The paper was stuck in a pile of scrapbooking materials. How did it get there? I did not recall ever seeing it let alone making a copy of it. It was a World War II draft registration from 1942.
The registration was in the name of Joseph John Mroz. His birthdate was 19 March 1891. March 19 is the feast of Saint Joseph. Is that how he was named? Mroz was my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. Were they related as in brother and sister? He was born in the same village as my grandmother. He had immigrated to Philadelphia just as my grandmother did. What other clues were there?
Looking in the 1940 Federal U. S. Census, I discovered that he lived with his wife Mary and his children Joseph, Anna, and Catherine. Polish was spoken at home. He worked in the shipping department of a sugar refinery. (His draft registration noted that he worked at the Pennsylvania Sugar Company.) My grandmother’s name was Anna and her sister Catherine. Did he name his girls after his sisters? Were they family first names?
Then, an obituary from The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1977 noted that his funeral would be at Saint Ladislaus Parish…same as my grandmother. He would be buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery…same as my grandmother. He had a surviving sister Catherine, but her married name did not match the Catherine in my family. So, he was not my grandmother’s brother. Could he be a cousin?
Now I was curious on two points: why had I printed out that draft registration in 2017 ? where else could I check to see if he were a cousin? Curious.
How precious that they remain with me! What smiles, giggles, and tears they bring! I am grateful, and I am at peace and find comfort looking at them.
When my beloved husband Dan passed away last September, my whole world came crashing down. Grief swept over me and brought me to my knees. How could I best keep his memory close to me? How could I visualize him as happy and whole? Then I rediscovered them stored away in Zip Loc bags.
There was a whole collection of pictures from his childhood. Some were 75 years old and curled. Some were 70 years or less and told his story of being outdoors with playmates and celebrating family occasions. There was that little boy face just waiting for me.
Lovingly, I scanned them and printed them out on photo paper since they were curled. They would be placed in a photo book in chronological order. This project was turning into a joyous adventure. Grief could take a break for awhile while I savored the moments.
My favorite one was taken in either first or second grade…a school picture. He had a little bit of hair sticking up like a cowlick. The first time I saw it, I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I married Alfalfa!” (Alfalfa, for you youngsters, was a member of the Our Gang series.) This little picture is a treasure to me for I framed and placed it on my bedside table.
As a final mention, I am grateful to his parents for taking those little shots of everyday life. Back then, the family Brownie camera pictures were printed on deckle edged paper. Mom would make notations on the back as to the occasion or date. Sometimes, the month and year that they were developed was printed on the edges. Little did his parents know that these photos would bring peace and joy to his wife. They are a blessing, especially that little school picture.
Like a cold case detective, a fresh set of eyes was needed. Could I pick up any new leads? I hadn’t really looked at the evidence in nine years.
Nine years prior, my goal was to find the names of my great grandparents…just their names would be like discovering gold. My Polish emigrant grandparents had left few clues about the parents they left behind in the Old Country. The hunt was on.
My grandparents, Franciszek and Anna, were married in Philadelphia in October, 1914. A certified copy of their marriage license was obtained from The Orphans’ Court of Philadelphia County. It revealed that Franciszek’s father was Jakob Slabik and his mother Agata Kendra. Jakob was a farmer while Agata was a housewife. It told that Anna’s parents were Stanislaw Mroz and Tekla Gornyk. Both were deceased. I had found them, my great grandparents.
Also, I looked for the church records of my grandparents’ marriage at Saint Ladislaus, a Roman Catholic Church. This Polish ethnic parish no longer existed, but its records were stored in another parish. When I received the record, lo and behold it was in Latin. The places of their baptisms were recorded, but the handwriting was difficult to read. That could be a help in locating records.
Now nine years later, I took another look at these records. What might I have missed? The witnesses to their marriage were now familiar names that I had discovered in further research. One was Catherine, whom recently I “met”, was her married sister. The other was my grandfather’s brother. (I had found his name as my grandfather’s contact in his Ellis Island records. I have never found him in any Census record.)
Why is this my favorite find? I found my great grandparents names which was a goal I had. Also, my grandparents were married with their siblings along side. They had two people who loved them to witness their marriage.
Now to crack the next set of clues: where they were baptized and what records will that information lead…just like a cold case file.
Strong and sturdy, the four corners of the foundation upheld the weight of the house being built. Made of various materials, the corners were unique unto themselves. They would support the foundation for generations to come.
The first corner was Andrew Storer, who was born in Maine. Wanderlust flowed through his veins as he settled across the Midwest in search of his final home. His wife Mary Etta Soule stood by his side along with his children. Osborne County, Kansas, was their chosen place.
The second corner was James Nickel, who was born in Pennsylvania. A hard working, honest man, he made his way to Ohio where he met and married his wife Mary Emily Weaver. Together with his father, they made their way to free land for farming. Osborne County, Kansas, was their chosen place.
The third corner was William Henry Stevens, who was born in England. He was a quiet, reserved man. After he served in the Civil War, he and his wife Isabella Couchman moved with family from Memphis to their forever home. Osborne County, Kansas, was their chosen place.
The fourth corner was Amos Howell Boultinghouse, who was born in Illinois. He was a man from a strong patriotic background. After he served in the Civil War, he and his wife Mary Magdalina Kramer decided to moved from their farm to free land. Osborne County, Kansas, was their chosen place.
Together all four corners strengthened the foundation of my maternal side. Their resilience, fortitude, and courage made it so.