Homicide in Chicago!  

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Researching a family tree can sometimes lead you down very interesting paths. You discover skeletons in the closet or "scandalous" things you didn't know about before.  Things no one talked about.  As I searched the Illinois State Archives for death certificates for some of our relatives, I came across my husband's great, great grandfather, Fortunato Fratto's death certificate.  Under cause of death it said hemorrhage due to gun shot wound.  Inquest held.  Interesting!  The death certificate showed the informant as Rosa Tellerino, who resided at 230 W. 25th Street, Chicago. She and her husband Guisseppe were neighbors of Fortunato who resided at 259 W. 25th Street, Chicago.

I soon discovered the Homicide in Chicago database online and searched it to see if there was anything listed.  There was!  There is a disclaimer on the pages stating the database entries were input as written without fixing any typing errors. One must verify other facts to prove or disprove a match.  Fortunato's last name is transcribed as Fratts on the online database and his ethnicity is stated as German. Both errors.The address of his death matched the homicide report, as did his date of death and the name of the informat.

Case Description

Fratts, Fortunato - Age 55 - Fatally shot 1/29/21 during an altercation with Guisseppe Tellerino, in the latter?s home at 230 W. 25th St. Tellerino escaped. 15 Pct. You can read the entire case here on the Homicide in Chicago's webpage. 

During WWII, my grandfather, who I never had the pleasure to meet, served in the Naval Armed Guard. He served on three ships during his service.  The S.S. Joshua Hendy, the S.S. Henry Durant, and the S.S. Sea Quail. Liberty Ships.  

Joseph was inducted into the U.S. Navy as an Apprentice Seaman, USN 12/13/1943 at the NRS, Chicago, IL. He was then released to inactive duty until 12/20/1943. 2/24/1944 he completed recruit training in USNR Great Lakes, Chicago, IL.  Joseph was then transferred 3/9/1944 to Armed Guard School, Gulfport, MISS.  and transferred  4/13/1944 to AATraCen., Shell Beach LA

On 4/18/1944 Joseph was
transferred to USN, Armed Guard Center., Brooklyn NY Armed Guard Center. 5/5/44 detached duty completed as armed guard at Port Director, NOB, Norfolk, VA.  Put on S.S. Joshua Hendy.  While Joseph served on the S.S. Joshua Hendy, the ship sailed from Norfolk to Key West, FL.  Key West to Ensenada. Ensenada to Guayanilla. Guayanilla to Guantanamo Bay (SE tip of Cuba 20 degrees N 75 degrees W). Guantanamo to New Orleans.

His service on the S.S. Joshua Hendy ended 9/18/1944 and he was detached to serve on the S.S. Seal Quail.   While serving on the S.S. Sea Quail, the ship sailed on November 7, 1944 to Liverpool, the Solvent and Southamptom England.  Next she sailed outbound from Hampton Roads on December 10 for Naples and Oran.  Then she returned to New York.  He served on the S.S. Sea Quail until 2/28/1945 and then transferred to duty as armed guard on board U.S. Armed Merchant Vessel S.S. Henry Durant (T-37129) to serve under Alfred O. Kus.  This ship sailed from New York to Manus (Island, Admirality Island, Bismarck Archipel. 2 degrees South, 147 degrees East). Manus to Samar (Island, eastern Philippines, 12 degrees North, 125 degrees East).  Duty completed 7/13/1945 due to illness.

On April 24, 1945 Joseph J. Holik crossed the equator at Lat. 00000 and Long. 180 on the ship S/S Henry Durant.  He received a certificate after his initiation ceremony.

Joseph was transferred 7/13/1945 to Naval Receiving Station, Terminal Island, San Pedro, CA.  Admitted for treatment at U.S. Naval Hospital, Long Beach, CA.  7/18/1945 transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital, San Diego, CA. 8/2/1945 discharged from treatment and transferred to Navy Unit, U.S. Publich Health Services Hospital, Fort Worth, TX for further medical treatment.  Joseph received an honorable discharge 11/9/1945 Fort Worth TX.

After the war he returned to work at Railway Express Agency at Union Station, Chicago as a Freight Runner. He died in 1964 in North Chicago, IL.  

More information can be found on the Naval Armed Guard here:

Naval History and Heritage Command  http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq104-1.htm

Pvt. Michael Kokoska 127th Infantry WWI  

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As I continue the search for military records about my family, I learn a little more about the sacrifices made during each person's service, whether they were killed in action, or came home with injuries, whether physical or mental. Each of these men should be remembered.

Private Michael Kokoska is another cousin who served his country. He was born September 28, 1891 in Chicago, Illinois. He worked as a coat maker before the war. Michael registered for the draft June 5, 1917, in Chicago. The date he was officially drafted and began his service is unknown.

Michael was a member of the 32nd Division (The Red Arrow), 127th Infantry Regiment Co. L., in WWI and served in France. At this time I know from ship logs, after he trained in the states, he sailed on the U.S.S. George Washington on February 18, 1918 from Hoboken, New Jersey, to France. He was wounded and then died June 27, 1918 near Alsace, France.

It took three years for his body to be returned to his family. Michael was buried in Bohemian National Cemetery on May 29, 1921. His parents are buried in the same plot.

More information on the 32nd's service can be found here on Google's
32nd Division in the World War.  The photos are:  Michael's Military Photo on his grave. His funeral photos on 18th Street in 1921 in Chicago in front of the family home. His father Joseph and Michael. Michael's grave photos.  

Pvt. Frank Winkler 29th Infantry WWII  


My parents recently traveled to Europe and visited many WWII battlefields in France. My mom was on the hunt for information about a cousin who we thought was on Omaha Beach on D-Day, wounded and died later near St. Lo.

After many phone calls and emails while my parents were on their trip, I was put in contact with a man named Joseph Balkoski. Joseph is the Command Historian for the Maryland National Guard. Joseph maintains files for the 29th Infantry.My cousin, Frank Winkler, was part of the 29th Infantry, 115th Regiment, G Co., during WWII.

We were not sure if Frank was on Omaha Beach on D-Day. The records found did indicate his participation.  With the help of Joseph, I learned that Frank was transferred into the 29th on June 23, 1944, as a replacement, according to the 115th regiment's morning reports. Tragically, he was killed the next day.  Right now we are not sure where he was prior to June 23.  See the June 1944 Morning Report Frank Winkler is listed on page 32.  See the July 1944 Morning Report Frank Winkler is listed on page 7.

I also learned during WWII, there was a record kept called the IDPF, Individual Deceased Personnel File.  This file describes how the soldier was wounded or killed and other information about his service. It can be obtained by sending a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) letter to

US Army

Human Resources Command
Attn: AHRC-PAO(FOIA), Room 7S65
200 Stovall Street
Alexandria, VA 22331-0400

You must state (if known) the following:  the soldier's name, serial number, branch of military, division, burial location, date of birth and death, and your relationship to the deceased. 

Frank's IDPF had information about where he was shot, how his body was prepared for burial and where it was buried in France. Documentation from the government about disinterring his body to have his remains sent home. A handwritten letter from his father to the government asking about personal effects not returned. More correspondence about returning his remains. 

The file was interesting and sad to read, but did not have any other service information. I still do not know his movements before he was put into the 115th as a replacement.  I am hoping to obtain his Statement of Service card to help put his story together.

More information on the 29th can be found here:  

Lone Sentry: The Story of the 29th http://www.lonesentry.com/gi_stories_booklets/29thinfantry/index.html

29th After Action Report for June 1944  http://www.29infantrydivision.org/WWII%20Documents/WWII%20Document%2007.htm 


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