Geneabloggers has had a World War I challenge. I thought it a good opportunity to discuss a few World War I tidbits I’d gathered a long time ago that have been sitting on my laptop ignored. While I work on my photos of Calvary, I will often research the person whose grave I’ve photographed. No particular reason, I just want to get to “know” those persons–who they were, what they may have experienced, how (or if) there is some possible connection to my family. In today’s post, I am in no way related to those I’ll be speaking of. But I do feel as if they could be ancestors due to their links to Toledo’s Polonia and our shared experiences and extended families.
Some time ago, I had come across Tony Scymanski via a newsclipping from the Toledo News Bee dated January 16, 1919. Tony had enlisted into the US Army at the age of 21. Tony was a member of the 325 Infantry, 82nd Division, having seen action in Argonne. He had written home to his brother, Frank. A reporter got a hold of the letter he had written and placed a piece on Tony in the News Bee:
Tony Scymanski Wounded Twice
Twenty-two days on the field of battle, and only two slight wounds as a result, is the story of Tony Scymanski, who writes to his brother Frank, of Blade st., to say he has fully recovered and hopes that the rumors of an early sailing come true. Scymanski was in the drive thru Argonne, and proud of the record of his division, the 82nd.
“Imagine how I feel,” he says, “when I walk down the street and the French say, ‘there goes a soldier that fought hard.’ “
Tony was born in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania to Peter Szymanski and Mary Pieczynski. (I am unsure of where the name change had crept in. His death is recorded as Szymanski but the newsclipping and his stone reads Scymanski.) Tony did return to Toledo to gain employment as an rail inspector for Pere-Marquette and married Mary Pieczynski.
Tony died in 1948 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
Another clipping I’d come across was dated March 7, 1918 about Alois Nowicki, who also was writing home to his brother, also named Frank.
Life In France is Like Camping
“Life here is like camping at Point Place,” writes Alois Nowicki of 1159 Blum st., from France, to his brother, Attorney Frank S. Nowicki. Sam Nowicki, another brother, is with the National Army, and Casimir Nowicki, a third brother, is with an aviation section about to leave for France.
I’m not certain that war time living would be like “camping at Point Place”–Point Place at that time was a sort of middle class resort area in Toledo with beaches and boats and fishing. Maybe Alois did not want to focus on the reality of Argonne, but wrote to reassure his family that he did find something to provide him with a sense of home, however fleeting? Alois certainly did not seem to have an easy time of of it. Per a Veterans Administration Hospital record from the hospital located in Dayton, Ohio, Alois was admitted there for pulmonary tuberculosis in 1925 and was discharged in 1927. By reading this record, one can see that he was admitted to the US Army through Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, Ohio. Camp Sherman was one of about 32 soldier training sites for World War I, and was a significant training site. Nearly 125,000 soldiers had been trained there. In fact, it was the third largest training camp at the time. It suffered a hard hit in late 1918 when the Spanish influenza epidemic hit when over 5,600 men were infected and well over 1,700 died in camp. A number of Toledo soldiers were inducted and trained through Camp Sherman.
The 1930 census places Alois in Pima County, Arizona with a wife, Hedwina and a daughter, Jean (who was born in Arizona). This census record is curious. It reflects no occupation or possible income source for Alois. This indicates to me perhaps Alois never recovered from tuberculosis and was residing there for possible health benefits. (Click the snippet to open in a new tab and enlarge.)
Alois died March 31, 1938. I have not found whether he died in Arizona or in Ohio. Nor have I yet located his grave at Calvary. But his wife did apply for a veteran’s headstone and the address provided was in Toledo.