Finding the Third Infant

The third infant buried with my Aunt Bronisława in a single grave in Notre Dame Cemetery was difficult to research.  On the cemetery records, he name was listed as Franciszek Stonia and he was buried on August 30, 1914 at the age of 8 months.  I knew nothing more about him.

The Massachusetts Birth and Death Indexes for 1913 and 1914 did not list anyone by the name of Stonia.  A search for the surname Stonia in Massachusetts on did not yield any results.  The book, Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman did not list Stonia, although the given name Franciszek is clearly Polish.  I suspected that the name had been misspelled in the cemetery records.

I searched for similar surnames such as Stania; I searched using Soundex.  I still had no luck.  Barb Poole went to the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and searched for the child’s name in their records and she had no success, either.

I went to the Massachusetts Vital Records Office in 2005 and found that the vital records for 1911-1915 had been moved to the Massachusetts Archives.  I went to the Massachusetts Archives in 2005 and found that the death records for 1911-1915 had been sent out for microfilming.  I searched the birth records for 1913-1914 at the Massachusetts Archives, but I couldn’t find the child.  I contacted the Worcester City Clerk who told me that if I provided them with the correct spelling of the surname and $8, they would do a genealogy search for me, but they wouldn’t allow me to search the records myself.  I contacted the NEHGS and asked if they had the vital records for 1911-1915 and they told me that those records were not yet available to them.

So, on my recent trip to the east coast, I anxiously anticipated my visit to the Massachusetts Archives, hoping that the death records for 1911-1915 had been microfilmed.  When I arrived, I found that the volumes I needed to search had, indeed, been microfilmed and I jumped right in…

Since I knew the child was buried on August 30, 1914, I assumed he had died a day or two before burial.  Since he was buried in Worcester, I assumed he had died in Worcester.  I randomly looked through the death index for 1914 and made note of the volume numbers for death certificates in which Worcester deaths were recorded.  I found several volumes for 1911, selected one microfilm and fast forwarded through the records until I reached the records for August 1914.  Fortunately, the records on the microfilm were in chronological order.  There, on August, 29, 1914, one day before the child was buried, was the death record for Franciszek Stoma, a very close match for the Franciszek Stonia in the cemetery records.  Moreover, the date of birth on the death certificate was December 2, 1913, indicating that the child was 8 months old when he died, again matching the information in the cemetery records.

Stoma death record

Death Record for Franciszek Stoma

The Death Record for Franciszek Stoma – 1914 states that:

  • Franciszek Stoma’s death was recorded in Massachusetts Deaths volume 111, number 38
  • He was a single, white male, born in Worcester on December 2, 1913 and was 8 months, 28 days old at the time of death
  • His father was Wauzeniec Stoma and he was born in Russia-Poland
  • His mother was Mary Lachowicz and she was born in Russia-Poland
  • S. C. Mieczkowski. M.D. attended him from August 24, 1914 until August 24, 1914
  • He died at 7 PM on August 29, 1914 at the family home at 105 Washington Street in Worcester as a result of Gastro Enteritis
  • Wawrzinie Lachowicz of Worcester was the informant
  • The statement of death by S. C. Mieczkowski. M.D. was made on August 29, 1914
  • He was buried in Worcester on August 30, 1914 by the undertaker Lucian Karolkevicz of Worcester
  • The Death Certificate was filed by the registrar on August 31, 1914

Some problems here are that the correct spelling of both the father’s given name and the informant’s given name should be Wawrzeniec (Lawrence or Loran), the informant’s surname is listed as Lachowicz, suggesting that the informant may have been related to the mother, but it’s possible that the informant was the father and the clerk erroneously recorded the mother’s maiden name instead of the father’s surname.

Since the birth date was listed on the death certificate as December 2, 1913, I went to the 1913 Birth Indexes and found a Frank Stoma listed.  Frank is the English equivalent of Franciszek.  The child’s birth record was listed in a ledger, as were the birth records for Aunt Bronisława and John Kurpiel.

Stoma birth record

Birth Record for Frank Stoma

The Birth Record for Frank Stoma – 1913 states that:

  • Frank Stoma was listed as entry number 4108 in Massachusetts Births, volume 616, page 566
  • He was a male child, born in the City of Worcester, Massachusetts on December 3, 1913
  • His father was Loran Stoma and his mother was Mary Lakavic, both of whom resided in Worcester
  • His father’s worked in a Leather Shop
  • Both of his parents were born in Russia
  • His birth was registered in the City of Worcester in January 1914

As with Bronisława Dańko, the birth date on the birth record did not match the birth date on the death certificate.  In both cases, the birth date on the death certificate was one day earlier than that listed on the birth record.  the names of the child, the father, and the mother are all anglicized on the birth record.

So, I was able to find the birth and death records for all three infants.  In all, I’ve spent  over three years looking for the location of the grave and the birth and death records for the three children.

Tomorrow:  Designing the Monument

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

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