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Treasure Chest Thursday – What’s in a Birthday?
September 15th, 2011 by Jessica

Request for Birth Date from Helen Stroik

Request for Birth Date from Helen Stroik

This letter is another family treasure.  On February 8, 1968 my great-grandmother Helena Frances (Goretski) Stroik received this response from the Social Security Administration Office.  Apparently she had written to them asking for the birth date they had on file.  Their response was very clear: “Our records show your date of birth as December 5, 1891.”

Helen didn’t like that response.  On all the family documents we have prior to 1968 and afterwards, she continually stated her birthday was December 5, 1900.

Nine years difference.  Was it such a big deal?  To Helen, it was.

First all, Helen’s father Adam Goretski died in 1893.  If she was his child, there is no way she was born in 1900.

Marriage License Announcement

Marriage License Announcement

Another clue is that she was married to her husband Andrew Anton Stroik in September 1906.  I’ve heard of underage marriage, but at five years old?  Sorry Helen, I don’t think so.  It’s even a bit shocking that you were only 14 years 9 months old on your wedding day.

Next there is the whole problem about her having a child when she was eight years old.  Her first son Frank Stroik was born on October 2, 1908.  If Helen was born in December 1891 as the Social Security Administration believed, she would have been sixteen years old when she gave birth to her first child. This makes much more sense than if she were eight.

Grave of Helen F. Stroik

Grave of Helen F. Stroik

I’ll never understand why she continued to insist that she was born in 1900.

Helen Stroik died in Saginaw, Michigan on May 1, 1982 at the age of 90.  Thirty years later, her grave sits in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Merrill, Michigan as a monument to her unknown age.  While the birth year of 1891 stands correctly, her death year still has not been engraved.  Maybe this is one final, great testament to her unwillingness to share her true age with the public.

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© 2013 Jessica M. Green