Paul Sanetra’s twin Julia

Paul Sanetra’s baptismal record, school records and orphan records give his birth as June 22, 1905 in Evanston, Illinois. I was not able to find a birth record for Paul in Evanston, and if I remember right, he was not able to get one for himself either. Evanston is an independent city. Both Chicago and Evanston are in Cook County. I was looking at an index for Chicago birth records for some other Polish relatives that had immigrated and saw something which totally surprised me! A Julia Santara, with the same exact birth date, and same parents as Paul!

This index information was on Ancestry.com. The names were misspelled and there was incorrect information, but I knew this had to be my family. Most records I’ve found about Adam Sanetra have mistakes. For example, this index (below) says that Adam was born in Australia, when instead the record should have said Austria (Polish). Did he do that intentionally so it was harder for people to find him, or were records for immigrants often misspelled with other errors?

I wanted to see the original index to see if the digital index had been transcribed correctly. Also, I had seen in indexes in other locations for this same time period notate whether births were single or twins. I wanted to see if this index also had a “multiple birth” notation. I needed to go to my local family history center to view the image of the original handwritten index from the FHL film number which was listed on the Ancestry digital index (image above) just under Rosalie’s name. Below is the digitized microfilm image. It was a large ledger size, so I saved the record in two images.

I was glad I looked at the handwritten index because you can see additional information such as the family address, parents place of birth, and birth order in the family. To guarantee that I got the record I wanted, I printed the index images to send in with my record request. I paid for two record request look ups, one for Julia and one for Paul, even though he was not in the index, explaining they were twins. The cost of a genealogy purpose, non-certified copy, in the year 2018 was fifteen dollars for each birth record request, and required a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

A month later, I was very excited to get Julia’s birth certificate in the mail, but there was not one for Paul. Her birth certificate says she was born at 1318 Greenleaf street, which is also listed as the residence of the mother Rosalie Wandzel. I believe that she died soon after birth because Paul was baptized a month later in July, but Julia was not baptized with him. She would not have been stillborn, or she would not have been on this birth record registry. I wrote to St. Nicholas church in Evanston where Paul was baptized, to see if by chance they had a record for Julia, but they did not. They suggested Julia may have been baptized at home soon after birth if it was thought she might die.

Julia Sanetra’s birth record, Paul’s twin.

This explanation sheet, followed by the certificate below, shows that Paul Sanetra does not have a birth record, even though he was told that he was born at home, which would be the same place as his twin Julia was born.

I was curious about the name Julia, because I had not seen it before in family records. Yet most people in my family were named after other relatives. I started reviewing our Sanetra genealogy report from 2003. I found an error, and that error was where I found Julia. Our report correctly showed that Adam Sanetra had a sister named Apolonia with the birth year of 1872, and another sister named Katarzyna who was born in 1873. But, looking at the images of the records in my report, I saw that Adam’s sister Apolonia died in 1873, and that it wasn’t she who was living as an adult, but instead, Katarzyna had a twin named Julia who lived. Julia and Apolonia had been combined in the report. Julianna Sanetra (sister of Adam) married a Józef Kłósak, then after he died, Józef Oczkowski. Now I realize that Adam Sanetra’s twin daughter was named Julia after his sister Julia who was also a twin.

Paul lived to be 93 years old. He was able to reunite with his brothers Józef and Bronisław at about age 55, through letters. He hadn’t seen his brothers for about 42 years and was happy to be able to write letters with them. His brother Józef told him that he had a sister named Jadwiga from his father’s second marriage to Alfreda Mazurkiewicz. But Paul never knew he was a twin. We didn’t know because his baptismal record, nor any other record we have, mentioned that he was a twin. Julia’s birth record does not mention being a twin. Stanley was only a year old when his twin siblings were born and he was the oldest child at home. Paul’s parents never mentioned the baby Julia.

I wonder if maybe Paul might have felt that he was a twin. I was a teenager in 1992, when Paul told me, “I just love your name. I’ve always loved the name Julia. I have this ache in my heart for my family. I love my wife’s large family and being a part of it, but …there’s something about being separated from your family as a young boy. Would you help me find my brothers and sisters?” Then he started to tell me his stories.

Notes about Chicago records: Chicago restricts their records, only allowing indexes of their records online. The city maintains control of the originals. Purchasing copies of the originals provides income so they can fund their archives. Because FamilySearch indexed the records, they are able to show the digital index on line , but the contract with Chicago restricts viewing the digital images originally on microfilm in family history centers. Click here to read more about the contract.

Julia and Paul lived in Evanston, yet Julia’s birth record is recorded in the city of Chicago. Chicago is the county seat for Cook County. I would recommend if your family is near Chicago to check out Chicago city records as well as Cook County records.

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