Friday, April 9, 2010

One thing leads to another...

My parents, Norbert and Arlene (nee Guinee) Wozniak, divorce became final when I was about ten years old. I say final because in the early sixties it was not easy for a woman with three children to divorce her husband. My mother had a difficult time finding an attorney who would represent her-the way she wanted to be represented. She needed to keep her children and she needed housing for the four of us. In the end, it was a priest from our church (yes, a Catholic church too) who put her in touch with an attorney who handled her case until it was finalized. It took almost four years. My mother received custody of us girls and ended buying back our house from the bank.

I had no relationship with Norb after the divorce. When I was 26 years old, I searched for him and discovered he lived not far from me. So, in 1981, I had a visit with him at his home. I met his wife Shirley who seemed like a very quiet and nice woman. The visit was pleasant enough, but for reasons of our own, Norb and I never saw each other again. In 1989, I was informed through a cousin in Wisconsin that Norb had died three weeks earlier.

Recently I was searching Google, and discovered that Shirley had passed away last November. I was wondering what would have happened to the "stuff" of Norb's that perhaps no one would want and the executor of Shirley's estate would donate to a charity or even toss out. So, I wrote some letters to all the people mentioned in her obituary. I probably wouldn't have done that except for a wonderful friend who belongs to the New Lenox Public Library Genealogy Club, of which I am also a member. She constantly comes to our monthly meetings tellings us stories and showing us pictures some new found relative has shared with her. Thank you Mary! You inspired me!

One of the people I wrote to phoned me and left a message that she contacted a good friend of Shirley's and that that woman was willing to send me some photographs! Now, I haven't received them yet, but I am looking forward to the mail each and everyday! I have less than a dozen pictures of my father and several of his parents. I am hoping that the photographs I receive will include some of his parents and grandparents. Now, that would be a real family treasure!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm so excited and I just can't hide it!

Today I took a vacation day from my GSU job and intended to spend the day at my favorite Family History Center - in Chicago Heights, IL. And, guess what...I did! Well, I spent about three hours there. I am continuing my research on my Sommer relatives and was searching through a reel of microfilm from Cleebronn, Germany when a gentleman came in to use another microfilm machine. Having the gift of gab, I didn't wait to long to ask him what records he was looking at-- tax records from the 19th century. One thing lead to another and I discovered his name is Earl Bell and he is the US GenWeb county coordinator for Nash County, North Carolina! Imagine my surprise (see you never know who you may meet until you open your mouth and ASK!) Of course I couldn't let an opportunity slip by, so I asked him a LOT of questions about tax records and his web site. It was a very interesting conversation and I learned quite a bit. Check out his link if time permits.
Now, when I wasn't talking to Earl, I was actually looking at microfilm. I couldn't believe it, but I found four more marriage records (all in German) for my Sommer ancestors, from 1691 through 1796. I also discovered several more children my 5th Great Grandfather Johann Martin Sommer and his wife Johanna Sophia Schoch had. Best of all I actually found the death records for; Johann Sophia Schoch in September, 1788, her father Georg Adam Schoch in July, 1782, Johann Martin Sommer in August, 1791, and quite a number of death records for Martin and Sophia's children. One or two of the marriage records may even lead me back another generation or two. So, I'm doing a little genealogy dance and wearing a smile on my face tonight!
Can't wait to get these records translated!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday, Mother & Son

Cecelia Sawicki Wozniak and son Norbert
ca. 1928
Photo owned by P. Taylor

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday, when I was a little girl.....

Ah, this Easter Sunday is beautiful! The sun is shining, there is a slight breeze (when is there NOT at least a little breeze in Chicago?), and best of all NO rain in sight. Perfect weather.

When I was a little girl, we would start off our day searching for our Easter baskets. Believe it or not, I still have mine.... well used and a few missing parts, but I wouldn't part with it for anything. Oh, the things my sisters and I would find in those baskets; Silly Putty, a kite with our own roll of string, ball and jacks, chalk, and of course candy! We would put on own new dresses that my mom made for us; usually we were all dressed the same too! Add our new patent leather shoes, gloves and purse and off to church we went, looking wonderful. So where are those pictures? Hmmmm....

After church our family usually had dinner at my Grandmother Lucy's house, where of course we would meet up with almost all of my cousins. There were a lot of kids too, you could count on at least 15+ kids and five or six adults. Kids ate in my grandmother's basement on picnic tables and card tables. Adults ate in the dining room. Each family brought a dish and we NEVER ran out of food! Following dinner, the boys made haste for outdoors, while most of the older girls and women cleaned up the dishes. Then the real fun began...what we had all been waiting for....the EASTER EGG HUNT!! My Uncle Damien was in charge. I don't ever remember finding a real egg either. They were always plastic eggs with candy and money inside. Uncle Damien arranged two hunts, one for the younger kids and one for us older kids. It was a blast!

Those are some great memories!

Some traditions must be passed on as my family will gather at my sister's home in a little while. We will eat a delicious meal, including baked beans (Lucy's recipe!), potatos, ham, green bean casserole and tons more, plus desserts. Whoever cooks doesn't do the dishes so it looks like my sister and I will have some free time and who knows, despite all of our kids being teenagers and young adults, you never know there still may be an Easter Egg Hunt! Happy Easter friends!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools Day....Governors State University

Coming into work early this morning I was pleased to see yet another issue of our campus newsletter focused on this special day...April 1. I must admit this year they have out done themselves. I laughed out loud and have had a smile on my face all morning, so I thought I would share with you this bit of silliness. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Follow the link.

Governors State University

The Family

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

Genealogy Pox, author unknown


SYMPTOMS: Continual complaint as to need for names, dates and places. Patient has a blank expressions, sometimes deaf to spouse and children. Has no taste for work of any kind, except feverishly looking through records at libraries and courthouses.
Has a compulsion to write letters. Swears at mailman when he doesn't leave mail. Frequents strange places such as cemeteries, ruins, and remote desolate country areas. Makes secret night calls and hides phone bills from spouse. Mumbles to self. Has strange, faraway look in eyes.


TREATMENT: Medication is useless. This disease is not fatal, but gets progressively worse. Patient should attend genealogy workshops, subscribe to genealogical magazines and be given a quiet corner in the house where he/she can be alone.

REMARKS: The unusual nature of this disease is that the sicker the patient gets, the more he or she enjoys it!