Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Franciszek J. Grala

Throughout our family's history it is clear there was a strong bond between Bronislaw and his brother Franciszek. So I am happy to share what little I know of him and hope to find some of his descendants as our tree grows!

Franciszek J. Grala was born on December 1, 1898. It is interesting to note that, on the U.S. Census for 1920, he indicated that he was born in Galicja* (Galicia in English). However, it is more likely he was born in Baba, Ostroleka, Mazowiecki, Poland. The youngest child of Jozef and Antonina, it's been said that he was the one to most resemble his mother.

Franciszek immigrated to the United States in 1912 and was headed to Lorain, OH where he planned to join Bronislaw [actual record not yet found]. But he had difficulty adjusting to that environment [his son Frank, Jr. didn't know if it was the steel mills or coal mines, but he did know it was hard labor] and got in touch with Joseph Gorecki who told him that the factories in the Hardware City were hiring ... especially new arrivals.

In New Britain he met Rose Swider and married her in 1915. They lived at 44 Orange Street where Franciszek (Frank) J. Grala, Jr. was born on November 30, 1916. Helena (Helen) was born in New Britain as was Genowfa (Jean) in October 1921. Rosalia died on January 12, 1938 in New Britain. Franciszek died there in 1952.

Bronislaw joined Franciszek in New Britain after the death of Teofilia in 1918. Rose cared for the children while her brother-in-law worked. Frank Jr. wrote that his father and Uncle Bronislaw was church collectors and on Easter and Christmas they wore bright red military-type uniforms as security guards at the tomb and manger.

In 1921 Franciszek's wife and children joined Bronislaw and his family in Baba for a period of one year. Franciszek stayed behind as he was attending night school to become a U.S. citizen. (At the time, the U.S. Government was very anxious to have new arrivals become naturalized and threw in a bonus ... if you became a citizen, your spouse automatically became one also.)

Sadly, Frank Jr. passed away on 27 Feb 1996. I am so thankful to have been the recipient of his colorful gleanings about the Grala family (see "Letter from Frankie")! God bless you Frankie.

*When genealogists use the term "Galicia" they are usually referring to a region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, stretching from roughly Krakow in the west to Tarnopol in the east. Today, this area would be south-Eastern Poland and Western Ukraine. It is highly unlikely it is the place of Franciszek's birth.

No comments: