Showing posts with label Wojtkowski. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wojtkowski. Show all posts


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - What are your priorities?

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:    
What are your priorities?
The Brief:

The American author, Kathleen Winsor owns this quote:

"Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do, they never get around to do what they want to do."
So, what do you want to do? how can you achieve that? and why is it important to you?

I want to know, at least name, most of my ancestors back within their own homelands. I'm trying to figure out why some of them were the way they were. Was it because of what they were shown growing up? Or where they the "blacksheep" of the family? Did they just run off to the United States and never contacted "home" again? Did they have emotional abuse put to them and that's why they passed it down? Same with drinking? Same with gambling? Where they using any of these to help deal with at least one of the other abuses?

Why won't they speak to each other? Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil?
I'm also trying to find out why my family (all parts it seems) just stop speaking to another part of the family. My cousins and I have been trying to figure this out and we can't think of any logical reason why siblings, such as a sister and brother, just stop talking and don't try and find each other for over 40 years. Why? What could have been so bad they just move and stop all communication with them? As I've been researching, I've found this was very common within my family - my paternal side has done it (my father to his father's family), my maternal side has done it (my mother to her brother, uncle's, aunts on both her mother's side and her father's side).
A picture of me in the 1980s

What makes this very heartbreaking is that growing up, I felt like I fell out of the turnip truck and someone decided to pick me up and bring me home. There was no talk of uncles (unless it was my father's side), no aunts (again unless it was the aunt that was married to my paternal uncle), no cousins (unless it was the paternal side), no second cousins, no nothing. In fact, when I sit thinking about it even once my siblings married and left, most of the year we didn't hear from them either - unless they wanted something like me babysitting their kids. Its sad when you think about it.

Are these part of my family? If so many questions so little answers!
Because of the findings and thoughts, one thing is certain - these cycles MUST be broken - somehow and some way. I've started to break the cycle, but finding an uncle and cousins on my maternal side. We are just beginning to get to know each other. That being said, we want to find out the common links between the Gauquie last name in Belgium and the VanRompaye's and who is exactly related to us. I'm not sure what's happening but there is NO mention of Jules. I'm starting to think no one liked
him, so they sent him to the US with his other cousins. I have recently posted on a website which has many Gauquie's on it - Geneanet. I am hoping someone sees my posts on there and contacts me. If not, then I do have a few more avenues to explore - contacting one name which lists Gauquie's but I'm not completely sure on how we're related and making a Facebook page up with the last name Gauquie on it in hope we might all connect, and lastly hiring someone to do research in the area. I'll give my post in Geneanet some more time and then think about the other options.

From Wojtkowice? I don't know...
On my father's side, its not that easy. Why? Because my father doesn't want to talk about his father's side at all, so its hard because the name Matthew Schmitz is very common name in Germany. On my father's maternal side, I'm trying to track the Polish side back, but again its hard. Why? Because the town they came from Wojtkowice, as at the start of the 1900 century, everyone's name in the tiny
town was Wojtkowski. Because of this, I'll have to go to the Parish and get records which isn't very easy because I don't speak/read/write in Polish, Russian or Latin. Its a bit of a barrier. Again, I do have a few options like this outline in the Gauquie last name; however, there is no other relatives that I can explore with, so that isn't an option.

I also want to explore the DNA options that are out there. I have done the testing through Family Tree DNA, but understanding it and how it all links is something else altogether. I've had my DNA for about a year now and I'm still having trouble understanding it. 
And my DNA shows....

Whether doing the above mentioned things will pay off for everyone in the long run I don't know. Besides we don't any children to pass this information along to, I just hope other nieces and nephews and family will find it useful and important in the future.

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

"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.