I believe this is the wedding of Anna Klimaitis and Peter Bernotas, 1916.

I believe this is the wedding of Anna Klimaitis and Peter Bernotas, 1916.

Peter (Petras) Bernotas, the son of Casimir (Kazimieras) Bernotas and Agatha Tisckos, was born in 1878 in Vilnius, Lithuania. He first immigrated to Chicago, where he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1905. At age 38 in 1916, Peter married 16-year-old Anna Klimaitis (Claimaitis?), daughter of Vincent (Vincas) and Anna (Ona) Matuliczuite (Matulis?) Klimaitis of Naumiestis, Lithuania. Matulis-Klimaitis daughters Anna (born 1900), Adella (born 1902), and Mary had all been born in the coalfield county of Lanark, Scotland, where their miner father and mother had immigrated after marrying in 1898 in Władysławowo, Poland.

Anna (Klimaitis) Bernotas with her mother, Anna (left) and her sister Adella (right).  Sitting man with fiddle possibly young Anna's husband Peter Bernotas.  Circa 1925.

Anna (Klimaitis) Bernotas with her mother, Anna (left) and her sister Adella (right). Sitting man with fiddle possibly young Anna’s husband Peter Bernotas. Circa 1925.

Coal miner Vincent Klimaitis preceded his family to central Illinois, and wife Anna and their three daughters followed him to the U.S. on the Anchor Line ship SS California out of Greenwich, Scotland in 1913. Given the age difference between Peter Bernotas and his young bride Anna, I wonder if maybe Anna’s father Vincent was a coal-field acquaintance of Peter and made the introduction. Bernotas clipping 001

Photo of Peter Bernotas at age 68 in 1946.

Photo of Peter Bernotas at age 68 in 1946.

Two things are notable about this series of photos: first, the aging affects of coal mining and perhaps, related illnesses. You can see Peter Bernotas at 38 in his wedding photo, in his early 40s as the seated fiddler, at age 63 in his 25th wedding anniversary news clipping, and finally, at 68, and likely seriously ill, in his naturalization certificate photo. (From her 25th anniversary photo at age 41, one can also tell that being a miner’s wife has not been easy on Anna Klimaitis Bernotas). Peter’s naturalization certificate, itself, is interesting in that it appears to have been secured in his last days, 41 years after U.S. citizenship was legally granted. Maybe he wanted to have this precious document before he died, to pass down to his children? One can also tell from his signature that handwriting, and literacy, were likely achieved after he was an adult, as was the case with so many Lithuanian coal miners and their wives. After Peter Bernotas and Anna Klimaitis married in 1916 and went to live at 1705 E. Reynolds St., they had three children: Anthony Peter, born in 1917, Vetout (Vytautas), born in 1923, and Bernice (Bernotas) Stevens. The family attended St. Vincent de Paul Lithuanian Catholic Church, where Bernice appears in several photos.

St. Vincent de Paul Church sodality officers, circa 1940.

St. Vincent de Paul Church sodality officers, circa 1940.

The church choir with names, from 1956 Jubilee book

The church choir with names, from 1956 Jubilee book.

Anthony Peter and Vetout Bernotas, circa 1940

Anthony Peter and Vetout Bernotas, circa 1940

All three of the Klimaitis-Bernotas offspring appear to have served in World War II: Anthony Peter as a U.S. Army corporal, Vetout in the U.S. Air Force, and Bernice as a Navy “Wave.” (Bernice later moved to California.)

Bernice Bernotas, World War II.

Bernice Bernotas, World War II.

Anthony married Dorothy Jane Hall and the couple had children Terrence Michael, Susan Marie, Denise Anne, and Stephen Anthony, who affectionately called their Grandma Anna “Nano.” After living at Nano’s on E. Reynolds for a time, Anthony and his wife Dorothy built their own home at 2437 E. Keys, in Grandview. He worked as a machinist at FiatAllis. The family attended St. Cabrini Church.

Bottom left: Bernice Stephens and Tony Tamoszaitis as godparents to newborn Susan Bernotas, early 1950s.  Bottom right, from left: Klimaitis sisters Adella, Mary, and Anna, 1968.

Bottom left: Bernice Stephens and Tony Tamoszaitis as godparents to newborn Susan Bernotas, early 1950s. Bottom right, from left: Klimaitis sisters Adella, Mary, and Anna, 1968.

Susan (Bernotas) Potter, the main informant for this piece, fondly remembers Nano’s Lithuanian cooking. Susan continues to make kugelis (kugele), “little ears” (asuki), and a dumpling dish she calls kalasky (koldunai?). She and her brothers also make the honey-citrus spiced whiskey drink viditas, especially for Christmas.

Front little guy:  Stephen Bernotas. Middle row, from left: Anna (Nano) Bernotas, Denise Bernotas Fox, Susan Bernotas Potter. Back row, from left:  Terry Bernotas, Dorothy Hall Bernotas, Anthony Peter Bernotas. Easter Sunday, April 10, 1966.

Front little guy: Stephen Bernotas.
Middle row, from left: Anna (Nano) Bernotas, Denise Bernotas Fox, Susan Bernotas Potter. Back row, from left: Terry Bernotas, Dorothy Hall Bernotas, Anthony Peter Bernotas. Easter Sunday, April 10, 1966.

A few interesting facts about the Klimaitis-Bernotas clan:

Adella (Klimaitis) Bernotas and Michael Makarauskas wedding, 1936.

Adella Klimaitis and Michael Makarauskas wedding, 1933.

In 1933 Adella, the sister of Anna (Klimaitis) Bernotas, married Michael Makarauskas, older brother of Springfield McDonald’s restaurant founder John Makarauskas. Michael of Smilga, Lithuania, sailed from the Latvian port of Liepāja in 1922 with his mother and younger brother, John, on the vessel Estonia. That was the year they were finally reunited with their father, who had immigrated to Springfield just before the outbreak of World War I, which ended up dividing the family for almost a decade.

possibly Michael and Adella Bernotas Makarauskas, left; John and Mary (Gidus) Mack, right.  Circa 1936

from left: Michael and Adella (Klimaitis) Makarauskas, John and Mary (Gidus) Mack, right. 1930s.

Adella and Michael Makarauskas’s 1933 marriage was ill-fated. Michael was killed in a railroad accident in 1936 or 1937. Records show Adella married again in 1938 to William J. Laukaitis (parents Joseph and Valeria Galinis Laukaitis), of Cherry, Illinois. William was a veteran of World War II and Korea. However, Adella and William divorced in 1943, and Adella was subsequently married for a third time, to Marshall Dirksen.

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