Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Swing and a Miss

I haven't done much out-in-the-field research in a while. From time to time I'll jump on Ancestry and have a look around to see if there're any new databases to check out, but that's about it. Today I took a drive up to Lansing to the Library of Michigan to look up some vital records. As I've been pulling my notes and documents together for my novel writing project I've come across a few bits of missing information that I'd like to fill in. Today's trip to the library was for that purpose. Here's what I have and what I'm missing:

  • Catherine LIPA died April 4, 1887 according to a cemetery record. The record doesn't list the name of the parents, what the cause of death was, or the name of the parish or funeral home. The child's age is listed as 3. There is no gravestone or it has sunken (the cemetery record doesn't tell that either).
    • I wanted a birth record to discover the parents' names (hopefully to confirm Szymon and Ludwika LIPA as parents) and get an exact birth date.
    • I wanted a death certificate to confirm that the Catherine LIPA buried in the cemetery was the daughter of Szymon and Ludwika LIPA.
  • John (Jan) LIPA was born January 25, 1886 according to the church baptismal registry. He died March 29, 1887 according to a cemetery record. The cemetery record doesn't list the name of the parents, what the cause of death was, or the name of the parish or funeral home. The child's age is listed as 1. There is no gravestone or it has sunken.
    • I wanted a birth record just to have a second source of information for the birth.
    • I wanted a death certificate to confirm that the John LIPA buried in the cemetery was the son of Szymon and Ludwika LIPA.
  • On the 1900 and 1910 census records, Szymon LIPA is recorded as naturalized.
    • I wanted a copy of his naturalization papers.
Here's what I found at the library: nothing.

I went through the pertinent microfilms for the indexes of births for the state of Michigan, county of Wayne but couldn't find a birth record for either Catherine or John LIPA. I combed the indexes from 1882 - 1889 and the only LIPA surname I found was for their sister Sophia who was born in 1888. I know from city directory listings that the family was living here from 1886 until 1916. They immigrated to the U.S. in 1881 (port of Philadelphia) but I don't know where they were from 1881 until 1886. They could have been in Detroit but I can't prove it.

I went through the pertinent microfilms for the indexes of deaths for the state of Michigan, county of Wayne but couldn't find a death record or either Catherine or John LIPA, or anyone else with LIPA surname either. I searched 1881 - 1889, but no luck.

I went to the state archives, asked for help, looked through the circuit court and federal court indexes for naturalizations for Wayne County, Michigan for all the dates they suggested and found nothing. Not one single LIPA let alone my great grandfather Szymon.

One... two... three strikes I'm out in this old, ball, game! (Better me than the Tigers! Go Tigers!)

2 comments:

  1. Your Tigers will do better once they play somebody.

    Were there church records for baptisms or burials for the children? Do you know what church they attended - from the directories or other info?

    Cheers -- Randy

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  2. Ah, good questions Randy. The answer is yes and no. I know that John LIPA was baptized at St. Albertus Church which is a bit of a mystery given that the church was ordered closed by decree of interdiction Dec. 4, 1885 and wasn't reopened until June 24, 1887 (3 months after the 2 children died). It was a very tumultous time for the parish and the Polish neighborhood, which is one of the reasons I've chosen to set my novel in this place and time ;-) My notes are sketchy but you can roughly follow the timeline of events on my other blog: thesearemypeople.wordpress.com .

    I may have to do some looking around for the records at other parishes but it will be a bit of a guessing game. St. Albertus was the only Polish church on that side of town at the time. There was one other Polish church across town that is a possibility as well as one German parish that might be a possibility. Beyond that it becomes a needle in a haystack sort of thing. We'll see how much more time for research I can fit in before the Nov. 1st deadline.

    BTW The family immigrated in 1881 but don't show up in the city directories until 1886. It's possible they were in Detroit all that time (my other grandparents didn't show up in the city directories the first few years they were in the city either) or it's possible that they lived somewhere else in the U.S. for a few years and didn't relocate to Detroit until 1886. I can't find any records of them for the years 1881-1886.

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