July 2014


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.’ ”

Newsclipping Toledo News Bee January 6, 1919 Tony Scymanski Wounded Twice

Newsclipping from Toledo News Bee January 6, 1919 Tony Scymanski

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 a woman named Martha.

Tony died in 1948 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Tony Scymanski Veteran Gravestone Calvary Cemetery

Tony Scymanski Veteran Gravestone 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.

Toledo News Bee Clipping March 7, 1918 Alois Nowicki

Toledo News Bee Clipping March 7, 1918 Alois Nowicki

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.

Alois Nowicki Veteran's Administration Record

Alois Nowicki Veteran’s Administration Record

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 Nowicki 1930 Census Pima County Arizona

Alois Nowicki 1930 Census Pima County Arizona

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.

Alois Nowicki Veternas Gravestone Record

Alois Nowicki Veterans Gravestone Record

Yesterday’s mystery seems to have been halfway cleared up. The wonders of social networking! A cousin through my dad’s family contacted me and her mom looked at the photo. Verdict was the two on the left were my paternal grandparents, Walter and Helena. I studied them against a photo of them taken in the backyard of the house they owned on Evesham, and I’m convinced it is them. Yesterday’s photo I would think was probably taken before Walter and Helena lived on Evesham. The house on Evesham was bought sometimes in the 1930s as the 1930 census shows them living a few blocks away in the first home they purchased at 622 Woodstock.

Walter and Helena Mierzejewski, Evesham

Walter and Helena Mierzejewski, Evesham

Now, the other half of yesterday’s mystery is who are the man and woman on the right? I am wondering whether it a sibling and spouse? A hunch I have, and it’s a long shot, is if it is Walter’s brother, Marcin or Marzel. Some oral history and some documented fact: Marcin did come to the US a few times with Walter. I had been able to document a few of his moves through manifests. The manifest below (see lines 11 and 12) is particularly intriguing to me as they are each heading to Masschusetts first–Wladyslaw to New Bedford and Marcin to Pittsfield. This is particularly interesting as there is quite a few Mierzejewskis in that region and many Mierzejewskis traveled westward through New England to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

http://dmcmanus.biz/family/marzel_mierzejewski_11251909.pdf

Wladyslaw is stating that his contact in Poland is his wife, Helena, who lives in Borowiec, Lomza. Marcin is stating that his contact is his sister-in-law.

There are other miscellaneous manifests, from 1903 and 1907 from Hamburg that also show Walter and Marcel traveling to the US. Unfortunately, I have not yet located the manifests that indicate their arrival at a US port yet. So, I am fairly certain Walter and Marcin traveled together and separately for work in the US for a while prior to Walter and Helena permanently settling in Ohio in 1923.

The oral part of this story is that Marcin did not like living in the US and he eventually returned to Poland to remain permanently where he married a woman named Czeszlawa, in 1914. He died in Tomasz in 1965. I do know of a story that he did come to the US to visit Helena and Walter at least once. Walter died in 1946, so the visit would have had to occur prior to 1946. If I study both of these pictures, it’s clear to me that the two men are related in some fashion. While one has a prominent moustache, their facial features are very much alike: very round faces, downward slopes of the nose, and similar mouth and jaw features. Hopefully, by putting this out “there” someone can identify and maybe confirm that the two persons to the right are Marcin and his wife Czeszlawa.