found at the Toms River Township Municipal Building. 

Toms River Township Municipal Building (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

Toms River Township Clerk and Historian J. Mark Mutter said the records were discovered while documents were being moved several months ago to a new records center. He believes the documents got misplaced in 1949 when the older part of the municipal building opened.

"We think what happened was as the move was made back then, a half century ago, that the records were simply just misplaced. They were actually found in a crawl space," Mutter said.

About 175 documents were found dating from 1919 to 1940.

"The first discharge paper, they're alphabetized A through Z, was issued by none other than Col. George S. Patton," Mutter said.

The discovery of the documents shows there was overwhelming support by local young men in the World War I period, according to Mutter.  "Incidentally, a couple of the discharge papers go back to the Spanish-American War and one goes back to the American Civil War, but overwhelmingly they are all World War I records."

The Toms River Township Council passed a resolution on Dec. 23, authorizing the donation of the discharge papers to the NARA.  The papers are expected to be handed over to the NARA in February.  The documents will also be scanned and saved for township purposes.

"If anyone thinks they have a relative that served in World War I, the information in each of the records is filled with exciting genealogical information for families," Mutter said.