Friday, April 11, 2014

Looking for Paul Primas

I have been looking for my great-grandfather Paul Primas for a long time.  When I started my family history research for a school project in 6th grade, he had already been gone for over 50 years. 

What I knew about Paul Primas when I began was that he was my grandfather Oscar Primas’ father and my father’s grandfather.  I knew he had a wife who lived for over 20 years past his death.  He had five children, four boys and one girl.  I was told he was from a town called Nekla in what is present day Poland but was Prussia when he lived there. 

I wrote to my grand-uncles who still survived and asked for more details.  There was another son who died young.  Paul’s wife was Emma Natalie Stroschein.  They had been married in Prussia before they made the trip over.  Her parents were Ludwig and Susanna Stroschein.  I was never told anything further about Paul.

Later I learned that Paul and Emma had come to the US in about 1887.  They came to Chicago yet three of their children were born in Wisconsin.  Paul died in Chicago in December 1906 at the age of 46 years old leaving his wife with five children ranging in age from 18 years old to 9 years old (my grandfather).

Paul Primas' sons:  Otto, Fred, Frank and Oscar c.1948

Over the years I have been searching, researching, writing letters and trying to find out more about Paul Primas.  As a teenager I wrote to the German Consulate to ask how to find records I was looking for and was told all the records were lost in the war (World War II) and any that did survive were now behind the Iron Curtain and unavailable.  I kept looking and asking.

As more information came on-line, I started to get little hints and clues.  He arrived in Baltimore, not Ellis Island.  He came with his wife Emma and their son Franz on the ship Köln from Bremen  I found his citizenship was granted in Dunn County Wisconsin, even though his Declaration of Intent was filed in Cook County.  In the 1891 City Directory for Chicago he is listed as a tailor.  Based on his children’s birth records, between 1893 and 1897 when he was in Wisconsin he was a laborer in the lumber camps.   In the 1900 US Census he and his family are living at 156 North Kedzie in Chicago and he is listed as a janitor.

In 2012 I decided I needed to go to Poland and try to find out more information about my elusive great-grandfather Paul.  I still had many questions.