Showing posts with label Matthew Schmitz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Matthew Schmitz. Show all posts


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Family who served in the Military & their family

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:    

The Brief: 

          Did you join the military?
          Were you encouraged or discouraged?
          Did a family member?
          Regular or for a particular incident
          Did you or your family serve overseas in the line of Service either during a war or a posting
          Any thoughts, photographs, memories relevant

The video is

This is an interesting topic for me. As everyone stops to say thank you for those who have served, I always ask - how many times in a year do we do this? If you look at each time its about at least 4 times in a year, depending on where you live, that we say thank you to the people who served in the Military. We have Remembrance or Veterans Day (Nov 11), Memorial Day (May), and ANZAC Day (April 25). I do know that some of these are US and some are UK/Australian, but I wonder if anyone stopped to think about each of these days. Then you have the days that are not holidays but there was something, within the military, which happened such as D Day (June 6). 

I'm not saying these should not be here, but I'm just bringing up just how many days we do look back at those who have served. 

My Family
I have some family that have served in the military, so this will be lengthy! The common theme seems to be either in the Army, Air Force or the Navy as far as I know. I'm still researching, but I do know the people below have served or, in one case, I have found documentation they served but have not proven the documentation as yet. 

Great Grandfather (Father's side)
Adam Wojtkowski
Late 1800's/Early 1900's
Russian? Army

This is still the documentation who I still have to prove. I found, when I was doing my research on him, that he could have served in what was then Russian territory (this is now part of Poland). I believe that if he DID serve, it was part of a conscription or draft as this was common I found out. The armies, if they needed more soldiers, went to the nearest church and went through the church records to find men or boys able to serve. Then they asked around the small villages and upon finding the person told them they were now part of the army. If the paperwork is correct, then he was part of the Russian Army. This I believe could be truthful as I know when he migrated to the US, he cursed Russians all the rest of his days. 

Great Grand Uncle (Father's side)
(First Name Unknown) Wojtkowski
Late 1800's/Early 1900's
Polish Army 

I know that Adam and his brother, which I don't know his first name, were very close. In a picture my father saw, they looked like twins because their looks were so close to each other. In fact this brother was 2 years younger than Adam. However, I do know by talking to my father, that this unknown Great Grand Uncle died in his 20's due to being part of the Polish Resistance or Polish Army and fought against the Russians. 

James (or Jimmy) Sherman 
Early 1940's
US Air Force

Jimmy I grew up knowing about due to my mother being very close to her cousin. He always came to visit her and always asked after her in letters. He signed up for the Army because with the attacks of the Germans, his mother was afraid. He figured to protect his mother and others (like my mother), he would sign up to make the world a safer place. He was a gunner in the Air Force. 

The last time my mother saw him, he was due to leave in a few hours to get back to the base before they left on his mission. My mother was able to stay up later than normal, so she could see him. He handed her his wings, he gave her a kiss on the cheek and left. Within a few months, his plane went down and no one ever heard from him again. About the time he went down, my mother said she dreamed of him saying that he was fine and to take care of his wings.
The wings Jimmy gave to my mother, Jo Ann

This is what started my family history search. I wanted, for my mother's sake, to find out what happened to him and why they went down. I was able to find the group he was with and the details of what happened. 
The official report which listed James as MIA.

I was able to find was the Air Force had "The James J. Sherman Papers" located in Florida. These are a collection of works either my Jimmy or his mother, Florance. After Florance died, someone gave her books away to a bookstore. The bookstore found the information and turned it into the Air Force which set up these papers. The sad part about it, is after contacting them, they will not release a copy to myself. If I want to see the collection, I will have to make an appointment and go to Florida to view the items in person. This is very disturbing to me, as I know if my mother knew about the items, she would have claimed them. At this present time, we are not able to travel to the US, so it will have to be something to be looked into at a later date.

Grand Uncle(Father's Side)
Stanley F Wojkowski
US Army

I only know from the US City Directories, but he was in the US Army. I do know growing up my grandmother told me he did some drinking but gambled heavily. I do know he made it home after the war physically, but the later part of his life was not what I would call a good one. 

Grandfather (Father's side)
Matthew Schmitz
US Army

In the last year or so I found, by talking to my father, that my grandfather did serve in the US Army Medical Corps. It was only a few years, but it must have taken its toll on him. I do know that he was an alcoholic and this could have been due to his service. Later in his life, I'm told he had diabetes (from drinking), which put him in the hospital at Castle Point, NY and he died there due to complications of diabetes. 

Matthew G Schmitz
1950's-Early 1970's
US Navy

My father went into the Navy almost right out of High School. By that time, he either was dating or had married my mother. He was stationed all around the US, and my mother went along with him living in military housing and went wherever the Navy sent my father. Eventually he made it into the submarines.

Finally after having 4 children, my mother wanted a home near where they grew up. They moved and I believe lived at Stewart Air Force Base in the military housing there for awhile and then bought their home with the help from my father's mother.

I do know when I was born, he was off shore on the sub and was called into the deck. This is where he learned that I was born by a cable that was sent by the doctor at West Point. 
I was born here because it was the closest military hospital to Newburgh, NY

By the time I was 3 1/2, he had retired from the Navy, but was working in a job he got afterwards. However, he never truly left the Navy - he just went about serving them in other ways. He went to the VFW and joined. 

Over the years, he's went to the commander and into the regional and state commander of the VFW and other organizations which all deal with Subs and the Navy. He has also received many awards and was inducted into the Holland Club.  
His Certificate for the Holland Club
Receiving the Certificate for the Holland Club

In 2013 at the Memorial Day Ceremony

 As he's getting older, he's slowing down and not doing as much in his clubs and organizations, but he is still active. Further, he goes to many of the decommissioning of the subs as well.

Charles A Schmitz Jr
US Navy

My nephew went into the Navy. I'm not sure if it was his grandfather's influence, but I know from talking to him, he needed to do this in order for the GI bill to help with his college costs. He went directly from high school into the Navy. 

He made it from normal Navy into what they call a Fireman. I do know he was on a vessel called the USS Anzio for part of his time serving. 

As he's only been out a few years, he's in the process of getting his education he wanted. 

Thomas James III
US Army

I do know he's been into the Army now for a few years. I heard this back around 2010 or before. As my sister, his mother, started to interfere in my life, I stopped speaking to her, and as he took right after her at that point, I stopped visiting. Within a year they moved from NY to the Carolina's and I never heard from them again at all. Every now and then my brother might bring up what the whole side of the family is doing, but its not often. 

From Facebook, I know that he's still in the Army. 

Military Families
I do know that you cannot mention people who served in any part of the armed forces without saying something about their families. It takes rare people to sign up and even rarer people to actually hold things together here at home while they are off serving. 

Its a very hard life for the families, as I know being within one. I can hear my brother and sisters saying that I wouldn't know because our father was here most of my life (remember he retired when I was very young). However, I was part of a half way club - I was a US Navy brat, but my father never moved around. My mother, even after my parents divorced, continued to move every 2-4 years. Besides, I remember rarely seeing my father growing up (for various of reasons), so it was like he was away on a sub, so to me it didn't matter. 

Throughout my life, I hated the thought of the services. Even after my father stopped "serving" he was still well within the ranks of doing things for the Navy. To the point, where all he would do is talk about only that subject. If I wanted to know what were the goings on in the latest stuff for the Navy, then I would just have to go over to my father's. In a way, its like I didn't have a father or a daddy - I had a person who served with the Navy. I know its hurtful for some, but the Navy has not been good for our family in that way. Most of us curse it because we feel it robbed us of a father and daddy even when he was here with us, he wasn't. 

Do I believe every solder, no matter what branch of the service he's in, is like this? No. I think its like anything - you have a person who loves something to the extreme - but it becomes an obsession. Then you have others where its just a job, they go and do their job and come home. Once they are home, they don't talk about it or if they do talk its in general terms, but they pay attention to who they are talking to and have conversations other than what they are serving. Unfortunately, my father was the extreme type of person.

Anyhow, next time you give thanks to the people serving, just give a thought to those who are supporting that serving - the families - and give just a little bit of thanks to them as well. 

All this being said, do we still love them and proud? Of course! If we didn't, then we wouldn't expend all of the energy it takes to give them a stable home life where they don't have to worry about what's happening back home while they are away. 

I know every year we get up early in the morning and go into the city for the ANZAC day service here in Melbourne. That's when I take the time to think about each person who serves and ask myself - Why did they go in? Did they get what they wanted from it? Do they ever regret it?  - and somehow, overall, I don't think they regret it at all. After all they are fighting for us to be free.


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Grandparents

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:  
The Brief:
What were their names?
Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn't know them have you researched about them?

Growing up, I saw many of my friends visit and be visited by their grandparents. I never gave it any thought to where mine were at that point. Its interesting how much we remember.


On My Mother's side
My grandfather on my mother's side was Louis P Gauquie. He was born in Salisbury Mills, NY in September 1909. He lived on a dairy farm that his father owned. A census shows in 1930 he was a Painter for the railroad in New York. By 1940, he moved to Pike, PA had was married to my grandmother Janet and had 2 children. One of those children being my mother. He was a riveter on the railroad. In 1946, his father, Jules or Juluis, died and according to the will, Louis received about 2/3 of his father's estate which was split among each of the 5 children. According to my mother, the family seen nothing of this inheritance - it was spent on drinking, gambling and prostitutes. He lived in Pike, PA until about 1950, when they moved to Newburgh, NY where he worked as a plumber. In January 1975, he died according to the Social Security Death Index. I have heard that he died from falling off of ladder when he was cleaning out the gutters and from the complications of that he passed away. I have not proved this fact - its still something to be investigated.  I do know that he is buried at the Calvary Cemetery in New Windsor, NY with his sister Florence.

As you can see, from 1950 until 1975, its a pretty big blank space for this relative. This is because I never met him (despite being born in 1972). In fact, he was never a subject that was brought up anytime. My mother still does not talk about him other to say that he was a drunk, gambler and was a very nasty man and because of that he wasn't to be talked about.

On My Father's side

In 1956
My grandfather on my father's side was Matthew Schmitz. I was told that he was born in Germany. I Linden, NJ in 1935 and he was living with a wife and son at the age of about 29. He was a painter in a New York State Hospital. About 1945, he was in the Army do know that he had a residence in Medical Corps according to my father. I do know in 1946, according to the Price and Lee Co's City Directory, he was living at 46 South Water Street, Newburgh, NY. At this point they owned Riverview Bar and Grill, which they lived above. In 1949, he worked for C-PLMCo (which I haven't been able to find anything about) and he was still living at the same address with my grandmother. By 1954, he lived in Old Blooming Grove Turnpike in New York and was working as a painter. In 1956, he was working at Stewart Air Force Base as a painter, and still living at the same address. In 1958, he moved to Old South Plank Road and he was still at the base. In 1967, he died at Castle Point, New York which is a veteran's hospital. I was told he died of complications of diabetes.

Again, you can see by the gaps in years in the information above, is a blank space. Like my other grandfather, this was another subject that was really never talked about by my father. My grandmother did talk about how he used to drink. She would go around the apartment and pour the alcohol down the drain and he would run from the room and go into another room where he had more alcohol hidden and start to drink while giggling. When she told me this growing up, I thought it was cute. Now years later, I think how sad it is he thought that was a huge drinking game. My main question is was he always like this or was the military responsible for making him this way? I have many more questions to ask my father regarding this topic.


On My Mother's side

Her sister, Genvieve, but Janet looked very similar to this
My grandmother on my mother's side was Janet Jagodzinski. She was born on 10 May 1911 in Pennsylvania. Most of her childhood I'm not certain about due to not being able to find much on her. I know in 1935, she was married and living in Salisbury Mills, NY on her father in law's dairy farm. In 1936, she had her first child. In 1951-1954, according to a Newburgh, NY business directory, they are listed as living there. I know shortly after this, she was committed to a mental hospital in by her husband. From what I've been lead to believe, this was due to going through the change (or menopause). Everyone in the family says that she has "emotional issues" and is known as such.
Newburgh, NY

I have met this grandmother, which is my middle name, 3 times in my life. The first was in the institution, which she just sat there dazed and my mother went to talk to the nurses. The second time was to pick her up to spend a Thanksgiving at our house when I was about 8 or 9 (I think). That time, I sat next to her and she didn't say or do much throughout the day. I know sometimes she got a spark in her eyes when she looked at the kids (the younger kids - and my nieces and nephews - that were there). The last time was like the first time I described. Although, I was told to sit in the corner. Upon sitting in the corner, I could hear the nurses talking about my grandmother - about how nasty she is and how she broke some nurse's collarbone and arm. They were also discussing why her family was there. This is an issue in the family - no matter how many times my mother would give the nurse's contact information, they never used it. The next time we went to visit my grandmother had disappeared - vanished. Every now and then my mother did go back but the nurse's would not release any information even though my mother was next of kin for my grandmother.

I when I started the family history research, one thing that I did find on my search was that my grandmother had died in Newburgh, NY in September 1999. The sad part was we, my mother and I (until I married in 1997), lived within a 30 minutes drive of her. Even more disturbing was no one ever contacted my mother, who was her next of kin. We have no idea where she is buried or what she died of. I cannot find out because my mother does NOT want to know because she believes she is finally "at rest". However, I plan on searching once my mother passes and I have access to the paperwork I need.

On My Father's side

in 1956
 My grandmother on my father's side was Genowefa (Genevieve) Wojtkowska. She was born 10 August 1910 in Malkinia Gorna, Poland when she was 10 on a Ship Named New Rochelle from Danzig (German) or Gdańsk (in Polish), Poland on 5 August 1920. Keep in mind, there was fighting going all between the Polish, German and Russian armies her entire life. She was born when it was part of Russia. In 1912, her father left Poland (or Russia Poland as Poland did not exist at this point) for the United States.

During her years there she seen the Nazis walk through and take everything and anything they wanted. Then in 1915, the German's made many advances into the area she lived and as there was a main railway line, it was constantly being looked at as needed to control the train line even though the tracks were different to those used it the main part of Russia, the armies still wanted the line. This includes "Taube aeroplanes and Zappelins make daily visits to Malkin, a wailway town north-east of Warsaw, and many civilians have been killed." which comes from The Queenslander a Brisbane Australia newspaper on Saturday 21 August 1915. By the time 1919 comes and the Treaty of Versailles starts to take shape, Poland becomes independent for the first time in about 175 years. Meanwhile, the Bolshevik's are setting forward to get to and capture Warsaw, which isn't that far away. The Bolshevik War or The Great War has started. The 81 Regiment, made up of Polish on both
81 Infantry Regiment
the German and Russian armies, converged and were heading to her hometown at the same time. Meanwhile, my great grandmother and grandmother headed to
Danzig (German) or Gdańsk (in Polish) to catch a vessel which her father, Adam, had paid their passage. I'm sure they either walked or caught the train in order to leave Poland. I do know, from talking to both my grandmother and father, they were the last people out before they closed the Polish boarders. They now traveled to the Port of New York which they arrived on 19 September 1920.

My grandmother was so malnourished from not getting enough of the right foods, she could barely walk. However, they were found fit and healthy according to her records of the US Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival paperwork. When her and her mother walked out of the processing area and into the United States, they both became United States citizens according to the immigration laws at the time. Under the law, my grandmother was under 16 years old, automatically became a US citizen because by this time her father was naturalized. Her father was there to pick them up and take them home to Linden, NJ. They had a small apartment which they had boarders and their family. It was very cramped but at least they had a roof over their head and food in their bellies.
A cigarette girl in a speakeasy

I do know she went to school, but only to grade 4. She tells me she was actually a cigarette girl when she was younger. The owners liked her because she was so tiny. When the raid's happened, she would hide in the bottom of the telephone booth and put her tray above her head and the cops would walk and run right by her. Then when they were done, she would get up from the booth and go back to work. I believe from some research, this was done about 1929-1933 in speakeasy's. By 1940, she was married and had a son - my father and was known by the name Jean now. In 1946, they had moved from Linden, NJ to Newburgh, NY and ran Riverview Bar and Grill located at 64 South Water Street. They had a small apartment above the bar and grill. In 1951 the business directory shows she was still living at the same address, but now she was by herself (and her sons)running furnished rooms or a boarding house. 

Jean & Charlie in Florida visiting Matt & family
About 1961 or so, she lived with a gentleman we called Uncle Charlie, but his real name was Charles Gardner. I believe they sold the South Water Street business and moved to an address on Broadway in Newburgh, NY. My sister tells me, she would come in and run up and sit on Uncle Charlie's lap (she was young) and he would have her sit on his lap and watch the huge parades as they went up and down the street. There have been rumours which said grandma and Uncle Charlie had married whereas I've also heard they lived together. This I still have to do research on.  

I know in the 1970's and 1980's she still lived on Broadway. I used to spend 2 weeks a year with her during school holidays in the summer. Sometimes I would spend the time at my Uncle's where she would be staying. Other times, it would be at her apartment. During those times she would try and feed me various melons and prunes for breakfast (it wouldn't work - I did try them and didn't like them, but she was insistent and I was just as insistent back!). We would watch countless episodes of
Me visiting with my grandmother in the summer
Days of Our Lives, she would tell me about my cousins. Sometimes she would ask me to check her back as she had an accident growing up and went through the windshield and always had glass tiny bits coming out of it. She was a spunky old lady. No one ever worried about her because the times people either broke into her apartment, she was standing there with the gun telling them to get back up through the skylight or, when at her Bar and Grill, people knew better than to start or try anything because she would take them out. My grandfather always got the brunt of it because she would get so upset she would throw pans and knives at him and she was a really good shot with those too.

That being said, she could take a joke - when Uncle Charlie threw a cherry bomb under her bed when she was sleeping and she jumped up when it woke up and she swore like a sailor at him and threatened him but never hurt him. I remember the tiny plastic girl she had. You moved the thumb and you could see all of the female bits. She kept it and kept telling me that it was dirty, but when she went out of the room, boy did I take a look! 
Kruschiki cookies

She made clothes for me (usually dresses), and for herself. She could afford to do things, but she would be thrifty about it. Although she did have this obsession with me wearing white lacy socks with white Mary Jane shoes and needing for me to have flowers and barrette's in my hair. I could never understand why and it wasn't until I started researching Poland and I found it was common for girls to wear dresses with flowers in their hair.

She also made the best Polish cookies. We call them BowTies but in Polish they are called Kruschiki Or Chruschiki. She also made some other white dessert things that are Polish, but never passed along that recipe. You take the white batter and when a pot full of water comes to a boil, you drop the white batter into it. I did grow up with other Polish dishes as well. She loved her Jellied Pigs Feet and other types of dishes, but some I could not like. 

She died on 6 July 1988 in St. Luke's Hospital in Newburgh, NY. She was later laid to rest in Cedar Hill Cemetery, next to her beloved Charles Gardner.

 Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.