Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Persistence definitely pays off..........

I haven't written much about ancestors that I don't have a lot of information on but a package arrived in the mail today that made me decide this was a good topic.

I wrote last year about my maternal grandmother's family tree and her handwritten tree.  One of the pages was just a drawn out tree that showed that her mother's (Minnie) mother Augusta Muche Comstock (wife of George Delmer Comstock) - it lists that Augusta's mother was "Minnie Schuman" and her father "August Muche".  I had nothing further until I found what I figured was the ship log (based on age and families in Allegan MI):
"Ann & Lizzy 06/15/1866" - Schumann family bottom right

I found a researcher in Allegan that was willing to do some lookups for me (in the link I wrote a little about her).  In 3 packets of information she found so much information for me regarding the Schumann family, even getting information about my 3rd great grandmother "Minnie", proving her mother was Beate Monties Schumann.  I started researching the descendants of Beate and traced several of the families, eventually finding a woman named Nancy in Maryland, who's great grandfather William Frederick Schumann was one of Minnie's brothers.  I emailed her in early 2006, letting her know how we were distantly related, and asking her if she had any photos.  I got a response back 4/29/2006 indicating that she had photos from when her grandparents house was cleaned out but that her grandma's 2 sisters lived there for awhile and all the photos were mixed together.  She wasn't sure how much help she could be but when she had time she'd be in touch.

Fast forward to 7/21/2012 and I get an email from Nancy with the photo of William Schumann and also a photo of Beate!  This sure cemented my reasoning when I tell people why I won't leave my current cable provider (losing this email address that's out there on so many genealogy tangents would cost me).  Writing on the back proves the connection and adds the name of a son Michael that I hadn't been able to track:
Beate Monties Schumann 1806-1887
 This gives me a photo of a 4th great grandmother that I don't have a photo of their child (Minnie, my 3rd great grandmother).  I blogged before about unidentified photos that I believe to be of the Schumann family and may even have Minnie in them but so far nothing.  I even emailed the photo to the Allegan County Historical Society and got no response (which is a shame, a response would have been nice).

Other than the ship log and the 1870 and 1880 census Beate doesn't exist.  She has a headstone at Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan but Viola couldn't even find a death record. 
During the 6 year gap between emails I'd been in contact with another Schumann descendant named John in Arkansas.  His great grandparents were William and Emma Tiefenthal Schumann.  They lived in Allegan as well but I hadn't been able to make the connection to my Schumann line, in spite of the fact that Emma's father Frederick's 2nd wife Julia was also one of Beate's daughters.  I sent him this photo to which I got a quick reply that HE also had a copy of the same photo.  He said it was somewhere in his basement in a really old frame and that he'd gotten it out of his great-uncle Arno Schumann's belongings.  Arno would have absolutely no reason to have this photo unless Beate was also his relative which leads me to believe that the son Michael that I'm missing was William's father, who probably died in Prussia prior to the family coming to America.  I'll never be able to prove it as Arno's father abandoned the family and simply vanishes but it's a very plausible explanation.  Even without proving this I've got 100% proof that Beate is definitely my direct ancestor.

I asked John if he could send me a scan of his photo (hoping it was in better shape than the one I got) but didn't hear from him for quite awhile.  A couple months ago I got an email from him that he was driving through Michigan for a trip and wanted to know if he could drop the photo off to me.  He wants the photo with someone that will appreciate it and hold on to it so I of course said I would.  When the trip was made the photo was accidentally left behind so when he returned he called me and made arrangements to mail it to me.  It arrived today, complete in a frame that I can only guess is from the 1880s.
 The damaged part of the photo (her right shoulder) is the same in his copy as in the one Nancy sent me.  The photo (I pulled it from the frame and put it in my acid-free album for the time-being) is a reprint but looks extremely old (I've never seen a photo printed on this kind of paper).  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the frame yet as I want to keep it but it's not in great shape.  Either way I truly appreciate having the photo and the 6 and then 3 year gaps it took to get them prove that you never know when something will find you! 
Sure would be nice if Beate and her family would give me something to let me know where in Prussia to begin looking for their records!  The photo will have to do for now.  :)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Impressive longevity in one family - Justis and Jane Ann Hogmire Williams

Now that I'm up and running after my latest fiasco I decided that I'd go off on another trail of descendants on my Hogmire family line.  I have already blogged several times about my 4th great grandfather Samuel Hogmire.  I've done so much work on the Hogmire family on this line that I've been pondering taking it a step further.  A few days ago I decided to start working on descendants of his brother Conrad Hogmire and stumbled into a folder of information I received many years ago from one of his descendants. 

The focus of this blog is Conrad's daughter Jane Ann Hogmire who married Justis Williams and the number of nonagenarian and centenarians produced in this family. 

Justis was quite a bit older than Jane Ann which usually results in a long widowhood but he did Jane right by living to the ripe old age of 98.  Not to be outdone Jane made it to 102.  There were several lengthy articles written about her in the local papers celebrating her birthdays.  The descendant I'd mentioned the "folder of information" from had mentioned how one of Jane's daughters and then HER daughter all lived to be 100 and they all wrote and kept up a journal.  I've often wondered what's in that journal as it encompasses life from the 1820s to the 1980s!  Upon working on Jane's descendants I kept finding more and more people living to 90+ so I thought I'd document it.

Justis and Jane had 4 children, 17 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and  44 great great grandchildren that I can document.  I'm not even sure if this is an anomaly statistically but this is what I found:

Parents lived to be 98 and 102 respectively.
  • Daughter Eliza Williams Chase lives to be 101 and has 6 children.
    • Her daughter Pauline Chase Ritchie makes it to 90.
    • Her other 4 that I can find death records for 46, 61, 31 and 67.
  • Son Francis Williams only lives to be 79 and has 8 children.  
    • His son Herman Williams makes it to 98.
    • His daughter Laura Williams Reese 102, just 2 months shy of 103
    • His daughter Bessie Williams Smith only makes 90 but.......
      • Her son George Smith makes 97
      • I can't find a death record for her daughter Vivian, who may very well be closing in on her 102nd birthday this year.
    • Her daughter Jane Williams Pommerening only makes 77 but......
      • Her daughter Bernice Pommerening Herman makes 92 
    • The remaining children of Francis live to be 46, 80, 80 and 88.
  •   Daughter Hattie Williams Smith dies at 99, 2 weeks shy of 100 and has 3 children.
    • Her daughter Cora Smith Garrett made 101
    • Her daughter Lola Smith Shore made 93
    • Her son Err Lee Smith made 90
  • Daughter Louisa Williams Lenhart drew the short straw and died at 64.  I never find her in census records with her husband and have found online family trees listing 3 children that died young but can't prove any of that.  
So, 13 (with a possible 14th) of the 86 people I've documented in this family made it to 90 and 4 (almost 5 with Hattie) make it to 100+.  Seems like some good numbers.  How do you explain all the early death though?  Eliza makes 101 and Pauline makes 90 but Pauline's siblings average 51?

There are quite a few of Jane Ann's 3rd great grandchildren who have passed away or are still living but none of them that I find are threatening to join this group.  I truly believe that our average life expectancy here in America has peaked and I think as the years pass now the numbers are definitely going to go lower.  Jane Ann's death article lists that she died in her home along the river that she'd lived in for 80 years.  We have more centenarians now but I'm not sure that most of them do as well as they did in the old days if they made it that far.............

This ran in the Avon Herald-News July 3rd, 1985 (some ages are off)


Sunday, August 2, 2015

That was too close for comfort!

I haven't blogged in almost a month, even though I keep promising that I'll be doing more.  My last blog post (from July 7th) was the culmination of months of working on my Korstanje line.  When I got done I uploaded my GEDCOM to www.rootsweb.com.  I'm not sure why because I never use the site anymore but I did.  On July 13th I returned to work from vacation.  On my break I went to work on my tree some more but my computer wouldn't load.  I got a black screen that said I needed to load an operating system.  I talked with a tech geek buddy of mine who said that it's possible the cable to the hard drive had come loose.  I have a toddler who has knocked that laptop down several times so it was a plausible explanation.  I got home from work and when I took it out of the bag my laptop was so hot I had trouble holding onto it (the battery was HOT).  I tried re-seating the drive with the same results.  I then went to Best Buy and bought a new laptop figuring the old one was toast (not only was it hot but there was a burning plastic smell).  I bought an enclosure to try to make my old hard drive into an external drive so I could access the files and all I got was a high pitched squeal when I tried to plug it in.

Now I have been doing genealogy since 1992 and I understand how important it is to back stuff up.  I have a system where my files are all on my laptop and an external hard drive.  When I get new stuff it goes into a "to be sorted" folder and it's sorted into both drives.  The problem is I'm in my family tree file daily and I just back that up occasionally.  Upon loading my new laptop I discovered that "occasionally" meant April 29th, almost 13,000 names ago.  I was devastated to say the least.  I decided to pay a company to try to recover the file so that I didn't have to redo everything.  That too failed.  So I resigned myself to having to redo my work.  Remembering that I'd uploaded to rootsweb I decided I'd have to go family by family and copy/paste all of my work (and then rebuild all the living persons information since I have them privatized).

On the 25th it dawned on me that I'd uploaded the file to rootsweb and perhaps they could recover it for me.  I emailed their support and then googled to see if there was a solution.  I bet that drives those techies nuts when people do it in that order.  Upon googling it I found where to go and downloaded my GEDCOM.  Even though I'd privatized living persons everything was there.  I only lost 6 days worth of work (of which I'm now caught up)!

So, now whenever I finish a family line I'm working on I'm uploading my GEDCOM to rootsweb.  The fact that I randomly chose that day to do it saved me and I'm not risking that again.  I'm also looking into online backup services as I had a temporary scare that my videos of my grandpa and Jacob were also lost (I found them on an external drive I rarely use).  Having never experienced a hard drive failure before this was certainly a wake up call!  There were no indicators there was a problem - just poof, gone...........

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Distant relations

So I see it has almost been another month since my last post.  As predicted, I got myself off on another rabbit trail (as I figured I would), but for the moment I'm done with it.

Given that my last name (Korstange) isn't very common, it's always intrigued me that there are other Korstange families near me that aren't easily connected to mine.  I actually went to high school with a Korstange who's name was so similar to mine that our accounting teacher used to mix our test grades up.  Upon researching and using a Korstanje genealogy book I have I was able to find that we are half 7th cousins, 1x removed (we have the same 7th great grandfather, back to 1705).  What made it amazing to me is that he lived in the house that my paternal grandfather lived in............just a small world.

So, my last rabbit trail was completing all the Korstanje lines that I could trace in America.  I wonder if my immigrant ancestor Jan Korstanje knew he was related to so many people in west Michigan?  Here are the immigrant ancestors and their connection to me - if you're descended from the Korstanje line and your immigrant ancestor isn't listed fire me a message - I'd love to connect more Dutch-American families.

  • Pieter Cornelis Korstange 3/4/1894, Samuel C Korstanje 3/27/1891 and Johannes Hendrik Korstanje 11/28/1901 - 4th cousins, 3x removed (all 3 brothers)
  • Hubregt Korstange 1/30/1858 - 7th cousin, 6x removed
  • Anthonie Korstanje 8/20/1855 - 1st cousin, 5x removed
  • John Korstange 1/12/1845 - 8th cousin, 5x removed
  • Janna Korstanje (Daane) 4/21/1854 and brother Jan Korstanje 1/25/1861 - 8th cousins, 5x removed
  • Pieter Korstanje 12/9/1809 - 6th cousin, 7x removed (his brother Jan was the father of Hubregt b. 1858)  (His granddaughter Maud DeBok (via daughter Dena) married Matthew De Leeuw, son of a Cornelia Korstanje, unk link at this point)
  • Anthony Henry Lemmer  5/21/1925 - 10th cousin, 3x removed (Mayor of Portage MI abt 1967)  (His grandmother Cora Cook was a granddaughter of Pieter) - listed separately as it's amazing to me that (possibly) concurrent mayors of a city were related. 
  • Engel Corstange 4/18/1923 - 11th cousin, 2x removed (Mayor of Portage MI 1973-1985)
  • William Corstange 6/12/1885 - 9th cousin, 4x removed
  • Hubrecht Corstange 11/23/1884 - 7th cousin, 4x removed
  • Martha Corstanje Karelse 3/12/1857 - 8th cousin, 5x removed
  • Pieter Corstanje 4/21/1851 - 8th cousin, 5x removed
  • Adrian Korstange 10/2/1877 - 7th cousin, 4x removed
  • Leunis Korstange 4/16/1840 - half 3rd cousin, 5x removed
  • Jan Quakkelaar 1/21/1888 - 2nd cousin, 4x removed (son of Gabriel and Neeltje Korstanje Quakkelaar)
  • Pieter de Leeuw 10/21/1860 and sister Catharina de Leeuw 3/14/1869 - 7th cousins, 4x removed (children of Willem and Stoffelina Korstanje de Leeuw)

These are families that came to America but didn't settle in Michigan:

  • Marinus Korstanje 9/2/1880 and sister Jannetje Korstanje 2/12/1887 (California) and brother Nicolaas Korstanje (Oregon) 6/16/1884 - 2nd cousins, 4x removed
  • Bastiaan Korstanje 11/9/1898 - (Ohio & West Virginia), Peter Korstanje 6/29/1896, Marinus Korstanje 8/20.1902 and Mary Korstanje 3/25/1910 (California)- all siblings, 4th cousins, 3x removed.   (Their brother Dignus 7/26/1906 traveled extensively and appears to have settled in Canada)
  • Cornelis Rietveld 8/14/1881 - 9th cousin, 4x removed, (son of Leendert and Leuntje Korstanje Rietveld - Janna Korstanje Daane is Leuntje's sister) (Minnesota)
  • Gerard Korstanje 12/28/1870 - 8th cousin, 5x removed (Illinois)
  • Gerda Postma Witkamp 6/23/1925 - 1/2 5th cousin, 3x removed (daughter of Gerben and Soetje Korstanje Postma) (many states) 
  • Marinus Waterman 9/22/1922 - 10th cousin, 3x removed (son of Hubrecht Waterman and Adriana Korstanje) (New Jersey)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My "Genealogy Do-Over"

Wow, I've been gone awhile!  That wasn't intentional but I've done my version of Thomas MacEntee's "Genealogy Do-Over".  When I first read his post I thought he was nuts!  I've got too many years into my file and too little time to do what he's purporting.  I'm not saying he's wrong, just not something I think I could find myself doing. 

That said, I know a LOT of my early genealogy was done incorrectly and so many records have been added online to be able to verify my work.  When the 1940 census was released I started going through my families, one at a time and adding the census transcriptions for each family.  This expanded to me putting all census records for each family into my file, in order with birth and death and war registries all in chronological order.  That took a LONG time.  Then ancestry.com threw a wrinkle into my plans to "take a break" and released Michigan marriages and divorces through 1952, www.seekingmichigan.org released death certificates through 1952 and familysearch.org added a huge collection of Michigan obituaries.  Given the fact that almost all of my family was in Michigan by the 1880s I decided to do another "do-over" and go through my file again

I see in my first blog post that I had 44,993 names in my tree in March of 2014.  I'm not a "collector" of names but I do add whatever offshoots I can as tracing down other lines has led me to so many rewarding connections that I've lost count.  Here I am a year and a couple of months later and my tree has ballooned to 55,414 people.  That's how many blanks this new information filled in.  The number of "starter" marriages/divorces/remarriages I found was incredible.  The "Susie Unknowns" in my file got surnames and allowed me to find other records.  All in all I'm very happy with what I was able to put together. 

 At some point I may start sourcing my tree differently.  I mentioned in an earlier blog how I currently do my sourcing.  I actually LOVE this system as it provides links to the actual records and shows how the record is transcribed if it needs to be quickly found again.  That said, when I try to share reports with others it's cumbersome to say the least.  I also want to get my tree up at rootsweb.com but I can't get it to take without the bio notes and given I've transcribed so many obituaries that shouldn't be posted like that for various reasons I've had to take the tree down.  So perhaps my next big project will be to go through and re-source.  That'll be a time consuming mess for WAY down the road but I still would rather do that than have to find everything again!

So what now?  I think I'll take a respite from the tree for the summer.  I'm sure new information will come forth and drag me back in but the heavy lifting is done.  In the meantime I've got some blogging to catch up on and papers to organize.  These are much less time-consuming than what I've been doing! 

An example of what my tree currently looks like, taken from my 2nd great grandfather George Delmer Comstock's "notes" section:

Delmer Comstock Dies; Furniture Worker Here
Delmer Comstock, 86, furniture worker here many years until his retirement in 1920, died of a heart attack Tuesday night at his home, 1105 Burton-st., SE.  He had suffered a dislocated shoulder in a fall at his home March 15.
Native of Grandville, Mr. Comstock came to Grand Rapids when he was 2.  He was a wood turner in local furniture factories and had been employed by the Fancy Furniture Co. 18 years prior to his retirement.  He was a member of Plymouth Congregational church.
Surviving are his wife, Augusta; a son, Charles D.; two daughters, Mrs. George Swank and Mrs. William Swank; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all of Grand Rapids.
The body is at the Eggebeen funeral home.  (unknown newspaper - clipping from my grandmother's belongings)

Delmer Comstock, aged 86, passed away suddenly Tuesday evening at the residence, 1105 Burton-st., SE.  Surviving are his wife, Augusta; two daughters, Mrs. George Swank and Mrs. William Swank; a son, Charles D.; three grandsons, a granddaughter, two great grandsons and several nieces and nephews.  Mr. Comstock reposes at the Eggebeen Funeral Home, 330 Eastern-av., SE. where funeral services will be held Saturday at 1:30.  Rev. A. E. Potts officiating.  Burial in Wyoming Township cemetery.  (from the Grand Rapids Herald 4/6/1950)

According to Grand Rapids City Directories:
Ran GD Comstock Grocery at 40 Fountain from years 1889-1891.
In 1882 listed as boarder with mother working for GR Chair Co as a machinehand.
1892 listed as an insurance agent with "The Gilbert" and living at 80 Houseman
1893-1897 listed as a "lab", "checker", and "sealer" for C&W M Ry, at 18 Lamont Ct, still living at 80 Houseman in 1894.
1903 listed working at GR Chair Table Co as a wood turner

Name:    George Comstock
Titles and Terms:   
Event Type:    Census
Event Year:    1900
Event Place:    Precinct 3 Grand Rapids city Ward 2, Kent, Michigan, United States
District:    51
Gender:    Male
Age:    36
Marital Status:    Married
Race:    White
Race (Original):    W
Relationship to Head of Household:    Head
Relationship to Head of Household (Original):    Head
Number of Living Children:   
Years Married:    12
Birth Date:    Mar 1864
Birthplace:    Michigan
Marriage Year (Estimated):    1888
Immigration Year:   
Father's Birthplace:    Massachusetts
Mother's Birthplace:    York State
Mother of how many children:   
Sheet Number and Letter:    3A
Household ID:    53
Line Number:    25
Affiliate Name:    The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Affiliate Publication Number:    T623
GS Film Number:    1240721
Digital Folder Number:    004120233
Image Number:    00804
Household    Role    Gender    Age    Birthplace
George Comstock    Head    M    36    Michigan
Augusta B C Comstock    Wife    F    39    Germany
Clara B Comstock    Daughter    F    11    Michigan
Charles D Comstock    Son    M    7    Michigan
Minnie A Comstock    Daughter    F    3    Michigan
Citing this Record:
"United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MSMR-4FS : accessed 7 March 2015), George Comstock, Precinct 3 Grand Rapids city Ward 2, Kent, Michigan, United States; citing sheet 3A, family 53, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,240,721.

Name:    George D Comstock
Titles and Terms:   
Event Type:    Census
Event Year:    1910
Event Place:    Grand Rapids Ward 11, Kent, Michigan, United States
District:    114
Gender:    Male
Age:    46
Marital Status:    Married
Race:    White
Race (Original):    White
Relationship to Head of Household:    Head
Relationship to Head of Household (Original):    Head
Birth Year (Estimated):    1864
Birthplace:    Michigan
Immigration Year:   
Father's Birthplace:    Massachusetts
Mother's Birthplace:    Massachusetts
Sheet Number and Letter:    14B
Household ID:    319
Line Number:   
Affiliate Name:    The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Affiliate Publication Number:    M1283
GS Film number:    1374671
Digital Folder Number:    004330156
Image Number:    00393
Household    Role    Gender    Age    Birthplace
George D Comstock    Head    M    46    Michigan
Augusta B Comstock    Wife    F    47    Germany
Clara B Comstock    Daughter    F    20    Michigan
Charles D Comstock    Son    M    16    Michigan
Minnie A Comstock    Daughter    F    12    Michigan
William R Comstock    Son    M    8    Michigan
Citing this Record:
"United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/ML5B-8LB : accessed 7 March 2015), George D Comstock, Grand Rapids Ward 11, Kent, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 114, sheet 14B, family 319, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,374,671.

Name:    George D Comstock
Titles and Terms:   
Event Type:    Census
Event Year:    1920
Event Place:    Grand Rapids Ward 3, Kent, Michigan, United States
District:    78
Gender:    Male
Age:    56
Marital Status:    Married
Race:    White
Race (Original):    White
Can Read:    Yes
Can Write:    Yes
Relationship to Head of Household:    Head
Relationship to Head of Household (Original):    Head
Own or Rent:    Own
Birth Year (Estimated):    1864
Birthplace:    Michigan
Immigration Year:   
Father's Birthplace:    United States
Mother's Birthplace:    Massachusetts
Sheet Number and Letter:    17B
Household ID:    400
Line Number:    63
Affiliate Name:    The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Affiliate Publication Number:    T625
GS Film number:    1820778
Digital Folder Number:    004311616
Image Number:    01006
Household    Role    Gender    Age    Birthplace
George D Comstock    Head    M    56    Michigan
Augusta Comstock    Wife    F    58    Germany
Charles D Comstock    Son    M    26    Michigan
Minnie A Comstock    Daughter    F    22    Michigan
William Comstock    Son    M    18    Michigan
Citing this Record:
"United States Census, 1920," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZ31-YBW : accessed 7 March 2015), George D Comstock, Grand Rapids Ward 3, Kent, Michigan, United States; citing sheet 17B, family 400, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,778.

Name:    Delmer Comstock
Titles and Terms:   
Event Type:    Census
Event Year:    1930
Event Place:    Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States
District:    0095
Gender:    Male
Age:    66
Marital Status:    Married
Race:    White
Race (Original):    White
Relationship to Head of Household:    Head
Relationship to Head of Household (Original):    Head
Birth Year (Estimated):    1864
Birthplace:    Michigan
Immigration Year:   
Father's Birthplace:    New York
Mother's Birthplace:    New York
Sheet Number and Letter:    25A
Household ID:    316
Line Number:    13
Affiliate Name:    The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Affiliate Publication Number:    T626
Affiliate Film Number:    1004
GS Film number:    2340739
Digital Folder Number:    004608261
Image Number:    00203
Household    Role    Gender    Age    Birthplace
Delmer Comstock    Head    M    66    Michigan
Augusta B Comstock    Wife    F    65    Germany
Clara B Comstock    Daughter    F    39    Michigan
William R Comstock    Son    M    28    Michigan
Citing this Record:
"United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XQBL-DJ9 : accessed 7 March 2015), Delmer Comstock, Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0095, sheet 25A, family 316, line 13, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1004; FHL microfilm 2,340,739.

Name:    George Comstock
Titles and Terms:   
Event Type:    Census
Event Date:    1940
Event Place:    Ward 3, Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids City, Kent, Michigan, United States
Gender:    Male
Age:    76
Marital Status:    Married
Race (Original):    White
Race:    White
Relationship to Head of Household (Original):    Head
Relationship to Head of Household:    Head
Birthplace:    Michigan
Birth Year (Estimated):    1864
Last Place of Residence:    Same House
District:    86-167
Family Number:    222
Sheet Number and Letter:    10B
Line Number:    71
Affiliate Publication Number:    T627
Affiliate Film Number:    1902
Digital Folder Number:    005461854
Image Number:    00492
Household    Role    Gender    Age    Birthplace
George Comstock    Head    M    76    Michigan
Augusta Comstock    Wife    F    78    Germany
William Comstock    Son    M    38    Michigan
Citing this Record:
"United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KH3H-9VY : accessed 7 March 2015), George Comstock, Ward 3, Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids City, Kent, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 86-167, sheet 10B, family 222, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 1902.

Name:     G Delmer Comstock
Event Type:     Death
Event Date:     04 Apr 1950
Event Place:     Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States
Gender:     Male
Age:     86
Marital Status:     Married
Birth Date:     11 Mar 1864
Birthplace:     Grandville, Michigan
Birth Year (Estimated):     1864
Father's Name:    David B Comstock
Mother's Name:    Barbara Harris
GS Film number:     1972831
Digital Folder Number:     005237796
Image Number:     02350
Citing this Record
"Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KF3P-L7J : accessed 02 May 2013), G Delmer Comstock, 1950.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

My grandpa's war stories



My grandpa didn't talk much about his time in the war.  When my dad and I took him to the Great Lakes Naval Memorial Museum in Muskegon MI 5/17/09 (the USS Silversides) he opened up a little bit, pointing out to me where he stood on the ship to fire his guns when looking at a replica that was on display there.  We really enjoyed the trip here but his ultimate goal was to see the LST-393 that is docked in Muskegon.  We were able to take him there the 6/9/11 and then he really opened up.


 We walked the deck of the LST after having explored the interior of the ship.  As mentioned in a previous blog he was insistent on getting into the engine compartment.  He was on oxygen, borrowed a wheelchair, got quite winded and sat down often but he really enjoyed the day.  In this picture he's pointing to the area of the deck where the deck gun he manned was located.  The guns are gone but there are large circular steel plates in their place.  It's unfortunate because we would have loved a photo of him with the gun. 
At the end of our tour a local reporter happened to be on the scene and asked if he could interview my grandpa.  My grandpa had gotten over into a chair so I took his wheelchair while the museum curator and my dad looked on and I videotaped the interview (other than the first few seconds before I realized what was going on).  It's a 24:38 interview that I wish I could post on here.  The audio quality isn't great because it's on a regular camera and there is a lot of background noise, especially given that my grandpa wasn't speaking very loud but it's irreplaceable.

A couple of stories stand out (not necessarily from the interview - stories he'd told me also):

The most vivid story involved the kamikazes.  The repeatedly told the story of a kamikaze that flew into the ship next to theirs.  As he retold the story he added details that he hadn't previously told.  During the visit to the LST in Muskegon he told us again about the kamikaze.  He said the plane was diving right towards their ship.  He said they were firing on him and it seemed "at the last second" that he pulled up, went over their ship and crashed into the ship next to his.  The way he described it and the motions he demonstrated my guess is they shot the kamikaze which caused him to jerk back on the steering wheel.  As he was standing their telling the story he said "I can still see his eyes" as he's flying towards us.  At one time I had found a picture of that LST (he had told me the number).  When I googled it there was a picture of the ship on fire and what I believe was my grandpa's ship in the foreground.  If I can find it again I'll post it here.

The thing that I think haunted him the most was the image of the sailors jumping off the burning ship, many covered in oil and on fire themselves.  He described the charred bodies floating in the water.  It was obvious when he talked about this that it really bothered him.

On a lighter note he'd always giggle when telling the story of his shipmates using the ships crane to steal a Jeep from one of their island stops.  They simply hoisted it onto their ship and down into the hull and then used it to drive around future stops.  He always laughed at the thought of how the person responsible for the Jeep was to explain how it vanished from an island!

He and his shipmates walked the streets of Nagasaki a couple weeks after the bomb was dropped.  He described it as "leveled."  He said there was absolutely nothing alive left, not even a bug.  The only recognizable items were the foundations of the buildings and the heavy duty safes.  When they got into a city where they encountered the Japanese he said they were nothing but friendly to them.

One time his ship took a hit and he recalled the smoke being so thick that he was certain he was going to die.  He said he got on the deck and smashed his mouth around a crack in the deck and breathed the air from below.
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I wish I had more stories but he really didn't talk about it.  I remember in the fall of 2009 the History Channel was playing "WWII in HD."  I went over to my grandparent's house to see them and my grandma was at Bingo.  I could hear that he was watching the show in his room.  He came out and sat at the dining room table with me and I told him I'd also been watching it.  He started talking about the kamikazes, started to shake, pulled out a handkerchief and nervously worked it in his hands and then just stopped talking altogether.  It was obvious that he could still see some of the horror and for the most part he just bottled it up for 70 years.  My grandma said it affected his sleep as well but I'm sure he'd never have admitted to it.  So many stories going to the grave........too hard for the storyteller to tell.  

As a sidenote:
 
I got him added to the Naval memorial:
http://navylog.navymemorial.org/korstange-morris

I also got his picture of the ship he served on onto the Navsource website:
http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/161022.htm


Thursday, November 27, 2014

My grandpa's WWII possessions

I've now blogged about my grandpa's war medals and about his photo finishing/photography during WWII.  There are a few belongings that I got from him that he brought back from the war and I want to get them shared/documented.  Tonight my oldest saw me going through these to photograph him and asked to look at them.  I'm not sure if that was a sign of a spark of interest or not but I'll take it!

This is a flag from Japan from WWII.  My grandpa told me how he got it (I can't for the life of me remember).  I don't believe it was anything as cool as him snatching it from the hands of a Japanese soldier during battle or anything like that.  It seems he was given the flag for some reason.  He always kept it folded up so I've kept it that way as well.  It's starting to show signs of it's age but I'm not sure what to do with it as it's at least 2'x3' and would cost a lot to frame and, quite frankly it's ugly so who'd want to frame it?


This money he brought back came from the Phillipines and from Japan.  There are Centavos and Yen and some of them are in excellent condition given how far they've traveled and how often he'd pull them out to show them to me.  I'm not sure what I'd like to do with them so at this point I'm just leaving them in the envelope he kept them in.  (Hey, it's preserved them for almost 70 years so it's working). 



This picture contains his Navy belt that he wore throughout the war, a wallet he bought in Panama and a shell he brought back from the Phillipines.  At my grandma's there is a box of these shells with a note specifically stating where he picked them up - this shell he gave to me as a kid.  I'm not sure how much he used the wallet but it's worn like he did.  The belt..........I've never unrolled it for fear of damaging it but I feel like there's got to be a better way to store it.  It also makes me feel pathetic because we were the same height but obviously different waist sizes!

My grandpa gave me this dog tag when I was in my early teens.  I really didn't even grasp the significance of what it was until about 10 years ago.  My dad has another set that's on a chain that he got from my grandpa.  I'm happy to have this and am considering if there's a way to get it mounted in the shadow box.  Perhaps I could get the belt mounted in there as well?

The neatest thing he brought back from the war is a Japanese bayonet.  My dad has that tucked away for safekeeping.  I need to work on at least getting a photo of it.  If I can swing that I'll add the photo to this blog post.