25 January 2016

Mystery Monday: Frank Matys returns home, but mystery remains why he left

A nationwide search for a missing man began – and ended – in Duryea in 1941. Duryea is in Luzerne County. State Police in Pennsylvania were looking for him, assumably to give notice of his father’s passing.

An article titled “Missing Youth Returns” ran in the Wilkes-Barre Evening News on 17 April 1941. It read:
Wilkes-Barre Evening News
17 April 1941
Frank Matys, 1216 Spring Street, Duryea, for whom a nation-wide search was instituted two weeks ago when his father, Peter Matys, was fatally injured when struck by an Erie train, returned to his home.

He received the first notice of his father’s death when he purchased a newspaper in Colorado.

Had he run away or gone for work? If he went for work, why did his family not know his whereabouts? So why was Frank Matys in Colorado?

Two weeks prior, on 4 April 1941, the same paper ran its initial article, titled “See Frank Matys.” It read:
Wilkes-Barre Evening News
4 April 1941
State Police were requested last night to seek the whereabouts of Frank Matys, who last week left for the Western Coast to seek employment.

Last heard from Matys, whose father died of injuries at the Taylor Hospital today, was in the State of New Mexico, according to word received here.

Peter Matys, Frank’s father, was born about 1889 in Poland. The 1930 Census shows the Matys family living on Spring Street in Duryea. The family included Peter, who had immigrated in 1907, his wife Carmella, and their two boys: Chester and Frank. Frank was 14 at the time. That would put his birth year about 1916.

Frank, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death Files, was in fact born 17 March 1916. He enlisted in the Army on 11 February 1944 and was released 7 November 1945. He died on 7 April 1993. His enlistment file on Ancestry.com was just an index but it did confirm vitals as well as an occupations. At the time of enlistment, Frank listed his civil occupation as “plumbers, gas fitters, and steam fitters.” He also notes that he was single at the time.

His Pennsylvania Veteran Compensation paperwork confirms that Frank A Matys was born in Avoca, Luzerne County on 17 March 1916. He served domestically 11 February 1944 to 24 November 1944 and again from 14 May 1945 to 7 November 1945. He served in foreign service in between, that is from 25 November 1944 to 13 May 1945. He enlisted in Wilkes-Barre and was released from service in Fort Story, Virginia. Under parents, his lists only his mother (since his father Peter had died in 1941 as noted above) as Kornela Matys. He lists his beneficiary as Margaret Matys. Both Margaret and his mother Kornela are listed as living at his residence. Margaret may well be his wife, as the form was filled out in 1950.

From the BIRLS form, we know he died on 7 April 1993. Find A Grave shows he is buried at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery in Moosic, Lackawanna County. The dates are correct but no family relations are connected. The only other Matys listed (not every burial is listed though) is Margaret B Matys. She was born 5 July 1922 and died 21 February 1995. Again there is no other information and neither have a photo either. Their photo is the generic one of that cemetery.

The Pennsylvania, Veterans Burial Cards database shows that PFC Frank A Matys was buried – by the government – at Sts Peter and Paul in Moosic. It also shows he served in the 63rd Division.

Frank may have left a paper trail once home again, but the mystery remains – why did he leave home in 1941? What job did he seek?



Mystery Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.