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 http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/) 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 FamilySearch.org


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

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.

Credit


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 http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/) 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. 
Credit 
Credit


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).
Credit


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.

Memory:
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*

Stories/Sentences:
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. 


Paternal
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.
Maternal

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?