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John S. Service Oral History Interview, Chap I-II

Oral History Interview with
John S. Service

Political adviser to the Commander in Chief of American forces in the China-Burma-India Theater, 1943-45; executive officer to the political adviser to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in the Far East, 1945-46; First Secretary of the American Legation, Wellington, New Zealand, 1946-48.

Berkeley, California
March 28 | April 6 | April 28, 1977
by the University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley Regional Oral History Office (Rosemary Levenson interviewer)

Chapters I and II

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional John S. Service Chapters]

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview donated to the Harry S. Truman Library. The reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word, although some editing was done.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement between the Regents of the University of California and John S. Service, dated March 7, 1980.

No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of California. Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal agreement with John S. Service requires that he be notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which to grant or deny permission.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

John S. Service, "State Department Duty in China, The McCarthy Era, and After, 1933-1977," an oral history conducted 1977-1978 by Rosemary Levenson, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1981.

Opened March, 1980
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional John S. Service Chapters]

Oral History Interview with
John S. Service

Berkeley, California
March 28, 1977
by the University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley Regional Oral History Office (Rosemary Levenson interviewer)

Chapters I through II




Family Background: Protestant Settlers and California Pioneers

LEVENSON: I'd like to start, Jack, with asking about your family background. Who do you want to start with, your father or your mother?

J. SERVICE: I can say they were both white, completely Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant, WASPS in other words. My mother's family was New England Puritan. It went way back. I m not sure just how far back, but one of my ancestors on her side fought in the American Revolution and was given a sword by General Washington, which is a bitter point in our family because it was supposed to be handed down to the eldest child in each generation. My mother was the eldest child in her generation, but because she was a woman, it went to the oldest male descendant which is a thing that rankled forever! She was a premature feminist or an early feminist, shall we say.

Her grandfather was a forty-niner, joined a party, left Boston, went to Vera Cruz, I think, in Mexico and across northern Mexico. He was sick, was nursed back to health by an Indian woman, and wrote a book about it which is quite a collector's item. It is called Travels to California (Asa Bemont Clarke. Travels in Mexico and California, comprising a journal of a tour from BrazosSantiago, through central Mexico, by way of Monterey. Chihuahua, the country of the Apache on the river Gila, to the mining districts of California. Boston, Wright and Hasty, printers, 1852) or something like that.


LEVENSON: What was his name?

J. SERVICE: His name was A.B. Clarke. I'm sure The Bancroft Library has the book, or if not, we can give them one. When we were having our hard times in the steam trap days [1950s] we needed some money and we sold one copy for $250 or something like that.

My grandfather became a banker, small town banker in San Bernardino. My mother, Grace Boggs, was the eldest child. She came to the University of California at Berkeley, and was quite a prominent woman on the campus in the class of 1902.

My father’s father, John Service, came across the plains in 1859. He wasn't quite a forty-niner: he was a fifty-niner. His ancestor was a poor man, poor boy really, who came from Scotland about 1817. Eventually the family migrated across to Michigan. My grandfather came from Michigan when he was about nineteen with a wagon train across the plains. (John Service, Pioneer. Prepared from his own words and records by Fred Field Goodsell, with the assistance of the children of John and Julia Service. Waban? Mass., Privately printed, 1945.)

Of course, the gold rush was over. He was a rather canny and careful fellow. He got a job driving wagons of hay and supplies from the Sacramento Valley over to the Comstock Lode which was just developing. He spent several years doing that, saved his money, and then bought land down in the San Joaquin Valley near Merced, Modesto, and Turlock.

Roy Service and Grace Boggs, University of California, Class of 02

J. SERVICE: So, my father grew up on the farm. He was one of eleven children, eight of whom grew to adulthood. He was the first in any of his tribe to go to University. I've never understood just why he was determined to go to University, but he was. He came up to Berkeley. His father didn't see much point in it but he wasn't going to object or oppose it. My father was in the class of 1902--the same as my mother. He became quite a well known athlete, big man on the campus, president of the senior class, president of the Y[oung] M[en’s] C[hristian] A[ssociation] , which in those days really was something.


Descendants of John and Julia Service

1. JOHN SERVICE, JR., was born January 18, 1839, in Canandaigua, New York. His brothers and sisters are:
Sarah, b. May 7, 1837--d. November 30, 1923.
Edward, b. March 29, 1841--d. February 19, 1909.
Robert Thurber, b. January 29, 1843--d. April 26, 1920.
William Bernard, b. April 14, 1845--d. April 17, 1918.
Katherine Ann, b. February 5, 1848--d.
Isabella, b. October 31, 1850--d. January 20, 1925.

John married Julia Irene Warner, July 3, 1867. The marriage license was obtained in Ophirville, California. Julia was born January 12, 1850, at Medina, Michigan.
Their children are:
2. Walter Warner Service, b. April 26, 1868, at Ceres; d. November 22, 1878, in Weston, Michigan.
3. Lewis Hall Service, b. April 27, 1870, at Ceres.
4. Wilber Pomeroy Service, b. June 5, 1871, at Ceres; d. November 19, 1878, in Weston, Michigan.
5. Hubert Elwin Service, b. May 15. 1873, at Ceres.
6. William Roscoe Service, b. October 22, 1874, at Ceres.
7. Ida Irene Service, b. March 24, 1877, at Ceres.
8. Robert Roy Service, b. June 4, 1879, in Weston, Lenawee County, Michigan; d.
September 29, 1935, in Shanghai, China.
9. Lulu Karolena Service, b. January 29, 1881, at Ceres.
10. Lynda Rose Service, b. December 16, 1883, at Ceres.
11. John Henry Service, b. August 30, 1888, in Auburn; d. May 3, 1908, in Palo Alto, California.
12. Lawrence Edward Service, b. March 3, 1890, in Auburn.

Second Generation

3. LEWIS HALL SERVICE (John (1) 1) was b. April 27, 1870, at Ceres. He married Pauline Cristine Harder, December 6, 1889, in Modesto. She was b. June 19, 1870, at Banta, California. Their children are:
13. Walter Wilber Service, b. October 28, 1891, at Ceres.
14. Leonard Hubert Service, b. September 4, 1895, in Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois.

5. HUBERT ELWIN SERVICE (John (1)1) was b. May 15, 1873, at Ceres. He married Flora Amanda Ward, September 6, 1899, in Ceres. She was b. June 8, 1881, in Stockton, California. Their children are:
15. Elwin Hubert Service, b. August 6, 1900, at Ceres.
16. Ward Elbridge Service, b. January 3, 1903, at Ceres.

6. WILLIAM ROSCOE SERVICE (John (1)1) was b. October 22, 1874, at Ceres. He married Estella Updike, October 21, 1900, in Modesto. She was b. August 7, 1879, at Turlock, California. Their children are:
17. Newell Turner Service, b. November 15, 1904, in Modesto.
18. Vivian Irene Service, b. September 16, 1906, in Modesto.
19. Grace Evelyn Service, b. November 26, 1907, in Modesto.

7. IDA IRENE SERVICE (John (1)1) was b. March 24, 1877, at Ceres. She married Frederick Henry McNair, December 31, 1908, at 1740 Oxford Street, Berkeley. He was b. October 28, 1872, at Mt. Morris, New York. Their children are:
20. John Frederick Hastings McNair, b. December 31, 1911, in Berkeley.
21. Virginia Irene McNair, b. June 15, 1914, in Berkeley.
22. Constance Julia McNair, b. February 28, 1919, in Berkeley.

8. ROBERT ROY SERVICE (John (1) 1) was b. June 4, 1879, in Weston, Lenawee County, Michigan. He married Grace Josephine Boggs, June 30, 1904, in Independence, Iowa. She was b. November 26, 1879, at Independence, Iowa. He d. September 29, 1935, in Shanghai, China.
Their children are:
23. Virginia Service, b.