Sunday, January 2, 2022

Omer William Lammers (1920-1945)

I started watching a series on Netflix called "Stories of a Generation". The series focuses on the generation who are now in their 70s being interviewed by a generation of filmmakers who are in their 30s. The series consists of four episodes; Love, Dream, Struggle, and Work. During the Struggle episode, Omar Badsha made the following statement: "We must not forget who makes history. We need to write a new history. It is a history not of big names and big people. It is a history of ordinary people. They are the ones who make history. That legacy is something that we must keep around." Omar's story revolved around appartheide South Africa and the struggle for equality and freedom, but his statement is much broader than that. The intent of my posts in this blog have been just that, telling the history that our ancestors have contributed to so others will see their contributions. My most recent series of posts, the WWII Hometown Newspapers Collection Project, revolves around their service during WWII which the US entered 80 years ago.

Today's post is about Omer William Lammers, my wife's 4th cousin 2x removed.

Omer was born in Botkins, Shelby County, Ohio on 9 January 1920. His parents were William Louis Lammers and Emma Marie Kipp Lammers. He had one sister, Mildred Sophia, born in 1915, and one brother, Richard Lewis, born in 1926.

Omer is not listed in the 1920 US Census because his bithdate was after the 1 January 1920 cutoff for listing. But the rest of the family, William (age 31), Anna (age 29), and Mildred (age 5) are listed as renters on the farm of William Kipp (age 59)  in Van Buren Township, Shelby County, Ohio. William Lammers is listed as the farm manager. William Kipp, born in Germany, was Emma Kipp's father. Also note that Emma was recorded as Anna in this census.

The 1930 US Census has the family still living with William Kipp (age 70) in Van Buren Township, Shelby County, Ohio. The family consisted of William Lammers (age 41), Emma (age 39), Mildred (age 15), Omer (age 10), and Richard (age 4 years 5 months). The census indicates that William and Emma were married when they were 26 and 24 years old respectively. William Lammers was a farmer and his farm was listed as #63 on the farm schedule. The 1930 census is incorrectly indexed as Somers instead of Lammers.

Omer attended New Knoxville High School where he graduated with the class of 1937. He was employed by Ed Holl and worked as a ditching contractor.

During the 1940 US Census, the family consisted of William Lammers (age 51), Emma (age 49), Mildred (age 25), Omer (age 20), Richard (age 14), and William Kipp (age 80). William Lammers and his wife Emma had completed the 8th grade. Mildred and Omer had completed 4 years of high school and Richard had finished his first year of high school at the time of this census. William Kipp had completed 5th grade before immigrating to the US from Germany. The family still lived on the farm and William rented it for $10 per month. The farm is listed on the 1940 farm schedule as farm #210.

On 18 January 1941, Omer enlisted in the Army at Ft. Hayes in Columbus, Ohio. He underwent training at Chanute Field near Rantoul, Illinois and had his B-29 combat crew training at Fairmont Army Air Field in Nebraska. He achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant and was assigned to the 398th Bomber Squadron, 504th Bomber Group on 23 December 1944. He was deployed in the Pacific theater out of Tinian Air Field in the Marianas Islands. This was the busiest airfield of the war with six 7,900-foot runways and over 50,000 troops stationed there. Missions were flown with targets in the Phillipines, Ryuku Islands, and mainland Japan including dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Omer flew on the B-29 Super Fortress called the Coral Queen. 

On 6 January 1945, the 38th Naval Construction Battalion "Seabees" selected the Coral Queen as their "adopted" aircraft since it was one of the first to land at Tinian's partially completed North Airfield after the island had been captured from the Japanese in 1944. 

On 15 February 1945, less than two months after arriving in Tinian, Omer, assigned as the Flight Engineer, and ten other crew members of the Coral Queen took off along with 116 other aircraft on a bombing mission over Nagoya, Japan. Nagoya was a critical target because it was the center of the Japanese aircraft industry, producing between 40 and 50% of Japan's combat aircraft including the Mitsubish A6M Zero. It also had a critical port facility. At 1843 local time, the crew radioed on their strike status and indicated that they were in trouble and had enough fuel to last approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes. This was the last confirmed contact with the plane but there were reports of radio signals on their frequency on three occasions between 1125 and 1202 on 16 February 1945. It was believed that they had ditched in the Pacific Ocean probably somewhere approximately 300 miles southeast of Bonin Island. However, search planes reported visibility of less than one half mile during their search and no signs of the plane were seen. On 1 March 1946, a little over a year after the loss of the Coral Queen and its crew, the local newspaper reported that the family had received word that Omer was missing in action and presumed dead. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal for his actions.

The crew of the Coral Queen consisted of 2nd Lt Joseph Clinard (Pilot), 1st Lt Robert Proctor (AC), 2nd Lt Lyle Langenberg (NBR), 2nd Lt Charles Bixby (B), T Sgt Omer Lammers (FE), Sgt Clifford Williams (CFC), Sgt John Beyers (ROM), Cpl William Dembeck (LG), Cpl Vernon Damm (RG), Cpl James Davis (SG), and Cpl James Flaherty (TG). Omer Lammers is first from the left in the second row of this picture. All of the crew are listed on the Tablet of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Saturday, January 1, 2022

Clifford August Schmiesing (1905-1944)

Happy New Year! I hope 2022 will be a good year for everyone. However, 80 years ago, 1942 was not what people had expected. The US was heavily involved in WWII, with forces fighting in the Pacific, Europe, and Africa. One of the soldiers in Africa was Clifford August Schmiesing, my second cousin 2x removed.

Clifford was born on 14 March 1905 on a farm two and a half miles south of Minster, Auglaize County, Ohio. He was the first born son of Benjamin Franklin Schmiesing and Dora Maria Herkenhoff Schmiesing. Ben and Dora were married on 8 June 1904 in Minster, Ohio. They lived on the farm for several years before the family moved into Minster.

The 1910 US Census lists the family living in Minster, Ohio. The family consisted of Bernard (age 27), Dora (age 27), Clifford (age 5), Elsa (age 3), and Howard (age 9 months). Benjamin (incorrectly listed as Bernard) was a bookkeeper for the flour mill and he owned their home. Clifford attended grade school in Minster for two years before the family moved to Lima, Ohio.

The 1920 US Census has the family renting a home at 304 West Wayne Street in Lima, Allen County, Ohio. The family consisted of Ben F (age 38), Dora (age 38), Clifford (age 15), Elsie (age 13), and Howard (age 10). Wesley Meckstroth (age 27) was listed as a roomer. Ben was the manager of the milk department at White Mountain Creamery Company in Lima. Their roomer, Wesley Meckstroth, was a chemist at White Mountain Company.

On 3 March 1921, Clifford's mother Dora died of pneumonia. She was buried in St. Augustines Cemetery in Minster, Ohio on 7 March 1921.

On 29 November 1922, Benjamin married Nora Bell Hall Wilkins in Allen County, Indiana. Nora had divorced her previous husband on 30 July 1921.

Clifford graduated from Lima St. Rose High School and then attended the St. Louis University of Medicine, where he graduated in 1929. While he was completing his internship in St. Louis, he met Grace Elizabeth Ryan of Salamanca, New York. They were married on 6 September 1930 in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, New York and on 28 March and 22 June 1936, Clifford and Grace bought land in Salamanca, New York. Clifford started his private practice as a doctor in Salamanca. He was also a member of the Medical Society of New York.

On 21 July 1938, he was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the medical reserve corps of the US Army.

In the 1940 US Census, Clifford (age 35), Grace (age 35), and their children Clifford (age 8), Sandra (age 3), James (age 2), and Julia (age 7 months) are living in Salamanca, New York. Clifford is listed as a doctor with a 4 year college education. Grace is listed as completing 2 years of college.

In March 1941 he entered the Army where he served as a doctor. He achieved the rank of Major. He served overseas for several years but on 21 January 1944 he died in a hospital in Algeria. Prior to his death, Clifford was seriously ill following an accident on 1 January 1944 where he received injuries including a fractured skull. He was survived by his wife and five children ranging in age from 15 months to 10 years. His family was living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida at the time of his death. He was buried in a military cemetery in Africa. A solemn high mass was held in Sacred Heart Church with his brother, Rev. Howard Schmiesing presiding. After the war, his body was interred at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

John A Smith (1922-1941)

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and was able to spend time with family. This season is a great time for us to ask questions and hear stories about how family members spent Christmas in the past. But 80 years ago, the US was just enterring WWII after the bombing of Pear Harbor. Families were adapting to a new world as their young men were enlisting and preparing to be shipped off to far flung parts of the world. Some families were waiting for word of thier sons who may have been based in Pearl Harbor.

This post is about one such sailor, John A. Smith, who was stationed on the USS Arizona at the time. John Smith was the husband of Rosetta Leugers, my 2nd cousin 2x removed. John was born on 9 May 1922 in Greenfield, Highlands County, Ohio. He was the fifth child of Clarence Eugene Smith and Elma Ladd Smith.

In the 1930 US Census, the family is living on a farm in Madison Township, Highlands County, Ohio. Clarence (age 46) was born in Iowa and Emma (age 45) was a local girl from Highlands County. Both were 22 years old when they were married. The childreen of the family were Paul (age 22), Lucile (age 20), Rebecca (age 18), Thomas (age 14), and John (age 9). Clarence is listed as a farmer and Paul works at a poultry hatchery.

The family is still living in Highlands County, Ohio during the 1940 US Census. They are living on a farm but Clarence is listed as a manager in the school garage. Emma LAdd Smith had died in 1934 and Clarence had remarried. His new wife was Mary Oletha Boyd Smith. The 1940 census indicates that Clarence (age 56) had completed 8th grade. His wife, Oletha (age 48), had completed 4 years of high school. John (age 19) had finished 3 years of high school. Additionally, John H Boyd (age 74) was living in the home. He was Oletha's father. Clarence had made $2,340 during the last year.

On 6 September 1940, John married Rosetta Leugers in Hillsboro, Ohio. Squire Van Pelt, J.P., performed the ceremony. John and Rosetta were both living in Greenfield, Highlands County, Ohio at the time.

John enlisted in the Navy in 1940 where he was a Ship fitter 3rd Class. He was stationed on the USS Arizona. The USS Arizona was a battleship launched in 1915, during WWI. On 7 December 1941, the ship was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor. More than 1,000 sailors are still entombed on the ship and considered buried at sea. Several days before Christmas, the family received a telegram informing them that John had been listed as "missing" and assumed a casualty by the Navy Department. He was survived by his wife and 13-month old daughter.

In February 1944, he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.


Saturday, December 25, 2021

Edward Henry Holscher (1918-1943)

I am continuing my stories for the WWII Hometown Newspapers Collection Project. This story is about Private Edward Henry Holscher, my 3rd cousin 2x removed.

Edward was born on 20 October 1918 in Ft. Loramie, Shelby County, Ohio. His parents were Henry Frederick (Fred) Holscher and Clara Elizabeth Poeppelman Hoelscher. He was the third of 13 children. The first child, John Albert Hoelscher died in infancy in 1916. In March of 1919 the family moved to their farm about one mile west of Osgood in Darke County, Ohio. The family attended St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Osgood.

The 1920 US Census states that the family owned a farm in Patterson Township, Darke County, Ohio. The family consisted of Fred H. (age 34), Clara E. (age 27), Elisabeth M. (age 2 years 9 months), and Edward H. (age 1 year 10 months).

The 1930 US Census states that the family farm was on Brown Road in Patterson Township, Darke County, Ohio. The family included Fred H. (age 44), Clara E. (age 37), Matilda E. (age 13), Edward H. (age 11), Urban F. (age 10), Leo S. (age 8), John J. (age 7), Alfred F. (age 4 years 7 months), Robert (age 2 years 4 months), Raymond B. (age 1 year 11 months).

The 1940 US Census listed the farm, valued at $400, as being in Yorkshire RR 1. The family consisted of Fred (age 54), Clara (age 47), Matilda (age 23), Edward (age 21), Urban (age 20), Leo (age 18), Joseph (age 16), Alfred (age 14), Robert (age 12), Wilfred (age 9), and Raymond (age 3). Edward had completed an 8th grade education.

Edward registered for the draft on 16 October 1940 and was inducted into the Army four days later, on 20 October 1940. He initially started his service at Ft. Thomas, Kentucky but was soon assigned to Camp Wolters, Texas. His training was as a member of an infantry division. On 29 April 1942 he left the US for Ireland where he arrived on 14 May 1942 to continue his training. After six months of training in Ireland he was sent to North Africa with the 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th Division to fight against the Axis forces in North Africa in Operation Torch. The unit saw its first combat in French Algeria on 8 November 1942 when they seized the Port of Algiers and the outlying airfields.


On 31 March 1943, Edward was killed in action becoming the first young man from Osgood to die in service during WWII. He was shot in the leg and as he crawled back he was struck with a mortar shell resulting in severe wounds to the head and thorax. He was buried in an Army burial ground in Tunisia.  His last letter to his family was received on 19 March 1943. His headstone is placed in St. Martin's Catholic Cemetery in Osgood, Ohio.


Friday, December 24, 2021

George Ellis Schloss (1918-1943)

Hello all, I hope you are enjoying my stories and learning about my relatives who served in WWII. This is part of the WWII Hometown Newspaper Collection Project which is intended to provide information about the individuals who served and sacrificed during WWII. Not all of the people who will be highlighted in this series of blog posts died in service but many did give the ultimate sacrifice.

This story is about Pvt. George Ellis Schloss. George is my wife's 10th cousin 2x removed. He was born in Newport, Shelby County, Ohio on 2 December 1918. His parents were Rodney Harold Schloss and Cora Edna Rhodehamel Schloss.

The 1920 US Census states that the family was living in Loramie Township, Shelby County, Ohio. His family consisted of Rodney (age 29), Cora (age 24), Vernon (age 2 years 11 months), and George (age 1). Rodney Schloss worked as a restaurant keeper and they rented their home.

In the 1930 US Census the family is living in Cynthian Township, Shelby County, Ohio. They owned their house which was valued at $200. The family had grown considerably by this time and consisted of Rodney (age 38), Cora (age 34), Vernon (age 15), George (age 13), Olga (age 11), Ruth (age 10), Minnie (age 7), Lawrence (age 6), Rose (age 6), and John (age 3). The census indicates that Rodney was 24 and Cora was 20 when they were married. Rodney was listed as unemployed, working odd jobs.

George (age 21) was living in the home of William Hauschild during the 1940 US Census. His occupation was listed as ice dealer.

George was one of the first three volunteers from Shelby County, Ohio to register under the selective service system. He registered for the draft on 16 October 1940, over a year before the US entered WWII. He entered the Army on 25 November 1940 and was sent to Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio. He then went to Fort Knox, Kentucky on 7 December 1941 where he trained with the armored infantry. After he completed his training there, his unit boarded the RMS Queen Mary at the Brooklyn Army Terminal on 11 May 1942 to go to Ireland for additional training. They arrived in Northern Ireland on 16 May 1942 and trained on the moors before he went to North Africa as part of the 6th Infantry, 1st Armored Division, US Army.

His unit took part in Operation Torch as part of the Allied invasion of Northwest Africa on 8 November 1942, becoming the first American armored division to see combat in WWII. Between December 1942 and March 1943 the unit had several encounters with German forces in Algeria and Tunisia, experiencing heavy losses. Between March 17 and 29, they began to make substantial movements against the German forces during battles at Gafsa, Zannouch, Maknassy, Djebel Naemia, and Gabes, sometimes fighting in heavy rains. On 28 March 1943, Pvt. George Schloss was killed in action in North Africa. He was awarded the Purple Heart and is buried in Plot C, Row 12, Grave 4, of the North African American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia.

The last letter he wrote to his family said "I have been pretty busy, so if you don't hear from me for two or three months, don't think anything about it."

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Edward Frederick Gaier (1918-1944)

This is the second biography in the WWII Hometown Newspaper Collection Project. The purpose of this project is to document the stories of individuals who served in WWII or were affected by WWII in some profound way. My portion of the project will focus specifically on those individuals from Auglaize, Darke, Mercer, and Shelby counties in Ohio.

This biography will be about Edward Frederick Gaier, my second cousin, 2x removed. 

Edward was born in Piqua, Miami County, Ohio on 25 March 1918 to Edward Mathias Gaier and Anna Mae Moyer Gaier. The 1920 US Census indicates that the family, consisting of Edward Sr. (age 31), Anna (age 37), Herald (age 8), Ruth (age 7), Sarah (age 4 years 11 months), Veronica (age 3 years 3 months), and Edward Jr. (age 1 year 9 months), owned their home at 1002 West North Street in Piqua, Ohio. Edward Sr. was a laborer at the packing house.

During the 1930 US Census, the family was living in the same home, which was valued at $4,000. The family also had a radio which was an important technological innovation of the time. The family at that time consisted of Edward Sr. (age 42), Anna (age 43), Harold (age 18), Ruth (age 17), Sarah (age 15), Verra (age 12), Edward (age 11), Betty (age 9), George (age 7), and Anna (age 5). Edward Sr. was a salesman for the S. Zollinger company at this time.

The 1940 US Census indicates that the family had moved to McLean Township, Shelby County, Ohio by 1935. Other evidence indicates that they moved to this location in the spring of 1935. At the time, the family consisted of Edward Sr. (age 51), Anna (age 53), Edward Jr. (age 22), Betty Jane (age 17), and Anna May (age 8). Edward Sr. was working as a salesman for the S. Zollinger company, a wholesale grocery. Edward Jr. had completed 1 year of college at the time. Edward Sr. died on 6 July 1941.

Edward graduated from Ft. Loramie High School in May 1938 and then worked at Monarch Machine Tool Company in Sidney, Ohio for four years. He also attended Ohio State University for two years. He married Ruth Kirner on 13 June 1942 at St. Michael's Church in Ft. Loramie. They had one child, a son. On 30 October 1942, he  enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Patterson Air Field in Fairfield, Ohio. This is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. After a short stay at Patterson Air Field, he was sent to Kessler Field in Mississippi and then to Chicago Technical School in Chicago, Illinois. He was trained to be a radioman and a gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber with the 460th Bomber Group. After his training, he was sent to Kearn's Air Field in Salt Lake City, Utah where he earned the rank of Staff Sargent. His service also included short assignments at Buckingham Field in Fort Myers, Florida, Chatham Field in Savannah, Georgia, and Mitchell Field in New York before being sent oversees on 26 January 1944. While at Buckingham Field, he represented his unit in national gun shooting competitions and won a first in skeet range shooting and third in air-to-air battles at a meet in Kingman, Arizona. 

He was assigned to the 760th Bomber Squadron of the 460th Bomber Group. On 19 February 1944, while on a bombing mission over Italy, his B-24H Liberator (41-29339) crashed near Acerenza, Italy due to weather. S-Sgt Edward F. Gaier was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, in Piqua, Miami County, Ohio.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Harry Francis Raterman (1917-1943)

Ok, I know it has been a little over a year since I last posted to this blog. I have been busy working on family history on FamilySearch, building out the details of my family from Germany and western Ohio (Auglaize, Darke, Mercer and Shelby counties). I invite you to look up your family on FamilySearch to see if you are related to me.

I have started a new project, the WWII Hometown Newspaper Collections Project. This projected started as a way to record the service of people from the Minster, Ohio region during WWII. I have been collecting stories from The Minster Post archives and adding them to the people on FamilySearch. I am trying to grow the project and am inviting others to join in by adding WWII records and stories to their families on FamilySearch. Additionally, I will start writing stories about some of the individuals as I get time. I will also be speaking about this project at RootsTech 2022 on March 3-5, 2022, during a live panel discussion.

Today is the first story of this series based on my research. This story is about Harry F. Raterman, who happens to be my 8th cousin, 2x removed.

Harry Raterman was born Francis Henry Steven Raterman on 31 December 1917 in Ft. Loramie, Shelby County, Ohio. His parents were Dr. Frank Raterman and Anna Marie Barhorst Raterman. According to the 1920 US Census, the family owned a home on Main Street in Ft. Loramie where Frank (age 41) and Anna (age 35) lived with their four children, Celeste (age 7), Isabella (age 6), Ernestina (age 4), and Harry (age 2). Dr. Frank Raterman was a General Practitioner in Ft. Loramie. He opened his physician's office in 1907 and maintained his practice until his death in 1942. Frank and Anna were married at St. Michael's Church in Ft. Loramie on 18 June 1912 when Frank was 35 and Anna was 27 years of age.

In the 1930 US Census, the family is listed as Frank (age 52), Anna (age 44), Celeste (age 17), Isabelle (age 15), Ernestine (age 13) and Harry (age 12). All of the children are attending school. Their home was valued at $5,200. The location of their home is not given in the census.

The 1940 US Census indicates that the family was living in a home on Park Street in Ft. Loramie. They were living in the same house in 1935. This house was valued at $2,800. Frank (age 62), Anna (age 55), and Harry (age 22) are living in the home. Frank listed his education as 6 years of college. Anna had finished the 8th grade and Harry had completed 2 years of college. Harry was working as a waiter in a restaurant. He had worked 39 weeks and earned $585 in 1939.

Harry attended St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana for 2 years before transferring to the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. While he was in his junior year at the University of Dayton he decided he could be of more service to his country by joining the Navy's air force. He enlisted in the Navy Reserves in July 1941. 

On 7 December 1941, Japan launched an attack on Pearl Harbor. This launched the involvement of the US in WWII and one week later, on 15 December 1941, Harry Raterman entered his training at the Naval Air Sation in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated from his training and earned his wings on 6 October 1942, and was assigned to the reserve avaition base in Atlanta, Georgia. He then completed his advanced aviation training in torpedo planes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before being sent to the Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Virginia where he completed carrier training. He was then assigned to the Naval Air Station in San Diego, California. While he was in training, he wrote home saying "I love to fly and think I always shall." During January 1943, he was able to spend some time with family at his home in Ft. Loramie while on furlough before reporting to San Diego. His father had died of a heart attack just a couple months earlier, on 27 August 1942. 

Then, on 24 February 1943, just a little over 4 months after his graduation from flight school, Ensigns Harry F. Raterman and Daniel J. Sullivan (age 25) of Forest Hills, Massachusettes, died in a fatal training accident when their plane crashed near the Baymeadows Racetrack in Alameda, Cailfornia. Ensign Raterman's body was transported by rail to Sidney, Ohio where he arrived on 1 March, accompanied by a naval escort. Rev. Albin Raterman officiated at the funeral and on Wednesday, 2 March 1943, Ensign Raterman was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery in Ft. Loramie.