Research Thoughts

Back to Wausau I Go

I was working on a bit of filing today, as I am making a strong attempt to keep my computer desktop clutter free, but it is an ongoing process. A couple of weeks ago when I asked my mother if she knew where dad had been baptized, she went on a digging spree for me. And came up with a puzzle.

In 1971, my grandmother Anola Josephine Cook Sternitzky, needed a copy of her birth certificate. She would have headed to Wausau, the county seat of Marathon County, Wisconsin, the city and county in which she was born, to get a copy. Grandma was born in 1910, three years after it became mandatory for all births, deaths and marriages to be reported to the register of deeds, so a copy should have been on file.  But apparently not, as she had to apply for an “Original Birth Record–Delayed.” 

In order for her to receive the document, she needed to prove who she was, and when and where she was born. Her older brother, Russell, provided an affidavit of her name and birth, stating that “I was living in the same household at the time of her birth,” and she provided a copy of the birth records of her sons, along with a copy of a life insurance policy that had been taken out in 1941. 


Now to the puzzle. Reviewing the May 1971 copy of my dad’s birth certificate, a couple things stand out, and to be honest, I am not sure that the people in the Register of Deeds office will even confirm or deny my question. On this newly typed document, clearly labeled a copy, my dad’s surname is spelled incorrectly throughout the document as “Sternetzky.” Is this a typo on this document, or is this the actual spelling as recorded with the register of deeds?


My theory? It was an innocent typing error made by Robert G. Gernetzky on that day in May 1971. His fingers followed the familiar path, rather than the correct path. Proving it would seem like a simple process, but there is the roadblock that they may not let me view the original, as it is still in the eyes of the law, a recent birth. My plan? Hand them a copy of the document, ask them to look at the original, and either confirm or deny the spelling.

Now, why did grandma need a copy of her birth certificate in 1971? 


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  1. Mary

    Susan, I did some thinking on your question on why your Grandmother, my mother, had to have a Birth certificate in 1971. Margot had asked me why several months ago and I have been pondering this. Today I did some simple math and subtracted 1910 from l971 and came up with 61. At age sixty one she was trying to apply for medicare as you apply at least 6 months before you are eligible to receive it. I remember her worrying about it at the time, and I figures it had to be about medicare but until I did the subtraction and remembered you must apply early to get it, I could not figure out why, at that time it became important. Mary

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