Monday, May 30, 2011

Military Monday - Memorial Day–Pfc Joseph Lucas, WWII Vet

In honor of Memorial Day, I am posting on my grandfather. A World War II veteran killed in Germany 18 days after Victory in Europe.

Joseph Lucas was born 13 December 1907 in Northbridge, Massachusetts. His parents were Polish immigrants, Roman Luksys and Catherine Paskruba. Joe (as he was called by friends and family) was the second oldest of their six children. They resided in Massachusetts until they moved to Michigan about 1911. Roman and Catherine changed their last name from Luksys to Lucas sometime between 1913 and 1920, more than likely to make it more “American”. Roman died sometime between 1920 and 1924.
clip_image002Joe, along with his brothers, probably helped out on the family farm so they probably didn’t finish any schooling past the 6th grade.. Joe also worked as a riveter for Ford Motor Company and this is probably where he was working when he met his future wife, Teresa Pakledinaz. They were married on 14 Sept 1935 in Carleton, Michigan. Joe and Teresa had four children throughout their marriage: Elizabeth (1936), Joseph (1937), John (1939), and Nancy (1941).
Joe and Teresa had a falling out sometime at the end of 1942 that led to a divorce on 5 May 1943. The reason for the divorce was probably Joe’s second wife, Thelma Sabol. They were married a little over a month later on 21 June 1943. It was later this year, October 15 to be exact, that Joe entered the US Army. It is not known whether Joe enlisted voluntarily or he was drafted. Most men of his age and his number of children were not drafted, but he may have been. There are many indications that Joe regretted his divorce from Teresa and his marriage to Thelma. First was that in Aug of 1944, Joe removed Thelma as his Beneficiary; he put just his kids names. In addition, in a letter to Teresa, dated 8 Jan 1945 Joe stated that he did not have much use for Thelma anymore. The army may have been Joe’s answer to get away from his problems.

Joe’s indoctrination to the army took place at Camp Grant, Illinois. After that, he was transferred to his permanent unit, the 70th Infantry Division, The Trailblazers. They were located at Camp Adair, Oregon. He was first with L Company, 275th Infantry Regiment but was later assigned to Battery B, 882nd Field Artillery Battalion. It is not known why he was transferred between units of the 70th. With the 882nd is where Joe would spend his combat time through Europe.

Joe’s unit sailed from Boston on 8 Jan 1945 aboard the USS Mariposa and arrived in Marseilles, France on 18 Jan. From there Joe traveled with his unit through France until they were reunited with the infantry regiments of the 70th ID, 7th US Army. Their first taste of combat was at Diebling, France. The 882nd Field Artillery mainly fired in support of the 274th Infantry Regiment. The 70th ID major battles were fought through Spicheren Heights, Forbach, Stiring-Wendel, and finally crossing the Saar River and taking Saarbruecken thus cracking the Siegfried line and entering Germany. After the battle for Saarbruecken was over, the 70th was put in reserve and their basic duties consisted of mopping up and policing duties. The 882nd Field Artillery was located near Neuhoff, Germany when they celebrated Victory in Europe day on 8 May 1945. The battalion was still on the move and by 11 May, they were moved to Hanau. Battery B, Joe’s unit, was assigned to the village Bischofsheim and then on the 25th moved to the village of Bruchkoebel. Their job was to evacuate that portion of the Hanau Kreis as it was declared a part of the SHAEF (Supreme HQ Allied Expeditionary Forces) security area.
clip_image006On 26 May, Joe was assigned to guard a food warehouse near Hanau. At approximately 1400hrs, German civilians raided the warehouse compound. Joe’s partner, Pfc John Morris, (according to a predetermined plan) went to the third floor of the warehouse, thinking Joe was right behind him, and started shooting towards the civilians. After most of the civilians had left the area, PFC Morris headed back to the ground floor to round up what civilians were left. He found PFC Lucas laying in a train boxcar, dead. The investigation of the incident found that PFC Lucas was shot through the neck by a round fired by PFC Morris, who was firing in the line of duty. The investigating officer found that there was no fault and the incident was just a misfortunate accident. This all took place 18 days after the war in Europe was over.

Joe’s body was first buried at Margraten on 31 May 1945 at 1640hrs; he was buried in grave 260, row 11, plot DD. His brother, Edward, made the decision that Joe’s final resting place should be overseas. Joe’s final burial would take place on 25 April 1949, where he was laid to rest in plot O, row 6, grave 12 of the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten.

Joe was neither the perfect soldier nor the perfect husband, who is? However, one thing is for certain, Joe loved his children. Elizabeth is the only one that has faint memories of her dad; she was 9 yrs old when he died. Nancy, who was only 3 yrs old when Joe died, has no memory of her dad at all. Back in 1999, when the family finally learned of Joe’s final resting place and the circumstances of his death, a letter was found written by Joe back in January 1945. This was probably the last letter Joe wrote to Teresa and his kids before he died. After Nancy read the letter, she said that at least now she knows her dad loved her. The first clip_image010line in that letter read “’s a big kiss and hug for the children with their daddy’s love.” Moreover, clip_image008the last line of that letter read, “...with all my love to the kids from their daddy.” Joe loved his kids.
My deepest appreciate goes out to all those that gave the ultimate sacrifice and to their families who must now go through life without them.

Chris – Proud grandson of Pfc Joseph Lucas!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Follow Friday–American Battle Monuments Commission

I began my family history journey back in 1999 when I was assignedNetherland American Cemetery to Germany with the US Air Force. I always heard that my grandfather was killed in WWII and buried in Germany but no one knew where, not even my mother – his daughter. So, the search began. One of the first resources that I came across was the American Battle Monuments Commission. I never heard of it before but what a great organization established by our government. You can read all about them on their website but they are charged with caring for and maintaining our overseas cemetery’s and memorials.

On their website is a search page in which you can search all their records and find the exact location of any of our American heroes who are buried in one of their cemeteries. That is exactly what I did and found my grandfather buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery, plot O Row 6 Grave 12. I also found out that he was a Private First Class, his service number, and the unit he belonged to when he was killed, plus his date of death. One resource and I uncovered all this information that proved vital in my continued success in locating my grandfathers story. I can thank the American Battle Monuments Commission for that.

Joseph Lucas GraveI visited the cemetery many times while I’ve been in Germany and was able to take my mother to see her dad’s final resting place two separate times. The last time was last May for Memorial Day. My mom passed away this past January and I am very thankful that we were able to get her to see her father’s resting place and give her some closure on his death. The staff at the Netherlands American Cemetery is very professional and have always been a great help during my visits. But, more importantly to me, they are very proud to be serving the heroes laid to rest in their cemetery. The staff of this cemetery are not Americans but citizens of the Netherlands.

From the information I got from the American Battle Monuments Commission I have been able to locate records on my grandfathers unit and visit sites in France and Germany where he fought. However, the greatest find coming from this information was the investigation report that describes how my grandfather was killed. That brought total closure and eliminated rumors that my mother had heard about his death.

The American Battle Monuments Commission is not only a great government agency but also a great resource for those that may have family buried in one of our overseas cemetery’s.

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up your family.


P.S. My post for this Monday will be a short bio on my grandfather, so check back.

This Day in History–26 May

A View coming into Weselberg, Germany (2005)My 7th Great Grandmother, Anna Margaretha Lutz was born in Weselberg, Germany on 26 May 1727.

Anna married my 7th Great Grandfather, Michael Deppert, on 23 Nov 1745 in Horbach, Germany.

I visited Horbach in 2005 and took the video in which you can see the church still standing.

Video of Horbach, Germany taken in 2005 by Chris (Author)

Anna and Michael are important to our family line as they are also one of the immigrant families in my line. They immigrated to Boglar, currently located in Hungary, between 1764 and 1765. The family stayed in this area until my Great Grandmother, Anna Maria Hinterhauserlpakjm_hinam_1950abt came to the states on 20 Aug 1909. She would eventually marry my Great Grandfather, John Michael Pakledinaz, on 15 Jan 1910 in Youngstown, Ohio. John was another immigrant, coming from modern day Croatia on 3 Aug 1905.

Thanks for taking a look and keep diggin for family.



P.S. I want to thank Blundering Blindly Backwards blog for the idea to have a ‘this day in history’ post.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday–George E. Shaw


George Edward Shaw, my great grandfather and an immigrant from England to Canada around 1883. He was born 1 Nov 1879 in Openshaw, Lancashire, England and died 20 Nov 1944 in Toronto, Canada. He is buried at Park Lawn Cemetery in Toronto, Canada.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Military Monday–James “Gus” Pakledinaz

My Great Uncle, James Augustus Pakledinaz, called Gus by close friends and family was a Coxswain in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. He served aboard the U.S.S. Cavalier, where they say heavy action and took part in the invasions of Tinian and Saipan in the Pacific. In the picture, he is the 5th from the right. uss cavalierAnd for those movie star buffs, you may recognize the guy directly to my uncle’s left. It is Cesar Romero, movie and television star. From accounts from my family, Cesar would always stop by and visit with my uncle’s family whenever he was in town and treated my uncle’s mother to dinner.

My uncle is one of the many projects I have started throughout my family history endeavors but just quite haven’t found all the time to devote to finding his complete military story. But, I will conquer this.

Until next time, keep diggin’ up your family.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday’s Obituary–2nd Lt William V. Capen

William_Capen_s_Obit (715x800)

Today’s blogging theme gives me a great chance to continue posting on my search for information on William Capen, which started my blogging endeavor. This is an obituary that my wife received from one of her distant cousins. It is a great piece of information that will give clues of where to search for information on him. He went to the airplane school at Princeton University and instructed at the aviation school at Love Field, Dallas. It even says the school he graduated from and when and gives information that he was engaged to be married when he was killed in France. Obituary’s can be a great source of information and clues to further your search. I know I have not given the obituaries the credit they deserve but really need to change that.

Good Luck to everyone on their own searches and keep diggin’ for your family.


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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blood is not Always Thicker when it comes to Family

Flickr PhotoShould the lines of adoptive parents and even significant people in your lives that are not ‘blood’ relatives be included in your research? I’m sure there is debate among family historians whether they should be included or not. I have come across this in my own family history research and thought about that question. I even went as far as to try to find the official answer. After googling and looking at some views I decided I did not have to search for the official answer because the answer to that is personal and can be different for every family historian.

First, my wife’s father was adopted. In fact, another post of mine is my search for his Uncle’s story, 2nd Lt. William Capen. We often say my brother was adopted also but that is another story. Second, on my side of the family, my grandpa was not my mom’s biological father. He wasn’t even married to my grandmother. However, he is the only grandpa I every knew. So, that is how I came about this dilemma on who to include in my research. And actually, after much thought, the answer was quite easy, at least for me.

My grandfather, Richard Almer Lindsay, had a profound impact on my life and I was very close to him. He died in 1987 but I often think of him and miss him dearly to this day. In fact, just writing this and thinking about him brings a tear to my eye. Some of what makes me who I am today is because of who he was and how he impacted my life. The morals and character traits that he passed on to me were passed on to him by his family. That made the decision easy for me and I research his lines and include them in my tree. He is just as much a part of my family as my genetic grandfather, whom I never met.

The second part of this is whether to include adoptive parents or even the real parents of someone who was adopted. I think the decision is just as easy for the same reasons as I state above. Who you are and what you have become was passed on to you by your adoptive parents and they got those traits from their family. My wife’s Aunt, who was adopted, agrees. In an email to my wife discussing the same dilemma, she says “the attitudes, values, and views of the world came from George and Vera, thus, the people we are is what they created.” George and Vera are the adoptive parents of my wife’s father and aunt, so the grandparents of my wife.

I don’t think there is any question on including biological parents even if they gave up their child for adoption. That is genealogy.

I said that the decision in both cases was easy for me but it may not be that easy for someone else, which leads me to this final section. When I started to do a little research on the topic of this post I came across a post from The Genealogue published back in 2007. This particular post is talking about the debate of being a genealogist or a family historian but takes an angle from adoption, which is what my post here is all about. I’m not going to tell you all the post because you can read it for yourself (if you couldn’t then you wouldn’t be reading this one). However, the author poses a question towards the end of his post that should help anyone answer the question whether they should include adopted lines in their genealogy or family history. He asks “What's the point of genealogy and family history research?” If you answer this question then you will know whether to include that ancestor from an adopted line or, as in my case, who is not a ‘blood’ relative.

Until next time, keep diggin’ up your family


Sunset photo by: El_Eduardo


©Copyright 2011 – Christopher Shaw

Friday, May 20, 2011

Genealogy Time Management

timeIn my ‘About this Blog’ page I mentioned that I read an article a long time ago about doing genealogy in four hours a week. Well, I was right and I found that article. I actually found  a copy on my hard drive and then found that it still exists in the archives. It is written my Patricia Law Hatcher in March 2003 and you can find that article here.. I am going to reread this article several times and see if me and the wife can implement some of her advise. I will keep you posted on what works and what doesn’t. However, if I keep posting on the blog then that may be a clue that something must be working.

Until next time, keep diggin’ for family,


Photo by: John-Morgan

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A WWI Aviator Vet

4697127117_23087a3590Ok, for my first search I am going to cover looking for my Wife’s Great Uncle, 2nd Lt William V. Capen. I’m not really looking for him because I do know where he is. He is buried at St. Mihiel American cemetery in France, which is a U.S. military cemetery cared for by the American Battle Monuments Commission. He is buried there because he was killed in an aviation accident on 3 November 1918 while serving in the 3rd Aviation Instructor Center at Issuodun, France. That is about all I have to go on.
We have found him in the New Jersey census for 1900 and 1910 and this tells us that he was born in Aug 1895 but, of course, no exact date. My first quest was to try and find his exact date of birth. Wrote to the New Jersey vital records and they found no record of a birth for him. Hmm! But, I can expect maybe it wasn’t registered or something else, the search will go on.
With all of the information on now, I’ve done a search for him there as well. Found that his mother is listed as being part of the WWI Mother’s Pilgrimage, which was a program to offer travel of the mother’s and/or widows to the graves of their loved ones in Europe. Not sure if she made the trip though.
Second task is to fight out any information on the accident that killed him. This really interests me since I am a want-to-be military historian. A quick google search brought me to and they had him listed on their site. Emailed them to see what they had and waited in great anticipation for a detailed account of the accident. A couple days later I got an email with a capen_accident_letterone-page cover letter which looks to have included the accident report at one time. uggh!  However, that is more than we had to go on before so I will try and analyze that letter and try and read all the handwriting throughout the margins to find any clues.
That is where I stand now and will update as I run into more walls or make any breakthroughs on our WWI hero, 2nd Lt. William V. Capen.
Any suggestions would be much appreciated in the comments.
Until next time and keep diggin’ for your family,
Photo by: Tony Hisgett
P.S. I figured out how to get the photo for this blog by following the advice of Kerry over at the Clue Wagon.