Archive for December, 2013

Truth or Fiction – Genealogy Records

My original intent for last week’s post was to write about analyzing records.  How accurate or reliable is the information? Is the information in the record correct or truthful, does it offer clues, does it spin off another weave in the time continuum.   As a genealogist, to you obsess over the record or log it for future review.  I felt my Unweaving The Stories Woven thread topic needed more explaining, generating a post of its own. The evening was late, dream sleep was calling, and my analysis could wait another day.

I pulled a city directory record related to one of my ancestors from The rational Gemini side of me says log the record as a curiosity, to label it as an error on the part of the printer. The inquisitive side wants me to dig deeper.  I find myself fantasying what the information means.  Weaving my own tales of possibilities gleaned from this little thread.

I learned about the valuable information garnered from city directories long before I became interested in genealogy.  I was about 10 years old when I was given a city directory to address postcards for one of my father’s political campaigns.  I sure there is a repressed memory of helping him use the directory for marketing his business also.  In my teen years, I used the city directory to locate the address of record of one or more high school boy crushes.  The beginning threads of my informational analyst job skills.

I used to peruse the directories at the local library for fun.  Really, I did.  In the early 1980’s, I would go to the Burton Historical Collection at the downtown Detroit Library for genealogy research.  The overlords of the keys to the records intimidated this anti-trait shy Gemini with their policies and processes, so designed to keep you away from the locked records hidden in bowels of the library that you so seek. Afraid even to ask, “Can I have one more record, please” so that you are not silenced further by the glare of death.

Enough storytelling, or is it?  I created a couple of fictional stories in my mind for this 1912 Pittsburgh, PA City Directory record.  The record is for my missing great grandfather Adam Budny?  Adam Budny disappeared or left his family in 1917.  I have been looking for clues as to what happen to him.  So why is this source causing trouble?  My great grandparents first settled in Pittsburgh after immigrating from Poland.  Family lore is that they lived in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and then finally Detroit.  So far I have no record of them living in Chicago.  Adam’s brother-in-law, Ignacy Frank Borucki did live in Chicago for awhile.

Four of the Adam’s & Mary’s eight children were born in Pittsburgh, the last four in Detroit.  My sources include a death record with an address for their first child born in America, Peter, who only lived a few weeks in 1902.  Stanley Budny’s 1902 birth record and a 1903 Pittsburgh city directory listing the same address as Peter’s death record.  Adam and Mary Budny arrived in Detroit sometime in late 1906 or early 1907.  Adam is listed in the 1907 and subsequent years in the Detroit City Polk Directory.  During my search, I could not find Adam in the 1912 Detroit City Directory.  So when I discovered him in the 1912 Pittsburgh directory, bells went off.  Adam went back to Pittsburgh or so I thought.  I eventually found Adam’s listing in 1912 Detroit city directory. The indexer recorded the first letter as an “R” and that’s why it didn’t show up in the search engine.

Was this Pittsburgh record for a different Adam Budny? How or why, can my great grandfather be recorded in two different cities in the same year. Did he go back to Pittsburgh for a job?  I know, as I fantasized, he went back to retrieve buried treasure or something he hid in the apartment?  That’s my favorite fictional interpretation of the record.  So what is wrong with this record?  What has me worked up about this record you ask?

It is the address listed in the record. The address listed in the 1912 city directory is the same as 1902/1903 sources I have on file.  They lived at 2808 Spring Alley, Pittsburgh.  What are the odds that if Adam did go to Pittsburgh sometime in 1911 or 1912, that he would go to the address he lived at in 1902.  That he would get recorded as being a resident in the same house, 10 years later.

His occupation is different in the listings.  In 1903, he’s a laborer; the 1912 directory has him as a cleaner.  So just maybe, he was there after all.  There are missing pages in the online version of the directory for me to crosscheck by street name.  I am not even sure Pittsburgh used the same process as Detroit City Polk Directories.  In the Detroit directories, the streets were indexed in the back.  That index also listed the residents’ name.  A useful method in hunting an ancestor in a census, if cannot find them through an index.  I would like to surmise that this was a printer’s error.

Then again, there is a rumor that the last couple of children didn’t belong to Adam.  Some other man fathered those children.  That maybe Adam left long before 1917.

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Unweaving The Stories Woven – Genealogy Blog

My Great Grandfather Adam Budny disappeared some time in 1917. As far as the current generation knows, he was never heard from again. No telling if his wife Mary Borucki if found out what happen. She was pregnant with her seventh child, my grandfather. She had nine children in all. The first two didn’t make it past the first couple of months after birth.

Families either have no stories to relate or have an abundance of tales to tell of past generations. It seems that Mary’s children told their children a different spin on Adam’s disappearance. The stories told seem to weave around key words that I try desperately to grasp to assemble some thread of truth or clue. Adam Budny is my brick wall. I have nicked a brick in Mary’s brick wall and hope to knock it down soon. Adam’s is another story, where did he came from, why did he leave.

I heard the common one from my father that his grandmother was royalty, a Polish Countess. Other stories from my Dad, included Adam abandon the family as he did not want to care for seven children. Adam ran off with another woman, Adam ran off to join the priesthood. However, I also heard a story that Adam was studying for the priesthood when he met Mary and left the calling to marry her. Two different threads regarding priesthood, is there a connection. When you listen to the stories from past generations go back and look for common threads in the stories. Key words may lead you to other resources to explore.

My uncle Edward once said that Adam came from Budne or Budni, Poland and either Adam’s or Mary’s father political status was equivalent to a Senator. Mary’s family disproved of the Adam’s and Mary’s marriage, because Adam was a stable laborer and beneath her station. Edward conveyed that the family lived in Scranton, PA, then Chicago and finally Detroit, MI.

Aunt Phyllis told her son Chester, that Adam left the family and moved to Erie, PA. Through research, there is at this point, an unrelated Budny line with connections to the priesthood living in the area. Could they be relatives waiting to be found? Who knows, I am missing too much info on Adam Budny to make a connection. My cousin Chester who is 90 years old and out lived most cousins who grew up with him. Chester is six years younger than my grandfather. He is all that is left of those who knew my great grandmother. He only has bits and pieces that help weave the stories together. Chester stated that his mother was born in Vandergrift, PA. Where Adam was either a stable manager or laborer working at a Zoo. Another thread woven around ‘stable laborer’.

Chester is so hoping I find Adam somewhere in Pennsylvania. I am not sure I will. My cousin Tom who is descended from Mary’s daughter Josephine told me stories from his mother. Tom’s memory of reading a Ann Arbor News paper clipping detailing the death on Stanley Budny put an end to the myriad of stories about Stanley. Stanley Budny died early in his life. At 14 he became the breadwinner of the family after Adam disappeared. The stories were that Stanley was in the Detroit Purple gang and wash shot by a police officer or was a police officer and shot by a member of the Detroit Purple gang. Was either killed in Ohio or Ontario, Canada while he was doing some thing illegal. I looked for any record in Detroit or Wayne County for Stanley. Early budding genealogist mistake and long term tunnel vision. The winning woven thread is ‘police officer’. Stanley was killed by an Ann Arbor police officer while running through the streets of Ann Arbor, MI located in Washtenaw County.

The story Tom heard from his mother about Adam is interesting to analyze. Aunt Josephine version is that Mary received or inherited some property in Poland. Adam goes back to Poland to inquire, sale or settle Mary’s stake in the property. Adam is never heard from again. According to Josephine, Mary’s brother Ignatz Borucki, writes back to the Polish relatives for news about Adam’s with no success. There are no records or letters supporting this story. Anything could have happen to Adam. It’s 1917, world war one is raging in Europe, men are conscripted into service. The Spanish Flu is rampant and hitting Europe hard.

Back in Detroit, a woman is waiting the birth of her seventh child, wondering where her husband has gone. She has no means of income and will have seven mouths to feed. What happen to Adam and why does the story of his disappearance varies among his children. What did Mary really know if she knew anything at all. What thread did she weave? In the 1918 Polk City Directory, Mary Budny is listed as a widow of Adam Budny.

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Perpetual Family Liar Complicates Genealogy Records

My grand uncle Stanley A. Budny is the family’s black sheep.  A habitual criminal according to an account in a 1927 Ann Arbor Newspaper article.  Taken to the Ann Arbor police station after a fender bender, he told a web of lies, tried bribing his way out to freedom. All for naught.  He sought flight through a bathroom window, ensued a fight with an officer on the streets of Ann Arbor, only to lose his life while struggling with the officer’s gun.  He lost his life for a missing license plate and a questionable vehicle registration.

Stanley’s criminal activities brought in the money that helped support his six siblings and his mother from 1917 to his death in 1927.  His father Adam disappeared in 1917 and was presumed dead by the family.  Stanley started using aliases early on.  He lied on his 1918 World War I registration form (see image below).

So how did I attribute this registration card to my grand uncle?  Borke is an anglicized variant of Borucki.  Stanley’s mother is Maryanna Borucki.  Both my great-grandmother  and her brother Ignatz Francis Borucki (Frank Borke) used this quick and easy pronunciation and spelling of Borucki.  On Ignatz Borucki’s application for citizenship, he lists Frank Borke as an alias.

I have heard the name pronounced Bor-rut-ski in a recording by a family member.   I can see why the family would use a more American sounding variant of their name.  The pronunciation of the name doesn’t match the spelling.

My second clue is the address listed on the form.  I have city directory sources listing the same address for Mary Budny.  The birth date, Nov 16, 1899, is off by three years.   Stanley Budny was born November 16, 1902, Pittsburgh, PA.   I think he lied about his age to work.  He most likely kept up the lie when he registered.  Especially if he registered with co-workers or friends in the line.  Being 16 at the time he registered, he could not afford to lose a job that supported his family, so I am assuming he lied to appear older than he was.

Did Stanley steal from his own cousin?  Written records should be viewed also as photographs.  Photographs are worth a thousand words.  This registration card is worth a thousand words too.   Some people may dismiss this record or attach it as proof of a source without adding a comment.  But the analysis reveals much more.  I had to look at the info in detail to correctly match it to my Stanley Budny.   Why, because Stanley had a cousin named Stanley Borucki, who sometimes used the name Stanley Borke.  Stanley Borucki is the son of Ignatz Borucki.  He was born either in Chicago, IL or Pittsburgh, PA in 1902.  Stanley Borucki lists his occupation as chauffeur in his 1925 marriage record using the name Stanley Borke.   On the 1920 census, he is a springmaker.  The occupation listed on this registration card  for this Stanley Budny is chauffeur.

Alias of Stanley Budny (Borke)

Alias of Stanley Budny (Borke)

On Stanley’s and his sister’s marriage certificate they use the name Mary Borke for their mother.  As stated in my previous posts, I have yet to find Mary and Stanley Budny in the 1920 census.

Stanley Budny was arrested several times for writing bad checks and stealing cars in the Detroit area.  He was sentenced to a 1 to 14 year prison term to Jackson (Michigan) State Prison.  He was paroled after a very short time.  The lies he told  that fateful day in March 1927,  included a false name, tales of a wife and two children.  A wife he had,  children he did not. The Detroit Police had his list of aliases that Stanley used in the past.  I wonder how he came up with the names, Kid Gray, Dick Grey and Kline Klinoffosky.  Believe me, I checked the aliases to see if I could find clues to locate records.

I’ll keep looking to unravel the clues in records, one day may the truth be out there.

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Black Irish – I am sure my mother didn’t know the meaning

I was 15 when my sister, mother and I drove out to relocate my sister to San Diego, California. She was moving in with her boyfriend currently stationed at the naval base.  It was April of 1975.   We encountered a late winter snow storm outside of Albuquerque, NM.  I didn’t know then it snows in New Mexico.   I had to lend my mom money for the hotel room because the hotel didn’t take credit cards. My mother always knew I had a stash of cash. I have always been the saver in my family.

We stayed a few nights with my uncle in Gallup, NM and moved across west to California.  Did we want to stop at see the continental Divide, “No”.  See Death Valley?  Well, we stopped at the hotel, I lost my turquoise ring, the long drive through the desert was enough for me, thank you.

We were apartment hunting with my sister, trying to find a place where she and the boyfriend could live off base.  We found a place and the landlady was asking questions about the boyfriend. I piped up and said he was “Black Irish”.  It was an expression I heard my mother say when describing the boyfriend.  I saw a confused look on the face of the landlady.  I assumed she never heard the expression before and went on to explain. 

That the boyfriend had dark hair and dark eyes and was not blonde or fair or red for that matter.  I think she was still confused with that explanation.  But the expression lingered in my mind for years.  I always assumed that is what Black Irish meant. You had dark hair and eyes vs. blond/red hair, blue/green eyes.  All I could remember from my biology class at that time is Mendel’s pea pod experiment.

I was thumbing through Cyndi’s List this weekend and found an interesting discussion regarding Ethnic Myths.  Cyndi’s list includes an article on the Pennsylvania Dutch for those who didn’t know are actually German. The two links regarding Black Irish make for an interesting read. One author makes his case that Black Irish are not descendents from a shipwrecked Spanish Armada from the 1588 who co-mingled with Irish inhabitants. Irish Central ( has an article on the etymology of “Black Irish”.  The article is called Who Were the Black Irish.

The article starts with a history lesson of various invaders to Ireland.  Then goes on to explain the semantics of Gaelic names as a possible origin to the term Black Irish. Both articles provide an interesting interpretation of the possible origin of the word and its modern usage. There are over 175 comments on the Irish Central with individuals offering their opinion of the meaning to be Black Irish.

Who’s right and who is wrong? Is it a little bit of all theories?  Well, I am going to stick with the modern terminology.  I’m going to stick with one label, “Heinz 57”.  With a few exceptions, most people today are a mixture of many ethnic regions.  My two DNA test results indicate that I have up to 3% Neanderthal DNA in my chromosomes.  My top three ethnicity estimates, in order, are Great Britain, Eastern European and Scandinavia, followed by Italy/Greece (WHAT?), and Ireland.  To add fuel to the Black Irish debate of Spanish Armada survivors co-mingling in Ireland, my DNA results indicate I have less than one percent DNA from the Iberian Peninsula.

Pass the ketchup, please.

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Not at all interested in your hobby

The day after Thanksgiving, my sister and ex-sister-in-law drive down to visit my Aunt and Uncle who I had dinner with the day before.  The topic of “It’s a small world” comes up, as a acquaintance of my Aunt knows my I ex sister-in-law sister

They sit there trying to figure out how these two people know each other.  There is a 20-year age difference, they didn’t work together, didn’t run in the same circle.  At best, my aunt and sister-in law figured out that the two friends met at a casino.

My Aunt was willing to work out the connection as it intrigued her. However, she informs me that she has absolutely no interest in genealogy.  She could care less where her family came from.  What?  You want to play six degrees of separation of how my ex sister-in-law’s sister knows an acquaintance of yours, but you don’t want to know about your Polish grandmother, Mary.   Mary, who was left abandoned and pregnant with your father in 1917.  Your grandfather left her with seven children and no money.

My great grandmother Maryanna Budna (nee Borucki) survived by doing laundry and whatever her 14 year-old son, Stanley, could do to bring in some money.  By 1920 most of the children including were in some type of children’s home.  I have only been able to find my Aunt Phyllis in the 1920 census.   Stanley did whatever he could do to get the kids back with Mary.   The girls got married at 16 and were out of the house.  Stanley’s source of income was petty crime.  Stealing cars and stealing coal off the tracks so the family could heat their house.  My grandfather, Felix, was his partner in crime for the coal heists.  Felix was 10 years old when Stanley died.   Stanley’s death in 1927 put a further financial strain on the family.

Yet, my aunt wonders how her own Mother, survived her own upbringing.  My grandmother Mildred Edith was farmed out to live with her Aunt Edith and Uncle Harry in the late 1920’s.   Mildred Edith’s father died in a fall at the Zilwaukee plant in Saginaw, Michigan in 1925.  Even though her mother remarried, it wasn’t enough to keep the family together.  My grandmother remained very close with her sisters throughout her life.  She was very interested in genealogy and is descended from the Claude DesJardins (dit Charbonneir).

Maybe be it is one of those genetic traits that skips a generation.  Not everyone is interested in their past.  I happen to believe family history is more interesting than gossiping about celebrities or people who don’t have anything to contribute to your life.

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