"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."

May26th2016

Taylor Street Neighborhood

by  Phyllis Zeck

Corinne, Phyllis, Lori & Me

Corinne, Phyllis, Lori & Me

For many years, in the late 1990’s, Auntie Phyllis lived with my mother Corinne and my sister Lori in Romeoville, Illinois. In the audio clip below Auntie Phyllis talks of her love for Chicago, joining the Red Cross during WWII and the birth of her first child, Mark. The photo on the left was taken a few years before Lori bought her home in Romeoville. The next paragraph is one of Lori’s favorite memories of that time.

“Auntie Phyllis lived with me in Romeoville Illinois. Our house was a few blocks away from a Jewel-Osco grocery store/Pharmacy. Auntie Phyllis went to that store every day rain or shine. One day I went to the store and as I was walking in, I saw in the entrance corridor great big 20 x 30 pictures of people. Across the top was a banner that said our regular customers. I went home and said to Auntie Phyllis “you better watch yourself or you’re going to wind up on that wall”! We had a good laugh over that, and every time she went to the store after that I would tell her to wear a disguise or avoid the manager, and if she asked me to go to the store for her, I would say “yes but I’m not telling them it is for you, I don’t want to wind up on that wall”! She continued to shop there every day but somehow, she never wound up on the wall of shame! “

Phyllis Vincent

Phyllis and her granddaughter Becca

My brother Rob recalls “My first memories of Aunty Phyllis were in 1956, when she and cousin Mark came to stay with my family and me for a year while Uncle Vince was stationed in the Navy. I was enchanted having a playmate my own age. Aunty was in heaven at that time, returned to the bosom of her large family after a long period spent isolated in the East with Richard, in Springfield, Mass. Reconciling with her father was important and she often referred to that feeling of “coming home,” which in no small measure meant being close to her precious father. This would be the first time she would spend living with her beloved sister, Corinne. In time they would become “Golden Girls” and the easy familiarity of living together began that year when Aunty came home to Chicago.”

Click the link below to listen to part of the interview that Rob and I had with Auntie Phyllis in 2011. This is the 2nd audio clip. To listen to the other interviews, click on the box titled “Vincent Family” in the categories box to the right.


Thanks to my siblings for their memories of our Aunt. Lori lives in Utah now but comes to visit us in Portland frequently. Rob is a national leader and trainer for Recovery International.  Click on this link to hear Rob discuss Mental Health Recovery. 

 
 

Mar28th2016

A Chance To Hear Auntie Phyllis Laugh Again

by  Phyllis Zeck

Phyllis Vincent

Phyllis, Gilbert, & Corinne

Gilbert Del Principe and Bertha Reher married in Chicago on 27 Nov 1926. Phyllis Elvira was born in 1927 and my mother Corinne was born in 1931. I now realize that Auntie Phyllis was named after my 2nd great grandmother Filomena Ursitti.  

Mom and Auntie suffered some traumatic events early in life. They were both with their grandmother Elvira at Christmas Eve Mass when Elvira passed away in 1939. And they were both with their mother Bertha when she passed away at home in 1947. Auntie Phyllis was 19 and mom was 16.  Auntie Phyllis would soon marry Richard and leave Chicago to settle in Connecticut. Auntie had 5 children and mom had 8 children. This equaled plenty of grandchildren for Grandpa to spoil.

Mom and Auntie tried to see each other often and I have such fond memories of vacations with my cousins. Calling each other on the phone was a luxury for mom and Auntie that our children would not be able to comprehend. Long distance calls were very expensive and once the sisters started chatting there was no stopping them. When my aunt and mother got together those two ladies laughed and talked non stop.  I can still hear them as if it was yesterday. 

Phyllis Vincent Corinne Winike

Sisters

In 2011 my brother Rob and I recorded an interview with Auntie Phyllis. I had just begun my genealogy research and knew Auntie Phyl had some great stories to tell. I recently played those files and found myself laughing out loud and smiling. What a great idea we had and why hadn’t we thought of it earlier so we could have recorded our mother!? Click the link below to listen to part of the interview. This is the 1st audio clip in our series. To listen to the other interviews, click on the box titled “Vincent Family” in the categories box to the right.

Click below to listen to Auntie talk about how her older cousin Elvira (Snookie) gave Auntie Phyllis a bike she had outgrown. She tells us how grandpa taught her to ride it. We also discuss childhood illnesses (my mother had scarlet fever) and a lesson auntie and mom learned about washing the dishes in a timely manner.

 

 
 

Mar3rd2016

A Pizza Party

by  Ashley

01_152It is common knowledge that some of Abby’s favorite foods are pizza and pasta. Her Italian heritage is very strong! I enjoy cooking, and Abby has a developed a love for preparing meals as well. Recently, Abby and I cooked a pizza from scratch and she had so much fun playing such a big role in the preparation of our meal. She was also eager to eat some of her least favorite foods (mushrooms in particular). pizza

Possibly the best part for me was carrying on a tradition that I practiced with my mom when I was a kid. I have such vivid memories of making the dough and setting it to rise in the oven before

Abby, Ashley & Phyllis

Abby, Ashley & Phyllis

getting to prepare my very own mini pizza for dinner. As a full-time working mom, I often feel like I miss out on certain opportunities with Abby to build memories; so it is times like this that I am so grateful for these experiences with Abby, even if it is just making dinner 😉 Maybe in 30 years, she’ll be making pizza with her toddler. I know Great-great-great-grandma Elvira would appreciate it! 

 
 

Jun27th2015

Blown Up In Beer Tank

by  Phyllis Zeck

Beer Winkofsky

Postcard courtesy of J. Chuckman

That was the headline for a newspaper article published in the Chicago Tribune dated 28 Dec 1897. Three men were in the accident including Theodore Winkofske. Theodore was my 2nd great uncle and the brother of my paternal great grandfather Charles Peter Winkofske. Theodore was a contractor working with two of his employees cleaning five 1,200 gallon beer vats for the Independent Brewing Assoc. on North Halsted St in Chicago. 

The men were putting a coat of varnish on the interior of the beer vats. Theodore accidentally struck his incandescent light against the iron. The bulb was shattered and the enamel exploded. Theodore was thrown through a manhole and was killed instantly.  His two employees, Louis Imme and Leonard Schaller, were badly burned and could not be rescued until the fire subsided. Click here for the article from the Chicago Tribune Archive (which was found at Newspapers.com) and read the story in depth.

Theodore was only 24 years old when he died. He was married to Louise Scheel and they had two sons, Edward Ludwig Michael and Gustave.

 
 

May14th2015

The Sound Of Guns

by  Phyllis Zeck

Union Field Artillery

Union Field Artillery abt 1862. Lib. of Congress. Click to enlarge.

I have been contemplating what a brave man my 2nd great grandfather, Charles (Carl) Frey was. My paternal grandmother was Grace Norder. Grace’s grandfather was Charles Frey. How is it that I never knew Charles’ story? Why didn’t Grandma Grace share the amazing journey of this man with her 8 grandchildren?

Charles was born in Jan of 1842 in Germany and died on 17 May 1901. In 1866 he married Anna Rinehart (born June 1848 in Wisconsin). Their children were: Edward A (1866-1918), Louisa (b 1871) George (born 1872), George (born 1873), Albert (born 1875), Emma (born 1877) Mary Matilda (Tillie) (1880 – 1937), Magdalena (born 1887) and Albert.

In the 1880 census Charles and his family were living “in Village South of R.R.” house number 44, in the county of Green, in the state of Wisconsin. His occupation was a carpenter. Records indicate that the family lived in Monroe Wisconsin which is about 130 miles northwest of Chicago.

Tillie, my great grandmother, married Edward C Norder on 01 Jan1902 and my grandmother Grace was born in 1910.

Charles volunteered for two tours of duty during the Civil War, enlisting with the 2nd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery. We’ve all read about the brutal conditions our hero ancestors endured during the Civil War. Lack of food, shelter, ammunition and clothing haunted the soldiers. I’m so proud that one of my ancestors survived the trauma of this passionate war. What a fighter he must have been!

I wrote a blog post about the fact that Charles served at the Battle At Deserted House in Suffolk, VA in 1863 which you can read by clicking here. Confederate forces under Brig Gen Roger Pryor crossed the Blackwater River into Virginia on a foraging expedition. Maj Gen John Peck commanded the Union garrison at Suffolk.  Peck organized a force to drive Pryor out of the area and assigned Brig. Gen. Michael Corcoran to its command. Anticipating an attack from the Union garrison, Pryor prepared his forces for battle near Kelly’s Store (AKA Deserted House), located 8 miles west of Suffolk. Corcoran’s cavalry engaged Pryor’s forces nearby. 

Last month Wes posted a comment on my blog post about the battle.  He told me that he is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Suffolk, VA and he was going to visit the area where the Battle At Deserted House was fought in 1863.  You can visit Wes’ Facebook page by typing Mid Atlantic Relic & Coin Hunters where you can see items from past relic hunts. Wes was curious – if he was able to obtain any artillery fire residue from the Union guns would I like to have some?  Would I ever!!  “Just think,” Wes said. “Your ancestor could have been the one that pulled the cord that had some of these case shot in them”.  

Wes sent me the photos above. They are from the 1st phase of the battle (see the map from Baylor University below). Wes explained that the picture looking over the green wheat grass is looking at the confederate lines where their artillery was posted. The other two pictures are where the union guns where placed and the union infantry staged.  The center photo is the middle of the battlefield. In front of the house and across the street is where the Deserted House, AKA Kelly’s Store, stood (which is gone now). Charles’ company saw action on 30 Jan 1863 at Deserted House or Kelly’s Store. 

Deserted House Battle 1863

Courtesy of Baylor University

The map above is reprinted with permission from the War of the Rebellion Atlas digital collection. It was produced by the US Government. You can click on the image to enlarge it.  

This next photo gallery are photos of relics Wes found on the battlefield.  Wes explained that the items are a US collar pin and a piece of the grape shot that didn’t break apart upon explosion.  Usually these pieces break apart into separate lead balls and rain down on the soldiers. 

While Wes shared his photos with me the day after his trip, I was once again at the mercy of the US Postal Service to delivery Wes’ package.  We all know how terrible I am about waiting patiently for mail to arrive. Wes emailed me that it was on it’s way and he said, “I hope your family will be thrilled to have a piece of your ancestors heritage where he fought to preserve his beliefs.”  

Civil War Ammo IMG_1065
The package from Wes arrived yesterday.  Wes enclosed four case shots (which are also called grape shot).  These four pieces were found on the actual battlefield in 1999. They were found on the Confederate side so they were fired by Union guns. The grape shot traveled 50 – 80 yards. He also sent two Civil War .58 caliber minie balls (3 ringers) which traveled a couple hundred yards.  Wes wrote, “I hope you and your family enjoy these artifacts from our nation’s greatest conflict.  I am honored to be sharing these with you.” I am thrilled and very grateful to Wes for his generosity!