Monday, February 26, 2018

Mom's WW2 Stories: Gustloff and Narrow Escape

In the previous Mom's WW2 Story the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff was mentioned. It served as a cruise ship at its very beginning, then was turned into a hospital ship. Later, Gustloff stayed in the war port of Gdynia and was just a floating barracks for the Nazi army men.

Mom lived with her sister and mother in the war port neighborhood. When the Russian army was getting close to Gdynia, grandma (who was a civilian war port worker) and her children were ordered to appear in the war port to be boarded on Gustloff. Neither grandmother nor the kids wanted to leave their home, but they were not asked what they wishes were. It was a Nazi order so a "no, I don't want to" was not an option. On a cold winter day, they went to the square near the local Nazi army barracks - mom and her sister with their little backpacks (made by grandma) on their backs, their mother carried a small piece of luggage.

When they arrived at the designated place, it was packed with people. Some called the names of their relatives who had got lost in the crowd, children cried. It was all scary and messy - chaotic loads of people who were waiting to be boarded on the ship (which was supposed to happen at 10 PM). Mom, her sister, and grandma kept close together, they talked to each other in Polish that they wanted to go back to their house. A young Wehrmacht soldier who was standing nearby heard them talk. He understood what the two Polish girls and their mother were saying as he was Silesian.

To your knowledge: Silesia is a region in the south of Poland. During WW2 many Silesian families, because of different reasons, signed the so-called "Volks list" and as a result of that, their men were drafted into the Nazi army.

The Silesian got the girls and their mother out of the crowd and led them to the German bomb shelter which was not far from that gathering place. In one of the shelter rooms, there were two big stacks of hay. The soldier helped the three fugitives hide in one of the stacks, covered them with hay and left. Mom and her family sat in their hiding quietly not being sure what would happen. Some time passed, and they could hear two Nazi soldiers came to the room. They were looking for any civilians who would be possibly trying to hide there. Our three 'girls' were horrified. It did not last long and (to mom and her keens' surprise) a young couple was found in the other haystack. In the meantime, the other soldier was kicking mom's family stack of hay with his boot. Suddenly mom felt severe pain - she got a strong kick in her leg. The little girl was about to scream but luckily, grandma covered mom's mouth with her hand instantly. The three ones were frightened and mom thought their end was about to come. But nothing happened. The young couple were taken away by the soldiers and all got quiet again.

The Nazi man must have felt he kicked something or (very likely) somebody, but he said nothing. Was it the Silesian man? Mom does not know as she could only hear what was going on but saw nothing. My guess is, that was the man, otherwise, he would have checked what under the hay was. But he did not and said: "There is nobody here".

Mom cannot recall how long they sat in the haystack but finally, with the help of the Silesian man, they managed to get back to their house. There were some neighborhood people as well, and they all, including the Silesian man, hid in the cellar of the house. The people were afraid of Russian soldiers - the stories of what they had done, especially to women and girls, reached the area before the Russian army managed to get there. Grandma advised the Silesian man to change and put on some civilian clothes. Unfortunately, he did not manage to do that as there was simply not enough time. The Russian soldiers came very soon. Those army men told everybody to get out of the cellar and line up in front of the building. When mom, her sister, and the neighborhood people were all standing there, suddenly a young Russian soldier aged about 18 arrived riding a horse. He got off the horse and shot the Silesian man. Mom remembers that the people who were there wanted to lynch the shooter, but nobody could do anything. The Russian guy was the one who had a gun. And the latter one got back on his horse and rode away. The Silesian had a wife and a baby boy back home in Silesia.

If the Silesian man had not saved mom, her sister, and mother, most probably they all would have drowned when Gustloff was sunk by the Soviet army submarine S-13.

After some time, when mom and family were back in their flat, two Russian soldiers knocked on the door. They searched the place looking for gold. Mom still remembers such a picture: one of the soldiers placed himself with his back against the room door frame. He was moving his back left and right and at the same time loads of lice and fleas were falling down on the floor. Anyway, the soldiers took everything which was of the golden color, including furniture knobs, and pieces of a coffee set made of China (they chopped off the golden coffee pitcher handle and a decorative ball which was at the pitcher lid top). Fortunately, grandma had sewn her rings into one of her petticoats so the soldiers did not find any real gold at home. However, the army men fancied the piano which belonged to mom's family. One of the soldiers sat on the upper part of the instrument and banged the keys with his boots which he enjoyed very much. So they decided to take the piano. Since the instrument was too big to push it through the flat door, they came to an idea that one of them would throw it down from the balcony (the apartment was on the first floor = second according to American standards), and the other one would go downstairs and catch the load. Needless to say, the soldier who was on the street did not catch the piano. The instrument crashed into pieces when it landed on the ground. I guess those men had not expected that? Anyway, there was no piano anymore, and they left without it.

Soon the war ended. What happened to mom and her family later? I will tell you in March.

The photograph was taken before the war in Hel (Hel Peninsula) where the family used to live. Shortly before the war started, grandpa was transferred to a military unit in Gdynia so mom, and they all moved there as well.

The photo: our family (and their friends) are going to the beach. At that time, it was customary children wore pajamas when going to the beach. Mom is the little one in the first row.


While visitingthe WW2 museum in Gdansk, Poland, we came across the bell.

Mom's WW2 Stories

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jurita Elizabeth Ledbetter McIntosh

Creating this post has taken a lot of time and a lot of research.

When I was looking for some traces of our ancestors in Texas, I came across the information about Ledbetter - a town in Fayette County, TX. I do not know whether the place had anything to do with our Ledbetter family line and the relatives who moved from Georgia to Texas.

Our direct ancestor is Jurita Elizabeth Ledbetter who was born on June 22, 1857, in Georgia. Her father was (?) Charles Ledbetter born circa 1833 in Forsyth, Monroe County, Georgia. He is quite an enigmatic persona - so far I have neither found anything on his parents nor siblings.

Jurita's mom was Hannah E Hagood, born in 1839 in Georgia.

On Oct. 13, 1853, in the county where he was born, Charles Leadbetter married Miss Hanna E. Hagood. Here is a copy of their marriage record.

Georgia Marriages, 1808-1967
Name: Charles Leadbetter
Spouse's Name: Hannah E. Hagood
Event Date: 13 Oct 1853
Event Place: Forsyth, Georgia
Record Source:
"Georgia Marriages, 1808-1967," database, FamilySearch ( : 11 February 2018), Charles Leadbetter and Hannah E. Hagood, 13 Oct 1853; citing Forsyth, Georgia; FHL microfilm 329,927.

Since the document does not include any personal data (such as dates of birth or parents' names regarding both the bride and spouse) it seems to be more a guess than a proof of the marriage. Anyway, comparing the data available on MyHeritage, I figured out that Hanna's parents were Mr. Lemuel Davis Hagood (Haygood) and Ms. Mary Holbrook (Holbrooke).

I found no Census info on Hanna and Charles Ledbetter living together. It is all very unclear also because according to the data on MyHeritage Charles married Martha Ann Wallace nee Jefferson on August 31, 1865, in Forsyth, Georgia. If Hanna was his first wife, she must have died (?) before 1865 then.

Apparently, Charles, Martha, and their children moved to Texas by 1870.

The Census of 1870* shows that Charles (36) and Martha (30) lived in Precinct No. 4 of Hill County in Texas. The children who lived with them were:
Taylor (15), Cicero (14), John J (13), Lizzie (11), Ardelia (9), Mary A (3), Sarah (1).

And now things get complicated. Taylor and Cicero could be Charles and Hannah's children from the first marriage. Charles' second wife Mary Ann was previously married to Mr. Martin Luther Wallace who died in 1862. John J (John Jefferson) born 1857, Lizzie (Sylvia Elizabeth) born 1858 and Ardelia born in 1861 would be Mary Ann's children from her first marriage. If that is so, where is 'our' Lizzie, meaning Jurita Elizabeth? Was she raised by Hannah's relations after her departure? Or maybe Charles and Hannah were not Jurita's parents at all? Well, it is all very confusing. The first option - Jurita taken care of by relatives - could have happened. Who knows.

At the age of 18, Jurita Elizabeth got married. Her spouse was William Daniel McIntosh, born on October 3, 1853, in Georgia to George William McIntosh Sr. and Elizabeth Ann Ballard. The young couple tightened the knot on October 6, 1875, in Upshur, TX.

Two years later, in 1877, William and Jurita's first son was born. The baby was called William Sylvester.

In 1879, on the 24th day of September, William's brother, little baby John was born.

The census records from 1880** tell that William, Jurita (Lizzie), and their two sons William Sylvester and John lived at Precinct No. 1 of Franklin County in TX. William was a farmer then.
An interesting thing is that the very same census paper tells that William's father John lived with them as well. William Daniel's biological father George William McIntosh died in 1858. William's mother Elizabeth Ann remarried later and her second husband was John F McIntosh. I do not know anything about him (besides what the census says - he was born circa 1820 and his parents were from Scotland). Elizabeth Ann died circa 1880. It seems that after her death, John F moved to William and Jurita's place. According to the census of 1880, John was a farm laborer. Possibly, he helped William with the farm work.

William Daniel and Lizzie McIntosh had six more children:

George Oscar - born on February 9, 1881, in Wood, TX;

Louella Joyce - born on February 24, 1884, in Mt. Vernon, TX;

Hubert Dee - born in Texas on April 6, 1887;

Samuel Hollie - born on July 8, 1888, in Gilmer, James, TX;

Amanda Viola - born on July 13, 1891, in Upshur, TX, and

Maudie V - born in July 1892.

Jurita's husband must have died by the 1900 Census*** as the records from that time inform that Jurita, age 43, was a widow and a farmer. She lived on her own with five children: Oscar (19), Lula (16), Hubert (14), Samuel (12), and Maudie V (8).  But where was Amanda then?

Very likely, Jurita Elizabeth remarried later but I found no trace of that. On her son's (Samuel Hollie's) death certificate her maiden name was recorded as 'Gordon' which obviously was not correct. However, maybe it was her second husband's name? Another question mark here.

As for Jurita and William's children:

I have not found out who William Sylvester's wife was. However, he had a son Sylvester (born Oct. 8, 1911, died June 5, 1975). Sylvester Sr. had two sons - Sylwester Jr. and Dewane.
George Oscar McIntosh married Miss Alice Florence McQueen (born on July 28, 1891). They had seven children  - daughters: Roberta (June 15, 1915-June 19, 1922), Arlie Fay (b. circa 1922), Archie Ray (Jan. 16, 1922-Dec.30, 1966), Mozelle (b. circa 1927), and sons: William Marshall (Dec. 21, 1912-July 21, 1968), Clarence Allen (Oct. 22, 1916-Nov. 4, 1983), and Buford (b. circa 1925).

Oscar was a farmer, his eyes and hair were black. WWI draft registration reecord shows aslo that in 1918 George Oscar and his wife Alice lived at 1 Route in Ashland, Upshur, TX.

Serial Number: 2693 Order Number: 3886
Name: George Oscar McIntosh
Permanent Home Address:1 Rte, Ashland, Harrison County, Texas.
Age in Years: 37
Date of Birth: Feb. 9, 1881

US Citizen - Native Born: Yes
Nearest Relative: Alice Florence McIntosh, Adress: 1 Rte, Ashland, Harrison County, Texas.
Registrar's Report: 42-2-17-C
Description of Registrant
Height: Medium, Build: Medium, Color of Eyes: Black, Color of Hair: Black
Signed by: Ino H Chadd
Date of Registration: Sept. 12/1918 

Record Source:
"United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 March 2018), George Oscar Mcintosh, 1917-1918; citing Harrison County, Texas, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,953,526.
Later, they moved to James, Harrison, Texas (WWII draft registration, 1942).

Registration Card W
Serial Number:
U 1593
Name: George Oscar McIntosh
Place of Residence: R.F.D. H2, James, Harrison County, Texas
Mailing Address: Same
Age in Years: 61
Date of Birth: Feb 9 1881
Place of Birth: Franklin, Texas
Name And Address of Person Who Will Always Know Your Address: Mrs. G.O. McIntosh, James,Texas
Employer's Name And Address: Farmer
Place of Employment or Business:James, Harriso, Texas
Signature: George Oscar McIntosh

Record Source:
"United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 6 November 2017), George Oscar Mcintosh, 1942; citing NARA microfilm publication M1936, M1937, M1939, M1951, M1962, M1964, M1986, M2090, and M2097 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

George Oscar died in Gilmer, Upshur Co., TX on May 19, 1962. His wife passed on April 29, 1981. They were both buried at Smyrna Cemetery in Harleton, Harrison County, TX.
Louella Joyce McIntosh married James Bates Trotter in 1901. Her spouse was born in Bohnam, Fannin Co., TX to Mr. James B Trotter and Ms Sarah B Marshall.

Louella and James lived in Winnsboro, Wood Co., TX. The couple had four children: Lennes Walton (1902-1995), Vergil Reid (June 1, 1909, Perryville, Wood, Texas - 1928), Ola Bell (Feb. 10, 1913,
 Winnsboro, Wood, Texas - 2010, Paris, Lamar, Texas), and Thelma Elisabeth (Jan. 12, 1919,
 Quitman, Wood, Texas - Dec. 22, 2009, Longview, Gregg, TX). Louella Joyce passed on March 17, 1995, in Longview, TX).

James, Louella and their son Vergil are buried at Smyrna Cemetery in Winnsboro, Wood County, Texas
On Nov. 16, 1911, in Harrison, TX, Hubert D McIntosh married 16-year-old Fannie Bell Anderson (b. 1895). They had seven children: Travis Orel (Oct. 18, 1914, in Ashland, Harrison, TX - Nov. 5, 2002, LA),  son J D who was born and died in 1916, Evie May (Dec. 10, 1917 - October 24, 1926, Harleton, TX), son (stillborn on Feb. 28, 1922), daughter (1922), Ena Elizabeth (June 23, 1924, Harleton, TX), Hazel Marie (Jan. 6, 1927 - 1995 Marshall, Harrison Co., TX).

According to the Census of 1920, Hubert Dee and his wife Fannie lived at Justice Precinct No. 16 in Harrison, TX. In 1935 and later (Census 1940), Hubert, Fannie and their daughter Hazel Marie lived at Chapel Hill Road, Harleton, Justcice Precinct 6, Harrison, Texas.

Hubert D McIntosh died on October 23, 1962. His wife departed on March 2, 1953. They are both burried at Smyrna Cemetery, Harleton in Harrison County.
Samuel Hollie McIntosh married about the age of 20/21. His bride was Miss Ethel B Lollar (born on April 19, 1895, in Bowie, TX). She was a daughter of Mr. James Lollar and Ms. Emma Pierce. In 1900 the in-laws lived at ED 10 Commissioner's Precinct 3 (south of T.& P. R.R.), Bowie, Texas. Later they moved to Justice Precinct 1, TX.

Samuel worked as a farm laborer. He and Ethel had twelve surviving children, ten daughters, and two sons: Opal Orreon (Feb. 5, 1911, Harrison, TX - Jan. 4, 1942, Marshall, TX), Lura Naomia (Jan. 3,1913, Harleton, TX - Nov. 29, 1978),  Cora Bell (Dec. 18, 1914, Harrison, TX - July 25, 1982, Dallas, TX), Samuel Vernon (Dec. 4, 1916 - Nov. 13, 1966, LA),  Bessie Hazel (Nov. 22, 1919 - Nov. 5, 1998, Mesquite, Dallas, TX ), Lou Dean (Jan 23, 1922 - Jan. 21, 1992, Gregg, TX), Ruthie Lee (Oct. 18, 1924-July 1, 1974, Jefferson, TX), Etta Pauline (Sept. 27, 1925 - July 1, 1979), Winona Ollie (June 12,1929, Upshur, TX - July 7, 1997, Garland, TX), Joyce Alma (April, 18, 1931 - Nov. 24, 2015, Dallas, Collin, TX), Betty Jean (April 18, 193, Marshall, TX - Sept. 15, 1988, Dallas, TX), Arthur Hollie (Sept. 22, 1933 - Feb. 10, 1991, Kaufman, TX).

WWI registration draft tells that Samuel Hollie had brown eyes and black hair. He was also a man of bad health. In 1918, the family lived in Ashford, TX. They all moved later. In 1940, during the Census they lived at Chapel Hill Road, Harleton, J. Precinct 6 in Harrison, Texas.

Form I 277 Registration Card 656 No. 5
Name: Samuel Hollie McIntosh
Age in Years: 28
Home Address:Ashland, Texas. Date of Birth: July 8, 1888
Are you natural born citizen? Natural born
Where were you born? Gilmer, Texas, USA
What is your present trade, occupation? Farming
By whom employed? No one
Have you a father, mother, child under 12, or a sister brother under 12 who dependent on you for support? wife , four children
Married or single: married
Registrar's Report: 42-2-27-A
Are you tall, medium or short? medium Color of eyes? black Color of hair: black Bald? no
Has person lost arm, leg, hand or both eyes or is he otherwise disabled? Bad health
Signed by: F M Wood
City or County: Harrison
State: Texas Date: June 5

Record Source:
"United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 March 2018), Samuel Hallie Mcintosh, 1917-1918; citing Marion County, Texas, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,983,387.

Samuel Hollie passed on June 15, 1970 in Terrel, Kaufman County, TX. His wife Ethel ended her life journey years earlier. She died on July 5, 1954, in Sanatorium in Tom Green, TX. They are buried at the same cemetery in Harleton where Sam's siblings' graves are.
Amanda Viola McIntosh married Mr. John Marion Fried, son of Daniel Fried and Melissia Melvina Allen's. John was two years older than Amanda, he was born on Sept. 30, 1888, in Winnsboro, TX. Amanda's husband was a man of medium height and medium built. He had blue eyes and black hair. John was a farmer (see the document below). The couple had three children all born in Harleton, Harrison Co., TX: Cecil C (July 22, 1910 - Sept. 11. 1968, Grand Prairie, Tarrant Co., TX), Venis Elizabeth (March 13, 1914 - August 6, 2007, LA), and Vessie Fay (Sept. 12, 1919 - Feb. 19, 1989, Longview, Gregg, TX).

In 1917, John, Amanda and their two children lived at R F D No. 2 in Ashland, TX (WWI draft registration record).

Form I 2904 Registration Card 656 No. 28
Name: John Marion Fried
Age in Years: 28
Home Address: R.F.D. No. 2, Ashland, Texas. Date of Birth: September 30, 1888
Are you natural born citizen? Natural born citizen
Where were you born? Winsboro, Texas, US

What is your present trade, occupation? Farming
By whom employed? Myself
Where Employed: Ashland, Texas

Have you a father, mother, child under 12, or a sister brother under 12 who dependent on you for support? Wife and two children
Married or single: married
Do you claim exemption from draft? Yes, dependent family
Registrar's Report: 42-2-27-A
Are you tall, medium or short? medium Color of eyes? blue Color of hair: black Bald? no
Has person lost arm, leg, hand or both eyes or is he otherwise disabled? no
Signed by: EJ Mathis
Precinct 16
City or County: Harrison
State: Texas Date: June 5

Record Source:
"United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 March 2018), John Marion Fried, 1917-1918; citing Harrison County, Texas, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,953,526.

Amanda Viola was widowed in 1968, her spouse passed at the age of 79, on Feb.13, in Marshall, Harrison Co.. She died when she was 89, on Jan. 21, 1981 in Shreveport, Caddo Co., Louisiana. Her body was buried a week later, she joined her family members who rest at Smyrna Cemetery, TX.

I wish I had photos of Jurita Elizabeth Ledbetter, her husband William Daniel and their children.

Photo of gravestone: Mary Cofer,

Information and copies of documents:

*"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2016), Charles Ledbetter, Texas, United States; citing p. 14, family 96, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 553,090.

** "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 July 2017), John Mcintosh in household of Wm D Mcintosh, Precinct 1, Franklin, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district ED 32, sheet 403C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1304; FHL microfilm 1,255,304.

*** "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2018), Jurita E Mcintosh, Justice Precinct 8, Upshur, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 123, sheet 11A, family 196, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,675.