15 December 2013

I found my uncle!

My great grandparents - Panko & Bessie Hruszczak - had a child in 1916 in Coatesville, Chester County, PA. The child died of pneumonia on 13 October 1918. I have been searching for proof of this child for years. My grandfather (born in January 1917) told me he had an older brother who had died before the next brother (with the same name) was born in 1919.

Since he born and died between censuses, he was never listed on them. Both my great grandparents are buried at our church's cemetery (Holy Ghost Ukrainian Cemetery in Valley Township, Chester County, PA) so I tried there. The caretaker said there were no babies from back then. That was before our cemetery was formed he thought.

I found my first written proof of the child finally thanks to the US military! Panko registered for the World War I Draft, like many men of age, in 1917. The form asks about family and he listed a wife and one child. This would have been months before my grandfather was born so I finally has proof that this child really did exist!

Our cemetery caretaker (in a later conversation) did suggest I call the "Polish Cemetery" since many of our early parishioners were buried up there. I called the priest at St. Stanislaus Church since the cemetery records are maintained at the church office there. While waiting to connect with him, I also received a letter from my grandfather's sister (the last of them alive) who remembered driving her mother "up the Polish Cemetery" where she would visit the child's grave.  (Note: Cemetery photo is from Find A Grave and was taken by an Anne Kirk)

Pennsylvania was one of the hardest hit states when the influenza epidemic hit in 1918-1919. I spoke with a local funeral director who said the outbreak took so many so fast that often records were not kept well at the cemeteries, especially with babies and young children. The priest at St Stan's agreed. He said the church records show no record of my uncle (and yes, we tried many variations of the name) being buried there. He did mention that there is a "babies section" where many young were buried at that time.

Well ... This past week, I finally got the child's death certificate!

The child's name (which I had thought to be Theodore) is JEBOR. The birthdate is simply listed as 1916. Jebor died on 13 October 1918. The physician had attended him for only the day prior. The cause of death was Croupous Pneumonia.

The death certificate also confirms that the burial was at St Stanislaus Cemetery. The undertaker was Herbert C Ford of Coatesville. The attending physician was Charles H Stowe, MD of Coatesville.

It does list Bessie's maiden name incorrectly but everything else fits. Her maiden name was Matys so it is feasible that my great grandfather was speaking (he did not write/read English at this point I think) and someone else wrote it.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.