#52Ancestors Week 7 Theme: Favorite Discovery
I have been researching my husband’s lineage, the Pawlak and Lubinsky families, for a while and I have hit a lot of road blocks. This usually happens when I want to find records from Poland and Russia! I was working on the Elizabeth Lubinsky’s line one day and going through photos. I have seen this photo many times and so often wondered about the two unknown persons in the photo.
I wanted to find out who the two unknown people are in the picture – the young boy and young lady on the right. I had to start with what I knew already. I knew that the adults in the picture were Adam and Florence Stempkowski, the parents of the little girl who was Susan Stempkowski, the mother of Elizabeth Lubinsky. Susan was between two and three years old when the family immigrated from Poland and this picture was taken after their arrival in America.
Looking for clues, I found some on the back of the photo. On the back of the picture, Elizabeth wrote, “My mom (is) the little one in front; Grandmother, Grandfather & Uncle on right, I think his name was Constantine, Don’t know who the lady on right is, She might be a Kowalski..” Then she added on the bottom, “Constantine, I never knew him” Thank goodness, Elizabeth usually wrote notes on back of photos!
I had to assume that the boy was the son of Florence and Susan because she called him an “uncle” but I had never come across a Constantine in my research! I pulled out their 1900 Federal Census for Cumbola, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania where they lived in 1900. They immigrated from Poland about 1899 as noted on the 1920 census. In 1900, Adam was 36 and a coal miner and Florence was 30. The children listed were son “Custic” who was born 1888 and was 12 years old, daughter “Susie” born 1896 (Elizabeth’s mother), and daughter Bridget, four months old in 1900 born in Pennsylvania. Is “Custic” even a name? Also in the household was Mary Stempkowski, SISTER of Adam, who was 17 years old and born in Poland. Mary must be the young lady in the photo on the right and immigrated with her brother Adam! One mystery solved!
Skipping ahead to the 1910 and later census records, there were no further records of a Constantine or “Custic” or a Bridget or Mary Stempkowski! Bridget should have at least been in the 1910 Census as she would have been 10 years old. No records of Bridget’s death or burial have yet been found but I will keep looking. It is also not known if Mary Stempkowski married or died after 1900. One mystery solved always seems to lead to another! The 1910 Census listed, another son, Anthony who was eight years old and another daughter, Czeslawa (Celia) who was four years old along with Susanna (Susan). They were born in Pennsylvania.
Then my research to find this “Constantine” or “Custic” finally paid off – my favorite discovery so far for this family! I found a Polish birth record of Adam and Florence Stempkowski’s son dated 29 September 1888! His name was Michal Konstanty! Now I can’t read Polish but I could read enough to determine that this was their son and this was a birth record. Michal Konstanty was born in Warszawa, Radzanow, Mlawa, Masovia Poland according to the Church record. Now I had a name! Michal Konstanty was probably called Constantine in English. He is the young boy in the picture! His year of birth matched perfectly with the 1900 census information.
To find out what happened to him, I contacted my husband’s cousin who grew up in Pennsylvania and knew more about the family history. Family story has it that Michal Constanty went to work in the coal mine when he was about 16 years old. His parents had to sign for him to work there as he was underage. He was killed in a mine accident in about 1904-1905 when he would have been about 16-17 years old. How sad is that! That does explain why he was not in the 1910 Census. I have not found death or burial records yet as many records from small towns in Pennsylvania are not online but my search is just beginning. This photo is the only known photo of Michal Constanty!
To find a Polish birth record is a big discovery for me! As an added bonus, I found the marriage record of Adam Stempkowski and Florentyna Wysocka in the same church in Poland. I am hoping to someday have both the records translated into English but for now I am just happy to find them and to identify the two mystery people in the photo!
Sources: U.S. Federal Census; Year: 1900; Census Place: Cumbola, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0122; FHL microfilm: 1241482.
U. S. Federal Census; Year: 1910; Census Place: Blythe, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1416; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0007; FHL microfilm: 1375429.
Poland Marriage Records; Warszawa, Radzanow, Mlawa, Masovia, Church Records; Image: 173; FamilySearch; FHL microfilm: 101,615,527.
Poland Birth Records; Warszawa, Radzanow, Mlawa, Masovia, Church Records; Image: 67; FamilySearch; FHL microfilm: 101,615,452.