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;
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Betty at Easter
  • Pierogies, stuffed cabbage, hungarian cookies, kielbasa, ham, horseradish, hard rolls, rye bread with seeds, babka – my mouth is watering!;
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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!);
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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!;
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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.

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!).

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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!

 

Antoinette Gertrude Posluszny

1909-2010

I was very lucky to be brought up in a family rich with Aunts and cousins old enough to be aunts.  Probably the one who was the most prominent in our family’s lives was Aunt Tootsie.

Born Antoinette Gertrude Posluszny, Toots or Tootsie, was the first child born to Konrad Posluszny and Julianna Ingram on January 7, 1909 in Yonkers New York.

Julianna, Konrad & Antoinette PoslusznyToots_birth_certificate

 

With a brother Conrad born in November of 1910, Lou born in 1913, Julia in 1917 and Elizabeth (my mother) in 1922, she left school after the 8th grade and got a job.  Family says she was a maid at Choate School.

With the 13 year age difference between Tootsie and her youngest sister Betty, she became a second mother to her.  They had a good relationship even with the age gap.  In an old postcard from Atlantic City in May of 1943 Betty writes to Toots: “Having a swell time and wish you were here – And I mean it.”  Another postcard from Betty to Toots says “Thanks for letting me have such a marvelous time.  It was swell fun and I sure am happy.”  They even took a train trip together in August of 1943 from Wallingford via New York and St. Louis to San Antonio Texas to visit their brother Connie who was in the Army.

When Grammy wasn’t able to buy something for Betty, she would tell Tootsie to get it for her.  Aunt Judy said Tootsie and Grammy would window shop for dresses then go to the store and buy material, make a paper pattern and sew it up. She was always ready to teach any of us who showed an interest in her crafts.

Tootsie got a job at Wallace Silversmiths where she worked for many many years as an inspector in the Cutlery Department.  I remember waiting at the curb on Friday evenings with my mom and sisters to pick her up to go grocery shopping.  We’d go to Grand Union and then back to the house at 121 Clifton Street for dinner.  Through her job at the silversmith we all have incredible collections of the silver bells they produced starting in the early 1970s and we all received silverware sets in our wedding presents.

Aunt Judy said Tootsie had one true love in her life.  Unfortunately, he was not true to her and had a relationship with someone else who ended up getting pregnant.  She met Lester Schmitt in the 1950s through their association with the Improved Order of Redmen and Degree of Pocahontas.  He was from Torrington and at the time they were both taking care of their mothers.  They continued this relationship for years until Lester’s mother passed away and then were married in November of 1960.  Uncle Lester was a very nice man and I think they were very happy together.  They lived with Grammy at the 121 Clifton Street house but unfortunately, Uncle Lester passed away in August of 1963.

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Aunt Tootsie and Uncle Lester November 1960
After Grammy passed away in 1967, Aunt Tootsie remained in the house and continued working at Wallace Silversmith.  In 1977, she reconnected with a widower Andy Fritz.  She and Lester used to hang out with Andy and his wife years before.  They were married in November of 1978.  They traveled alot and Andy enjoyed crocheting as much as she did!  But like her marriage to Lester, it was very short.  Andy died in August of 1981.

Aunt Tootsie continued to be active and loved to see her family.

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Cody and Aunt Tootsie on their second meeting
She was as much an aunt to her great nieces and nephews of which she had many as she was to their parents.  She was very independent, could paint and wallpaper a professional under the table and would do absolutely anything for anyone.

But she started slowing down and knew it was time to sell the house on Clifton Street that had been the family home since 1925.  In 1989, she moved to one of the first completed apartments in Judd Square.  Visiting her at the apartment was when I first started working on our family history.  She had an incredible collection of pictures and she would tell me who the people were so I could make note of their names on the back.  She lived there until she became unable to take care of herself and it was no longer safe.  She moved to the Westfield Care and Rehab Center in Meriden where her care was supervised by her niece Judy Behme and later by her other niece Loisanne Thomas.  She suffered from dementia but when anyone went to visit her, she would tell stories and more stories.

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She celebrated her 100th birthday at the Westfield Care Center but sadly passed away the following September age 101-1/2 years old.  We gathered for her funeral and shared stories of her.

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I remember Aunt Tootsie as always being there for us – having us sleep over when our parents went out; helping us to crochet or knit; sharing the books to read in the house – sharing anything that was in the house actually!; and always being happy to have us around.  How lucky we were to have such a wonderful example of what it means to be an aunt!

Please share your memories of Aunt Tootsie in the comments!

 

 

Antonina Liro Jakiela

1891-1927

jakiela grandparents

Happy Birthday Antonina Liro Jakiela – my paternal grandmother born on this day January 10, 1891.  She was born in Wielepole, Podkarpackie, Poland, daughter of Wojiech Liro and Mary Zahara Liro.  She had an older sister Aniela born in 1871 and a brother Bronislaw born in 1881 so it appears she was the baby of the family.  Various records show her name as Antonina, Antonia and Antoinette but I’ll stick with Antonina since that’s what her ship passage record says.

She arrived in New York on September 12, 1902 and headed up to Thorndike Massachusetts where her sister Aniela and brother in law Josef Mikula lived and worked in the fabric mills.  They had been in the United States for a few years already and Josef paid her passage according to the ship records.

She met her husband Charles Jakiela working in the mills and they were married on June 24, 1912 in Palmer Massachusetts.  This is one of two pictures that exists for Antonina and Charles and it’s on their wedding day.  It looks like something from the carnival that you put your heads into because her arms are unnaturally long and bendy for being 4’9″ tall!  Nevertheless, it’s a treasure.

Their first son, Steven came along less than a year later in May of 1913, followed by Edward in November of 1915.  There’s a five year gap in children due to Charles heading off to World War 1 but they picked right back up with Helen in March of 1920, Walter in November of 1921 and John in June of 1924.

By the birth of Helen in 1920, they were living in Southington Connecticut.

I interviewed my Uncle Eddie one Sunday afternoon (he used to drive through the neighborhood and one day I flagged him down and invited him in) and asked him about the family.  These are some things he had to say:

“mom was a nice dresser – not dumpy, frumpy Polak”
“she was very short, black black hair, alot of gold teeth and father would get mad as hell at her for spending a lot of money on clothes”
“she had a fur jacket! A Jewish guy from Hartford would come with clothes for her to buy and she’d pay him once a week”

Sadly on April 1, 1927 while pregnant with her 6th child, Antonina began hemorrhaging and was taken to the hospital.  Uncle Eddie recalls: “she asked me to stay home that day so I did.  A half hour later she was screaming for me to get my father and run and get the midwife on Water Street.”  If I remember correctly he said his father came home from the hospital and said they would see her in the morning but in the morning the hospital called for them on the neighborhood store telephone to say she died at 3am.

Their father was heartbroken.  She is buried in St. Thomas cemetery in Southington CT.  Charles made a cross out of wood and carved a heart along with her name and date of birth and date of death on it.  Years later Eddie had a headstone made for her at which time the wooden cross disappeared.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to have a reading by a medium.  I was so impressed I went back again armed with questions.  When I asked about Antonina, Phil’s immediate response was “she’s beautiful”.  I wish I got the chance to know her.  Rest in Peace Antonina Liro Jakiela.

Antonina_NEW

This is where it begins….

cropped-posluszny-family-cropped.jpgThis is probably one of the most cherished pictures in my collection.  Six sons and two daughters of Caroline Straub Posluszny Bonk.  It was taken some time in 1907 or 1908 in Yonkers NY.

The front row is John Posluszny (said to go professionally by Post) and his son Johnny, Anna (wife of Joseph) holding daughter Margaret, Mary, Caroline with Walter, and Elzbieta.

Back row is Joseph (who went by Post), Frank, Charles (also Post), John Bonk (husband of Caroline), Juliana and Konrad Posluszny (my grandparents).

All of them came over in bits and pieces, seemingly individually, from 1899 (John) through 1907 (Caroline, John Bonk, Mary, Elzbieta and Walter).  They all lived in Yonkers NY for the first few years and they gradually moved to New Jersey, Fairfield County and Wallingford.  More on all that later!

I look at the faces and wonder what their thoughts and plans were now that they were all together again in the United States.  More than dates and names, that’s the information I crave most.