When I started researching the Plaschko family, one of the things I wanted to look into was Rudy. We knew that Mansuet and Anna had 5 children – Joe (my great-grandpa, Grandpa Joe), Fred, Frank, Bill, and Marie (we all called her Aunt Marie – she’s the one who lived to 106). According to my mom, Grandpa Joe had once told her that he had had a brother named Rudy. When my mom mentioned this to Aunt Marie at some point, she denied it, saying there was no Rudy. With Joe being the oldest and Marie being the youngest, maybe she really didn’t know about him. So I made it my mission to look into this Rudy business. Through Ancestry.com I was able to access passenger lists and found Mansuet and his family when they came over. When I zoomed in on the page I was shocked – listed below Mansuet was his wife, Anna, then his mother, Anna, and then Rudolph, age 6 months! I had found proof that there was a Rudy!
Next, I turned to census records to find the family. The first census I checked was the Federal Census of 1900. I found the family living in St. Paul – Mansuet, Anna, and three sons, Joseph, Frederick and Frank. No Rudy. At this point, I thought maybe he died as a baby since he was only 6 months when they came over. Luckily, Minnesota has Territorial and State Census records for the years 1849-1905 so I checked into those. And there he was listed in the state census for 1895 – Rudolph, age 4, along with his little brother, Joe, age 2.
Now I had to know what happened to the little guy. Nothing else came up on Ancestry.com so I thought about where I could find death records. Everyone on my mom’s side of the family basically settled in the same neighborhood and attended the same church so I contacted the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul. It turns out copies of their parish records are held at the Minnesota Genealogical Society in South St. Paul, so that’s where I went. I found the roll of microfilm for St. Agnes and threaded it through the machine. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent looking at that one roll – I recognized so many names it was a gold mine of information. Because they all went to that one church I had more information than I could handle at the time. I wrote down as much as I could knowing that I would be back. On that day, I really just wanted to see one name and I did – a note in the parish death records that Rudolph Plaschko died in 1898. Unfortunately, that’s all it said. So that made him about 7 when he died. Older than I thought and that made me sad. At this point I was quite obsessed about what happened to Rudy. Now that I had a year, I googled and searched and tried to figure out where to go next. I ended up on the website for the Minnesota Department of Health but they only had death records from 1908 and on. For older records, I had to go to the county. I contacted the Ramsey County Department of Health and they found a Rudolph Plaschko in the index but said I needed to come in person to pay for a copy. When I got there, the lady went to pull the book and make a copy. Instead, she brought the actual book where the deaths were recorded. She told me I could just look at the entry and she wouldn’t charge me the $13.00. And there it was…Rudolph Plaschko, died February 3, 1898 at age 7 of pneumonia. He had lived to be 7 years old…I thought of my own girls who were not much older than that at the time and it made me even more sad. I then contacted Calvary Cemetery in St. Paul to see if they had information on Rudy. There was a grave for him and they sent me a map to find it. I had a list of other people at Calvary that I’d been wanting to search for so I talked my youngest daughter, Lizzie, into coming with me to look for graves with a promise of a stop for ice cream at Grand Ole Creamery on the way home. We started at one end of the cemetery and made our way around. After quite a while, we reached an older section where Rudy’s grave was located on the map…it was harder to navigate as some stones were harder to read and some weren’t even visible anymore. I kept picking one on the map to start from and count to where Rudy should be but no luck, it was never his. I started getting frustrated and losing hope that we’d find it. I mean, he died in 1898 and if Aunt Marie didn’t even know about him maybe no one had ever visited his grave or cleaned it off. Maybe it sunk like some of the others. It was summer so it was hot and Lizzie was getting bored…she wanted her ice cream. So I gave up for the day thinking I’d come back alone and we started heading back to the car. A guy had been mowing while we were searching the cemetery and there was fresh grass on some of the footstones. As I walked, I started kicking the grass out of frustration, bummed that he wasn’t there…and then I saw it. RUDOLPH PLASCHKO 1891-1899. I stood in disbelief and then yelled to Lizzie “I found him!” She ran back to me and we just stared at it. I actually started to cry and whispered “I found you, Rudy, I found you.”