Family History Research

Follow-up to Chicago Tribune posting WWI lists

With more creative search terms yesterday on ProQuest for the Historical Chicago Tribune, I not only found lists of men who were deemed physically fit to be inducted into the Army, but also lists by District (Local Draft Board) number of which men were being sent to Rockford, Ft. Sheridan, Texas, etc. and some of those lists included what unit the men were being assigned to.

My search terms included: District 26, Board 26, Rockford, Ft. Sheridan, Texas, Army, New Army, Men Accepted, etc. I also searched Districts 25 and 27 just in case one of my Kokoska’s was put on another list by accident. I was unable to find when Michael shipped out of Chicago, but according to the 32nd Division Unit Histories, they trained in Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas. No search I came up with showed him on a list going south. I was also unable to find two of his brothers on a list.

I’m not finished searching yet. Maybe I’ll stumble upon a better search term this week and find everyone I’m looking for.

Leave a comment »

World War I Draftees Accepted Lists

Well this is very exciting! I am working on my Narrative Lineage for my BCG certification and was looking through my files for an article on Michael Kokoska where it lists his brothers in the service.  I cannot locate the file so I went to ProQuest, Historical Chicago Tribune, looking for the article I and came across articles about WWI Draftees being accepting into the new army!  I had no idea the Trib published lists of Draftees and Enlisted men after their examinations. I stumbled upon the first article quite by accident and I’m so excited to have found this!

If you know what Draft Board your Chicago ancestor registered with, you can look through the lists, which say District rather than Draft Board. Michael registered with the draft board 5 June 1917. He is listed in the paper 15 August 1917 as being accepted as physically fit for service. I searched from 6 June 1917 – 1 October 1917 for District 26 and then started reading each entry that popped up. I now plan to do the same for his brothers. I know three of them, from that article I cannot locate at the moment, were either drafted or enlisted and served/trained stateside. The brothers never saw action overseas, only Michael.

What an exciting find!

1 Comment »

Cemetery and IRAD Research Trip

Yesterday I had the most wonderful day with my 9 year old son Drew. We got up early and hit the road to drive into the city. Our first stop was St. Adalbert’s Cemetery in Niles, IL. That stop was not my most productive cemetery stop ever, but my son learned how to use the Kiosk to look up the graves; use the map to locate a grave; and took some pictures of the grave we found. On our next trip we will get plot layouts to help us locate the few people we did not find.

Our second stop, before it became unbearable outside, was Bohemian National Cemetery. We did not spend much time there as I wanted to get across the street to Northeastern Illinois University to IRAD. We were able to get the location of my grandfather’s niche in the Chapel and Drew saw that. Then we visited the grave of my Uncle Richard Holik. He passed away in 2007 and I guess I have not been up there since then because I did not have a photo of his grave stone.  We then walked from Rich’s grave to the next section to see Michael Kokoska’s grave. Michael died in France in WWI. Drew knows most of his history and thought it was amazing to see his grave. He has seen it before but now he has more of an appreciation of why I visit the cemeteries and research our family’s history.

Our last stop was IRAD. I prepared for this trip so I could teach Drew how to use the microfilm to look things up and follow the record trail. The one thing I forgot to add to my spreadsheet was the Soundex Codes. Not that it was a big deal, but we had to wait a few minutes while the staff person looked up my codes. Next time I will make sure we don’t waste those few minutes. Drew and I looked up Naturalization records for a couple hours and had some success. Then we waded into Probate and Will waters. Not so much success there. The microfilm for the Probate was so fuzzy you could barely make out the numbers. We will have to visit the County Clerk to try their indexes, which will hopefully be better. I think we did find at least two family members who had Probate cases though. That was exciting!

Drew was so great all day, he learned so many new things, and actually WANTS to go on the next research trip! We really bonded yesterday which was nice because he has two younger brothers and sometimes it is difficult to get that one on one time with him.  While I didn’t come home with as much new information as I would have liked, the day was a success and I can’t wait to go with him again.

1 Comment »

University of Illinois-Chicago Special Manuscript Collections

If you have read my blog posts on my Chicago Family History blog about Fortunato Fratto (there are two posts), you will understand my serious research on his family for the last week.  Fortunato is basically not the person I thought he was in my family tree. He is related though.  Instead of being my husband’s great great grandfather, he is his great great uncle. Check out the posts for the whole story – it is interesting.

In my quest for answers to the first questions on Fortunato’s family and who is buried in his grave site, I came across a project at the University of Illinois-Chicago called the “Italian Project” from the 1980’s. Included in this oral history project is an oral interview by Rose Tellerino, Fortunato’s daughter. Yesterday I received a copy of the interview transcript.

The transcript is roughly 46 pages long with the actual interview being 34 pages. The interviewer attached to the tape for transcription, a summary of the interview with questions raised, important points to note, and some statements about Fortunato made by Rose which made him appear “cruel” compared to how we see most father’s today. A note is included with that stating when analyzing the transcript you must keep in mind the time period which was 70 – 80 years prior.

Rose gave amazing information about her life growing up around Clark/Polk in Chicago, then moving to 25th Street; her strict disciplinarian father; her arranged marriage at 14 and the children she had in rapid succession thereafter. She discusses the food they ate; the housing; the class structure; her father and mother’s background in Taverna, Italy and what her father’s feelings were after immigrating. She also lists several addresses where the family lived, without exact dates, but based on the context in which the interview is held, I can approximate the years and have more of a starting point to search the 1910 Census. To this point the regular searching techniques on Ancestry have failed. It appears all my Fratto folks did not “exist” on the 1910 Census. I suspect they are there and their name was mangled or transcribed so incorrectly I have not had success searching other variations. Now I can narrow it down to Enumeration Districts within a Ward or two.

If you have Chicago family, Italian or not, check out the UIC Special Manuscript Collection online. They have a listing of what each collection contains and you can send them an email requesting information on a specific file by giving them the Collection Name; Box Number and Folder Number.

This interview is an invaluable piece of my husband’s family’s history. I will be sharing pieces of it on my Chicago Family History blog over the next week or two.

Leave a comment »