Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Case of the Missing Grandparent

‘The Case of the Missing Grandparent’ is a project that I recently worked on where the client only had three clues to his grandfather’s existence: 

John Wodarczyk died before 1936

His wife Mary died in 1948

The family lived in Erie, PA.

Not much to go on. Mary was easy, because she was listed in the Erie County Public Library’s obituary index. Her obit didn’t hold many clues, other than to say she was survived by nine children, all named in the obit, and that she was a widow. Drat, I hoped it would give her husband’s year of death. No such luck. 

Next, I checked the 1930 federal census and learned that Mary was a widow living at 1216 East 8th Street with seven of her children, whose names fit those listed in her obit.  Her youngest daughter was nine years old. This narrowed John’s year of death to sometime between 1921 and 1930. OK, that’s a reasonable time-frame. My next step was to check the Pennsylvania Death Index, which is a year by year listing of everyone who died in PA. No such luck.
Curiously, Mary Wodarczyk was not listed in the 1929 Erie City Directory. Hmmm. That’s strange. Maybe she moved to Erie after her husband died? I looked in the address section of the book for 1216 East 8th Street and found Mary Wlodarczyk, widow of John. BINGO! Back to the Pennsylvania Death Index to check for John Wlodarczyk. I scanned a few years of the index and learned that John died February 7, 1928.
The headline read, ‘No Inquest in Death of Man.’ This small article in the Erie Dispatch-Herald stated, “Funeral services for John Wodarczik, 53, 914 East Twelfth street, who died Tuesday night in St. Vincent’s hospital, will be held at 8:30 o’clock from the family residence...Wodarczik was survived by his widow and one son, both residing in Erie.” could this be the right man? The address did not match, nor did the number of children. The 1927 city directory clinched it, showing a John and Mary Wlodarczyk, and three of the children named in Mary’s obit. 
An obituary for John Wloborczyk of 914 E. 12th street appeared in the Erie Daily Times on Feb. 9, 1928. “According to reports, Wloborczyk had just returned home from work Tuesday night and was carrying some coal into the cellar when he fell from the top of the stairs and landed on his head at the bottom.” He died at Hamot hospital from a fractured skull. The children listed in his obit matched the names of Mary’s children listed in the 1930 census.

Despite the various spellings of the surname, I'm certain this is the right person based on the preponderance of evidence. The family should be able to trace their roots back to the old country with this new information.

When I was born my parents lived at 1157 East 8th Street (which is very close to 1216 East 8th St.) I drive by 914 East 12th Street (near where the Eastside Bayfront Connector crosses East 12th St.) every day on my way to work.
What genealogy case shall I work on next?

Enjoy more facts about Erie, Pennsylvania at Old Time Erie

1 comment:

  1. Nice work. I am researching Comis, DiSarros and Julianos in Erie. Seem to be relationships with the Scalise in Warren County as well, at least for the latter.