You may have a Basic membership through Ancestry.com to Newspapers.com but that’s doesn’t permit you to view all of the holdings. I spent a few hours yesterday rechecking my closest to me relatives to see if additional newspapers had been added since the last time I took advantage of a free special offer from the company.
I was delighted to find several articles that I didn’t know existed – such as:
Who knew that my grandmother Mary Koss had an obit in a Hammond, Indiana newspaper? I have the obit from the Gary Post Tribune but didn’t know about the Hammond Times. Likewise, my Uncle George also had an obituary in the Hammond Times. Must have been a deal hrough the funeral home I just wasn’t aware was in place. Funny as they rarely visited Hammond and to my knowledge, had not friends there!
Struck gold in the Zajenicar, a Croatian newspaper that my grandparents used to receive. I had been told that my name had once appeared in it. Evidently, back in the day, the Croatian Fraternal Union sold life insurance policies to the parents/grandparents of newborns and my grandparents had bought a policy for me that expired when I turned 18. I was told that the children’s names were printed in the newspaper so I searched for me but didn’t find myself. I decided to search for my grandparents thinking it might have been placed under them instead. Surprise, Surprise! Discovered that my grandfather, Kum (that’s God Father) and his brother had given $10.00 to the organization before my birth to help fund an Immigrant Museum to be built in Pittsburgh. Don’t think that goal ever materialized but it was a sweet find for me. I think they all would be pleased knowing I have tried to honor all of the family’s immigrants through my blog and family tree.
Interesting to me, I also understood why my Grandparents always paid for a lamb to be raised and slaughtered at Buncich’s Farm in Hobart, Indiana every year. Duh – they were sorta kinda related and I had no idea until I found an obituary that mentioned my aunt through marriage. One of her brothers had married the daughter of the owner of the farm. That would just be like my grandparents to support a family member if they could. I always thought they just liked the taste of the lamb!
Finding that obit was another aha! moment for me. I have one cousin whose name is “off” the naming pattern the family typically uses – we have a zillion John – George – Joseph – Nicholas – Michaels and those names move from first to middle so frequently it’s often hard to keep everyone straight. Since my cuz is still living and I don’t want to hurt feelings if he ever sees this I’m not typing the name but now I realize where he got it from – his mom’s brother’s middle name that had been a grandfather’s name. Who knew? ! I guess most of the family but me.
Since this weekend will be very cold in most parts of the states and we’ve had torrential rains already this morning in my part of the world – stay warm, stay safe and stay focused on your genealogy by taking the weekend to visit newspapers.com. No telling what you might discover!
My backyard poinsettia is in full bloom, the radio is playing holiday tunes and I should be baking and partying with those I love. Except I’m not. I hope you aren’t either. With a reported 16,000,000 million cases and nearly 300,000 deaths in the U.S. from covid as of today per Google, I can’t stop thinking about the picture above.
Yes, it is morbid, depressing and haunting. Taken outside the Croatian Church, then located on 23rd Avenue in Gary Indiana on the 21 February 1919, the deceased man in the center in the coffin is my maternal great grandfather that I never met because of his untimely death at age 43 of broncho-pneumonia brought on by influenza. Joseph Kos was one of the estimated 675,000 U.S. deaths from the 1918-1919 H1N1 Pandemic.
We’re approaching half way to the number of deceased from 100 years ago and we’re not yet close enough to see the end of the spread of covid. That saddens me immensely! For all of the advances in health care in the past century you would think the current death rate would be low. Interesting how we rely on modern medicine when simple old fashioned hand washing, distancing and masks could have significantly lessened the death toll.
My mother, Dorothy Koss Leininger, didn’t remember her grandfather as he died when she was an infant but his death changed the course of her life forever. History is repeating itself again and still we haven’t learned.
Joseph emigrated from Croatia, then part of Austria-Hungary, in January 1910. This was not his first time in the U.S., as he had initially come in 1893 but returned home to marry Ana Katherine Grdenich on 10 February 1895. Family lore says he joined the military and served in the cavalry but after sustaining a kick to his head from a horse while it was being reshooed, he developed epilepsy and was forced to leave the service. With jobs scarce he decided to return to the U.S. After his arrival in New York he worked as a laborer for the Pullman Company. He’s found in Chardon, Geauga, Ohio in the 1910 U.S. federal census as an alien speaking no English.
With his Pullman job, Joseph traveled the country and ultimately ended up in Chicago in 1913. Residing in Pullman housing, he sent for his wife and two children, Mary, my grandmother, and Joseph Jr. (Josip), to join him. Ana was soon pregnant and gave birth to daughter Barbara on 14 Sep 1914 in Blue Island, Cook, Illinois.
Joseph arranged for daughter Mary to wed John (Ivan) Kos, a villager and purported second cousin who had happened to also arrive in Chicago and worked for the Pullman Company. Mary and John wed on 28 January 1917 in Chicago; their first child, my mother, Dorothy, was born in Pullman housing on 14 April 1918.
The family moved sometime in the latter part of 1918, renting a home at 1521 Garfield Street in Gary, Lake, Indiana. Joseph and John found work with the I.I.B. Teaming Company which supplied laborers to U.S. Steel Corporation. To save money, instead of using the available street car, Joseph and John commuted the 1.5 miles to work and back daily via bicycle. With contract tracing unavailable in those days, it is not known where or how Joseph contracted the flu. My grandmother believed it was from work which was likely, as the conditions inside the mill were brutal – unheated, with poor ventilation and large numbers of unmasked men toiling round the clock and then riding home exhausted in a cold rain would lower anyone’s resistance to infection. As an immigrant with WW1 being fought overseas and knowing you are the bread winner your family depends on added further stress.
The last photo taken of Joseph, shown above, shows the funeral attendees maskless and not socially distancing. I have no idea why. Perhaps they were mask slackers but I doubt that as my grandmother always washed her hands as soon as she came in from any errand. I suspect they didn’t know they should. I suspect that U.S. Steel did not mandate that workers wear a mask. By clicking through the death certificates on Ancestry I can see many men who worked as laborers dying of the same conditions during the same time period as Joseph. Possibly Joseph caught the flu from one of the men who died shortly before him, perhaps not. John also was ill but he recovered.
The man on the far left of the photo was the funeral home director; maskless, he clearly did not require a face covering be worn. The man holding the wreath to the back left of the coffin is John Koss, Joseph’s son-in-law. The young man holding the wreath on the right is Joseph Jr. Next to Joseph (look closely) is my grandmother Mary, hidden by a black veil. I like to think she was the only one with any sense to wear the face covering but knowing her well, I think her choice was due to a fashion statement. Next to Mary was her mother, Ana, Joseph’s widow. The others in attendance were neighbors and parishioners of the Croatian Catholic Church. Missing was my infant mother and Barbara, Joseph and Ana’s youngest daughter. Who was watching those girls is unknown.
How Joseph’s untimely death affected my mother was profound, though as a baby she was unaware of the event. John became the only breadwinner in the family and with the loss of Joseph Sr., the family’s income was cut in half. Joseph Jr. was forced at age 17 to leave school and seek work. Money would become even tighter as Mary was pregnant with her second child, Anne Marie, who would be born 6 months after Joseph’s death.
More tragedies came in quick succession to the family – a scarlet fever epidemic that infected both children required the family to quarantine. With no money for a physician, my grandmother relied on her neighbor’s home remedy advice to treat the family. John then had to have a leg amputated as a result of an injury at the mill. When recovered, he could no longer ride his bike to work and had to spend money on the street car. The KKK threatened the family and burned a cross in the empty field in front of their home. A fire started by a candle caused extensive damage and burned my mother’s only toy, a doll.
A little over 10 years after Joseph’s death the Great Depression hit. John’s wages were cut, the family took in boarders, raised vegetables, rabbits and chickens to survive but it wasn’t enough. Dorothy, as the eldest, quit high school at the start of grade 10 to work in a hardware store. Her lack of a diploma hindered her job prospects for the rest of her life.
During the current pandemic I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1918 one. If Joseph hadn’t succumbed to the flu would my mother have been able to finish high school? She had always aspired to be a dietician but going back to school was out of the question. Her working enabled Anne Marie and her younger siblings, George and Marilou to obtain their diplomas. How would my life have been different if my mother had found a career she loved and that paid better than the minimum wage jobs she held? Would I be the frugal genealogist I am today if money hadn’t been so tight while I was growing up?
My memories of my great grandmother are of an old woman always wearing black who sat quietly in deep thought. What was she thinking about? Never remarrying after the man she loved so dearly died, she spent the next 47 years of her life residing with her adult children, changing residences every few years depending on the needs of their growing families. If Joseph had survived, how would her life have turned out?
My grandmother, the apple of her father’s eye, missed him the rest of her life. His death was a loss that could never be replaced. The extra burden of being the sole breadwinner put a strain on my grandfather, John. Would his health have been better and would he have lived a longer life if Joseph had lived?
The pandemic fatigue I’m feeling is put into perspective whenever I compare it to the 1918 pandemic my ancestor’s experienced. I do not want my adult children to miss my husband and I as my grandmother missed her father for the remainder of her life. I do not want any grandchildren I may someday have to wonder about the grandparents they didn’t get the opportunity to know. I’ve learned from my family’s experiences that thriftiness is beneficial. I don’t panic over shortages of goods. I’ve always kept a fully stocked cupboard and supplement with my garden. My children do the same.
The holidays will be different from past ones for all of us. In a season that personifies hope, I’m remembering the past and hope 2021 will be brighter. I am taking the next two weeks off from blogging but will return in the new year. Be smart – stay safe!
You may have tried the new MyHeritage tool that allows you to upload a black and white photo that will be transformed into color. I spoke with a colleague at a genealogy conference last month who gushed about the magic of the results.
I finally got around to trying it and decided the true test would be with one of the photos in my collection that were of a known relative so I could compare results with memory.
I selected a photo of my great grandmother, Anna Grdenic Kos[s]:
I recall this photo was taken Christmas 1961 or 1962. I remember the dress and that my grandmother, Mary Violet Kos Koss, purchased the corsage and it was worn to the church service. I even recall where they attended, St. Joseph’s Croatian [Roman] Catholic Church in Glen Park, Gary, Lake, Indiana. I didn’t go with them because the mass was in Croatian; instead, my mother and I walked a block to attend services at St. Mark’s [Roman] Catholic Church.
Here’s what the colorization looks like:
This was not my great grandmother’s skin tone in winter; she was quiet pale. Actually, it wasn’t even her tone in the summer as she didn’t go out in the sun. The dress was green and white. The corsage was silver with red balls and a green ribbon. I know this because I was there. I also played with the corsage and tried to affix it to my cat’s collar after the holidays. I thought that corsage was just awesome!
So, if you’d like to colorize your photos you can do so at MyHeritage. You can sign in through Google or Facebook and if you have a MyHeritage account, just enter your password. Then, just drop and drag the photo you’d like colorized in the box. It just takes a few seconds to get the finished image.
Know that MyHeritage retains the rights to the photo. Know, from my personal experience, the colors you get aren’t necessary true. Personally, I like my black and whites and sepias.
Sometimes, it takes a village to solve a genealogy mystery. Thanks to all for sharing their ideas regarding identifying my mystery man, Anton “Tony” Kos, who is buried next to my great grandfather Josip “Joseph” Kos in Gary, Indiana. An extra special thanks to research librarian Marilyn in Lake County, Indiana, who went above and beyond my request for Tony’s obit.
Since the rainy season has officially begun in Florida this morning, I’m planning on spending the weekend further researching Tony and Joseph’s relationship, if any.
Here’s some great ideas that genealogists recommended:
People did not always stay in one place for long. That’s especially true for laborers who went wherever work was available. Joseph arrived in New York, traveled to Detroit, Michigan where he got a job with the railroads, relocated to Pennsylvania and followed the lines to California and then back to Chicago, Illinois where he lived in Pullman housing with his wife and children he sent for years later. When the work ended in digging ditches, he moved to Gary, Indiana to work for U.S. Steel. My Tony could be anywhere in the US at any time.
Linda reminded me that immigration was not a one way route – people came and went across the pond. My grandparents ended up married because they crossed paths in Chicago. Grandpa Ivan “John” Kos was a second cousin to Joseph Kos. John emigrated with his brother, Stephen. Stephen had a wife and child remaining in Austria-Hungary and had come previously to work but returned to the old country. When money became tight again, he opted to return and brought John with him. When the railroad job ended in California, Stephen decided to return to Austria-Hungary while John took work in Chicago. This means that Tony may have moved back and forth, too.
Marilyn pointed out that people often relocated together. I know that’s a duh but rechecking immigration lists might be helpful in determining other’s with the same surname or surnames of related families I’ve previously identified. For example, when Joseph emigrated he came with a Franjs and Embro. Embro went with Joseph to Detroit while Franjs went to Pennsylvania. I’m not sure who Embro and Franjs were in relation to Joseph other than they were listed together and all came from Austria-Hungary in January 1910. Tracing Franjs and Embro may be beneficial in determining Joseph and Tony’s relationship.
City Directory dates are not the date the data was accumulated. Back in the day, the information for a City Directory was compiled by workers going door to door across the city. Then it was published, perhaps the following year. So the 1918 City Directory most likely had entries that were from 1917. Since there is no way to know the exact date when a particular entry was recorded, there’s no way to be certain in years between censuses when a family actually resided at the listed residence.
Sometimes the answer is not where you think so I may just need to broaden the search back to the old country. Unfortunately, Familysearch.org does not have the Roman Catholic parish records for the village by people came from so I may need to contact a genealogist in Croatia to shed light on the family.
Next week, I’ll be on the road so there will be no blog post. Happy Hunting!
I’ve been researching a mystery man, Anton “Tony” Kos, who was buried in 1934 next to my great grandfather, Joseph Koss, in Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary, Indiana. You can see from the above pic I took in December 2001 how close the stones are compared to the next stone to the right. Looks to me like the plot was one.
I never got a straight answer regarding how Tony and Joseph are related, if at all. I’d love to find out if they were related, which I strongly think is possible, and why my mother and grandmother refused to verify that.
Here’s what I know…I used to accompany my mom and grandma to the family cemetery around Memorial Day to tend to the graves. We’d always go to the old part of the cemetery first, to clip the grass around the gravestone of my great grandfather, Joseph Kos[s] who died in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic. When I was old enough to read, I noticed that next to his grave was an Anton Kos. I knew the family name was originally spelled with one “s” but I had never heard of Anton so I asked how he was related and never got an answer. I recall my mother just looking at my grandmother and my grandmother looking down and continuing to tidy up her father’s grave. So, as only a small child will do, I asked again. I never got a straight answer. I tried several other times over the years and got various answers; that Kos is a very common Croatian name like Smith is in Great Britain. That didn’t tell me if Tony was related. It also didn’t explain why I never saw another grave in the cemetery with the original spelling of the surname. When I asked about that, I got, “I don’t know why.” as a response. (There actually is another Kos, John, who died in 1934 buried in the cemetery but as a child, I had never seen that grave.)
I tentatively placed Anton as a sibling of my great grandfather Joseph. Joseph was born in 1875 and Anton, in 1879. I had called the cemetery in 2012 to ask who purchased Anton’s plot and was told that no one did because the cemetery records don’t have an Anton Kos. I told the clerk I knew where he was buried, immediately south of my great grandfather. They insisted no one was buried there. Looking at the records, I understand what happened. Anton is listed as Tony in cemetery records, even though Anton is chiseled on his tombstone. Tony was what was recorded on his death certificate and the cemetery must have listed him under that name. My great grandfather’s tombstone has his Americanized name, Joseph Kos and not his birth name, Josip Kos so there was another possible clue that my family was involved. These folks Americanized as soon as they arrived in 1910.
As an adult, I can see another family trait that gives credence to a relationship; my family plans for their deaths. I could see that they would have purchased two plots when my great grandfather died in 1919 expecting that his wife would be buried next to him. But she lived on until 1966. I’m thinking when a family member who was in need of the plot died, the family buried him instead. My family always helped out a relative in need, be it sending care packages back across the pond, fronting them money or taking them into their home for awhile. My grandparents had purchased a larger plot in the newer section of the cemetery that was the intended burial site for them and my great grandmother. It is also where I buried my mother’s cremains.
After we tidied the old section (but we never touched Anton’s stone, which is interesting), we’d move to the new section to trim the grass around the Koss stone. No one was yet buried there but my forward thinking grandparents had enough sense to purchase the stone while they were still employed. (And thanks, mom, for taking care of your end of life stuff prior to your death. Hope our kids appreciate we did the same – yes, you can already find me on Find-A-Grave.)
So getting no where with the cemetery, I decided to try to research Anton Anthony Tony to find a connection.
From Ancestry.com, you can see his death certificate below:
No help with his parents info but it does say he was born in “Yugo Slavia” just like Joseph Koss. He also died of lung issues, just like Joseph. Joseph’s whole family had lung issues, hmm. Not a smoking gun but certainly gives one pause to consider a relationship as they all died young. He also was a laborer in a steel mill, though not the same one where Joseph worked. Granted, most immigrants at the time were laborers and steel mills offered good wages.
I have never been able to find Tony in any census – having checked 1920-1940 under Anton, Anthony and Tony Kos, Koss and Ross (as my own people have been enumerated as).
There is another mystery – who was Steve Sesta who provided the death certificate info? I’ve never heard of him.
The death certificate gives me a clue to look at the address where Tony was living when he died, 35 East 39th Street, Gary, Indiana.
So here’s a tip – I want to use the 1940 census to find who was living at Tony’s address. It could take quite some time using Ancestry.com because I would need to click on every enumeration area and Gary was a large city so there are many. To save time, I used the National Archives site (just Google 1940 U.S. Federal Census enumeration map and you’ll be taken directly to it or use my link).
Since I grew up in the city, I know the layout of the street and avenue names, which saved me time. If you are researching an area you aren’t familiar with, simply use Google earth to get a better idea. In my case, I knew that streets ran north and south, avenues ran east and west. Street names west of Broadway used the president’s names in order (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, no repeat of Adams, etc.) and east of Broadway used states’ names, in no particular order. So, I was looking for 39th Street and could eliminate all of the western side of Broadway simply by identifying if the first page of the census had a presidents name or not.
After going through 3 enumeration areas, I found the address:
The address was divided into two housing units, front and rear. Steve, who had provided the death certificate info, lived in the rear. That means Tony was living in the front but he wasn’t there in 1940. It also explains why there is no parent information for Tony, neighbor Steve did not know that information. (I know, you’re thinking I should check property records to see who owned the residence but the problem is most of Gary’s records were “lost” according to the Lake County, Indiana property appraiser’s office. I suspect they’re somewhere in Gary and just weren’t turned over to the county when the law changed but I don’t live anywhere close to be able to hunt around for them so that’s a dead end for me.)
The death certificate did state Tony had worked for 1 year as a laborer for Illinois Steel. He may have only arrived in the area in 1942, during World War II.
I checked immigration records but there are many Anton Kos’ who emigrated from Austria-Hungary/Yugoslavia so I’m unable to pinpoint one of them as my mystery man.
I know, from a recent DNA match with another relative, that during World War II, my Cvetkovic relatives were displaced to another part of what is now Croatia, due to mayhem in the area where the family originally resided in Velika Gorica. It certainly is possible that Tony had left the area because of the war and came to the U.S. to a place where family already resided.
Tony was survived by a wife, Anna, who was born in 1878. Perhaps she remarried as she is not listed in cemetery records by the last name Kos or Koss or like Tony, she wasn’t entered in the cemetery database correctly. Unfortunately, only 30% of the cemetery is listed on Find-A-Grave. There’s nothing on Billion Graves either.
Somehow, I have a maiden name for her as Smolkovic but I have no idea where I got that info. I also have a marriage date, but no place, and two children residing in Rhode Island. That info was obtained years ago before I carefully sourced (shame on me!). This is an area I need to further research.
I checked City Directories and there is only one Anthony in Gary but he was married to a Mary living on Filmore Street in Gary in 1918. He never appears in any other directory. My Kos line doesn’t arrive in Gary until 1919 so I suspect he wasn’t the my Tony. There is no Tony or Anton ever in any City Directory for Gary. I got his obituary thanks to the Ask-A-Librarian link on the Lake County library site but it provides basically no information other than he had died after a long illness, which disputes the information on the death certificate. Or, maybe not. Perhaps he suffered from lung problems for years but the incident that caused his death had been short.
There is no one in my family much older than me left who would know – definitely no one who was alive in 1943 that would remember. Decided I’d try the cemetery again since it’s recently been sold and maybe the new owners have done an inventory of grave sites. Sent an email on Sunday and haven’t gotten a response so will follow up with a phone call this week.
If that falls through, I’m going to attempt to check Baptism records for Velika Gorica to see if I can link Anton to Joseph’s parents. Unfortunately, they aren’t on Familysearch.org so I’ll have to email a genealogist in Croatia to do some digging.
Connecting Tony and Joseph would be awesome but I’ll most likely never get the story of why he was not discussed since dead men tell no tales!
Happy Memorial Weekend! Although I won’t be spending time caring for family members’ graves this weekend because no family member is buried close to where I currently reside, I have memories as a child of going to the grave sites of long dead relatives at this time of year. Grandma Koss would keep a small gardening kit in her car trunk so whenever she passed the cemetery during the warmer months of the year, she could tend to the graves. It contained gardening gloves, small grass clippers, a bakery paper bag to put weeds in, and a small spade to help dig up flowers and replant.
Last weekend I was reminded of a genealogical family mystery. My great grandfather, Josip “Joseph” Kos[s] died in 1919 in the Spanish flu epidemic. He was buried in the old part of Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary, Indiana. His gravestone, in Croatian, was next to a Tony Kos. I asked how we were related to Tony and I never got an answer.
Out of the blue last week, I received an email to my Ancestry account from a possible relative whose father had been orphaned in Pennsylvania in the 1930’s. Since both his parents died when he was young, the family has no stories. His father’s place of birth was in the same general area in Croatia that my Kos’ were from. I had placed him in my tree years ago in the hopes of locating a living relative who might have some knowledge. We’re awaiting DNA results to see if we match.
We all have genealogy mysteries but the most vexing are those that are fairly recent. I don’t know about you, but I tend to jump to a dramatic conclusion – must have been an out of wedlock birth, an against the then norms of society situation or a major disagreement that makes the information remain secret. Never dawned on me it could have been as simple as two early deaths of parents that had moved from the area and family lost touch with the remaining children.
Hopefully, I’ll soon have an answer to how the mysterious Tony was related to me and why the Pennsylvania branch of the family was disconnected. Now if I could just discover someone who knows how the Massachusetts branch lost touch I’d hit the trifecta.
Today, the world remembers the end of World War I. Although no veterans or civilians are with us to recall the atrocities, the record of their experiences lives on through letters, diaries and recordings. I am in possession of a collection of letters and wanted to mark the 100th anniversary by sharing one with you.
With the United States Congress declaring war on Germany on April 6, 1917, 2.8 million American men were soon to be drafted to serve in what was then called “The Great War.” Hoosier born George Bryant Harbaugh, a 22-year-old Deputy Sheriff with the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway in Gary, Lake County, Indiana, was sent to Camp Taylor, Kentucky for basic training. Army Private George left behind his sweetheart, Elsie Wilhelmina Johnson, a 21-year-old Mother’s Helper living in Miller, (now Gary), Indiana.
Elsie saved every letter and postcard received from George. Only 3 letters from Elsie to George survive. The following is a scan and transcript of the letter detailing his experiences when the Armistice was called on November (11) 11th at 11 AM:
ON ACTIVE SERVICE
AMERICAN RED CROSS
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
Geo B Harbaugh D
Dec. 16, 1918
My Dearest Elsie.-
Your most welcome letter of Nov. 17 received about an hour ago and I can’t tell you how tickled I was to get it. I am expecting a lot more soon for the last one I got before this was dated Aug. 24 so I must have lots more somewhere. I expect though, that they are at Tours at the Central Office and I’ve notified them of where I am so maybe they will reach me after awhile
You ask when you may expect me back. That is hard to tell. We may leave here tomorrow and may be here a month yet. My Division the 28th , is in the Army of Occupation and is in Luxemburg I believe, but they say we can’t get back to our old companies anymore but are to go in Casual Companies and go home but just how soon, we don’t know. But I think I’ll be back before March and when I get to New York, I’ll send you a telegram about when you can expect me.
I’m sure anxious to get back and I’m sure we can be nicely settled in that little cottage of Ours before next winter. I’m glad you got the money all right as I didn’t get to see the chaplain after I gave it to him. You see, we got paid off one day and we went into battle in a couple of days. I didn’t know what might happen so I thought it best to send it to you. I’ve got 5 months’ pay here now and if I get it before coming back, I’ll send it to you as I don’t want to spend it over here. I wanted you to get something for your Xmas, though.
So, you are looking for a house for us, are you? ha. ha. The place below Gertie would be fine. I didn’t suppose you would tell Gertie our happy secret but my only regret is that you haven’t the ring, too. So Gertie was willing to have us for neighbors, was she? Tell her for me that when Bob and I get together there will be some stories to hear. I never heard where any of the other Miller boys were, but Bob was in the 26, or “Yankee Division”, from the New England states and the 28th was from Pa. We relieved the 26 Div. on July 25 and they went to St Mihael, then Argonne Forest so I never got a chance to see Bob. I hope he came through the war all right.
You speak of getting a letter from Ed Lemert. Yes, Dear, he’s an awful good friend of mine and is almost as much as a brother. I wrote to him quite often but I haven’t wrote for several weeks so guess I will write tonight. I expect lots of my letters get lost but there was times it was impossible to write for a week or two at a time. Conditions here are not what you folks imagine they are. I haven’t saw any real American Y.M.C.A. huts and as for a Y.M.C.A entertainment for the Infantry at least, is something unheard of. I believe there is a nice Y.M.C.A.in Paris but we aren’t allowed there.
I haven’t heard from Raymond Clemons since about Aug 1 and I believe I’ll have to write and see if he’s still alive. I’ll have to write to Mrs. Clemons, too, I guess. The 111th Regt. lost lots of men at Chateau Therrey. The Huns used liquid fire on them and that is horrible. We got gas, shells, grenades and machine gun fire but the 112th never got any liquid fires used on us. Did you ever get the letter I sent that had a little pressed pansy in? I picked it in the city of Fismes and the Germans were shelling it to beat the band. We had two companies of our regiment captured there but they sure did pile up the dead Huns before they were overpowered.
Guess you must have had a grand time Nov. 11 from the clippings you sent. We did here. They have a bulletin board and on Nov. 11 it read “At 4 P.M raise H-l and I guess they did. I was in bed yet then but we sure yelled 4 P.M here would be about 6 A.M. back there. Bells all over France rang and everybody was happy, believe me. I’ve only been here 7 months but that seems an awful long time but the other Allies have had 52 months of it so they sure was cause to rejoice.
Well, Pres. Wilson got a big reception when he came here and if it wouldn’t have been for the Yank soldiers. He would never have come to France for it would have all been Germany by now. But that will wait till I get back. I won’t tell you too much else; I can’t tell you anything new when I get back.
Well, I will have to close, Dearest, if I am to write another letter tonight so I’ll close hoping I may get more of your ever welcome letters real soon.
With Oceans of Love and Kisses and hoping I’m back with you by Feb. 22.
Your Own and Always,
I am currently compiling the letters into an eBook with the working title, Thanks to the Yanks – World War I Letters from a Soldier Boy to his Sweetheart.
Every October I like to blog about a family story passed down to me that I consider spooky. The odd thing about the story I’m about to tell is that I can find NO DOCUMENTATION to support the facts. Zero – Nada – Zilch! Since this occurred in my lifetime I find the lack of proof frustrating and a little strange. You’ll see why at the end of the tale.
I come from a large extended family on my maternal side. My grandmother, Mary Kos Koss, was the family matriarch who loved to entertain which greatly contributed to people keeping in close contact with each other. After her death on 5 Jun 1985, the relatives, for the most part, lost touch with each other. I witnessed the retelling of this story in the presence of my mother and grandmother from the individual it happened to and they are all now deceased. One of my aunts also had knowledge of the event, along with two of my cousins. My aunt is deceased and I have lost touch with my two cousins.
Here’s what I recall…
On school days as a child, I awoke every morning at 7 AM so that I wouldn’t be tardy to school which began at 8 AM. I lived a block from my elementary school and about 6 blocks from my high school so the walk was quick unless the snow was deep. During my late middle and high school years, my mother worked a few blocks from our home and also had to be at work at 8 AM. She liked to listen to the radio and catch the 7 AM news report that included the weather report because weather was fickle in our area; a warm morning could change to snow dusting by afternoon.
While mom was listening to the radio in her bedroom I was getting dressed in mine. I heard her shriek and I quickly came out to find out what was the matter. She was running down the stairs to the first floor, something I rarely witnessed, so I ran after her. My grandmother was in the kitchen enjoying a cup of coffee and toast. Mom ordered my grandmother to turn on the kitchen radio. Mom never ordered anyone to do anything so this was strange, indeed.
Grandma got up from the table and turned the radio on but all that played was big band music. My mother reached over and changed channels but my mom couldn’t find whatever she was looking for. After stopping at several stations she turned the dial off and told my grandmother that the news reported that there had been a plane crash at the home of George Kos. My grandmother paled.
George was my grandmother’s only son. He lived a short distance from us in a small home he had purchased after his second divorce. At the time, Uncle George worked for US Steel as a laborer. As was typical, his work schedule varied; days, nights or midnights as the three shifts were commonly called. We didn’t know what shift he had been assigned so we didn’t know if he had been in the house when the plane hit.
Grandma immediately dialed his landline phone number but it was out of service. I suggested we call the news room for further information. While I looked up the number in the phone book, my grandmother tried to reach another of her daughters who lived in the area. No one answered. My mother called the radio station but no one answered, probably because the office didn’t open until 8 AM. My grandmother then called the police station; she was informed that there was no information to disclose. I remember thinking we should call the hospitals but I kept that thought to myself. Grandma called my aunt again and still there was no answer. It was now about 7:25 AM and the adults decided they would drive to George’s home to see if he was there. My mother told me to get my shoes on and as we were heading out the door, the phone rang. My aunt told my grandmother they had just been awoken by the phone and figured we had called. George was safe and had slept the night at her house.
I was glad Uncle George was fine but certainly disappointed I had to go to school that day. My aunt told my grandmother George was going to sleep in and meet with the insurance agent that afternoon but they’d all be over for dinner that evening.
Over dinner that night, Uncle George said he after he had gotten home from the day shift, he showered and turned the television on. He had fallen asleep in the living room and was dreaming that his grandmother, Anna Grdenic Kos, was shaking him. Anna had died on 14 Feb 1966 and had doted on George in his youth. Granny, as we called her, was whispering in his ear and shaking him to get up and get out of the house right away. In his dream, George told Granny he was tired and needed to sleep but she was insistent that he rise and leave. He awoke, startled. The dream had seemed so real. As he sat in the armchair, he could still hear her voice in his head telling him to go now. He arose, grabbed his truck keys and wallet and decided he needed a drink at the local bar. He was there when the plane crashed into his home. The living room had been destroyed. He believed Granny had saved his life. We all believed it, too.
I’m foggy about the exact time period the event occurred. It happened after Granny’s death in early 1966 and before I met my husband in 1972. A cousin had lived in George’s home after her marriage and at the time of my grandfather’s death in 1970 as I stayed with her while my grandfather was dying. I don’t recall my grandfather being at the dinner table when Uncle George told us his dream so I’m inclined to think this happened in 1971 or early 1972 as my cousin had relocated from the area and George would have returned to the house. But if Gramps had been there, it could have occurred between 1967-1969.
Now here’s the frustrating part with the records. We used to get the local newspaper, the Gary [Indiana] Post Tribune but I don’t recall an article about the crash. My family were newspaper clippers so I would think I would have inherited the story but I have not. Sometime during this time period, we did purchase the Chicago Tribune instead so that could be why I don’t have a clipping. I wanted to check the Gary Post but those years are not online. The newspaper had changed ownership and those years are missing. The local library has been closed due to funding cuts. On to the next record –
I know my Uncle’s address as I do have a US Public Records Index from 1987 listing it. (The house was rebuilt and he continued to live there until he retired and moved from the area.) I tried to search property records but the city claims they have given the records to the county who claims the city did not do so. I was hoping the property records could show when my uncle purchased it to narrow the earlier dates and possibly, to show when permits were pulled to rebuild. Onward with the search –
I have no relatives to help me recall the dates further. Next –
Could not find the event online, although there are several websites that record plane crashes in Indiana. Some do not go back into the 1970’s; those that do have missed it.
Trying to think outside the box, I thought of possibly contacting the present owners but the street view of Google from 2013 (above) shows the house was abandoned. The living room was the front window on the right.
For now, I have no proof of the event. As the only surviving witness to the story, I wanted to record it. Perhaps someday the missing records and newspaper story will surface to add support to the my tale. Even if documents are never found, I will continue to take heed of dreams involving my ancestors. I just wish they’d tell me the winning lottery numbers!
Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 26 Jul 2015.
I have fond memories of picnics – beginning in childhood all the way to last weekend! Picnics today are a relaxed affair, it’s a wear something comfortable, de-stress and enjoy family, friends and nature. I don’t know about you but I definitely don’t try to make a fashion statement when going on a picnic. That wasn’t the case, however, back in the day. I love the picture below showing my grandmother, Non, with the family’s first car in 1923. Nice touch with the American flag on the front since it was Independence Day. They were on their way to the Croatian Picnic Grounds located between Glen Park and Hobart, Indiana. A dress, heals and Sunday’s best hat for spending the day in the sticks.
July 4, 1923-on the way to a picnic, L-R Boarder, Mary Koss, Joseph Koss Jr.
Non wasn’t alone in her wearing apparel. You’d think the family was going to church instead of spending the day in the woods.
Croatian Picnic Grounds 1923 L-R George Kos, Anne Marie Koss, Anna Grdenic Kos, Ivan “John” Koss, Dorothy Koss, Mary Koss and Barbara Kos
Must have been a chore to get the kids’ clothes clean! The area was heavily wooded with a small clearing that was mostly dirt. No wonder Non loved her Fels Naptha laundry soap. We had an old Maytag ringer washer in the basement that had to be filled up by hand with hot water. I can still picture my Gramps hooking up the laundry line around our backyard and adding poles with slits to insure that the line didn’t sag. Monday was wash day and the picnic sure must have been a distant memory the following day spent cleaning all those dirty garments.
The Croatian picnic grounds were used for at least 50 years. The picnic grounds were open on Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Every Sunday, one of the men would rise early to attend 6 AM Mass and then set off for the grounds to prepare the spit that would roast the lamb. Families took turns selling plates of food and drinks. Our shift was usually 1-2 PM once a month. I wish I had a picture of the building which was just a wooden shack. The north end was enclosed to hold supplies. That was attached to a covered bar area. Since the bar rail was too high for kids, a child who was helping would stand on an overturned wooden “pop” or soda carton or two. Customers would order plates of roasted lamb, Vienna style bread, Croatian style potato salad or a lettuce salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Drinks were always Budweiser beer in a bottle or whatever pop was on sale that week – Coke, Pepsi, Fanta, Sprite. Funny we never had water though there was a spigot that we all used to wash our hands after eating. Someone would put a bar of soap in a mesh bag on a string around the spigot. Nature dried our hands. I have no memory of the bathroom facilities, if they even existed.
Some of the ladies brought desserts to sell – pita which is like a fruit filled bar cookie and not the bread sold today, apple or cheese strudel, and cookies.
Both lunch and dinner was served. Sometimes the menu changed and pork was included, along with hamburgers and hot dogs. We always got lamb, though, which was heavenly. My father-in-law disliked lamb as he believed it was tough and tasteless. My last visit to the Croatian picnic grounds was in 1985 when my husband and I returned to visit his family. We brought a takeout container to my in-laws and after one bite, my father-in-law groaned that he had spent his entire life in the area and never knew what he had been missing. The following Sunday he went back for more.
After lunch, as kids, we’d cut through the woods on a well worn trail or crossed the street to visit our school friends and neighbors of other nationalities. My next door neighbor, Carol Leon, would be at the Spanish picnic grounds right across the street. There was also Polish, Serbian, Greek, and Italian grounds. Possibly there was more but I wasn’t allowed to walk that far! Sometimes we’d play baseball or badminton with our friends but our favorite was cigarette tag – Someone was “it” and “it” chased everyone around. If you were tagged you had to sing a cigarette jingle (like, Winston, tastes good like a cigarette should or I’d walk a mile for a Camel) or you became “it.” Funny but none of us grew up to be smokers. The adults spent the afternoon playing horseshoes or cards. The women loved to gossip. There was also singing and dancing (after a couple of beers) as the musically inclined always brought their native instruments.
By the mid 1960’s female children began wearing shorts. The ladies continued to dress up through the early 1970’s.
I wish I had the secret lamb recipe, I know it was infused with garlic, probably patted down with salt and pepper but what else I have no idea. I do make the Croatian potato salad often which is similar to German potato salad. Besides lamb, it’s wonderful with ham, too. Try it and let me know what you think:
Croatian Style Potato Salad
Peel and cube potatoes to bite size (I use red but any kind will do) about 2 potatoes per person.
Add water and cook on stove til tender.
Meanwhile, cut a small sweet onion coarsely.
When potatoes are done, drain and place into a large serving bowl. Liberally sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. With a serving spoon, mix then salt and pepper some more. Add the onions. Using a ratio of 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or regular vinegar) to 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or light olive) drizzle over the potatoes/onions until the potatoes are well saturated. Gently stir to make sure that all of the liquid is absorbed. If you have fresh dill or parsley you can add either. Put a dinner plate over the serving bowl to maintain the heat and allow the dish to marinate, about 5 minutes. When ready to serve, stir and enjoy!
Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 22 Jul 2015.
It was the Great Depression and times were tough as my grandfather, Gramps, had his work hours reduced at the steel mill. The family took in boarders but as their hours were also cut, money was extremely tight. One of our family legends takes place in the midst of this difficult period.
Gramps always turned his paycheck over to my grandmother, Non, to cash. The family had an account at Gary National Bank on Broadway in Gary, Indiana. The typical routine was Non would cash the check, put a small amount in savings and then on her way home, shop for groceries at a small family run store. One never knows when a typical day will turn into a major event but that was what was about to happen.
Non stood in line at the bank awaiting her turn with the teller. Hearing noise, she turned and saw a group of men exiting a car parked at the curb. What made the scene different was they were waving guns and had their hats pulled down low over their eyes. Bursting into the bank, the ring leader ordered everyone to get down on the floor. Non stood still, in shock, clutching Gramps’ check. Shots were fired at the ceiling. Non continued to stand still. As one gunman approached the tellers directing them to place money in the bag he carried, another stood guard at the door. A third man approached Non and again ordered her to get down on the floor. Non pleaded, “Please, sir, my husband is a cripple and I have 3 small children. My widowed mother and my sister also live with me. I need this money. Please don’t take it.” The gunman replied, “Get down now or I’ll shoot.” Non got down on the floor. “Put your hands out to the side.” he ordered. Non complied.
Minutes later the gunman was back and he dropped a stack of bills in Non’s outstretched hand. She turned her head and saw him wink at her. The gunmen told the customers to remain on the ground until they counted to 100 aloud. Departing, the robbery was over.
When they got to 75 Non shoved the bills down the top of her dress. Amply endowed, no one would notice. Non not only could use the money, she feared that the police would think she was an accomplice if she reported what had happened so she said nothing.
After Non got home she hid the money, which amounted to several hundred dollars, fearful that if she used it she would be in trouble. Years later, after the robbers were convicted, the money was used to partly pay for the family home being bricked. Non swore that the gunman who gave her the money was John Dillinger, the Indiana farm boy turned bank robber.
Problem is, Dillinger didn’t rob a Gary National Bank. He robbed a 1st National Bank in East Chicago, Indiana1 but Non would not have gone that far as she would have had to rely on street cars to get there nor was that bank located on Broadway.
Historians dispute some of the bank robberies at the time that were thought to be committed by Dillinger. A friend of Dillinger’s, John “Red” Hamilton and Baby Face Nelson’s gang has now been credited with some of the robberies initially attributed to Dillinger. Today, 14 robberies are thought to have been the work of Dillinger between 1933-1934.2
Non insisted that Dillinger was the man who gave her the money. There are many reports of Dillinger’s compassion. “Dillinger was generous with his ill-gotten gains, leaving $100 bills behind for each member of the family whenever he visited and one time offering to finance Gallagher’s (his niece’s) dream of opening a beauty shop by giving her $5,000. After discussion by the family, it was decided not to accept the money.”3 Another “story told of a farmer who had come to a bank to make a deposit while the gang was robbing the place. Standing at the teller window with his money in front of him, Dillinger asked the farmer if the money was his or the bank’s. The farmer answered it was his and Dillinger told him, “Keep it. We only want the banks’.”4
Was Dillinger involved in the robbery Non remembered or not? Possibly his role was that of an accomplice and not the leader. Perhaps Non was mistaken and the robber was not Dillinger.
There were several bank robberies so I can’t pinpoint which robbery Non experienced. I can understand as an immigrant with a previous arrest (see The KKK Strikes post of 18 July 2015) she would fear further police involvement. Although I can understand why Non didn’t tell authorities about the money she received it clearly was wrong. In genealogy, separating our family’s past choices from our present lives can be difficult. Keeping in mind that we’re all imperfect humans helps.
Mary & Daughter Mary Lou Before Bricking 1943
After Bricking. Photo taken Dec 2001
1 “John Dillinger – List of His Bank Robberies.” AwesomeStories.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 July 2015.
3 “Dillinger Relatives to Attend New Museum Opening.” Nwitimes.com. N.p., 28 Feb. 2015. Web. 08 July 2015.
4 “John Dillinger.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 08 July 2015.