Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A missing piece of Family history

I got this email from my sister today.

I will start with Dad's Grandfather. Mike Beneires immigrated from Greece in 1910, he rode on a ship called the Columbia. Originally he was from a small town call Corinthes Paleas, but he boarded the ship in Patras, Greece, which is now a very touristy area, where Carnival originated. When he arrived in America he went to a small area around Omaha, called Douglas, Nebraska. His immigration costs, and room and board were paid for by a company who relocated immigrants in the early 1900's. They would get people over here, and find them room and board, and a job. Grampa Mike worked in a barber shop for contract time of 5 years, and continued to work there until the day he died. I was told that rain or shine, whenever he got a tip, whether it was a nickel,dime, or penny, he would cross the street, and deposit it in his savings account. In early 1925 he met Dorothy Goodwill, of Omaha, and they married. That December they had their first child, Shirley Beneires. Our Grandma, Georgene Beneires (Gramma Jo) was born in 1929. Several years later Dorothy ran off with a salesman who came to the door. This was during the depression, and Mike was forced to put both girls in an orphanage for 7 years. While they were there, he would pick them up on Sunday's and take them out for the day. When he remarried later he was able to bring the girls back home. Apparently they hated their stepmother. Grandpa Mike told them that their mother had died of Phemonia, but my source says she doesn't know if that is the truth, or something he told them so they would not wait for her any longer.

Anyways, Gramma Jo lived grew up in Omaha (Douglas) and married her first husband in 1945, his name was Clarence Casey. They had two children together, Judy Ann was born in 1946, and died in 1949. The story is that Clarence spun her around by her ankles, and whacked her head on the wall. No one knows the exact story. The other child was Dennis Patrick Casey, and he was born in 1948. Patrick is still alive, and would be dad's half brother. I have recently found out that he is in prison, and will more than likely die there. I am hoping that dad will write him, because it is not something I feel comfortable with. I do have the phone # for his wife, however, and she is excited to talk with me. She told my contact that they had found a picture of Georgene holding a little boy, and when they asked who it was she told them it was Patrick, him and his wife knew this was not true, and now they know that that boy is our dad! Apparently she has all of Georgene's things at her house, pictures, birth certs, death certs, etc. I believe she still lives in Nebraska.
So, Dad was born in 1951, so sometime between the time her first son was born in '48, and 1950 she ended up in Kansas, and met our Grandpa Eldon. Dad was born in Abilene, Kansas, and Georgene's signature is on his birth certificate. When Grampa Eldon went to Korea, Gramma Jo, Patrick and Dad came to live in Astoria with Dad's gramma. They lived there for 3 years, until Eldon came home from the war. As soon as he returned he and Georgene divorced and custody of Dad was given to Gramma from Astoria, where he grew up.
My contact person is Shirley's daughter,Leslie, so she would be dad's first cousin. She was born in '49. Shirley had several other children and several marriages.
Leslie lives in San Bernardino, CA and has one son of her own, and adopted 5 biological brothers who were born to a drug addict. She said that the way her mother was so aloof with her and her brothers made her want to be more of a parent. But, she understands why her mother, and dad's mother were able to be that way with their children, since they never knew what nurture or love looked or felt like! Leslie told me that she was closer to our Gramma Jo than her own mother, she calls her Aunt Jo. She said she was a character, and was always making her laugh.
Anyways, back to Gramma Jo, she lived in Omaha most of her life, obviously except when she was with Grampa, which she never told a soul about. She had several long relationships, and the last on was very interesting. Gramma Jo worked at a chinese food restraunt for 20 years, one day she heard one of the other waitresses talking about how her father had been taken by this woman for all her was worth, so he found her an killed her. Georgene went with this young waitress to the prison to meet this man. When he got out, they got married! Leslie told me that she joked with him that Jo was very important to her, and if she came up missing, she would kill him.....lol. Wierd, huh. Anyways, they decided to donate their bodies toscience, when they died, and that's what they did. Gramma Jo died in August 2009, only last year! Her sister Shirley died in 2008. Apparently there is a gravestone somewhere, I would like to see it someday. Leslie has been in contact with the woman who took care of Gramma Jo for the last 5 years of her life. She is also willing to talk to me, and tell me about Gramma!
Now, back to our Great grandfather. He was able to take all of his savings when he met Dorothy, and buy them a house, which he lived in until he died. Both Georgene and shirley were raised there, and Leslie told me she never remembered Georgene live anywhere but there. On the day Grampa died, she said he had came home for lunch as usual, and while Georgene was preparing his lunch he went to lie down, she heard a strange breath, but continued to prepare lunch, when she went to get him for his meal, he had passed away. This was 1971. So he lived from 1892-1971. She also told me the address of the house. She remembered visiting there when she was a child, and loved her Grampa Mike. She said the house reiked of cigar smoke, but it became customary to smell it when she arrived. She also told me that Grampa Mike hated Greece. He never spoke a word of Greek, unless he was cussing, because he didn't want anyone to know he was cussing, needless to say, she said the only Greek they learned growing up was profanity.....lol.
I have really enjoyed speaking with Leslie, she seems like a wonderful woman! I came across her mother's obituary, and knew it was dad's aunt, so when it listed living family members, I wrote down her name and found her address. I sent her a letter in mail. I almost didn't send it, but I though what do I have to lose. When she recieved the letter, she was in shock, and read it several times over. She said it made her cry. Then, reality set in, and she doubted I was who I said, But then she went online and found all the queries I had posted over the last several years, then she knew I was who I said I was, she told her brother's that she beleived me and was going to everything she could to help me, they agreed, and she emailed me that day. We have been corresponding through email ever since, and I have even spoken to her on the phone. She said she has talked tofamily members she hasn't spoken to in years because of this, and uncovered things she didn't even know. She said she is thankful I sent the letter, and is excited to know that she has more family out there!
Okay, well, I can't think of anything else right now, If you think of any questions, I might be able to find an answer for you. I am attaching a picture of Great-Grampa Mike from Greece, his wife Dorothy, and the baby is Shirley, dad's aunt. This picture was taken before Gramma Jo was born. Hope you enjoy reading this stuff. Dad thinks I look just like my great gramma, and Leslie told me that Gramma Jo looked just like her!

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