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#52 Ancestors No. 26 – James White – Michigan Thumb Fire September 5, 1881

This is post 26 of the 2015 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of us blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy Johnson’s site at Amy’s website. 52ancestors-2015 Image

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers tweeted of photo of a cartograph1 depicting the Michigan thumb area that mentions a fire that happen on this day in 1881, as a blogging prompt. Recognizing the all too familiar appendage of my birth state, I remembered that one of my ancestors lost their life during the fire.

Burnt District resulting from the Michigan Thumb Fire, September 5, 1881.

Burnt District resulting from the Michigan Thumb Fire, September 5, 1881.

The illustrated cartograph showed the burnt district in the Michigan thumb area that resulted from the great fire on September 5, 1881. The Great Fire, as it is known, burned for three days. It destroyed a million acres of land, including forests, farms, mills, and businesses. The fire consumed the lives of over 280 people2.

James White was just five months old when he died on 16 September 1881. His death was caused by the effects of the fire 11 days earlier.  It is not known if he suffered from smoke inhalation or from burns. The death was recorded in 1882 and is transcribed in the GENDIS2 database.

I have a mimeograph copy of a family history from an unknown source and date that includes two written pages of notes. The notes talk of Aunt Vi (Violet White), who would be James’ older sister. The letter mentions that Aunt Vi was five years old at the time of the Great Fire. The writer of the letter states, “Aunt Vi remembers them huddling under a quilt all but their father and one of the boys. They had to keep pulling out sparks that land on the quilt. Then all was over the quilt was full of little holes.”  There is no mention of James’ death.

James’ parents are James Montgomery White and Persis DesJardins are my great great-grandparents. Th family were farmers in Minden, Sanilac County, Michigan. By the time of the fire, James and Persis had eight children. Two more children would come later. One was my great-grandmother, Minnie White.

Sources:
1http://www.geneabloggers.com/genealogy-blogging-beat-saturday-5-september-2015/#more-34852
2Wikipedia Great Thumb Fire, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thumb_fire
3http://www.mdch.state.mi.us/gendisx/scripts/individual.asp?UniqueID=282434

Additional resources:
http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ptruckin/greatfire.html
http://www3.gendisasters.com/michigan/5778/mi-quotgreat-thumb-firequot-sept-1881?page=0,1

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#52Ancestors: Week 24 – Olga Cartwright – Planted a Family Tree

This is week 24 of the 2015 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of u52ancestors-2015 Images blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy Johnson’s site at Amy’s website.

On a far off branch of the Pittman section of my tree lies the Cartwright family. And wouldn’t you know it…the Cartwright family included a son named Ben Cartwright. Cue! Bonanza.  “On this land we put our brand, Cartwright is the name, fortune smiled, the day we filed the Ponderosa claim.” Yes, there were lyrics to the opening tune. Humming the theme song now, aren’t’ you?

Olga Cartwright married John Barnett in 1912. This couple starts the twig in the line that descends down to lost cousins I have yet to connect. They are the grandparents to Kenneth Ralph Barnett, written in the 2014 series of #52Ancestors – No. 33.

Olga is the daughter of Mathew Thompson Cartwright (1857-1935) and Susan J. Melton (1859-1930). She had nine siblings including her brother Ben. The family lived in Cleaton, Muhlenberg Co., Kentucky. The unincorporated town south of Central City, KY, still has a rural appeal.

Olga and her husband John had a total of 12 children. John earned his living a miner in the coal mines. Olga lived from 1893 to 1974. Her relationship to me is labeled as mother-in-law of first cousin twice removed.

Bonanza Lyrics written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. http://ponderosascenery.homestead.com/lyrics.html

 

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#52Ancestors: Week 15 – Grzesiak surname – “How do you spell that?”

This is week 15 of the 2015 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of u52ancestors-2015 Images blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy Johnson’s site at Amy’s website.

 

This week theme inspiration is “How do you spell your last name”? I have to make corrections all the time to my last name, Budny. I have written about the “Borucki” last name too. Sure, you can get the spelling down. But, can we latter descendants actually pronounce the name correctly?

Intertwined on the family tree is the lineage and descendants of my mother’s first husband, Robert Gaber. Robert’s grandmother is Rozalia Grzesiak. “Grzesiak” is the spelling I am currently using in my Family Tree Maker database. That may change depending on future research and consensus. Rose, as she is most known by in various records, was of Polish ancestry. Grzesiak or Griacjka may be of Lithuanian ethnicity. Rose’s birth location has been recorded as Lithuania, Poland Austria, or Galicia.

I have listed the various spelling variations gleaned from Ancestry or FamilySearch. It appears that Rose could not write her name. An “X” mark is used as her signature on both Helen and Blanche’s birth records.

How do you spell “Grzesiak”?

Rozalia Gressiak – 1891 – Rose’s marriage record to Casper Gaber
Rose Gresshack – 1906 – Helen Gaber’s original and corrected birth record
Rosalia Greszek – 1915 Katie Gaber’s marriage license to Alexander Ravinski. This marriage doesn’t appear to have been solemnized.
Rose Gresiak 1925 – son Joseph’s marriage record to Anna Syrze
Rose Greshock – 1926 – daughter Caroline Gober (Gaber) marriage record to Frank J Neja (Naja)
Creesiak – 1929 – Blanche Gaber’s marriage record to Ferdinand Kozakiewicz in Detroit, MI
Grzesiak – 1941 Delayed birth record for Blanche Gaber, born in 1908. Rose was the informant.
Rozalia Griacjka Gaber – Find a Grave Memorial# 133016852

Sources:

“Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KMC5-VNR : accessed 12 April 2015), Kaspar Gaber and Rozalia Gressiak, 01 Jun 1891; citing Marriage, Pennsylvania, county courthouses, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 2,131,180.

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Birth Records, 1906-1908 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. – Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906–1908. Series 11.89 (50 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KMCY-VTX : accessed 12 April 2015), Rosalia Greszek in entry for Alexander Ravinski and Katie Skrowron, 06 Jul 1915; citing Marriage, Pennsylvania, county courthouses, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 2,131,385.

“Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KMZS-9GJ : accessed 12 April 2015), Rose Gresiak in entry for Joseph Gober and Anna Syrze, 11 Nov 1925; citing Marriage, Pennsylvania, county courthouses, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 2,131,506.

“Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KMZS-S7Z : accessed 12 April 2015), Rose Greshock in entry for Frank J Neja and Caroline C Gober, 14 Jun 1926; citing Marriage, Pennsylvania, county courthouses, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 2,131,506.

Blanche Gaber’s marriage record. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics. Ancestry.com. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Findagrave.com, Find A Grave Memorial# 133016852, created by: roger56chevy, Record added: Jul 19, 2014. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=133016852&ref=acom

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#52Ancestors: Week 13 – Frisky! Alex Rusenko and Nervous Nellie

This is week 13 of the 2015 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of u52ancestors-2015 Images blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy Johnson’s site at Amy’s website.

Irene Borucki is my 1st cousin 2x removed. Irene Borucki (1916-1998), is the daughter of Ignacy (Frank) Borucki and Alexandra Lipinska. I have never met any of my Borucki cousins. The connection was lost long ago. Recently released vital records from Michigan have filled in the branches on my family tree.

Since it is usually easier to search paternal lines, I hopscotched up Irene’s husband family tree. She married Theodore Rusenko in 1935. The family home was in Hamtramck, Michigan. A city of its own that lies within the borders of Detroit. A Polish conclave that still has the best Paczki or Polish doughnuts that I remember from my youth.

This story is about Theodore’s father, Alex Rusenko. Irene and Theodore’s marriage license provided the names of the groom’s parent. Using Ancestry.com, I found the usual census, city directories, border crossings, and war registration records. The 1930 census indicated that Alex and his first wife Barbara Zawadzki were divorced.

A border crossing from on July 13, 1927 provided a curious and amusing observation. Seems that Alex crossed over from Detroit with a new wife before his divorce was final with Barbara. The passenger list doesn’t say if Alex was coming from a port outside of the US or if he took a quick visit to Windsor, Ontario. Alex Rusenko 1927 Detroit Border Crossing Manifest

The new wife’s name is recorded on the front as Nellie. On the back of the card, it is listed as Helen. In remarks section an amusing statement written by the inspector. “This man claims Helen to be his wife and admits not being legally divorced from his first wife Barbara.”

Nellie Rusenko’s manifest card from the same crossing implies that she previously arrived in the US in 1913. It is possible that the two crossed over the Detroit River into Canada for some reason. The home address listed on both cards is, 2330 Avaline (correct street name is, Evaline). The occupant listed for that address in the 1927 Detroit City Directory is Joe Dziurlikowski. This mysterious Nellie may have boarded at this address. Nellie Rusenko 1927 Detroit Border Crossing Manifest

Barbara Rusenko was granted her divorce on July 20, 1927. Eight years later, Alex Rusenko marries Louise Holjnacki, on February 12, 1935. The witnesses to the marriage, are Anna Stepchinko and Helena Gronkowski. Was Helena the woman he supposedly married before? Or, did he help a woman named Nellie/Helen enter the USA?

Alex Rusenko, born in Austria of Ukrainian descent, died 21 April 1978, in Warren, MI.

Source Citations

“Michigan, Detroit Manifests of Arrivals at the Port of Detroit, 1906-1954,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-21617-37015-76?cc=1916040 : accessed 30 March 2015), Ruselvan, Barbara – Samet, Isaac > image 10 of 7977; citing NARA microfilm publication M1478 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

“Michigan, Detroit Manifests of Arrivals at the Port of Detroit, 1906-1954,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-21598-46402-30?cc=1916040 : accessed 30 March 2015), Rayment, Cortland B. – Renoud, Joseph A. > image 7370 of 7933; citing NARA microfilm publication M1478 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

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#52Ancestors: Week 11 – Uncle Eddy – A Bigamist or a Serial Marrier

This is week 11 of the 2015 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of u52ancestors-2015 Images blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy Johnson’s site at Amy’s website.

The State of Michigan recently released Marriage, Divorce, and Death Records from 1926 to 1952. I have several great aunts and uncles that needed tending to find spouses maiden names. I spent the past two nights plugging in various family names and hit the jackpot on a few.

 

The marriage index can be accessed at Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org (free). You’ll have to do a little digging at SeekingMichigan.org to find the death records from 1926-1952. Use “Advanced Search” and check the box for Death Records, 1921-1952 OCLC LOADING.

Uncle Eddy a Bigamist or Polygamist?

I started my search in the marriage records index on Ancestry with the Budny surname. When Uncle Edward Budny’s name came up twice and the marriages were only a year apart, I thought he was a bigamist. Then I recognized the third wife’s name and it was “Oh My!” Is Uncle Eddy a “serial marrier?”

Ancestry.com screenshot of Edward Budny's marriage index

Ancestry.com screenshot of Edward Budny’s marriage index

 

Now the first step in an analysis would be to check if these three Edwards were the same person. Then check to see if the person is your relative. I knew right off the bat that this was my Edward. The Budny surname is not common in Detroit. There are a few Budny families in the area. Strangely, none of the families were related to each other.

 

Uncle Eddy was not mentioned a lot in my house. We hardly ever saw him. I knew growing up that there was some type of back story to Eddy and no one talked about it. I knew he wasn’t married (anymore) and he had a daughter. My only strong memory of him is at my 16 birthday party that fell on the same day as Father’s day. It was a great fun day with Eddy, my grandfather, and my aunt’s father-in-law. Who are all Polish and telling tall tales for sure.

 

Ancestry’s pop-up view of the record showed the parents’ names. All three records for Edward Budny listed the same parents, Adam Budny and Mary Borucky (Borucki). Those two are the progenitors of my Budny line.

 

So…was Eddy a bigamist? No, he wasn’t. The Michigan Divorce Index through 1952 are listed at Ancestry. What a relief to see two divorce listings for Uncle Eddy. Even though I could see the marriage and divorce dates online, I had to write them down on paper just to double check that the marriages didn’t overlap.

Ancestry.com screenshot of Edward Budny's divorces listings

Ancestry.com screenshot of Edward Budny’s divorces listings

 

Edward married Lillian Connor first in August 1939. Their divorce is granted on 16 September 1940. The marriage must have a rocky start from the beginning. Six weeks after the divorce, Eddy marries Victoria Podgorski on 26 October 1940. Vitoria and Eddy’s divorce is final on 21 January 1942. The first marriage lasted 14 months, the second; 15 months.

 

Third Time is Not a Charm

 

Another walk down the aisle less than three months after his second divorce. Lois Castle becomes Eddy’s third wife on 11 April 1942. Maybe this marriage has a fighting chance. Eddy enlists in the Army in March 1943 and musters out November 1944. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so they say. The couple are still together in 1958 according to a city directory. A non-amicable divorce does occur sometime later. I think someone mentioned he had lady friends after his divorce. You know how family gossips.

Source:
http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=9093

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