Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Thomas Encounter in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1967

I’ve been in touch with my 3rd cousin Russell Thomas, who is a descendant of Charles Franklin Thomas (1854-1927) about whom I’ve written many times.  He shared an interesting story with me about an encounter in 1967 at the Schofield Army Barracks in Honolulu, Hawaii, with a mystery Thomas family member.  I’ll let Russ tell you what happened:

It was a beautiful spring morning in 1967. It was also a Saturday, and we had already had our weekly inspection per Army protocol,  so I and the other Lieutenants in my company where having coffee and doughnuts at a nearby PX in the Schofield Barracks complex.

The PX had an all glass front so you could see who was coming and going. One of my companions said, “Is he lost?” Schofield is an Army base that Japan made famous as they strafed it coming out of nowhere thru Koli Koli Pass on there way to Pearl Harbor, so you seldom see a sailor and it was a justifiable question.

I took a look at him and was dumbfounded because the sailor looked like a younger version of my uncle Gibby whom I had visited the year before in Scottsdale, Arizona.  He was about 21 years old [born about 1945].  I wondered was my Uncle was doing here and why did he look so young?

"Gibby" Thomas about the same age as the sailor was in 1967.

“Gibby” Thomas about the same age as the sailor was in 1967.

I sprang up and surprised the sailor as he entered the door.  His eyes got wide and his jaw dropped down.  He  thought I was a younger version of an uncle from home!  We both knew we were looking at a Thomas but we checked out each others name badges  to confirm it.  He was a Thomas.

Russ Thomas, about 1967.

Russ Thomas, about 1967.

I offered to buy him a cup of coffee, but he said his unit commander had asked him to get coffee and doughnuts and he had to get right back.  Apparently they worked out of a secret bunker on secret stuff that he was not allowed to discuss.  I gave him my phone number but he told me right up front that he didn’t have access to a phone and rarely got out of the bunker as it was all hush hush.  We vowed to try to get together somehow but it didn’t happen.  The whole encounter didn’t last ten minutes.

I was curious enough to write Gramma [Belva Bisnette Thomas] about the encounter. She wrote back and said (now this is where my memory fails me) that Catcher had a relative that took off for parts unknown, but they think he went to Oklahoma or some other midwest state.

So there you have it.  A Navy sailor with the last name Thomas born about 1945 stationed at the Schofield Army base in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1967.  I’m posting this just because it’s an interesting story, and also because just maybe someone will find this story online and know who the mystery sailor was.

I’ve dropped the Schofield base a line asking how I might look for someone named Thomas stationed there in 1967.  I will report back if I find anything.


Possible Family of Beriah Thomas

By his own word, my 5x great-grandfather, Beriah Thomas (1742-1836) was born in the town of Simsbury, Connecticut.

Brief Autobiography of Beriah Thomas, 1832

Brief Autobiography of Beriah Thomas, 1832

That he [Beriah] was born in Simsbury in the State of Connecticut and is ninety years old since last February [born Feb 1742], has no record of his age – that he lived in a place called the Nine Partners in the County of Dutchess, State of New York during the Revolutionary War – since that period has been in West Stockbridge, County of Berkshire, Massachusetts and in Grand Isle Vermont from whence he removed to Chazy aforesaid whence he now resides and has resided twenty years last March.

Simsbury is a very old town, having been settled in the 1630’s and incorporated in the 1670’s.  They do have a fair amount of records from the early days, so I wrote to the Simsbury Historical Society to ask them about Beriah’s birth and his family.  There was no 100% answer, but they had a lead on a couple that was married in the right time and place to be possible parents to Beriah:

Beriah Thomas is not listed in the First Church records for Simsbury (one of the best local sources for that early time period).  He is also not listed in the DAR publication, Simsbury Soldiers in the War of the Revolution.  There is a Sarried Thomas listed.  Beriah may have been living elsewhere by that time and served in a military unit from another area. [He was in Nine Partners, Dutchess County, NY]

In town there were a couple of Thomases in approximately the time period.  John Thomas married Abigail Griffin March 27, 1735.  Abigail Thomas, their daughter, was born October 2, 1736.

There are a few other documents and trees I’ve managed to find that list John Thomas and Abigail Griffin as the parents of Beriah Thomas.  In fact, here’s one sent to me by the Chazy Historical Society.  It’s from the 1960’s and lists the relationships mentioned:

Beriah Thomas FHC Form from 1967.

Beriah Thomas FHC Form from 1967.

This document was sent to the Chazy Historical Society by a John Soule, who said Beriah Thomas was his 4x great grandfather (so, born around 1940, likely). This was sent about June or August 1967. Courtesy of the Chazy Historical Society. It shows that Mr. Soule believed John Thomas and Abigail Griffin of Simsbury, CT were the parents of Beriah Thomas.

I can’t know why Mr. Soule believed this, so as it is it’s just another piece of circumstantial evidence.  The quest to prove this relationship goes on.  Abigail Griffin’s lineage is known back to her immigrant ancestor, Sergeant John Griffin (1608-1681),  so that would be exciting if some additional documentation could be found.

There are some FHC films of Simsbury Records which might help:

Town records v. 1-2 1670-1713 Family History Library  US/CAN  Film 1314486 Items 1-2
Town records v. 2 1/2 1693-1720 Family History Library  US/CAN  Film 1451348
Town records v. 3-4 1719-1832 Family History Library  US/CAN  Film 1314486 Items 3-4

The other interesting tidbit I’ve found recently was regarding an Oliver Thomas.

He crossed my radar because in the 1790 Census for East Stockbridge, Massachusetts [where Beriah can be found], he is the only other Thomas in that Census.  I did some digging on Fold3.com and it turns out this Oliver Thomas was also in the Revolutionary War, and per his pension statement he was born in 1743 [one year difference from Beriah].  It’s a bit of a longshot since Oliver served under Captain Orange Stodder in Colonel Joseph Voce’s Regiment of the Massachusetts Line for the term of three years, and not in the New York Militia as Beriah did.  Still… the last name, age, veteran status, and appearance in the East Stockbridge Census alongside Beriah make him a possible candidate for being Beriah’s brother.


Krueger Family Card Gatherings

I stopped in to see my Uncle Karl Krueger today at his shop, and we had the chance to talk family history briefly.  He discussed something I’ve heard many other family members talk about before, the Krueger Family love of playing cards, but he told it in a way that was very amusing, so I thought I’d share.

“Yeah, dad’s grandpa [Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Krueger] and that whole family spoke German… I remember when I was a kid, every once in a while the whole Krueger gang would get together at somebody’s house to play cards.  It was… well, we called them the ‘great aunts’ and ‘great uncles’, but it was [Heinrich Krueger’s children] Agnes, and Eddie, and Alfred, and Norma, and Elsie, and of course grandpa [Oscar Krueger].  They’d set up a bunch of card tables and there would be snacks and beer.  And these were… they were sort of stern-looking, serious, very proper people when they’d arrive.  Kind of aloof.  But, boy, I tell you… you get two beers in ’em!  All of a sudden it was nothing but jokes, and laughing, and hooting, and hollering!    They made a racket!

And they’d start speaking German.  At first, before they had any beer, everything was proper and sort of calm, and they were dealing the cards out carefully and speaking in English.  But then, two beers later… there would start to be be a little flush in the cheeks, you know?  And they’d start speaking German.  And telling jokes in German!  I didn’t speak it, but you could tell they were jokes because of the cadence of the voice of the person talking… and everyone else would be quiet and listen, and then there would be a punchline of some kind and the whole room would erupt in laughter.  All of the normal talk of dealing the cards and so forth was all in German too.  It used to make grandma [Edith Curtis] so mad!  Because she didn’t speak German and she just *knew* that they were all laughing at her, and talking about her.  They weren’t of course.  They were just telling jokes and laughing with each other.

Dad [Lloyd Krueger] only knew a couple things in German, and one of them was “töten die roten Hahn”, which meant “Kill the red rooster”.  I don’t know what that’s from.  If it was from a joke, or it had to do with playing cards… but that was one phrase that dad would say sometimes.”

[It seems that “Wir töten den alten roten Hahn” is a lyric to the German version of “She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain”.  “We’ll kill the old red rooster when she comes”, is the lyric.]

Krueger Family Card Game c1980

Krueger Family Card Gathering c1980

Back table: Edith Curtis Krueger, Oscar Krueger, Eddie Krueger, Laura Hanke Krueger (hidden). Front table: Alfred Krueger, Agnes Krueger Passow, Elsie Krueger Madden, unknown.  Harvey Krueger’s home. Courtesy of Harvey Krueger.

KruegerCards1980

Krueger Family Card Gathering c1980

Edna Curtis Krueger, Oscar Krueger, Laura Hanke Krueger, Eddie Krueger, Agnes Krueger Passow (l to r). Playing cards was a staple of Krueger gatherings. These photos show many of the siblings gathered for a game of cards at Harvey Krueger’s home. Courtesy of Harvey Krueger.


Thomas Family Picnic 1930

It’s a tiny photograph.  Probably 2.75 inches by 1.75 inches.  But I was intrigued by it as soon as I saw it.  This was about two years ago.  The photo was part of the archives of my grandparents, Fred & Jean Thomas.  It then went to my father, and then to me.  There was a note clipped to the photo that had the names of several people.  Almost immediately I could tell the note was not correct because there were people in the note who were definitely not in the photo. The photo seemed to be from the late 20’s or early 30’s, judging by the cars in it and the clothing people were wearing.  It was clearly a Summer picnic of some kind.  There were picnic baskets, and everyone seemed  dressed for an outing.   There are 23 people in the photo, 14 adults and nine kids. [Click on the photos to enlarge or download]

Thomas Family Picnic, c1928

Thomas Family Picnic, c1928

I sent the photo to everyone in my family I could think of at the time.  And the answer I got in each case was, “I don’t recognize anyone in this picture at all.”  Dead end. Then, gradually, as the months passed, I started getting other pictures from all corners of the family of various people from that generation.  I started to learn the faces of the previous generations of my family. A few months ago, I said to myself, “I think that’s my grandfather in the lower left corner”.  He’s seated with his legs apart and with a sort of defiant look on his face.  That let me know about when the photo was taken.  Sometime between 1928 and 1930, based on my grandfather’s age.  I think it’s closer to 1930.  Here’s a photo comparing him in the group shot to a photo of my grandfather as an older man.

Fred Thomas Jr.

Fred Thomas Jr.

The next person I felt like I recognized was my grandfather’s “Aunt Anna”, Anna Thomas:

Anna Thomas McKenney

Anna Thomas McBride

A couple of days ago, I took a look at the photo again, and I noticed that the man in the back next to Anna looked like her husband Bill McBride.  The style of hat he is wearing in the photo I have of him is even similar.

Bill McBride

Bill McBride

One of the boys in the front row looks like my Great Uncle Charles Fogg Thomas.  Since Charles is still around (at 89 years old!), I sent him an email and he confirmed that it was indeed him in the photo: “Charles, that does look like me at that time.”

Charles Fogg Thomas

Charles Fogg Thomas

He also identified his brother Horace David Thomas as the boy sitting next to him:

Horace David Thomas

Horace David Thomas

Having tentatively identified these folks, I sent the photo back again to a couple of cousins.  My Great-Uncle Charles joined in too: “The woman in the front row with glasses looks like Aunt Claire [Muncy] Thomas.”

Claire Muncy

Claire Muncy

He continued: “Maybe Uncle Erwin is in the center and my dad [Frederick Thomas Sr.] to the left of Bill.”

ErwinThomas

Robert Erwin Thomas

Fred Thomas Sr.

Fred Thomas Sr.

It was reassuring that he said that, because I had definitely come to the conclusion that the two men in question must be brothers.  They looked like the same person a few years apart!  Once Charles said one was my great-grandfather, I immediately was struck by how much he looked like my father as a younger man.  In the side-by-side comparison you can see that the distinctive nose and ears are the same. Another easy identification (once I had another photo of her) was my great-grand aunt Olive “Eva” Bacon, who was the sister of my great-grandmother Delia Bacon, and who took in my grandfather after his mother died.

Olive Bacon

Olive Bacon

She’s wearing the same expression and hair-net look in both photos I have of her. I believe the man standing just behind Olive Bacon is her husband Jim Halloran.  Although not much of his face is visible, the chin seems to be distinctive.  There is some kind of dimple or scar on his right side near the chin that is the same in both photos.

Jim Halloran

Jim Halloran

I also believe that the young woman standing by Fred Thomas Sr. is his oldest child Grace Thomas.  She would have been about 14 years old in the photo.

GraceThomas

Grace Thomas

Because Robert Erwin Thomas and his wife Claire Muncy are both in the photo, I have to believe their daughter Lois Claire Thomas (1926-1953) would have been there also.  She would have been about four years old, and there is only one little girl that age in the photo.  I’m guessing it must be her.  Unfortunately you can only see the top of her head.

Lois Thomas

Lois Thomas


Artwork of Olga Hanson Schmidt – Part III

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

The latest installment of artwork from my great-grandmother Olga Hanson Schmidt (1891-1990) comes courtesy of Sten Voght Cantwell, my 1st cousin once removed.  Enjoy!

StenQuilt7

StenQuilt9

StenQuilt6

Double wedding rings in pink.

Double wedding rings in pink.

StenQuilt1

StenQuilt3

StenQuilt2

Drunkard’s Path in blue.

ChristeningGown

Christening gown with the names of children baptized in the gown sewn into it.

StenWhiteHouse

StenRedBarn

Click here for Part IV


McKenney / Thomas Wedding – Who Are All These People?

I have been in touch with some descendants of my great-grand-aunt Nellie Maude Thomas (16 Jul 1883 – 13 Dec 1936), so I was drawn back to look at a description of her marriage that was found in the archives of my grandparents Fred & Jean Thomas.  I’ll post the clipping first, which describes the marriage that took place on 20 September 1910:

Description of the McKenney / Thomas Marriage

Description of the McKenney / Thomas Marriage

On re-reading it, one thing that jumped out was how many of my relatives are mentioned in the article.  So I thought I’d just say a little something about who they all were… because it’s fun!

“Mr. & Mrs. Horace L. Thomas Sr.” – My great-great grandparents, Horace Luther Thomas (1846 – 1929) and his wife Anna Clifford (1851 – 1929).

“Nellie M. Thomas” – The afore-mentioned Nellie Maude Thomas, daughter of the above couple.

“Guy C. McKenney” – Guy Cleveland McKenney (1884-1957) was a bookkeeper.  He was the son of Joseph McKenney and Anna Stanhope.  After Nellie died he remarried to Mary Eveline Gaylord.

“Mrs. William E. McBride” – Anna Elizabeth Thomas (1876-1971), sister of the bride.

“Robert E. Thomas” – Robert Erwin “Uncle Erwin” Thomas (1887 – 1965), brother of the bride, was very close with my grandfather Fred Thomas Jr.  He was married to Claire Muncy and was a paint and [later] meat salesman.

“Miss Agnes MacBride” – Agnes Helene McBride (1896 – 1994), daughter of Anna and William McBride.

“Frederick C. Thomas” – Frederick Clifford Thomas Sr. (1889 – 1976), my great-grandfather and brother of the bride.  He was only 21 at the time.

“Mrs. H. I. Stanhope” – Mary Lyon Nott (1877 – 1924), who was the first wife of the bride’s Uncle Herbert Isaiah Stanhope (1872-1947).

“Mrs. Floyd Lasalle” – Floyd Albert LaSalle (1878-1952) married Julie Dell “Jessie” Clifford (1879-1967).  Jessie was the first cousin of the bride since her father George Clifford was the brother of the bride’s mother Anna Clifford.

“Mr. and Mrs. I. N. Stanhope” – Isaiah N Stanhope (1842-1921) and Elvira M Aiken (1842 – 1920) were the groom’s maternal grandparents.

“Mr and Mrs. T. L. Peavey” – Thomas Leonard Peavey (1853 – 1932) was the second husband of the groom’s mother Anna Stanhope (1864-1920), so this was the groom’s mother and stepfather.  Anna Stanhope married the groom’s father Joseph J. McKenney (1857-1911) about 1883, then divorced him around 1892.  She then married Mr. Peavey in 1906.  Joseph McKenney had two other wives after Anna: Minnie J. Currier and Abbie C. Williams.

[NOTE: The Rev. George B. Johnson is not, to my knowledge, directly related to me.]


The Whole Person

One of the key things about doing family research is that I try my hardest not to judge anyone for anything at all.  I honestly believe everyone does the best they can do given their circumstances and genetics.  That goes from the greatest heroes to the lowest of villains.

When you do this research you overturn a lot of stones that have unpleasant things hiding under them.  Suicide, murder, spousal abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, terrible parenting, etc.  I don’t judge any of it.  I wasn’t there and I don’t know their circumstances.

I see it as my role to document what I can, and to that degree I honestly try to embrace the “whole person”.  The good and the bad, the mundane and the extraordinary.  I make every effort not to “whitewash” the past [although interacting with living relatives can make this difficult since they often want less-than-flattering details omitted].  I try to present the facts as I find them, and try to understand these people as thoroughly I can to the extent that it’s possible.

I’m grateful beyond words to have the help of my extended network of living relatives who knew my ancestors and can help me know the “whole person” in a way that census records, marriage documents, and gravestones never could.


Photos of Berryhill Farm and Duff Family Graves

I was contacted by a woman named Diana who had taken a trip to Perthshire, Scotland to find her ancestors.  It turns out her grandfather was a shepherd at Berryhill Farm, the farm owned/leased by my 4x great-grandfather William Duff Sr. (1766 – 1836) and his father James Duff (b 1740).  My 3x great-grandfather Rev. William Duff was also born there.  I have written about Berryhill and its residents previously here:

Meet the Duff Family of Perthshire, Scotland

When Diana was in Scotland she took photos of Berryhill Farm and the graves of my Duff family. Many thanks to Diana for sending these photos!

First are three photos of the main house at Berryhill from different views:

BerryHillFarmFront

BerryhillFarmSide

BerryhillFarmBack

She also sent a historic photo of Berryhill taken about 1913:

Berryhill Farm about 1913

Berryhill Farm about 1913

These are the photos from the Kirkstyle Graveyard.  The site is located between Berryhill and the town of Bankfoot.

Charles Duff & Charlotte Nicoll Duff

Charles Duff & Charlotte Nicoll Duff

William Duff, Charlotte Nicoll, & James Duff

William Duff, Charlotte Nicoll, & James Duff

William Duff & Charlotte Nicoll (detail)

William Duff & Charlotte Nicoll (detail)

She wrote:

The main gravestone for the Duff family in Kirkstyle Cemetery, which is located between Berryhill Farm and the town of Bankfoot:

In Memory of William Duff, Berryhill, who died 11th April 1836 aged 63 years.

His wife Charlotte Nicoll died 15th May 1846 aged 79 years.

Their son James died 9th May 1818 aged 18 years.

On the opposite side of the same gravestone is:

In Memory of Charles Duff, Berryhill who died 5th August 1868 aged 68 years.

Charlotte Nicoll died 21st Janaury 1849 aged 3 years

His wife Elizabeth Robertson died 25th Janaury 1889 aged 55 years.

On top of the gravestone is an urn with a mortcloth draped over it.  See the attached photos.  The length of the hanging end of the mortcloth shows the age of the person buried.  The longer the length of cloth the older the person is.  The cloth represents their lifespan.

I also found two gravestones close to the main Duff headstone which are obviously linked.  Unfortunately they are a little hard to read – I do have a book at home that may help though and when I get back in a couple of weeks will have a look.

====

The stone to this side of this:

Sacred to the memory of Robert Duff, Farmer Bellston who died on the 30th March 1856

in the 78th year of his age also of his wife Margaret Nicoll who died on 4th April 1850

And of their sons

John who died on the 18 July 1853

Aged 32 years

Charles who died ?? June 1827

in the 3rd year of his age.

Charlotte who died 24th May aged 48 years

William Duff

late Parish Schoolmaster

of Auchtergavenborn 17th August 1810 died 14th Janaury 1872

Jane Duff who died 15 March 1886 aged 75 years.

====

The 3rd Gravestone

On the one side:

Charles Ritchie d 7.11.1871 (aged 4 months)

On the other side:

Erected by James Ritchie in memory of his father

William Ritchie who died 19th May 1831 aged 49 years

and mother May Duff who died 4th January 1869 aged 76 years

and sisters:

May died 17th November 1821 aged 1 1/2 years

Jane died 20th May 1825 aged 10 months

Charlotte died 22 September 1828 aged 10 years

Jane died 29th March 1829 aged 3 years and

Charlotte Nicoll who died 18th March 1862 aged 52 years.


Archie Forrest & Family

I have been in contact with a couple of new cousins recently: Don Forrest and Bruce Morse. They are both the grandchildren of Archibald Alexander Forrest (1875-1946), the brother of my great-grandfather John Prescott Forrest.  My hope in contacting them was to get to know my great-grandfather’s brother and his family a bit better.

[Interestingly, I am related to Bruce twice.  Once because his mother was a Forrest, and once because his father was John Harleigh Morse, who has the same Morse ancestor, Ensign Anthony Morse (1662-1710) as I do.]

Archie was born into the powerful family of Rev. John Forrest and Annie Prescott Duff in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He arrived in the US in December of 1895 at the age of 20.  Archie Forrest was a hockey player in his younger years, and one day the very wealthy business tycoon and famed art collector Henry Harper Benedict attended a match with his daughter Helen Elizabeth Benedict (1879 – 1961).  Apparently she liked what she saw in young Archie and asked to meet him.

[Incidentally, Henry Benedict’s personal fortune was not only vast, but also the subject of the most ridiculous, over-the-top, tawdry tale of intrigue you could imagine. Since it’s not really my story to tell, I will link to a version that writes it up as well as I ever could:

The Curse of the Remington Typewriter Fortune

It’s really well researched and documented, so please take the time to check it out if you can.  You won’t be disappointed.  If you made it up people would accuse you of being too “soap opera” and not believable.  Gold-digging nurses, suicides, runaway heiresses, lost fortunes, evil stepmothers… it’s got it all.]

A few years later Archie and Helen were married at St. George’s Church in London, England on 11 Oct 1904.  Archie was a real-estate agent at the time he got married, but soon he was given a lucrative job as a vice-president of his father-in-law’s company, Remington Rand.  The family seems to agree that hard work was not Archie’s forte.  He seemed to prefer hunting and fishing.  His grandsons remember fly-fishing trips to Canada and other extravagances that kept him away from his office.  Archie’s brothers George Munro Forrest and John Prescott Forrest would also work as executives for Remington Rand.

Three children followed for Archie and Helen: Marie Alexendra (1907 – 1982), John Benedict (1909 – 1976), and Henry Harper (1911 – 1970).

Marie Forrest & Henery Benedict, 1880.

Marie Forrest & Henry Benedict, 1908.

According to Don Forrest (John Benedict’s son), the upbringing was rather unusual to most of us, although it was probably not unusual at all to those in the upper classes of that time period.  He described his grandparents’ “Anglophilic” style of child raising.  That is, most of the child-rearing was handled by a nanny.  The only meal that the children shared with their parents was on Sunday afternoon and no talking was permitted at the table.  As soon as was practicable, the children were sent away to boarding school in substantial wealth.  All of this had an effect on the children, and all of them would go on to have complicated family lives themselves.  It was Don’s opinion that all three of Archie’s and Helen’s children turned out to be “wonderful people”, despite those issues.

The Archie Forrest Summer home was on Old Post Road in Rye, New York, although it was only one of their homes.  They also “wintered” in New York City, where they lived in a town house at #5 East 75th Steet in Manhattan.  The property was owned by the Benedict family, and was described as being “the size of a small Swiss hotel”.

ArchieForrestHome

Archie was a village Trustee in Rye, and was briefly the Mayor of that town in 1930.  He and his family took trips abroad and generally lived the life of the upper class in New York.  There were cruises, in-home servants, fine clothes, and all the trappings of that lifestyle.

So with all this in mind, tonight I got my first glimpse of Archie and his family in this photo sent to me by Bruce Morse, Archie’s grandson:

Archie Forrest & Family, c1929.

Archie Forrest & Family, c1929.

I just adore this photo.  It’s so.. “New Century Explorer and his perfect family”.  The reality, of course, was much more complex, but if you give it some scrutiny, this photo captures all that complexity so perfectly.  John so handsome and charming, but with just a hint of mischief.  Henry sort of angsty and brooding.  Marie looking strong and resigned.  Archie, the distant, stylish, trendy father.  Everyone wearing their best clothes, impeccably dressed while the waves crash behind them.  This is the perfect photo for how I imagined this family to be.  I’m so grateful to have it.


Photos of Gornitz, Posen, Prussia

My Schmidt ancestors [Carl Friedrich Schmidt, Wilhelmine Winkelmann and their six children] lived on a farm in the very small village of Gornitz, Netzekreis, Posen, Prussia from about 1875 to 1892 when they immigrated to America.  According to my cousin Doris Winkelmann Sonntag, the town was destroyed by the advancing Russian Army when they swept through Netzekreis on their way to Berlin in 1945 near the end of WWII.  Almost nothing remains.  I found a site in Germany (http://www.netzekreis.de/) which has a few historic and current photos of Gornitz.  These give a tantalizing glimpse of the quiet, country lifestyle the Schmidt family had before they came to America. You can click on the photos to see larger versions.

[“Gruß aus Gornitz” means “Greetings from Gornitz”]

GornitzMap

Prussian map showing Gornitz

WassermühleInGornitz1925

The Gornitz Mill

GornitzGruss

Gornitz Mill Pond

MühlenseeOberhalbDerMühle

Mill in Gornitz

GasthausEKrummMitSaal

E. Krumm Restaurant with banquet hall

GasthouseEKrumm

The E. Krumm Restaurant

Gasthaus

The Bohm Restaurant

Wohnhaus

Residential Home in Gornitz

GehöfteAmTeichVonGornitz

Homestead and Farm Pond

forsthaus

Forest Homestead

zentrum

Town Center

GornitzKirche

Gornitz Church – Historic Photo

kirche

Same church, modern photo