This is a story

This is a story

My grandfather's American story is a little interesting and difficult for the parts of my family tree to piece together and has been for a long time. 

The "family story" that I was told by my grandmother and grandfather (my grandmother's second husband) was that Anton Carpowich was Russian and part of the military that served the Tsar in the late mid to late 1800's.  There was a minor "Russian Revolution" in the late 1800's that failed but he was apparently on a target list and had to escape.  The legend is that Anton was some kind of member of the aristocracy. He escaped into Lithuania where he married a woman named Teckla and immigrated to Boston sometime in 1890's.  Eventually they found their way to Missouri and Kansas City, they had several children one of them was my grandfather Edward Joseph Carpowich.  His brothers also later joined the military and I believe several served in the US Navy (I could be wrong, but its a family story, sometimes family stories are not actually factual)

Meanwhile, in Osawatomie Kansas my grandmother Frieda Bright was born, her mother was Ida Bright, I don't recall the name of her father, but there is a family story about him.  Remember back in elementary school in the early to mid 1990's us millennials were all given the assignment to call our grandparents or old great aunts or uncles and we were to ask them what it was like to live during the "Great Depression" and we had to write something up and report it to the class during show and tell? Well me along with all of my cousins kind of got made out to look kind of dumb thanks to my grandmothers father. 

The story I got from my grandma when I called he was that her father worked as an accountant for the Railroad in Kansas City and they were more or less doing well during the mid 1920's up until she got married at 17.  My grandma recalled only getting one new dress during Christmas during the Great Depression instead of 3 or 4 when she was younger.  Apparently my grandmother was not necessarily impacted by the poverty of the Great Depression like others were.  Some of my cousins and I also sort of reached the conclusion that my grandmother's father was some kind of mafia guy, because some of her stories just didn't pass the test of what was normal during the 1930's.

I remember my grandma telling me that her father never complained about money and when they would go into a shop or something she didn't really remember him ever paying for anything.  I admit I have 0 evidence to support this claim, and this is more or less a made up story and conclusion me and a couple of my cousins have reached due to a single homework assignment we got when were about 10 years old. 

My aunts have stories from my great grandma about him being a womanizer, adulterer, and overall not a nice man.  My great Grandma Ida Bright divorced him almost immediately after my grandma married Edward J. Carpowich. 

This is from the Kansas City Star published Jan 21, 1940 page 38.  This is a new family document I found on the internet that I did not have actual records of until today. Which is what makes the Internet awesome. I think the Kansas City Star has recently digitized some of its archive. 

A year later my older aunt Carol was born and Pearl Harbor happened and he joined the Army to become a pilot.  On his service records (more on this later) he recorded Anton and Teckla were born in Lithuania, but I've seen immigration records on ancestry that shows that maybe Anton was born in Russia.  Who knows, it's kind of how history is sometimes. On September 2nd 1942 he enlisted into the Army. 

In 1943 he did training to become a pilot and navigator, and by the Summer of 1944 had completed 31 combat missions and 300 combat hours over Europe in a B-24.  He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Designation. As a member of the 8th Air Force.  

For a short time he was waiting for assignment in Sacramento at Mather Airfield and completed 60 hours of flight training. 

By 1950 he was an instructor and had over 2000 flight hours.  By June of 1951 my father was born.  

The following October right around his birthday my grandfather was moving his family to another base after being stationed in Lake Charles Louisiana.  Apparently he had an argument with the landlord or neighbor over money and was struck with a pipe or wrench while my grandma and kids were in the car outside the house.  He died in October 1951 when my Dad was just 3 and a half months old.  There was a trial and his body was exhumed, but I do not have the records for that and my Grandma never liked talking about it. 

Then my grandfather Jack Tinsley stepped into the picture.  A few months before he died on election night 1996 at his 80th birthday party in early August he told me a story about my grandfather Edward which reflects his record as having strong character.  My grandfather worked as a sergeant with Edward Carpowich as an enlisted man.  When he died and my grandma remarried and had more kids she lost some of her old friends because they considered her to be stepping down, moving from an officer to an enlisted man was socially a little awkward.  Also there was some bad blood that happened between Teckla and my grandma, Teckla apparently blamed my grandma for the murder once, and my grandma just laid into her and there was an argument and they never talked again. 

Any way my grandfather Jack Tinsley told the story of how he and his enlisted men were out drinking in Riverside one night.  The thing is, my grandfather Jack always had a crush on my grandma from the first moment he saw her.  But he was told that she was the Captain's wife and he had to stay away.  After several months he was out with friends and they were being a little idiotic while being drunk in uniform and goofing off in a rail yard in Riverside one night.

The story is that one of the guys got his foot stuck in a rail track switch, a rail car was coming from somewhere pretty soon.  Some guys quickly sobered up and ran off, but my grandfather Jack decided to help and get his buddy out of this situation.  Together with a couple of other guys they were able to wiggle and pull his foot off the switch just as the railcar came.  My grandfather Jack broke his arm by getting hit by the railcar, but he saved his friend's life and leg. 

And then my grandfather Jack Tinsley told me that as he was sitting in the hospital, my grandfather Edward Carpowich showed up in the middle of the night to make sure his men were okay.  He was not upset, angry, mad, irate, just worried about the incident and wanted to make sure everyone was okay. It was at that point when someone called out to my grandma to hear the story.  And my grandma recalled being in the kitchen with a baby in her arms, and Edward getting a phone call, a worried look appeared on his face and he said "Honey I have to go to the Hospital some of my best men got hurt tonight." 

It was 45 years in the making, but it was at that moment that my grandma realized that Edward was talking about Jack Tinsley.  

Jack Tinsley also came from a military family he was born in Spartanburg South Carolina.  His grandfather Leonard Tinsley was a confederate soldier and came from a family of tobacco farmers.  One easily thing to forget about American history is that not every family story is politically acceptable to share sometimes.  After the Civil War a lot of families in the South lost everything because a lot of it was destroyed, and also a lot of soldiers in the confederate army were not necessarily wealthy many were poor farmers.  After the Civil War and reconstruction the Tinsley tobacco wealth went away and by the time my grandfather Jack Tinsley was born in 1916 the Tinsley's of Spartanburg were regular working people, his father was the town's undertaker.

My Dad's first game of chess he played is also one of these intense old school family stories that is a little fun to share.  Sometime around 1957 or 1958 my grandfather Jack Tinsley gets a call from his family in South Carolina that his father was not doing well and he should get home soon if he wanted to see him one last time.  So the family flew on a plane for the first time and arrived late in the evening to a home in Spartanburg.  My grandfather was asked if he wanted to wake up his father, Jack Tinsley said no, there was no need to wake him up, let him rest and he could talk to him in the morning.  My grandfather Jack Tinsley never got that chance, his father passed away that very night.

But they were also the undertakers of the town, so the casket was just put on the dining room table.  My Dad at 7 or 8 years old was meeting cousins of his for the first time, and one cousin asked he wanted to play a game of chess.  This cousin of his who was maybe 10 or 11 learned how to play chess recently and showed my the pieces and movements and rules.  My Dad played his first game of chess right there at the edge of the dining room table next to the casket as the open casket was being held.

Which.... is kind of an intense first game of chess.  

Separating Fact from Fiction in researching family stories like this is a little challenging at times.  Even just trying to get the right records is difficult at times.  Back in 2017 I tried to get the service records for Edward Carpowich, but I was told that several decades earlier the building that housed the records had burned down.  The building was in Kansas City, and that history is lost.  This is also a storyline in a Hallmark Christmas movie I watched a year ago that took place on a Navy boat.  

However, I did not know and my Dad had not remembered that at some point earlier in his life, perhaps in the 1970's or the 1980's he had gotten a copy of the service records for Edward Carpowich.  My Dad had put it in the filing cabinet and forgot, it was there for almost 40 years until he came across it while putting some files away and then voila, it was rediscovered. 

Any way the internet helped shape this story.  The photo at the top of this blog post is a recent addition to "Find a Grave" which was not available the last time I checked.  It was added by a French citizen who goes by "Patootie" the story of how it got added was that at some point in his family history in France a bomber crash landed in his family's backyard.  His family helped the Americans out and avoid a POW camp.  He later got interested in World War II pilots and navigators and began doing research collecting newspapers and records, he found out that two of the crew of that night were alive and in the early 2000's his family had a reunion with them at the same house in France.  The name of the plane was "Patootie" this random Frenchman during his research of airmen of World War II came across this newspaper clip that included a picture of my grandfather and added it to a website, and now I'm adding it to mine to tell a story. 


Back to blog