The Grinkevich Family

The Grinkevich Family
For years this family with the many varied name spellings has been a source of fascination. I never knew my great grandparents-- we visited when I was very young, but I have no memory of this momentous occasion. Pictures show them as two tiny, wizened people aglow with love for each other. Perhaps therein lies the source of my interest. Though they went through many trials in their lives, from living in poverty in a Russian ruled country with no hope of a happy future, to burying several children in the spring of their young lives. Their tenacity carried them through. That, and their devotion, and faith in God.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Grinkevich family on the farm

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Why William and Magdeline moved their family to central Wisconsin about 1918, we may never know.  Was it the threat of the Spanish influenza outbreak that would end up killing 50 million people in 1918 alone?  Did they know about their son, John’s, heart condition? Or was Wisconsin merely viewed as a more wholesome area for the children to grow up and possibly a welcome return to farm life?

[1] Grinker line names and dates courtesy of Richard Grinker; Pupp line dates courtesy of Dolores Willems; Portell line dates courtesy of Janet Gall.

Men born between 1873 and 1900 were required to register for the draft.  There were three registrations:
• First Registration. This registration took place on June 5, 1917. It was for men aged 21 to 31—men born between June 6, 1886 and June 5, 1896.
• Second Registration. This registration took place on June 5, 1918. It was for men who had turned 21 since the previous registration—men born between June 6, 1896 and June 5, 1897. In addition, a supplemental registration on August 24, 1918, was for men who had turned 21 since June 5, 1918.
• Third Registration. The third and final registration took place on September 12, 1918. It was for men aged 18 to 21 and 31 to 45—men born between September 11, 1872 and September 12, 1900.

Aliens were required to register, but of course, not all who registered were drafted.

Joseph Grinkevich joined the U.S.Army during the World War.
He was underage, so, since a birth certificate was not required, gave a birth date two years earlier than his actual birthday.

  This photo came to me with “Joseph Grinker?” written on the back.

William Grinkevich was 40 years old when he registered for the draft on September 12, 1918 in Medford, WI.  His date of birth is April 3, 1878. At the time he and Maggie, his wife and nearest relative, were living at R-2 Dorchester, in Clark County, WI, but William was working the farm he bought three years prior in the Town of Little Black, just across the county line in Taylor County.  William is described as being of medium height and build with light brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was an alien from Russia.  William was never called into service.

courtesy of on image to enlarge

The Germans signed the Armistice ending major hostilities of World War I, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, of 1918.

The 1920 U.S. Census
The census enumeration of the William and Maggie Grinkevich family was very illegible.  It appears their surname was misspelled as “Hrinkedick”. Even though it is hard to read, it’s exciting as it’s the first record of the Grinkevich family living on the farm. They are enumerated as Lithuanians, Joseph as being born in Scotland, Charles and Agnes being born in Pennsylvania, Helen and John born in Illinois. William is a Dairy Farmer.  Charles, who was sixteen years old at the time of the census, is enumerated twice, once here and again in Michigan as he was also listed as working on a truck farm in Wayne County, Michigan.  He boarded with a native of Lithuania, John Lobik, and his family.  George York, Maggie’s brother, was also boarding with the Lobiks.  He worked as a laborer on a road crew. 

Plat of Little Black Township, circa 1920
The William Grinkevich farm is located in Section 30 in the southwest portion of this plat.  The school age Grinkevich and Grinker children went to the two-room Lawndale School.  On this map the school is located in south central Section 29 adjacent to the Chas. Kregler farm.  The children would walk about a half mile south on what is now Sunset Drive, and then a half mile east on what is now known as Elm Avenue, on their way to school from the farm.  As of this writing, remnants of the school still stand according to Richard Grinker, who was a graduate in the last 8th grade class to attend the Lawndale School.  While Agnes, Helen, and John would have received at least a portion of their education there, Charles who likely never went past the 7th grade would have received his education in Steger.

Lawndale School, June 2007

Joseph Grinker-American Citizen

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Joseph Grinkevich, his name changed to Joseph Grinker on page two of his naturalization papers, was naturalized October 23, 1921. Many aliens, including Joseph Grinker, who served in the US Armed Forces during the World War were naturalized on the basis of their honorable service.  The document states a date of birth exactly two years earlier than other documents due to his lying about his age to join the Army.  It also shows a different date and place of arrival than his father, William’s, alien papers. 


The Grinkevich Family –Circa 1925
Seated are William, John, & Magdeline. Behind them are Helen, Charles, Joseph, &Agnes.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Maknickas/Mackniskas Family-updated

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This is the first document in this collection for Anna Grinkevich Maknickas, aka Mackniskas , the younger sister of Joseph, William, and Eva.  This birth certificate for her second child, Louise, shows that Anna's husband, Peter, was a cabinet maker in Steger.  Odds are he built pianos at Steger & Sons Piano Factory as did Anna's brother, William.

The family name seemed to evolve as do many migrants names, but whether it evolved or was just plain misspelled on a document is cause for discussion another day.

The 1920 Census Enumeration states the following information: Anna (also known as Ona) was enumerated in Chicago where she and her husband, Peter, rented a place to live at 3500 Carroll Avenue. Peter and Anna “Makiskors” were both age 29. They were born in Russia/Lithuania as were their parents.  Peter worked as a janitor in an apartment building. Their children: Louise, age 2 1/2, 
Eleanore, 6 months, 
and Anna, age 7, were all born in Illinois. (As of this posting this is the only time Anna, daughter of Peter & Anna is named on a record.  She isn't listed on her mother's naturalization papers, and if she indeed was a child of Anna and Peter's wouldn't have lived beyond childhood. It's also possible she is a product of an immigrant with little knowledge of English talking to a census enumerator with limited knowledge of Lithuanian.)

Peter had filed the first papers for naturalization. They came to the USA in 1909 according to this census enumeration. A lodger, Rose Urban lived with them. Rose, 24 years old, was Lithuanian, and worked as a tailor at a tailor shop. She had a 2 ½ year old daughter.  Only Peter and his daughter, Anna who attended school were listed as having been able to read. 

This birth certificate issued from the state of Illinois is for “Edward Makers”.  It was finally corrected when Edward Mackniskas joined the Army to fight in WWII. The document states Edward is the third child born to Anna.  We know this is incorrect, as he is known to be the youngest of five, possible six children.  

document and information source--John Mackniskas

Peter was just shy of his 40th birthday when he died of what grandson John Mackniskas states was told to him as a heart attack or following a beating for crossing a picket line.  (The death certificate tells a different story.) Anna was left with daughters Nellie, Louise, Amelie (also known as Millie), and seven year old son Edward to support.

Last name          First      sex/race     age        cert#      date of death      county
MAKNICKAS  PETER    M/W    UNK  6029366   1930-11-01        COOK           

city                       date filed
CHICAGO           30-11-04    from the Illinois Statewide Death Index 1916-1950

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Other information on his death certificate is that he was about age 39, a janitor born in Butkus, Lithuania, with cause of death recorded as Pulmonary tuberculosis. Peter's parents are also listed as having been born in Butkus, Lithuania.

Anna and her husband Peter had been married 19 years when he died on November 1, 1930.  He was laid to rest in the Lithuanian National Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois.  Peter's headstone reads Petras Maknickas, 1892-1931, followed by 'Amzina Atilsi,' the equivalent to our 'Rest in Peace'. (Note that the year of death on the stone disagrees with the death certificate date of 11/01/1930.)


The Taylor County Star~News, a newspaper based in the dairy country of central Wisconsin had a little blurb:
September 3, 1931
“Little Edward Macnitski who spent the summer with the Grinkers went back to Chicago Saturday night.”
Not only had Edward lost his father the previous year, but his Aunt Maggie and Uncle William Grinkevich had lost their youngest son John a few years earlier in 1928. This must have done both Edward Mackniskas and the Grinkevich family some good.


Though Anna’s husband, Peter, had filed initial papers for citizenship, he died in 1930 before he, and Anna by default, was naturalized.  Anna pursued this and filed for  citizenship.  The papers from her file for naturalization dated January 12, 1933:
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The above two pages contain some valuable information regarding dates of birth, marriage, immigration, etc.  Since it is Anna’s recollection of events that took place more than a decade before, there is of course room for error. The most puzzling thing it states is that Peter migrated to the USA October 14, 1910 and that they were married in Lithuania on June 15, 1911.   

Anna arrived in the USA in September 27, 1911 aboard the ship ‘Neckar’ which transported her from Bremen, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland.  While it wasn’t uncommon for a man to arrive in the USA first and then send for his wife, this story, though certainly not impossible, isn’t very likely to be true.

The Cook County Marriage Index
Anna Makniskas
Marriage Date:
25 Jul 1941
Vincent P Manikas
Marriage Location:
Cook County, IL
Marriage license:
File Number:
Archive collection name:
Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages)
Archive repository location:
Chicago, IL
Archive repository name:

Cook County Clerk

Anna married Vincent Manikas in 1941. The name is so similar to Mackniskas and its numerous variations it makes you wonder whether the names are different spellings of the same surname. Vincent had been married previously to Juozapata Brioskis, aka “Josie”, and was the father of at least two children. Vincent, like Anna, was a Naturalized Citizen of the USA.

Anna Grinkevich Mackniskas Manikas had a stroke about 1969 and was taken care of by her daughter Louise Voss as well as son Edward and family who moved in so they could all help. She did alright for a few years but eventually died of a heart attack  June 17, 1973 while living at 2843 Derrough, known then as Melrose Park, now as Northlake, Illinois.   Anna's earthly remains were laid to rest at the Lithuanian National Cemetery with both husbands. 

 Anna was named in her older brother William Grinkevich's obituary as his only surviving sibling.  (William died July 31, 1964.) 

As for what became of Anna and Peter’s children:
Nellie in photo Edward carried for decades
Daughter Nellie married a man named Valionus and died young of breast cancer.

Louise, married Andrew “Andy” Voss.  They had one child, Dennis Voss, who died at the age 14 when his spleen ruptured on Oct 30 1961. Anna and Vincent were living downstairs in the two flat building on Jackson Boulevard that Vincent owned.  Anna’s son Edward, daughter-in-law Marcella, and grandchildren Kathleen, Barbara, John, and Tom were also living downstairs in the flat when the tragedy took place.  Vincent died not long afterward.  Then Andrew and Louise’s marriage fell apart due the devastating loss of their only child Dennis.  They divorced, later got back together, but never remarried. Following Vincent’s death Anna sold the house and she and Louise moved to 2843 Derrough in Northlake, IL. Louise died at the age of 81 on September 19, 1998.

Amelia (Millie) married a man named Kocharumbus.  He was much older than Millie.  Mr. Koharumbus, who was of Greek heritage, owned a restaurant in Chicago. Their only child, Donald, eventually changed his surname to Koch. Millie divorced Mr. Kocharumbus as he was too old for her, as the story goes, and she married John Sharvin, a soldier out of WWII. Millie died of a heart condition while in her 70’s.
Edward Mackniskas, 1924

Edward in Europe during WWII
The youngest child and only son, Edward was left handed and had a very mechanical mind. He was good at electronics as well as auto mechanics and worked as a tool and die maker.  Son John remembers his dad always loved music, enjoyed singing to his kids, and as being a wonderful family man.  He died as a result of being hospitalized for Senior Care Facility acquired infections when he was 82 on November 8, 2005.  He lies at rest in the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, Elwood, Will County, Illinois.

Thanks to John Mackniskas for information, and photos from his branch of the family.     
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