A baby boy who was never named was born in July 1944, in Detroit, Michigan. The family believes that he was kidnapped and another dead baby substituted for Baby Boy Hacht. While at first this sounds improbable, if not incredulous, it isn’t.
That child, if still living, would be 70 today. So, if you or a male family member was born in the summer of 1944, in or near Detroit, please consider this possibility as you read this article. It’s also possible that if the child was part of a black market baby ring, the birth location could have been falsified, so any birth in late July 1944 should be considered.
John James Hacht & Jean Marie Mlasko were married on November 18, 1942 in Michigan.
In 1943, Jean became pregnant, and in the heat of the summer in 1944, on July 29th, their first child, a boy was born at Grace Hospital, a Catholic hospital, in Detroit.
This date is very important, as is the fact that the hospital was Catholic as this story unfolds.
I met Patti Hacht, the sister of Baby Boy Hacht, in 2009. We worked on this mystery for some time, but have hit a dead end. Patti’s living brother tested at Family Tree DNA for the Y DNA and Patti has tested at Family Tree DNA, 23andMe and at Ancestry for autosomal DNA.
I’ve asked Patti to tell this story in her own words.
On 29 July 1944 a first child was born to my parents – a son who never received a name other than Baby Boy Hacht (BBH.) BBH was born at Grace Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. My mom fed him for several days and then one day “medical personnel” came in and told her that her baby had died.
BBH had not been ill, and my dad’s sister worked at Grace Hospital. These three family members never believed BBH died. They always believed he was “switched” with another baby, one that really had died. My mother did not see the baby after death, but my father did, and he never believed the dead child was his child.
When I first heard of BBH, I was in my mid-late 40’s. I was driving in the car with my mother one day as we were driving by White Chapel Cemetery, about a year before she died, and she casually said, “That’s where our first baby is buried,” then added, “but we never believed our baby died.” I almost drove off the freeway!
It took me 3 years to find BBH at White Chapel. As it turns out, he was not buried there. He was cremated there, but his cremains were sent back to the funeral director.
Having been a family researcher for over 30 years, I went to the Detroit Vital Records Department to get a Death Certificate for BBH. As I walked away from the counter, reading this new document, I saw that BBH was listed as “stillborn.”
That was impossible.
You can’t feed a stillborn baby for “several days.”
So I went back to the counter, hoping to find out what was going on with this “wrong” Death Certificate. The clerk suggested we look for a Birth Record.
Ten minutes later, we had that record, and it too stated that BBH was “stillborn.” I later discovered that a stillborn baby never received a birth certificate at that time, only a death certificate. In 2003, Michigan began issuing Certificates of Stillbirth in addition to death certificates.
On closer inspection, it was clear that the Certificate of Death had been heavily altered. Someone had taken what appeared to be a thin Scripto pen (which had not even been invented yet in 1944) and “wrote over” what had originally been written on the document. The written over date was “29”, the year was “44” and the time was “9:57 a.m.”
Additionally, except for the signatures, all of the other information for BBH was typed, except for the birth date and death information…almost like the death certificate was being pre-prepared.
I noticed another odd detail – BBH had been cremated. This was unheard of in this timeframe and was expressly prohibited by the Catholic church. Grace was a Catholic hospital. My parents were actively Catholic. All of their children attended Catholic school. White Chapel Cemetery, where the cremation occurred told me that they would have only cremated “maybe one person” a year in 1944, and never a newborn baby.
However, his certificate clearly states that BBH was cremated.
For several years I tried to find the funeral home, J. P. Miller on Van Dyke in Detroit. Apparently my parents never picked up BBH’s cremains, apparently because they believed he had been buried, and I wondered if I might find viable DNA in them.
After about four years, I talked with someone at the funeral home. It had been sold a couple times, and the man I spoke with was retiring the very day I had called. He said that any cremains that might have remained in the building would have been destroyed as the building had been abandoned for several years and the roof had collapsed, so the inside of the building was exposed to the elements for many years.
I wondered why my Catholic family would have cremated their child and why they never picked up the cremains or had them buried. It makes sense only in the context that my parents never believed the dead child was their son and they sent the child’s remains who were substituted for their own child’s to be handled in the least expensive way possible. They likely had no idea that the child’s cremains weren’t buried and were returned to the funeral home. They never visited the grave because they never believed their child died. Unfortunately, by the time all of the details unfolded, my parents had passed away and couldn’t be asked.
This was also a very difficult time for the family for other reasons as well. My father’s mother was terminal with cancer and would die a couple of months later. This young couple had their hands full.
For several years the family pondered over those “write overs” in BBH’s Certificate of Death. In April of 2006 we hired Speckin Forensic Laboratory in Okemos, Michigan to conduct a forensic exam on BBH’s original Death Certificate – we wanted to know what had been “written over.” Getting to the exam had been a lengthy process. I was appointed BBH’s Personal Representative in Probate Court, and we had to obtain a court order for the State of Michigan to allow the forensic exam.
The forensic exam showed three chemical erasures – someone used some sort of chemical to first try to “erase” what had originally been written. Then they just wrote right over those chemical erasures. The original writings were: Day, 31 July. (This had been overwritten to read “29” July); Time, 10:00 a.m. (This had been overwritten to read “9:57 a.m.) So the date was changed from 31 July to 29 July and the time was changed from 10 a.m. to 9:57 a.m. The exam also clearly showed that the “overwritten” information was written with a different ink that the original writing.
|Death Day||Death Time|
|Original Entry||July 31||10 AM|
|Overwritten Entry||July 29||9:57 AM|
It was the opinion of the examiner (who was a retired Michigan State Police Officer) that the Certificate of Death was probably altered to “match” BBH’s Certificate of Birth. There probably was a baby that died and for whatever reason, and this baby probably died on 31 July. Then BBH was “substituted” for this deceased baby, and records were created that would make BBH’s Certificate of Birth and Certificate of Death “match.” If his birth and death date and time didn’t match, by three minutes, then he wasn’t “stillborn.”
The Detroit Legal News at that time published all the births in Wayne County. The males and females each had their own column, and the name and address of the mother was listed, along with the date of her child’s birth. I have compiled a list of about 200 male births in all of Wayne County from 27 July through 31 July. I believe one of these mothers took BBH home from the hospital and raised him as her own. She may have never known BBH was not her biological child.
I have been trying for years to narrow this list of 200+ names to ONLY babies born at Grace Hospital. All attempts to accomplish this have proved unsuccessful. Hospital records reportedly “burned” several years ago.
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Parson’s Street in Detroit would have been the Church that handled emergency baptisms for babies born at Grace Hospital – babies that became ill and needed to be baptized immediately. The baby baptized would have been one of those babies on my list of 200+ names from the Detroit Legal News. St. Patrick’s records do not have a baptism for BBH or any of the other names on my list. I do not know if you had to be Catholic to deliver a baby at Grace Hospital. Perhaps the baby that really died was not born to Catholic parents, so there would not be a record of a Catholic baptism? A stillborn baby is not baptized either.
We don’t know WHY Baby Boy Hacht was substituted for a deceased baby. Were the dead baby’s parents from an elite Detroit area family? A member of the Mob? Was it someone that hospital personnel was afraid to inform that their baby had died? Were hospital personnel negligent with someone else’s baby and decided to switch the dead baby for BBH, thinking these were young parents and they could just have another baby the next year? Did BBH become part of a black market baby ring? Why was the death certificate backdated to say that BBH was stillborn instead of having died 2 days later?
Or was there perhaps a widow whose husband had just been killed in WWII who delivered a stillborn baby and doctors determined to “fix” the situation for a new widow? This last idea was nixed – as in 1944, the thinking was more “stiff upper lip” and people did not necessarily treat the bereaved gently. The thinking of the day was to “get on with your life”, and giving a recent widow someone else’s baby didn’t mesh with that way of thinking.
If something wasn’t being covered up, then why were the dates and time changed, and why was a child who had lived for 2 days listed as stillborn?
Let’s take a look at scenarios of different possibilities.
- One Time Baby Swap – The baby of another patient died or was stillborn on the 31st and BBH was swapped for that child. If this is the case, then the swap was unplanned and the mother was likely from the area. BBH’s paperwork was altered to reflect that he was the stillborn child, on the 29th, not on the 31st as originally recorded on his death certificate.
- BBH Died of Natural Causes – If BBH simply died, the hospital would have completed a death certificate and not gone to the trouble to falsify his death certificate, claiming a still birth to match his birth certificate time and date.
- BBH Died of an Accident by Hospital Staff – Let’s say someone on the hospital staff accidentally dropped the baby and the baby died. This might get sticky and making the death a stillbirth, which was much more common, would avoid any questions.
- BBH Died of an Accident by His Parents – Let’s say one of his parents accidentally dropped the baby at the hospital and he died. In this case, the hospital would certainly not have been complicit in a coverup and would not have falsified the death certificate, nor claimed that the child was stillborn. There would have been a death certificate that reflected the actual death date and cause, and not a stillbirth.
- BBH Was Part of a Larger Baby Market Ring – In this case, the couple who raised BBH as their own would not have necessarily been from the Detroit area. Young and naïve parents would have been the best targets as they would be less likely to ask questions and/or make waves. This would also have required the involvement of at least one doctor (to sign death certificates) and more likely several medical personnel including nurses. However, this would have been much more effective if the child was simply spirited away at birth and the parents told the child was dead, not after the parents having handled the child for “several days.” Given that BBH’s paternal aunt worked at that hospital, if there was something of this nature, you would think that over the years she would have at least heard rumblings, especially given that the family, including her, believed that BBH had been swapped for a dead child.
Either the One Time Baby Swap or the Accidental Death by Hospital Staff make the most sense. If the BBH was swapped, as his parents and family believed, then he may be alive today.
It’s very possible that the parents who raised BBH had no idea what happened, and therefore, neither does BBH himself.
Babies Born in Detroit
I asked Patti to provide the various documents involved, as well as the names of the other families who were listed as having given birth in the Detroit area in the surrounding days.
It’s most likely that the baby that died passed away on July 31st and that BBH’s death certificate was amended on July 31st, as the original writing stated, to reflect that he was stillborn on July 29th instead. Although, I certainly have to wonder if the doctor who signed as the attending physician didn’t think that the parents would have noticed at the discrepancy – especially since the child had been attended by his parents for part of the 29th, the 30th and the 31st until he “died.” At that time, however, one simply did not question someone like a doctor.
Perhaps the amendment was actually done after the doctor signed the original death certificate, but that is unlikely, because a cause of death would have been completed by the doctor and there is no other cause of death listed other than stillborn, which was unquestionably not true.
In any event, this first list is the list of surnames of families whose children were born in Wayne County on July 31st. The 31st is the most likely day for the baby who was stillborn to have been born since that is the original death certificate date on BBH’s death certificate. There is no way to determine which of these babies were born at Grace Hospital.
Also, please keep in mind that this list is very likely incomplete – births of illegitimate children and children who died weren’t listed. Others, such as famous or notorious people, may not have been listed either. The hospital was very clearly in control of which births were submitted for publication, and which were not – and if there was something “funny” about the birth of BBH or the other child – or the parents were famous or infamous, that birth may not have been listed. It’s also possible that the parents who wound up with BBH were not from Detroit.
This second list includes the surnames of all of the babies born in Wayne County between July 27 and July 31, 1944 with the municipality as listed in the birth announcements in the newspaper.
|7/28||Boorgois||Gr. Pte Woods|
|7/28||July||Van Dyke (??)|
|7/30||Lucey||Grosse Pt. Park|
|7/29||Sevener||Grosse Pt. Park|
For additional information, contact Patti Hacht at firstname.lastname@example.org. Patti does have additional information about each family from the birth announcements.
What Might Baby Boy Hacht Have Looked Like?
This first photo is of two of BBH’s siblings, as children.
This second photo is of the 4 Hacht siblings as adults.
If you think you might be Baby Boy Hacht, or might know of someone who would be a candidate – please contact Patti Hacht at email@example.com. Patti does have additional information about these families, such as the mother’s first name and the addresses.
If you would like to DNA test first to see if you match Patti’s brother’s Y DNA or Patti’s family by autosomal DNA, please test at Family Tree DNA.
The Y chromosome is passed from father to son intact and is what makes males male. BBH carries his father’s Y chromosome and BBH’s sons would carry his.
Autosomal DNA is contributed to a child from both parents. The child receives half of the DNA of both of his parents. You can read more about how DNA is used for genetic genealogy here.
The Y DNA of Baby Boy Hacht or a his male child or male grandchild through a son will match that of Patti’s brother. The autosomal DNA of Baby Boy Hacht or his children or grandchildren of any gender will match with Patti and her family.
If you would like to DNA test, we recommend the 37 marker Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA for males and the Family Finder autosomal test for either gender
Here’s the link if you’re interested.
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Here we go! I really hope this puts an end to your search. Be sure to keeP us informed as it develops. Have a Merry Christmas and a special new year. Allan
Sent from my iPad
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this article, Bobbi. I SO hope we find him!!
Is there a way to narrow down the list or surnames by eliminating Blacks and Asians?
I am going to try to do this by using the 1940 Census. Until now, I have not seen where the 1940 could be helpful to me as BBH was born 4 years later. It is only since this has gone to print that I DO see value in this search.
Thanks for your input!
I’m finding that VERY FEW of these moms are in the 1940 Census! I thought this would be a fairly easy thing to do.
4 years is a long time, so people could have moved away in that time. You might have better luck looking in the city directories. Sometimes in a city directory you will find a notation “removed to …” Then you can try looking for them in the census again.
Have any of the Hacht siblings considered posting this on FB? With the popularity of social media today, it’s amazing how far something like this could go. The family name wouldn’t necessarily have to be included, just something like: Looking for a 70 year old man who could possibly be my brother! Are you a male, born July 29 and July 31 in Detroit?
How often does ”switching” occur I wonder??? Only one person has ever mentioned such a
possibility to me but apparently DNA testing ruled out the possibility – to the relief of all concerned
Possible quick screening besides DNA for BHH: . Are the parents and siblings all brown eyed? Does this eliminate or require a blue eyed person? Are they a rare blood type? or all type O?
Jean, great points! and also wonder about DNA results – German, Russian..ect
Jean Ray, one sibling is blue eyed. The rest are brown eyed as are both parents.
My Dad was 50% German and 50% Irish. Mom was first generation 50% Croatian/50% Slovenian.
RJK – This note is not meant to hurt anyone but there are alternative explanations of what might have happened. As an amateur genealogist for 40 years, whose major efforts have involved Catholics, there are variations on what has been stated. First, one must remember the belief in “Limbo for Infants.” This belief is that an infant who dies before being born is suspended in Limbo. Having not been baptized the infant has not been cleansed of original sin, hence hung up between heaven and hell. If the baby is declared born then a conditional baptism can be given and the baby can be admitted to heaven. If the doctor declares the baby was born and died 3 minutes later then a conditional baptism can be given – problem solved. As an aside I have completed tax returns within the last four years for Hispanic parents who have provided me this type of birth & death certificates.
Second, still-borns are often buried in cemeteries. Their birth and death dates are recorded as the same on the tombstone. The birth is a “star” on the left and a “cross” on the right. As a second aside I am (Believe it or not) a “grave-witcher.” As such I have had difficulty identifying the sex of the buried; more boys are still-born than girls, but the boys often come up as female.
Third, miscarriages are also treated strangely. They may be accorded a grave site or, as the old adage goes, they are buried at the edge of the cemetery – where the asparagus grows.
Many of these situations are buried in unmarked graves, including next to their relatives. Yes, cost can be a consideration when it comes to plots. I have found both recorded and unrecorded birth – deaths in unmarked graves which only cost savings can explain their presence.
None of this explains the HEAVILY altered death certificate.
It also doesn’t address the “problem” that my mom must have fed a DEAD baby for 2-3 days!
BBH’s death cert clearly states that he was cremated. . . and While Chapel Cemetery personnel verified this info. We are quite certain that BBH was not buried, at least not at Whie Chapel. White Chapel stated that BBH’s remains were sent back to the funeral director.
Actually this comment about baptism may be helpful to your case. Many babies used to be baptized immediately or very soon after birth. When were you and your siblings baptized? If your family followed this early baptism tradition, there could be a baptism record out there somewhere. Either the chaplain of the hospital, if you can find out who that was, or the priest of the church your family attended.
This doesn’t apply to your situation, since your brother was not buried, but just for general information – Catholic cemeteries had an area for non baptized babies who died, and stillborn babies who couldn’t be baptized that was located outside of the consecrated grounds. There are records of the burials in these sections just like there are records of any other burial.
Re-reading the blog, I see you have checked for baptisms at the church who provided emergency baptisms. It wouldn’t hurt to check some other surrounding churches in the event the priest belonged to another church.
Are you sure Grace Hospital is Catholic? If I am reading about the same hospital, there are some records at the Reuter Library of Wayne State University. Named after Grace McMillan Jarvis a daughter of one of the founders. Other articles say it was a Homeopathic Hospital. Check this page for a link to a listing of the records at the library http://reuther.wayne.edu/node/2592
At any rate, regardless of religion, cremation still wasn’t very common in 1944. Anglicans didn’t approve of it until 1944, and Catholics not till 1965.
The body of a full term baby who lived for at least 3 days would have looked much different from a stillborn baby, should someone have started asking questions and had the body exhumed.
To me, a cremation of a baby in the circumstances you describe would have been done to hide something.
I am not “sure” Grace was Catholic, but everyone I talk to tells me that it was a Catholic hospital back then.
Someone said that the nuns at Grace were nurses; another person said she remembers photo’s of “regular” nurses in their uniforms. I doubt nuns would wear nurses uniforms, but who knows?
What is apparent, but not mentioned in Patti’s story, is the identity of the attesting physician. Both birth and death certificates appear to be signed in the same handwriting. As best as I can make out, the physician was a W. (). Hartman, M.D., with an address at 2195 E. Grand Blvd. One can clearly make out the identical “2195” in the address. It is unlawful to falsify vital records and it is apparent no autopsy was performed, as would be required under suspicious circumstances. I personally suspect that is the true reason for the date discrepancy. Most likely there was malpractice and a resulting death that would have required an autopsy, leading to liability by the hospital and possibly attending physician.
You’re right Mark, there was no autopsy done, at least none that I could locate.
The doctor was indeed Dr. Hartman. Dr. Hartman is now deceased.
Might there be similar situations surrounding this doctor? Has this happen before or since?
I don’t know. I have been able to unearth very little info about Dr. Hartman. I can read the address below his signature on the birth and death documents, and I have found him in the 1940 Census in Detroit, MI, but that’s about all I know of him.
Patti, I believe you have a brother raised by another mother out there. I do hope you are able to find him and that he had a good life. This was not as uncommon as one might think. Doctors “helped” families out in this era at the cost of others. Most likely to me that your brother was substituted to a family of a deceased child. I will guarantee he had help to accomplish this. Someone knew & never spoke a word. It might have been a one & only time or it could have gotten easier to do over the years of the practice. Good luck in your discovery.
This is a fascinating story. I hope you have a successful conclusion and the mystery solved. Please keep us updated. The above comment by Kathryn about posting on FB is a great idea if you haven’t already done that.
We have now got it plastered all over FaceBook. Thanks for that great suggestion from both Kathryn and you.
What a fascinating mystery. I hope that you find him or his family & can get to the bottom of it.
Due to possible thoughts of baby swap – is there history in the area at this time?
Check possible Baptisms at other area Catholic Churches?
What about 10yrs later (?) re First Communion records?
-this is more difficult/more work, were Canadians nearby known to go to Detroit for births? Check the Births in the local newspapers?
Please keep us posted, what a sad event and apparent cover up.
Any luck with tracking down the various doctors of the time.
None. Dr. Waldmar Hartman was the attending physician, and he is deceased.
I have been unable to find births listed in the local newspapers.
If I had a short list of names, some of your other suggestions might be feasible.
Apparently (as we’re now hearing) baby “swaps” were not unheard of in this time frame in Detroit.
No idea about Canadians, but that’s something I never even thought of!! That opens up another entire country!!!
This search is so interesting. I am wishing you luck Patti. Have you tried the Mormon genealogy library on any of the names you have to track and even your baby brother?
My sister was born at Grace Hospital in Detroit in 1948, and we have never been Catholic.
Thank you. That answers that question.
Yes! This is GREAT info to have!!! Thank you.
I was born at Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital in 1942. My family is not Catholic. This is where the doctor practiced who delivered me. So, I would think that there is a possibility that the baby might not have been a Catholic.
This is helpful info. I have not known if families other than Catholics were treated at Catholic hospitals.
This is a very fascinating account, Patti. I wish you all the luck in the world in coming to a correct conclusion. Barb Stafford
Good luck in your search.
Can anyone determine if Dr. Hartman was perhaps a “mob doctor”? There could be some old newspaper articles that connect him to having treated mobsters. Also as a Catholic, and having recently helped a Catholic Charities adoptee connect with her bio father, the story that was written in the report that the adoptive parents received during her adoption were not at all what the bio father remembers. And her adoption involved police and coercion.
I am not sure that you can draw the conclusion that the baby was switched, as much as it would be delightful to find a new sibling. I would look for evidence that the physician or hospital had a reason to cover their tracks. The change in the birth record might have been too cover their activities, if they had high levels of infant mortality. Would there be something in the newspapers? Losing a baby 2 days after birth that appeared to be healthy would not be a good thing for them. I worked as a librarian in a hospital for many years and know that hospitals are watched closely for the incidence of bad outcomes.
Well, no one actually said that the babies were switched Peggy, but that IS the conclusion I have come to. My brother was NOT stillborn. Period. End of discussion. And whomever wrote that LIE on paper, told some more lies when they “altered” the data on my brother’s Death Certificate.
In my opinion, someone took an ordinary birth and turned it on its head. They told one lie after another. I’m out of ideas for any “good” reason so many lies were told.
Working as an RN, I don’t think bad outcomes strategy was a consideration during the war in 1944. That is a contempory approach. Doctors were given much more room to play God then. Even in the 60’s where I live, I know of many doctors who were arranging adoptions under the table on a regular basis and without a qualm. It is totally within the range to question this and I think the baby went to another family whether he was it was a switch made under duress or out of compassion.
I think that fact that they were given a dead baby and the dad did not believe it was his child tends to make me think it was a switch of some kind. They would not present a different dead baby if the real baby was dead too. If he had really died then they would have just presented his body to the dad.
Unless something really bad happened to that baby’s body and they used another dead baby to show the dad and also presented that same dead baby to the real parents of that baby then went ahead and cremated the real one. I’m not sure why they would say it was a stillborn and alter the dates, but it does give another option to this case.
Another possibility is maybe the two babies had been accidentally switched at birth to begin with. The mom is feeding some other woman’s baby. Her real baby was really stillborn. They somehow realized the mistake. Then they present the real baby to her with no explanation that she had the wrong baby and then the alive baby went back to the real mom.
Not sure if these are likely possibilities.
My parents had a similar incident, in 1954. This was their 4th child. Born in Detroit, but I’m not sure which hospital. Maybe Mount Carmel. My said that after the birth when she was I’m her room, the doctor came in and told her she had a healthy baby boy. She was very excited, because they had 3 little girls at home. She wrote out all the birth announcements, and gave them to my Dad to mail when he left the hospital. The next day she asked the nurse why they hadn’t brought the baby to her yet. The nurse became upset and asked ” hasn’t a doctor been in to talk to you!” Mom said no and the nurse left. Latter on a doctor came in and said that their baby girl was very sick and wouldn’t survive. The next day they were told that their little girl had died from a heart defect. She was buried at the cemetery at Woodward and 12 mile. My mom never saw or held her, during those three days and she always believed her baby boy was switched with a sickly baby girl. Mom passed away 5 years ago.
Wow! A fascinating story. I’ve heard that this was not as uncommon as you’d hope it would be. . .
Did your parents ever try to look into this? You might want to go to the main branch of the Detroit Public Library (across the street from the DIA) and ask to see the Detroit Legal News on microfilm. I’d be interested to know if your mom’s baby was listed in the births. When I did this, I had to go to the south side of the building.
The justification could very well have been that your family already had children and perhaps someone with more resources and unable to take a baby home was given the opportunity with a little help from the staff. I would be willing to bet that this child went to another family too. Most people didn’t question it or have the resources to confront a person of high standing in the community as a doctor. It is a shame but it happened.
Are there any other family members (besides the parents and the sister who worked at Grace) that might have been alive at the time and perhaps visited the hospital after the birth or know anything else of the birth/death of BBH? Very interesting story…..I hope you have luck with discovering some information that will help you in your search for the truth.
Unfortunately, there are no other family members who visited my mom in the hospital.
We have been unable to uncover any further facts about BBH’s birth or death. All we know for sure is that he was NOT born “stillborn.”
Strange indeed. There is lots to question in the documents. I noticed the length of stay in the first document is written over also. In 1944, would they have had refrigeration in a morgue? Because if the baby supposedly passed on the 29th, but wasn’t realised to the funeral home until the 31st or 1st?? Or if in fact the deceased baby was even a boy? As no family confirmed the sex.
As for the doctors signature, I belief the doctors often signed blank forms in this time, for nurses to file out, so they would not have to return to the hospital after going home. I know when my grandmother gave birth in the 1940’s she was scolded by the nurses for partially delivering before the doctor arrived. She was blamed for the cord being around the babies neck, because the nurses would not deliver him. The baby survived with lack of oxygen he was left with brain damage. With that being said, there could have been a mother or father that switched the babies. Too many scenarios. Good luck to you, God Speed!!!
Are you positive the doctor’s signature is genuine?
I have no idea if the doctor’s signature is genuine, and I don’t know how I’d get that info. You’ve given me something to think about though.
Was he the same doctor that delivered you and your other siblings? If so, you could check the signature on their birth certificates.
My siblings and I were all baptized in the parishes that my parents attended, Lisa. But for this first baby, they were living in Detroit. I have no idea where they attended Mass. I have sereious doubts that there would have been any kind of baptism for a baby that was cremated. Do you have any thoughts or knowledge about cremation? I have to believe it would have been a “mortal sin” to have BBH cremated. I’m only guessing at this, but the ladies at White Chapel Cemetery were SHOCKED to see that BBH had been cremated.
No, Dr. Hartman did not deliver my siblings.
I have another idea. I am going to join a Rootsweb list for Wayne Co, Michigan and see if anyone on the mail list was delivered by Dr. Hartman.
Patty, Cremation was absolutely not allowed by the Catholic Church until 1965. Cremated remains would not have been allowed to be buried in the consecrated area of the Catholic Cemetery. Even today, some Catholic priests prefer to have the body present for the funeral mass and cremated afterwards even though the church does allow for cremation first.
My point about the baptism is that if your parents could have called the priest and had the baby baptized withing those three days. Nothing to do with the hospital. If they believed baptism should be done immediately, there could be a church record out there somewhere.
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Having read your article with interest and the comments made. Have you also considered try Twitter and other family history websites? They may be able to reach more people and fe may have travelled abroad. My family spread across the world in the 1950’s. Good luck.
Great suggestions, Anne and Lisa. I don’t use “Twitter”, but Roberta’s article has been posted to at least a couple other family history sites.
I am quite sure Dr. Hartman’s name was Waldemar. I cound him in census rcds. I also believe that there might have been two Dr. Hartmans – Waldemar and William. I found rcds indicating Waldemar had gone to U of Detroit in the late 1930’s.
The article went to Twitter through my social link. I hope that some people retweeted it.
You may also want to join some of the adoption websites where people are trying to find their birth parents. You might find babies who were under the care of Dr. Hartman. If you contact the University about the Grace Hospital records, you could learn more about him. When he practiced there, and if he left and went elsewhere.
Are you sure is name was Waldmar? Kind of peculiar, but I found a William Hartman who was a surgeon, died 1936, but he was at Grace Hospital, and was the Railroad board surgeon. I found this in the index of deceased physicians database at familysearch.org. No listing there for a Waldmar I realize 1936 was too early, but it caught my attention.
Did you only test at Family Tree? I would suggest you also test and 23andme to broaden your options.
Nope, my brother and I have tested with all three testing companies. We are also on GedMatch. Roberta has seen to it that we have those bases covered. Good suggestion though.
Have you read the ”History of Grace Hospital” on the Walter P Reuther Library website?
Same website has a page entitled ”Grace Hospital Records”. Also
firstname.lastname@example.org might be worth checking. Good luck.
Thank you, Carl. I believe Dr. Hartman was just out of residency when he began working at Grace.
I am now starting to doubt that Grace was a Catholic Hospital (although some “old timers” swear it was.) Your baptismal info is most appreciated. I do know that in Germany in the 1800’s a mid-wife could baptize a baby if it was in danger of dying.
I also find it interesting that your own birth cert has “crossed out” info. You are the only person I know of other than my brother, with this kind of certificate.
Oops, I meant Carol, instead of CARL!!
I forgot to mention that the Walter P Reuther Library – Grace Hospital Records website does include a pdf of the Grace Hospital Collection which includes ”Grace Hospital News 1944” (The
Second Edition) as well as a couple of other items for 1944.
I was born in a Catholic hospital (albeit in a different city) about 18 months prior to Baby Boy Hacht; thus this story struck a chord. I have a few comments:
1. Like me, Baby Boy Hacht was born while WWII was raging. Physicians, no matter what their specialties, were called into military service. The physician who delivered me had been dragged out of retirement and my mother feared for both our lives. Interestingly, my own handwritten birth certificate contained errors which the physician corrected by crossing-out the incorrect information.
2. Much of this mystery is grounded on the hypothesis that Grace Hospital was a Catholic institution. I don’t believe that this was the case.
3. Search of nearby parish churches for baptismal information will likely be fruitless. In circumstances where death is threatened, any Catholic is authorized to baptize; this would have been a knee-jerk reaction on the part of anyone in the 1940s. There would have been no official record of such a baptism.
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Hi Carl – I agree with you that Grace Hospital was not Catholic. Patti mentioned she was told the hospital was Catholic and that nuns were nurses there. There could have been nuns who were nurses and working at Grace Hospital even though the hospital itself was not Catholic. If there was no Catholic hospital nearby, or maybe because of the war, the nuns who were nurses worked there to help the community. Covering up an accident, or switching babies and cremating the remains is not the normal procedure at any hospital Catholic or not, so I don’t think it makes much of a difference that Grace Hospital was not a Catholic institution.
While any Catholic can baptize someone in danger of dying, this baby was alive and healthy for 3 days, before the parents were suddenly told he had died. So, my thinking was that if this Catholic family followed the practice of baptizing their children right after birth, they may have called their own parish priest, and had him baptized at their request. If this occurred, there might be a baptism record out there worth looking for. This would have been something done independently of the hospital, and might be worth looking for.
At any rate, in my opinion, an actively Catholic family would never have agreed to cremate their baby, regardless of the affiliation of the hospital, so something is just not right.
E-YEARBOOK.COM has a photo of Waldemar B Hartman on page 93 – University of Detroit,
Class of 1930.
Wayne State University Libraries: Shiftman Medical Library Historical Collection:
Hartmann, Waldemar B., ”The Early Embryology of the Gonad” published Detroit, 1938, 44 pages.
”A Thesis to the Graduate Council of Wayne University
for partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree Master of Science in the Department of
Thanks, Carol. This is available on Amazon.com too – at least the info. I knew about this thesis, and that was another reason that I thought Dr. Hartmann might have been fresh out of medical school around 1944.
There appears to have been a marriage. I prefer not to detail here in the interests of
any possible descendants.
The following may be of assistance:
”Detroit’s Hospitals, Healers and Helpers” by Patricia Ibbotson.
”The Traffic in Babies: Cross Border Adoption and Baby-selling Between the United
States and Canada, 1930-1972” by Prof Karen Bolcom, McMaster Uni.
organdonor.gov: ”Timeline of Historical Events Significant Milestones in Organ Donation
and Transplantation”. It might be worth checking with the relevant Health Department, Hospital
and University to see if any type of Register was maintained in the 1940s for body/organ/tissue
donation. In such cases, there may have been eventual burial/cremation.
”A History of Organized Crime in Detroit”.
The Harry Houdini matter – his death in a Detroit hospital in Room 401 Halloween 1926 and a suggested exhumation some years ago in order to determine if poisoned. I read that séances were then held annually here on the anniversary of his death – I do not know for how long this
continued. A book was written in 2006.
I think there may be a publication on Detroit’s Catholic Churches. I don’t know how many different
Churches there were in Detroit but there is a Wikipedia article on James F Jones (Minister) who started the Church of Universal Triumph, Dominion of God there in 1944. No doubt there were
others. Some churches may have included some Catholic elements although not Roman Catholic
I expect you might be aware that the National Post ”launched an investigation … into coerced
adoptions between the 1940s and 1980s” (2012).
There was a Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and another such group in London.
Perhaps elsewhere? Refer ”Your baby is dead: Mothers say their supposedly stillborn babies were stolen from them” by Kathryn Blaze Carlson, March 23, 2012. See aforementioned ”National Post” reference.
Wow, Carol, I didn’t see this email before! II’m very interested in your comment that “there appears to have been a marriage.” Could you email me directly at: Duncaha@gmail.com?
I rec’d another comment today, and was just scrolling through the old comments. That’s how I stumbled upon yours. You put a lot of thought and time into your comment. Thanks so much. I look forward to hearing from you.
I sent details in an email to you a few days after my abovementioned
post. Would you mind checking, please to see if it is in your Inbox?
I typed Duncaha with a lower case ”d” which it seems is incorrect.
I have some further information I can send when I can confirm the
correct upper or lower case.
Have you checked with the Diocese that handles the Wayne County area? You said you checked with St. Patrick’s Church near the hospital, but if your parents had their own priest come in to baptize the baby, maybe the Diocese has a record.
Also, have you looked at the doctor’s family members? Maybe one of his relatives baby died while their husband was at war and he stepped in to get them a baby. I saw he has 2 sisters from the census info (assuming I am looking at the right Hartman family). I did a quick search and didn’t see marriage info pop up on Family Search but I would look at those sisters.
You should set up a FB group and maybe get an organized search going – different people have different skill sets so take advantage of anyone willing to help. I am sure there would be a lot. There is also a group called Search Angels and they might be able to help if you haven’t checked with them.
When I checked at the Diocese,. they sent me off to St. Patrick’s, Kelly..
I also do have a FB page set up.
Thanks for your suggestions. I may try a Search Angel.
My brother was stillborn about a year before yours wasn’t, but in Washington, DC. My mother did not go to a Catholic hospital even though she was very Catholic. He doctor wasn’t. The hospital chaplain called a nearby Catholic church and he was baptized before *burial*.
Both Dr. Hartman and the hospital were licensed by the state. Besides searching Detroit’s city archives (at the main branch of the library?), you might want to inquire of the state archivist. It’s possible they have records from the 1940s on microfiche.
Also, then as now, when a doctor closed out his practice, sometimes he would sell it to a younger doctor and his records would go to that doctor. They might have been thrown out by now, but maybe not. When something came up about my son, i was able to call my pediatrician’s son who looked up my records from 20 years earlier in his father’s files — stored in a rental storage room.
But to find your brother, Facebook is probably your best bet. Best wishes in your search!
Your story is so interesting. I was born July 29 1992. I hope you find out the truth about what happened to your brother. Whatever it was wasn’t right.
An (Arab?) proverb states: “One lie requires a thousand (or hundred?) lies to back it up”. Given there is or appears to be evidence of an initial lie, consider ALL the remaining ‘facts’ as potential lies, until proven true. This may facilitate your sleuthing to find the boy. Very best wishes in your quest. I, too, am searching for an (older) brother who was given up as a baby before our late mother was placed in a prisoner camp – so that he may survive. But he was never seen again..
I wish you success in finding your brother too, John. Your post has provided another way to look at my “facts.” Thank you.
INFANT PROTECTION AND BABY SWITCHING PREVENTION ACT OF 2015 – intended to reduce likelihood of patient abduction and switching.
Have you seen this website about stolen and switched babies? I believe that your brother could have been sold.
I have seen this site! Scary, isn’t it? I often wonder how many of us there are, searching for family members “taken” from our families. . .
I had never seen that site before, and yes, it is really scary. One thing that caught my eye there was a note that you could send a freedom of information request to the FBI concerning black market babies. I wonder if you were to contact them if you could find out if that hospital or doctor had been investigated for any wrongdoing involving babies?
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I am looking into a similar family situation, however the doctor declared the baby as a boy and the Mother Superior nurse declared it a girl as they put my mom to sleep.
Maybe the switch was to cover the birth and death of a baby girl (cremation cover up and lost ashes). Some Catholic families during that time would have continued to have children until they had a boy.
Good luck on your search. God bless.
I am interested in the outcome.
Any update on this mystery?
Not that I know if but maybe Patti is following and will answer.
There is a very active genealogy group on reddit. Some people are amazingly accurate on things they find. Others don’t have a clue about any of it. Still worth a reprint of this post.
Can’t hurt, that’s for sure.