The Immigration of David Sarewetnik

While searching for records on the immigration of Jan Savitt, I came across the 1911 Immigrant Passenger List for a David Sarwetnik.  Much to my surprise, this individual stated on the manifest that he was going to stay with his brother J. Serwetnik at 235 Monroe Street in Philadelphia – the same address at which Jan Savitt, then known as Jacob Sarvetnick, was living.  Since Jan’s father’s name was Joseph Sarvetnick, I concluded that David was Joseph’s brother.

Sarwetnik Manifest page 1

1911 Passenger Manifest for David Sarwetnik, Page 1

Sarwetnik Manifest page 2

1911 Passenger Manifest for David Sarwetnik, Page 2

Click here for a PDF copy of the Passenger Manifest for David Sarwetnik – 1911.  The manifest shows that:

  • David immigrated on the S.S. Uranium which left Rotterdam on September 7, 1911 and arrived in New York on September 20, 1911
  • David Sarwetnik, listed on line 14, was a single, 17 year old male with no occupation
  • David was able to read and write, was a Hebrew from Russia and last lived in Szumsk, Russia
  • David’s nearest relative in the country from which he came was his father Chaim Sarwetnik in Szumsk (Volhynia) Russia
  • David was traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he was planning to stay with his brother J. Serwetnik at 235 Monroe Street
  • His brother paid his passage and he had no cash with him, but had a ticket to his final destination
  • He was in good physical health, 4 feet – 11 inches tall, with fair complexion, brown hair, and brown eyes
  • He was born in Szumsk, Russia
  • David was traveling with Chaje Katzman, a 47 year old widowed woman who worked as a housekeeper
  • Chaje could not read or write, was a Hebrew from Russia and last lived in Szumsk, Russia
  • Chaje’s nearest relative in the country from which she came was her brother Chaim Sarwetnik in Szumsk (Volhynia Gubernia) Russia
  • Chaje was traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she was planning to stay with her son Shaia [?] Katzman at 340 North Randolph [?] Street
  • Chaje’s son paid her passage and she had no cash with her, but had a ticket to her final destination
  • She was in good physical health, 5 feet – 1 inch tall, with fair complexion, grayish hair, and brown eyes
  • She was born in Szumsk, Russia

Notice the marks to the left of David’s name on the manifest.  David was held for a Board of Special Inquiry before being admitted to the United States.  Imagine how he must have felt, to have traveled all this way at age 17 and then be told that he might not be admitted and that he had to state his case before a Board of Special Inquiry!

Board of Special Inquiry

Record of David Sarwetnik Held for Special Inquiry

Click on the link for a PDF copy of the Special Inquiry Record for David Sarwetnik – 1911. The record states that:

  • David arrived on September 20, 1911 and his record is indicated on line 16
  • He was a 17 year old male, recorded in Group 7, No. 14 (this means page 7, line 14 of the manifest)
  • He was held alone (Chaje was not held) as a “lpc” or “likely public charge” – the officials were concerned that he wouldn’t be able to support himself – although the remark “asst” indicates that someone had promised to assist him
  • He was excluded on September 21, but was admitted to the United States on September 22 at 2:45
  • While detained, the Immigration Service fed him 2 breakfasts, 3 dinners, and 2 suppers

This record leads to the tentative conclusion that Jan Savitt’s grandfather was Chaim Sarwetnik, that his uncle was David Sarwetnik, that his aunt was Chaje Katzman, and that his uncle was Shaia [?] Katzman, living in Philadelphia.  It also leads to the tentative conclusion that Jan may have been born or may have lived in Szumsk, Russia.  Today, Szumsk (or Shumsk) in the Volhynia Gubernia of Russia is known as Shumskoye, Ternopol’, Ukraine.

Question:  Is this David Sarwetnik the same as the David Savitt who is enumerated with Joseph Savitt’s family in the 1930 Census?  The immigration year is correct, although the year of birth doesn’t match up exactly.  Also, in the 1930 Census, David Savitt is listed as Joseph Savitt’s nephew, not his brother.

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

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Jan Savitt in the Census

Yesterday, I posted the 1930 US Census Record for Jan Savitt in order to discover if some of the biographical material about this famous bandleader of the 1930’s and 1940’s was correct.   The record showed that, in 1930, Jan Savitt’s name was recorded as Jay Savitt, that he was born in about 1908 in Russia, that he immigrated in 1911, was Jewish, and in 1930 was single, employed as a musician in an orchestra, and living in Philadelphia.  The 1930 Census also showed that his parents were Joseph and Ida Savitt and that he had two brothers named David and William, and a cousin David.

The 1920 Census Record for Jan Savitt reveals some interesting information as well.

1920 Census Joseph Savitt

1920 Census Record for Joseph Savitt and Family

The 1920 Census shows that:

  • In 1920, the family was living at 4056 [?] 62nd Street in Philadelphia (this address is close to the family’s address in 1930)
  • The head of household was Joseph, age 48, a married white male, born in Russia, working as a dealer [?] at OA [?]
  • Joseph’s wife was Ida, age 40, a married white female, born in Russia, with no occupation listed
  • Joseph and Ida’s son David was a 19 year old, single white male, born in Russia, working as a cutter (could this have been in the same wholesale dress business in which he was employed in 1930?)
  • The couple’s son William was a 16 year old, single white male, born in Russia, working as a salesman in a department [store?]
  • The couple’s son Jan is listed as Jacob Savitt, an 11 year old, single white male, born in Russia, with no occupation listed, although he was in school at the time
  • All people in the household are listed as citizens who immigrated in 1909 (Joseph’s record looks like it says he immigrated in 1902, but it could be 1909) and were naturalized in 1919 [?]
  • The family owned their home and, though it’s difficult to read, it appears that the home was mortgaged
  • Though it’s difficult to read, everyone in the family could read and write except for Ida

Clink on the link for a PDF copy of the US Federal Census Record for the Joseph Savitt family – 1920.

This census record suggests that Joseph and Ida were born a little later than does the data in the 1930 Census.  The immigration year listed in the 1930 Census was 1911, but in this census the immigration year was 1909.  With an immigration year before 1910, a good place to look for the family is in the 1910 Census.

The family does, indeed, appear in the 1910 Census.

1910 Census for Joseph Servetnick

1910 Census Record for Joseph Servetnik and Family

The 1910 Census shows that:

  • In 1910, the family’s surname was Servetnick and was living at 235 Monroe Street in Philadelphia
  • The head of household was Joseph, age 36, a married white Yiddish male, born in Russia, working as a maker of feather dusters
  • Joseph’s wife was Ida, age 36, a married white Yiddish female, born in Russia, with no occupation listed
  • Joseph and Ida were married when both were 17, suggesting that they were both born in about 1874 and married in about 1891 (so they must have been married in Russia)
  • Ida had given birth to 5 children, but only 4 were living in 1910
  • Joseph and Ida’s son Morris was a 15 year old, single white Yiddish male, born in Russia, working as a maker of feather dusters
  • The couple’s son David was a 13 year old, single white Yiddish male, born in Russia, with no occupation listed, but listed as being in school
  • The couple’s son William was a 10 year old, single white Yiddish male, born in Russia, with no occupation listed, but listed as being in school
  • The couple’s son Jan is listed as Jacob Servetnick, a 2 year old, single white male, born in Russia, with no occupation listed
  • All people in the household are listed as aliens who immigrated in 1909
  • The family owned their home and, though it’s difficult to read, it appears that the home was mortgaged
  • Joseph and Ida spoke Yiddish, but Morris, David, and William could speak English
  • Joseph, Morris, David, and William could read and write, but Ida and Jacob could not

Clink on the link for a PDF copy of the US Federal Census Record for the Joseph Savitt family – 1910.

Here’s a summary of the calculated birth years based on the 1910, 1920, and 1930 Census Records:

1910              1920              1930     Cumulative Range
Joseph     1873-1874     1871-1872     1869-1870     1869-1874
Ida          1873-1874     1879-1880     1878-1879     1873-1880
Morris      1894-1895     1893-1894*   1895-1896*    1893-1896*
David       1896-1897     1900-1901     1900-1901     1896-1901
William     1899-1900     1903-1904     1903-1904     1899-1904
Jan          1907-1908     1908-1909     1907-1908     1907-1909

* Data on the birth year of Morris from the 1920 and 1930 Census is from records not yet published in this Blog.

A couple of observations on this information:

  • Jan Savitt was clearly born before the birthdate (September 4, 1913) ascribed to him in his biographies; he was most likely born between 1907 and 1909,
  • The family most likely immigrated from Russia in 1909, in contrast to the immigration year of 1914 listed in some biographies and in contrast to the immigration year of 1911 listed in the 1930 census,
  • The family likely became citizens in 1919; probably only Joseph went through the naturalization process and the rest of the family became citizens automatically as a consequence (derivative citizenship),
  • The family was Jewish and had emigrated from Russia,
  • The family’s surname changed from Servetnick (or a variant such as Sarvetnick, Serwetnick, Sarwetnick, Servetnik, Sarvetnik, Serwetnik, or Sarwernik) to Savitt (or Savit in some records such as the 1930 Census),
  • Jan’s name was originally Jacob, but changed to Jay and later to Jan,
  • Jan was playing in an orchestra by 1930, when he was about 22 years old, which is at least consistent with the biographies that state he was playing in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra at the age of 14 or 15.

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

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The Bandleader’s Changing Birthdate

Earlier this week I received an email message from one of Jan Savitt’s children, Devi, asking for advice on how to research Jan’s Savitt’s family history.  We’ve exchanged a few messages this week so I could find out what was already known about the family and what Devi wanted to discover.  Well, the problem is so interesting that I couldn’t resist conducting some research of my own.  Sometimes I think my interest in genealogy is a curse – I can’t resist a good genealogical problem!

Devi’s father is Jan Savitt, a famous bandleader from the 1930’s and 1940’s who died suddenly in 1948 of a cerebral hemorrage while on his way to a gig in Sacramento.  Searching the internet for “Jan Savitt” produces lots of hits, many of which are links to CDs of his bands.

In his book American Big Bands, William F. Lee reported that Jan Savitt was born on September 4, 1913 in Petrograd, Russia and that Jan immigrated to the United
States with his family when he was 15. Some biographies, including those on IMDb and iTunes, describe his father as a drummer in the Imperial Regiment Band of Tsar Nicholas II. The biographies further state that he was invited to join the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra when he was 15, studied at the Curtis Institute and in Europe, formed a string quartet in 1936, formed his band “The Top Hatters” in 1937, and began touring in 1938.  He died on October 4, 1948.

So, how much of all this is true?  To start, if he was born in 1913, he couldn’t have immigrated in 1914 at the age of 15.  To be fair, most online biographies acknowledge that Jan’s birthdate is in dispute.

Devi provided me with some information about her father, her uncles, and her grandparents, and armed with that information, I immediately searched the census records to see if I could confirm the information in the biographies.

In 1930, Jan was living in Philadelphia with other family members.

1930 Census

1930 Census Record for Joseph Savitt and Family

The 1930 Census states that:

  • In 1930, the family was living at 6221 Pine Street in Philadelphia
  • The head of household was Joseph, age 60, a married white male, born in Russia, working as a motor mechanic in a motor brushes manufacturing company
  • Joseph’s wife was Ida, age 51, a married white female, born in Russia, with no occupation listed
  • Joseph and Ida’s son David was a 29 year old, single white male, born in Russia, working as a salesman in wholesale dresses
  • The couple’s son William was a 26 year old, single white male, born in Russia, working as a salesman in wholesale shoes
  • The couple’s son Jan is listed as Jay Savitt, a 22 year old, single white male, born in Russia, working as a musician in an orchestra
  • Joseph’s nephew David was a 31 year old, single white male, born in Russia, working as a salesman in wholesale shoes
  • All people in the household are listed as naturalized citizens who immigrated in 1910 and spoke Jewish before coming to the United States
  • The family owned their home valued at $5500
  • The family owned a radio
  • None of the family members were veterans

From this record, in 1930 Jan was known as Jay Savitt, was born about 1908, emigrated from Russia in 1911, was Jewish, was single, and was working as a musician in an orchestra.

Click on this link to view a PDF of the US Federal Census Record for the Joseph Savitt Family – 1930.

Tomorrow:  What do earlier census records say about this family?

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

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Cemetery Iconography and Designing Bronisława’s Monument

The first burial in what would become a shared grave for my Aunt Bronisława was made in 1912.  Now, 94 years later, a monument will be erected on the grave.  I have thought long and hard about how to design the monument for this grave.  The questions I considered were:

  • What iconography should be on the monument?
  • Should the complete dates or just the years of birth and death be included on the monument?
  • Should some prayer or other inscription be included?
  • Should anything be written on the back of the monument?

Iconography is:

the science of identification, description, classification, and interpretation of symbols, themes, and subject matter in the visual arts.

Encyclopedia Brittanica

In reference to cemeteries, iconography usually refers to the images inscribed on tombstones and the meanings behind those images.

Modern iconography sometimes uses images that reflect important events or hobbies in the life of the deceased, such as the image of a pair of wedding rings or a picture of a man fishing.  Modern iconography also extends to images of the deceased or images of the church they attended.  A common icon for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) is a picture of the temple in Salt Lake City.

More traditional iconography, however, may require additional interpretation.  Many older icons are seldom used today.  A weeping willow signifies mourning; roses represent the brevity of life; oak leaves and acorns mean a ripe old age; butterflies represent an early death.  An angel trumpeting indicates the resurrection, while an angel weeping means mourning.  A bird represents eternal life, and a flying bird means resurrection.

Often, an icon can have different meanings for different persons.  In one case, an anchor may be used to indicate hope, while in another case an anchor can mean that the deceased was a seaman.  Specific types of trees can be used to mean different things:  an apple tree represents love, a cypress tree means faithfulness, and an olive tree indicates wisdom.

And sometimes, the icons on a gravestone mean nothing at all.  Someone may have selected an image simply because they liked the image.

In selecting the iconography and design for the monument for my Aunt Bronisława and the other two infants buried with her, I took into consideration the size limitations imposed by the cemetery and the style of the other monuments nearby.

Monument Front

Front of Monument

Because the information on three individuals could make the monument rather busy, I decided to keep the inscription simple (remember, this is a headstone for a single grave, not a grave intended for three people).  I decided to include the name of each child followed by the years, not the entire dates, of birth and death.  On the front I decided to include the icon of a lamb with a cross to symbolize the innocence of the children when they died and the Roman Catholic faith of the families.  I also decided to include an inscription I had seen on many graves in Poland:

JEZU UFAMY TOBIE

meaning:  Jesus, We Trust to You.

Finally, I added the surnames of the three children to the back of the monument, so it could be easily found when approaching from either direction.Monument BackBack of Monument

While the design is not finalized, I did receive the proofs of the design today.  I made a few comments and expect to receive the revised proofs in a few days.  I’m rather happy with the design.

1For further information on cemetery iconography, check out:

If a book-length work interests you, try:

Finally, if you’d rather listen than read, check out the Halloween 2005 edition of The Genealogy Guys Podcast.

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

Posted in Dańko | Tagged | 7 Comments

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 Ancestry.com 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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The Brief Life of John Kurpiel

My Aunt Bronisława was the second of three infants to be buried in an unmarked grave in Notre Dame Cemetery, Worcester.  The first to be buried was John Kurpiel who died when he was only a month old.  Like Bronisława, he was from a Polish family and he died of broncho pneumonia.  Finding his birth and death records was relatively easy, especially since Barb Poole looked up the volume and page numbers in the vital record indexes at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston.  I didn’t have a chance to visit the NEHGS in my recent trip to Boston (although I did have dinner on Newbury Street, just a few blocks from the NEHGS on Saturday night).

The Birth Record of John Kurpiel is shown below.  Like Bronisława’s birth record, John’s record is included in a ledger and was recorded in January of the year following his birth.  In John’s case, his birth was actually recorded after his death.  As with Bronisława’s birth record, I cropped the ledger page just below John Kurpiel’s entry, so John’s name appears to be at the bottom of the page.  The original page contained many more entries below John’s.

Birth Record of John Kurpiel - 1912

Birth Record of John Kurpiel – 1912

The entry states that:

  • John Kurpiel was listed as entry number 224 in Massachusetts Births, volume 611, page 514
  • He was a male child, born in the City of Worcester, Massachusetts on October 30, 1912
  • His father was Mateus Kurpiel and his mother was Katarzyna Novak, both of whom resided in Worcester
  • His father’s occupation was not listed
  • Both of his parents were born in Austria
  • His birth was registered in the City of Worcester in January 1913

The correct Polish spelling of the names of John’s parents should be Mateusz Kurpiel and Katarzyna Nowak.

The Death Record of John Kurpiel is recorded on the standard form, just as Bronisława’s was.

Death Record of John Kurpiel - 1912

Death Record of John Kurpiel – 1912

The Death Record states that:

  • John Kurpiel’s death was recorded in Massachusetts Deaths volume 111, number 303
  • He was a single, white male, born in Worcester on October 30, 1912 and was 1 month, 20 days old at the time of death
  • His father was Mateus Kurpiel who was born in Austria
  • His mother was Katarzina Novak and she was born in Austria
  • Peter O’Shea. M.D. attended him from December 17, 1912 until December 20, 1912
  • He died at 6 PM on January 13, 1913 at the family home at 161 Millbury in Worcester after suffering for 4 days with broncho pneumonia
  • Mateus Kurpiel of Worcester was the informant
  • The statement of death by Peter O’Shea. M.D. was made on December 21, 1912
  • He was buried in Worcester on December 21, 1912by the undertaker Lucian Karolkewicz of Worcester
  • The Death Certificate was filed by the registrar on December 23, 1912

Tomorrow:  Adventures finding the birth and death records of the third infant.

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

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The Birth and Death of Aunt Bronisława

My Aunt Bronisława Dańko died when she was one year old and was buried with two other infants in an unmarked grave in Notre Dame Cemetery in Worcester, Massachusetts.  In order to erect on monument on the grave, the cemetery requires that the names of all three infants be included on the monument.  The cemetery provided the following information on the three infants:

Notre Dame Cemetery No. 01 – Owner: Owner, unknown
Lot – Sec-3 Lot-1464 Grv-1A-1C
UAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
3                                         3
3                                         3
3                   1C                  3
3                   1B                  3
3                   1A                  3
3                                         3
3                                         3
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAU
Space Deceased/Reserved  Burial Date     Age  Container
1A       Kurpiel, John            12/21/1912    1Month
1B       Danka, Bronislawa    01/15/1913   1
1C       Stonia, Franciszek    08/30/1914    8Months

AAAEnd of ListAAA  Perpetual Care Unpaid — No Activity Allowed Until Full Payment

Since the cemetery had misspelled my aunt’s surname and did not have the dates of birth or death for any of the three infants, I set out to find the birth and death records for the children.  In the blog entry Aunt Bronislawa Has Been Misplaced, I described my efforts to find the vital records for the trio.

During my recent trip to the Massachusetts Archives, I found the records for all three children.  The birth record of Bronisława Dańko was recorded in a ledger in January 1913, although she had been born almost a year earlier.

The Birth Record of Bronisława Dańko - 1912

The Birth Record of Bronisława Dańko – 1912

In the image above, I cropped the ledger just under the entry for Bronisława, so it appears that she is the last entry on the page, but the original image included quite a few more entries below her name.

The entry states that:

  • Bronislawa Danko was listed as entry number 961 in Massachusetts Births, volume 608, page 486
  • She was a female child, born in the City of Worcester, Massachusetts on January 3, 1912
  • Her father was Mike Danko and her mother was Mary Ginsky who resided in Worcester
  • Her father was a laborer
  • Both her parents were born in Austria
  • Her birth was registered in the City of Worcester in January 1913

Note that her mother’s maiden name was actually Dziurzyńska, not Ginsky.  This error was likely due to difficulties of hearing and spelling the polish surname or to transcription errors.  The entry were made a year after the event and the family was probably not present at the time the birth was recorded in the ledger.

The death record of Bronisława Dańko was recorded on a standard form which was completed at the time of death.

The Death Record of Bronisława Dańko - 1913

The Death Record of Bronisława Dańko – 1913

The Death Record states that:

  • Bronislawa Danko’s death was recorded in Massachusetts Deaths volume 107, number 290
  • She was a single, white female, born in Worcester on January 2, 1912 and was 1 year, 11 days old at the time of death
  • Her father was Michal Danko who was born in Austria
  • Her mother was named Mary and was born in Austria
  • P. H. Nichol, M.D. attended her from January 7, 1913 until January 13, 1913
  • She died at 2:30 PM on January 13, 1913 at the family home at 3 Moran Court in Worcester after suffering for 6 days with broncho pneumonia
  • Michal Danko of Worcester was the informant
  • The statement of death by P. H. Nichol, M.D. was made on January 14, 1913
  • She was buried in Worcester on January 15, 1913 by the undertaker Lucian Karolkewicz of Worcester
  • The Death Certificate was filed by the registrar on January 20, 1913

Note that the date of birth on the birth record is January 3, 1912, while that on the death certificate is January 2, 1912.

Tomorrow:  The birth and death of John Kurpiel.

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

Posted in Dańko, Dziurzyński | Tagged | 1 Comment

A Brief Summary of My Trip to Boston

I’m back home now.  I’m really bushed so I think I’ll try to get to bed early tonight.  My body clock is now 3 hours ahead of Pacific Time, so I suspect I’ll be up extra early for work tomorrow!

At the end of my vacation, I drove to Dorchester and checked into the DoubleTree Club Hotel.  I spent most of Friday and Saturday researching my family’s history at the Massachusetts Vital Records Office and the Massachusetts State Archives, both of which were within walking distance of the hotel.

I spent all day Friday at the Massachusetts Vital Records Office in Dorchester.  Fortunately, Massachusetts allows researchers to work onsite at the Vital Records Office, so I was easily able to find many records I couldn’t find otherwise.  The Vital Records Office charges $9 per hour do conduct research and $18 for a certified copy of a vital record, making research at the Vital Records Office rather expensive.

I purchased 47 birth, death, and marriage records.  The cost for copies of vital records onsite is $10 less than the cost to order the records by mail, so I saved quite a bit of money by ordering onsite.  The staff at the Vital Records Office tried to give me computer printouts of some of the recent births, but I asked if they could give me photocopies of the actual certificates and they graciously did so.  The actual certificates contain a lot more information than the computer printouts, so I’m happy that I insisted on the photocopies.  With recent efforts by some members of the Massachusetts Legislature to restrict access to Vital Records, I decided it was time to get as many records as I can as soon as possible.

On Saturday, I went to the Massachusetts State Archives and made copies of 7 birth records, 3 death records, and 12 naturalization records.  The Archives doesn’t charge for research onsite and charges only 50 cents a page for copies, so my research at the Archives was a lot less expensive than my previous day’s research at the Vital Records Office.

The information I found at the Massachusetts State Archives included the birth and death records for all three infants buried in the grave in Notre Dame Cemetery that I discussed in Aunt Bronisława Has Been Misplaced!  It turns out that the surnames of two of the three infants were misspelled in the cemetery records.  The data I complied from three birth records, three death records, and one cemetery record are:

  • John Kurpiel, born October 30, 1912, died December 20, 1912, buried December 21, 1912, age 1 month
  • Bronisława Dańko, born January 3, 1912, died January 13, 1913, buried January 15, 1913, age 1 year
  • Franciszek Stoma, born December 3, 1913, died August 29, 1914, buried August 30, 1914, age 8 months

I also ordered a monument for the grave, and the stone will be put into place sometime later this year.  Notre Dame Cemetery pours foundations only twice a year – in May and September – so the stone can’t be put into place until September at the earliest.  Tomorrow, I’ll call the monument company to provide them with the correct names and dates, and then I’ll wait to receive the proofs of the inscription.  I’m looking forward to getting monument set in place on this grave that has been unmarked for 94 years!

There’s a lot more to report on my vacation and research trip to the east coast.  I’ll post some of the more interesting records as soon as I get the photocopies scanned.

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Spelunking with My Nephew

I spent a day with my nephew Lukas and we went exploring two caves that are accessible to the public in upstate New York:  Howe Caverns and Secret Caverns.  Here are some pictures from our trip.  Howe Caverns is much more developed than Secret Caverns.  Howe Caverns has a brick path on the cave floor, while Secret Caverns has a much rougher floor.  In the pictures, most of the color comes from strategically placed colored lights.  The natural colors of the formations range from white to tan to black with rose hues in some places.

Howe Caverns 2 

 The Tour Guide with my Nephew Lukas

Howe Caverns 1

 Stalagmites and Stalactites in Howe Caverns
Stalagmites grow from the ground;  stalactites grow from the ceiling.

Howe Caverns 6 

 The Pipe Organ in Howe Caverns
The tour guide hummed into a formation on the cave wall opposite this formation and it sounded like a pipe organ playing!

Howe Caverns 14 

The Bridal Altar in Howe Caverns
The heart is a piece of calcite cut in the shape of a heart and lit from below.
Quite a few couples have been married here.

 Howe Caverns 17

 The Old Witch in Howe Caverns
See if you can see the face of a Witch in this rock.
The tour guide pointed out three different ways to see the witch.

Secret Caverns 002 

Flowstone and Stalactites in Secret Caverns 

Secret Caverns 08 

 The Elephant’s Foot in Secret Caverns
Lukas has just passed the Elephant’s Foot.

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More from the Uncles

After telling me of their war experience, my uncles Ray and Henry talked about a few other details of their family life when they were young.  Everyone in the family, including children and grandchildren, called my maternal grandparents “Ma” and “Pa”.

Ma worked for the Bancroft Hotel in Worcester.  The Bancroft is now the Sheraton.  She would take the bus to work in the morning.  There was a cop in a “cop box” in Lincoln Square who would jump out to help her cross the street.  The family was familiar with the beat cops in their neighborhood.  Once, when one of the local cops died, Pa took Ray to the wake.  That was the first corpse that Ray ever saw.

The family lived in a triple-decker house on Huntington Avenue owned by Pa’s uncle Frank Niedzialkoski.  At the time they lived there, a trolley ran up and down the street and cost 5 cents a trip.  Often, Ray would walk to save the 5 cents.  In addition to the house on Huntington Avenue, Pa’s uncle Frank owned a farm called Sky Farm in Sterling, Massachusetts.  Ray, Henry, and their brothers and sisters would work on the farm during the summer.  Ray remembered being very well fed.

Pa owned a number of cars during his lifetime.  Even though the family didn’t consider themselves wealthy, they must have been better off than many of the other families in the neighborhood since they were one of the few families to own a car.  Pa owned a Model T Ford.  He later purchased a 1924 Hupmobile with the option of solid wheels rather than wire wheels.   The Hupmobile had windows that had to be buttoned in and windshield wipers you turned by hand.

The 1924 Hupmobile

The 1924 Hupmobile

Ma and Pa owned a three decker building on Prescott Street and operated a grocery store out of the first floor in a neighborhood that included a mix of all nationalities.  Their building is the only building left standing on Prescott Street today.  The building was located close to the American Steel and Wire factory where the people would work from 6 AM to 6 PM.  The whistle would blow at 6 PM and a stream of people would come out and walk down Byron Street and past their house.

The family found ways to save money.  When the children were young, Saturday was bath day.  Ma would heat water on the stove and everybody would take a bath in the same water.  Pa would resole their shoes himself and would make moonshine in the kitchen which he would barter with others in exchange for haircuts for the boys.  The boys would go to the dump and find copper, brass, lead, and aluminum that they could sell.  They would pick through the dump with 5-10 other kids and earn about $5 a week for their efforts.  In hindsight, Ray marveled at the fact that they never caught serious diseases picking through the dump.

Later, Pa worked for Worcester Pressed Steel.  The company owned land behind the factory and the employees were given a plot for a garden.  Pa had one of those plots.  At the time he worked for Worcester Pressed Steel, Pa owned a Hudson.  In the winter, Pa would come home at night and drain the radiator so the water wouldn’t freeze.  At the time, antifreeze didn’t exist and so people either had to use alcohol in the radiator to prevent freezing.  To save money, Pa just drained the radiator at night and refilled it in the morning.  He had preferred employee parking as a machinist at Worcester Pressed Steel and so he was able to park in the company garage during the day so the radiator wouldn’t freeze at work.

John Woodman Higgins, the owner of Worcester Pressed Steel, opened a steel museum known today as Higgins Armory.  Although Worcester Pressed Steel is no longer in business, the Armory still exists.  Pa worked at Higgins Armory for a while, and Pa gave my mother a cigarette lighter in the shape of a suit of armor.  I plan to visit Higgins Armory during my visit to Worcester later this week.

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

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