One of those documents that I had my sights set on for the last 10 years of genealogy research is the passenger list containing the ZALEWSKI family when they left home and came to America. According to notes I had from a previous researcher, “…[Frank and Anna] left Poland from the Baltic port of Danzig and entered the United States through the port of Baltimore, Maryland…in 1890.” I’ve searched everything I could find online for this since I’ve been researching. I’ve tried every possible spelling of Frank’s name (Franz, Francizek, etc) and don’t even get me started on the different ways to spell ZALEWSKI (add in the many different ways to pronounce it.)
I decided to give it another try by locking down certain items using Ancestry.com’s search box. I tried locking in “Frank” and then locking in “1888-1892″ then I tried locking down “Baltimore” and so on. I dare not lock in “Zalewski” since it never works. I then tried his wife, but nothing. Next I tried their first child “Martha” since her name is more than likely the same. Their next child Angeline has been written many different ways from Amelia to Angel. No hits on “Martha Zalewski.” Next, I thought I’d give “Salewski” a shot since I’m pretty sure ZALEWSKI and SALEWSKI don’t have the same soundex code. Guess what my first hit was? “Martha Zalewski, Baltimore, November 1889, age 3.” Dead on.
I’ve conditioned myself not to get too excited until I can strongly prove it’s the correct document. As soon as I saw the list of family members: Franz, Anna, Martha, Amela, I knew it was the right family. Everything matches up from ages to names. Plus, there was one more name: Elsa Salewski, aged 6 months. According to later census records, Anna is listed to have has 9 children with only 8 living. Also, looking at the order of children, there is a larger gap from Angeline in 1887 to Marianna in 1891. Frank and Anna seemed to be working off of the one child every two-years plan throughout their lives. Elsa must not have lived much longer since she is never listed with the family outside of this listing.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t get me much more information except much tougher evidence for their arrival and departure. The list just has them come from “Germany” and go to the “U.S.A.” and Germany could mean anything back then.
The ship was the “S.S. Weser” which departed from Bremen, Germany. This looks to be the ship here with a photo. Here is their snippet:
So, I guess the moral of this story is that it does pay to go back over everything you’ve searched. Try looking at it from another angle.