Oct 26

Cipko Family Picnic

Earlier this month, we had a party to get together with family and celebrate Grandma and Grandpa Cipko’s birthdays and anyone else who had a birthday this year.  (That’s everyone except me!)  It was great to see everyone and we had a lot of fun playing games and looking at pictures.

Oct 6, 2012 at Heritage Park in Cerritos


Sep 23

Views of St. Peter’s Cemetery – Salzburg, Austria

It has been a few months since my trip to Germany and Austria, so I have had some time to sort through my pictures and get a little organized.  One of my favorite places we visited was St. Peter’s Cemetery in Salzburg, Austria.  After wandering through the “old town” of Salzburg, we came to the gates of a cemetery and wandered in.  It was a beautiful old cemetery, dating back to about 1627.  It took us a minute to look on our map and figure out we were in the same cemetery pictured in the movie “The Sound of Music”.

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, AustriaSt. Peter’s Cemetery is located right up against the base of the cliffs overlooked by an impressive Fortress.  Although the Cemetery is centuries old, most of the graves have carefully tended gardens.

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, Austria

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, AustriaSt. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, AustriaFrom the cemetery below we could see windows and little platform areas in the side of the cliff above.   That led us to discover the catacombs carved right into the stone cliffs.  For a small fee, you can go inside.

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, Austria

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, Austria
St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, AustriaSt. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, AustriaSt. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, Austria

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, AustriaThe view from the windows and platforms of the catacombs were of the cemetery below.

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, Austria

We learned that the families of those buried in the cemetery must pay a fee, every so many years to keep their relative’s headstone in place, which is so much more impressive when you see how old some of them are.  Those who do not have their fees paid,  have their graves removed and many were lining the walls around the cemetery and at the base of the catacombs.

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, Austria

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, AustriaThere were a few graves that looked as if they were starting to be neglected.  Maybe there was no one left from the family to take care of it.

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, Austria

Overall, it was a breathtaking sight.  Later that evening, we took the Funicular up to the Fortress where we enjoyed a string concert.  After all, we were in Mozart’s city.  It was amazing experience.

St. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, AustriaSt. Peter's Cemetery; Salzburg, Austria


Apr 10

1940 Census Released


Early this month, the 1940 US Federal Census data was released to the public.  Ancestry.com did an excellent job getting the images uploaded quickly and while the records have not all been keyed in for a search by name yet, it is not impossible to find who you are looking for if you know where to look.

Some of the first files to be completely uploaded were for the state of Indiana, just what I needed.  And using the street addresses from the 1930 census, I was able to browse the files, quickly searching each page for the street I was looking for.   It will help to find the Enumeration District if you know the cross-streets.

I was so happy to find my grandmother Christina Walters (Cipko).  I was surprised by how many family members were living together at the time- 12 in all.  Here is the image.


It took a little longer to find, but I browsed through Gary, Indiana and found my grandfather John Cipko.  Again I used the information from 1930 to find their street address.  Again the family is listed as Matulis, since my great-grandfather Kirilo Cipko changed his name to Michael or Mike Matulis.    I was very curious to find if the 1940 data would be able to answer some of my questions but I was left with even more.

Earlier this year, I had found my Mike and Mary Matulis gravestone in Portage, Indiana.  According to the stone, Mary died in 1942.  However, in the 1930 census it appears that Mike Matulis is “Wd”,  a widower.  This is written in very dark letters over a lighter “S”, single.  In 1940, it looks like he is “M”, married, but there is a strike through the letter.  My mysterious great grandmother Mary, is still a mystery.  My guess is possibly she was not a legal citizen.  I need to look more into the immigration laws at that time.  I know that Kirilo became a naturalized citizen in 1940.  Another possibility is that she was sick and in a hospital, but I will not be able to do a search until all the records are keyed in.  A third possibility is that she could have gone back to Poland.  I have more research to do.

One thing that I did find out from the new data is that my dad’s cousin Joan was going by the last name Cipko, her mother’s (Helen) name and not her father’s, who is unknown to me.  And my grandpa John is shown as Matulis, even though he has always gone by Cipko.  I did know that he dropped out of school after the 8th grade and this data backs that up.  I did not know that my great-grandfather had no schooling at all until now.  Here is the Census data for the Cipko/Matulis family.

One last thing, I have found something very curious in the 1925 Gary, Indiana City directory.  While there is a Michael and Mary Matulis listed at the known address on Georgia street, there is also listed a Karl and Mary Cipko a few blocks away.  I will look further into this, but I have up until this point not found a Karl Cipko in any of my searches and Karl is pretty close to Kirilo.  One more thing to look into.  Here are the pages from the 1925 city directory.


Mar 14

Phebe M. Rock, 1839-1922

Phebe M. Rock is my great-great-great grandmother.  She was born May 16, 1839 in Yates County New York to John and Betsy Rock.   Her grandfather Justus Rock was born in Scotland.  At the young age of 16, Phebe married for the first time to Josiah Davis, son of John and Wealthy Davis.    Josiah and Phebe married Sep 23, 1855 in Elkhorn Wisconsin.  Their daughter Mary Jane Davis was born Feb 26, 1857.  Phebe’s mother, Betsy (Green) Rock and Polly A. Lyons were present at the birth.

Phebe Rock and Josiah Davis Marriage Record

Phebe Rock and Josiah Davis Record

Josiah joined the Union Army and was part of the Wisconsin 3rd Calvary, company A.  On Aug 31, 1863, while preparing a road for his company’s crossing of the Meradison River in Missouri, a band of guerillas – Confederate soldiers in rebellion against the U.S.-  shot him through the body and killed him.  Phebe became a widow at 23 years old.

Capt of Company C gives an Account of Josiah Davis' Service

Phebe married her 2nd husband Franklin VanEaton in Faribault, Minnesota.  She was 26 years old when they married on May 1, 1866.  Together they had a daughter,  Effie Mae VanEaton, born on July 27, 1874.  Effie is my great-great grandmother.  Franklin died Dec 14, 1890, leaving Phebe a widow for the 2nd time at the age of 50.

Phebe Davis & Franklin Van Eaton Marriage License

On May 9, 1897 Phebe married her 3rd husband John Eason Sellers.  They had no children.   In 1910, they were living in Prosser, Washington.  John died November 19, 1914 leaving poor Phebe a 3x widow at the age of 75.

Phebe Van Eaton and John Sellers Marriage Record

After her third husband’s death, Phebe moved in with her daughter Effie and six years later on the 1920 US Census,  she is listed as living her son-in-law Clement B. Viles, her daughter Effie Viles, and their children, including my great-grandfather George Ernest Viles, Sr. who was 10 years old at that time.

Phebe developed severe Rheumatoid Arthritis that left her bed-ridden in her later years.   She had no other means of support and was trying to get her Civil War Pension reinstated.  Despite all the letters her daughter wrote to the government to reinstate her pension, Phebe was rejected due to being married one too many times.

Phebe's Rejection Letter 1917

Effie's Letter 14 Jun 1920, Page 1

Effie's Letter 14 Jun 1920, Page 2

Effie's Letter 14 Jun 1920, Page 3

Only after a new policy along with several letters from her daughter who never gave up her campaign, the aid of lawyers and even the Senator’s office writing letters on her behalf, was her pension reinstated on Jan 4, 1922.  According to the letter, a check would be mailed.  But I’m not sure she ever got that check, because on Jan 15, 1922 she passed away – only 11 days later.  In February of that year, her daugher Effie wrote a letter to the Pensions office to let them know not to bother sending the check  - she was dead.

Phebe's Widow Pension Reinstated

Effie's Final Letter to the Pension Office

It is sad to think that Phebe suffered as an invalid for so many years, but I also have to feel that she had the support of her family, especially her daughter.  There were over 150 pages of correspondence, sworn affidavits, and applications in the pension file for Josiah Davis.


Feb 12

Two Children Hurled, And Live to Tell the Tale

My dad has told me some pretty funny stories about my grandfather, John Cipko.  It seems that my grandfather was not the best driver and of course back when my dad was growing up there were no seatbelt laws.  Everyone just piled in the car and didn’t worry about buckling up.  My dad recalls a time that some of the kids actually fell out of the car while his dad was driving.  We laugh about it now, but if things had gone just a little differently it could have been a tragic story.  I found this article published February 22, 1953 in the Independent Press-Telegram(Long Beach, CA) that sheds some light what may have actually happened.  I believe my dad got some of the facts wrong because he was only 2 at the time.

John, Dorothy (Mike or Gary?) at the home on Pierce Ave.

Two Children Hurled, Six Hurt in Crash

Six persons, including two Lakewood children, were injured Saturday afternoon in a four-car smashup near San Pedro.  The children were hurled from the auto in which they were riding, and police said two of the vehicles involved collided to avoid running over the youngsters.

One of the drivers, Clyde Oliphant, 39, of 1204 White Marsh St., Compton, was arrested by San Pedro police on suspicion of felony drunk driving.  He was treated at San Pedro Receiving for abrasions.

The youngsters, Michael, 2 and Dorothy Cipko, 4, children of John Cipko, 39, of 4929 Pierce Ave., escaped with bruises.

Police said the accident started when cars driven by Oliphant and James H. Peebles, 429 W. Denni St., Wilmington, collided on Wilmington-San Pedro Rd.

The Oliphant car, police said, bounced off and then was in collision with one driven by William Faber, 27, of 6227 Keynote St., Lakewood.  Cipko and his two children were in the Fabor car,  police said.

Investigating officers reported that the auto driven by Edward G. Potter Jr., 236 W. 17th St., San Pedro, swerved to miss the two children, lying on the pavement and struck the Fabor vehicle.

Cipko suffered cuts and bruises.  Fabor received a broken nose and facial cuts.  Peebles and Potter both escaped injury.

A passenger with Oliphant, T.A. Brewer, 27, also of the 1204 White Marsh St., Compton, received face and head cuts.

Shortly before the four-car accident, four Compton and South Gate Sea Scouts figured in a spectacular traffic incident almost at the same location.

All escaped with minor cuts and bruises.  None was hospitalized.

San Pedro police said the youth’s car, with Charles McCollum, 17, of 11412 S. Bahama Ave., Compton, at the wheel, veered off the highway, smashed down a signpost, hipped out a wire fence and overturned.

With McCollum, police said, were Russell Harrell, 17, of 1325 Stoneacre Ave., Compton; Jim Wilson, 14, of 1804 Diane Dr., Compton, and Bill Bammer, 17, of 3719 Liberty Blvd., South Gate.

John Cipko

This is not how I pictured things going down from the stories I was told.  In my head, the kids were older when they “fell” out of the car.  I always imaged them dusting themselves off and getting back in the car and laughing about it.  Now that I know my aunt Dorothy was 4 and my dad was only 2 at the time, I am relieved that nobody was seriously injured.


Feb 05

R.I.P. Alice (Walters) Felty

On Thursday Feb. 2, 2012 Great Aunt Alice passed away.  Sadly, she was the last of George and Eva Walters’ 9 children to go.  Now they are all together in a better place.  All will be missed but not forgotten:

George Washington Walters (1886 – 1950) & Eva Marie Bierle (1891 – 1952):

1. Elizabeth 1913 – 1940

2. Anna 1915 – 2002

3. Frank Paul 1917 – 1975

4. Christina 1919 – 2004

5. Alice 1921 – 2012

6. George 1923 – 1956

7. Simon Peter 1926 – 2004

8. Susan Dorothy 1928 – 1990

9. Elsie Theresa 1930 – 2006


Feb 05

35 Years for Mike and Tammy

This Jan 22nd, 2012 was the 35th wedding anniversary for my parents – Mike and Tammy Cipko.  How did we celebrate?  That’s a good question.  To begin, I have to go back to the pre-planning that started on Jan 15th, exactly one week until the magical day.

It was a typical Sunday afternoon and my dad says to me, “By the way, I am having a party for our anniversary next Saturday and I might need to you to help decorate…but I don’t know where we are having it yet.”  Are you kidding me.  There was no way we were going to put together a party in less than a week.

“How many people are you planning to invite?” I asked him in disbelief.  ”About 30,” he says.  Then I proceeded to lecture him about giving people more than a week’s notice to RSVP.  Did he really think that all those people were going to have a nothing planned on a Saturday?

I stressed out over this for a couple days, suggesting places he could call on short notice.  He began calling around to invite people.  I don’t know what we were thinking.  Then it all worked out in the end because my mom, who didn’t know we what we were up to, suggested we go to Medieval Times.  2 coupons later and we had a group of 18 friends and family that showed up to celebrate with us.  We ate with our fingers and cheered on our yellow knight.  Everyone had a great time and the kids loved it.

Of course, they butchered our name when they pronounced it…somehow adding an ‘s’ sound to the end.  Mom and Dad thought this was funny since the same thing happened years ago when they were there for one of the their earlier anniversaries.

Happy 35 Years Mom & Dad.  I wish you many more!!!

More pictures to follow.

Mike & Tammy Cipko - 35th Anniversary

Kelly & Michael - Mom & Dad's Anniversary


Dec 19

Happy Birthday David!

22 years ago today (Dec. 19, 1989) my cousin David Jacob Faleafine was born.  I just wanted to honor his memory today.  We all miss him, and most of all his family that was closest to him is thinking about him today.  David left us on Christmas day 2010, gone to his eternal resting place.  Happy Birthday Cousin!

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Corinthians 5:1


Dec 18

Cipko/Cypke…Using Original Records to Find my Ancestors

A few months ago I received an email newsletter from Ancestry.com that discussed their record tool bar.  At the bottom, there was a link for requesting the original documents associated with a record.  The reason you would want to do this is that the originals often have information that is not recorded online.   Armed with this new information I went straight to the person in my family tree that I knew I wanted to try this out with first.  My great-grandfather Kirilo Cipko (aka. Mike Cipko aka. Mike Matulis) has been a huge brick wall that I have not been able to break through for as long as I have been doing family research.  With all his different aliases and his immigration from Russia, I had a problem finding information about his parents.  I did, however have many records for Kirilo saved to my tree.  I knew which one I wanted to look up.  He had a Social Security number and I found that there was an original application (SS-5) that I could send away for.  Using the toolbar to the left of the record, I clicked on “Request Copy of Original Application” and generated a letter to send to the Social Security Administration.  I mailed it off with the $27.00 fee they charge and crossed my fingers.  I was not sure what kind of information, if any, I would get back.

My great-grandfather is listed as Kirilo Cipko on the SSDI.  I knew that he also went by the name Mike…but was still shocked when I got my results back.  About six weeks after I mailed off my request, I found a letter from the Social Security Administration in my mailbox.  It had been so long, I forgot all about it and wondered what they could be sending me.  I was sent a form letter notifying me that under the Freedom of Information Act, I was entitled to a copy of the original application for a Social Security number for the individual, as requested.  Yes!!  Along with the letter was a very good photocopy of the application, signed by my ancestor.   The crazy thing is that he filled out and signed the application Mike Cipke.  And I almost cried when I saw that I now had the names of his parents – Nick and Anna Cypke.  Here it is in all its glory:


Nov 16

Asiah & Juliet’s Birthday Party

Pictures from the party – Nov 12, 2011.