finding my father's family...
For my birthday, I got a subscription to Ancestry.com. I searched for and found some of my father’s paternal side of the family. People he never knew existed because of his screwed-up childhood. I have reached out to them and have heard back from one of them. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know the details behind my father’s bio-dad. He was not yet born when my dad’s mom passed away and his dad was removed from the Polish household. He says his brother knows, but I have yet to hear anything back from him.
(update 6/22/2017: Got a phone call from the brother that is supposed to know some of the family story. He left a voicemail. I plan to call him on Monday while I wait for the carpet measure guy. I am pretty happy that he called and I have to get my thoughts together as to what I will ask him).
In the meantime, in the stacks of my mother’s things, I have the cemetery card for her mom with a note about the grave location of her dad. I knew that in mid-June our team at work would be heading down to Detroit for a volunteer event at Gleaner’s Food Bank, near the location of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, so while we were down there I thought I would pay a visit and check out the gravesite.
I started preparing for my visit. I looked on-line for the cemetery and found that they have a genealogy tab. This is great! I could type in a last name and a date range and find their gravesite. So, I figured I would check my dad’s side as well and found his mom and his grandparents. I was excited that I would be able to visit all of them and surprised at the proximity of each of them to each other.
The area around Mt. Olivet is a little sketchy with abandoned homes and businesses but the cemetery itself is still in great shape. Once inside, I had no fear and felt very safe.
Armed with the information I had, I thought I would venture out on my own and try to find them. I asked the guard in the guard shack if she could help me with the location of a certain section. She pointed me in the right direction. I found that right off the bat I would not be able to find the specific graves without some help from the ladies in the office.
The office was beautiful and I was surprised at the number of people that were working in the office. The lady that waited on me pulled some charts out from a file cabinet and then she went on her computer to find out the exact location and some other details, such as what type of headstone to look for – was it a “flush to the ground” headstone, one that stood up off the ground, a small headstone or one that covered the entire grave, was it a monument or finally, was there even a headstone.
And then I was sent out into this huge expanse to do a bit of a scavenger hunt for the graves. The office lady told me to look for the monuments to figure out where my relatives were located.
One thing was clear from the start, whoever drew up these charts did not have the correct spelling of some family names. Later, my husband looked closely at the charts and it had been a long time since they were last updated ~1959. Not that it matters when they were last updated, but nowadays they could put these on CAD and if there’s a discrepancy pointed out, they could fix it right away. You could then put these charts on-line under the cemeteries Genealogy tab and make it interactive – put other information in there as well. Lots of data – you can never have too much data, right?
So, I found my dad’s maternal grandparents (my paternal great-grandparents), who had adopted him in ~1936. That’s when my father’s last name changed from Pallister to Koszewski.
Section 28, Lot 270, Space 2
My paternal great-grandfather
|JoAnna (Jennie) (Kowalewski) Koszewski|
Section 28, Lot 270, Space 1
My paternal great-grandmother
They were in a shared gravesite, with full-length ledger markers. I was surprised about a couple of things – her name as I have always heard it to be was Jennie. The name on the grave was JoAnna. Also, my grandfather re-married shortly after Jennie’s death, so I guess they purchased their plot well before either of them died.
Next I went to find my mother’s parents (my maternal grandparents). They were not in the same section as each other. I’m not sure why. I guess they didn’t buy a shared plot as they probably were not prepared for death - my grandmother died of cancer in her 50’s.
|Alphonse Raymond DeBuysscher|
Section 32, Lot 43, Space 12
My maternal grandfather
Plus, my grandfather re-married shortly after Clementine’s death, so I thought that maybe his new wife would have shared a gravesite with him. But no, it seems he also was buried on his own. They both had headstones that were grade level, flat grave markers. Clementine’s name was misspelled; Clemantine. I’ll have to check her passport and other documents to make sure.
|Clementine (Peleman) DeBuysscher|
Section 30, Tier 30, Space 1064
My maternal grandmother
I then went to find my dad’s mom (my paternal grandmother). She died when he was young. My dad was 3 years old, she was 23. The office lady had mentioned that one of my relatives did not have a headstone. That would be my dad’s mom. She died in 1934, so perhaps because of the depression, the family couldn’t afford a headstone.
|Veronica (Verna) (Koszewski) Pallister|
Section 51, Tier 40, Space 490
My paternal grandmother
All I know is that she is in Section 51, Tier 40 and gravesite 490. I couldn’t even find the grave marker that might indicate where she was. Most of the grave markers were so weathered, you could not make out a number. The one I could make out was 530 or 536…so sort of far from my grandmother’s grave.
I am now considering getting her a headstone. More on this later...