Monday, December 25, 2017

Birthdays and the Holiday Season

I always feel sorry for the people who were born in December and early January because I can imagine they are always missing out on gifts and well wishes due to the holidays. Do you feel the same? 

I know I'm always forgetting what day my great grandfather Adam Wojtkowski was born and this year I wanted to remember and do a write up here about it. However, the holidays got me again - I forgot about it until today - Christmas which is December 25th - and his birthday was the December 21st. 

Anyhow, even though its a bit late, I wanted to wish my paternal great grandfather a very Happy Birthday for his 131st birthday. He was born in 1886 and today is 2017, so if we do the math then he would have been 131 years old. 
Here is a close up of Adam in front of his story in about 1920s or 1930s Copyright J Fitzgerald

Adam visiting his wife's grave site and talking to a child in 1940s. Copyright J. Fitzgerald

Others in December and January which are always forgotten are below. 

My father in law, Noel, on December 6. 
Noel in front of his house in Deni in 2012. Copyright Spanrz.

My sister, Theresa, on January 7.
Theresa and Captain Cook in 2012 in Sydney. Copyright J. Fitzgerald

My nephew, Eric, on December 26.
Eric in 2012. Taken from his Facebook Page.

My ex-brother in law, Jack, December 31. 
Jack in 2011. Copyright J. Fitzgerald.

And anyone else out there I might have forgotten! 
Happy Birthday to you! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 Veterans, Independence, Remembrance Day

The US celebrated Veterans Day this month.
Credit: J. Fitzgerald
These are not the only people who served...but only the ones I know about or could remember. Did I forget one? Let me know and I'll be more than happy to include if they are my relatives.


Further, Poland celebrated Independence day. 

This is important to me and my family because my grandmother and great grandmother was still in Poland when this happened. However, the fighting didn't stop due to the Russian's trying to overtake Poland's land even though the Treaty of Versailles said Poland was to reappear, but they tried, and failed!, to stop it. This allowed my grandmother and great grandmother enough time to leave Poland before they were enclosed in the Iron Curtain.

Finally, Europe held Remembrance Day ceremonies.

I had and have family which was on both the Western Front and the Eastern Front. My grandmother, as discussed above, was on the Eastern Front. However the Western Front? This was my mother's side who lived and still live in Belgium all along the France and Belgium border. My mother's side of the family had fought on the Belgium side and I have knowledge of this fact after doing research.

My paternal side? Well, they were the baddies in Germany. I was told by a cousin, who still lives in Germany, our family had been in the same house over 300 years, so I know we lived in Germany for at least that long. Did we fight for Germany? I'm not sure but it would make sense to think we had fought for Germany during this time. However, I'm not sure if we had or not.

All within the same day - it was a busy day worldwide.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Blogging challenge: Power without Glory

There's been another Blogging Challenge by Family Tree Frog. This is part of their Family History month which is August here in Australia. I know its October - its late, but I'm working on it! 

They posted this on their blog and the challenge: 

"Power without Glory
Frank Hardy's novel covers a wide range of notorious characters from criminals to Archbishops and politicians, wrestlers to gamblers and everyone else in between.  One of the themes is conscription during WW1 but you can interpret the title as broadly as you like.  Were your ancestors powerful in some way? Legitimately or  not.  Did they have a stoush with the authorities or strong political beliefs? Lets hear their story.  Where will your imagination run to??" 

I have a few ancestors I can say fit this topic of notorious characters including criminals to Archbishops and politicians, wrestlers to gamblers all everything in between

The question is - where do I start because there have been MANY of them. *laugh* 

I guess I'll start where the topic starts: Criminals 

I have had a few grand uncles and at least one cousin (that I've done research on) which have had been arrested and did a bit of time. 

The one which always gets me is my mother's grandfather (my maternal great grandfather) - Apoloniusz Jagodzinski or Leo Barry/Berry or many of the other names he goes by. 

When I started to do my research I asked my mother if she knew the name of her grandfather and she gave me the name Apoloniusz Jagodzinski. Away I went to do my research and found a shipping manifest for the area around where my mother told me about. Then that's where the information ends. 

Years go by and I find out about A files and C files in the US Immigration and have them pulled looking for more information. They sent me his Alien file. What can I say - interesting to say least! See part of the file below. 
Credit from USCIS

I love this section of the statement
Excerpt from page 2 of above document. Credit USCIS.
Anytime I need a laugh I pull this out and take a look. 

What makes this so much more interesting, I started to look for my grandmother and her siblings including his wife and found they had disappeared until my grandmother married my grandfather in the 1930s. Then some of them reappeared around where my grandmother was. This including a person who sometimes lived with them - Leo Barry/Berry

Next I ordered in my grandmother's social security information and there it was again - Leo Barry. 
Credit Social Security Administration
Then when I looked at one of my uncle's information and up came that damned name again - Leo Barry. Then there's a notation regarding a change.
Credit Ancestry and SSA
In case there's a doubt, my great grandmother's obituary, or my grandmother Janet's mother, has the name's in it except for the last name Barry.
Credit: 1964 Oct 3 -Bernice Jagodzinski Obituary - The Times Herald
Go figure! However, I still can't find out anything about this criminal charge for some reason.

Next topic: Archbishops and politicians

We have many different higher priests and nuns on my mother's side of the family. They are in Belgium and the US.

My great grandfather - Jules Gauquie - had put down he was in public office. However, I still can't find anything about it. This is according to his naturalization paperwork.
Credit: Orange Country Registrar
If you look closely enough, you can see where he says he holds office!
Credit Orange County Registrar
The one I'm most impressed with is on my father's side though. He married my great aunt in Poland. They married just before World War 2, in 1919. In fact, my grandmother was probably even at their wedding!
Credit: K. Wyrzykowski family photo
Anyhow, after they married they moved to an area where my great uncle and his father were in office. My great uncle's father was the equal to a Mayor of the town of  Siedlce, Poland. My great uncle was the secretary of the town until his father passed and then HE became the Mayor or government official. In fact, the whole family, that was alive, helped where they could.

During this time, World War 2 happened. As many people know, Poland has been a mess for over 100 years, and during WW2, many horrible things happened as we know. But do you know, the Nazi's made Poland their disposal area. Then on top of that, you have the Soviets take what was left, moved people into their land more or kept people there only to basically starve them.

My great aunt and uncle were people I admire. My great uncle lost his brother during this time to the Gestapo. They came and arrested him for some trumped up reason. He died at Auschwitz and, yes, he was Polish.

What they did for others should put them into sainthood. For Jewish or any other child or children under suspicion they spent their own money to pay for and put them in the orphanage with false paperwork saying they were Catholic. If they could fit anyone into places in their homes or businesses they did again with false documents.

Keep in mind, if they were found by soldiers, all of them would have been murdered. They saved hundreds if not thousands of adults and children. By the end, they didn't have any money or anything else left of value, but people had their lives. My cousin, their grandson, sent me a few of the documents and thank you letters from people they have saved.

All documents are from K. Wyrzykowski and private family papers.

Next topic: wrestlers to gamblers

I grew up with my grandmother telling us about one of my grand uncles and his gambling. Further, I was told he was wanted by the mob for money owed and was on the run. He only stopped because he ended up with cancer and they knew he only had a tiny bit of time to live. 

If the stories I've been told are to be believed, both of my grandfathers, on my maternal and paternal sides, were all gamblers and drinkers. This is a family story and I don't have any proof. 

I don't have any thing else which can fit this topic. 

In closing
All families have their scandals and secrets. Some have more than others. We just have to see if we can find proof of them and if not, its just a story which can be passed down with the note of it being unproven. 

No matter if they were good or bad, they are all our family and we have to admit to them being in the trees it just depends if we shake the tree or not. 
Image result for bad nuts in the tree

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Proposed Restrictions on Access to New York City’s Birth and Death Records

I have been reading in different places how New York wants to change how many years to access information. As it is, in my opinion, New York is one of the hardest states to get anything out of. I have actually told people I get the same result sometimes when I slam my head against the wall - a headache.

Now they want to make it even harder for no reason at all.

If you do any research whatsoever in New York, state or city, you should make your voice heard. How? Well as both Dick Eastman  (EOGN) and D. Joshua Taylor, President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society have given us the information and different ways to make our voices heard.

This is a copy from Dick Eastman's blog:

The following was written by D. Joshua Taylor, President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society:
Dear Friends,
As promised, the NYG&B has launched a landing page outlining steps everyone can take in making our voices heard regarding the proposed restrictions on access to New York City’s birth and death records.
The page can be found at: and allows visitors to do the following:
  • Download and sign a sample comment letter that can be mailed directly to the Department of Health.
  • Add their own name to the NYG&B’s comment letter.
  • RSVP to attend the hearing alongside fellow members of the NYG&B community.
  • Share the information (via email) with others.
Thus far we have had a very positive response from the community. Please feel free to share this information with your leadership, members, and others who might be interested. We also stand ready to assist your organization as needed in preparing their own comments.
Genealogists in New York and around the world, like me, need to make sure this does NOT happen. NY is one of the hardest states to get information from. Please use your voice to help others, like me, out. 
I have filled out the form and have done my bit. Will you? 

Monday, October 9, 2017

2017 A-Z Blogging Challenge - The letter B is for Belgium!

Earlier this year, 2017, there was another challenge. I heard about it from jillballau blog and more information can be found out about it on the A-Z Blogging Challenge (which was at page itself. However, as I was testing links I found the A-Z Blogging Challenge link is no longer working *frown*

Many people had done this challenge in April, but I’m a rebel and do things when I have time, so I’ll do mine now. I’ve been working on it over many days, and was hoping to get it all done before posting BUT it’s taking me a lot longer than I expected. I’ll do a few posts now and work on the rest. 
I know I have about ½ of this challenge done in draft format, so not too bad.  J

What can I say – I’m an original. So, here I go…

The letter B is for Belgium!

Yes, Beligum. This is for my maternal grandfather’s side of the family. They lived in this country back to the 1700’s. My great grandfather Jules, my 2x great grandfather, Alois and Alois’ children all immigrated to the USA in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

From Google Earth in 2015 - Family from Belgium plotted using yellow pins
I do know Alois was a colorful character. He was born in Belgium and ended up being drafted into the Belgium military when he was very young. He served, but either while he was serving or just before he left to serve, he spent the night with Jules’ mother, Florentyna. I’ve never heard of a name like that before researching and finding her. Jules was born illegitimate while his father served. About 9 months after Jules was born, Alois arrived back and found out about his child. He married Florentyna and they had 2 more children. This is where I don’t know what happened to Florentyna as I cannot find anything more about her from here.
Alois Gauquie National Militia paper

My great grandfather Jules' birth record and notation regarding parents.Credit Belgium National Archives.
Alois, on the other hand, I pick up coming to the USA and he lived and worked around Orange County, New York. I know this because I have obtained his naturalization papers. However, I’m not sure what happens to him but I suspect he might have changed his name for some reason. I do have a will in another name which states all 3 of the kids (one being Jules and the others are his siblings which match up) in the will. My great grandfather is awarded nothing.

Extract of Alois' Naturalization paperwork from Orange County Registers NY office.

Now there is a bit of non agreement with this tiny part. Aloyse drops out of site technically from this point. However, I did find a Charles Gauquie who lives in Chester, NY, like Aloyse's naturalization states he does. This Charles Gauquie puts in his will he wants son, Jules, to get nothing in his will. Below I will put the handwritten full page and then a close up of the part where this person omits Jules. Make your own decision....

Charles/Aloyse's 1918 will regarding leaving his son Jules nothing. Credit

A close up of the interesting area of the above will with Jules getting nothing. Credit

Jules is another interesting character. He sounds very well thought of in the newspapers with being so active in the community and church. However, the stories passed down where something else altogether. To put it bluntly, he was a bastard. He didn’t treat his wife or kids right at all. Unfortunately, this was passed down to the grand kids and then to the great grand kids. It’s a cycle we are still trying to stop today, but failing unfortunately.

1936 11 Aug -Julius Gauquie coming back home from Belgium Middletown Daily Times

1938 9 Apr - Julius Gauquie Fire Dept - Middletown Times Herald

1938 25 Feb  -Julius Gauquie Church car party -  Middletown Times Herald 
Getting back to Belgium, upon doing some research, I found many cousins who are still living in the areas today which is nothing short of amazing considering the World War 1 took place along most of the towns they all lived in. In fact, some of the cousins have fought in the World War 1 and survived. For more information you can click on the Credit link below for books and other information.
The principal town around which the fighting in Flanders revolved was Ypres, and the area around the town of Ypres was also known as the Salient (see below). This region was fought over from October 1914 until practically the end of the war in November 1918. Credit

Going back even further, one of the smaller towns along the border, called Wijtschate or Wytschaete, I have found back in the early 1700s that Napoleon used the church to store his horses when he rode through the town (as it says in the image below). As it’s still a very small town, I would say my ancestors probably had talked or had helped him in some way back then.


Hopefully, in the future I can go over and meet them all in Belgium. This, in itself, should be fun because I don’t speak Dutch or Flemishwhich are the languages spoken. 

A to Z Blogging Challenge & The letter A is for Apple!

Earlier this year, 2017, there was another challenge. I heard about it from jillballau blog and more information can be found out about it on the A-Z Blogging Challenge (which was at page itself. However, as I was testing links I found the A-Z Blogging Challenge link is no longer working *frown*

Many people had done this challenge in April, but I’m a rebel and do things when I have time, so I’ll do mine now. I’ve been working on it over many days, and was hoping to get it all done before posting BUT it’s taking me a lot longer than I expected. I’ll do a few posts now and work on the rest. I know I have about ½ of this challenge done in draft format, so not too bad.  J

What can I say – I’m an original. So, here I go…

Day 1 - The Start and The letter A

Let’s see… The letter A is for Apple!

I was born and lived in the Big Apple – or as some people know it as New York. 

To start with, I was born at West Point Military Academy hospital at West Point, NY.

Part of my West Point birth certificate.
The story goes:
At my father’s end: He was doing night duty when I was born at 11:11pm. He was away from port and serving on the USS Robert E Lee with the call sign SSBN 601 or how the military say it he was away from Charleston, NC on a load out when the Red Cross came running up to him to tell him I was born. Soon after, the commander came down and congratulated him on another girl (I made the 4th girl and he had 1 boy).

Video above is from YouTube - see film for Credit

At my mother’s end, she was at home relaxing with the rest of the kids (I was to be the youngest). She felt the contractions come on and called my paternal grandmother who didn’t live far from them. Grandma came over in her charger and Mom got in. Along the way from Newburgh, NY to West Point, it was dark, windy and raining. To my mother, my grandmother was driving very slowly. After my grandmother dropped my mother off at the hospital, she went back to our house to watch the other kids.

After my parents divorced, I lived in many places due to my mother’s need to move every 3-5 years. By this point, my father’s retired and they have divorced. I’ve lived in places like Newburgh, Walden, Maybrook, Montgomery, Lyon Mountain, and Utica to name just a few places and sometimes multiple places within the same town.
Google Maps Used with locations I've lived/mentioned above with yellow pins
You could say I took a huge bite out of the Big Apple! 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Challenge: Grandparents Day in USA and Canada

GENEALOGY: BEYOND THE BMD has challenged people who blog about their family genealogy to make their blog this week be about their grandparents.

Grandparents day is this weekend on September 10th in the USA and Canada.

Then there was one more step to it - tell us one story from them they told you.

This is where it will get dicey for me to fulfill this challenge. Why?

  1. I can never remember meeting my paternal and maternal grandfathers at all. Long story, but they were not good men, or so I've been told, so they kept us away from them. 
  2. My paternal grandmother, the one I was closest and the only one to fully know, would only say a sentence here and there about her growing up years to me. However, there are no stories. Only sentences. 
  3. My maternal grandmother, and the one I carry her middle name, I only seen a handful of times in my life. Those times she was drugged up by the nursing home staff due to her mental state. 

So, as you can see, I had a very happy home life growing up and this will be a challenge for me to fulfill.

My family tree leading back to my grandparents are:
My Family Tree made by myself for Grandparents Day on Sept 10th
Sadly, all of my grandparents are gone now. In fact, I didn't even have pictures for three of them until about 2-3 years ago, when I started researching and talking to cousins.

Maternal Grandparents
These are on my mother's side. As you can see, from the tree above, these are Janet and Louis we're talking about.
Janet Gauquie
Janet - I met her only a few times before and she was in a nursing home. She had many health complaints along with other factors which kept her in homes since around the time my parents married until her death.

One of the best memories I have is when my mother signed her out of the nursing home and brought her to our house for Thanksgiving one year. I was about 8, 9 or 10 years old. The word got out and my brother and all of sisters and their families came along and we joined every table we had and brought as many chairs as we could and sat around the entire table. Talk about a full room. I was able to sit next to my grandmother as the meal progressed.

The sad part is my grandmother sat there looking around at everyone, but didn't eat, drink or say anything. I kept asking if she wanted a drink, some food but she just looked at me. She was on that much medication from the nursing home she probably didn't even know her own name. However, she was there and we all made it known how much we loved her.
Louis Gauquie
Louis - I never met him at all to my knowledge. In fact, my mother would only tell me about stuff he did and said how he treated Janet.

As you can see, on my mother's side, there wasn't much on an influence at all by these people unless you look at how the affected my mother, which was substantial from what I can now see and understand.

Paternal Grandparents
These are on my father's side. As you can see, from the tree above, these are Mathew/Matthew and Jean we're talking about.
Mathew Schmitz taken from his Naturalization paperwork
Mathew/Matthew - I never met, either, as to my knowledge. My father wouldn't bring him up at all. My grandmother would only call him names and get a sour face when he was mentioned.
Jean Schmitz
One of the pictures of me and my grandmother.
Jean - Jean is the only major influence of my life. She's the one that drove my mother to West Point when I was born. She used to have me stay with her two weeks of my summer vacation when I was in school. She was always trying to dress me up in dresses, which I didn't like and it used to annoy her because she wanted a granddaughter that loved to shop and wear frilly things. *shutter*

Growing up I would hear kids in school talk about their grandparents and stories about their families growing up. We never talked about the past in my family - at all. However, when I was staying with my grandmother, Jean, she would sometimes say things in sentences.

  • I loved playing in the Bug and another River with my cousins growing up. We had such great times!
  • That was my father's brother. He's gone now. They are all gone now. Assassinated and murdered. 
  • *((** Germans! *(&(*& Russians. They can all go to hell! 

Aug 16 1915 The Register Page 5
Aug 16 1915
Marybourgh Chronicle Wide Bay &
Burnett Advertiser Page 4
March 15 1920 The Sun Sydney, Page 8

I heard the names and other statements growing up being called to and at me. This was in the 1980s and I was dealing with the name calling because of having a German last name of Schmitz, but it was the Polish names which were the worst. You can tell if people call you things just to get on your nerves and teasing, but these were things they meant by the looks on their faces. Think of the TV show All In The Family and how they used to call people things. That was as a joke. It got worse if people meant what they were saying. Things like this stay with you a lifetime.

Putting lives back together
Jimmy's wings he earned just before his death
I started my whole journey into genealogy because of two people. One, my mother's cousin, Jimmy, and what happened to him. The other was my grandmother, Jean, and these sentences she would say over and over again. Add this to the tiny cups she gave me when I was young, and I needed to know more about who these people were which made up - Me.

You take what information you are given and work with it until you can put their lives back together as much as you can to feel like you know the person. Jean has given me this and through research, swearing (and there's been A LOT), and determination I have found out what my grandmother most likely went through during most of her lifetime.  I have written many entries in this blog regarding them and each time I find new information out, I sit back in awe of what this little 4 foot 10 inch person did in her life.

Makes mine seem dull and very safe in comparison.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Challenge: My CemeTree - What is it and when (hint hint - It was in June!)

In June, a genimate, Alona, who is part of GeneTribe, told me Cemetery Day was held every 18 June. Another genimate, GeniAus, blogged about the day, which is how I found out about it.

What is it?
A blogger by the name of Lonestar HQ came up with the day as there wasn't already one she could find, so in June 2017, she made June 19th every year known as Cemetery Day. 

Her goal was to get people to think of cemeteries as a way of research and to help others. Some suggestions were:

  • Visit a cemetery
  • Visit a cemetery and photograph it for others & share the photos on  BillionGraves or FindAGrave
  • Share a picture or pictures on social media, including on blogs, about how you've helped to raise awareness of this day
  • Any other way you can bring awareness of this day

As June was just over a month ago, and I was busy looking for employment and researching, I forgot all about the day, as I do. Absent minded professor should have been included in my name - that's for sure!

However, all is not lost! I can do a late blog post about it and probably bring more awareness up now rather than in June when everyone was out and about. I'm trying to think along the lines of advertisements which spell or do something out of the box in order to draw people's attention to it. I wonder if it'll work. *grin*

My way to bring awareness of Cemetery Day:

My way to bring awareness is to share below the places my family now rest. I cannot do this for many, due to by the time I've found part of the family in Europe, the sites are gone due to the time limits set out by the government to then take the signage down and resell the site. This I know has happened in Germany and Belgium as far as I know. One has been confirmed by cousins I have found, but the other I know because of discussing this topic from time to time with others in Germany. 

So, in memory, here are pictures of some of my family's resting spots. 

My uncle John's site in Cedar Hill Cemetery & Mausoleum

My grandmother's headstone in Cedar Hill Cemetery & Mausoleum 

Grandpa Charlie (adopted as partner with my grandmother) headstone in Cedar Hill Cemetery & Mausoleum 

My Great Grandparents Adam & Maryanne Wojtkowski graves in Linden, NJ

My Great Grandparents Adam & Maryanne Wojtkowski graves in Linden, NJ

My 2 x Great Aunt and Uncle headstone upclose

My 2 x Great Aunt and Uncle headstone plot
I haven't been able to track down any other grave site pictures - yet.

My mother's side is huge. Most of the Gauquie side are buried in one place - St Mary's in Washingtonville.
My grandfather and great aunt in Calvary Cemetery in New Windsor, NY

My Great Grandparents at St Mary's in Washingtonville, NY
My great aunt Mary who had polio and who is buried at St. Mary's in Washingtonville, NY. 
My Great Grandparents Valerie and Stanley on my maternal side buried in Charleroi, Pennsylvania
Like I said, there's many people I can put here, but these are the main people and the cemeteries I have pictures from. Also, I have people all around the USA. 

Take a Pic & Share a Pic!
A couple of years ago, we went to a cemetery with my husband's aunt. She was taking pictures of headstones for one of the sites of  BillionGraves or FindAGrave (I can't remember which one). She asked us if we wanted to go help for the day. At this point we had our nephew, William, which we had to be careful of because he would dart off as any normal 3 year old would do.
Our nephew, William, helping us with photographing graves to share
We did go, and William had fun helping us use water to make the headstones cleaner to take pictures. Then we came back and shared them online. It was fun, but the pictures side was a lot of work though.

When life calm's down again, we'll have to try it again.