Signs From My Father

Leaving me dimes and sending me cardinals


Growing up my sisters and I heard about and saw pictures of our parents at the El Rancho Motel in Myrtle Beach South Carolina.  They went there on their honeymoon and went again with my dad’s sister Helen and her husband Ticker.  They loved it there, and we loved looking at the pictures over and over again.

It’s no longer there but a search on the internet had this to say: “The sprawling grounds included 75 air-conditioned rooms with over 250-person capacity, car shelters, outdoor grilles and room service, a meeting room, and an adjoining restaurant. The palms and pines-wooded lot also included an 18-hole putting green, shuffleboard, ping pong, and their distinctive illuminated swimming pool, measuring 90′ x 40′, with a small island in the middle with palm trees.”  From that description I know why they loved it – heck I would too!

Last year and a few week ago, my husband and I spent a week in Surfside Beach, South Carolina which is just one town south of Myrtle Beach.

My mind was on planning and packing all the week before we left and we were doing a lot of weather watching and worrying whether we’d have sun or a week of rain.  It was evident my father wanted me to know he was thinking about our trip too when I reached my hand up in the shower to get the soap – and put my hand on a dime!  In the shower!  Boy that was weird….

We broke the trip down there into two days this time so we wouldn’t be burnt out and  stopped in La Plata MD which is about halfway.  It was a Best Western and I have a membership card.  I stuck my hand in my pocketbook to get my card holder and came up with a dime STUCK to my card holder! IMG_3580

I said “Daddy you are tricky! I know you’re with us!”

Once we got there we spent a lot of time on the balcony of the condo where we were on the 3rd floor.  It was relaxing looking at the water or just listening to the sound while reading our books.  While sitting there one day I heard a very familiar bird sound…..IMG_2997

Sure enough – there’s a cardinal sitting  there saying hello.   He showed himself during the week and finally, on the last day of our visit while I was sitting on the couch, I looking up and he was was fluttering around at our balcony rail!  He sat for a second and then flew off.

I can hear my father saying “That was a good time Nanc – I’m glad you had fun”.






Charles Jakiela in World War I

Proud to fight for his adopted country

My grandfather, Charles Jakiela immigrated to the United States from Lubatowa Poland in 1905.  He was married with two children when the time came in June of 1917 to register for the draft.



Although he could have, he chose not to claim an exemption and left his wife, Antonia and two sons – Steven, 4 years old and Edward, 2 – behind in Southington Connecticut when he headed to Camp Devens in Ayer Massachusetts.  When asked why he enlisted when he could have been exempt he said it was because “he loved his country”.

The construction of Fort Devens started in early June, 1917, and was performed by a labor force of 5,000 workers which in just 10 weeks built a small city consisting of 1400 buildings, 20 miles of road, 400 miles of electric wiring and 60 miles of heating pipes in addition to water and sewer service. Due to the speed of its development, Camp Devens formally opened at the beginning of September, 1917. It was the first of 16 National Army cantonments to be completed in the country, processing and training more than 100,000 soldiers of the 76th and 12th Divisions from 1917-1919. (from It was here at Camp Devens that Charles became a United States Citizen.


Fun fact – 31 Liberty Street in Southington listed on the Certificate is the same location that cousin Steve Jakiela had his deli and catering business – Liberty Deli!

Based on his headstone, I knew that he was in Battery C 302nd F.A. (field artillary).  I really didn’t give it much thought until I saw Bill O’Reilly on an episode of Finding Your Roots and the host, Henry Gates, talked to him about his grandfather who was in the a division of the army out of New York and they talked about how he fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offense in October-November of 1918.  Something just made me start looking again because I knew there had to be more information for Charles’s service.

I found out that the 302nd field artillary regiment was part of the 151st Field Artillery, which was part of the 76th Division, which was part of the 5th Army Corps commanded by Major General Omar Bundy.  The 302nd field artillary regiment were trained with the 4.7″ artillery guns.  I also found the following online:

Seventy-Sixth Division (National Army)

Known as the “Liberty Bell Division.” Insignia is a blue liberty bell superimposed on a khaki square. Organized at Camp Devens, Mass., in Sept., .1917. The division was composed of National Army drafts from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The first units embarked for overseas on July 5, 1918, and the last units arrived in France on July 31, 1918. Upon arrival in France the division was designated as a depot division and ordered to the St. Aignan area. Here the division was broken up, training cadres were formed and the personnel used as replacements for combat divisions at the front. The special units, such as the Signal Battalion and Sanitary Troops, were sent forward as corps and army troops.

Commanding generals: Maj.Gen. H. F. Hodges,. Aug. 25 to Nov. 27, 1917; Brig. Gen. Wm. Wiegel, Nov. 27, 1917 to Feb. 13, 1918; Maj. Gen. H. F. Hodges, Feb.13 to Nov. 11,1918.

This division was composed of the following organizations: 15ast and 152nd Inf. Brigs.; 301st, 302nd, 303rd, 304th Inf. Regts.; 301st, 302d, 303d Machine Gun Bns.; 301st, 302d, 303d Fld. Arty. Regts.; 301st Trench Mortar Battery; 301st Engr. Regt. and Train; 301st Fld. Sig. Bn.; 301st Hqs. Train and M. P.; 301st Amm. Train; 301st Supply Train; 301st Sanitary Train (301st, 302d, 303d and 304th Field Hospitals and Amb. Cos.).

I also found somewhere else (really should have written websites down!) that the 302d and 303d FA Regiments were in the St. Mihiel Sector from 11/2-11/11/18.

He survived his time in France, although I’m told he was heavily gassed, only to have disaster strike on the way home.  According to both Auntie Helen and Uncle Eddie, on the way out of France (England?-It was never said where), as the train the troops were on went over a trestle, a previously unexploded bomb exploded!  Charles landed in a brook and his head was smashed.  Auntie Helen said he had a scar from the front of his head down the back.  A man from Bristol saved him.  Once they arrived home, every Saturday night “four guys on motorcycles” came to their South Center Street home in Southington to visit.  Auntie Helen said he received a pension because of his injury and he would routinely write letters to the government because they wanted to cut his pension!

In 2002, I requested and received a Certification of Military Service for Charles which told me he was in the Army from October 4 of 1917 to April 30, 1919.  Unfortunately, in 1973, there was a fire in the area that destroyed a major portion of records for Army military personnel from 1912 through 1959.


He died at age 45 when Steve the oldest was 23 and John the youngest was turning 11.  But that’s a story for another time.  He’s buried in St. John’s cemetery.  If you go in the lower driveway to the end and the road curves to the left, he’s at the top of the hill on the right.  John always made sure there was an American flag by his headstone.  I think I will see that there always is.



Easter Through The Years

Remembering the traditions passed down through generations.

Easter memories include:

  • Church on Easter Sunday morning in our finest Spring clothes – usually freezing because it wasn’t quite as warm as the outfits were designed for!;
Jakiela girls easter 64
Jakiela Girls Easter 1964
  • Easter baskets with candy!;
  • Brunch after mass either at 121 Clifton Street or our house, Aunt Judy’s or Auntie Irene’s that would be eaten in shifts as families came and went…and usually involved a second round of food;
betty easter
Betty at Easter
  • Pierogies, stuffed cabbage, hungarian cookies, kielbasa, ham, horseradish, hard rolls, rye bread with seeds, babka – my mouth is watering!;
Gram at Easter
  • One Easter in the 1970s that was so warm and it was conveniently at Aunt Judy’s down the street that we came back to our house, got our bathing suits on and laid out in the sun!;
  • An Easter Sunday that fell on Gail’s and my birthday and we got to carry the gifts to the alter;
  • Our first Easter without Mommy and it was at the Behme’s house and Judy had a birthday cake for Gail and me because our birthday was a week or so later;
  • Celebrating Easter with Cody, coloring eggs and going to Easter egg hunts (and I wasn’t knocking kids down to get candy for him!);
Cody and Wyatt 1993
  • Easter at cousin Joan’s house with all the kids hunting for the Golden Egg and having the Easter Bunny appear!;
Easter at Joan Jakiela’s 1997
  • Our first Easter without Daddy after he passed away on Palm Sunday in 2010 and Gail’s description of him entering the gates of heaven and everyone cheering for his arrival;
  • The traditions we continue with our families and pass down to our children that we hope they will continue when we are no longer with them.

Julianna Gertrude Ingram Posluszny

Feb 19 1888 – Feb 9 1967

On February 19th 1888 in Padew which was part of Galacia, Julianna Gertrude was born to Gertrud Karl (which we’ve known as Kahl) and Ludwig Ingram.  She was their first born child.  Her birth was followed by her sister Mary in 1891, Elizabeth in 1894, Sophie in 1898 and Christine in 1901.  Family stories were that there was a brother Walter who was born after she immigrated to the United States but I can’t find any proof of that and he’s not listed in her obituary.  I have pictures that Aunt Tootsie claimed were of him but again – have no proof!

These are two pictures of the Ingram Family taken in Galacia.  Although the one on the left had been been labeled with the help of Aunt Tootsie, I find it hard to believe Julianna would look so mature at 10 years old!  The photo on the right shares the same two older people and I’ve been told it’s Julianna and family but I no longer am 100% sure. And there’s more mystery….

There is no logical record of Julianna on a ship manifest in the Ellis Island records.  I’ve searched my brains out over the years.  I have an index card of Judy Behme’s search and she ran into the same problem — the age and the year of arrive just doesn’t match up.  There is one record of Julianna Ingram in 1896.  Great! Found her!  Oops – if she was born in 1888 (or even 1887) would she really have come over on her own at 8 years old?  1910 and 1920 Census records say she immigrated in 1903  Great!  Only problem – can’t find any record.  A 1903 immigration would make her 14 at the time – which makes more sense.    Julianna’s sister Mary followed her to the United States in 1907 and Elizabeth in 1912.  They stayed close throughout their lives.  Elizabeth and her husband Ben lived in California but traveled to Connecticut every other year to visit family.

Mary and her husband Paul lived on Long Island and had two daughters, Pauline and Katherine.  They were both close in age to my mother, Betty, and we knew and visited Katherine and her family on Long Island and in Vermont growing up.

In one of my conversations with her daughter, Judy, she shared the following:

  • Julianna said she was 18 in order to travel but was really 16  (again, age doesn’t match travel year);
  • She had no sponsor so Judy doesn’t know how she was able to come here;
  • A rich woman took her in and enrolled her in night school to be a servant (?) and taught her the niceties of life;
  • She was German-Russian and understood Polish but her ethnic background was German;
  • She was ahead of her time – “liberated” was the word Judy used!;
  • She performed in plays at the Polish National Church (St. Casimer’s) a couple of times a year – Aunt Mary Posluszny Biega produced and Julianna acted;
  • There was nothing she couldn’t do.  When family members would complain they couldn’t do something, she would get so impatient;
  • “Grammy had more balls than Grampy”.

Julianna met Konrad in Yonkers NY where they both lived and they were married in 1908.


This marriage license was a great find for me years ago when I first started my searching.  But – her mother’s maiden name!  We always knew it to be Kahl (actually Karl) so Roupa? Sigh….

posluszny family cropped
The Posluszny family – Julianna and Konrad back row right side.

Julianna and Konrad lived in Yonkers where they had Antoinette, Conrad, Louis and Judith. While living there, Konrad worked at a hat factory and on weekends they would go to visit an Ingram relative who had a farm in the Bronx in the area of Pelham Parkway to help out.

They moved to Easthampton Massachusetts very briefly around 1920-21 while Konrad looked for work but Grammy hated it there and her daughter Judy said she didn’t unpack.  In 1922 they were living on Derby Street in New Britain where my mother was born and by 1925 they were living at 121 Clifton Street in Wallingford.  In this home of her own she had her vegetable and flower gardens and her chickens.  Her love of gardening and being outdoors definitely was born in her son Louis and Lou’s grandson Jim!


Judy Posluszny Behme who was the first born daughter of Louis and Irene Posluszny wrote her own family memories in 1995.  She had this to say about Grammy:

“Grandma Posluszny was always a busy woman she was a stern no nonsense woman and you knew who was the boss.  She was an extremely creative woman who’s hands never seemed to be idle and I imagine that was from being brought up on her family’s farm where she worked like a man in Germany.

Grandma did the most beautiful needlework, embroidery work, crocheting and tatting.  She loved flowers and plants and there was nothing she couldn’t grow.  In the spring through fall her yard was a glorious riot of color.  Even as a small child I remember running into the back yard just to look at the flowers.  Every shade and variety of tulip, zinnias, daisies delphiniums, poppies, mums and asters every variety you could think of.  In the house she had an infinite variety of african violets in every color and type.  I don’t believe there was a variety of flower she couldn’t grow.  She once took a leaf from a gardenia, started a plant that eventually became a large tree that was planted in a big tub which was brought out in the year in the summer and when it bloomed you could smell the scent all over the neighborhood.  At one time she had her picture in the local news about a plant called the Night Blooming Cereus or “The Century Plant” – it only bloomed once in its lifetime, at midnight, and it would be gone the next day.  The scent was heavenly.  Every downstairs room of her house had masses of plants of every variety – orchids, cactus, gloxinias.  Another of her hobbies was doing crossword puzzles – the harder the better – and she loved the Sunday ones.  Considering that she spoke no english when she came to this country, this was quite an accomplishment.  She had great pride in becoming an American and was always thankful for this country and what it gave to her.”

In December 1944, her husband Konrad died.  She was 56 years old and now a widow.  Louis and Judy were both married and out of the house.  Her son Conrad and daughters Antoinette were both in their 30s and Betty the youngest was 20.  Antoinette took over as the breadwinner in the family and they carried on.

Julianna, Connie and Konrad Posluszny
Julianna, son Connie, Konrad

Grammy had a heavy german accent, which for a little kid like me was very scary!  Given the option to go with my mother and Aunt Tootsie or stay with Grammy – I usually chose to go!  My sister Janice I’m pretty sure stayed.

She was proud of all her grandkids.  My first cousins, 10 to 20 years older than me have much richer memories of her than my sisters or I do.  But with a quick think I know that we all have many of her qualities in us today – Jim with his gardening; Janice with her sewing skills and gardening to name a couple!

She suffered from some form of cancer towards the end of her life and I remember she was in Skyview Convalescent Home.  She passed away on February 9, 1967 after suffering a stroke.  The Christmas picture with me, my sisters and the Behme cousins was the last picture we have with her.

The more I learn of her, the more I think about what a strong person she was.  FIERCE is the word that comes to mind.  I don’t think she put up with much and she told it like it was. Smart, independent, brave – I think every female in our family has a bit of her in them.




Burghardts and Ingrams and Straubs – oh my!

 Early in the morning and during breaks from  work and in the evening when I should be watching tv, I find myself standing in front of these books and papers.
 When I should be sick and tired of sitting in front of a computer I plop down here sifting through “hints” and names on Ancestry.

There are some dead ends but many great finds. I finally broke down and subscribed to the World Explorer Membership which opened up a lot of records to me.

The biggest find was the Galizien German Descendants website. They’ve done incredible work compiling family information for Germans living in Galacia.

It led me to Julianna Ingram Posluszny’s parents, 2 younger sisters with their married names, and back in time to my 4th great grandmother!

On the Straub side – Caroline Straub Posluszny Bonk – it was a lucky break that I’ve been scribbling names for years because I found her parents Adam and Klara (Ingram) with her brother Albert on a list for Josefsdorf. That led me to Albert’s family listing and finally explained who Gertrud Straub, who’s buried in the plot next to Caroline Bonk at St Casimers Cemetery is – it’s her sister in law! Unfortunately Wildenthal, where the Posluszny family lived most of their lives is not part of the series.  But I’m sure something will turn up!

In the meantime, some of the last names that have turned up are: Jung, Putz, Burckhard (as opposed to current day Burghardt), Karl (rather than Kahl), Dengler, Kaiser, Ungeheuer, Sommer and Huber!

 One of many sheets of paper – the circled number to the right of Gertrud’s name takes me to her parent information.

A Valentine Gift in 1913

Wishing a Happy Birthday in Heaven to Louis J. Posluszny 1913-1983.

On February 14 in 1913, Julianna Ingram Posluszny gave birth to a second son – Louis Posluszny.  At the time of his birth, they were living on Jefferson Street in Yonkers NY surrounded by other Posluszny families.  When they made the move from New Britain to Wallingford in 1925 as I talked about in 121 Clifton Street, Louis was 12 years old.

He must have been bit by the same Outdoor/Farm/Garden bug as his mother, because the 1930 Federal Census lists him as an 18 year old boarder and general farm laborer for James and Mable Cook on what is listed as North Elm Street in Wallingford.  A look at the town directory shows their farm on North Farms Road on the other side of Barnes Road in Wallingford.  The 1933 Wallingford Town Directory lists him again as a farm hand but residing at 121 Clifton Street when he was 20 years old.  It appears from this 1941 postcard after he was married that it was really something he loved.

On November 10, 1937 at Holy Trinity Church in Wallingford Louis married M. Irene Lefebvre (I have no record of what the M. stands for but it’s listed in the birth records).  Lou left farming and went to work at the Wallingford Steel Company.  They first lived at 132 East Street in Wallingford in 1939 and in 1940 lived at 24 East Street with Irene and their first child Judith.  This 2-family home was originally owned by Caroline and Jon Bonk and when they died transferred to their son, Walter who was Konrad Posluszny’s half-brother.

He and Irene welcomed three more children – John (known as Jack), James and Loisanne to the family.  They lived on the second floor at 604 Center Street with Irene’s parents, (Prime) Frank and Emily Lefebvre on the first floor.  This house is currently occupied by Winterbourne Land Services, a land surveying and mapping company and is next door to Silver Pond apartments.  I remember many happy family parties in the back yard that had a grape arbor and a stone fire place.  I can picture the rooms upstairs clearly also!

While his children were growing up, he and his brother in law Mal Bellafronto invested in property on Pickeral Lake in Colchester Connecticut.  Lou and Irene were great friends with Judy (his younger sister by 4 years) and her husband Mal.  They built cottages next door to each other with a large expanse of lake front for swimming and boating.  The cottages were styled differently to accommodate different family sizes but they both were open and welcoming.  Our family spent many Sunday afternoons there while growing up and were always given a week at one or the other cottage for a great family vacation.

Lou and my mother, Elizabeth, were brother and sister but just as there was a age gap between her and Tootsie, there was a 9 year gap between them and I don’t have any pictures or knowledge about their relationship.  Their kids were my first cousins but Judy their first born was 21 when I was born and soon to be a mother of her own first child!  My parents made a beautiful choice of godmothers for my sister and me – Irene was Gail’s and her daughter Judy was mine!  Years later, when we needed her most, Judy at our side.

When Lou retired from the Steel Mill, he and Irene headed down to Florida to enjoy the warmth and sunshine and golf!  They spend many happy years there living in the same area as Judy and Mal and welcomed their children and grandchildren on a regular basis.  I don’t recall if they traveled up to Connecticut very often after that but when they did, I know we were happy to see them!

Lou passed away on August 21, 1983 from cancer.  I remember it happened the day of my sister Janice’s wedding and because they didn’t want to upset her happy day, they didn’t call until after the reception was over.

When I think back to Uncle Lou now, I think of him as bear-like – sort of silly! – but he was sturdy and had very dark hair on his head and arms.  I search his face in pictures for a resemblance to his parents and I see it.

Uncle Lou & Uncle Mal
Uncle Lou on left with his brother in law and good friend Mal Bellafronto

So Happy Birthday to you Uncle Lou!  I hope you’re dancing up a storm in heaven with your beautiful Irene and sitting having a fine meal with your parents and siblings.  Love you!

I know his children and grandchildren have many, many more memories of him than I could possibly have.  Could you post them HERE in the comments so they will be in a place everyone stopping by can see them?


121 Clifton Street

1925: A home to call our own!

The home of Julia and Konrad Posluszny at 121 Clifton Street in Wallingford was the place to be.  But how did they end up there?  They both arrived in Yonkers NY to family – Konrad in 1902 and Julia in 1903.  They were married and had 4 of their five children in Yonkers.

Sometime between the 1920 Census recorded in January and 1922 they moved to Easthampton Massachusetts which lies just west of the present day 91-North and south of Northhampton.  I don’t know the reason but the only surviving family member, Aunt Judy, says she thinks it was to look for work.  She also told me “Gram hated it so much she wouldn’t unpack and didn’t push him on finding a job!”

When that didn’t work out they moved to New Britain Connecticut where my mother, Elizabeth was born in April of 1922.  They appear in the 1923 and 1924 New Britain City Directory as living at 15 Derby Street same residence as Joseph and Agnes Ingram (although some of us might recognize better the names of his son Lou and wife Felice aka the New Britain Ingrams).  The 1925 directory shows them “removed to Wallingford”.  Perhaps they decided to move to Wallingford because by 1914 John and Caroline and the rest of the family were living there.

Pos and Wirth Girls
Betty and Pauline Wirth in front; Katherine Wirth and Judy in back.

121 Clifton Street was a brand new house when they moved there.  Aunt Judy says that Caroline and John Bonk loaned Konrad and Julia the $500 down payment needed for the house.  It was a simple very square house – in the front downstairs were 2 living rooms separated by a cased opening.  The left one took you to the staircase upstairs, the one on the right lead to the kitchen in the back of the house which would lead you into the dining room.  There was a door from the kitchen to the back yard.  Upstairs were four bedrooms and a bathroom in the front of the house between two of the rooms.  Every room was fully furnished as long as I can remember.

There was a chicken coop and Grammy had gardens of vegetables and flowers.  She had a very green thumb.  There was a dirt floor basement that had a toilet there so (as I was told) she could use the bathroom without having to track through the house.  One of our favorite parts of the house on Clifton Street was the set of train tracks which shot off from the tracks along Colony Street and ran along the side of house to the steel mill.  Whenever we slept over a train would slowly rumble by.

From Clifton Street it was a short walk to the two family house on East Street where Caroline and John lived along with Walter Bonk.  By the time they moved to Clifton Street, Caroline Bonk, Konrad’s mother, had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Aunt Judy remembers going to their house with her mother (Julia) to take care of Caroline.  I imagine my mother as a toddler would have been with them – or maybe she was home with Tootsie!  Unfortunately Caroline passed away in March of 1925 but she’ll get her story told another time.

I’m sure the house was pretty crowded with five kids and two adults!  But not for long…by the 1930 census Louis was listed as a farmhand for James and Mabel Cook on North Elm Street and in 1939 Judy married Malcolm Bellafronto.  Mal Jr was born in 1942 and when “Big Mal” was off fighting in WWII, Judy and Mal moved home to Clifton Street.

betty easter
Betty at Easter

Through the years, the house was the gathering place for holidays and Sunday dinners.  We kids loved running around the yard, smashing up the red berries on the bushes in front of the house, walking on the train tracks, or creeping around the now decrepit chicken coop.  The pictures I’ve collected of events taking place years ago – communions, confirmation, weddings – all have the familiar backdrop of the inside or outside of 121 Clifton Street.

Aunt Tootsie sold the house in 1989 when she moved the Judd Square.  It was bought by a family who’s daughter was the same age and went to school with Gail’s daughter Charlene and my son Cody!  The lived there for quite a few years, it was sold again and maybe again.  We found a listing for it online a few years ago and the homeowner had put a passthrough in the wall between the dining room and kitchen and I think cut through the wall to be able to reach the staircase from the dining room (correct me if that was always there!).

Judy (Posluszny) Behme, her mom my Aunt Irene,  Aunt Judy, Aunt Tootsie (kneeling); back row: Bill Behme, Jim Posluszny (Judy’s brother), Uncle Ma, Catherine Wirth Blair, my dad John Jakiela.  Day after Gail and Marty’s wedding 1985

Mal Bellafronto was in town a couple of years ago and we went to the house.  It was in foreclosure and there had been a burst pipe and flood inside during very cold weather.  Someone was working on the outside and the back deck that had been added was torn off and the exterior was in very bad shape.  More recently it’s been sold and painted blue and looks nice from a distance.

I noticed in the pictures over the years the very large tree to the left and the wood steps and pillars turned to black wrought iron eventually painted to white.  The garage in the last picture was added with Uncle Lester or Uncle Andy and it might have taken the place of an older shed and the chicken coop.

I don’t drive down the street very often but when I do, I drive by very slowly, looking for memories of the people who lived there.

Please – share your memories of 121 Clifton Street!