Family History of Mary Ziemba Korte
“John and Kathryn Sosinska, my grandparents on my mother’s side of the family, originally came from Germany. That is the farthest back I can remember since no one has recorded any information.
John and Kathryn Sosinska were both born in Germany and lived there in the early 1800′s. On August 3, 1862 they had a baby girl and named her Mary. A few years later, they had twins and named them John and Kathryn. They both died at a very early age, but I do not know the cause of their deaths. When my mother, Mary, would talk about the twins, she would call them Yashu and Kashu, meaning John and Kathryn in Polish. This was the language they spoke.
Around 1869, John and Kathryn left Germany with Mary and went to Poland. At that time the Polish government was giving out small parcels of land to farm. There they raised chickens, pigs and cows and grew their own food. In 1871, they had one more daughter and named her Josephine.
My mother, Mary, always talked about her father and how wonderful he was. They were very poor and did not have extra money for materials. Her mother was very strict and she was scared of her when she did something wrong and would run to her father for protection.
In 1872, when Mary was 10 years old and Josephine was one year, Kathryn died of smallpox. Six months later her husband died of an unknown disease somewhat related to the flu. My mother, Mary, recalls the time when her grandfather, who she never saw before, came and cried like a baby at his daughter Kathryn’s funeral. He would not speak to no one.
Mary and Josephine were left to live with relatives who were very mean to them. Mary had to watch the cows all day , and they had very little to eat. She had a hard life working in the Old Country.
When my mother, Mary, was 23 years old, in 1885, one of her cousins, whose last name was Pakenevich, asked her if she wanted to go to America with him and his family. He was married and had 2 children. Mary accepted, for she did not have a good living in Poland.
They traveled to America on a big boat, and the trip took 2 long weeks.
Mary said the trip was really rough. The boat would rock back and forth and water would splash in and get them wet. She also got very sick on the trip and thought she would never make it. The cousin that she came with had a small baby and a 2 year old child. The baby died on the trip. The crew took the baby and said they would keep the baby until they reached America, then my cousin could have the baby back to have it buried. But the family never saw the baby again. They docked in Detroit, Michigan, and that is where the family settled.
Mary didn’t live with the cousin that she came with to America. She lived with another cousin whose last name was Shunuski. They lived in a boarding house.
When Josephine, her sister, was 18 years old, she came to America by herself. She did not know anyone when she reached Detroit, for she had lost my mother’s address. Josephine went to the Catholic Church to talk to the priest to see of he would recognize her sister’s name or how to locate her. So at the next church services, the priest announced her sister’s name and it just happen that my mother was attending. My mother recognized her name immediately. She said that it was their faith in God that brought them together.
Mary Sosinska met Lawrence Ziemba while she was living at the boarding house. He lived there also. They were introduced by the Shunuskis and were married in 1886. They both were 24 years old. Lawrence Ziemba [note from Jill: last name in census records as Zhemba], my father, was born in Austria on August 18. 1862. He had two sisters and one half brother. His father was married twice, as his first wife died. Lawrence was the youngest of the children.
Lawrence was supposed to serve 3 years in the army in Austria. When he was about 20, his desire to come to America was so great he skipped the army and hopped on a boat to America and evaded the draft. When he reached New York, they held him there and farmers would come to buy these men for their ship fare. He was bought by a farmer and was to work for him until his debt was paid off. My mother used to say he was sold like a cow. He worked real hard and the farmer began to trust him. One day when my father was gone away, he skipped out and headed for Detroit where he know some friends. These friends lived in the same boarding house as Mary. They soon became acquainted and fell in love.
Lawrence Ziemba’s two sisters never came to America, but his half-brother came twice. He live with them, but he returned to Austria. When he was 60 years old, he was on his way to church and was walking through the field when he yelled for some men to wait and he began to run. When he jumped over a ditch, he fell and died of an apparent heart attack.
Lawrence and Mary first lived on Lovett Ave. in Detroit. They later sold their home and moved to their farm on Joy Rd in Redford, Michigan. They had 12 children, but 6 of them died in infancy. [note from Jill: the farmhouse is still there on Joy Rd., between Inkster Rd & Telegraph Rd]
The first of their children was Anthony. My mother always talked about her little Anthony. He was a very good boy and he died when he was only 10. Anthony went out to pick cherries and earn some extra money, and he stepped on a rusty nail and died from blood poisoning. My mother grieved the loss of her son for a long time.
The second child born was Frank. He did not live long as he was only 1 week old when he died.
The third child born was Annie. My mother said she was very smart when she was a baby. She was 2 years old when she died overnight from unknown causes. Mother talked about Anthony and Annie many times and missed them dearly.
The fourth child born was John and lived to be forty years old. He married O’Delia Bartlett. They had four children. Three daughters, Margaret, Violet, Agnes, and one son, John.
The fifth child born was Lawrence Jr. and lived to be 84 years old. [note from Jill: my grandpa. He changed the surname to Zimba.] He married Theresa Korte. They had nine children, five sons, two daughters and two babies died in infancy. Their names are Lawrence III, Verese, William [note from Jill: called "Ike"], Richard [note from Jill: my dad], Leo, Marie, and Virginia.
The sixth child born was Nettie and lived to be 61 years old. She married Michael Korte, first cousin to Theresa, her brother Lawrence’s wife. They had three children, two sons Michael Jr. and Clarence, one daughter, Helen Marie.
The seventh child born was Mary. She married Frederick Hopp. They had two daughters, Dorothy and Delphine. Frederick died shortly after an appendectomy. Mary married again to Peter Korte, first cousin to Theresa and Michael. They had 6 children, five daughters and one son. Their names are Geraldine, Genevieve, Rosemary, Maryann, who died in infancy, Richard, and Marjorie.
The eighth child born was Joseph and he lived to be 61 years old. He never married.
The next three children born were Josephine, Francesca, and Raymond. They all died when they were babies because of unknown causes. In those days children died because medicine was not available and immunizations were unheard of.
Mary was 45 when she had her last child.
My father was very close to my brother Lawrence Jr. Whenever he had to go to town, he would tell Lawrence to hitch the buggy to the white horse and drive him to town.
In 1905, my father Lawrence had a severe physical and mental collapse and never completely recovered. After his illness, he wasn’t able to talk and he seemed to withdraw from everybody. They took him to the sanitarium because the family could not give him the medical care he needed. He spent the rest of his life there. He died on February 15, 1934. He was 72 years old.
Lawrence Sr. had a very hard childhood and today we think that is what caused his illness at such an early age. [Note from Jill: It is thought he had a stroke, but schizophrenia also exists in the family. Census records from 1910-1930 show him at Eloise Insane Asylum, which was on Michigan Avenue and torn down in the 1990s]
After Lawrence was taken to the sanitarium my mother continued to work the farm with the help of her children. They did odd jobs to help support the family. Mother was a very small built woman yet she raised her children by herself and worked very hard on her farm. She was a very strong woman, in mind and in strength.
Josephine, my mother’s sister, married Adam Buszka and they also had 12 children of which 5 died in infancy. The living children were Nettie, Frank, Vicki, John, Stanley, Agnes and Harry. My aunt Josephine died in 1921 when she was only 50 years old.
Remembering back one Sunday afternoon when Aunt Josephine was visiting, I noticed mother and auntie looking out the window at me. When I asked my mother why they were staring at me, she told me that aunt Josephine wanted to know how their mother Kathyrn looked. My mother said that I looked like their mother Kathyrn.
Mother lived on the farm until 5 months before she died. She first went to stay with my sister Nettie’s for 3 months. Then she came to stay with me. She died in my home at 2278 Labo Rd, Carleton, Michigan on February 19, 1946. She was 84 years old. Dad and mother were buried at St. Hedwig’s Cemetary in Dearborn.
This family history is to the best of my recollection as my mother, Mary Sosinska Ziemba related to me.”
Respectfully, Mary Ziemba Korte