Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Long Wait

UPS notification service told me I had a package from VA VBA EAO 05 313 SUP SVCS24. Totally obvious what that is, right? Not me either. I hadn't ordered anything. The package arrived -not large but on the heavy side. Full of paper. 

Oh. My. Gosh. It's the veterans file of George Wolff- the Spanish American war vet- the rough rider. The tailor. 

I had done a FOIA request after the service record was not found in those archives where they normally are. I had submitted the request in June if 2013. And now it was finally here. 

I now have:
His village of birth in Poland. 
His wife's maiden name, her exact birthdate, her parents names. 
I also have the church where they got married and the exact date of their marriage.
The birthdates of all their children.
Two affidavits from people they " knew all their lives" that attended their wedding. 
Eye color, height, weight, ( he was only 5'4") 
I also know now that he suffered a stroke while gardening. 

Things I expected to find in there but did not:
His parents names.
More info on his actual time in service. The one paper that relates to that is entirely illegible- the orginal dark or shiny somehow - the photocopy I can pull out the words "faithful" and "Cuba". 

Overall I'm thrilled! 

Made me giggle:
Is there an official or church record of your marriage: yes

If yes, where: in the church

It's as if my husband filled out the form.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Family Traditions: Galaretka Wieprzowa AKA Pig Jelly

We began talking about holiday traditions when were working in the kitchen while preparing Thanksgiving meal. My husband recounted how his Grandmother Wolff (Delores Spanheimer) was such a  wonderful cook. He remembered that during the holidays she would make three different kinds of cookies- familiar to us all- Pffeffernuesse, Almond Crescents, and Ice Box Cookies. My husbands father also loved to eat one of Grandma Wolff's more savory treats Siltz. He described it as pork in clear gelatin. My husband smiled as he remember how his father would eagerly await a new batch (molded in loaf pans) and slice up the loaves into rectangles to fit on on a Saltine cracker. Then, he would bring some fresh pepper on top and gobble it up. 

Maybe I would try to make this for the family? It sounded intriguing. I began looking looking for a recipe to approximate the dish. I first had to try a variety of spellings. On of my first results was from Google Books, called Mneme's Place:Book One by Glenn P. Wolfe. I giggle at the last name and went on to read the passage in question on page 233:

Siltz, for sure. Whatever else the contents, mason jar up to the lid with shimmering gelatin studded with cubes of fatty pink pork. And, to go with the silts, slices of pumpernickel or a heel a rye bread. 

This seemed pretty close to what my husband had described. And I could completely understand poring hot pork gelatin into mason jars since they'd be fine under the initial heat. And, even more promising, I now had at least one spelling to work with. 

I looked for recipes all over the web that would match, but nothing under that name or variation of that name. Just looking for a pork gelatin dish, I found a likely candidate from a recipe site I wasn't familiar with. The contributor thankfully included his or her source material, a local publication called What's Cooking in Niles. When I went back to Google books to investigate this book found that it was published by a Greek Orthodox church in Niles, IL. The book, which I have not seen or held, was published in 1989 by the Holy Taxiarchai and Saint Haralambos Church, likely as a fundraising effort. 

Of course I couldn't resist and I looked up the church right back into the search engine. When the little map automagically plotted to the right of the search results, it was I've never been but have poured over so many census records in that area that all the place names seemed all too familiar- outside Chicago. I plotted it on the full Google map and then turned on my Google Saved Places called Wolff genealogy.  Right there in front of me were the 1930 homes of several members of the family, including Grandma Delores Wolff,  within 10 miles of the church. I have no way of knowing if this was her recipe included, but I'd like to think that because they lived in that community, I might now have a recipe that may be a fair approximation of what she might of made.

By this time  I don't know if this was originally a Greek dish pick dup by the Poles, or a Polish dish picked up by the Greeks or neither of the above scenarios.  But I did find some commercial products listed here - looks like Polish to me. I didn't know how to pronounce Galaretka Wieprzowa, but I clicked listen to it on at the left window of Google Translate. With a new name, I found images that looked right on and a better(?) recipe under the Eastern European subheading. 
Arkadiusz Scichocki
So, after this research, I think its a lot like headcheese with yet missing the cooking the pigs head part, just the hooves and other meaty chunks. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: Edmund F. Wolff

Provided by Jean Weber, Archivist, Lombard Historical Society

Young Man's Untimely Death Grieves Friends

Many friends and relatives gathered in St. Alexander's Church of Vila Park last Friday morning for the last tribute to Edmund F. Wolff of 202 South Third avenue who passed away on Tuesday, November 12, at Elmhurst hospital from infection resulting from a [r]uptured appendix. Requiem mass was celebrated by the Rev Father Kennedy, burial taking place in the family plot in St. Michael's cemetery at Wheaton

Edmond Wolff was born in Chicago, October 29, 1913, one of eight children born to George and Mary Wolff and had just passed his 22nd birthday when death came last week after but a few days illness. The family came to make their home in Lombard during his early infancy and he received his education at Sacred Heart and St. Alexander parochial schools- being a member of the first class graduated from the latter - and at York High school. He was employed at the Austin Laundry in Chicago. 

He was especially devoted to his parents and other members of the family and his sudden passing came as a distinct shock to them. Of the immediate family surviving besides his parents are three brothers - Conrad of 1107 East Maple. Joseph of Villa Park, and Theodore at home. Also four sisters, Mrs. Alice Fleck of Villa Park, Mrs. Emily Abrms of Chicago, Adele and Beatrice at home. 


Are you a novice like me and wondering how I got this? Between Find a Grave and Illinois Death and Birth Indexes I was able to get his birth and death date. Death dates often didn't match across sources. Then I found that a wonderful soul had, at one time, made an index of all the deaths reported in the Lombard Spectator. That paper had been bought and bought and I tracked the current owners down on Facebook.They reported that their very own archives didn't go back this far and to try a historical society or library. I pursued two tracks- I got an out-of-state library card to the Helen Plum Memorial Library and I contacted the Lombard Historical Society. While the Helen Plum Library didn't have online access to the Lombard Spectator, they did offer a span of years of the Chicago Tribune that I didn't previously have access to.  It was an incredible boon! Meanwhile, the gracious archivist and I corresponded and she found this in the trays and snapped a photo for me. She actually recovered two obituaries- but I 'll save that one for another post. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday- George, Eddie and Teddy

George Wolff headstone (Photo by Rich Schram)
George Albert Wolff or Albert Wojciech was born in Poland in April 23, 1876.  Even though this headstone is inscribed G. Wolff- George isn't buried there. The plot is for four, but only two are used. Of his many children, George lost his 22 year old son, Edmund "Eddie" Wolff to a ruptured appendix in 1935Theodore Wolff, according to family oral stories, died in from an illness contracted in the Philippines while serving in the military in August 22 1946. 
Edmund Wolff Inscription (Photo byt Rich Schram)

Edmund Wolff Death Certificate

George Wolff, his wife Mary Rylicki Wolff, and his daughter Adele Roselle Wolff are buried in St Peters Cemetery in Eagle River, Wisconsin

Monday, July 15, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - Humblebrag


Dear Uncle Gib & Family -

     Sorry I am late in sending you our first addition of our Shrine Temple News - But have been so busy getting my committees + appointments made that I have not had time to think. I have been gone Every night + working days it has been rough  - Things are beginning to slow dow[n]. 

     How is everyone [?] Fine I hope. This leaves us all well. Daryll is in the Navy at San Diego  + he sure likes it. don't think we will be able to get down this year but after we are out will try. We were in San Francisco for the East West game sure had a nice Time. 

     When you see everyone be sure + give them all our Love. Write when you can. 


This letter was written by Raymond Hoover Dancy to his Uncle Gilbert Dancy. After Ray's parents perished in a murder/ suicide, Uncle Gilbert raised Ray for several years. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday's Obituary - ANOTHER VETERAN OF 1860 IS DEAD


J.V. Pethel Died Yesterday Evening at the Home of His Son- Other Spencer News

By A.W. Hicks

Spencer, April 7. - Death claimed another veteran of the civli war Thursday afternoon about 5 o'clock when Mr. J.V. Pethel, one of the oldest residents of East Spencer died at the home of son, Robr. A Pethel, with whom he had been living for several years. Mr. Pethel was just past 86 years old and had been confined to his bead for six weeks. His health had been failing for several months and his death was hastened by Brights disease from which he had suffered for a long time. He was a native of Cabarrus county and was the head of a large family being survived by three sons and four daughters. These include [ ] P. and R.A. Pethel of this place; W. L. Pethel, of Savannah, Ga. Mesdames M. J. Overcash of Spencer; T.R. Dancy,  of Wood county, Texas; Dema Orear, of El Passo, and Mamie Allmon, of Whichita Falls, Texas. Mr. Pethel belonged to the older type of Southern settlers and he'd to the customs of earlier days. He was liked best by those who knew him best. The funeral takes place Saturday at 11 o'clock at his old home church, center grove near Kannapolis, where he was raised and where he lived for many years. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Madness Monday- Suicide After Shooting Wife in Divorce Row

Was it The Depression or was it depression? Was it some other form of mental illness? I'll let you, the reader, decide. 

Elam Hoover Dancy was born in Cabarrus County, North Carolina to his 16 year old mother and his 25 year old father sometime in August of 1890. Elam, or sometimes called Elmer, would go on to be the eldest of 6 children. He had three sisters and two brothers. Elam's father, William Edward Dancy was a carpenter and sometimes worked apart from the family. Elam's mother, Teresa Roxanna Pethel, seems to be from tough stock also out of Cabarrus County. As a young man, Elam learned carpentry from his father and went with his father to the greater Dallas area, Texas. When Elam was 20 years old and working as a pattern maker in the carpentry trade he married a local Texas gal, Mabel Shanks who was almost 17 years old in 1908. 

Elam and Mabel lived with Elam's father and sister in Dallas on 409 Peabody Street. The young couple had their first child in 1909. Perhaps through complications of childbirth, Mabel dies that same year at about 18 years old. Their son, William Hoover Dancy, dies at only 11 months old from whooping cough. Mother and son are buried together in a plot for three in Oakland Cemetery with no marker.  After Elam buries his infant son in May of 1910, he marries the 14 year old Texas native, Lillie Mae White. Lillie had already bore him a son (William Elmer) before they were wed in September of 1909. 

Elam and Lillie go one to have four more children-Jacob Lee Roy, a boy who perished at about 7 months old, Raymond Hoover,  and Dorothy Dell. The family chases the lumber trade. Between 1910 and 1914 they live and work in Caddo Parrish, Louisiana. In 1915 they are living in the the small town of Peach in Wood County, Texas. The town doesn't exist today. After the lumber was exhausted the rail didn't stop anymore. The rail line was repeatedly broken into smaller segments but the majority was never bought or run again. Elam's father dies at only 55 years old during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. By 1920 they've moved on again and are living in Harrison County, Texas in the absolute poorest part of town where he works as a millwright. By 1922, they have moved again and are living back in Shreveport, Caddo Parrish, Louisiana. Elam's mother, Teresa, moves in with her eldest son. 

In 1924 and 1926, Elam is still working as a carpenter. And that's when things really start to unravel.  His wife Lillie, citing infidelity, petitions for separation** and asks for custody of the two eldest children- Jacob Lee Roy and William Elmer. Elam will have nothing of divorce and stabs her as she tries to leave him. She stays with some kind of female friend in town but comes out to the house each day to wash and cook for the children but refuses to stay at night. In late June of 1927, Elam shoots her in the back* in their own yard in front of their youngest child- Dorothy Dell. Then, he composes a note, locks himself in the bathroom and then shoots himself in the head. Their youngest boy, Ray, comes home from school to discover his 6 year old sister alone with the bodies of his dead parents. 

Was it the stress of the depression years? What drove him to be unfaithful to both his first and second wife? Why did he feel that stabbing her would make her stay? Did his first wife's death and his two infant sons' deaths weigh on him? And, it may seem a bit goulash, whatever happen to the suicide note?


*Suicide After Shooting Wife in Divorce Row
SHREVEPORT, La., June 27 (UP).—After firing three shots into his wife,  seriously wounding her, as she stood In the backyard of her home, E. H. Dancy, 37, carpenter, walked into the bathroom and shot a bullet into his own head. He is expected to die. 

A six-year-old daughter of the couple, Dorothy, was the only witness to the double shooting. 

Dancy was at liberty on bond for stabbing his wife last April. Mrs. Dancy was suing for divorce.

Extract of petition: **PETITION OF SEPARATION: There is a record of Lillie Mae Dancy’s separation filing dated May 16, 1927 (she was murdered June 28, 1927).    MRS. L. M. Dancy VS E. H. Dancy.  PETITION: TO THE HONORABLE THE FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR THE PARRISH OF CADDO LOUISIANA.  The petition states that Lillie May was married to E. H. Dancy on October 2, 1910 in the city of Dallas, Texas.  There were four children born of said marriage: Jacob Leroy, age 15, William Elmer, age 13, Raymond, age 9, and Dorothy Dell, age. 6.  Excerpt: “Petitioner further shows that she has always been a kind and dutiful wife to her said husband but that regardless of his marriage vows, he has since their marriage been guilt of adultery, committed at various times and particularly on or about the 15th day of April, 1927,at 722 Caddo Street, in this City, with a woman whose name is unknown to your petitioner.  Petitioner avers that because of the shameful conduct of her said husband and the dishonor which he has brought upon her name, she, desires to secure a divorce “A vincula matrimonii and to obtain the custody of her minor children Jacob Leroy, age 15 and William Elmer, age 13.  Petitioners further represents that there exists no community and if same does exists, does waive and relinquish any rights, titles or interest she may have in same into and in favor of her said husband E. H. Dancy.  WHEREFORE petitioner prays that she may be authorized to institute and prosecute this action that the house No 3011 on Alabama Avenue, in this city be assigned to her as a domicile pending this suit…”

Other documents can viewed in Elam (Elmer) Hoover Dancy's gallery

Sources (Incomplete Listing):
State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, Division of Archives, Records Management, and History. Vital Records Indices. Baton Rouge, LA, USA. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011

Year: 1920; Census Place: Justice Precinct 8, Harrison, Texas; Roll: T625_1816; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 71; Image: 304, 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City).
The petition of separation from the Caddo County Courthouse. (I don't know how to cite that properly yet).