Wordless Wednesday - The Whole Family  

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From Chicago Family History

Wordless Wednesday: The Whole Family

This is a photograph taken in 1927 passed down to me from my uncle Richard Holik. It is a mixture of the Holik, Brouk and Schubert families. The Schubert and Brouk family married and then the Brouk line married into the Holik line in 1930.

I have identified some but not all of the people in the photograph yet. The man in the hat all the way to the left is my great grandfather John Holik. The stern looking older woman in the middle is my great grandmother Antonie Kocka Schubert. Her husband, Joseph is the man standing to the left behind her with the white mustache. The man to the left of Joseph is my grandfather Joseph Holik. Two women to his left is my grandmother (before they were married) Libbie Brouk. The woman and man to the left of Libbie could be her parents, Frank and Anna nee Schubert Brouk.

Sentimental Sunday - Grandma Libbie  


From Chicago Family History

This is a picture of my Grandma Libbie Holik in January of 2001 after the birth of my first son Andrew. She was 90 years old when this photo was taken. I still remember when she came to the hospital the day after he was born and held him. She smiled and her whole face lit up and she looked like a happy teenager. I’ll never forget that. I will also never forget how every time we went to visit her she would pat my cheek and say Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer and smile.

Libbie turned 91 at the end of May and passed away a few days later. I was able to help take care of her at home the week she was ill before she passed and she was able to spend a little more time with Andrew. I was not at her bedside when the angels took her, but two of her sons Rich, and Tom, my dad, were there with my mom, sister and her son. I know to this day she is watching over us.

Madness Monday - Frank Winkler  


Trying to discover an Army ancestor’s military history can be frustrating to say the least. I have many relatives who served in the Army in WWI and WWII. Due to the fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis in 1973, many of those records were destroyed.

I was trying to hunt down information about the service of Frank Winkler to match a family story that he served on Omaha Beach on D-Day (see blog entry about Frank). Unfortunately the NPRC did not have his records. I discovered after my parents went to Europe in the fall (see blog entry on that), there is a record called the IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel Record) for WWII casualties. I was able to obtain this record for Frank. It had many documents about his burial in France, his disinterment, records about sending his remains home and a handwritten letter by his father to the Army. No service record.

Working with historian Joe Balkoski with the 29th Infantry, I was able to obtain two months worth of morning reports for the 29th Infantry, 115th division Co. G., which Frank was part of. The records showed he was put into the 29th as a replacement on June 23, 1944 and was killed the next day by a sniper. We are assuming at this point he entered France after D-Day and was held in a group of replacement soldiers until needed. Where he was before that is still a mystery.

Frank was buried in France in 1944 and his remains were returned to the family in 1948. He was then laid to rest in Bohemian National Cemetery where his parents were later buried. Frank’s story is being told so he will remembered and honored for the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Follow Friday: DuPage County Genealogical Society  


If you live in the Chicagoland area, I encourage you to check out the DuPage County Genealogical Society. http://www.dcgs.org/ I attended their conference a month ago and it was fantastic. It has been a while since I have been able to attend anything like this because of busy schedules with my family.

I had the pleasure of hearing Elissa Scalise Powell and John Philip Colletta speak. This was the first time I heard Elissa speak and she was very enlightening about the Research Cycle and the Research Report. Both very helpful to me since I am now beginning to write my family’s history.

I heard John speak several years ago at another local conference and he was just as entertaining and informative this time. I love to listen to him speak because while some of the information was similar to what I heard before, because I was in a different place in my research, new things clicked. If you have not had the opportunity to hear John speak about Naturalization and Immigration records, I encourage you to do so. You will come away with so much knowledge!

The DCGS has monthly meetings and offers genealogical classes as well. They are a resource not to be missed if you live in the area!

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Engagement Necklace  

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When I began researching my family history, I was lucky enough to have my uncle Rich reconnect with a first cousin, Carol. The two had grown up together and then lost touch as adults. The research I was doing brought them back together. I met Carol on a visit to Chicago in the late 1990’s and while we were sharing family stories and photos, Carol gave me a beautiful necklace. The necklace she said, was given to my great grandma Brouk by her husband when he proposed in the late 1890’s. The necklace is very small, teardrop shaped with tiny pearls outlining it and a small pink stone in the middle. A couple gold leaves are near the stone.

Carol and I were talking recently and she told me how she came to have that necklace. One afternoon, as a teenager, she was spending time with Grandma Brouk and asked her about the necklace and told her how pretty it was. Grandma took it off her neck and gave it to Carol. Carol held on to it to pass it along to someone in the family who would take care of it and treasure it. Luckily that person was me.

Newspaper Funeral Notice for Frank J. Winkler, source unknown. This was a clipping in a scrapbook of a cousin that I was able to copy. This notice provided a lot of clues about his military career.

Alexander Urban born in Telsiu, Lithuania 1874. Immigrated to the United States in 1905 and lived in Chicago. He died before he was Naturalized in 1917.  Married to Vincenta Norkus. Both are buried in St. Casimir's Cemetery.

I started researching my family history about 14 years ago. One of my direct lines is Kokoska. Joseph and Majdalena came to the United States in 1880. Majdalena was pregnant with my great grandfather, Joseph, when they arrived. A few weeks later they married in Chicago. I discovered in the 1900 Census that Majdalena was the mother of 10 children with nine surviving. Yet I had no idea who this missing child was. The family did not buy their burial plot at Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago until 1919 after one of their sons died in France in WWI and they were hoping to have his remains sent home.

Thanks to FamilySearch and the Chicago Birth Certificates listed online, I did a search for Kokoska with Joseph and Majdalena as parents in the fall. Up popped Emilie Kokoska with corroborating information for the parents. My missing child! Emilie was born in June of 1894. She died before 1900. I have no idea when. I have no idea where she is buried. No idea what happened to her. Maybe she has a death record somewhere and I have not located it yet. I would hope since the family had a birth record filled out and submitted, they would have done the same for her death. For now I continue to search for Emilie’s death certificate and burial place. I hope it doesn’t take another 14 years to figure out what happened to her.

Sentimental Sunday: I Knew I Was A Grown-Up When…  


Growing up when we would visit my grandma in Stickney, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, the adults, my grandma, parents, aunt and uncle, would always congregate in the kitchen around the table. Kolacky or some other yummy dessert and coffee would be served. The adults would talk about life, the kids, and whatever else adults talked about. The kids, my sister, brother, cousin and I, would run down to the basement and play. The basement was a fun place where we could play ball or ride a bike or investigate what grandma had laying around.

Eventually I grew up and moved back to Chicago. When I was 26 years old I found myself sitting at that same table on a Saturday afternoon with my grandma, my aunt and uncle, eating lunch my grandma had cooked. She was a wonderful cook. I think my favorite meal was her breaded pork chop and mashed potatoes. After lunch she served dessert and coffee. It was on one of these afternoons over coffee I looked around and realized I was a grown-up. I was an adult, sitting at this table, discussing life, work and love.

The last six months, since my parents visited some of the WWII Battlefields in Europe, I have started searching for information on all my WWI and WWII family's soldiers. I have learned there are two very important files from both wars when a soldier was killed, that contain a great deal of information. For WWI it is the Burial File. For WWII it is the IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel Record). I have both files now for two ancestors and am awaiting a couple more IDPF's from WWII.

The Great War Society's page has a lot of useful information on tracking down WWI information including the Burial File. Lynna Kay Shuffield wrote a great article for Ancestry.com called World War I Burial Case Files.

My cousin Michael Kokoska's burial file contained letters written by his parents; a bit of medical information including dental records; a written statement about how he died; many pages of correspondence between the government and the family; telegrams about where his remains would be shipped and when they would arrive; and a good description of his remains at burial and disinterment. I cried as I read his file, especially the letters from his aging parents asking when their son's remains would grace our Chicago's Bohemian National Cemetery. I could really feel their pain through their letters. To me, this file is an invaluable resource in telling the story of this family.

The Burial File did not contain any Statement of Service history, but there are some wonderful books about the 32nd Division's service in WWI and from those books and the U.S. Army's Order of Battle book series, I was able to piece together where his infantry unit was during the few months he was in France. See my Bibliography for books on the 32nd Division.

If you are researching WWI or WWII and had a soldier die, I encourage you to obtain the files.

127th Infantry in France 1918  

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I just received the Family Atlas software yesterday and started playing with it. I love it! I was able to map out where Michael Kokoska and the 127th Infantry was during the first part of 1918 in France. See below.

James Privoznik, WWII  

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Going through some old photo albums to scan in pictures of one relative, I came across a photo of another relative I had not really researched. His name was James Privoznik and he was born in Chicago July 30, 1921. His parents were Mae, nee Holik, and Jim Privoznik.

I know very little about James, but I have sent for his IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel File) and hope to learn more about him through those records and records from his Division. James served in Europe during World War II.  He was in the Army's 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division as a Private First Class. James was killed on January 11, 1945 in Luxembourg. Family story says he told his family to bury him where he falls. His body rests in the Luxembourg American Cemetery in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. James was awarded the Purple Heart.

Ardennes American Cemetery, Belgium  

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My parents, Patricia and Thomas Holik, visited Europe in October. Their trip sparked a lot of the military research I have done since then. It has also started a wonderful correspondence with Michael Green, the cemetery superintendent, about the stories of not only my family's men, but the ones he watches over as well. The following photographs were taken by my parents and the text was written by Patricia and posted on Trip Advisor. Reprinted with permission.

American military sites are difficult to find in Belgium as the signage is very poor and difficult to spot if there is a sign pointing the way. Armed with our trusty WWII European Sites Guidebook, we were able to find this cemetery by carefully following the directions. Upon pulling into the parking lot, we noticed that we were the only visitors. We entered the visitor's center to get some information before visiting the cemetery. The three Americans in charge greeted us warmly and asked where we were from. When we told them we were from Missouri, they were very surprised. They were impressed first that we had found the cemetery and second that this was a planned stop on our itinerary. They sadly indicated that they did not receive many visitors and offered us a private tour which we gratefully accepted.

Our first stop was the small building that housed the carillon. The superintendent, Michael Green, went inside and played the National Anthem for us. He then led us through the graves, stopping at certain ones and relating their stories of heroism during WWII. He showed us Medal of Honor Recipients,Comrades in Arms gravesites, and brothers lying side by side. Before long, the two other guides joined us and related the stories they knew about the men they had the honor to watch over.

My husband is retired Navy, and at the end of our tour and because the cemetery was closing shortly, the superintendent invited my husband to participate in the lowering of the flag ceremony. Taps were played on the carillion and it was a very emotional moment to say the least. The men left us to visit the chapel on our own and have a moment of quiet contemplation. The chapel walls are covered with battle maps done in different colors of marble. We walked back to the visitor's center and were given a folder full of information about the American Battle Monuments Commission, which came in very handy for the rest of our journey to all the other cemeteries and memorials we planned to visit.

Michael, walked us to our car and thanked us for coming and paying our respects to the men and women who rest in that beautiful place. Everyone should visit an American military cemetery in the United States or abroad, and pay their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

A Short History of the Family of Frantisek and Anna, nee Flieger, Holik  


Frantisek and Anna Holik lived in Senetin, Bohemia before 1900. Senetin is located east of Prague. Frantisek lived from 1845 to 1910. Anna lived from 1860 to 1934. Frank and Anna had 11 children, many of whom came to America.

Bozena was born April 3, 1879. She died September 13, 1935 in Senetin, Bohemia.

Jan was born February 11, 1883. Jan immigrated in 1903 or 1904 according to the Declaration of Intent he filed to become a citizen and 1910 and 1920 census records. His Declaration contains a ship name, the Barbarossa, and date of immigration, but I cannot locate him on a ship log. I’m now going through page by page of every ship log the Barbarossa had in 1903 and 1904 in the hopes that his name was transcribed incorrectly and I will find him. Jan married Marie Ratay June 11, 1905 in Chicago. Jan died April 8, 1930, before he was Naturalized. Jan and Marie are my great grandparents.

Katerina was born June 7, 1887. She immigrated and arrived in New York on March 18, 1903 on the Kronprinz Wilhelm. She married Jan Koluvek May 14, 1905. Interestingly, Jan was on the same ship as Katerina. They were listed one page apart on the ship log. Jan lived in Snet, Bohemia and Katerina in Senetin. These towns were 40 km apart. I am not sure if they met on the ship or in Chicago. There is no indication prior to living in Chicago that they knew each other. My nine year old son has a theory they met on the ship. I believe they met in Chicago. It is a nice debate for us and a way for him to look at the evidence available to create a theory and try to prove, disprove, or rule it a possibility.  We will never know exactly where and how Katerina and Jan met but it is a nice debate. Katerina died in Florida on December 15, 1980. Her husband Jan died in Florida in 1950.

Frantiska was born March 8, 1885. No other information is known on her.

Anna was born November 6, 1889 and died a few years later in 1896.

Frank was born November 25, 1890. He immigrated to the U.S. on March 16, 1910 on the Rijndam. Frank married Agnes Vadlejch on March 13, 1911 in Chicago. Frank died before 1963.

Marie was born January 31, 1894. She immigrated in 1909 on the Kaiser Wilhelm II. According to the 1910 Census, Marie was working at the Chicago Municipal Isolation Hospital (for smallpox) at 3400 S. Lawndale. This hospital was run by German nuns, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. Marie was only 17 or 18 years old when she worked as a nurse there. I think she might have married in 1911 but need to research this more. She was not working there in1920.

Josef was born April 2, 1896 and immigrated on November 3, 1921 on the Orbita. Josef married Anna, maiden name unknown on May 12, 1923, in Berwyn, Illinois. Josef died September 1979 in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Alois Josef was born March 10, 1899 and died soon after.

Gabriela was born January 29, 1900. No other information is known on her.

Anna was born September 13, 1902. She immigrated the year before Josef and arrived in the U.S. on August 30, 1920 on the Noordam. At this time I have no information about her after she arrived in Chicago.


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