Monday, August 12, 2019

Comedy and Entertaining within the family - Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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

Topic Info:
Have you found something humorous in your research? Perhaps something funny happened while you were researching? Tell the story this week.

Growing up, myself and one of my nieces, Becky, were clowns. When they moved to upstate New York, Becky kept us laughing for most of the 5 hour trip which was good after we lost radio over the mountains. We always thought she'd grow up to be a comedian, but we were wrong.

My brother and I, as I've written in an earlier blog, always told jokes to each other but they were of a "colorful nature" and we both had a really warped sense of humor. This always made us laugh especially when one of us upped the other one.
My brother and I in 2000 telling jokes. This is when he got me with one of his zingers. Credit: J. Fitzgerald

My oldest sister and I used to pick up my nieces and dance with them around the living room while trying to belt out a song. We all agreed we did not/could not sing but we kept on trying. I really stopped trying after I got pulled aside in chorus in school and asked not to sing any longer and to please just stand there and mouth the words. Yep, that bad.

My sister thought my younger nieces was very beautiful and even entered her into a beauty pageant when she was 3 or 4. She didn't win the event, it annoyed me because she didn't want to be there and my sister was boastful about her entering.After the event, I looked at my sister and told her bluntly we were never doing that again because it was awful the way people were, my niece didn't want to be there and everyone in our group was annoyed. We never did another one either. If my nieces wanted us to do something, we did try and figure out a way to do it with little to no money.
July 23 2015 Music Man Jr. In Rouses Point at the Civic Center. Credit R. Greenhaw
May 15 2017 My niece's daughter in gymnastics
Credit R. Greenhaw
2017 My niece's daughter in dance. Credit R. Greenhaw

Then when my nieces had children, they wanted to do dancing things and show business. Then one of my nieces said they always wanted to do something like this which stunned me because they never said anything. Anyhow, their children are now in plays, ice skating and stuff.

I found some of my other cousin, who live closer to where I grew up, were actually into dancing and singing too.
Newspaper articles about other Gauquie cousins who danced and went to Theatre school. Credit as above.
I didn't know about these cousins until after 2000 when I started to really research the family and was stunned they had a whole dance school, but my mother never talked about them.

Then when I continued my research, I found my 2x great grandmother's death certificate and it gave me a clue as to who else had these skills.

Florentina Van Rompaye's Death certificate which lists her husband as a cabaretier. Credit
As you can tell it's (above) in French. I only got to take beginner French in high school (it was many years ago now), so I couldn't read the entire entry. However, when I posted it in one of my Facebook groups for the Gauquie's, one of my cousins responded.

The discussion about what a cabaretier is. 
Imagine my shock to learn my 2x great grandfather liked to show off and entertain. This links into the dance school my other cousins run or used to run!

Then to also learn my cousin Chris has been in the entertainment industry was interesting and very unexpected.
Cousin Chris in 2009. Credit: Chris

2015 Cousin Chris with friends in play. Credit: Chris

2012 Chris as Madame Hortense. Credit: Chris
I'm not sure where we got it from, but the entertainment bug is definitely there. However, it's not shared by all of us. Even after getting up in front of crowds to speak over the past 8 or so years, it's not something I'm still not comfortable with, so I didn't get that gene unfortunately!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Talkin' About My Sisters....keeping it PC - Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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

Topic Info:
This week, it's the sisters' turn. Like we did last week with "Brother," feel free to consider other ways of interpreting "sister."

Like last week's prompt regarding my brother, this week is about my sisters. I have 3 of them - all of them older.

Let's see...what can I write about them where its socially acceptable? This is going to be difficult.

Let's start at the beginning... I'm one of five kids Matthew and Jo Ann Schmitz had. I was less than 4 years old when they divorced after my mother left my father. I'm the youngest, with my brother being the next youngest in line.

The siblings above him are all girls - my sisters.

This picture taken in the 1960s with my brother with our 3 older sisters. Credit M Schmitz
The oldest is Theresa. She lived in New York until the middle 1990s when she moved to Kansas. She's had 3 daughters. She's had 3 husbands she's married. One she divorced. One was arrested, left and never to be heard of again. The last one died and left her a widow. Apparently, when I was a baby, she took care of me until she moved out and got married. I still visited growing up, so she could help Mom with childcare for me.
Taken in 2012, Theresa and I in Australia during her visit. Credit: J. Fitzgerald
The second oldest is Genevieve, but we call her Jean. She lived in New York until the early 1990s, when her, her husband and 2 children moved south to one of the Carolinas. She thinks she's a combination of princess and queen but really she's just a pain in the ass (to put it bluntly). She divorced her husband, lived with someone else, and from what I was told she married again. I used to go around and see her growing up. However, she started to go off in her own merry little way, which I wanted no part of so we had a falling out and haven't spoken in awhile.
Taken in the 1980s, Jean and I in Newburgh where we grew up. Credit. M. Schmitz
The third is Debra, but we call her Debbie. She lived in New York until about 2010 before moving to Pennsylvania. She married when she was younger, then divorced. She met her partner of over 20 years and they lived together - never marrying. She had a son with him. The relationship failed and she moved on before marrying around 2010. She's currently married. Debbie's a bit different than the others. When Mom left Dad, she was the one to help our brother and myself out of the house. Then she helped watch me for a few years before moving out. Lost contact for a bit before reconnecting for a short while. Then started to get close again before losing contact once again. Then the cycle repeated itself over and over.

Taken in January 2019, Debbie and I in VFW New Paltz where we had our brother's get together after his service. Credit. J. Fitzgerald
I think this is about the most politically correct way I could summarize them and our relationship. Of course there's the added complication of stilling alive, which I don't normally write about. This is the main reason why there's such little information - to protect their privacy.

Of course, they also have faults, like we all do, but they seem to have the same fault, which I will not go into here, but it frustrates me and frustrated our brother.

Debbie, Charlie, Theresa and Dad in 2008. Credit T. Schmitz
However, if you make them mad or go against what they think, then you are iced out and not spoken to. At all. In fact, what makes them just that unique is that they ice you out and you don't even know it. So they stop communication with your completely and won't return calls or basically talk to you and if they do it's completely ice in their voices. Yep, makes for a great healthy relationships that's for sure. In fact, I can probably safely say, if they read this, I'll be even more in the iced out part. Not that it'll matter as Theresa has iced me (dunno why other than political differences), Jean and I haven't spoken in years, and Debbie has the husband or just floats away and contacts you when she feels like it. Yep, gonna get iced out, but oh well.
*Shug* Truth is difficult sometimes. Credit
I guess the biggest example I can give is when our brother died. I showed up and tried to help as much as I could from a 1/2 world away. Theresa was contacted but even after being told many times she had a full ride, she couldn't or wouldn't attend. Her excuse was her boss wouldn't give her time. Really? Jean, well, first we didn't have any way to contact her. I tried via her kids and they don't talk to her. Then I tried via a mutual friend, which worked but first she gave excuses as to why she couldn't even call and then said point blank she wasn't going or calling.  And finally Debbie. I had an old phone number because she's changed it after I called her, but her current husband doesn't like me (and personally I think anyone) calling her to talk. Anyhow, I contacted her son, which contacted her. Then she called our father and attended the service for our brother.

Sometimes my head hurts like this guy above because of this stuff. Credit
Pretty messed up? Ahhhh but this has been the ways of our relationships forever. Remember, they are your family and, unfortunately, you cannot choose them. They've been chosen for you. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly. Repeat when needed when dealing with this stuff.

Ahh siblings and family! !

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Oh My Brother - Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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

Topic Info:
In one of my presentations, I talk about how we have to understand how a word is being used and I use "brother" as an example. Is it being used to indicate the male child of your parents? Or just one of your parents? Or of a step-parent? Or how about a brother in the church? How about in a fraternal organization, union, or military unit? Have fun with this week's theme—there are a lot of ways you can interpret it!

I have one brother and my husband's brother, or my brother in law, calls himself my brother which, in a way is correct.

However, no one at all can compare to my brother. Ever.
My brother (middle) with his 3 older sisters. This picture was taken in the 1960s. Credit: M. Schmitz
I've stated before I'm one of five children my parents had. I was the 'baby' or the last one. My brother was the 4th, or the one closest to me in age. In fact, technically, I'm the only one who can call him Big Brother. This is something I've actually told him...when he was alive. His response was to laugh.

My brother and I in 2000 at a niece's graduation ceremony in Montgomery. NY. Credit. B. Fitzgerald 
My brother and I were the only two really at home (the 2 oldest had moved out the middle sister was more out of the house than in it) still when our parents divorced in the 1970s. I remember drips and drabs from when we still lived there, which is great due to the fact my parents divorced before I turned 4.

We had stole green beans off of the bushes before they could be picked. He was looking one way and I was looking the other, both of us laughing the entire time.

Both of us walking on the pile of boards my father had stacked in the back to use and how a nail went up through my shoe and into my foot and me falling after because my brother jumped down as I lost my balance and over I went just after the nail went through my foot.

The times my brother and I would look at each other and just by the looks on our faces start laughing. We did this a lot over the years because we didn't have to say much, but a look said it all.

The times he made the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving because my mother told us, he was "the best damned one of us who could make them". His response was a roll of the eyes and a laugh. Mine was to walk by and whisper "Sucker!" with a smile which would make him laugh harder as he used the hand mixer to make them.

If either of us needed anything, we would be there for each other. He'd call me to watch my nephew and he knew I would do it without question. I would ask him to check over a car or give it a tune up which he would do again without question.

Since I moved to Australia, we did talk but it had slowed. However, when we visited, it was like we hadn't been apart at all and we picked up where we left off.

The group of us in 2010 when we visited. Credit: B. Fitzgerald 
Like most of my family in the US, they always get the time difference wrong, but if I heard or seen a message come through, I'd answer and he knew this. In the past few years, being the non-technical person he was, he would use whatever program he was in to contact me. Sometimes it would be Facebook and other times LinkedIn of all things. It didn't matter if it was 3am my time, I would sit there and chat with him over the internet because if he contacted me, he needed me.

This lasted until August 2018 when contact stopped and I was so busy, I hadn't stopped long enough to call him. I had made plans that no matter what the 3rd weekend in January 2019 I was going to call him. Everything else can be put on hold.

Too bad it was too late to make that call. I missed by 3 days.

My brother took his own life on January 16, 2019 in the morning hours.

My brother's picture, memorial card with a small urn with remains. Credit: J. Fitzgerald
So instead of putting in a phone call to him, we were on an airplane to farewell him less than a week later.
My brother's flowers, sympathy cards and remains in February 2019. My brother made the table and box pictured. He was very talented. Credit: K. Schmitz
As of now, 6 1/2 months later, I still miss him. Every. Single, Day. And there's not a thing I can do to bring him back. At all.

He was so very young at 55 years old. Yes, 55.

We had plans to see July 4th fireworks the next time we were over during the holiday. We wanted to get our first alcoholic drink together as we hadn't done that before. However, these are promises and plans which had ended that morning.

He is and was my brother. And my Big Brother. Nothing will ever stop that. Ever.

And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Talk it out
If you feel depressed, sad, hurting, mad - communicate with anyone. Everyone. My brother did started to this, but the doctor's stopped listening. Then he stopped talking.

If you need help in the US:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-8255 or Chat

"The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We're committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness." Taken from the prevention lifeline website.

If you need help in the Australia:
Lifeline Australia
Call 13 11 14 or Chat or Text

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

There is help out just have to ask.

You just have to speak up. Credit

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Which is easier to find.... Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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

Topic Info:
Not all ancestors are tough to research. This week, who has been easier to research than others?

Jimmy Sherman (I believe) taken before his death.
Credit: University of South Florida Libraries, USAF
Growing up, my mother never spoke about her side of the family. When I pressed she told me they were all dead and we didn't need them. However, once she told me about her cousin James 'Jimmy' Sherman, on the cusp of my leaving to get married, I started to get interested. After things with my marriage settled down, which took a bit of time due to the 3 fires and a wedding and moving countries, I started asking questions. My mother didn't give me much, so I had to take what I could get. 

Louis Gauquie in undated picture.
Credit: J. Gauquie
One piece of information was my maternal grandfather's name, Louis Gauquie (left). Yes, growing up I didn't know his name, but knew he was dead. (However, among my research I found he had died when I was very young.) I went researching and things started to grow.

Once I was able to pinpoint my grandfather's name and knew about the location, I started finding great aunts and uncles as he was 1 of 7 children that my great grandparents had. Then I went looking to learn more about this side of the family - who had lived only about 10 minutes away from where I mainly grew up in the Hudson Valley in New York
Picture of Helen Gauquie who passed away in 2014. Credit
From there I found Helen Gauquie, who had just passed away, when I did a normal search on Google. From there I was able to pinpoint Helen's children and I left a message, including contact information, on the memorial page. Before long, I was contacted by my mother's cousin, Teri, and she put me in contact with my direct cousin and uncle. My cousins and uncle I met in January/February 2019. 

Anyhow, this led me to trying to figure out the rest of the family, which was a waterfall of information when I started to find it. By waterfall, I mean, I found out a lot about my mother's aunts and uncles, and then I started to find out about their children, and so on. Once I was confident about them, I turned my sights onto my great grandparents and trying to go backwards. 
Jules Gauquie born Joannes Julius Van Rompaye Credit: Gail Boo Ancestry
I found out a bit about Jules Gauquie. About him being a farmer, helping out the fire departments, and letting kids use his pool, things along those lines. I found his obituary and found he had gave something to all his kids. However, when I started to ask my mother's cousins about him, then we started to learn things about public vs private personality. 

I had found out where Jules came from - Belgium. However, I didn't know how to go about getting the information I needed and stumbled across a website called Geneanet and their boards where you can ask questions. I asked a question and within days I had people helping and sharing where they were getting information. In fact, they found the birth entry of Jules Gauquie, who was actually born Joannes Julius Van Rompaye. This was due to the fact his father, Aloysius Hyppolitus Gauquie was chosen to be in the first Belgium military draft according to the documents behind the birth entry. These documents listed Jules' parents, grandparents and areas within Belgium

By this point, I was telling my cousin, who is a Gauquie, about what I had found. One of my helpers in the Geneanet website pointed me to the Belgium Archives. We all wanted some of the questions everyone started to have answered. 
My 3rd Great grandfather Desire Gauquie's entry in Belgium Archives translated.

It took me about a month working with the Belgium website to try and figure out who belongs with who in the entries, which went from Dutch, to French, to what I think is Flemish Dutch to get through the records, but thankfully the Belgium website can be translated to English. I had pages of notebooks written with people's names and information about them along with screenshots, so I could go back and reference what I had been finding.

I used what people call the FAN technique or even use the words cluster genealogy to describe it. I read about it but never had used it before but thought it would be a good use here. 

One of my many FAN sheets I've used to show connections.

Before long, I sat back and looked at what I had found and Wow! I believe I found quite a bit of the family links and where we all come from. Along the way, I was contacted by another cousin of mine who lives in Paris, France of all places. He agreed with my findings and he had gone back one more generation which isn't online. He actually went to one of the locations and into the church to find my what I think is my 7 x great grandfather dating back to the 1700s! 

This cousin's line comes off this person who had a son who went to Paris and the other stayed in Belgium

These trees (above) were put together by cousin Herve in 2015. Credit: H. Costille

I'm still trying to put more branches on this side of the tree, but to do this, I have to go page by page in FamilySearch looking at original documents in other languages looking for other people in the family. 

Because of how much information I had and am encompassing, I started up a few Facebook groups, one of which being the Gauquie Genealogy group, so any relations can get to know the other, share information as its a private group, and we can put this Humpty Dumpty family egg back together again. 
The chart from my 2x great grandfather Desire and the stars above are some of the business and people listed below. Credit. J. Fitzgerald
So far, because of the group, we've found connections to the Gauquie Hotel and the family who resided there, the family connection to Galloways Garage in Newburgh, NY, the family connection to Devitts in New Windsor, and the connection to the Van Rompaye Trucking Corp in Chester, NY. 
My 2x great cousin Louis Van Rompaye in front of his business in Chester, NY over 100 years ago. Credit
Of course there are still questions, but this list is starting to get smaller - Thankfully. I just need the time to sit down and go through FamilySearch for the information.