Sunday, April 30, 2017

And Then There Were None

Four years after her husband died in 1925 my husband's paternal grandmother, Cecelia (Klimasansluski) Dagutis remarried. She had moved her younger children from West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, to Hamtramck, Michigan. Dodge built their main assembly plant in Hamtramck in 1910 and workers flooded to the area, which had previously been rural. With the opening of the plant came a flood of Polish immigrants and by 1920, 85 percent of the population were factory workers.

11398 St. Albin Avenue, home of Cecelia Dagutis and her
children, courtesy of Google Maps

On 13 April 1929, Cecelia married Anthony Strupski, a 30-year-old autoworker, who had immigrated from Lithuania and been married previously. Cecelia claimed she was 42 years but was actually a few years older. They were married by the pastor of St. George's Roman Catholic Church in Detroit, a Lithuanian church.

When the 1930 census was enumerated Cecelia remained on St. Albin Avenue with four of her sons and a boarder, Joseph Okrongley. She indicated she was married but Anthony was not listed as living in the home. By 1935, Cecelia and her younger sons were back in West Hazleton. There is no mention of a husband. She used "Dagutis" as her surname and the city directory included "(wid Adam)." It appears Anthony had been expunged.

Anthony Shrupski died on 2 November 1939 at St. Francis Hospital in Hamtramck of pneumonia at the age of 38. His death certificate said he was married and listed Cecelia as his wife. My working theory at this time was they had separated.

I first learned about Anthony Shrupski in 2015 when Michigan marriage records became available online. My husband was shocked to discover his grandmother had remarried; his eldest sister knew all about Anthony! Recently, I got curious about him and learned that the black cloud of tragedy seemed to follow him around.

Anthony declared his intention to become a naturalized citizen on 19 July 1928 and said he was a widower. He provided 15 February 1901 as his birth date and that he had immigrated on the S/S America from Bremen, Germany. Other family members indicated they came to the U.S. in 1901. However, I have not been able to find a corresponding passenger record. Anthony did come to the U.S. on the S/S America, arriving in New York on August 1923. In tow were a wife named Vinca and a four-year-old son named Frank. The family had last lived in Berlin and were headed to Anthony's uncle, Joseph, who lived in Brooklyn. Anthony's parents and siblings also lived in Brooklyn.

Little Frank died in Kings, New York, on 17 May 1904, and Vinca was dead by 1928 when Anthony filed is intention to naturalize papers with the court. Eleven years later, he died, and then there were none.

I still have many questions...Did Anthony remain in Europe when his parents immigrated? He would have been an infant when they left. Did he go back to Europe after World War I, perhaps to find a wife? Why did they live in Berlin? Where did Anthony and his family live before he appeared out of thin air in Hamtramck in 1928?

Three Sons Born in One Year...Really?
The Onion Layers that Were Cecelia Dagutis
Cecelia's Big Secret?

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