Well, almost my last post

I was going through family pictures this week in preparation for another scanning project, when I started running across old Christmas photos. So I thought I would post a few for fun. (They will also be on my flickr site eventually.)

To those who celebrate — MERRY CHRISTMAS.

 

Advertisements

Colonel Irving C. Pahl

After reading the title of this post I can hear my relatives asking, “Colonel Who?” A perfectly legitimate question too. But, in order to answer it I will need to go back a few years to give you a frame of reference.

The story starts with Laura, the youngest daughter of FW John and Johanna Deadrich, my great great grandparents. The second youngest of 6 children to survive to adulthood, she was born August 27, 1866 in Gillett, Oconto County, Wisconsin. (Laura was six years older than the youngest child, my great-grandfather, Victor.)

When Laura John was 19 years old she married her first husband, Charles Edward Pahl. A marriage which lasted for 10 years. Here are some notes from the divorce case:

“…That shortly after the said marriage the plaintiff [sic: defendant Charles] commenced a system of cruel and inhuman treatment towards the plaintiff by calling the plaintiff base, vile and abusive names, by threatening to strike, shoot and kill the plaintiff ….. conduct of the defendant became so cruel and inhuman towards the plaintiff and the said child [Victor] that the plaintiff was forced to and did leave …. That during the time the plaintiff and defendant lived together the defendant was ever jealous of every body who spoke to the plaintiff even of the plaintiff’s brothers …would abuse the plaintiff by the use of vile epithets…talking about shooting and killing the plaintiff.

…the defendant had a mania for whipping and punishing the said Victor Pahl … when the plaintiff remonstrated and attempted to prevent the defendant from so whipping and punishing said child the defendant would grossly and outrageously abuse the plaintiff by use of abusive words…

That the defendant frequently took up a stick or wood and threatened to strike and beat the plaintiff. That about six weeks before the plaintiff left the defendant…because she protested against the punishment of the said Victor Pahl by the defendant, the defendant violently assaulted the plaintiff and pinched and bruised her arm with such force as to take the skin off of her arm.

That shortly before the plaintiff left the defendant as aforesaid he told the plaintiff that if his style did not suit her she might leave and the sooner she left the better, that in consequence of said abuse and the great fear the plaintiff had of the defendant she left him as aforesaid.” 1

Laura had three children with Charles: Louis, who died at about a year old, Harold and Victor Pahl. She retained custody of Victor in the divorce proceedings. (It appears that their son Harold might have also died by the time of the divorce as he is not mentioned in the records).

Laura married again in 1899 to Edward Naylor.

Married
Last Saturday morning, at Gillett, Oconto County, this state, Dr. E. S. Naylor to Miss Laura Johns, Justice Riordan officiating. The bride is one of the most popular young ladies of Gillett, and a sister of our obliging station agent at this place, and the groom is well know veterinary surgeon formerly of Ripon, but now in the employ of the Rusch Lumber Company here. They arrived here on the evening train Monday and were duly serenaded by the village band, after which a social ball was given in their honor at the Exchange Hotel, where they are at present staying. The Advertiser joins their many friends in wishing them a happy and prosperous journey through life. 2

This marriage didn’t last long either, and there were no living children of this marriage when divorce was granted in 1904. Laura supported herself by working as a cook in lumber camps, and boarding houses. Skills she most likely learned from her mother, who was acclaimed as a great cook by locals and visitors alike.

Victor was born in 1891. It is possibly because Laura was working in lumber camps, a place that would be dangerous for a young child, that he is found in the 1900 census living with his grandparents, FW and Johanna John. He appears to have had a complicated, rough and confusing childhood, because we find him a few years later at the State School for Boys, in Waukesha, at the age of 14. I don’t know what his incarceration was for, or for how long he was a guest of the facility.

In 1916 when war started in Europe, Victor was working in Ontario as an ironworker. It appears that he was so eager to join in the fight, that he didn’t want to wait for the United States to get involved.

Oconto Boy in the War
Victor Pahl, son of Charles Pahl of Oconto, has enlisted in a Canadian company and will participate in the European war on the side of the allies. Victor was born and brought up in Oconto. 3

military_pahlvic_canadian

He was in the Canadian Navy. When the United States finally join in the cause, he signed up for the draft there.

Victor died in 1951 in Florida. Leaving three children from his first wife: Irving, Martha and Laura. From the little that I have found, I am quite sure that there is much more that could be written about Victor, but this post is really about Irving, my Dad’s second cousin.

Here is a picture of Victor from a Brazilian Passport4 from 1943. He would be about 52:

misc_pahlvic_passport1

pahl_irvingc_headshotfromnewspaper

Like his father, Irving C. Pahl was born in Wisconsin. His mother however, was a Romanian immigrant.

Irving’s father moved the family around a lot, probably because of his job (I believe he was a sailor, or worked around boats), so the family wasn’t actually in Wisconsin very long before they left on the first of many moves. It was in Connecticut that the family settled for a short while, and Irving started his formal education.

But he can tell you all about that in his interview.

One of the great things about the internet is how it makes it so much easier to find gems, that you wouldn’t otherwise know about. In researching Irving online, I ran across an interview with him, recorded by the Winthrop University, for their oral history program. The main focus of his interview is the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviets, because he and his family were there when the hammer came down.

Finding the interview, seeing his involvement in Czechoslovakia, and his rank when he retired from the Army, I thought that he might have been an interesting cousin to know about, so I did a little more digging. What follows are newspaper clippings that I found regarding Irving’s life in the military. And I was right, it was pretty interesting.

This first newspaper article is from 1953 and gives a good overview of his accomplishments and involvement in the service from 1939 up to that time. The rest of the articles are chronologically organized.

newpspaper_KentuckyNewEra_06_11_1953p9
Kentucky New Era 06/11/1953p9

 

133153548 copy

Untitled
Pacific Stars and Stripes, vol.11, no. 149, may 30, 1955

79485056 copy

133746094 copy

147467384983692D_1474620927299CDC copy

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 10.35.20 AM
Excerpt from book published about the Czechoslovakian fight.

Untitled 2

Untitled4

Those are the highlights of what appears to be quite an interesting life for himself, and his family. And when Irving retired in Columbia, South Carolina he didn’t actually ‘retire’. He was still very much involved with the community, volunteering and writing letters to the editor.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Irving passed way in 1996, leaving a son and a daughter to carry on his legacy.

The interview which I mentioned above can be downloaded from the University’s website, and listened to at your leisure, it is about 50 minutes long. I have also transcribed the interview as best I can. The transcript (a link to it is below in .pdf format) is the best I could get from listening to it on my iPhone. Some bits were too garbled for me to hear clearly, and I indicate such, on occasion he is speaking Czech (or German), or using Czech names and places, and I can’t quite tell what he is saying. A few times several people were talking at once, (I believe his wife was present at the time, interjecting a comment on occasion, which I couldn’t quite hear).

TRANSCRIPT OF PAHL INTERVIEW

As each new generation is born, it is only natural that family starts drifting farther apart. So I am glad when I can find and share these stories of cousins we never knew. I hope you enjoy them too.


Sources:
1. Divorce of Laura Pahl (plaintiff) from Charles E. Pahl (defendant) December 24, 1895 (filed January 8, 1896) Oconto County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Case #4044, Area Research Center, UW Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisconsin. June 23, 2005.
2. Northern Wisconsin Advertiser, Wabeno, WI (Madison WHS micro PH 73-1888) January 26, 1899 c5 (weekly Thursday paper).

3. The Union Farmer Herald, Vol. 5, Issue 42, March 24, 1916, page 1, col. 1.
4. Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965, FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records. Image 145-146 of 201 (pulled from Ancestry.com).

Clarence and the Wisconsin State Guard Reserve

It was pure chance that I was preparing this post for this week, and Veteran’s Day is Saturday. Brilliant. To all the veterans in my family, past and present, thank you for your service.

3126507798_7c1421ef93_z
Clarence with his State Guard Reserve unit. (He is in the back row, straight back from the gentleman sitting on the far right in front.) His designation was provided by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison.

In 1904 the Wisconsin State Legislature enacted Chapter 434.

“In the event of all or part of the Wisconsin National Guard being called into the service of the United States, the governor is hereby authorized to organize and equip a temporary military force equal in size and organization to that called from the state, provided, that upon the return to the state of the troops called into the service of the United States the temporary military force shall be disbanded.”

Both my grandfather Clarence Fredrick John and his uncle Milton Cain were members of the Wisconsin State Guard (or in Clarence’s case it was the State Guard Reserve). Milton went on to fight in France with the Rainbow Division. My grandfather, on the other hand, never stepped foot in Europe, or Africa for that matter, during this war. He did not turn 21 until October 29, 1919 and the war was over a little more than a week later.

The State Guard was organized after the Wisconsin National Guard went overseas to join in the war effort in July of 1917. The first units of the State Guard that were organized were in Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Green Bay. The men recruited were all volunteers who were too old or too young for the draft.

Its first encampment was at Camp Douglas in July of 1918. It was comprised of four regiments of infantry and a State Guard Reserve. In total about 5,500 officers and men.

The Guard was paid an allowance by the state for: armory rent, upkeep of clothing, and the expenses connected with their training. However, the men in the Guard were all volunteers so received no wages or pay. And if you were in the State Guard Reserve, you paid for your own equipment and uniform.

The camp was commanded by BG Charles King, a retired officer of the Wisconsin National Guard. He trained the men as if they were regular army, and their competence  after a few days of intensive training, along with their own drills at home, was impressive. In his report to the adjutant general Gen. King complimented them highly.

35897116580_4968a59c2a_z
From the family album. Clarence Fredrick John in his State Guard Reserve uniform.

It was understood that joining the State Guard did not exempt the men from the draft. Those who were too young to join at that time would be eligible for active service when they reached the age of 21. The older men could be called up if they ran out of young blood.

The Wisconsin State Guard was needed 3 times during the World War I:
1. Sept. 16-18, 1918 Clark County; to assist in search for draft dodgers.
2. Aug. 20-24, 1919 As guards during the Cudahy riots.
3. Sept. 9-12, 1919 Troops were assembled in the armory at Manitowoc, for use in strike riots at Two Rivers, but they were not used.

The State Guard was incrementally disbanded starting on May 5, 1920, as the National Guard was slowly reactivated in full, a process which was completed in 1921.

Clarence was with the 26th Separate Company of Crandon.5 He sure does look cute in his duds. He apparently liked to say that his ship was turned around at sea because the war was over, so he never got to fight. It makes for a nice story, but I am doubtful that that was the case, as he wouldn’t have had time to be on a ship heading overseas, less than two weeks after he was of age. He might, however, have had his bags all packed and been raring to go.

stateguardarticle

Sources:
1.  http://www.b-1-105.us/history/wsg.html.
2. Email from: Horton, Russell <Russell.Horton@dva.state.wi.us.
3. “State Guard to Camp Douglas”, The Farmer-Herald, Oconto Falls, Wis., Friday, June 28, 1918. Page 4 Column 2.
4. “Wisconsin in the World War,” by R. B. Pixley. Milwaukee, The Wisconsin War History Company, 1919. Copyright 1919:S.E. Tate Printing Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. Google Books digitized. p285
5. “…found a Clarence F. John in the State Guard Reserve microfilm. It appears he with the 26th Separate Company, which seems to be based out of Crandon” — email from Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 
30 West Mifflin Street, Madison, WI 53703.

A case of slander…

3274299875_615a879761_oThe following newspaper clippings tell me the story of a court case that never really came to be. And, if it wasn’t for the local reporting on the matter, I never would have known about it at all. (From what I have seen it appears that Joseph Pinkerton might have been the go-to carpenter in Gillett.)

1878-1-26, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 7, issue 13, page 3, col. 2:
It is reported that Jos. Pinkerton has instituted proceedings against Wm. Johns of Gillett for slander, laying his damages at $8,000.

1878-11-02 Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 1, page 3, col. 2:
The slander libel suit pending between Joseph Pinkerton and F. W. Johns has been amicably settled, and dropped from the court calendar. It would be better if more law suits could be disposed of in the same way.

1878-11-16, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 3; page ? col 2:
Court Proceedings.
The following is a summary of the court business disposed of since our last report:
J. Pinkerton vs F. W. John, Settled

So it appears that hot tempers cooled and better natures prevailed. Good thing for William, otherwise that would have been an expensive bit of slander if he had lost the case.

 

Lincoln and Hazel (Ward) (Jacobs) John…

Victor Hugo John, the youngest of Frederick William John and Johanna Deadrich’s children, had three children with his wife Gertrude Cain. They were all boys.

Today I want to talk about Lincoln William John (Link), their second son, and apparently the shortest. He must have gotten his height from his mother Gert.

3218241295_b1511051f6_z
Here is a great picture of Victor with his three sons in order of birth: Clarence, Link, Vic jr.

Link was born 7 Feb 1901 in Wabeno, Forest County, Wisconsin. He grew up and played in the woods of Wisconsin, but when he hit the age of about 21 he must have developed restless feet because he left the bosom of his family and headed out to the wild west, and other exotic places. He was definitely no longer living in Wisconsin by 1930. (I believe that I found him in the 1930 census as: William John, living in Beckton, Sheridan County, Wyoming, age 23, lodging and working as a farm hand. The age is off, but he is also listed as being born in Wisconsin, so it could be the same Lincoln William of this biography. Then again, if Link was working for the railroad, he might have been missed in this census altogether.)

While I am not 100% that I have found him in the 1930 census, I did find this article in the Forest Republican, a weekly Crandon paper, from April of 1922:

Lincoln John, who has been employed at Casper, Wyoming, is expected to return to Crandon to-day to drive taxi for H. H. Patterson.

And in 1926 he took a trip to Cuba. Holiday?:

ship_johnlw_1926cuba

Interestingly, the 1930 census for Hazel is dated April 1 of 1930, and it was only a few weeks later that Link was married in Hot Springs, Fall River County, South Dakota to Hazel (Ward) Jacobs, a 28 year old divorcé with an adopted son, Martin Jacobs. Martin was 5 years of age at the time.

Hazel and Link possibly met through the railroad company, because in 1920, when she was living in Kansas with her parents, Hazel was working as a messenger in a railroad office, and Link was employed as a railroad fireman in the 1940 census.

4874201222_351474ffd4_zmarriage_johnlw_to_jacobshazel_1930nd

Link’s employment in the railroad, no doubt came about because of his father and grand father’s involment with the railroad in Wisconsin. He grew up around trains and the railway. His father Victor, sr. was a station agent for many years before going into banking.

Ten years later, (1940), Link and Hazel were still living in Casper, Wyoming, however Martin is no longer in the household.

The family story was that Martin was ‘given up’ because Hazel and Link went to Panama, where Link was going to be working in the Canal Zone, and they weren’t allowed to take Martin with them. From my research, it appears that Martin went to live with his father in Texas, where he appears in the 1940 census. I don’t know when he went to live with his father, but it was before Link was starting to make trips Panama.

Passenger lists can be found from 1944, ’45, ’47 and ’48 with Link’s name on them. He is traveling to and from the Canal Zone in Panama for work. Hazel appears with him in 1945 and 1947. But I could find only one passenger list showing them leaving the US for Panama, the rest are all arrivals back to the US.

So it appears that a short time after 1940 (about 1944) to about 1948 the Johns had moved to Panama. I imagine that Link’s work with the railroad is what led to his being transferred to the Canal Zone to help with construction or other activities related to railroad work there.

ship_johnlw_1944cz
This is a cool passenger list from 1944, because it is actually from Pan American Airlines. Link is flying in to New Orleans from Panama on his way back to Wyoming. Maybe it had been his first trip to Panama to get things ready for Hazel to  join him.

panama-gulf-of-panama-and-canal-zone-map

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about their experiences in Panama, other than that they were there. It was during part of WWII, and also in a time where there was much unrest in the area, as the majority of the locals really wanted the Americans out of their backyard. (Maybe someone in Hazel’s family has pictures and stories.) We do have one letter that Hazel wrote where she mentions that my mother should enjoy the ‘housegirls’ she had when we lived overseas, in reference to Hazel and Link’s time in Panama:

letter_johnlh_to_johnvs_1972_06_06_p1

hermitage21-08
This would be one of the types of ships that were traveling through the canals at the time they lived there.

When Link and Hazel retired they did so in Fresno, California. I can recall visiting with them in Fresno in the early 1970s, and being delighted with the train set-up Link had in the house. It was pretty cool, with all the little buildings and landscaping. They also kept a wonderful garden on their lot. Hazel always sent hand crocheted slippers for Christmas. I guess we always sent them cheese.

letter_johnlh_to_johnvs_1981_01_04_p2

3089069061_a43c771c48_z
This is a doodle drawing that Link made. Hazel makes a reference to Link always drawing train pictures in one of her letters to us.
3090036346_1d6a790782_z
This is definitely a picture of Link, but I am not positive of the women beside him, it could be Hazel. Looks like she is working on the car.

Hazel passed away in 1987, Link stuck around a few years longer, passing away in 1992. They had no children of their own to pass on their legacy. I remember them fondly, and we do still have the letters they sent to us.


More on Hazel’s early life:
Hazel Ward was born in Kansas in 1899. Her mother Eva was married more than once. When we find the family in the 1910 census her mother is married to Henry Piper and they had one child together. Hazel had two sisters, Blanche and Gladys, and a brother Robert, also one half sister.
Hazel’s first husband was probably Martin Jacobs, sr. and they most likely married in Kansas, where they were both living in the 1910s. I don’t know when they were married, although the 1920 census indicates that she was already divorced. Martin had a child with another women when they were married, because Martin jr was adopted by Hazel according to the 1930 census.
A Martin Frank Jacobs jr., who appears in the Social Security applications and claims index at Ancestry, has the same year of birth as the Martin Jacobs from the 1930 census, and applied from Casper, Wyoming. He died in Texas in February of 1986. This same Martin, jr. appears in the 1940 census living with Martin, sr. and Lucy Jacobs in Texas. Martin, sr. was probably Hazel’s first husband, who took his son back to live with him sometime between 1930 and 1940.

 

Love at first sight?

untitled
Clarence John and Myrtle Hamm, newlyweds.

My father remembers being told, when he was younger, that his parents had met when Clarence was injured in a train accident and Myrtle was taking care of him at a hospital in Marshfield where she was working as a nurse.

He didn’t have any more details than that. So for the past 15+ years I have waited patiently to find the newspaper article that would mention this accident and give me more details. Thankfully, the Oconto County Historical Society is currently making great efforts to digitize the Oconto County newspapers, and I have found some great articles in the past. A recent check of their progress gave me the answer I have been seeking:

train
The Gillett Times, v27n50, Gillett, Wisconsin, Thursday, August 4, 1927, page 1.

The article certainly confirms that Clarence was in a train accident, and he was sent to the Marshfield hospital, where Mrytle would have been working at the time, (she had graduated from nursing school in May of that same year.)

It is believed that Clarence received a pretty hefty settlement from the railroad and this is probably the money he used to start his own business. A bowling alley.

bowlingalley
The Gillett Times, v28n15, Gillett, Wisconsin, Thursday, November 29, 1928, page 1.

3709800809_8dd79bff4c_z

 

Here is a matchbook saved by the family from the bowling alley.

It is said that because Clarence’s venture started not long before the crash of 1929 and folks no longer had extra money to spend on luxury outings, such as bowling, the business didn’t last very long. But, I have no proof of that yet. I guess I will have to dig a little deeper.

In 1931, a little over 3 years after they met, Clarence and Myrtle ran away to Illinois and were married at the court house. Was it love at first sight? Only they know, and they aren’t talking.

Bet you didn’t see this coming…

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY DAD (just a little early).

Over the years the research on my JOHN side of the family has brought to light our German, Norwegian, Dutch and Irish heritage and has been quite an interesting trip. And now, thanks to recent in-depth research on my great grandmother Gertrude (Cain) John’s ancestors, we can also add English and Welsh to this side of the tree. In fact, thanks to the English ancestry on this side of the tree, we can add another gateway ancestor, AKA a Royal Line (I am still waiting on my tiara). Which also means that I have found a common ancestor for my parents: Henry I.

“What!? How than this be?” You ask. Well I’ll tell you.

Gertrude’s parents were John Cain, our Irish line, and Carrie Rosa. Carrie’s father Abram adds Dutch on the Rosa (originally Roosa) side, however, his mother Clarrisa Cross is where the English pops in. It is believed very likely,  (but not 100% proven, although the evidence is pretty compelling), that Clarissa’s parents were Joseph Cross and Zerviah Warner, both of whom’s ancestors can be traced back to New England, where they can be found mostly in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Today’s focus, however, is on one of Zerviah Warner’s great great great grandfathers, Rev. William Skepper/Skipper, (the name is seen both ways).

William was baptized in Boston, Lincolnshire, England on the 27th of November in 1597 the son of Edward and Mary (Robinson) Skepper. When he was about 14 years old he attended Sidney College in Cambridge, graduating after 2 years, having acquired a seminary style education. Due to, most likely, family connections he became a Rector of Thorpe by Wainfleete. Ten years later he is found as a curate and/or vicar of the same.

William was married twice, the name of his first wife is not known and they had several children together. His second wife, my ancestress, was Sarah Fisher. They had only one child, a daughter Sarah, who was born about 1640, it is assumed in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts.

1639 is believed to be the time period that the Skepper family moved to New England with other folks from Boston. A large contingent from the area at that time was making the exodus from England. William didn’t live long in the new world though as he died before 1650, which we know because a son-in-law was in court in 1650 petitioning that the estate be divided.

William’s grandmother Joan Legard was the 7xg grandchild of King Edward III and Queen Philippa Hainault (see images above). Not only did she have English royal blood, she also had French and Scottish royal blood in the mix. My favorite great grandmother is Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is such an awesome chick, and who I was very disappointed wasn’t one of my grandmothers in Mom’s royal line. (Descent on Mom’s side is through an illegitimate son of Henry I, whereas on Dad’s side it is through a legitimate daughter of Henry I, who marries and proceeds to birth the future Henry II.)

It is easy to think dismisively that this is ridiculous, every genealogist wants to be descended from royalty. (Insert eye-roll here). But actually it is pretty easy to believe, these folks had kids, some lots of kids, not every child was going to be king or queen, so the younger kids married, had kids, and so on, in each successive generation the oldest inheriting the most and the youngest getting less and less, and so on down the line. Until, you have the not so landed gentry ending up down here with us common folk. Personally, I have never done my research with the intent of finding famous ancestors. I have always been surprised if I did and mostly just thought, Cool! And, as a reminder, there are hundreds of thousand of descendants that can claim the same royal ancestry as me.

Still. Cool!

Here we go again:
Pipin the Short=Bertrada of Laon
Emp.Charlemagne=Hildegarde
Emp. Louis I=Judith of Bavaria
Emp. Charles II=Ermentrude of Orleans
Judith=Baldwin I, C. of Flanders
Baldwin II, C. of Flanders=Elfrida of Wessex
Arnulf I, C. of Flanders=Adela of Vermandois
Baldwin III, C. of Flanders=Matilda of Saxony
Arnulf II, C. of Flanders=Rozela of Italy
Baldwin IV, C. of Flanders=Ogive of Luxembourg
Baldwin V, C. of Flanders=Adela of France
Matilda of Flanders=King William I of England
King Henry I of England=Matilda of Scotland <–daughter of King Malcolm III Scotland
Matilda=Geoffrey Plantagenet, C. of Anjou
King Henry II of England=Eleanor of Aquitaine <–MY FAV
King John of England=Isabella of Angouleme
King Henry III of England=Eleanor of Provence
King Edward I of England=Eleanor of Castile-Leon
King Edward II of England=Isabella of France
King Edward III of England=Philippa of Hainault <–daughter of King Philip IV France
Lionel of Antwerp, D. of Clarence=Elizabeth de Burgh
Philippa of Clarence=Edmund de Mortimer, 3rd E. of March
Elizabeth Mortimer=Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy
Elizabeth Percy=John Clifford, 7th Ld. Clifford
Mary Clifford=Sir Philip Wentworth
Elizabeth Wentworth=Sir Martin de la See
Joan de la See=Sir Peter Hildyard
Isabel Hildyard=Ralph Legard, Esq.
Joan Legard [royal line enters our JOHN tree]=Richard Skepper, Lord of Ingoldmels Manor
Edward Skepper, Lord of Ingoldmels Manor=Mary Robinson
Rev. William Skepper/Skipper=Sarah Fisher
Sarah Skipper=Walter Fairfield
Sarah Fairfield=Thomas Abbe
Tabitha Abbe=John Warner
Daniel Warner
=Ann Pember
Zerviah Warner
=Joseph Cross
Clarissa Cross=Garrett Rosa
Abram Rosa=Jennie/Janett Smith
Carrie Rosa=John Cain
Gertrude Cain=Victor John
Clarence John=Myrtle Hamm
Victor John=Margaret Shepard
ME <– 10 greats to the Rev., 21 to Edward III

 

 

Clarence John. Hero!

We are lucky in our family to have lots of bits and pieces from our John and Hamm families. One of the pretty cool items that was found in this treasure trove is this article:

newspaper_john_cf_saveswomen

I have been unable to track down exactly when this event happened, as it is most likely that the newspaper this article appeared in hasn’t been digitized yet. I am guessing that Clarence was in his late teens to about 2oish, as he is talked about as the son of Mrs. and Mr. V. H. John, which tends to make me think he is still a young man and not on his own yet.

Kelly Lake was, and still is, a hot spot for folks vacationing in Oconto County. The size of the lake makes it a great place to boat, fish, swim, all those summer activities that you think of when you hear someone saying they are ‘going up north.’

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.37.39 AM
The red pin on the map market the location of Kelly Lake, Gillett and Oconto are on the map so one can see its location in relation to the two cities.

I am glad that my grandfather was there that day to be a hero. As, I am sure, was the lady in distress.

 

Nazis and secret bases in Greenland…

During WWII my grandfather Clarence Fredrick4 (Victor Hugo3, Fredrick William2, Ludwig1) John was too old to join as a soldier, being about 45 years of age. However, his expertise in road building, that he acquired working for the Forestry department in CCC camps in Wisconsin, was put to use in Greenland where he helped build runways for the military.

Clarence left his wife and 3 children for about a year to do his part to assist in the cause. Below is his SS Fairfax passenger list entry, after its arrival back in the US, at Boston at the end of December 1943.

ship_johncf_arvBoston1943

 

During his time in and around Greenland he took, and had taken, many pictures to remember his time there. (Because of all the snow it is difficult to see the details in many of the pictures.) He put together an album of all these pictures so that he would have something to show the students in the Crandon Grade School, when he gave a talk to over 400 students with whom he shared his adventures.

john_album2_pg04

 

Along with all the wonderful Inuit artifacts that he brought back with him and the stories of all he saw, there is one picture that he took that is important because of its historical military significance:

naziweatherstation
Photo taken by Clarence.

 

The mission was boringly named by Germans as the “German Greenland Expedition,” and it wasn’t their first attempt to establish radio stations in Greenland.

The US Navy haunted the coast of Greenland with the purpose of hunting and destroying secret radio and weather bases that were being set-up in various remote locations Greenland by the enemy. And it wasn’t until  many months after this particular event occurred that the US Navy revealed what had happened, for security reasons no doubt.

Early in 1943 this secret base had been discovered, in May it was bombed by Army Air Force planes, and in September it was finally wiped out by a Coast Guard-Army expedition. The Germans occupying the small base had evacuated. But two German soldiers were eventually taken prisoner, one who had been captured and one who stumbled, accidentally, into the hands of the Americans.

The base on an uninhabited small island off the east coast of Greenland, had a small contingent of men from the German Navy. It was discovered by a sledge patrol consisting of Danish hunters who kept an eye on the coast for the US Navy while hunting. The two groups engaged in a battle and two Danes ended up being taken prisoner, another was killed. However, there were survivors who managed to get away and report the discovery to the US soldiers. After the battle the Germans banded together a party and headed north with the intentions of attacking the Danish weather station there. With machine guns under the cover of night, they attacked, but most of the Danes managed to escape.

The German commander attempted to get one of the Danish prisoners to collaborate on a mission up the coast, but at the first opportunity the Dane overpowered the Nazi and after a 40 day trip back, delivered him to the Americans.

Not much was left of the base when the Americans were done bombing it, as can be seen in the pictures. The Germans were pretty persistent and continued making attempts to establish bases, as the Navy encountered several German air patrols and engaged them over the next few months.

Clarence must have been along for the ride when the US soldiers made a trip to the base to make sure it was destroyed. At no time is an exact location given, but it must have been pretty remote for it to take 40 days to get a prisoner back to your allies.

You can read the complete details in the article, which was published in November of 1943. Clarence had a small clipping of the event from another paper in his scrapbook. He didn’t see combat, but he did get to witness an exciting intrigue related to the war. Spies and secret bases oh, my!

newspaper_johncf_nazibase

newspaper_johncf_nazibase2

A similar base discovery was filmed in 1944, so one can get a feel of what the Navy was doing when they found the bases and how the ships were getting around the frozen ice in the area at the time. While not the 1943 event, it is close enough for horseshoes.

 

 

 

 

The jitney problem…

A jitney bus about 1924. Image from Wisconsin Historical Society.

One memory that stands out for me from when we lived in Manila, was the jeepney busses (similar to jitneys) that drove around the city, with all the bright colors and decorations, which included fringe and beads hanging from the windows. They were pretty cool to watch, especially when you are a kid.

Who would have thought that my grandfather would have been part of the jitney craze that hit America in the nineteen teens and continued until about 1923.

The jitney business, (according to a 1915 article I found1), is said to have originated in the southwest, due to the recession which broke out just after WWI, and is believed to have started because of a street car service strike. An intrepid businessman seeing folks in need, took the opportunity to make a few extra nickels in a poor economy by charging them for a ride in his automobile. They were called ‘jitneys’ because they cost a nickel to ride, and slang for a nickel at the time was ‘jitney’.

This idea took hold like wildfire, spreading across the country with great enthusiasm. It apparently also caused massive headaches for local city councils who were wholly unprepared for the problems this craze would cause. Problems like congestion and increased street accidents. Local trolley lines and chartered transportation companies began losing money as a very fast clip as fewer folks were using their systems. City officials and public utility commissioners were now tasked with the necessity of regulating the ‘rampant individualism’ that was causing such havoc on their streets.

Fleets of automobiles were appearing unexpectedly on local streets and not conforming to any regulations. Anyone who was unemployed, wanted to change jobs, had an automobile, regardless of skill or experience, was getting into the business. Street accidents became frequent due to congestion, defective automobiles, reckless driving, and competition amongst drivers.

The railroads, trolley lines and taxi companies with franchises to protect, were all solidly against the jitney. In some cities councils, sensitive to the ‘established order’ of their towns attempted to legislate the jitney out of business. One way this would work was to make jitney owners responsible for any accidents they are involved in.

Wisconsin newspaper article talking about one of the reasons jitneys were starting to die out at this time,
they were becoming too expensive to run.
Some of the advantages of the jitney as opposed to the other modes of transportation available to folks were: quicker service, a more comfortable and cleaner ride, cheaper, and not as noisy. Jitneys could provide service to suburban and interurban areas. Transportation strikes would never affect the drivers, they weren’t in a union. They also helped make a city prettier by eliminating the need for trolley poles and lines. The nickels spent for the ride generally stayed local. And, hey, chauffeur!
The jitney definitely made big business sit up and take notice, their strap-hanging public had an alternate mode of transportation and were using it.
I have no idea how long Clarence ran his business or where in Wisconsin this happened. But I am sure hoping that I can find out.

The craze had many a song written about it.
1 The Jitney Bus Problem, by E. S. Koelker, page 87; The Wisconsin Municipality, volume XV, January to December, 1915; Madison, Wisconsin.