Gwiazdowski? Brick wall coming down?

Crumble Crumble..

Since publishing my Single View post on my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski, Sr. I have been checking all information I have on the Zalewski family. I ran through each of his children’s records and all of the other info I had written down. I was then looking for copies of obituaries that I know I’ve seen. I checked the “Zalewski” folder in my file cabinet and decided to just browse through everything in there again. In 2000 I was in contact with a descendant of Frank & Anna, Michael Rynka, that was also doing some research. When my dad and I met him, he gave me a nice booklet with all of his Zalewski family information in it. There was nothing new in that book, but I was able to scan in a lot of the photos that I had never scanned.

Then I read over the two letters that he had sent me originally. There was nothing new in the letters that popped out, until I read this:

I am especially interested in learning more about the parents and siblings of Frank Zalewski, Sr. I do not know their names, nor do I know how many brothers and sisters he may have had. My mother’s (Editor’s note: his mother is Frank & Anna’s granddaughter) godfather was Joseph GORALSKI, and she remembers that he was somehow related to the Zalewski family. However, I don’t know what the relationship may have been. Joe GORALSKI was not Frank’s brother-in-law, since his wife’s maiden name was not Zalewski. Perhaps Joe was Frank’s cousin.

I decided to go down this path. This paragraph most likely means that Joseph GORALSKI had lived in the Milwaukee area. After finding a Joseph Goralski in the Milwaukee US Census records (1900-1930), he is shown living with his wife and in-laws in the same area as Frank & Anna. His in-laws are listed as August & Anna GWIAZDOWSKI. Using the information in these records (immigration, birth, etc) I found this same group in a Philadelphia passenger list for December 1892. In the notes for this group of people it says, “Visitors Nephew Franz Zaleski at 902 Pulaski St.”

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Seeing that Pulaski Street is right near Fratney Street in the Riverwest neighborhood of eastern Milwaukee where Frank and his family lived most of their life, this was a very, very good clue. Now, assuming this all adds up, this would make August GWIAZDOWSKI Frank’s uncle and Mary GORALSKI (Joe’s wife) his cousin. And, obviously, this would make Frank’s mother’s maiden name GWIAZDOWSKI, also.

Now, I have yet to prove this information, but I am so happy that this passenger list happened to list that much detail as to where exactly the passengers were going. This is the first time I’ve seen that much detail and it was the exact information that connects them to my family. Without it, I wouldn’t have gave it a second thought.

This opens up more research, but that’s a good thing. One good and bad thing is that the surname GWIAZDOWSKI doesn’t seem to be extremely popular. I’ve already found some information on other people researching it, so I have some contact to make.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if Michael Rynka is still around. It’s been 9 years since I’ve last contacted him. When we met him he was already blind in one eye and I had heard that he may have had a stroke in the last few years. I checked around today using online phone books and even looked through the obituaries, but I haven’t found him. I do have his address and phone number from 2000, so I may just go out on a limb and give them a try.

See, it pays to do these Single View posts, huh?

About Brian Zalewski

I started genealogy research about mid-1999. My grandfather had passed away in April of that year. Since then I’ve done a lot of research not only for myself, but for friends and other relatives. In 2006, I married the love of my life, Darcy, and welcomed the birth of our daughter, Aerissa Jean, in 2010 and our son, Xander Lee, in 2012. I can’t wait to tell them stories about all of their ancestors.

Additional Resources

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Ancestry Composition

I received an email the other day from 23andMe letting me know about their new “Ancestry Composition” tool. I let it go to the back-burner since I didn’t have a chance to visit it the other day. Today visited the link and was quite impressed. This is how it works, according to their site: Ancestry […]