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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