Saturday, May 18, 2019

Military Appreciation in May- Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This year's challenge is 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and is run by Amy Johnson Crow.

I've decided to break this post up into two. The first, below, is what the different days are we celebrate in May every year. The second post will be about an ancestor who has served but hasn't been talked about much. I figure if I pick an ancestor and post it on here that's served, it will be a dedication to them. 

I've written up documents before regarding military service of my ancestors (post and post). However, I feel like I'm just doing a groundhog's day with the military as we've had so many serve, I'm not sure what to do as a different post, so while I claim this as a Pending RSVP. 

Until I decide, I will talk about the military in the month of May. 

Military Appreciation Month
I know that every May, there's a military appreciation month due to there being a few days specially recognized during the month. 

First, we have Memorial Day or Decoration Day. This is held the last Monday in the month of May. Why this day? "It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country." is what the belief is. 

Memorial Day versus Veterans Day - What's the difference?
Many people don't recognize the difference in these two holidays, but there is a BIG difference. 

Memorial Day are for those who have served and have died. 

Veterans Day are for those who have served and who are still alive. 

I see this mixed up A LOT. People don't understand the difference which is such a shame. 

Military Spouse Appreciation Day
This is the day the spouses of those who are serving or have served. Its not a federal holiday, but it is a holiday for them for everything they do to keep the military person active and known within the community and this includes the home life. 

Its not an easy life at all for someone who does this. I'm a Navy brat and my mother did this for twenty years and my father retired. With all the upheaval the military put on relationships and family life, they do deserve the recognition. 

What I have a problem with, is when a couple divorce, like my parents have, the military person remarries and the new spouse then steps into many areas which this is one. My problem with this is my mother basically served twenty years with the military, and yet once the divorce papers were signed, she was shipped off and basically forgotten. Her healthcare was stopped. Her support in everything was just dropped even though she had given up so much. Then community just froze her out. And now with this day, which was started in 1984, my mother doesn't even get recognized for this at all. Instead, my father's new wife, has stepped in and gets it all - the health care, the community, supports, and even this special day in which she's never served a single day by living with the military way of life. 

Would I have a problem with it if my father's second wife married before he got out? Not completely. I would and do still have a problem with my mother getting nothing in the health care, supports and community, but I would recognize my father's second wife as a military spouse rather than just her being on some committees and calling herself a spouse when she didn't really serve by going base to base and everything else that goes with it. 

Armed Forces Day
This day was made in take in the individual Army, Navy and Air Force Days which were being held on different days which made it difficult for people. I can understand this as having people who have served in many areas of the military. 
So this brings me back to the overall Military topic and how to do this one differently and my RSVP of the topic. 

I think what I will do is a post about a past ancestor which has ties to the military. These I have plenty of including currently serving and past ones. To choose which one it'll be hard. 

My father, Matt, during 2018 Wall that Heals ceremony in New York. Credit

Monday, May 13, 2019

Nature of Kindness and of Community - Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This year's challenge is 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and is run by Amy Johnson Crow.

Topic information:
Any farmers or gardeners in the family? How about someone who simply loved to be out in nature? How about an ancestor with a nature-inspired first name or surname?

I believe where Amy is going with the next few posts is Nature versus Nurture debate for your ancestors. I am wrong, but I'm heading out my own way for this post. In doing this, I guess the best way to start these posts is to define the word and move on from there.

Nature: "The basic or inherent features, character, or qualities of something." "The innate or essential qualities or character of a person or animal." "Inborn or hereditary characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality." (credit)

The Nature versus Nurture debate is defined as "The nature versus nurture debate involves whether human behavior is determined by the environment, either prenatal or during a person's life, or by a person's genes." (credit)

The topic is an super interesting one. Also, one I've actually been asked about before or comments have been asked about either with myself or with someone in the family. These are a mix of good and bad things like religion, drinking, truthfulness, helping the community, and various other things.

I have a sister who says she's a bitch (her words not mine but I agree with it and so do most people who know her) and she 's proud of it. There's a way to do things nice and not use certain words and temperament to get your point across; however, there are others when you can use all the worse words, tone and actions to get it across the wrong way. Myself, I'm a straight person and tell the truth. I might apologize in advance or tell you it might not be the way you think, but if you still insist, I will tell you what for but using as much kindness I can, unless you are being abusive towards me.  In contrast, my sister will just go right at you. She'll tell you she doesn't care if you like it or not because that's just the way it is and go jump. Not exactly the way to get points across, but that's what she does. Sometimes, she frustrates the whole of us and we just turn and walk away because it doesn't have to be that way. However, she wants things only her way and will only want it that way. Our father actually says "She's an odd duck that one." and leaves it at that which says something.

Anyhow... getting back to a happier topic...

The nature part of us has come through how we are kind and do things for our community. I know on both my father and mother's sides they have done this and its come through each generation I can see.

What's really weird is when I was growing up, my past relatives were not spoken about at all. I didn't know anything about them. In some instances, I didn't even know their names until I was an adult. However, since my research, I've found there are many instances we have helped others with kindness or in our community.

Nature of Kindness
This is going to be a hard one to show, because much of we've done, we did because we wanted to and not because we wanted recognition of it.

Adam Wojtkowski in the Great Depression had people come in and take food and put it on account. He'd rather loose a bit of money than have people go hungry. However, he ended up losing property and his business and work in a factory until after the Great Depression was over and he started again.

John Schmitz Sr would always have kids over to his house. He would tutor and help the kids in anyway he could even outside of school. All the kids knew where his house was and it always had kids there.

Jo Ann Fitzgerald (Me) performed in many type of bike and running races growing up. I also did many things through the Girl Scouts with volunteering. Then in college, we funded families during Christmas and Easter with food and presents.

Charles A. Schmitz Sr looked at our mother, grandmother, his wife and various other friends and family's cars, houses, etc to fix them if he thought he could.

Theresa Schmitz putting together a bike fund drive for the Danny Thomas' St. Jude Children's Research Hospital which I'll never forget due to her hanging up on him 3 times and swearing at him at least once.

and it goes on and on...but notice how its just words?

Doing things for our Community
This is much easier to show due to there being something put in the newspaper about it, or written about it and now on social media about it. I've found out things over the years about relatives which makes your heart feel good.

Autism Walk - with Paige, Taylor and Becky (Credit P. Blair )

My nieces in support of the community.  Credit R. Greenhaw Facebook

Neighbourhood Watch Casey at event for Country Fire Authority (Fire Department) for Black Saturday Remembrance. April 14 2019.
Pictured: D. Rosario, J. Fitzgerald, M. Eviota, N. Mortlock Credit: D. Rosario

John Schmitz Sr. obituary in 2002 showing how much he did in the community.

Jean Schmitz (my father's mother) helped out a police officer Credit

My grandfather, Matthew Schmitz, acted as Commander of the old VFW meeting to help vets in various ways as stated in article. Credit

My grandfather, Louis Gauquie, is mentioned. The mill dam mentioned I believe is the Rip Van Dam in Blooming Grove, NY

My great grandfather, Jules Gauquie, helps the community with giving a doctor a place to stay. Credit

My great grandfather and great aunts and uncles are mentioned in raising money for the church.  Credit: Feb 25,1938 in Middletown Times Herald

My great grandfather, great aunts and uncles are mentioned in raising money for the PTA (Parents Teachers Association). Credit as shown.

My great uncle on my mother's side, Jug has a long list of accomplishments highlighted in yellow. Credit

A great aunt on my mother side, Laura Kurpieski, was in various committees to help the community. This one above is one of the fundraiser for money for the community. Credit 

A great aunt on my mother side, Laura Kurpieski, raising more money for the community. Credit

My cousin Chris is helping with literacy. Credit
and I could go on and on and on.....

And this is without mentioning any public servants like fire fighters, nurses, military, etc.

This is one of the proudest accomplishments I found in my research, which balance out the bad...mostly.  In order to do this research, you have to take the good with the bad - its just how life is.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Nurturing for others: My Great Grandmother Annie- Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This year's challenge is 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and is run by Amy Johnson Crow.

Topic information:
 This is a good time to highlight the kind, helpful souls in the family tree. Another way you could interpret this is an ancestor who was helped by a nurturing, encouraging person, like a teacher.

I believe where Amy is going with the next few posts is Nature versus Nurture debate for your ancestors. I guess the best way to start these posts is to define the word and move on from there.

Nurture defined as "to take care of, feed, and protect someone or something, especially young children or plants, and help him, her, or it to develop or to help a plan or a person to develop and be successful." (credit)

The Nature versus Nurture debate is defined as "The nature versus nurture debate involves whether human behavior is determined by the environment, either prenatal or during a person's life, or by a person's genes." (credit)

As you can see, to nurture is different than the nature versus nurture. In this post, I will give a great example of an ancestor who I can only imagine was the nurturing type of person - my great grandmother Anna Catherina Larsen.
Annie Gauquie's picture from her naturalization papers in 1924. Credit 
Annie, as Anna was known, came from Denmark in the mid 1890s. If I found the correct Danish census, she came from a farming household in Aarup (or Årup) Denmark in was born in 1872. 
Bisons in Aarup, Denmark. Credit

I found a census in 1880 which had her with her family. I was able to track this due to the small community (according to the information page of the area 3,014 in 1 January 2011 and it wasn't made a town until 1860, so there were very few people living there, which narrowed the information on her.
The Danish 1880 Census with Annie and her family highlighted in Red above. Credit was done when this page was active.
Further, in her passport application, she put her father's name and he was deceased.
Annie's Passport application which shows her date of birth, where born and her father's name. Credit
Due to having her father's name, I was able to match her year of birth, area to the information in the area. However, by the time the 1890 census was taken, she had moved out and was a servant along with her brother, Lars in the transcription I was able to get.
The 2nd to last and last are my family, I believe. This was the 1890 Denmark Census. Thanks Rick for helping. Credit Denmark Archives. 
The next time someone found her it was in 1891 and she was going to the US indirectly (meaning she had a stop) to St Paul, Minnesota.

This is from Denmark's Archives in 1891. Thanks Rick for helping. 
Then I have her in St Paul, marrying my great grandfather, Jules.
Jules and Annie's marriage certificate in 1896. Credit
Then they travel back to New York and set up a house, where they have children. They have 7 children - 3 girls and 4 boys and they have a prospering dairy farm.

She works the dairy, takes care of her husband and children. 
Jules is Annie's husband and from above, you can see she was actively working the farm even with children. Credit
However, in January 1911, tragedy strikes the family. Her 5th child, Charles, dies in a horrible accident. From what my cousin has told me, her father William and Charles were walking on their land. Charles falls into the small brook on the property, and William can't reach him and is screaming. However, he ran to get help and came back. However, by the time that happened, it was too late.
The newspaper misprints the name of Jules when it should be Charles. Jules is his father. Credit
As you can see, Annie was there according the newspaper article as a caring mother should be.

On top of this, their second oldest daughter Mary, comes down with Polio or poliomyelitis. I believe I've narrowed the time down to between 1910-1914.

Many people think of polio as the iron lungs, but it is much more than that due to after the initial bout of poliomyelitis, some people suffer from further symptoms also known as post-polio syndrome. Some of the things she could have had would be decreasing strength and endurance, breathing, swallowing or speaking difficulties, pain in muscles and joints, or fatigue and an inability to stay alert. The polio virus attacks specific neurons in the brain stem and spinal cord. This meant when she contracted the virus, it attacked the area where it wouldn't allow her to mental go beyond a certain age.

There was an outbreak around the area and from family reports she never grew, mentally, beyond a 10-14 year old and as she was born in 1899, this time frame fits as by 1907 approximately 2,500 cases of poliomyelitis were reported in New York City which was about 66 miles. However, with it being a dairy farm, chances are high of it coming from there due to the exposure to trucks and people from this area. There was a out break in polio in 1916, but this would be years after Mary would be infected so this wouldn't be where Mary's was infected.

As further proof, Mary did have an accident where she hurt herself, highlighted in yellow below, which goes to show they had to be careful with everything she did.

Mary, highlighted above, gets a burn on her arm and hand in 1918 due to her polio. Credit
However, it didn't matter to the family, as they loved her and kept visiting her just as her mother kept her with her, took care of her and loved her no matter what.

The vaccine would not be introduced for Polio until 1955, which would be years later.

Then in 1933, Annie gets sick from not having a proper coat during the winter. From my cousins, they were told she didn't have a winter coat, and her daughters bought her one just before she got sick because they were worried about her. However, having only wore the coat 1 or 2 times, she gets pneumonia and ends up in St. Luke's Hospital in Newburgh, NY.

She dies on January 18, 1933. She is only 60 years old.

However, Mary is still at home on the farm and its noted in Annie's will and probate she is listed as incompetent and a guardian is appointed for her by the state.

As you can see by the second box at the top, Mary is declared incompetent when Annie's will is filed in mid January 1933. Credit

By the end of January 1933, Mary has been declared of having no general guardian. Credit 

February 1, 1933 it was given noticed for the probate of Annie, that on the 7th, Mary will be starting service of her guardian being the State of New York. Credit

February 14th, 1933 Mary has a guardian appointed for Mary. 
I believe Annie thought that if something had happened to her, Jules, her husband would step in and take care of their daughter, Mary. As you can see from the documents above, this didn't happen. In fact, the story is much worse.

Annie's probate was reported to be finished on October 17, 1933. It wasn't until this point I believe the next steps for Mary happened.

The family story is Jules shopped around to find the cheapest and most out of the way place to send Mary once the Probate was finalized. Based upon a doctor's input, it was recommended for her to be sent to the The Willard Asylum for the Insane (Willard State Hospital) in Sonyea, NY

Willard State Hospital, Main Building, circa 1898. Credit

I can hear you say "Huh? Where is that?" 
Sonyea, NY is near Groveland, New York in which the Town of Groveland is centrally located in the county, South of Geneseo in the State of New York. However, some people sometimes claim the name Sonyea is an acronym for "State of New York Epileptic Asylum".

Sonyea and Groveland, NY on a map showing the distance from Blooming Grove to there. Map credit: Googlemaps
The land was settled by the Shakers who wanted to be away from the mainstream of people and lived a simple life. However, they felt people were starting to affect their ways, and gave the land to become a hospital to help others, but then it was sold to become Groveland Correctional Facility.  

It was still in the state of New York, but far enough from any kind of main settlements, where family could not visit Mary as you can see by the map above. This made the family very upset because up until she was sent away, she had always been included in the family. 

Jules doesn't stop there though. In April 1933, they get a new phone installed, and by May, Jules has put ads in the newspaper for female help in the house. By October 1933, Jules actually leaves to go to visit his family in Belgium for 3 months. By October 1934, he's sold their home to newlyweds and is engaged to be married. On October 20, 1934 Jules marries for a second time.

By December 1934, his daughter Mary dies at The Willard Asylum for the Insane (Willard State Hospital) in Sonyea, NY.

Jules does bring Mary back home and buries her within feet of her mother, Annie.

Me visiting Annie and Jules (to the right of me) and Mary (in the front) January 31 2019 at St Mary's, Washingtonville, NY

Annie's Proud Achievements
Even with having this type of husband, Annie still manages to do a great job with her 7 children. Two died without having reach adulthood either by accident or by disease.

Out of the remaining 5 children, she has one that goes on to marry and have a child, Florence, which they loose in World War 2.

Another, Alice, becomes a nurse, at St. Luke's Hospital, which I believe is due to her sister Mary's polio. She goes on to marry and have a son who becomes a reverend.

James becomes a farmer like his father. Eventually himself and brother, William, buy their father's farm from him. James' daughters go on to start the Gauquie Sisters School of Dance in Washingtonville, NY.

Louis worked for the railway on and off for years before starting his own business of cleaning chimneys and furnaces.

I would say Annie didn't do too badly from what she had to work with!

Nature Versus Nurture
By reading the above, gives a great sense of what is nature against what is nurture.

The formal definition is "a debate involving whether human behavior is determined by the environment, either prenatal or during a person's life, or by a person's genes." (Credit)

Annie demonstrated just what its like to be a caring person and have this type of environment. However, with Jules, his behavior any kind of caring, would have to be shared by genes as I believe a normal person does not do what he had done to Mary.

Unfortunately, Mary's story is just one of the a group of stories about Jules and how he did things. If it would show him in a good light, he did it full steam ahead, but when it came to the door closing and keeping the people with the house, the stories got more terrifying.

This reminds me of Pink's song "Family Portrait" in this area:

"In our family portrait we look pretty happy
We look pretty normal, let's go back to that
In our family portrait we look pretty happy
Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally"

Below is the video with the lyrics.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Road Trips all over Australia and USA - Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This year's challenge is 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and is run by Amy Johnson Crow.

Topic overview:

Here are a few ways you might interpret this prompt: an ancestor who moved a long distance, an ancestor who traveled for work, an ancestor you took a road trip in order to research, an ancestor who was a mechanic or was involved in the automobile business.

My husband and I do road trips when we can. My husband and I are both working on our family histories, so it can get interesting. We live in Australia, and so we go on more road trips to put his family history together. However, this being said, we usually go back to where I grew up in New York every few years, so we intend to do as much research road trips as we can mix in with catching up with family and friends, which makes it a busy time.

January and February 2019, we did the normal road trip - Fly from Melbourne Australia to Newark, New Jersey to visit family in the Hudson Valley in New York. It was for the sad event of my brother's death, but the upside was many treasures and information was found even with the limited time we had.

First up, the bad picture at the entry point in California. I'm going to apologize ahead of time for it. Out of the bad pictures you can have, this one was the WORST. You know its bad even when my husband says "Boy, that was a bad picture. The future generations are going crack up at that one!" Oh yeah it was bad.
Basically what I looked like (minus bags under eyes) in dog format. Credit
Then we went to check in and then off to see my father, who still lives in the area. This started the research trip, as my father, who's in his 80s, like to recap history now. It helps I am now open to it as well, but he does intend to repeat himself, but sometimes the repeating you catch something you didn't the first time and can ask questions about it.
Myself and my father at the VFW in New Paltz, New York. 
Besides, my brother's ceremony, we did get to spend a bit of time with my sister in law and nephew which was really good. I think it was helpful, to spend time with them and talk things out as we were, and still are, all still grieving.

Anyway, some of the highlights of the research trip:

  • Found out how my parents met - at a movie theater where he worked. 
Mentions where my father lived and where he worked. Credit
  • Found out about what he knew about my mother's father and oldest brother which was what I had heard and already figured out. 
My grandfather is 39 and proves what I had thought due to the way my mother talked. Credit
  • Found out about how much he knew about my Uncle Jimmy and how much time he spent with them and my great grandmother (their grandmother) and how little time he spent with my great grandfather (their grandfather). 
  • I got to drive around where my great grandfather on my mother's father's side had land and got to take a picture of the house where my grandfather was born. Its since been sold a few times and is not in the family. 
The house where my great grandparents lived, and my grandfather and all his siblings lived in Blooming Grove. Picture taken January 2019. Copyright B. Fitzgerald

  • Found out where my mother's side were buried including grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles. We never knew where my grandmother Janet was buried and I found a headstone with her information on it, but we still have to clarify if her remains are buried there, but my gut is saying she is.

Various pictures around cemeteries we visited. Credit: J. Fitzgerald
  • Visited my great uncle's name on the war memorial in Newburgh. I have his wings which he gave to my mother and my mother gave to me. 
The wings of James J Sherman. Credit J. Fitzgerald

Memorial which has Jimmy's name listed we visited January 2019. Credit: J. Fitzgerald

Memorial which has Jimmy's name listed, close up, we visited January 2019. Credit: J. Fitzgerald

  • Found out why my grandmother's last name changed to Barry from Jagodzinski. I researched it and found they were probably berry farmers in Poland, but found they had changed it, so my great grandfather (and family) would be more Americanized name. They were thinking they were being passed over for jobs and other things due to their name. 
  • Spent some quality time with my cousins and Uncle Jimmy learning more and having questions answered if we knew. 
My Uncle and cousins on my mother's side with me in February 2019. Credit J. Fitzgerald
  • Also, visited where my paternal grandparents had their bar and grill in the 1940-1960s in Newburgh. 

As you can see, it was a full two weeks we were there. We always have things to do and try and do fun stuff, as well, so we went to see Washington's Headquarters for my husband's family history is part of (a relative did a smaller tower in Ireland as a tribute to Washington) and we went for a walk over the Walkway over the Hudson
My husband at a snowy Washington's Headquarters in Newburgh Jan 29, 2019. Credit J. Fitzgerald

My husband at Walkway over the Hudson Jan 28, 2019. Credit J. Fitzgerald
Even with snow and ice mixed in with a memorial, you can always find something to with genealogy.