52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Travel

 

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She would not keep a diary about the trip as she could not read nor write. She would not leave behind parents with tears running down their cheeks when she departed as she was an orphan. She would not daydream about returning to this village one day as she was never going back. It was spring 1906, and she was walking to a train station. That train would lead her to a ship. That ship would lead her to her brother and to her new home in America.

There would be four girls from her Polish village who would be traveling together. She was named Anna, and her three girl friends all had the first name of Franciszka. One man named Jan, age 23, traveled with them. The girls claimed to be 16 years old, but Anna was actually 14 years old. Who had paid the $10 each for their tickets? Had Anna’s older brother Antoni sent it to her from America?

From their village, the quintet traveled to a train station to head for Trieste, Italy. They carried their belongings. Perhaps, they walked the part of the way to the station. Perhaps, they went by wagon. Perhaps… How many days were they on the road, so to speak? Train schedules did not coordinate with ship schedules so waiting and praying must have been part of their journey…there would be much waiting.

Once they arrived in Trieste, they would be subject to two weeks of medical and mental examinations…two weeks of observation…two weeks of waiting and praying. Shipping companies were required to look after their future passengers during that time. Meals could be bought along with bunk spaces for the nights. They would handle their money wisely. As part of their preparation, the shipping company would list each person on a manifest (list). Each would be asked 31 questions: sex, age, marital status, literacy, occupation, former residence, quality of physical condition, mother county and tongue, cost of ticket along with the name of the person who would meet them in America. My Anna stated that she was a labourer, and she was illiterate. She was listed as being in good physical condition.

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On Monday, 30 April 1906, Anna and her friends boarded the S.S. Georgia to take their place in steerage. They would be crowded into unsanitary, foul-smelling, cramped, noisy quarters. Bunks provided little room on which to sleep. Food was distributed from large kettles. There was no privacy. The journey would take 25 days…25 days of waiting and praying. Did the girls talk among themselves to dispel each other’s homesickness and anxiety? Did they stay close together for protection and safety? My Anna, only 14 years old, must have clung to her beliefs in God to remain resilient.

On Thursday, May 24, 1906, she and her friends saw Lady Liberty in New York harbor for the first time. What this lady sacred to her? Did she cry knowing that she would soon see her older brother? Did she fear what lie ahead in the great halls of Ellis Island?b3ef8d57ff01e833e8abd4dab35545ad

As the girls entered the great hall of Ellis Island, their ears would be bombarded by many voices and many languages. Many hands would examine and prod them. Many strangers would look into their eyes to determine if they could leave or be detained. Were their hearts pounding as they waited and prayed? Did they fear being separated from one another as they met family members?

At last, Anna would depart for the final part of her travels: her brother Antoni would claim her. She would be traveling with him to a strange place called Connecticut. For this time, her waiting and praying were over. What lie ahead for my dear Anna?

 

Anna Mroz would become my father’s mother and my grandmother. I have searched the 1910 census for evidence of her time spent with her older brother in Greenville, Connecticut, before her marriage. I have found no hint of her for that time period. I have searched immigration records and census records in looking for Antoni…no trace of him. No family members heard Anna speak about a brother or know of his contacting her. Perhaps…after waiting and praying…he will travel through time to me.

 

 

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Independence

 

6436309381_292e3fda1f_b.jpgIn January, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a State of the Union speech in which he enumerated four freedoms that complemented our Constitution. These four freedoms reminded all Americans that these ideals defined independence in different ways and on different levels. FDR reminded us that we have the inalienable rights to freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Later that year, America and her citizens were tested to safeguard those freedoms for themselves and for the world…independence and its richness for all. Much earlier in our nation’s history, we had sought and obtained independence and freedom.

As we celebrate our country’s birth-day, let us remember and revere those members of our families who won us that independence. Some were born here…some came here…all gave every ounce of their beings so we could become the independent United States of America. Also, let us celebrate our four freedoms.

 

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Black Sheep

Black sheep, huh!? Are they referencing “dyed in the wool” black sheep…”bad to the bone” black sheep…or perhaps, “poor choices and indiscretions” black sheep? My family tree has every one of these varieties.

“Dyed in the wool” black sheep: Being a specie of this type depends on who is doing the judging. In this case, King James I of England is the judge of this case. Meet our defendant George Soule who is an indentured servant. He and his master are what are called Separatists. They do not wish to belong to the Church of England of which King James is the head. Loyal subjects of the realm must be loyal to this church. George and his master are not. In James’ humble regal opinion, these men are black sheep among the sheep he shepherds. When these Separatists/Puritans wish to come to the New World, James is most happy to be rid of them. So, this flock leaves the fold. George, who is my 9th great grandfather, will board the Mayflower in 1620. His descendants will populate New World with even more “dyed in the wool” black sheep Englishmen and women.435px-Mayflower_in_Plymouth_Harbor,_by_William_Halsall

“Bad to the bone” black sheep: These bad boys are rebellious, disloyal, unfaithful. They will take up arms against their king, their motherland, their fellow English citizens…no matter the cost. If their King George III finds them guilty, they will die the traitor’s death of being hung. Their fortunes and lands will be denied their remaining families. How dare they turn against Great Britain and all she embodies? How can they be so ungrateful to the King’s good protection? Just who do they think they are? These anti-loyalists would be termed “patriots”. Joseph Story, Benjamin Dows, Ebenezer Newman, Thomas Newman, Conrad Rhodes, Joseph Boultenhouse, and John Nichols are my 4th and 5th great grandfathers who opposed the king during the American Revolution. Their descendants would fill the newborn nation with others who would also be rebellious. Are they too “bad to the bone”?RevWar2

“Poor choices and indiscretions” black sheep: What was once a family story, related by my mother to me,  turned out to be a real life soap opera. The story went that our great aunt had run away with the parish priest. Researching the story, I found newspaper accounts in several Midwestern newspapers. She had! She stole her husband’s car and headed to her sister’s home in a metropolitan city. The priest was with her along with her 5 year old daughter. The husband went to the local police and asked to have a warrant for the priest’s arrest…the car was registered to him alone so the pair were guilty of auto theft among other crimes. Once captured after a high speed chase by the police in another state, the pair and child spent the night in jail. When the husband arrived, he reclaimed his wife and struck the priest. Later that year, the wife filed for divorce…the priest took off for parts unknown after failing to come to court for the trial. Some think he ran to Mexico…defrocked and disgraced.

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No matter who the black sheep are…no matter what they did…no matter at all.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Same Name

Naomi Ruth Stevens is the name this aunt and niece shared. They both came from pioneer stock and learned early to care for others. They both carved out names for themselves which would be based on their talents and characters.

The aunt of the duo was my great grandmother, Naomi Ruth Stevens Boultinghouse. She was born on a farm in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas in 1875…just four years after her family settled under the auspices of the Homestead Act. Her parents were English emigrants who had migrated across this nation from New Jersey, Tennessee, and into the Sunflower State. Her father was a Civil War veteran of the Union Navy. Her mother was a talented seamstress. From them, she learned the virtues of hard work, perseverance, and resilience. At the age of 19, she married my great grandfather Lafayette Edward Boultinghouse and became a mother to four children. She was most dedicated to her family. She and her husband Lafe had a small farm for a few years, but farming was not to their liking. Together, they established a small general store and cafe. Friendliness was part of the service, and Naomi (nicknamed Mamie) enjoyed visiting with customers. She was noted as a master gardener and earned fame among

the locals for her roses and other flowers in her yards surrounding her home. People said that she could turn a mess into a masterpiece. She also enjoying taking pictures of her family, including her grandchildren. Toward the end of his life, she shared her home with her ailing father, William Henry Stevens. When she passed away in 1947, it was my parents’ wedding day. When her husband Lafe passed away in 1949, it was the day after my birth.

The other Naomi Ruth Stevens Lindley was born in Maricopa County, Arizona, in 1915..she is my first cousin. Her parents had migrated from Kansas, and she was their last born child. Not much is known to me about her. From 1942 to 1946, she was a first lieutenant in the U. S. Army Nurses Corps. She preciously had cared for others as a public health nurse so caring and nurturing were part of her spirit. Her pioneer spirit shown forth when she was willing to be a woman in the military. She met and married her husband John while serving her country. She lived until the age of 80 and is buried in a military cemetery.Naomi Ruth Stevens

Same name…same charisma…same fortitude…remarkable and remembered.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Father’s Day

They never met, yet they are very important to me. They came from different worlds with one being a farmer and one being a steelworker. One had a long ago grandfather who came to the New World on the Mayflower in search of religious freedom. One sailed in steerage on a ship that went through Southampton, England, a few weeks before the Titanic…he was searching for freedom from hunger and want. If they had met, they would not have been able to communicate in the same language…one spoke American English and the other Polish. One lived on the plains of Kansas surrounded by wheat fields; the other lived in Philadelphia surrounded by tenements and factories. One had served in the Prussian army much as an act of fear of imprisonment. The other had served in the U.S. Army much as an act of patriotism. They did hold something in common: they raised children who knew the value of hard work and the importance of a faith in God.

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Gramps, Grammy, Merna Mae

Franciszek and Anna

Dziadek and Babcia

These two men were my grandfathers. Gramps was my mother Merna Mae Storer’s father, and his name was Andrew Earl Storer. He married my Grammy in 1922 in Osborne County, Kansas. Dziadek was my father Edward Joseph Slabik’s father, and his name was Franciszek Slabik. He married my Babcia in 1914 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

No, they never met…at least not until they entered Eternity under the loving eyes of the Father.

 

 

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Going To The Chapel

Several mysteries shroud my second great grandparents’ story. One is the circumstances of their first meeting. Here he was Amos Howell Boultinghouse, farmer boy from Illinois. Here she was Maria Magdalina Kramer, French immigrant living in Manhattan, New York. In 1843, they were married when he was 25 years old, and she was 15 years old…a man, seasoned by hard work and survival, and a teenager, seasoned by lessons in a convent school. When I first met them, I wondered if she were a mail order bride. Now that would be a mystery to solve!

Then, I discovered that Amos had been in the U.S. Army when he enlisted at the age of 19. In perusing his records, I noted that he had been stationed at Fort Columbus, New York, at the time of the marriage.  This fort was the major defender of New York harbor. It was located about six miles from Manhattan. Yet how did they meet?

They were married in the Church of Saint Nicholas, the first German-speaking Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan by Father Gabriel Rumpler. Their marriage certificate was found among Amos’ Civil War pension records. I decided to do more investigation. If she was 15, who signed for her to marry? I had never found her parents’ names or immigration records. Would other facts come to light if the church archives were consulted?

StNicholasRC1848ExtSince this parish no longer exists, I did locate the church where its records are stored. The parish secretary told me that the records from 1843 were there. Because of their age, these could not be scanned…they could be transcribed if they were readable. (I prayed they could be read.) A few weeks later, the transcription arrived in the mail. Well, here comes the bride…Maria had lied about her age and stated she was 22 years old. Another discovery on the record was Amos’ surname…it is Boultinghouse, and it was recorded as Boardinghouse.

Going to the chapel, I discovered that Maria was not a mail order bride…she claimed to be seven years older…the two witnesses at the ceremony were other priests who resided in that parish. Time would bring Amos and Maria many hard decisions, many devastating losses, and, perhaps, many joys.

 

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Far Away

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The mist places a veil over my head, and I cannot see ahead. Am I lost or just seeking? Will I find my way, or will I try to turn back to return from where I came? I am searching but can find nothing. Is it hopeless?

The mental picture of lost in the mist is what clouds my brain when I am looking for the answers to a genealogical puzzle…and it is not even in my family tree…it is about my husband’s third great grandparents.

Benjamin and Julianna Beeson Haffner were married on 21 December 1825 in Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Virginia. They would have six children, but only four would reach adulthood. During the Civil War, this part of Virginia would become part of the new state of West Virginia. Little is known of them. Benjamin was listed in the 1850 and 1860 Census as a plowmaker. In the 1850 Census, he declared that he was a pauper.

During the Civil War, Martinsburg stood in the midst of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. General Thomas J. Jackson commandeered trains and tracks right in the city so Union forces could not ship soldiers and supplies. The trains were moved over land to Strasburg. There were turmoil and chaos surrounding the city and its citizens408_2.

But what of Benjamin and Julianna? Did they survive the war? They completely disappear after that 1860 Census…as if vanishing in the mist. They can be traced to no final resting places. Some day, I want to see them coming toward me as they break through the mist, and the veil of separation is no more.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, Week 21: Military

On that Sunday morning in December, he was returning from Mass with his family in a Nicetown/Philadelphia ethnic neighborhood. As the family walked home, a neighbor burst out of his house to flag them down. The neighbor knew that the Slabiks did not have a radio, but he extended the invitation for them to step inside his house to listen to an ongoing news broadcast. The news was numbing and unimaginable, but after all parts of Europe were already at war. What…this happened at Pearl Harbor? His brother Stanley was in the Army and had been just a year ago stationed in Honolulu. The Japanese…why was the world crashing down?

When he returned to high school the next day, all his buddies were ranting against the attack. Graduation could not come too soon, for they wanted to enlist right away and save America…save the world. They often bragged about seeing each other in Tokyo a year from now. The minimum age to enlist was 18 years old, and Edward would not reach that age until next November. Patriotism called…how could he wait?20180619_151902

After a June, 1942, graduation, he began to figure out how he could enlist. He would “create” a new birthdate. After all, a birth certificate was not entirely necessary; one could have a witness testify about that birthdate. He would only be fudging a few months since Uncle Sam and the United States needed him. Instead of stating that he was born on 6 November 1924, he and his witness declared the date as 1 September 1924. (On another document, he stated that it was 6 September 1924.) He enlisted in the United States Army Air Force. He would be trained to fight in combat.

While in basic training at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, he and the rest of his new buddies were given nicknames that would remain with them for the duration of the war. Edward enjoyed humor and laughter and playing pranks, so he was nicknamed “Silly From Philly”. Perhaps, that humor saved his sanity when he was fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theater.

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Edward would return from war in December, 1945, to that ethnic neighborhood in Philadelphia. He came home to his parents and neighbors. He was 21 years old. His mother was alarmed at how jaundiced and skinny her boy Edjui (Polish for Edward) looked. He was home safe…America was also safe.

It would be four years later in December, 1949, when I would first meet my father. He and my mother had married in 1947 after becoming war time sweethearts…but that is another story!

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, Week 20: Another Language

Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, we were surrounded by apple orchards and farms. Our little town of Winchester had National Fruit Products which made such delights as applesauce and apple butter…the aromas permeated the town. I lived in a white and blue collar neighborhood. I spoke with a Southern accent, and my speech was peppered with many idioms and colloquialisms.

Every summer, we would travel to my grandparents’ farm in Alton, Osborne County, Kansas. My Gramps and Grammy were Andrew and Isabella (Boultinghouse) Storer, my mom’s parents. Their farm seemed vast to me with acres of crops, outbuildings, and animals. A river bobbed along the edge of the property. When we visited there, I heard another language being spoken. What did some of those phrases mean? My grandfather would talk about checking out the Angus on the north forty. Angus? North forty? When he feed the pigs, he would yell out words that sounded like “Sue Whee” with a high accent on the second syllable. Those porkers would come running for slop. One time, he mentioned how flat the land was…but then he spoke about how the Kansas mountains were lined up from town to town along the highways. Living under the shadow of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, I certainly could not see those Kansas mountains. Little did I know, but they were another name for grain elevators.

Alton4My grandmother also spoke in another language. Each morning, she told us that she had to go milk the nannies. I was instructed to gather the hen fruit and bring it to the kitchen. I asked what trees it was on…she laughed and told me to go to the chicken coop with a basket…I would spot it in the little nests in there. My grammy also kept egg money  in a can in her kitchen, and she said she could use it when she went to town on Saturdays…all gussied up she would be.

My grandparents had a strange phone number which wasn’t numbers at all. Their number was two longs and one short. Their neighbors had similar numbers made up of different longs and shorts. We were to answer the phone on the wall only when their longs and short sounded; otherwise, we would be hearing people talk on a party line. That would not be polite.

My mom understood completely what all they were talking about, but I am sure that my dad was also puzzled. My dad was from Philadelphia, and he was a city boy with Polish immigrant parents. Did it take him long to catch on to this Midwest lingo?

I miss my grandparents and parents. I wish I could once again walk on that farm, gather eggs, drink goat’s milk, slop hogs, and get all gussied up on Saturdays.

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52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Mother’s Day

In our little town, a church’s billboard reads: TO ALL OF OUR MOTHERS IN HEAVEN, YOU ARE LOVED AND MISSED. How true with many of us as we greet this Mother’s Day! Memories flood and swell inside our hearts as we imagine and remember our mother’s voices, words, actions, and images. We embrace how our moms grew from those strong, young women to those delicate yet iron-willed senior ladies.

 

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Falls Church, Virginia   1950

In honor of my mother, Merna Mae Storer Slabik (1924-2014), I would like to share some of the lessons that I learned from her… I bet many of these resonate with you also.

  • “I will teach you to be independent.” My mom wanted me to be able to do things for myself even at a young age. She wanted me to develop my own talents. She wanted me to be my own person.
  • “You cannot change that person so do not even try.” Mom longed for me to enjoy each person in his/her own way. We all have different personalities…accept everyone.
  • “Go ask your father.” Mom did not want anything to be a deal breaker between herself and my father. She was leaving it all up to him in that particular case.
  • “We are huggers.” Mom wanted to leave each person with a warm hug and a warm smile.
  • “You have to earn that…you will do chores for an allowance…you will save.” It started at the age of five when I asked for roller skates. Mom told me that I would start to dry the silverware (age appropriate) for a nickel a week. I got the skates, but I learned to work with a goal in mind. That lesson would be a premise of my being.
  • (Message on my answering machine at least once a week) “Hi, it’s me Mom. Give me a call back when you can.” I wish I would have saved one of those messages!
  • At the end of each visit and phone call, my mom would say, “Remember that I love you.” Those three words taught me more lessons than any combined.

I love you, too, Mom!