On Jan. 23, 1943, my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, (photo in uniform, above) reported to the draft board in Chicago to start his training for WWII. So began the correspondence between him and family & friends, comprising almost 300 letters going both ways. I’m posting many of these World War II letters, each on or near the 70th anniversary of its writing. To start with his induction, click HERE.

This blog began in Nov., 2010, when I posted a century-old love note from Josef Gärtz, my paternal grandfather, to Lisi (Elisabetha) Ebner, my paternal grandmother, and follows their bold decision to strike out for America.

My mom and dad were writers too, recording their lives in diaries and letters from the 1920s-the 1990s. Historical, sweet, joyful, and sad, all that life promises-- and takes away--are recorded here as it happened. It's an ongoing saga of the 20th century. To start at the very beginning, please click HERE.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Desertion and Divorce

Austrian Clothing
John Koroschetz,
probably Chicago
Tool & Die Maker Business Card: John Koroschetz
After arriving at Ellis Island in 1908, and living for a time in Buffalo, NY, John Koroschetz eventually made his way to Chicago. I know very little of what he did in the six years between 1908 and 1914, but I presume he worked as a machinist or tool and die maker. Here's one of his business cards, but I'm not sure of the year. 

In 1914, he made two life-changing decisions: In April he took the first steps to obtain a divorce from his wife who still resided in Austria. 

Divorce document-John vs. Carolina Koroschetz
This page of the divorce decree states that John published, in a newspaper, his intention to file for divorce, as is required by law. He published on April 2 and April 23, 1914. I'm not sure where he published, perhaps in Chicago, perhaps in an Austrian paper, though the latter is unlikely. The idea is that the party being sued for divorce, the defendant, in this case, John's wife, Carolina, is made aware of the lawsuit.

On July 8th his petition for divorce was presented in court, and the divorce was finalized on July 10, 1914. 

Divorce petition detail: Possible reasons for divorce
The reason for the divorce can be seen in the middle of this page. It notes Carolina and John were "lawfully joined in marriage on June 21, 1896, in Schwechat, Austria, about 5 miles southeast of Vienna. 

In the detail above, you can see that printed right on the form, are several possible reasons for divorce (perhaps these were the only valid reasons at the time). Each INAPPLICABLE reason is crossed out (see above).

"The defendant [Carolina Koroschetz] 
...has committed adultery (Nope-CROSSED OUT)

...has been guilty of extreme and repeated cruelty toward the complainant (CROSSED OUT)

...Has been guilty of habitual drunkenness for the space of two successive years prior to the filing of the bill in this cause (NO-CROSSED OUT

has willfully deserted, and absented herself from the complainant without any reasonable cause for the space of over two years immediately prior to the filing of the bill in this cause. THIS IS THE ONE. 

John left for America in 1908. Had his wife deserted him before he left, taking all their children with her, and who were those children? They're not mentioned in the divorce decree.

Nothing is impossible, but I find it hard to believe that John would have been the one to do the deserting. I know my mother adored her father, and he was completely devoted to her, dropping everything to rescue her when her car broke down, crying when she brought home her perfect report cards. I find it difficult to believe that a man who showed such loyalty to the daughter of his second marriage would have abandoned his four children from his first marriage.

A bold and stern warning is written on the back of the page shown above, in bright red type so you can't miss it.


For John this meant that for one year after his divorce was approved, he was not allowed to remarry. If he did he risked:


My guess is that John didn't yet know my grandmother, Louise, or at least had no plans to marry her at the time of this decree. Otherwise they would have married as soon as the required year had passed.

Four months after the divorce, in November of 1914, John Koroschetz took another life-changing step: he applied for U.S. citizenship, and on his naturalization form, we learned the names and ages of his Austrian children––and a different possible name for his first wife.


Marian Kurz said...

When we lived in Tx., some 40 years ago, our neighbor's daughter was a resident of Ct. Their laws at the time required a 3 year wait between the filing and the granting of the decree. So a one year hiatus doesn't seem so bad. Perhaps she just didn't want to leave Austria.

Terry Helwig said...

Very interesting post, Linda. My mom, who was matrimonially inclinded, would have had a difficult time with waiting this long. She was married six times. As I mentioned in my memoir, she may have overlapped one marriage before her previous divorce was final. She lived by her own rules.

Terry Helwig
Author of Moonlight on Linoleum

Kathy Reed said...

First of all, I loved reading Terry Helwig's comment about her "matrimonially inclined" mother. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone doing that.

In regard to your post, do you know what happened to the children in Austria? I know I have to stay tuned -- just hope you know the answer.

Nancy said...

Linda, I continue to be amazed at all the documents and photographs in your collection. Sometimes I think it would be like being in heaven to have so much information about ancestors. Other times, I think I might feel in the depths of despair over trying to scan/photograph, organize, and archive everything.

I just finished reading your 3 recent posts about your grandfather. You've done a nice job of sequencing the posts and presenting them, too.