Frank married three times and outlived two wives. By his photo he does not appear to be that handsome, but I suppose a coal miner in America was a good catch for the times. If the historical fiction “A Coal Miner’s Bride “by Susan Campbell Bartoletti has any truth, the old miners wanted a woman to care for them. Frank fathered many children so that would also account for his need to remarry when one wife passed on. I notice he has one eyelid that droops and my grandmother had the same affliction.
I have two different years for his birth 1855 and 1857 and have been unable to confirm which is correct. However, the date of November 11 is certain. This would make him and me fellow Scorpios. Perhaps on our next trip to PA I can visit the Union cemetery in Arnold where he is buried and that may clarify date of his death. I should hope it will not add yet another date.
Frank was born in Prussia or Germany to Franz Ostrowski and Catherine Biegonski. I surmise that his parents likely immigrated to America with the children, but there are no records of when and where they arrived. His sisters were Kate, Mary and Pauline who is recorded to have been born in Cleveland, and a brother Maryn John who died in 1869 in Poland and may not have migrated with the family.
Information shows his father was buried in Detroit, MI in 1893. His mother is buried in Cleveland, OH and died in 1910. That date makes me wonder if the mystery Ostrowski photo taken in Ohio which I dated at about 1910 could have been for Frank’s mother’s funeral; perhaps confirming some of what my mother alluded to of a funeral in Ohio. The research is flawed but I am nevertheless grateful to my 2nd cousin who attempted to piece all this together with infrequent trips to PA. Maxine lives in Utah today is in poor health and as a member of the LDS church had access to many records. Still, I know there are some errors in the lineage and names and am skeptical of some of the information; dates show as appx. Maxine spent some time interviewing my grandmother in the 1960’s. But I know that my grandmother could be evasive; many of the Polish relatives had this same trait. Whether they were untruthful to avoid attention I cannot determine. I know that they feared and respected government authority and as immigrants escaping tyrants or worse in Poland, they kept quiet about many things. Someone usually knew someone back in “the old country” though and kept in touch, frequently sending some cash along to help out.
Frank married his first wife Frances appx. 1877. Her last name is incorrectly recorded as my grandfather’s last name on the documents and I know that is wrong. She was born in Poland and died appx 1888 in PA. They had three children Joseph (born 1878 with a twin John who did not survive the birth), John (the second son to be so named born appx. 1882), and Benjamin Frank who was distinctly given the middle name (born 1883 appx.) Years ago when we lived in CA a previously unknown to me cousin, Sharon, granddaughter of Benjamin contacted me. When I asked my mother and aunt about this, they shrugged their shoulders. While they knew nothing about a grandfather they recalled their aunts and uncles and made no distinction of their being half brothers and sisters.
Frank’s second wife and my grandmother’s mother was Frances Swartz (aka Schwartz) whom he married about 1889. Frances came from Poland, was born in 1869, died in 1902 in PA. Sometime during this marriage they dropped the “w” from Ostrowski. They had five children although I recall my grandmother mentioning that some of her brothers died when very young; there is no record of others. These were Walter (born 1889 in Detroit, MI who went by Bill and changed the family name to Austin), Mary (born 1891 in Salamanca New York), Veronica Bernice (born 1892 in PA), and Rose (my grandmother born 1894) and Adam Maryan who died at birth in 1895 or shortly thereafter. My grandmother said he was her mother’s last child and did not live. I spent so much time with my grandparents I never called any of her sisters or brothers Great, they were aunt and uncle to me just like to my mother. Growing up I called them the Polish word for aunt, “czotczhe” (sp?). We spent many Sunday's across the river at Aunt Mary's. My grandmother was close to her sisters. Observing the different places the Ostrowski's moved before settling in PA, it appears Frank was following the mines. It was the heyday of coal mining in PA and that must have offered him steady employment.
Frank married his third wife, Helen Sajowksi (aka Sekoski) in 1905. Their only child was Frances born in 1906. She was always known as the baby sister without distinction as to half sister. Helen is seated next to Frank in the Ostrowski Ohio gathering photo along with many of his children from his other wives. Helen would survive Frank who died April 19, 1915 making him either 60 or 62 depending on which birth year is correct. Whether Frank fathered more than nine children is unknown but each wife seemed to give birth annually. How they traveled around from Michigan, to Ohio, to New York and to Pennsylvania is a mystery; I suspect it was by rail car. They certainly did not have vehicles to drive. His descendants are all over the eastern United States, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and on to Michigan and Ohio into Newfoundland, Canada and some in California. All my years in CA I never knew of any Ostroski relatives there. When I see the Ostrowski (Ostroski) name today I wonder if that is a shirttail relation. Writing this piece I googled and found many; one example is Frank, a "falseley accused murderer in Canada" released on bail to his daughter.
Click on the title Sepia Saturday to go the Sepia website and visit other posts from shared stories.