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.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Blogging challenge: Matriarch in your family that inspires you - Genowefa M Wojtkowska

There's been another Blogging Challenge by Family Tree Frog. This is part of their Family History month which is August here in Australia. 

They posted this on their blog and the challenge: 
"All the Rivers Run - Nancy Cato's saga spanned eight decades and four generations.  Your blog post doesn't have to do that but was there a matriarch in your family that inspires you?  Or maybe you want to focus on a particular river that played a part in your ancestors' lives.  Where will your imagination run to??" 

My 1st challenge:
My next challenge was who to choose from? I knew it was going to be a woman as I've had so many inspirational women in my ancestry. Choose the servant who had a child out of wedlock and for that child to end up in the US?Or the Ancestor who lost her parents, grandparent and siblings within 10 years to head off to the US and end up married to a farmer in NY? Then there are the many Polish women who have survived and flourish. The woman who had a family who all fled to the US who was a nurse, had more children who she watch some die, got sick with Hodgkin's and eventually die? The woman who grew up with a father who was charged with a crime and they all changed names to get rid of the stigma before finding a man who ended up treating her badly, and who's mind finally snapped but she still fought even through all the medications they gave her? And the list is endless...

However, there is only one that I mourn every year and for me, this was a no brainer. Even more so, its in perfect timing as August is always a introspective month for me. Why? Because this is the month my paternal grandmother was born. Also, later I found it was at the end of the month she left her native Poland for the US. At first this wasn't a major event, until I started to look at exactly what was going on during this time. I'll explain below. 

Matriarch that inspires me
My paternal grandmother was born Genowefa M Wojtkowska. 
This a picture I have of Genowefa undated. 

She as born Genowefa M Wojtkowska born on 10 August 1910 in Wojtkowice Dad, Poland. I believe it was probably a home birth as its in a small country town/village and the people there knew when she was born. I got this from statements of others. However, she went by Gennie, Jennie, Genevieve and finally Jean when she married. Upon coming into the US, she went by the last name Wotjkowski and not Wojtkowska due to following the male name which is different in Poland. 

A snip from Jean's Naturalization papers regarding her birth and parents.

From a statement of Czeslaw Wotjkowski given 20 March 1943 enclosed in Jean's Naturalization papers

From a statement of Vincent Wojtkowski given 17 March 1943 enclosed in Jean's Naturalization papers.
This grandmother humbles me because after reading what was going on around her during her growing up years and into what she had to put up with to leave her own country most adults couldn't understand or comprehend. However, she did it with style, even malnourished and lived a full and complete life.

Note: I have made the following map huge so you can see it in detail. 
From Google Earth. Plots out fighting in July & Aug 1920 Jean and mother would have had to deal with. Line is start and journey to finish point in Danzig/Gdansk. Yellow is residence, Red is fighting, Star is capital city, small red dots are larger towns.
I remember once I asked her who all the people were in the pictures in her dining room side table. She told me "These are our family who died in the past." Then when I asked where they were now, she replied "They are all dead and gone. Mostly during the last war." and it was said in a very sad and resigned voice. The last war she meant was World War 2 as this was in the mid-1980s. 

She pass away in 1988 believing this was so. I wonder what she would think about me finding her aunt's family in the past 2 years and finding they were healthy and happy and still in Poland. I know this for a fact as we've had too many papers and events match not to be family. This includes a cousin sending me a picture asking me if I knew who it was. I didn't, but thought it might be of my great grand uncle. I asked my father and was told it was of - HIM! Imagine my shock.  
Picture of my father taken in NJ and sent to Poland. Discussed above.
Important Rivers
In fact, the challenge quote even mentions maybe talking about focusing a particular rivers. I can do this as well, because my grandmother always mentioned to me growing up how her and her cousins always played in the rivers. It was one of the few times she slightly smiled when she brought up this time in memory and I could tell it was very special. 

The Nurzec River is a tributary of the Bug River in north-eastern Poland. This is a major river within Poland. I have found on her maternal side, the names and documentation of the names span from where my grandmother stated she grew up up towards one of the main towns - Malkinia or Malkinia Gorna. I have placed my grandmother, great grandmother and my great grandmother's family to this point in 1919 and 1920 in documentation. 

Marriage Certificate of great aunt and uncle in 1919. My great grandmother and grandmother probably would have been in attendance.

A picture of a fundraiser in 1919. Could one of these be my great grandmother? We don't know. 
1920 Ship manifest cropped to highlight my grandmother and great grandmother's travels. Notice the place of residence is Malkin.
Movie VS DNA
Imagine taken from the IMDB
In fact, what's really interesting, is the correlation between the movie All the Rivers Run (as quoted from the original post) and even our DNA. The movie, as stated above, spans several generations within it. 

My father's DNA, which I've done Mtdna on it, I can span several generations using history as a guidance. How you might ask? 

I've been watching my father's DNA with confusion but interest over the past few years. To be truthful, DNA always confuses me unless I can trace the line back to a last name or area I can connect with. Usually this is when I contact the person asking questions and I haven't done that much either. 

My father's DNA make up from FTDNA - notice the green over Norway/Finland
Anyway, in the past few months, I've been getting Danish/Finnish type of last names within the Mtdna then upon talking to the hubby, we agreed it was like there was a Viking attachment. This sent me off on a research binge as it does for anyone who does genealogy. I've never heard of Vikings within Poland but anything's possible when it comes to reasoning. 

You should have seen my shock and glee when I found out about the Vikings in Poland and it goes back to the 8th-11th century. Yep, its not widely known or studied but it has happened. For me to find clues within the Mtdna which pointed me to these facts overwhelmed me to no end. It gives me another avenue of reading and researching to do. 

Note: I have made the following huge so you can read the words. For more use this link.
Taken from Wikipedia
What does or can your DNA say about you? 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Ancestral Places Geneameme challenge

Another Geneblogger called Lonetester HQ posted on this topic or challenge on their blog. And describes it as:
 I wanted to focus on the places. The countries, the states, the counties or provinces, as well as the parishes, the towns and villages. Our ancestors have a connection to these places.
What places do your ancestors come from?
Using the alphabet how many letters can you name ancestral places for? Some you will no doubt know well, some you may not … at least not yet (see my letter ‘I’ and ‘N’ examples below). I still have more research to do on those lines.
It doesn’t have to be where your ancestors were born, but it does have to be a place that they were associated with. For instance they lived or worked in that place.
Name the letter, followed by the place (town/parish/county/state/or country), and the surname/s associated with that place
C – Cudlee Creek, South Australia, Australia (Kelly, Hannaford)
H – Helsingfors/Helsinki, Finland (Winter)

 So geneabloggers, the challenge has been set, who’s up for the Ancestral Places Geneameme.

This is going to be a major challenge for me. Why? Because my ancestors just didn't move around too much. Some people have gypsies in theirs - mine? Not so much. Yes, they left Europe to go to the US, but before this they basically were born, maybe moved to the next village when married, and then died there. Even now, my father's side was pretty stable. My mother's too, until you get to my mother who had the wanderlust with needing to move every 3-5 years since I was born. It really annoyed me and I had no idea why until I started researching of the family. Now I know. As my husband says, "Your lot were bloody stayers!" and now I laugh because indeed we were stayers. 

Getting back to this really is going to be a challenge, but here we aware, I'll keep adding to this post as I find out areas where they lived, worked, born, and died.

A- Alrup, Denmark (Larsen)
B - Belgium (Gauquie)
C - Charleroi, PA (Ostryscki)
D - Denmark (Alrup - Larsen)
E - East Dunkirk (Loones)
F - Forest Hill, NY (Gauquie/Nill)
G - Germany (Koblenz - Schmitz)
H - Hamilton, Ohio (Gauquie/Lehmkuhl)
I  - Iseghem, Belgium (Verhaeghe)
J  - Jefferson County, Kentucky (Ostrzycki/Wagner)
K - Koblenz, Germany (Schmitz)
L - Linden, NJ (Wojtkowski/a)
M - Malkinia Gora, Poland (Wojtkowski/a) & Minnesota (St Paul - Larsen, Gauquie)
N - New York/New Jersey - (Schmitz, Gauquie, Larsen, Jagodzinski) 
O - Orange County, NY (Schmitz, Gauquie, Larson, Jagodzinski)
P - Poland (Wojtkowski/a, Jagodzinski, Ostryski, Wyrzyskowski )
R - Rahway, NJ (Wojtkowski/Holley)
S - South Carolina, USA (James, Wojtkowski)
T - Turza Wilcza, Uluchowo, Poland (Gauquie/Galloway)
U- USA (Wojtkowski/a, Jagodzinski, Ostryski,Schmitz, Gauquie, Larsen)
W - Warsaw, Poland (Wyrzyskowski) & Wojtkowice Dady (Wojtkowski/a)
Z - Zaduszniki, Kujawsko-Pomorski, Poland (Rutkowski, Michaelski)

And here it is...I did this almost without looking up anything. It did shock me as I didn't think I'd get anywhere near this many entries. I will add more, which I probably have. I stopped doubling up on the letters as it was getting too confusing. 

Update - I looked through my tree and found more to fill in. However with 3 letters left, I can't find anymore. Still I'm shocked that I got this far. 

How many of the letters can you place? I dare you...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blog Challenge- Poor Man's Orange - Making do and my relatives

In an earlier post, I mentioned a challenge thrown out among one of my genealogy groups. The challenge, mentioned in Family Tree Frog's blog, used the movie Poor Man's Orange which centers on a Catholic Irish Family.

When I went through ideas regarding a post, One of them was a post regarding the small statement "Have you got a tale of making do?" which ties in with the Curator’s notes which I quote "The title Poor Man’s Orange refers to having to make do with second best." Again this would be interesting to see the differences in the many generations within my family of doing exactly this - making do.

Both sides of my family just had to make do. This includes things from surviving with food and a roof over your head to being able to speak your own language and even to to school. However, I'm a true European as all of my ancestors can be found directly there and my DNA even shows this to be true. 

On both sides we are Polish. On my maternal side, from back grandmother backwards until the 1700's we are Polish and come from Poland. On my paternal side, my grandmother there backwards until the late 1800's (I haven't been able to go back any further due to limits to budget and language barriers, but as soon as I can I will!) again all come from Poland. I'm leaving this as generic due to the many different attacks and border changes that happened within its history. 

During my grandmother's time, Poland didn't exist - it was Russia or USSR with Polish towns. When she was first born, there was no school and, during her growing up years, there were times she couldn't speak her own language - she had to speak Russian or German depending on who occupied the neighborhood - and there was no school. In fact, they hung on to what they could for owning a farm and having her grandmother, at least, owning a business in town (Mill). However, when soldiers came into your house, stole whatever food they wanted, and sometimes had your women and killed your husbands/sons/workers, you had to hold your breath to see what they left you with when they left. Sometimes as they were leaving they would set your house on fire and would leave you with nothing. 
Newspaper Article from 1905 regarding rights of Polish people

Again, we are fighters. People would hide anything of value or food by burying some of it, so you could eat at least. However, if you were caught, you or family were killed or again would lose your house. This was why when my grandmother and great grandmother arrived in NY, in September 1920,  they were in sad shape. I've been told by my father his mother (my grandmother) was in such bad shape she had to relearn how to walk
The Minneapolis Journal on March 18 1905

The family they left behind still did fight the evil that was in Europe - with Hitler. My great grandmother's family, paid for many children to be put in the orphanages with fake papers. The adults would come to them as well for papers due to them being part of the resistance in Poland. If they were found, everyone could have been killed in the family, but thankfully no one was. I have found that side of the family a few years ago now. 
Letter of thanks to my great aunt's family who helped the Jewish in WW2

Note given to my great aunt's family who helped the Jewish in WW2

My maternal side, faced just as much as my paternal side, but they were workers and didn't have land. They were part of the workers that were mad about how they were being treated and those types were finding themselves killed, so they left Poland for NY in 1905. 

On my maternal side, we come from Belgium/France. This is my mother's grandfather's side backwards until the early 1700's. I had to make this duel due to the border changes back in time. The family moved around a bit over the generations but still live throughout the countryside today. 

Taken from Wikipedia

With Napoleon attacking, it seemed like between him and the French armies, they railroaded right over the land to get to the rest of Europe. Belgium is a small landlocked part of Europe compared to some of the other countries. Even after Napoleon, there were struggles. 
From the Belgium Archives regarding my 2x great grandfather's draft into the service

One of them was when Belgium wanted its own military and they drafted people - a huge consequence in my family. Why? Because my 2x great grandfather was drafted into it (he was number 8) and served. Along his way, he met up with my 2x great grandmother and left her - pregnant after probably 1 night. She was a servant back in the late 1800s and lost her job when it was known of her condition. That condition was my great grandfather Jules, who was born without a family and illegitimate. Once my 2x great grandfather and 3x great grandparents found out, they were married - about 9 months after Jules was born. By the time Jules was almost an adult and would be put into the draw, along with some political views changing where the church was losing its political hold, they left Belgium for the US in the late 1800s. 
Again from the Belgium Archives about my great grandfather's birth and his parents marriage

It doesn't sound like much, but I believe Jules being born illegitimate was huge and had huge fallout within my family which goes to today's generation. Jules met, married, started a farm and then a family. However, at least two of his sons he had major fights with and kicked them out. My grandfather was 14 years old. His brother was thrown out too but was a year or two older. Within a few years, my grandfather was back on the farm with my grandmother and son with him. This didn't last long and they moved out and my grandmother was doing everything and anything to raise their children while he did everything in his power to spend the money he made and give his wife and children not much. This had major impact my mother and my uncles with the way they act and do things even to this day. In fact, some of the things my mother did when I was growing up are because of her upbringing. Like I said, we are all fighters. 

Last bit on my maternal side and this was in a tiny town called Alrup in Denmark. This is my mother's grandmother. I haven't had time to look into this side of the family - much. I did find something within the family happened quickly as I have found the family of father, mother, Annie, her sister, her brother and her grandmother. However, within 10 years herself and her brother were servants on a farm. Within a year after the census, I found she was on her way to the US. 
1880s census with the family listed in Denmark

Annie was fighting even before she arrived in the US with her being a servant. Now add to this arriving in a foreign country with everything different and she ends up in the Midwest - St Louis. She then meets up with my great grandfather and they go to NY and start a farm and a family. 
1890s census in Denmark listing Ana or Annie as a servant.

When my great grandfather is sick, too busy or back in Beligum visiting, the farm is left to her - including the milking which she got hurt at and getting sick even ended up costing her her life. Upon talking to my cousins, I found my great grandfather wouldn't allow her to have a coat so she didn't
Newspaper article in 1917. 
have one and ended up coming down sick even after her daughters put money together and bought one, but it was too late and she was too sick. Annie even had a daughter which contracted polio and wouldn't allow her to grow up mentally. Instead Annie had her follow her around the farm and help her out where she could. 

However, after Annie's death, she was sent away to a home and within 6-9 months, she too, was dead due to mistreatment because my great grandfather sent her to the cheapest place he could find. This too, sounds like something my mother has done - get the cheapest thing even if it wouldn't fully do the job type of thing. 
Annie's daughter's headstone who had polio. She was shipped off to a home where she died 6-9 months later.

My paternal side was from Germany. My grandfather left Niedermendig or Mendig and came to the US in the 1926. He did go back a few times to visit, but he lived and died in the US. This is a bit more of guesswork due to not having the time to go and research this as yet. Add having little to no knowledge of the language and its an added complication but not a big one as its basis language hasn't changed like others in the family has. 
From his Naturalization papers - notice the eye?

I think my grandfather was a bit of a fighter as one of this pictures for his naturalization papers he has a black eye in it.  On one of the manifests, it lists him with a stub on his left middle finger and left ring finger missing. It does say he was a carpenter so I'm thinking this was a work accident. 
From his ship manifest in 1930s reporting this injury

Today's family
My father was kidnapped when he was a baby and was slated to be in Hitler's next generation of fighters. Thankfully the Department of State came in and brought him back to the US, so even as babies we were still fighting. 
My father before he was kidnapped

My generation fought to survive through what I will term the social norm differences. We grew up in a military household and back in the 1950-1970s households were different than what they are now. Then add the military to them and you can imagine what our lives were like and it certainly wasn't an episode of "I Dream of Jeannie" that's for sure. But we managed and moved on even with the scars. Again, you did want to had to do to survive and you did it the best ways you could. 
My siblings growing up
Today's survival is more financial due to my job loss from budget cuts over 4 1/2 years now. I've been looking for work, but no one is willing to hire or even letting people temp. I have tried everything I can think of to get back into to work - to no avail. I'm frustrated and mad, but am still fighting - barely. 

As you can see, there's been a lot of just making do to survive. I do have to admit, even with out stubbornness to do right and stay put, we do have the will to figure out how to survive. 

In some societies they might call us scrappers, but I just call them my family. And we survive.