If my grandfather Henry Pater was still alive, today would be his 100th birthday. This post is in his honor:
Just the Facts:
- Parents: Louis Pater (born Ludwik Pater, 1893-1957) and Elizabeth Miller (born Elżbieta Müller, 1891-1972)
- Born: 25 March 1912, Langhorne, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
- Baptized: 04 April 1912, Our Lady of Grace RC Church, Penndel, PA
- Siblings: Walter (1913-1975), Louis (1916-1940), Victor (1919-1951), Eugene (1920-1979)
- Married: Mae Zawodna on 01 February 1930 in Bromall, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The civil marriage was blessed on 21 June 1930 at St. Adalbert’s RC Church, Philadelphia, PA.
- Children: Joan and Anita
- Died: 17 October 1972
- Buried: 20 October 1972, Oakland Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA
Five Things About My Grandfather I Learned from Genealogical Records:
- All four of my grandparents were first generation Americans; however, my grandfather Henry Pater was the only grandparent to actually know his own grandparents, Joseph Pater (1864-1945) and Antonina Pluta Pater (1863-1938). He also is the only grandparent to have met one of his great-grandparents, his great-grandmother Francziska Anna Wojciechowska Pluta, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1909 and died in 1914 at the age of 74.
- Henry was five years younger than his wife – although I would not know this from the marriage license alone since they both lied about their age. At the time of their marriage, Henry was 17 and Mae was 22, but the record says he is 22 and she is 21! He is also the third generation Pater male to be younger than his wife: his father Louis was 2 years younger than his mother, and his grandfather was 1 year younger than his grandmother.
- The young age at Henry’s marriage is likely why he was married “twice” – my grandparents lived a few doors away from each other. After their civil marriage, they each went home to their parents’ house. Neither set of parents were happy when the news was eventually announced. They had the marriage blessed in a Catholic Church at the insistance of the bride’s father, Joseph Zawodny (I didn’t learn this fact from the records, but I did learn the addresses and the dates of the marriages.)
- Henry became a very young grandfather. His first grandson, my cousin Richard “Ricky” Zukowski, was born in 1951 when Henry was 39 years old. Sadly, Ricky died at the age of 15 months. Henry would have to wait another seven years to become a grandfather again.
- Records alone would have left me confused about Henry’s middle name if my mother didn’t know the truth. On his birth record, his name is Henry M. Pater. His baptismal record lists no middle name. His marriage record indicates the “M” is for Marion. His death record mistakenly lists it as Martin. However the marriage record, in his own hand, is the correct name.
Five Things About My Grandfather I Learned from My Mom:
- Henry worked as a knitter in hoisery mills, and was quite accomplished at it. He preferred working the night shift when he could operate several knitting machines at once.
- When Henry was introduced to his future son-in-law (my father) for the first time, he said, “Call me ‘Hank'” which caused my mother and grandmother to double over in laughter because he had never, ever used that nickname before.
- Henry called my mother “Chick” – apparently a nickname he got from a book. His other daughter Joan was called “Jub”. And his wife, my grandmother, was “Killer”.
- Henry liked to read. I wonder if that’s where I got the reading gene? I wish I knew what sorts of books he liked to read.
- Although Henry was born in the United States, he learned Polish from his parents, aunts & uncles, and grandparents. His wife Mae also learned Polish from her Polish-born parents. When the couple married and had children, they frequently communicated in Polish if they wanted to discuss something without their girls listening in on the conversation.