Sometimes in family history research, so much time has passed since the last time a detail was fact checked that doubt makes me do a double take. That's where I am with my search for Aunt Rose right now. If she was my paternal grandfather's sister, why did she enter a different father's name on her marriage records than what I thought I had found for my grandfather?
As confusing as the name changes for my immigrant grandfather may have been, I was certain I never saw the name Julius listed on any of my grandfather's documents. Yet, that is what Aunt Rose gave—twice—on her applications for marriage license. Where did that name Julius come from?
Just to make sure, I pulled up the records I have found on my grandfather. For that task, I first needed to look far back in his timeline, since the name he used once his children were old enough to spot any changes was apparently not the name given when he was born.
Working my way backwards through time, I found my grandfather in the 1910 U.S. Census, living with his wife, their two children, and her parents, "Antone" and Mary Laskowski, in Brooklyn, New York. For that record, my grandfather's name was listed as Theodore J. Puhalski. Five years earlier, though, while living in the same household, the man's surname stretched out to be written "Puhalaski" and his given name morphed to Thomas for the 1905 New York State census. Birth records for each of his two children, which I have long since sent for, fashioned the surname as either Puhalski or Puchalski.
Yet, when a fortunate DNA match led me to a family researcher in Wisconsin—where, apparently, all the rest of Aunt Rose's maternal relatives had immigrated—she pointed me to a resource for transcribed records from Aunt Rose's homeland: the Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne, or Pomeranian Genealogical Association, PTG for short. While these were not the actual written records I would eventually need to consult, those transcriptions provided some helpful information.
In Rose's case, her 1872 baptismal record gave her name as Rosalia. Her mother, always listed as Anna in all the New York records where she appeared in Rose's household, was recorded as Anastasia. And Rose's father? His surname was given as Puchałła. Most important, though, was the absence of any appearance of the name of Julius. Rose's father's name was given as Thomas.
Cross checking to find the baptismal record for Rose's brother, I located a promising entry. In the same town, in 1876, there was an entry for a son named Theodor. Curiously, there was no entry for the father's name, but the mother was listed as Anastazya "Puchała ur. Zegarska." With "ur" being the Polish abbreviation for "urodzony" meaning "born," that entry seemed to suggest that the father was no longer present. Did he die? Or had he simply left, doubting he was the father of that child?
While I haven't been able to find any record of the man's death, I did confirm the couple's 1868 marriage in the bride's hometown of Czarnylas in Pomerania. The baptismal records for their children were filed in the nearby administrative district known as Lubichowo, and it is quite possible that, after their wedding, that is where the couple had settled.
Whether Rose's father had died or somehow separated himself from the family, it is apparent that Rose's mother Anna remarried, for in New York, she was listed in census records under the surname Krauss—at least, until the newspaper report of her suicide surfaced the entirely different surname of Kusharvski. If Rose's report of a father named Julius were correct, its source would have to be owing to the name of a step-father. And that leads to another question: were there any Krauss households in New York City which included a husband and wife duo named Julius and Anna?
Image above: Transcription of 1872 baptismal entry for Rosalia Puchałła courtesy of the Pomeranian Genealogical Association, and can be searched here.