Catholic priest helps her locate the record of a missing baby

Debra Kamrowski

“My husband was a convert to the church,” says Debra Kamrowski of Tucson, Arizona. “None of his family's temple work had been done. My father-in-law told me that in his parents' family there were only four children, all born in Chicago. He was very adamant about that.

“That was the first side of the family I felt impressed to research. But every time I tried to research them, I got stuck. The film would be unavailable or something. My husband was in the military and about to be transferred, so I made one last effort. I went to the library, and on the census index it said the oldest child in the family had been born in North Dakota.

“I thought, well that's wrong.” So I pulled the original census record, and it said that this oldest child had been born in Chicago. But as I looked at this record, I saw that number of children born to this mother was five—so I had a feeling that a child had been born that the other children didn't know about.”

Debra spent hours looking for information, but found nothing. She wrote to a Catholic priest in North Dakota asking about the birth, but she received no answer.

“Finally I called Salt Lake City and asked what to do. They said to submit a family group record and just list the child as ‘baby’ and have it sealed as both a boy and a girl. But as a mother, the thought of not having one of my children was very distressing to me. I just couldn't let it go. I kept looking.”

About three days before they were going to go do the temple sealing, the telephone rang. “It was the Catholic priest I had written to,” she says. “He identified himself and said, ‘I understand you are looking for a baby.’ He said, ‘The records are not here. But I felt impressed to drive to a neighboring town and I got the record. Would you like the information?’”

The record was of a little girl who was born in 1897 in North Dakota and died less than a year later. “That's what prompted the parents to move to Chicago,” Debra surmised.

“Kind of in connection with that, when I was expecting our seventh child, we wanted him to have a very strong family name. Both my husband and I have the name William on our sides of the family, so we chose that for the middle name. But needed a first name. We just felt he needed to have a very strong family identity.

“I worked in a school, and there was a little boy there whose mother was critically ill. It was very scary for him. I don't know what prompted me to do this, but I asked him if it would be OK to name the baby I was carrying after him. He was very excited about that. So we ended up naming my last son Andrew William, and it felt right.”

The rest of the story: “When my son was 12, I was in the Family History Library in Salt Lake, on the international floor, and I found the records for William Kamrowski, who had come to this country from Poland. I thought I had every US record for William Kamrowski I could possibly get. Everything said his name was William. But when I found his Catholic christening record, he was christened Andrew WIlliam Kamrowski.”

Permalink to this story: http://familyhistory.ce.byu.edu/stories_kamrowski

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