Magdalena Laskowski Jochim (Week 1)

I’m a big fan of well-written historical fiction.  It’s how I learn history.  No dates or names to memorize just characters to meet.  I’ve been searching for a historical fiction title that tells me a little bit more about the history of Poland since I am clueless about the country’s leaders and peoples prior to WWII.   I found the book titled Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin. I’m about half way done with the book and I’ll save my review for later; however, each chapter of the book starts with a Polish Proverb.  It was the proverb found in the Prologue that prompted me to write about my ancestor Magdelena Laskowski Jachim.

Wherever you go,
you can never leave yourself behind.
–Polish Proverb

Magdalena Laskowski Jachim was born in Liverpool, England about 1874, the daughter of Michael and Katherine Laskowski.  She married Josef Jachim (also spelled Yockem) in Liverpool in 1889 and they emigrated to the United States in 1893.

This clipping shows the Yockem (Jachim) family arriving in the United States via the port of Philadelphia in April of 1893,  They are traveling to meet Maggie's sister Frances Wrabel in Chicago.

This clipping shows the Yockem (Jachim) family arriving in the United States via the port of Philadelphia in April of 1893, They are traveling to meet Maggie’s sister Frances Wrabel in Chicago.

Even though Magdalena was born in Liverpool, England,  I consider her a Polish ancestor.  According to my research, her parents left Poland shortly after her oldest sister Frances was born in Poland.  The family lived in the neighborhood of Toxteth Park in Liverpool for approximately 20 years as Polish immigrants.

This photo was taken at her granddaughter Clara Cygan’s wedding to Frank Koranda.  My father only remembers a brief visit to his great grandmother Magdalena’s home even though she lived until the age of 75 passing away in August of 1949 when he was seven years old  She is buried in St. Adalbert’s cemetery in the town of Niles in Cook County, Illinois.


I’m Stuck

The search for the two Frank Cygan’s has put me over the edge.  The Frank Cygan with the birthdate that matches the Polish baptismal records, unfortunately lists his birthplace as Illinois on every document I find of him.  Grrr.  Now I know that he may have fibbed a bit to the census taker and to the draft board, but I’m not anywhere near closer to being able to prove he is a brother to my great grandfather Nicholas Cygan.

So I’m putting him aside for awhile. 

And I’m moving on.   And since I have nothing better to do (laundry, dishes, etc.) to do, I’ve decided to play around with Chicago church records.

Wish me luck!

The search for Frank Cygan (part 2)

In order to prove I’m right about the “Grandma Cygan” photos, I decided to do some cluster genealogy and try to track down any siblings of my great-grandfather Nicholas Cygan.

I first learned of Frank Cygan, a brother to my great-grandfather Nicholas Cygan from Nicholas’ obituary published in the Dziennik Chicagoski on December 5, 1939.  Here is a translation of the obituary:

All relatives and friends to announce the sad news that beloved mazmoj. our father and my dziakdek Nize ours, the late Mikolaj Cygan.

pozegnai from this world, opatrozony s sacraments, on December 3rd, 1939 at 6tej morning, middle-aged.

The funeral will take place in Strode, on the 6th of December, at 9:30 in the morning, the house of mourning PNR. 4437 S. California Ave., To the church pp Poles five brothers and martyrs and from there to the cemetery of St Adalbert.

On this sad ritual to invite all relatives and friends, enveloped in a heavy grief:

Marianna, his wife, Helen, John, Clara and Czeslaw, children, Robert Raymond, grandson, Raymond Welsch, in-law, Violet (nee Sellhorn), daughter in law, Francis and Marianne Cygan, brother and sister-in-law, Joseph and Magdalena Jochim, tesciewie; Joseph Stankowski, Joseph and Helen Thomas and Catherine and Henry Jochimovie, brother-and szwagierki, together with the whole family.

Zajmujma funeral Joseph Pacholski and Son, 2620 W. 47th Street is. Phone 4228 Lafayette

I than came across a Frank Cygan when I found both Nicholas and Frank living together at 2017 W. 17th Street on the Cook County Clerk of Courts Naturalization website  (Here’s a hint for that site:  type your known ancestors address into the current address field, and see who comes up!  This is how I found Frank.)

That Frank Cygan listed his date of birth as February 10, 1888 and that he too was from Borowa, Poland.

I then searched for Frank Cygan with this date of birth and discovered a naturalization record where he listed his birthdate as February 10, 1888 and his address as Talman Ave.  And that’s when I thought I had him.

Frank Cygan naturalization index

1930 Census for Frank Cygan, Talman Ave.

But there’s another Frank Cygan that’s been lurking around (also with a wife Mary) and I’m beginning to wonder….

The search for Frank Cygan (part 1)

Helen Cygan with Grandma Cygan.

It all started about a year ago.  I recieved the following pictures from a distant cousin of my father’s.  The 1st photo states that it is a photo of “Helen Cygan with Grandma Cygan.”  I am assuming that this photo was taken when Helen was about 18 years old, or about 1929.

Antonette Koranda, Magdalene Jochim, Mary Cygan

The next photo is a photo that was taken in 1941 at my grandmother’s wedding shower.  My dad actually had a copy of this photo as well so he was able to identify the three ladies.  From left to right, Antonette Koranda, Magdeline Jochim and Mary Cygan.  Mary Cygan is the mother of Helen.

This is where it becomes complicated.   My father and his cousins, while never seeing the photo of Helen and her grandmother before, claim that the “Grandma Cygan” in the 1st photo is the same woman as Mary Cygan in the second photo.  

I don’t believe them. I do not believe the woman in the picture is Helen’s mother.  No way, no how.  And there’s a few reasons.  #1…the back of the photo reads “Helen and Grandma Cygan”.  Knowing that the photo actually came from Helen’s descendents, I believe that Helen was the one to write on the photos.  (She died young and her children would NOT have know who Helen’s grandmother was).  If Helen was in fact the author, she would have wrote Helen and Mom.  I also think the woman in the 1st photo is older than 38 years old (if Helen is 18 in the photo).

Here’s more proof.  Another photo of “Grandma Cygan”  This time the photo reads “Chester with Grandma Cygan”. (Chester is Helen’s brother).

And so here’s my dilema.  If this woman is not Mary Cygan, the mother of Helen and Chester, than who is she?  If she is “Grandma Cygan”, then she is the mother of Nicholas Cygan, my great grandfather.  And I never expected to find a photo of her.  I assumed she never left Poland.

In that case, this “Grandma Cygan” in these photos would be my great, great grandmother from Poland.

In order to verify the identity of this woman, I must research and document the Cygan family and hopefully find proof that #1 Grandma Cygan left Poland and/or #2 another Cygan descendant knows the identity of this woman.

And that is why I’m looking for Frank Cygan.

Please let me know what you think.   Do you think these photos are of the same woman? Here’s one more photo of Mary Cygan, so that you have a better photo of her (she’s the 1st woman on the left…in 1941)

Mary Cygan, Magdeline Jachim, Antonette Koranda

St. Adalber’s Films Ordered

Today I ordered microfilm from the LDS church on the burial records of St. Adalbert’s Cemetery in Niles, Illinois.  I’m hoping to find some additional information on the burial of my great-grandfather Mikolaj (Nicholas) Cygan.  Specifically, I’m hoping to find out if he is buried in a family plot, and if so, who he is buried with.  I am hoping that he is buried with his son, Alfred, who died in September of 1917 at the age of 18 months from Gastroenteritis.

It is interesting to note that little Alfred died during the month of one of the worst outbreaks of polio in Chicago as seen by this Chicago Health Dept. Report found while searching Google Books.  How scary this time must of been for my great-grandparents.  Imagine having three children in the house under the age of 5 and the deadly disease infantile paralysis (polio) spreading like wildfire between siblings, cousins, and neighborhoods.

My dad does not recall my grandmother Clara ever talking about Alfred.   Of course,  Clara came after Alfred.  In fact, my great-grandmother Mary Jockem Cygan would have been 8 months pregnant with Clara when she lost her son Alfred.

Someday maybe I’ll find a picture of Alfred. This is why I search.  To honor those who may have been forgotten if not for my research.

Frank Cygan

I am lucky enough to have a polish obituary for my great grandfather Mikolaj Cygan.  He died in December of 1939 and the obituary lists a sibling Frank Cygan and sister-in-law Maryanna Cygan.  I’ve had this obituary for a few years but was never able to positively identify which of the many Frank Cygan’s of Chicago was my great, great uncle.  However, last week, I discovered that on the Cook County Naturalization website, you can search the declarations  by address only.  So I searched for the same address of Mikolaj’s entry and there he was…Mr. Frank Cygan, occupation Tailor.  Shortly after he declared his intention to become a U.S. cititzen, he married Maryanna Ludwin Kozlik.  Here they are in the 1920 census:

Scanning Sunday

Sunday is supposed to be “Sentimental Sunday” but instead I’m following the idea of the Family History Fun blog in order to motivate myself to scan the many historical photos I have.

So today I scanned about fifteen photos of my grandparents wedding.

Frank Koranda and Clara Cygan were married  July 1, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois.  Clara was lucky enough to have her mother (Mary Jochim) and grandmother (Magdelina Laskowski) attend her wedding.  They are photographed with Frank’s mother Antoinette Liska Koranda.

The other two photos are from the interior of the church.  I’m posting them hoping that someone will be able to identify the inside of the church as I’m unable to find where they were married.  The photographers of the event were “Candid Photographers Co. of Berwyn”.   

Surname Saturday

As part of my new blog, I will be trying to following the daily blogging theme posted by Geneabloggers in order to help me publish some of the great genealogy finds I have come across. Today is Surname Saturday so I will begin my blog with my current research interest the CYGAN family.

My maternal grandmother Clara CYGAN was born on October 31, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois.  She was the third child of Nicholas (Mikolag) and Mary Yockem Cygan.

What is interesting about this birth certificate is that it is a delayed birth certificate.  Her mother completed the birth certificate on September 29, 1926 when Clara would have been nine years old.  At the time of Clara’s birth the family was living at 2017 W. 17th street and at the time of the birth certificate the family was living at 4538 S. California.   You may also notice that there is some discrepancy of how many children Clara’s mother has had.  She lists herself as the mother of 4 children with 1 being listed as born alive but now dead.   Another research mystery to solve.