Meet Jeff, life-long Lansing area resident and amateur genealogist. Follow him as he enters his 19th year of researching his family’s path from the harsh copper mines of the Keeweenaw Peninsula to the conveniences of modern Lansing life. You’ll see the drive behind the long research hours, meet his family members and learn something about family life in the Upper Peninsula.
While many members of the Petlewski family worked for the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company, one branch of the family tried their hand at the saloon business. Various records indicate that Walter’s Uncle Stanislaus never worked in the mines and worked in retail as soon as he arrived in Calumet. According to Polk City Directories and his obituary in the Calumet News, Stanislaus first gained employment as a clerk with L. Hennes & Co and later with prominent local grocer, James Lisa.
Stanislaus’ deed for the future establishment, commonly known as Petlewski’s Bar, was signed in 1882; just days after his daughter, Octevga contracted measles and died. He attained his residence/storefront at 608 Oak Street in 1882, three years before his first attempt at running a saloon. Perhaps this indicates that his lifelong dream was to establish a retail establishment of some kind. The Michigan State Gazetteer and Directory indicates that Stanislaus tried to establish his first saloon between the years of 1885 and 1889.
However, Stanislaus’ first attempt at operating a saloon likely did not succeed. A colleague of mine discovered this neat little find in the 1901-1902 Polk Houghton County, MI City Directory.
Stanislaus shortly operated an undertaking and embalming business in nearby Laurium with John Maurin, Michael Richetta and Angelo Richetta. I’m still not sure how long this venture lasted.
Much of the evidence I have about Stanislaus’ life is from the Houghton County, Michigan Courthouse and records that are housed at the Michigan Tech Archives. The local courthouse that served your ancestor’s county of residence can contain many records documenting your ancestors life. Some basic records include vital records such as birth, marriage and death records. These records are the foundation to documenting your family tree as they provide basic tree-building documentation. Other records at the courthouse, such as wills, land deeds and criminal court records, will give you context into your ancestor’s life.
Check with the courthouse in your ancestor’s home county to find out what may still exist for your ancestor and how to access them. In some cases, local county records may have been donated to a local archive. Another source may be your local LDS Family History Center. The LDS Church has microfilmed and digitized many county records that exist in the United States. Their microfilm catalog is accessible through FamilySearch. For more information about what is contained within various court records visit the ancestry.com wiki.
When Stanislaus died in 1916 from pneumonia he left a total of $1,500 dollars to three of his children. According to his will, Stanislaus also left $2,500 to his remaining five children upon the death of his wife, Mary. That was quite a bit of money in 1916. Wills also contain fascinating information about your ancestor’s business. I’ll end this post with a few of the fascinating items Stanislaus left to his wife, Mary. Stanslaus’ brother, Joseph, possibly used these items to run the saloon into the Prohibition years.
- 15 Gallons of Whiskey
- 40 Gallons of Black Berry Wine
- 25 Gallons of Port Wine
- 20 Gallons of Brandy
- 25 Gallons of Rock & Rye
- 10 Gallons of Alcohol
- 5 Gallons of Stomach Bitters
- 5 Gallons of Crème de Mint
- 10 Gallons of Gin
- 10 Gallons of Rum
- 18 Boxes of 5 cent cigars
- 10 boxes of 10 cent cigars
- 5,000 10 cent Cigarettes
My Next Post: The Big Larceny Case
“Michigan, Deaths, 1867-1897,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N3J8-14C : accessed 15 Nov 2012), Owega Petlaska, 20 Nov 1882.
Petlweski, Stephen [aka Stanislaus]. Estate File. Houghton County, Michigan, Courthouse.
Polk City Directory. Houghton County, Michigan. 1901-1902
Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory. 1885, 1887-88, 1889
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(c) jantaya 2012