A very good source of information about an ancestor can be the civil record certificates that they leave behind – birth, marriage or death (BMD) certificates. These can be obtained by contacting the government office for wherever said person was born/married/died, either in person or by mail, electronically, by phone, etc.
The state of Minnesota is lucky to have the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), who offer a range of services for a very reasonable fee. I used Ancestry.com‘s Social Security Death Index (SSDI) to find out that there were two Koszlaks who died in Minnesota, then used the MNHS’s online form to order (Uncertified) death certificates for both Harry (Hawrylo) Kosslak and Mary (Maria) Faduck, my great-great grandfather Daniel (Danylo)’s siblings($9.00 USD a piece).
Though I always love to add visuals to my blog posts, I won’t post the actual certificates due to their detailed, personal nature, but I will write about the highlights of their information from a genealogical standpoint.
Harry Kosslak, husband of Maria Lewko died April 16, 1954 in Minneapolis at age 68. His death certificate is fairly vague in the areas I had hoped to find more information – his birthplace is listed as unknown, his mother unknown, his father listed only by his surname: Kosslak. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Minneapolis, one of the city’s oldest cemeteries. He lived at 4644 Knox Ave. N in Minneapolis at the time of his death.
Mary Faduck (nee Koshlak), widow of George Faduck died more recently than her brother Harry on October 9, 1981. Her certificate is clearer and more concise – Her birthplace is listed as “Galecia”, her country of origin “Austria Hungary”. She was also buried in St. Mary’s cemetery, and lived at 4648 Knox Ave N (possibly even the house right beside her brother’s, depending on how the numbering goes on that street!). But most importantly, Mary’s parent’s names are recorded: Prokov Koshlak and Christine Finko.
In Harry’s passenger manifest from the SS Kaiserin Victoria, he lists his father as “Prokop Koszlak” from Novosilka, strengthening my belief that Prokop is my great-great-great grandfather’s name. Christine Finko, however, likely spelled her name “Krystina Fink”.
Harry is the oldest Koszlak child that I know of and can prove, born in 1888 and Mary is the youngest, born in 1895. This suggests that Prokop and Krystina were probably married somewhere between 1873 and 1887 (my guess is closer to the 1887 range) and were likely born between 1855 and 1870. You can guess that based around the fact that Krystina probably did not give birth to children younger than 18 years of age, or older than 40, and that given that they were devout Greek Catholics, they were married at least 9 months before any children were born.
So, for $18.00 USD, I discovered that my great-great-great grandparents were Prokop Koszlak and Krystina Fink, both born between 1855 and 1870 and married between 1873 and 1887 in Novosilka, Pidhaitsi, Ternopil’, Ukraine.
P.S. In Danylo’s passenger manifest when he first came to North America, he states that he is going to visit his brother Jakiv Koszlak in Minneapolis. Sometimes in those days people fudged some details of family relations and whatnot in order to gain access to North America, so I keep that in mind. Not only that, but Ukrainians are known for referring to their first cousins as brothers and sisters. Jakiv was born in 1876. Neither Harry/Hawrylo or Jakiv/Jakob are mentioned in Daniel/Danylo’s obituary (perhaps because they were both already passed away?), and I have not been able to find any further information about Jakiv. Maybe he returned to Ukraine. As of now, the only solid, 100%-for-sure sibling of Danylo’s I can link to with actual records is Mary. I’ll include Harry as well, seeing as his father is also listed as Prokop from Novosilka in his passenger manifest and numerous other hints and clues, but for now I will exclude Jakiv until can find more proof that he is indeed related.