Showing posts with label Frank Ostrowski. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frank Ostrowski. Show all posts

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sepia Saturday 200 Rerun from Week 13 Frank Ostrowski

So here I sit at keyboard in Minnesota, USA looking back oh so fondly at how many years it has been since I first learned of and participated in Sepia posts. Sepia got me to blogging and researching my roots and afforded the way to use so many old photos. Now as we are celebrating our 200th week of Sepia posts, I have chosen my contribution from Week 13,  February 27, 2010.  I am excited about Alan's proposal to publish our collection into a volume for week 200. Here with very slight updating is  my Sepia Week 13 post about my great grandfather, Frank ( Francis) Ostrowski. 
Frank Ostrowski
Frank Ostrowski is my maternal great grandfather who was a coal  and sometimes iron ore miner in Poland, Prussia and in the United States. I knew my family was entirely Polish on all sides, (2013 note:but after submitting my DNA to Ancestry.com for analysis in 2012, I learned there is a very slight trace of Ireland or the British Isles as well, proof that the British Navy was everywhere in the world once.   I have found no connection to that Brit ancestry yet, despite periodic Ancestry.com suggestions of 8th or so cousins however many times removed).  However, I have learned a lot more since 2010 and my research indicates German, Prussian, and  Polish heritage matching with my study of  Poland's history that reveals how often it was invaded, conquered and annexed to another country.  Those Poles are a hearty stock though and do not go down without a  strong fight.

My grandmother and her sisters spoke Polish as did my mother and aunt; it was especially annoying to me as a child because I could not understand what they were saying. I know that was the reason they spoke it around me! But little by little I learned enough to eaves drop and discern the secrets.  I discovered Frank in 1977 when my great aunt Francie gave me the photo of the Ostrowski (aka Ostroskie) gathering which I posted last week on Sepia Saturday. I spent most of my childhood with my grandmother, Rose, Frank’s daughter from his second wife. How I wish I had known about him back then and could have asked my Baba (babacis in Polish) about her father. She talked very little about her family or else I paid little attention, but said that her father died of stomach cancer as did several others in the family; she feared that and sadly she died of pancreatic cancer and  diabetes; perhaps that was Frank’s diagnosis too.


Frank Ostrowski my maternal great grandfather
Coal miner, pick axe,  lantern hat and white shirt
After Aunt Francie gave me the gathering photo she also found this snapshot of Frank in his miner’s hat which I had copied and enlarged into a 5 x 7 Sepia print that has been prominently displayed in our home ever since.  It is a good conversation piece. My grandmother’s hand writing is on the back so at one time she had the photo but there is no date. I adore the old coal miner hat. Those were the most dangerous days of the mines and many Europeans flocked to the states to do the dangerous dirty work. My mother and aunt were of no help in verifying dates, saying that they never knew any grandparents but lots of aunts and uncles. Notice the clean shirt and the pick axe over his shoulder, arm crossed and holding hands with someone.  Likely this was not what he wore into the mine, but there must have been some special occasion to pose.  Someone really had to work at keeping that shirt clean and starched, back then, without today's automatic  washers and dryers.

Frank married three times and outlived two wives. By his photo he does not appear to be that handsome, but staunch, determined and I suppose an employed 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 in 2013 notice the same has happened to my right eyelid so that ultimately I will have to have that "fixed" or lifted..

The spelling of the name Ostrowski changes depending on who recorded it, Ostrowski, Ostroski, Ostroskie, etc.  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 making him my fellow Scorpio. 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. (2013:  Note several years ago we visited the Union cemetery; the office building was not open but there was a note on the door that if one wished to locate a grave submit a letter in writing and pay a fee of $15 or more and allow several months.  We tried roaming and found some  caretakers who directed us to the area known as Polish hill, far in the back, with few gravestones, quite over grown with shrubs, etc.  No luck finding Frank's grave.  I suppose one of these days I will send that letter and the fee and wait and wait.  This is a strange thing as most older cemeteries are very helpful at no cost and willingly look in their records.) 

Frank was born in Prussia, Poland or Germany to Franz Ostrowski and Katazinea (Kor Catherine) Biegonski. who likely immigrated to America with the children, but the records of when and where they arrived are sketchy. His sisters were Kate, Mary and Pauline who is recorded to have been born in Cleveland, and a brother Maryn John. It is possible that they came through Canada, but I have hit a block wall with that as well.

Information shows Franz was buried in Detroit, Michigan in 1893 and Catherine died in 1910 and is buried in Cleveland, Ohio.  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. ( I used that photo last week for my Sepia contribution; here is the link  http://patonlinenewtime.blogspot.com/2010/02/sepia-saturday-mystery-ostrowski.html  )While some of her research is flawed, I am 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 but as a member of the LDS church had access to many records. Still, I know she had some errors in the lineage and names and am skeptical of some of the information where dates show as "appx."   Maxine spent some time interviewing my grandmother in the 1960’s, but I know that my grandmother could be evasive as  were many of the Polish.  Whether they were untruthful to avoid attention or sometimes could not understand the questions,  I cannot determine. I know that they feared and respected government authority and as immigrants escaping tyrants or worse in Poland, or the old country, 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 maternal grandfather’s last name on the documents so 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 Sharon, a cousin I had not previously known, 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 who was 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 off and on. 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 1899 or shortly thereafter. My grandmother said he was her mother’s last child and did not live. I never referred to any of her sisters or brothers as "Great" they were all aunt and uncle to me; I  called them the Polish word for aunt, “czotczhe”.
Helen Sajikowski aka Sekoski, Frank's 3rd
and last wife

Frank married his third wife, Helen Sajowksi (aka Sekoski) in 1905. Their only child was Frances born in 1906 and was always known as the baby sister. Helen is seated next to Frank in the Ostrowski Ohio gathering, the photo I shared last week.  Helen would survive Frank who died April 19, 1915 making him either 60 or 62 depending on which birth year is correct.  My grandmother was fond of her step mother Helen and spoke well of her.   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 own vehicles to drive. Tracing the different places the Ostrowski's moved from Salamanca area of New York, Michigan and Ohio before settling in Pennsylvania,  it appears Frank was following the mines in the heyday of coal mining; some how Pennsylvania must have offered him steady employment because he set roots there and his children did so as well. It was hard dirty work that the immigrants took on.  Today, his descendants are all over the eastern United States, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and on to Michigan and Ohio into Newfoundland, Canada as well as some in California. All my years living in California I was never aware of any Ostrowski relatives there. (2013 note:  A few years ago another contacted me from southern California where she still resides.  They spell the last name Ostroskie).  When I see the Ostrowski (Ostroski) name today I wonder if that is a shirt tail relation. Writing this piece I googled and found many; one example is Frank, a "falsely accused murderer in Canada" released on bail to his daughter. 


Coalfield in Pennsylvania, father,  Frank and son , John
Finally here is the last photo I have of Frank with his son, John. I found this in a drawer after my mother died in 2004. The back has the names and says "coalfield", but no date. My grandmother told that she learned to cook as a very young girl because her father was skinny but ate like a horse and said that her daughter, my aunt, Virginia took after him. Not all Frank’s progeny were as lean as this photo where Frank is poking John’s belly! John who was born in 1882 must be at least  20 years old here which would date this to 1902. I can only imagine what was being said.  But there he is my great grandfather, Frank Ostrowski, I wish I could have known him or learned more when my grandmother was alive. 
Click here to travel across the pond to the    http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.com/2013/10/sepia-saturday-200-26-october-2013.html   Sepia website and visit other posts from shared stories.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sepia Saturday 13 for February 27, 2010

Frank ( Francis) Ostrowski 1855 appx--1915 
Frank Ostrowski is my maternal great grandfather who was a coal  and sometimes iron ore miner in Poland and in the United States. I grew up knowing the family was full Polish on all sides, but some ancestral research indicates German, Prussia, etc. My study of the history of Poland reveals how often it was invaded conquered and became part of another country. My grandmother and her sisters spoke Polish as did my mother and aunt; it was especially annoying as a child because I could not understand what they were saying. I know that was the reason they spoke it around me! I discovered Frank in 1977 when my great aunt Fran gave me the photo of the Ostrowski (aka Ostroskie) gathering which I posted last week on Sepia Saturday. I spent most of my childhood growing up with my grandmother, Rose, Frank’s daughter from his second wife. How I wish I had known about him back then and could have asked my Baba (Polish) about her father. She talked very little about her family but said that her father died of stomach cancer and that there were several others in the family who had it too. She feared that and sadly she died of pancreatic cancer; perhaps that was Frank’s diagnosis too.

After Aunt Fran gave me the gathering photo she found this snapshot of Frank in his miner’s hat which I had copied and enlarged into a 5 x 7 Sepia print. It has always been prominently displayed in our home and is a good conversation piece. My grandmother’s hand writing is on the back so at one time she had the photo but there is no date. I adore the old coal miner hat. Those were the most dangerous days of the mines and many Europeans flocked to the states to do the dangerous dirty work. My mother and aunts were of no help in verifying dates, saying that they never knew any grandparents but lots of aunts and uncles. Notice the clean shirt and the pick axe over his shoulder, arm crossed and holding hands with someone.  Someone really had to work at keeping that shirt clean and without today's automatic  washers and dryers. 

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. 

Finally here is the third photo of Frank with his son, John. I found this in a drawer after my mother died in 2004. The back has the names and says coalfield, but no date. My grandmother told that she learned to cook as a very young girl because her father was skinny but could eat like a horse and said that her daughter, my aunt, Virginia took after him. Not all Frank’s progeny were as lean as this photo where Frank is poking John’s belly! John who was born in 1882 must be at least  20 years old here which would date this to 1902. Imagine what was being said here, but there he is my great grandfather, Frank Ostrowski.

Click  on the title Sepia Saturday to go the Sepia website and visit other posts from shared stories.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sepia Saturday February 20

Ostrowski (aka Ostroski) my maternal grandmother’s family appx. 1910 Mystery gathering




Preparing this for Sepia Saturday reminded me how difficult my genealogical research has been. I must get some of this organized to share with whoever from the next generation might be interested. I have been asked to send what I have to the Mroz adult children of my cousin Roland who died in Madison in October. My Polish history becomes complicated due to the various spellings of the names. This happened all too commonly with the immigrants. It was Ostrowski, also spelled as Ostroski, Ostroskie, depending on who singed and wrote their name. In addition many changed their names to a more accepted Americanized version as my uncle did by changing Kochanowski to Konesky; some even changed their first names to something very different, for example, Walter became known as Bill. I suppose part of this was by reason of wanting to be accepted, to fit in.  Yet life was extrememly segregated by ethnic heritage.  Another curious name game in my family is the repetitive use of the same name within families. This happened with Helen, Frank and Francis, Frances, and John. It must have been comical at a family event when they called for John and three boys responded!


In about 1977, before she died, my Great Aunt Frances, my (maternal) grandmother’s baby sister gave me this photo. She is seated on the ground, in this photo, between the two boys, second person from the left with a big bow or flower in her hair. I knew that she was the youngest of my grandma’s family of sisters and brothers. But until she began to talk about the photo, I did not know that her father, my great grandfather, Frank Ostrowski had three wives two of whom he outlived. She knew nothing about where it was taken or why. But this photo is the only such of a gathering of the Ostrowski clan to my knowledge.



Great Aunt Frances was born in 1906, which makes me guess that her age is about four in the photo which then dates this to about 1910. She married a Mroz. I tried for years to identify all the relatives. Neither my mother nor my aunts were able to identify all the people or why the photo was taken. I know which ones are my grandmother and her sisters and brothers, all standing in the back, young folks, some forcing a straight face. My grandmother’s sister, Mary has such a twinkle in her eye that it appears hard for her to look grim. I always remember this about Great Aunt Mary; she was a happy soul, full of laughter. Actually most of my grandmother’s relatives were jovial people, who enjoyed what little they had and certainly reveled in each other’s company.



My mother speculated this photo was taken in Ohio at a funeral that was a family scandal, something no one talked about. I don’t know how she knew that if she knew little else. It was the end of the conversation in her kitchen in PA during one of my visits home, as she walked away leaving me to my thoughts and to accept her explanation. My mother died of Alzheimer’s in 2004 and I believe that she had early symptoms which we did not recognize. So who knows if her comment was from dementia or truth? I accepted that as closed conversation. That was a prevalent way to deal with questions in my family, no one talked about anything. If they didn’t speak it or repeat it, it didn’t happen. I don’t know if all immigrant families had this same way of dealing with life, but my Polish family kept things to themselves. There is a Polish proverb about not speaking of misfortune so that the devil does not gain an open door to enter and bring in more trouble. I suspect the immigrants were cautious of discussions and suspicious as most of them had fled Poland to escape oppression. I am different and want to know and tell our stories. Too bad that as a child I didn’t pay more attention. I wonder what might have been the scandal worthy of stoic silence in this mystery photo. By the time I received this photo, my grandmother and all her sisters and brothers were long gone so there is no one to ask.



Great Grandfather Frank Ostrowski is seated in the middle row, third from the left. His third wife who is Great Aunt Fran’s mother, Helen Sekoski (aka Sajikowski) is 2nd from the left next to him. Frank (aka Franz) Francis Ostrowski is a story unto himself what I have learned about him in research. He immigrated from Poland and made his living as a coal miner in PA.



Here are the folks I know for sure:

Seated on the ground on what appears to be carpet, the front row: 2nd from left between 2 unidentified boys, Great Aunt Fran Ostrowski Mroz; after the 2nd boy, in a plaid dress with her hair parted in the middle is Annie Ostrowski Kaluzney and Gorleski, my grandmother’s cousin, unknown child next to her. Notice that none of these kids look very happy!



Second row from the left: Unknown woman, next to her, 2nd woman is Helen Sekoski, then Great Grandfather Frank, unknown couple, the people in the rest of the row are unidentified but I suspect Annie’s mother may be seated right behind her.



Third (Back) row from the left: (most are my grandmother Rose’s sisters, brothers, full or half siblings; progeny of Franks first two wives)  I have included the married names of the women.



Joseph John Ostrowski (surviving Twin whose brother died shortly after birth), unknown woman, we speculate that might be Katherine Buhl whom Joseph married; she resembles the woman at the end left in the second row, John Martin Ostrowski; Bill (nee Walter F) Ostrowski who changed his last name to Austin, unknown man, Mary Ostrowski Janosky, unknown man with his arm through my grandmother’s arm, My grandmother Rose Ostrowski Kochanowski, unknown man, Veronica (aka Vernie) Ostrowski Roginski, Ben (nee Bernard John) Ostrowski, Ben’s wife-Anna Boguzinska Ostrowski and their first born Walter (Louie).



There you have it the Mystery gathering. In 2002, my research led a previously unknown cousin to me. That was interesting as we pieced together different pieces of the puzzle of the Ostrowski clan. Today I have not heard from Sharon in months as she has not returned emails or answered her phone when we are in PA. Not sure what is going on with her. I have genealogy which traces Frank Ostrowski’s line to Poland in the 1300’s supplied by another 2nd cousin, Maxine, in Utah. Complicated strings of Polish links.

& here is link to the Sepia Sat site, I hope, if you would like to see others tales and  photos
http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.com/2010/02/sepia-saturday-week-12.html