#52 Ancestors – No. 13 – Phyllis Budny, Inmate at Good Shephard

This post is number 13 in the series of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of us blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  The learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy’s website.

There are a lot of half truths, cover-ups and lies in my Budny family.  It stems from hiding the shame of probably being abandoned by the patriarch, Adam Budny in 1917, and Stanley Budny’s criminal ways and shocking death in 1927 . Phyllis Budny is my grandfather’s sister.  Born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1906, to Adam and Mary (Borucki) Budny.   At 15, she married Lawerence Herman on June 12, 1922, in Detroit, MI.  She and Lawrence only had one child before divorcing by 1930. She remarried later to Maurice Haggerty.

Phyllis_Budny Photo

The story goes that Phyllis went a little crazy and maybe that runs in the family as to why there was not a lot of information passed down. In truth, Phyllis was quite emotional as she mostly likely would be as her son was listed as missing in action during World War II. Her son, Chester, will turn 90 in a few weeks, by the way.

Phyllis is the only Budny family member I can find in the 1920 Census. Under the name, Phyllis Budna, she is listed as an “Inmate” at the House of the Good Shephard in Detroit. The Good Shephard was a catholic asylum who’s purpose was to “restore fallen women to the path of virtue and to protect young girls who are liable to temptation from unfavorable surroundings”.  Phyllis’s only crime was being poor.

The English language can be complex.  The term “inmate” at this time refers to residing at a institution, not strictly being a person in prison or jail.  Though I have a feeling that is what it felt like.  Phyllis did not like the conditions and ran away as soon as she could and got married.

The family was very poor after her father, Adam, disappeared.  Her mother was either doing sewing or laundry work in the 1920’s to survive.  Which is not enough to support seven children.  Most of the children were farmed out or placed in institutions.  Her sister, Frances, about 15, is hiding from authorities so she doesn’t get placed in a home. Frances gets married in 1920, a few months after the census is taken.

Their brother, Stanley, was a petty thief bringing in money to try to get the family back together. He also used a couple of aliases along the way and once served time at Jackson State Prison in Michigan.  I think the family was very wary of interacting with government authorities back in the day.

So Phyllis is in the clear.  Stanley did his “time.”

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