Pneumonia in Detroit: Franciszka "Frances" Grzeskowiak (1886-1905)

Franciszka "Frances" Grzeskowiak (1886-1905) was my 2nd great aunt. She was the 5th (possibly 6th) of about 12 children born to my 2nd great grandparents, Albert (Adalbert) Grzeskowiak (1849-1931) and Agnes (Agnieszka) Szaroleta (1854-1918). Francis was the younger sister of my great grandmother, Marianna Grzeskowiak Pawlowski (1879-1941).

Not much is known about Frances. The only records I have of her are a 1900 U.S. Federal Census and a death certificate. In 1900 She was living with with her parents and 7 siblings at 339 Canfield (present day 1315 E Canfield) in Detroit, MI. 

She died on October 22, 1905 from pneumonia. She is buried alongside many of her Grzeskowiak family at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Detroit. She lived for 19 years, 7 months, and 2 days. She was listed as a laborer at the time of her death.

Franciszka "Frances" Grzeskowiak (1886-1905)

Franciszka "Frances" Grzeskowiak (1886-1905)

You'll notice a discrepancy in the year of her birth between her death certificate (1886) and her gravestone (1885). I've seen mistakes in both for other people, so it is hard to know for sure which one is accurate. 

Franciszka "Frances" Grzeskowiak (1886-1905) - Mt. Olivet Cemetery (Detroit)

Franciszka "Frances" Grzeskowiak (1886-1905) - Mt. Olivet Cemetery (Detroit)

Pneumonia was one of the leading causes of death in the early 1900s. The following article from the Detroit Free Press was published only two years after Frances's death.

Pneumonia 1907.jpg

There were many pneumonia treatments and "cures" advertised around this time like "Father John's Medicine" or "Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey". 

I wish I knew more about Frances and her short life. As I think about her here are some of the questions I have.


  • Were there any contributing causes to France's death besides pneumonia?

  • What was France's relationship like with her sister, my great grandmother?

  • Would there be church records available about her funeral, presuming she had one?

  • How scary was it to be diagnosed with pneumonia in the early 1900s?

  • What do you think, feel, and wonder about as you read about France's story?

This is the 30th of 52 weekly posts planned for 2018. It was inspired by the #52Ancestors writing challenge issued by professional genealogist, Amy Crow Johnson. The challenge: once a week, for all 52 weeks of the year, write about a relative in your family tree.