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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Father's Day 2017

Its another Father's Day.

For me its and actually weird holiday and, I have to admit, I get confused as hell. Why? Well this is because for me I have Father's Day twice in a year. I have Father's Day in the USA for my own father, which is in June. Then we have another in September for my father-in-law because of my husband. Yep, that's twice at two different times in the year.

Soooo the result is I usually (and unfortunately) forget about the US Father's Day only because I don't hear about it here. Then in September, when the Australian one comes around, I start swearing because then I remember I forgot the US Father's Day. *sigh* I can't win.

My father and I have never been close. Stuff happens and we just didn't get there. We are trying both of us and I think in the last 12 or so years we've been doing very good in that trying. There's just a lot of underlying issues. Anyway, not going into those especially here.

This weekend in the US is Father's Day. And I remembered for a change, which is different, so he's a post on it. When I was doing "The Book of Me, Written by You" they had us write about the Military and I had thought they had us write about our Father's, but I couldn't find it if we did do one. I know in 2015, I did a Father's Day post myself.

Recently, I've been doing more research while taking an online course. I was in the middle of a story and found I needed research and before long, I ended up looping up and around and found myself researching a bit of what my father was doing in the Subs or The Silent Service as they are called.

Then you have the calls where Dad still talks about them and tells me about the diesel and then nuclear subs, but he can't go into much detail because its all still classified. People don't realize just how much, even after you retire, is still classified and can't be talked about. Within our house, we learned growing up you don't talk unless spoken to and you have to be careful of what is said. We were taught this stuff from a very early age.

It was how we grew up and you just didn't say much. Not saying much grew into a wall which is still there even today. I believe that because of this, we all stayed away from anything to do with the military, especially after it seemed our father was almost obsessed with it. To us, the military robbed us of a father, so why would we embrace or want anything to do with it?

However, as I'm growing up and doing research, and now that Dad's letting me in a bit, I'm starting to put things together slowly. Would I ever still want anything to do with the Navy? Hell no. However, I'm starting to slowly make peace within myself because of it. I'm not sure, and it could take the rest of my life, to make actual full peace with it, because of the hurt its caused, but at least I can say I've started.

Here's a look back at my father's life in the few pictures I have of him. I didn't even have a picture of him until my late teens.

To him and all Father's out there - Happy Father's Day. 

Us in 2010

2006? Dad with his 2nd wife Louise

2006? Dad in his dress military uniform

2010 The Schmitz family at my Uncle (father's brother) funeral

As a baby in 1935

With his Aunt and Uncle on his trip to Germany in 1935

A schoolboy in NJ

Near his home in Linden, NJ

1st Communion


Seaman's Picture in Navy
1953 before the Navy and in High School

1955 on a Sub

1956 Dad with his Brother, Grandpa Stanley, Grandma and my mother before they were married

1950s Getting an award

1994 in Wallkill NY

Committee for VFW Commander award

2016 when he had a reunion with other submariners

2016 on his Honor Flight being thanked

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Blogging Badge for GeneaBloggers Tribe

Hi Everyone.

New badge from GeneaBloggers TRIBE
You have probably noticed a new badge that's up on the website (which is also on the right side of this post) called GeneaBloggers TRIBE. Its for those of us who belong to an online community of people who blog about genealogy. They have a website and a Facebook page for those of you out
there who may want to join.

For further information you can read about it here.

For those of you who do not know, I have been blogging about my family's history since  Saturday, August 2, 2014. If you want to read the first post on this site you can read it from the website. However, if you want to read my first ever blog about genealogy stuff labelled "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Topic 1 - Ask yourself 20 times “Who are you?” which was written in September 2013.
How I look sitting and thinking of topics to post on
However, I was first publishing genealogy information on my original blog, Jo's Personal Blog. It was only after my personal views on things, my genealogy stuff and my IT stuff were so intermingled that something had to be done, so I separated them.

I'll be back a bit later to post on another topic - so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Genealogy researching is more than sitting at your computer

Where People Start versus Where Genealogists Start
Most people today think genealogy is just signing up to a service like Ancestry and then filling out the forms and sit back and see what gets recognized by their services. What a real genealogist does is put the blood and flesh onto that soul whomever it might be. (This is the reasoning behind the name of this blog.) This means you have to get out from behind your desk and go in search of this information.

Yes, sometimes its going from one website to another looking for the information, but a person who wants to do the real research will get out from behind the desk. For myself, this is pretty difficult due to all of my relatives living in the USA while I live in Australia. However, I do get 'out and about' to collect this information. I visit various libraries, restaurants, stores, and festivals. Then there's the email's, online forms, letters and emails and the phone calls I've made and received. Then then there is the blog and DNA I've done as well. Anything to get information out there and ways for people to get to contact or communicate with me as well.

My husband, however, is lucky enough to be living in the place where we can get out there and do the researching. Usually, I go as well, so there's 2 people to hear information, make sure he gets information and ask other questions which I might think up.

In the last 18 months, we've had to lay off of doing things like this because first I had some medical issues which had to be straightened out, and then we had our nephew with us and it was difficult to do anything with a VERY active 2-3 year old with us, so we just laid off doing things. However, with changes that have been made we've been able to do a few genealogy trips in the last 6 weeks.

Out and About - Our Steps meet those of Hubby's Ancestor's

Trip 1 - Marysville Victoria
I was first introduced to Marysville when I worked for the Victorian State Government and we had a conference there in 2008 and we stayed at The Cumberland. Prior to my being hired, they had had other conferences there and liked how things were set up where there was a community area for people to sit together and have a great time.
Website credit
However, the bush fire storm we had in 2009, disseminated the area. As we worked with many local communities, and it boarded onto our region at work, it was a crazy and hectic time. We, and other local organisations and many individuals, gave time, energy, prayers, and this in turn gave them all the one thing money can't buy - HOPE.
Picture credit
Now nearly 10 years later, we went to visit the area. I went because I wanted to see how the area was going and how the town now looked as all but 14 of over 400 buildings destroyed and 34 souls were lost. I know the owners of The Cumberland lost her parents in them. As we neared Marysville and went through the area called Black Spur you could tell the bush fire had gone through but it looked like it had only been 1 or 2 years and not nearly 10 because the 2009 fires burnt that hot. This being said, new life was popping up - in shrubs, trees, ferns, and as we got nearer to the town - homes and businesses.

Why were we in Marysville?
Website credit
Hubby, who hasn't been there in either years or when he was very young, can't remember much about if and/or when he was there if at all. However, this being said, his cousins lived and died there years ago. One was burnt but they don't know if it was by accident or by suicide, but the authorities and newspapers have it as a suicide. The sister to this one went to visit her father and everyone believes she either got lost and then hurt and died. Her remains were never properly identified and within 5 years the courts had declared her dead. This is was the reasons why we visited Marysville.

We met up with a few people from the Marysville & District Historical Society to discuss the ancestry and exchanged what everyone knew about these ancestors. They never realized that the ancestors we were talking about were actually related to Lady Gregory in Ireland and were shocked to find out about this.
Example of Pitman Shorthand (website credit)

On the other hand, I never knew about the Pitman shorthand. When I was in school, I heard about shorthand and had even learned a few squiggles here and there, but never had any idea about who was the person who actually created and then later went and educated others about its use. These Pitman's were part of the reason why we were in Marysville.

We took and received some pictures we didn't know about, were taken to the Log Cabin house on sister lived in and was killed nearby, the hotel they had managed (Kooringa), and then were taken around where they think she had died and then to the cemetery where the one sister is buried.
Hubby's Maternal Ancestors plaque at Marysville. (Credit)
The other thing I learned was Marysville & District Historical Society are looking for any type of photos and memorabilia of the region because almost all of theirs are gone due to the 2009 Bush Fire Storm.

What can you do? (from the Marysville & District Historical Society website)

Please look in your photo collections if you or anyone you know have lived or visited this area. Go ahead and ask your parents or grandparents. ANY photos of the area - Marysville, Granton, Narbethong, Buxton, etc - are welcome. They do not need to be "old" photos - in 30 years your children will be asking "What did Marysville look like in 2009 before the fires?"

Trip 2 -  Albury New South Wales & Wodonga Victoria

The last trip we took while hubby was on holidays or vacation was to an area called Albury-Wondonga. This is 2 towns which are split by the Murray River and in 2 different states. This was also compounded by visiting with my father in law, his partner, and hubby's aunts and uncles. Then my hubby found he has a cousin, which we met up with, that he's recently started to have contact with.
Taken from this website
We were taken all around Albury - you have each of the addresses of various family members, looked at various places they would have had been around, the Anzac memorial there, and the cemeteries. It was a very busy day as we spent quite a bit of time visiting different things and then getting a commentary about the different ancestors.
Hubby's cousin Steve and my father in law at Steve's mother's gravesite. Copyright
One of the many places we saw during the daytime (website)

We then headed some place to sit down and compare paperwork. It was a very long day, but it was great to see so much information about them and exchanged with the person who knew about his side of the family.

Want more and in-depth? 
I've just briefly covered our trips. Hubby has a genealogy website for his side, and I don't see the reason why we really need a double up. After all, anyone who knows my hubby KNOWS he loves to be wordy and in other times - in depth. Here's his genealogy website for more info.

Why do this?
By doing this, you can put that flesh and bone on those souls you read about so much. Everyone is much more than just some names on paper. After all, if you look into yourself, aren't you more than just that if you think about it?
Picture taken from here
Also, sometimes in order to understand a person and their reasoning, you have to trace, or walk, in their steps. You get to learn so much about them by doing this. Its made so much better if you meet up with others that either knew them or have done a lot of researched about them.

I highly recommend getting up and away from the computer or tablet and go for a walk where you found your ancestors. I know I have plans to do this as soon as we go back to the US, and visit places like Poland, Germany and Denmark.
Picture taken from here

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

Yes, tomorrow is Mother's Day. A day we recognize as the one person who usually supports and loves us in our very beginning of life from the time of conception until you or your mother dies. I say usually as most of us have mother's who will give us what we need to thrive and survive which the base is usually love.

Here are the important mother's in my life (including me in this so hopefully people can see where these important people fall in my chromosomes) and this is due to their influences and other important deals which, when women raise children, are passed along to their children which in turn cascades down and into me. This makes me simply - me.

Copyright on images used J. Fitzgerald 2017


I haven't really let it be known in past posts, but I'm not a mother. I have had some pregnancies which have NOT resulted in a live birth. And after a surgery almost 18 months ago, I will never carry a child - ever. Is it difficult and hard? You bet your sweet behind it is. However, there is one avenue which we're currently researching to still become parents - which is surrogacy. If we ever get this lucky, we're hoping someone will be kind enough to do this for us. It would be the best present EVER.


Some people have asked us about fostering and adopting. We've talked about it,and due to some family things this past year, we'll never go down this road due to our experiences this past year unless something else happens. Do I know what that is? Nope, but its never good to close those options.

However, this year we've experienced a bit of parenting so in a way this year I WAS a mother (in a substitute type of way) - for a short while.
Myself and a child we were helping out in 2016/2017. Taken March 2017.
Copyright on image J. Fitzgerald 2017
As you can see, we were both very happy. Unfortunately, he's not with us full time any longer, but it was a special time.

Women Not Exactly Mother's

There are women out there, like myself, who would nothing better than to have a child. However, it seems like no matter what we do, we are not blessed in them. Do them a favor on day's like Mother's Day - be kind to them? The day is extremely hard for those of us who fall into this category. In fact, I usually hibernate and stay away from the most of the TV and social media because it seems like everywhere you turn its there in your face. After awhile you just want to go in the corner and curl up and cry the rest of the day. Again, please be kind and look after the childless women. We do have feelings too and we intend to get forgotten during these types like many of the other children/family holidays.
Image taken from here.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Weekend activity challenge

My mate at GeniAus once had a blog post, and she gave us a mission (insert Mission Impossible theme here)...

I'm going to combine steps 1 & 2 and just give you the map mentioned in number 2.
1)  What states in the USA and what provinces in Canada have you visited or lived in?  

2)  Either list, or make a map of them (at the website) and indicate the following:

 red for states/provinces where you've not spent much time or seen very much.
*  amber for states/provinces  where you've at least slept and seen some sights.
 blue for states/provinces  you've spent a lot of time in or seen a fair amount of.
*  green for states/provinces  you've spent a great deal of time in on multiple visits.

Here's the states I've been to, etc (using the scale above)
Using the map software

How many have you been to? I dare you...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Getting to know me

GeniAus has sent the following questions, which she got from a Facebook Genimate Pauleen shared this meme which came to her via blogger, Katrina. Its sorta like quick pass the questions around. 
People who know me, know I'm not a shy person and probably has heard some of these before. 

1. Who are you named after? - My mother. The story is when my mother found out she was pregnant, her and Dad sat down and had a talk. They had decided if it was a boy, it would named after Dad, but if its a girl then its named after Mom. Congrats its a girl...

2. Last time you cried? - Hmmm interesting one. Probably this week sometime because of the pain that our nephew, who's been staying with us, inflicts on me.

3. Do you like your handwriting? - In a short answer - NO. I loved in back in the 3rd grade but the teacher criticized me because it was so small, so I made it bigger and messier and now I'm used to it.

4. What is your favourite lunch meat? - Bologna and only one type.

 5. Do you still have your tonsils? - Yes

6. Would you bungee jump? - No, every time I go or want to go on one of these rides something happens so I stay away.

7. What is your favourite kind of cereal? - Lucky Charms or Frosted Mini Wheats - the big ones not the bite sized ones.
Taken from here
8. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? - Yes.

9. Do you think you are strong? - I used to be but age is doing its thing.

10. Favourite ice cream? - Any? Usually Mint Choc Chip, Chocolate, Chocolate chip, etc.

11. What is the first thing you notice about a person? - If they will look you in the eye or not.

12. Football or baseball? - Baseball - Yankees all the way!

Taken from here

13. What colour pants are you wearing? - Jean shorts.

14. Last thing you ate? - Chocolate Chip and Vanilla ice cream cone.

15. What are you listening to? - Cars do burnouts outside.

16. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? - Any color blue or light green.

17. What is your favourite smell? - Anything baking.

18. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? - Woman at the dentist office for my nephew.

19. Married? - Yep. It will be 20 years in May.

Barry Gittens took this at our wedding in 1997.

20. Hair colour? - Au naturel brown with red highlights.

21. Eye colour? Blue just like my parents.

22. Favourite food to eat? - Chocolate anything.

23. Scary movies or happy endings? - Happy endings.

24. Last movie you watched? - The hateful 8 which I hated and turned if off after an hour.

Taken from here

25. What colour shirt are you wearing? -Green with no sleeves.

26. Favourite holiday? -Hmm you can answer this as holiday like Christmas (mine used to be but no longer - I don't have one) or holiday as vacation. That is probably going to the US, but we won't be doing that for about 4 years at least...

27. Beer or Wine? - If its between these two it would be wine. However, what about spirits? Vodka or Bailey's wouldn't go amiss.

28. Night owl or morning person? - Night.

29. Favourite day of the week? - Don't really have one. It used to be Saturday and Sunday due to no work, but being unemployed there is no weekend...

Interesting questions...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

International Holocaust Remembrance Day - UN's day of remembering

I have to admit, growing up I heard about what the Nazi's had done to the Jewish community during World War II. However, it wasn't until I started to actually research the paternal side of my family that it really started to hit home just what had happened.

The things that were done and said can never be undone - unfortunately.

Why had it hit home when doing research on my paternal side
I knew my paternal grandmother had come from Poland, but I never realized where she lived and how close she came to never making it out if she lived there when World War II had happened. People don't realize just how many others, other than Jewish people, were killed during this time.  Once I started to look up the area and the people, I realized just how close one of the camps were to where my relatives used to live. It was soul searching, humbling and eye opening.

The about 18 months ago, I was lucky enough to find a cousin that was still alive and lived IN Poland. When this happened, I was shocked as I was always told that everyone had died while growing up. My grandmother would have a sacred place in her dining room with pictures. She wouldn't even allow me to get close to them unfortunately. Anyway, as I've been getting to know my distant cousin, which has been proven by paperwork, we had once talked about the history and the Holocaust.

I knew we had ancestors which had been assassinated, murdered, arrested by the KGB and the Gestapo and for doing nothing according to the stories. However, during my research I hadn't been able to find any written records for anyone. I asked my distant cousin about this and he hesitated. I know this is a sore point, along with being under communism until the 1980s, so it was a tread very lightly area. I assured him that it was ok and I understood. It wasn't a lie - I did understand after reading some of the journals and watching some documentaries on it. I finally did get around to watching Schindler's List as I knew what it was about but had never had the money to actually watch it. I've also watched many documentaries on it as well as getting as many sources as you can is where you get more rounded education rather than just one or two main sources.

The Family and the Holocaust

However, the cousin did tell me about our family's involvement in the Holocaust. I have to say even all these months later, I am still stunned. Awed. And very proud.

My paternal great grandmother, Maryanne Slepowronska Wotjkowska was 1 of 4 children. Her sister was Zofia (or Sofia) Slepowronska who married Edward Wyrzykowski. Edward and Zofia are my cousin's grandfather.

From my cousin - my great aunt Zofia(Sofia)

From my cousin - my great uncle Edward
Taken from Wikipedia
 Edward was a government employee. In 1936, he was hired on as Mayor of Kobylka (which is near Warsaw in Poland). When the war broke out in September 1939, he remained at his post as mayor. He BIP or the Bulletin of Public Information or now called Bureau of Information and Propaganda. It was created in the Spring of 1940 when Germany occupied Poland. He knew German well which was a huge plus. What many people didn't know was he was also a member of Polish Underground State.

In this group, they would do things like:

 In short he was a collaborator of the Polish Underground Army. He was perfect for this position as he was a great organizer on top of being the mayor which he would have had access to the information Poland needed.
Flag of the Polish Underground State

However, this was a very dangerous place to be as if they were found out, they would have been murdered. As if that wasn't enough, Edward defended and represented the residents of Kobylka from the Nazi's.

This was putting it mildly about representing and defending these residents because our family did so much more.Here is a small list of what he had done for these residents:

  • Defended them against outward movement to forced labor in Germany
  • Looked after any refugees who lost their homes
  • Organized medical services and feeding areas for mothers with children whose fathers were in the war or had died
  • They hid many Jewish families and children
  • Placed children in the catholic monasteries of nuns for protection
  • Paid for their care within the monasteries
  • Made false Aryan documents

BIP helped and cooperated with him for the documents. Also, keep in mind, if anyone was found to be helping or hiding Jews, no just that one person died - the whole family was killed. Then to add insult to injury, the neighbors were killed as well. No one knew who to trust or not to trust because of this and everyone lived in fear. Further, because of this, some neighbors were not loyal either.

Below are some of the many documents my cousins' father, collected over the years on the topic. Basically they are claims from Jews who received aid from the family.

One of the many statements given as proof of help

An official document about help given

Another official document about help

Below are a few of the threatening documents/posters about helping the Jewish people or going against the occupiers.

I had to have these translated myself, but what an eye opener these are.

Further Sacrifice of the Family
Taken from Wikipedia
Not only were Edward and Zofia putting their lives at risk, but also their only child and son, and their neighbors and sacrificing so much for people, but they also had a personal tragedy as well. Edward's brother, Roman Wyrzykowski, was killed. He was an inspector of the local government of Dlugosiodlo. You can read about the town here. He was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to a concentration camp. There he was killed. It's name? Auschwitz.
Taken from here

That's right - Auschwitz. He was not a Jew. He was not gay. He was a guy who they took, arrested, and murdered - and Polish.

RIP - Remembrance (pic from here)

These are the people who should be remembered and revered on this day of Remembrance not because of its history, but because of their bravery. They never wanted acknowledgment of this because they were just taking care of their own in the best way they could. THESE are true heroes.