Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wife No. 3 Didn't Give Up Without a Fight

Doris booked ship reservations and took her son Chester P. Norton Suchanski Jr. to Canada. She tracked her husband down finding him in Karrisdale (near Vancouver), British Columbia.  He was living with his 4th wife, Betty. She was 8 months pregnant, her baby being due in May of 1927.  

Flowers in Vancouver BC
Doris and her 4-year-old son moved in with Chester and Betty. They all lived together until Chester took off on one of his so-called spy trips. Doris got fed up and took her son to Calgary. Doris never married again and raised her son Ches alone.

Indian Culture in BC

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ole Gramps left his latest wife in England

Ole gramps left England and his new bride Betty, returning to Vancouver alone. He had a very good excuse for not taking his wife with him – he was on a mission! Claims of working for security services were a well-known refuge for husbands who were playing away from home, or in CP’s case, just going from one woman to the next and never looking back. Mrs. Betty Norton and Pat Fuller came to Canada on the ship Montnairn landing at St. John, New Brunswick on February 13, 1927.

Betty found her husband and of course, she was already pregnant with their first child.

Roses from my garden. There are hundreds of varieties of gorgeous roses and flowers in Vancouver.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wife No. 4 - He met on another Ship.

Did I tell you that old gramps never divorced any of his wives?

He met wife No. 4 on May 21, 1926 while aboard the SS Montcalm enroute to Montreal. Betty was on her way to Alberta to see an Uncle. Chester was returning to Montreal from a sales trip to England. They boarded the same ship in Liverpool and he had a week to brew up a romance at which he was very good, I must say.

SS Montcalm

He pretended to be a spy so that he could move about as he pleased. He even carried a gun with him. When he first met Betty Brazil, he told her that he was on a mission, supposedly serving as the King’s Captain for the British Secret Service. Chester returned to England on the same ship Montcalm arriving in Liverpool on October 1, 1926. He went directly to London and married 28-year-old Betty Brazil on October 12, 1926 as Chester P. Norton.  He had found another wealthy wife. He changed his name again so that wife No. 3 couldn't find him.

He was the ultimate bigamist who never divorced any of his wives but just left them and moved to another country. He was the supreme storyteller, telling Betty that he was born in Montreal, Canada and that when he was 14, he became an orphan being an only child, losing both parents to death.
Chester P. Norton

Now, how did he pull that off?  He must have been very good at languages to make his new wife think that he was Canadian. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wife No 3 was from England

While researching at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I just happened to pop in Suchanski as I did often on computers just to see if any were out there because it is not a common Polish name.  Well, one popped up at me from Calgary, Canada.  I got so excited that I wrote down the person's address and immediately sent him a letter.

I heard all about wife no. 3 from my cousin Al. He sent me his father's birth record from England. Al's father was a half brother to my father.

Doris Hammill met Mr. Polygamist himself in Montreal, Canada.  They had a whirlwind romance and got married in October of 1921. 

Doris Hammill

They booked passage from New York on the SS Scythia and arrived in Liverpool, England on February 4, 1922.  Their son Chester P. Norton Suchanski, Jr. was born on September 15, 1922 in England. CP was now going by CP Norton Suchanski.  He liked adding names and telling yarns.

SS Scythia
You've all heard of love em and leave em - well, ole grandpap personified it. He was a as slippery as an eel in the water.

He left wife no #3 in England with son #3.

Records from Poland

While living in Alaska, I found a Warsaw, Poland phonebook at the Anchorage Public Library.  I wrote to all seven Suchanski's on a Polish form letter that I obtained from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I wrote to seven Suchanski's and heard back from all of them with none of them saying that they were related. One lady was a widow and didn't know if her husband was related but she did one of the kindest acts for me.  She wrote to two areas of Poland for me with an end result of an address of a living cousin in Sztabin and the real birth record of grandpaps.  His birth date was off by two years and I did not pay a penny for the certificate.

I sent for the marriage record of my great grandparents. This time I did not send a check but waited to hear from Poland. I heard nothing for over a month and then one day, I received a letter from the Chicago Consulate. Poland had sent the marriage record to Chicago and they forwarded it to me.  It didn't cost a dime.  Did I mention how fortunate that I am.  If you will seek and look, you will eventually find that ancestor!

Does anyone like Blue Jade?  These are blue jade with aqua rondels and capri blue Swarovski crystals with sterling silver spades and wires.  You can see them on my new Zibbet shop:

There is a hot link on Dians Jewelry in the right hand corner of my blog.

Back in Chicago after the War

After the war my grandparents were reunited and became part owners in a dry goods and shoe store. Their son Pete was eight years old when old grandpappy showed up in June of 1919.  Their next son Richard was born in March of 1921. Ole gramps just couldn't keep himself out of trouble.  He was gambling again and made some bad investments.  In August of 1921 when Rich was 5 months old and Pete Jr. was 10, the run-a-way father took off again for Canada.  He bought a steamer trunk and wrote up so many checks from their business that he left grandma in a very bad way financially.  He sent a letter from Canada saying that the mob was after him again and he was fleeing for his life to Australia. 

Grandma had a nervous breakdown and her family helped her out. Her brothers had a Chicago Detective searching for Mr. run and hide himself.  Tracks were found of him in Canada but the day before her brothers were to go find the results, the Detective had a heart attack and died.  They threw out his records and all was lost.

Chicago River

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Happened to Wife No. 2?

It just burns my gut that ole grandpappy sent his pay to wife No. 2 while he served in WWI in Canada, England and France.  His first wife had a son to support by herself while he was gone. 

What happened to wife #2? Before CP was released from active duty, he cancelled his pay that had been going to wife #2.  He wrote to his first wife to whom he was legally married and asked her to reply sending her his WWI photo of him and his buddies.

He wrote in Polish: 
Dear Stacha, Be so kind and write me back.  

Had he even written to her once from 1915 through 1919? Did he write to both wives to keep the doors open?

Being a good Catholic woman, grandma accepted him back. With his War Metals in tow, he was released from active duty on June 2. 1919 in Montreal, and made his way back to Chicago to be reunited with his first wife.

British War Metal and Victory Metal

Friday, June 24, 2011


Did CP write to both wives? No one will ever know. Why was he able to become a Corporal on enlistment and then a Sergeant-Major?

"The Canadian soldiers had quite a reputation in England. They were the best paid of all the British Empire soldiers and were known as a fairly undisciplined group, yet managed to avoid most serious trouble. Their unruly behavior was somewhat forgiven because of the reputation they earned as an outstanding group of fighting men on the battle field."  

Rouen, France WWI Memorial
That was probably a good description of old gramps - he had a knack for trouble. He was demoted to a private and was sent to Rouen, France for eight months in February of 1918. He trained at Machine Gun School in Rouen and served with the Canadian Engineers and in the 60th Company of the Canadian Forestry Corp (CFC).

The CFC was created because of the need for wood for duckboards, shoring timbers, crates, anything that needed wood.

So there he was in France cutting wood.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

World War I

After almost 4 months of marital bliss with wife #2, CP was shipped off to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada for training in the 69th Battalion, which left for England in April of 1916.

To St. John, NB.

They shipped out on the SS Scandinavian.

A temporary army camp was setup on Bramshott Common, Hampshire, England. On Christmas Day in 1817 this feast was held with old gramps hanging all over the menu.  He apparently was well liked and goofy.

Top of the Menu

It says:

"Now good digestion wait on appetite, and health on both.

Count the Peas. The Carrots in this broth were gathered by R.S.M. P.E.G Saunders.

         APPLE SAUCE
The Turkey was caught in the first Battle of Ypres, and after a great fight was killed by R.S.M. J. McCabe.

The Sausage was made with our old mascot "Pedro."

The Apples were pinched by the pay-king (S. Sgt. PH Metcalf)

The Stuffing was knocked out of C.S.M. S------ Nuff said!! (This was in reference to gramps himself).


The Cabbages were sent by C.Q.M.S McFee's uncle (Jerusalem) and the Potatoes were discovered by Lizzie Raynsford while on his latest exploits.


The Currents in this pudding were supplied by the "goat", and the Candy Peel by the CANDY KID (C.S.M. BAIRD).

The Sugar was pinched by the Crook (Sgt. Tottey) and the Raisins were raised by his partner in crime, C.Q.M.S. Norris.

The Almonds were donate by C.S.M. Ferguson and Spice by Spicer (B.S.).

The sauce was suppled by the saucy Boy, C.S.M. Armstrong.
The Doctor is well supplied with necessaries.

The Nuts were suppled by his (Nuts) C.S.M. Suchanski.  (that was gramps, his nuts!)

Wines and Spirits

 Who's the Fiesh? 

(I have no idea what this was supposed to mean.)

Okay, so far, we have these alias names:

Piotr Pawel  (fluent in Russian and Polish)
Peter   (fluent in English) 
Paul    (did he speak French, as well?)
Chester Paul Suchanski (CEF)

Gramps was taken on strength (TOS) at Shornecliffe.  I don't exactly know what TOS means in military jargon. Gas masks were distributed not only to the service men but also to their horses.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Story from the Inquest

One road block cleared. On the inquest in readable form was my great grandmother's maiden name Skwarczynska.

I felt so bad for grandpappy's brother and especially Francis and her children so this is what unfolded from the cobwebs: Adam had lived in the United States seven years and had purchased his own home at 144 E. 119th Street.  He was a locksmith and a general handyman. He and grandpappy had had harsh words, probably about CP's gambling.  Adam's house caught fire on July 7, 1914 and had completely burned except for the bathroom.  They had no fire insurance.

For three days Adam could think of nothing else but the loss of his home that he had worked so hard to obtain.  He had constant headaches and could not eat.  On July 10, 1914, he drank some coffee but could not eat his supper.  He walked over to the burnt home, went into the bathroom (the only portion of the house left intact) and locked the door. Being very despondent and depressed, he took a rope and hung himself on a clothes hook.

Francis knew something was wrong when her son ran back to the neighbor’s house where they were staying saying that his father had locked himself in the bathroom. Immediately, she ran to their burnt house. She lifted her son up so that he could climb through the bathroom window. He unlocked the door but the inner toilet door was locked.  She broke it open and found her husband hanging by a rope.  

When she started screaming, a neighbor came running to help her. They unhooked Adam and laid him down.  He was unconscious but still breathing.  They called the doctor who administered first aid and sent Adam to the Pullman Hospital.  Adam never regained consciousness and died two hours later at 8 PM at the age of 34 years, 6 months & 24 days.  

That is not the end of the tragedy for this family.
William changed his last name. Wawclaw (Walter) became a homeless person and was never seen again.  Anna died at age 17 from TB.
The other twin Francis died at age 11 from a burst appendix. After Irene married, their surname completely disappeared.

Is this one of the reasons that old grandpappy (CP) ran off to Canada?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sending for an Inquest

I was more determined than ever to find out my great grandmother's last name and what really happened to Adam.  

Genealogy can become very expensive at first.  All of the death records and marriage records that I obtained from Illinois cost $7 each.  I took Adam's black death record to a photo shop and had it blown up to an 8x10 photo so that I could figure out my great grandmother's maiden name.  Twenty bucks down the drain - it did not work either - I did not know Polish names well enough to be able to figure the name out and it was scribbled like an upside down bent L trailing down the side of the record.  In other words, it was unreadable.  I will not give up I cried in my heart!

Thinking like a detective, I sent for the suicide inquest. After I received it, I was so sad to hear the story that no one would tell me.  Back in the early 1900s, there was such a shame mode in the air that everything was hush hush - don't talk about it and that is the way it stayed. Adam died at the Pullman Hospital.

Pullman Hospital

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Won't Anyone Tell Me About Adam

Ellis Island 1907

CP and his brother Adam came to America together. I searched Ellis Island records until I was blue in the face but I could not find CP or Adam, but I did find Adam's wife and children. (When searching this site, you need to try every spelling of the surname that could possibly ever exist to find anything.)

Searches are free:

Adam's family: After arriving at Ellis Island, Franciszka and her four small children (Bogunid 4 years 8 months, Waclaw 3 years, Anna 2 years, Elina 10 months) were hospitalized. Everyone was discharged from the hospital on November 18 except for Elina, who died on November 27, 1907, in the hospital.

Adam and his wife had five more children in Chicago including a set of twins. Daughter Alicia died at 6 months (1908) and one of the twins died at birth (1909).  Irene was born in 1910 and Eugene in April of 1914.

Adam died in Chicago in 1914 leaving behind a wife and five living children. No one would talk about him; no one would tell me how he died. He was still a young man and had a large family.  What happened to Adam?

I sent for his death record thinking that my great grandparents would be listed on it.  Still another shock and out of the closet popped those black skeletons. The ones no one would talk about.  Adam had died of a suicide.

I could read my great grandfather's name but Joanna Skwar....... was all I could read of my great grandmother.  Another road block!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Was he a Bigamist or a Polygamist?

Fire Brigade, Chicago

At this point old grandpa was a Bigamist. Why did he become a bigamist? He was raised in a good Catholic family in Poland and he came to America with his brother Adam.  What events in a person's life turn you in another direction and then you never get back to that innocence of youth? When he was confirmed a member of his church, he chose Chester as his new name.  

How devious to be married in Chicago in a Catholic Church as Peter and six years later marry another girl in Canada in an Anglican Church as Chester Paul (his middle name).  No one would ever know, right?  After all it was the early 1900s.  
Montreal, Mt. Royal 1915

After getting his birth date from his military records, I sent for his birth certificate from Poland and included the $20 fee.  Within a month I received a reply from Poland.  They returned my check and did not find his birth record.  Disappointment drowned me to the extent that I wanted to pull my hair out!  I did not, however, let it keep me down.  Mr. liar himself strikes again! From now on, we call him CP. I tried to justify his lying by thinking that men lied about their birth dates to get a better position in the army.

I sent off for his marriage record to Blanche in Montreal.  When I received his second marriage record, I was totally blown away. It stated, "Chester Paul, bachelor of Montreal, son of Chester Paul of Czestochowa, Poland and of Jeannette Norton..... Who is Jeannette?  

My great grandmother was Joanna. She wrote in 1910. "It is not enough that a person is already very weak and approaching death but one must suffer and battle with this man beyond my energy."  Did she die by 1915 and my great grandfather married a second wife, Jeannette? More mysteries!

My next ploy was to skip CP and find my great grandparents in Poland.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What? A Polygamist!

After gathering information from my family, I discovered that grandpa had served in World War I in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  My dad sent me the following photos. I was on my way to finding the real story about my grandpa.

In this Chicago singing group, my grandpa Peter was the first one on the left.  Apparently, he could sing and look at that grin as if he had something up his sleeve.

Here Peter is again in his Canadian Uniform, the 2nd from the left. He still had that grin.  Well, after corresponding with the Canadian Archives  for 4 months gathering information about his service, they listed Blanche as his wife.  But wait, my grandmother was Stella not Blanche.  What did nee' mean?  They put nee' Ratcliffe (maiden name).  My grandfather was indeed a polygamist! 

He married my grandma in 1909; their son was born in 1911. Grandpa left Chicago, ran off to Montreal, Canada and enlisted in the army in 1915; there he married wife #2. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quest to Find My Polish Grandfather

When I was 10 years old, I asked "where is my grandpa?" I was told that my grandpa was an avid gambler and that the Chicago mob was after him. He disappeared - never to be heard from again. In my imaginative mind, he had been caught by the mob and they had thrown him into the deepest part of Lake Michigan with a chain and a cement weight.  I could see him flaying around and sinking to the bottom of the lake and drowning never to be found. Part of this story is true but the real story began when I became an adult and did some serious down to earth research.

My Grandfather Peter (Piotr in Polish)

Lake Michigan

Did you know that Michigan is believed to be an Indian name coming from mishigami meaning great water?  Great water it is; it was an all day trip to cross the lake and back again.  My dad took me on a ferry boat ride from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Muskegan, Michigan when I was 16.  I loved it, there was a Polka band and I danced my heart away with a shipboard romance.

I think that some of my latest creation are ready for romance.  

Many many years ago I saw some earrings like these in Las Vegas so I was inspired to create these earrings using opalite stones with silver. They dangle to 2 and 1/2 inches - just in style for today's long earrings but dainty enough to be chic. They can be seen on my new shop at

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bright Bright Sunshiny Day

Today is a bright bright sun shiny day just like the song that has those lyrics in them and can I remember the name of the song? No!  I should know it; it's up there in that mindless computer of mine that we call a brain.  

I will blame it on the shots I got today; two of them no less right in the middle, no just to the left of my big toe for a neuroma.  Actually two neuromas, one in each foot but the one on the right foot is killing me.  I am now limping around like an old lady.

Took a photo of the foot art at my doctors:

This is what the weather is today in our town - beach weather and in fact, I did my deep water aerobics in fresh clean clear blue water at the outdoor pool at 9 AM.

This is how I feel now - numbed to the bone.

 I created these beauties yesterday. Anyone for blue? Our sky is this color today. See my Etsy shop:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spooky Eyes

Did you ever have a cat that was a biter?  I rescued a cat from the Humane Society and gave her a home.  Sassy was rather a brat and bit my other cat, my comforter and tended to try to bite me.  I gave her the best trial, she was with me 8 months. She did settle down some but once a cat decides that biting is her only out, she never stops.  Someone must have teased her beyond teasing.  I finally gave her away to someone else.  Perhaps, she needed more loving attention because I think she was also jealous of my other cat.

Babe is the the cat on the top and Sassy is on the bottom in the photo.  Babe was rescued from my window well when he was a kitten.  He was born a wood pile across the street.  That wood pile is now gone and houses and new streets replaced the area. He has always been very very shy and would hide whenever anyone else came into my house.

Doesn't everyone just love blue.  I made these earrings yesterday.

Monday, June 13, 2011


A Jubilee for the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers was held today.  Members brought 10 beautiful vintage quilts, crocheted doilies, handmade family trees, and anything that was old and handmade.  I even saw purple grapes like my grandmother made back in the 60s.  The grapes were about the size of a golf ball and had wires on the end of them so that they could be twisted around a piece of wood to look like a giant-sized grape vine with fully ripe with fruit.

Song: The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers

Let us turn our mem'rys back, far along those dreary tracks,
To a band of pilgrims filled with hope and pray'rs.
They had left their homes their all, to obey the Father's call,
They were later called the Utah Pioneers.

Finding here the promised land, 'mid those mountain vales so grand,
They were honest, serving God who brought them thro'.
Nice log houses they did build, with large families they were fill'd.
Oh they surely builded better than they knew.

Then all honor to their name,
Who have given us this fame.
As we meet from day to day,
Let us lift our hearts and say,
We are Daughters of those grand old Pioneers.

We had a grand spread of salads, fruit salads, cut up melons, bananas, jello, KFC chicken and freshly made chocolate chip cookies for our luncheon. Two young women sung three old songs from my parents era: Sentimental Journey, By the Light of the Silvery Moon and Swinging on a Star.

I did not take my camera today but I took pictures of my grandmother's quilt which has soft and cuddly memories.  In my mind, I can see her cutting and sewing quilts. I see material in her quilt that was a dress and a couple of skirts that were made for me. She didn't have fancy patterns, measuring devices or cutting wheels.  She made her own template from a piece of cardboard, used regular scissors and her old treadle Singer Sewing Machine.

Grandma never threw anything away.  She used up old coats and dresses and made hand braided rugs (one was the size of a 10 x 12 room only it was round).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Families Can Be Together Forever

This is the name of a song that we sing in church:

Families can be together forever in Heavenly Father's plan
I always want to be with my own family and the Lord has shown me how I can
The Lord has shown me how I can.

We believe that families can be together in Eternity if they are sealed together in the Temple.  If you've ever lost a loving parent or grandparent or family member, don't you want to see them again and be with them?

Some of our Temples from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Utah:

Salt Lake Temple

As you can see, some of our LDS Temples are very old and some are modern.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A-Z Award Challenge

Hooray for me; I did the challenge and made it.  Everyone else finished in April but I started late and finished on my own.

I've been thinking a lot lately about Yuma.  I've never been there but perhaps I should visit.  It is one of five places in the states that has calm weather along with Phoenix and a place right in the middle of southern Texas.  I've not been there either.  Perhaps, its time to travel.  I really really want to go to Poland - my heart's desire.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Zest for Life

Zest for life is the key to living into the 100s.  Can you image being 100 and still driving your own car or walking around the block or still living on your own in your own house.  That is part of my heritage.

 It all started with Henry Beecroft who celebrated his 100th birthday.  He was one of my pioneers who was born in Kingston Upon Hull, England.  He married a Scottish lass named Isabella Fraser in Hull at a Scottish Parish called St. Mary's. They later joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He and his son boarded a train in 1851 for Liverpool, England where they sailed on the ship Argo to New Orleans. Thirteen people lost their lives on this voyage. It was also not uncommon for people to fall overboard and drown.  It took nine weeks to get to New Orleans; next they took a steamer up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri where he worked as a cooper.
Henry Beecroft celebrated 100th birthday; this photo was taken in 1896 (he was 82; his wife 80)

In January of 1852, his wife and four children came on another ship to join him in St. Louis.  It took 10 weeks for the Kennebec ship to reach New Orleans; one terrifying hurricane swept the deck clean of cookhouses, water barrels and everythings else that was on deck. They were tossed around for four days in that Hurricane. Then when they got to the Mississippi River, their ship got stuck in the mud for 10 days.  A steamer was sent to off load the passengers. It was 110 miles up the River to New Orleans; it was another 1300 miles from New Orleans to St. Louis which took another 14 days by steamer.

They bought a wagon and ox team and headed for Kansas City to join a group heading to Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City in 1850

They lived in Salt Lake and the moved to Bountiful, Utah.  Someone must have 
offended Henry and Isabella because they packed up and left Utah in 1857 by ox and wagon and crossed the plains again settling in Iowa. They left their oldest daughter in Utah who had married Henry Eames.

Henry Beecroft had two great granddaughters who not only lived to be 100 but surpassed it. Leona Eames Jones lived to be 104 and was still driving a car and living as a widow by herself at 102.  Her son decided that she shouldn't drive anymore and took her car keys.  Her first cousin Elizabeth Eames King lived in Canada and celebrated her 107th birthday before passing on.  My own grandfather, brother to Leona Eames lived to be 99 years and 4 months.

All of these relatives had that great get up and go and zest for living so much so that they lived beyond the age that most people live. They were real story tellers too.  Somehow, with all of our technology, the art of story telling is being lost.



One of the great songs of the Beatles was "Yesterday".

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Suddenly I'm not halve the man I used to be
There's a shadow hanging over me
Oh, yesterday came suddenly

This song is endless; it applies to today and memories of yesterday with memories of both times in our lives. It takes me back to my youth when I was out of my head in love but that time of my life was so bitter sweet. My love was an alcoholic; he would be loving and kind one day and then turn on me the next day being cruel and mean. His father was an alcoholic and he beat his wife until she cowered in her corner.  When you are raised with an abusive father who took his anger out on your mother - well, it does something to your insides and distorts how life should be in a family.

I need to end on a upbeat note.  I created these tiny purple jade earrings. They will be on my Etsy shop soon. They are adorned with Lavender Swarovski crystals and made with sterling silver.

01 09 10