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#2133753 - 03/15/12 07:37 PM Seek Polish family of WWI soldier killed in France
RonFranscell Offline


Registered: 02/17/12
Loc: Texas, USA
My name is Ron Franscell, and I am a journalist and author. But Iíve recently become part of an all-volunteer effort to reconnect a small personal military artifact with a fallen infantrymanís family, and I hope that someone in your agency will help me do a good and right thing.

A WWI dogtag was found last year by a French metal-detector on a WWI battleground in France. Rather than sell it into the collector market, this French citizen decided to try to reunite it with the family of the doughboy who lost it. I volunteered to help him. We are not accepting any compensation for this, not even the eventual costs of shipping the dogtag to the family from France. Iím hoping you can help me connect the proper dots.

I am seeking information about Army PFC JOE GRAIPER (#45870). The surname is listed as both GRAIPER and GRAPIER Ö and his dogtag looks like GRIEPR. When he registered/enlisted on April 26, 1917, he lived in Ironwood, Gogebic County, Michigan, USA in Michigan. According to the Michigan Archives, Joseph Graiper was born in Poland to Stanley and Rosalia Grapier (no hometown listed). He was a single man, worked as a miner. No birthdate or other information was given. The actual spelling of his surname is not known at this time.

He was in Company A, 18th Infantry, 1st Division. He was killed in action on July 21, 1918, and published casualty lists in American newspapers claimed he was from Opale, Russia. Although likely buried in a temporary grave on/near the battlefield, Graiper/Grapier/Griepr was eventually buried permanently in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery near Fere-en-Tardenois, Picardie Region, France. His headstone there says his name is JOE GRAIPER.

Ellis Island records contain no comparable GRAPIER (although he might have come through another immigration point that I haven't checked). I can find no GRAPIERs in Michigan today. I found a 1956 article in the Ironwood, Mich., paper that lists JOSEPH GRAPIER among the county's war dead for a soon-to-be-built memorial (which might still be there) ... and the story mentions that the task of gathering the names was made difficult, in part, by the great number of immigrants from that county who enlisted to fight and who had no family in the USA.

I cannot find an Opale, Russia, but I found an Opole, Poland. I donít know if that is his hometown, nor the home of his parents. But it is likely a good place to start looking.

Thatís all we know at this time. Itís quite possible he came to the USA alone and has no direct descendants here. But he might still have modern-day relatives in Poland.

I am genuinely sorry that I simply donít know more about this doughboy. I am hoping that someone there understands and will help us get a little more information on him, which might lead us to his modern-day family. However we get there, I think itís worth every minute we spend trying. We wonít accept any compensation for this work, even postage.

We want to return this small, noteworthy artifact to PFC GRAIPERís family. Thank you for listening, helping and being patient while I explain this unusual tale. I hope we can make something good happen.

Ron Franscell
franscellr(_a.t_/)aol.com

_________________________
Ron Franscell
franscellr (at) aol.com
www.ronfranscell.com

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#2134011 - 03/16/12 06:39 AM Re: Seek Polish family of WWI soldier killed in France [Re: RonFranscell]
BarbaraLL Offline


Registered: 01/31/12
Loc: New York
I wonder if the Polish consulate could help?

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#2134863 - 03/17/12 09:03 AM Re: Seek Polish family of WWI soldier killed in France [Re: ]
RonFranscell Offline


Registered: 02/17/12
Loc: Texas, USA
A new wrinkle: The 1/27/1920 edition of the Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe carries a small story about certificates to be awarded to the next-of-kin of local soldiers who died in war. Among them was Nicholas Grapier. (This is the surname spelling the newspaper uses.)

I presume Nicholas to be Joe's brother. A 1919 story in the local paper noted that Joe had been killed and the military had notified his unnamed brother (presumably local) because "his father Stanley Grapier is living in Opale, Russia."

So brother Nicholas might have his own family tree where we'll find modern-day relatives.
_________________________
Ron Franscell
franscellr (at) aol.com
www.ronfranscell.com

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#2135074 - 03/17/12 04:55 PM Re: Seek Polish family of WWI soldier killed in France [Re: RonFranscell]
RonFranscell Offline


Registered: 02/17/12
Loc: Texas, USA
CORRECTION!! Upon a closer reading, the 1/27/1920 newspaper reference to Nicholas Grapier appears to be a typographical error. As such, NO NAME has been associated with Pfc. Joseph Grapier's brother. The story states that certificates were to be awarded to the next of kin of the men on the list, which had Pfc. Grapier listed as "Nicholas," not Joseph.

BUT ... the story still suggests that a certificate was prepared to be presented to one of Pfc. Graiper's family. Just no name listed. "Nicholas Grapier" might well be a dead-end. Sorry if this sent any of you searching down that rabbit trail.


Edited by RonFranscell (03/17/12 04:55 PM)
_________________________
Ron Franscell
franscellr (at) aol.com
www.ronfranscell.com

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#2138528 - 03/22/12 11:08 AM Re: Seek Polish family of WWI soldier killed in France [Re: RonFranscell]
peachiekeen444 Offline


Registered: 12/16/10
Loc: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Have you posted this in the Michigan forums as well? You might get some luck with Ironwood. You could also call the town's city hall as perhaps they have a honor roll book that has the name of the war dead like many city halls do. Also, if there is any veteran's group in the area, they might be able to help.

Finally, I have some Polish relatives who were buried in Ironwood. Perhaps their church and cemetery could help. Please let me know if you want me to dig.

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#2138679 - 03/22/12 03:21 PM Re: Seek Polish family of WWI soldier killed in France [Re: peachiekeen444]
RonFranscell Offline


Registered: 02/17/12
Loc: Texas, USA
There has been (and still might be) an Ironwood "Roll of Honor." I've seen several stories about it in the local newspapers from 1920 to 1956, and Pfc. JOE GRAIPER is on it.

The Michigan Archives provided some of the most solid data we have about Pfc. Graiper/Grapier, including the names of his father and mother in Poland (the decidedly unPolish-sounding Stanley and Rosalia Grapier). The Archives contained a short, hand-written summary that said he was single, a miner, and enlisted on April 26, 1917. But no birthdates, addresses, local next-of-kin, or any other informational bit that might point us in the right direction. His military records were destroyed in the 1973 St. Louis archives fire.

One local newspaper story in 1918 said that because his parents lived in Poland, the official notification of his death was delivered to his brother. No name or residence was given for the brother, but because it was a small local newspaper, I presume the brother lived in or near Ironwood. Unfortunately, no Grapier/Graiper pops up in the Michigan 1920 Census. It's quite possible the name had already evolved into something else (Graper? Graber? Who knows?)

Any help you could provide would be appreciated. We have hit a brick wall in our attempts to find modern-day family. In advance, thank you so much.
_________________________
Ron Franscell
franscellr (at) aol.com
www.ronfranscell.com

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#2140513 - 03/25/12 08:58 AM Re: Seek Polish family of WWI soldier killed in France [Re: RonFranscell]
peachiekeen444 Offline


Registered: 12/16/10
Loc: Cambridge, Massachusetts
I showed the story to my Polish friend to see what he thought. His first impression was that the name is Jůzef Grajper and that his parents names were likely Stanislaw and Rozalia. Grajper means "digger". That's fitting if it is the case as Ironwood is a mining town (-;

In case Nicholas somehow does enter the mix somehow, that name is Mikołaj.

Someone is also asking about your case on the Polish forums and getting some thoughts in case you want to follow: http://www.polishforums.com/genealogy-ancestry-6/looking-graiper-family-58044/


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