Thursday, October 3, 2013

Looking for Marie Josephine Bednorz via the Census

Here's a look at Marie's nuclear family: her parents and siblings.

1895 Minnesota State Census
The first census the Andrew Bednorz family appear in is the 1895 Minnesota State Census.  At this time they are living in Waverly, Marysville Township, Wright County Minnesota, just 37 miles due west of Minneapolis.

As of June 5, 1895, Andrew Badnorz (note misspelling of last name) is 43, Frances is 42, John (10), Henry (8), Francis (6) and Mary (1).  That’s our Marie Josephine!  The census document tells us that Andrew, Frances, and John were all born in “Germany” and the family has lived in Waverly, Minnesota for 9 years and one month.   (That fits with the immigration information we have from the Ship Suevia’s 1886 passenger manifest.) Henry, Francis, and Mary were all born in Minnesota.  Andrew is working as a blacksmith. 
1895 Minnesota State Census Andrew Bednorz Family in Marysville, Wright County MN

1900 US Census

We meet the family again in the 1900 US Census where the family is listed as Bednore, living in Buffalo Township, Cass County, North Dakota.  (Buffalo Township is almost straight west of of Fargo on the western edge of the county.)  How or why they got there is a mystery.

The family now consists of Andrew (age 47) and his wife, Frances (46), who have been married for 29 years; their sons, John (15), Henry (13) and Paul (4); and their daughters, Frances (11), Mary (6) and Gertrude (2).  The census notes that Frances has had 12 children, 6 of whom are living.  The family is living on the William Metzger farm as are Metzger’s wife, daughter and mother, 3 female servants and 8 other single men working as farm laborers.  Andrew lists his occupation also as farm laborer and sons John and Henry are listed as day laborers. Frances and Mary are at school. 

Random Analysis notes
A Plat map of Buffalo Township from 1893 shows a William Metzger property of 171 acres in the northeastern corner of the town.  This fits with the census information of 1900.

This census lists an immigration date of 1885 for Andrew, Frances, and John and notes they have been in the country for 15 years. (Interestingly, the census taker lists John as being born in Minnesota, which contradicts both his own writing and previously known information.) Other discrepancies with this census are the births of Paul and Gertrude.  Paul’s birth is listed as June 1895 and he is 4 years old.  The Minnesota Death Index and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) list his birth date as March 14, 1896.  Gertrude’s discrepancy is similar: the 1900 Census lists her birth as June 1897 while SSDI and MDI list her birth as November 11, 1897.  Birth certificates (probably from Waverly, Wright County MN) are needed to clear up these discrepancies.  While it's not unusual for birth years to be off in census documents, it is unusual for the birth month to be off.

1905 Minnesota State Census
Andrew and family are back in Minnesota, in Marysville Township, Wright County where they have lived for 4 years and 8 months.  

He claims he has lived in Minnesota for 19 years 1 month, which doesn’t square with the 1900 census where they were in North Dakota.  (ND became a state in 1889, so it wasn’t part of Minnesota.  One question to ask is how long the Bednorz family remained in ND.) The data implies that the Bednorz family left ND about 4 months (September)  after the 1900 US Census. 

In Marysville, Andrew is farming at 53 years old. John Joseph is no longer at home, but Henry (18), Frances (16), Marree (notice the misspelling)(11), Paul (9) and Gertrude (7) are at home with their mother Frances (51). 

1910  Marysville, Wright County, Minnesota
By the 1910 Census, Henry (24), still single, is now the head of household on a Marysville farm which he owns by mortgage.  Andrew (58) is listed as his father and Frances (56) as his mother.  Andrew and Frances have been married 30 years and have borne 11 children, 6 of whom are living.  They are listed as immigrating in 1886 and Andrew is a naturalized citizen. He is also a blacksmith with his own shop.  Andrew and Frances report their parentage as “Ger. Polish”.  Henry’s sisters Frances (22) and Gertruid (note misspelling) (12) and brother Paul (14) are living with the family.  John and Mary, or Marie Josephine as we know her, is not living with the family.

Where's Waldo  Mary Josephine Bednorz? 
Buh Township?
We do find a single, 16 year old Josephine M. Bednor in Buh Township, Morrison County, Minnesota, about 100 miles north of Marysville.  She lists her parents as from “Austria (Ger)”.  This Josephine is a servant on the farm of John Premersberger (who, according to a 1907 Plat Map of Buh Township in Morrison County, owned 180 acres in section 35). The census document spells his name as Preimesborger.  He and his wife are 53, have been married 33 years, had 14 children of whom 11 were living.  They and their parents were from “Austria (Ger)”.  In 1910, seven sons ages 10-25 were living and working on the farm with their parents.  Could this be our Marie Josephine?
1910 US Census  Buh Township Morrison County MN - Josephine M Bednorz

We know that Marie’s brother John marries Mabel Christianson of St. Paul (Ramsey County MN), possibly around 1919, and in 1930 they are living in St. Paul.  Is it possible that John and Marie are living in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area in 1910?  Family lore says Marie meets William (who calls himself Arthur) while working at the Golden Rule store in St. Paul.  And they marry in Minneapolis.  So Marie had to be in Minneapolis before 1914 if family lore is even partially correct.

In searching the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for John, we find a  Mary Bednorz (or Bednorg)  living at 2305 Bloomington Ave in Minneapolis (Hennepin County).  This Mary is a lodger with the French-Canadian Joseph Payette family who have lived at 2311 Bloomington Ave for many years.  Based on previous census information for this family, they have never had a daughter named Mary.

This Mary Bednorz is 20 years old, in school with no occupation.  She was born in Minnesota, but parentage is listed as Canada-French for both parents.  It’s possible that the census taker first assumed Mary was a Payette family member as there is the horizontal line left of her name, indicating Payette as the last name.  Bednorz (or perhaps Bednorg) is written over the line.  Is it possible the census taker completed Mary’s line assuming relationship to the Payette family and was then corrected and didn’t follow through with changing the parentage?  Could this be our Marie Josephine, padding her age in an adult world? 
1910 US Census - MN Minneapolis (Hennepin) - Mary Bednorz

A mystery to be sure.  Especially since Marie and William now disappear from the records.  So far I have not found their marriage license.  The vital statistics clerk for Hennepin County  looked for all sorts of combinations of Sullivans and Bednorz to search her records and none come up at all. We have found a birth registration for Lu, but not for Edwin.

And we know that in 1920, Marie and WmA along with sons Lucius and Edwin are living in Le Pas, Manitoba, Canada.  Therefore there will be no 1920 US Census data for them.  We won’t see them on a census until 1930 when they are living in Oshkosh (Winnebago WI). What was going on in their lives between 1910 and 1930?  We have family lore, digging up family documents will be harder.  

There are still many holes to plug in understanding Marie Bednorz’ background before and just after her marriage to William A. Sullivan.  Sigh.  I wish someone had saved these important  documents for Marie and William.  


  1. Wow, what a mystery. I don't recall Mom talking much about her mom's early life. She said that the Bednorz family country (countries?) of origin was Poland or Germany, but that at that time the countries' boundaries were not as they are today so they weren't sure. We leaned toward Poland. I've always said I was Polish/Irish, thus have had a lot of dumb luck. It looks like it's a Polish/German/Irish blend. Perhaps the German influence explains some our stubbornness. By the way, our family (Owens') always called her Nano. It appears that everyone else called her Grandma. I have no idea where the name Nano came from as that's all we've ever known.

    1. Dianne - I think Polish is probably closest. Family lore has us coming from Szczedrzyk, , Opole, Poland. During the mid 1800s Germany was in turmoil from several wars. It was still not a unified country and the Austrians, Prussians, Kaisers were making wars and treaties to consolidate the various kingdoms, provinces, territories and other independent small states into a unified Germany. Among these were Opole and Silesia in Poland. I've seen the Bednorz family describe themselves as from Poland, Germany, Ger-Austria - probably depended on the year of the census survey. But I consider myself part Polish. Like the sausage, lol