Finding Serafina Kelm

Note: As always, I will update this blog entry with more information and sources as I find it. If you have more information about Serafina, or Seraphine, Kelm, feel free to comment or email me at sarika.l.kelm@gmail.com.

In my previous blog post, I talked about Julius’ and Serafina’s immigrating to Manitoba. Serafina was Julius’ first wife. The first record I have that mentions her is the birth record for her daughter, Olga Kelm, entered in a Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe database. Olga was born in Neudorf, Novograd Volynsk [Volhynia], Russia, on July 12, 1903, making her almost three years old when she arrived in Manitoba in May 1906. In the birth record, Serafina is recorded as “Seraphine Albert,” which makes me wonder if one of the boarders, H. Albert, (a single thirty-year-old Polish man) mentioned as living at 677 Ross Street with the Kelms in the 1906 Census of Canada is a relative.

On June 24, 1906, just two days before the census takers arrived at 677 Ross Street, Serafina gave birth to a baby boy who soon died. Another son, William Kelm, was born the following year, on May 24, 1907. Serafina is recorded as “Josephine Herman” in the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency genealogy database, but “Josephine” may be a transcription error. Herman is a surname mentioned in the 1906 Census (see previous blog post); a boarder and possible relative, Christian [Herman], was living with the Kelm family in 1906. I would need look at William’s birth record, which I don’t have at the moment, to see if I can glean more information.

“[Unnamed Kelm death record].” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 21 Jun 2012. Courtesy of Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

Serafina (recorded as Seraphine Kalm) died February 20, 1910, at the age of twenty-six at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. Her death record (see below) states that she died of “organic heart failure” and that she had been sick for three months. The Brookside Cemetery Burial Search indicates that she was buried two months later, on April 16, probably because the ground was too frozen. At the time of her death, the Kelms were living at 261 Dorothy Street.1

Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 22 Feb 1910. Retrieved 14 Jan 2020 from Newspapers.com.

“[Seraphine Kelm death record]” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 21 Jun 2012. Courtesy of Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

1 Looking at the 1911 Census of Canada (see Census transcriptions at the Manitoba Historical Society website) reveals that 261 Dorothy Street, located next to the Canadian Pacific Railway station, was home to many tenants—at least 41 in 1911⁠—though there are no Kelms living there according to the 1911 Census (and I have been unable to find them elsewhere).

Journey to Canada

Note: This blog entry will expand as I verify more information.

According to this Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922 ship manifest (scroll down to view the relevant section), my great-grandfather, Julius Kelm (recorded here as “Julius Kelin”), made the journey from Volhynia, Russia (present-day Ukraine), to Canada in 1906. Julius; his wife, Serafin[a] (age 22); son, Gustav (age 3); and daughter, Olga (age 2), arrived in Quebec City, Quebec, in May 1906. They arrived by ship, the passenger cargo steamship SS Mount Temple, their final destination Winnipeg, Manitoba. Julius is described as a farm labourer and the family is recorded as German.

Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922. Retrieved 12 Jan 2020 from FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2Q38-S1J

One thing that I noticed while writing this blog entry was that all four members of the family have “N.A.T.C. Bonus Allowed” stamped beside their names. According to Library and Archives Canada, NATC stood for the North Atlantic Trading Company, a company contracted to find “suitable immigrants” from 1899 to 1910. I have always wondered why the Kelm family decided to migrate to Manitoba, so this is a good starting point—a future blog post maybe.

Tragedy struck soon after the family arrived in Winnipeg. On May 31, 1906, Julius’ and Serafina’s son, Gustav, died of pneumonia. According to family lore, Julius’ young son fell ill while crossing the Atlantic and died very soon after they arrived in Winnipeg. The following record was found through the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency, under “Gustav Kahn.” Because his parents are not listed and because of the age discrepancy (he is listed as five years old and not three like in the ship manifest, but the two-year discrepancy also applies to other family members), I cross-checked information to make sure it was the same Gustav. In this record, Gustav’s birthplace is listed as Russia, and the address listed is 677 Ross Street, Winnipeg.

“[Gustav Kahn death record],” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 18 Jul 2018.

The address matches what is recorded in the 1906 Canada Northwest Provinces Census, which was recorded June 28. Julius (under “J Calman”), Serafina, Olga, and two boarders (H. Albert and Christian Geaman—possibly German or Herman) are living at 677 Ross Street. Gustav is no longer with them.

“1906 Canada Northwest Provinces Census,” Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 12 Jan 2020 from Ancestry.

Blog Update

Welcome to 2020. My apologies for disappearing. 2019 was a big year—for me (I got a new job and moved apartments) and for the Kelm family in general. First of all, my grandma, Lyla Kelm, passed away on June 18, 2019. She was ninety-eight years old. I have included her obituary here and I am looking for stories about her, even short anecdotes. If you have a story about Lyla, I would appreciate if you would allow me to share it here. My email is sarika.l.kelm@gmail.com.

I have big dreams for this blog, but am waiting to acquire a few things in order to really get going: a decent scanner for several family photos I acquired this summer and a subscription to Adobe Photoshop so I can edit. My computer is very slow, so it may be a month or so before I am adequately equipped to share all that I want to.

“KELM, Lyla Ruth 1921 – 2019 Passed away peacefully and went to be with her Lord on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in her 99th year. Predeceased by her beloved husband Robert and her son Wally. Cherished mother of four daughters Ruth (Frank), Lois (Sam), Phyllis (John), Jean (Tony) and four sons John (Lynn), George (Debbie), Jim and Steve. Loving grandmother of 14 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Fondly remembered by her nieces and nephews. Lyla was an active member of Central Community Church. The family will receive friends at Central Community Church, 240 Scott Street, St. Catharines on Monday, June 24th from 11:00 a.m. A Celebration of Lyla’s life will follow at 12:00 p.m. Interment Victoria Lawn Cemetery. If so desired, donations made in Lyla’s memory to Community Care would be appreciated by her family. Heartfelt thanks to the doctors, nurses and staff at NHS, St. Catharines site for their compassion and care.”

“Lyla KELM Obituary,” Legacy.com, 18 Jun 2019. Retrieved 11 Jan 2020, https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/stcatharinesstandard/obituary.aspx?n=lyla-ruth-kelm&pid=194940479&fhid=11146