|From Chicago Family History|
|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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blogs I Follow
- Near Chicago, Illinois, United States
- Jennifer Holik, is a Professional Genealogist, Instructor, Writer, and owner of Generations, a genealogical research business. She has been researching her family history since 1996, uncovering the life stories of her ancestors. She is the author of two blogs, Chicago Family History and Family History Research and is the author of the book To Soar with Tigers about Flying Tiger, Robert R. Brouk.
- 127th Infantry
- 32nd division
- Abraham Lincoln Library
- Air Force
- American Battle Monuments Commission
- Army Air Force
- back in time
- Berwyn Life
- Birth Certificate
- Bohemian Food
- Bohemian National Cemetery
- Book Bazaar
- Burial File
- Cermak Road
- Chicago wards
- City Directory
- death certificate
- Declaration of Intention
- Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories
- family history
- Family History Research Tips
- family tree
- Flying Tigers
- Follow Friday
- grave preservation
- Great Chicago Fire
- Great White City
- Hawthorne Works
- Illinois Newspaper Project
- Illinois State Archives
- La Mantia
- Madness Monday
- Morton College
- Naval Armed Guard
- Norbert Blei
- Relay For Life
- S.S. Henry Durant
- S.S. Joshua Hendy
- S.S. Sea Quail
- Springfield IL
- St. Casimir's Cemetery
- St. Thomas USVI
- Street Names
- Testicular cancer
- Treasure chest Thursday
- Vesecky's Bakery
- Western Electric
- World's Colubmian Exposition
- World War I
- World War II