[Note: Throughout the following, I will spell Kate's maiden name, "Jarecki." A variety of alternate spellings appear in documents, most commonly "Jarecky" or "Jareckie." But unless I am quoting a document, I'll stick with just one spelling to avoid confusion.]
BackgroundBased on family lore and my initial research, here's what I knew about Kate Jarecki.
Kate Jarecki was a first generation American. She was born in New York, probably in the early 1850s. Her parents were Eastern European Jews from somewhere in present-day Germany or Poland.
Kate Jarecki married my great great-grandfather, Louis Rippe in 1873 in New York City. Louis Rippe was an immigrant from Kraków, Austria. (Today Kraków is part of Poland.) He was a widower and had one son by his previous wife.
|Obituary for Kate Rippe. The Bee (Danville,|
Virginia), March 26, 1923, p. 1.
Kate and Louis had three children, Benjamin, Hulda (my great-grandmother), and Joshua. Louis spent most of his life working as a cigar maker. The family lived at a variety of addresses throughout Manhattan, moving every few years.
Louis Rippe died in 1910. Soon afterwards, Kate moved to Danville, Virginia to live with her eldest son, Ben Rippe, who ran a successful women's clothing store. (That store, Rippe's, is still in business today and is still managed by the Rippe family.) She died there on March 25, 1923.
Looking for Kate Jarecki's ParentsBased on this initial information, the obvious first step in looking for Kate Jarecki's parents was to try to find her in the census prior to her marriage to Louis Rippe. And here ran into a problem, as I found two different candidates of roughly the same age living in Manhattan in the 1860 and 1870 censuses.
Here are the two candidate households from the 1860 census:
|Two household from the 1860 U.S. Federal Census that could be include great-great-grandmother, Kate Jarecki|
The next step was to see if vital records would help in identifying the correct family. But municipal record searches in New York did not provide birth or marriage information. (Although birth records go back to 1847, many home births went unreported.) Kate Rippe's death certificate only lists her father's surname. Likewise an obituary from the Danville Bee did not name her parents.
At this point, the logical thing to do would be to research both families in the hopes of turning up some record that would clarify matters. And as we'll see, that would have eventually uncovered the desired information. This task had been sitting on my "to do" list for a while when an unexpected clue turned up.
A Hint from Grandpa
A few months ago, I re-organizing some (non-genealogical) correspondence and came across an old letter from my maternal grandfather, Murray Elters. He was a grandson of Kate Jarecki. The letter, postmarked March 2, 1978, appears to be his response to a set of questions I had sent him as part of a school assignment to learn about my family. It's not clear from the context if the assignment was simply about family or the goal was to learn about immigrant ancestors.
Grandpa's reply includes some brief information about his parents and extended family. Regarding the Jareckis he said, "They were wealthy but when she married an immigrant from Austria she was disowned. When I was in dental school I visited Dr. Jarecki a prominent dentist at that time. He was an old man who only treated the 'carriage trade.'"
This revived my interest in the question of Kate Jarecki's parentage. If I could find Dr. Jarecki, maybe I could trace him back to one of the candidate families. Grandpa graduated from dental school in 1918. So I searched the 1910 and 1920 censuses for Jarecki's in New York and quickly turned up a dentist named William Jarecki on the upper west side of Manhattan. His age (66 in the 1920 census) was consistent with the William Jarecki who appears in the 1860 household of Morris Jarecki.
Further research on the Morris Jarecki family eventually led me to tbe copy of his will recorded at probate. The brief document, dated August 28, 1878, includes the following distribution of his money:
From the 1,000 One Thousand dollars coming to my heirs according to the laws of Lebanon Lodge & the laws of the Freesons of Israel I hereby give to my wife Rosa Jarecky five hundred dollars and the rest of the five hundred dollars and the money which should at the time of my death be deposited at the Bleeker Street Savings Bank or any other bank or money coming to me from other societies shall be divided into equal parts among my children as follows, Marx, Sarah Jarecky, Fanny Hart, Kate Rippe, William Jarecky, Emma Jarecky, Charles Jarecky & Nelly Jarecky, to each and every one an equal portion.The mention of Kate Rippe as one of his daughters confirms that Morris Jarecki was the father of Kate Jarecki Rippe, and thus that he was my 3x great grandfather.
The will also belies my grandfather's account of the Jareckis disowning their daughter. Whatever ill will they may have had about her marrying Louis Rippe, she received an equal share of her father's estate.
A bit more digging turned up the name of Kate's mother on the death certificate of Kate's sister, Sarah Jarecki. It lists her parents (and thus Kate's) as Morris Jareckie and Hannah Brett, both born in Germany.
Following up on these discoveries, I researched the other children of Morris Jarecki and their descendants. I found lots of interesting people, including a child piano prodigy, a number of other artists, a physician, an olympic biathlete, and a Denver politician. But those stories will have to wait for future posts.
|This chart shows the relationships of the people discussed in this post. Kate Jarecki Rippe is marked with a heavy outline.|