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52 Ancestors – 52 Weeks: Week 1

I’d like to meet my second great-grandmother, Konstancya Wróblewska. I have no pictures of her other than her tombstone. On it and above her name is Matka, the Polish word for mother.

Konstancya was born in February 1872 in Indiana to Jan and Marianne Korpal. Her name at birth was Augusta, but she didn’t use that name for too long. What caused her to adopt a new name? I like to think it was part of a reinvention.

She married Franciszek Bołka at St. Mary Catholic Church in Otis, La Porte, Indiana, on 24 September 1889. The first child, Anthony (my great-grandfather), was born on 3 August 1890 in South Chicago. The couple probably moved there shortly after they married. Four more children followed: twins Andrew Anthony and Michael, Lottie, and Vera.

Franciszek died on 14 July 1898, succumbing to injuries from an explosion at the Illinois Steel Co. Works. I wonder where the determination to stay in South Chicago came from. Konstancya’s family had a farm in Otis that she could have returned to as a single mother.

In 1900, her younger brother Frank lived with her as a boarder. What other support did she have in this transitional time? It must have been so difficult to lose her husband and the income and stability he provided. Did she return home often to see her family who remained in Indiana?

On 6 August 1901, Konstancya married Jan Pluta at St. Michael Parish in South Chicago. They would have six children: Angeline, Wicenty, Edward, Chester, and Regina.

Many of Konstancya’s children would live with her well into adulthood:

  • My great-grandfather, Anthony, would return to the household after becoming a widower in 1917. I wonder how the family would cope with all these difficulties.

  • The Daily Calumet reported that in Konstancya’s home on 9 May 1943, her family threw a Mother’s Day party in her honor. My grandmother, Eleanor, and her sister, Constance “Connie” (presumably named after Konstancya), attended the celebration.

Jan and Konstancya spent the rest of their lives in South Chicago. She died at her home of heart disease on 19 April 1949. She is buried at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery & Mausoleums in Calumet City, Illinois.

Konstancya is the first ancestor I researched thoroughly when I was starting to have an interest in genealogy. I know a lot of facts and chronology, but I would love to learn more about her personality. I would love to see a photo of her, at least. She is probably the reason for my grandma speaking Polish and wearing babooshkas.

The evidence does point to my ancestors having much love, respect, and appreciation for their matriarch, Konstancya.

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