Month: May 2007

Ok, I did a little work on starting the Zalewski Family Tree Project this weekend. I went through a bit of the 1860-1900 Census records and added the “Zalewski” (and other variations) to one family tree file. It’s just a start, but hopefully this will become the largest collection of Zalewski family trees around. Also, hopefully we can connect the families to each other and help all of the researchers out there. I did notice some interesting things when I was entering some of this data:

  • Most of the Zalewski families seemed to have immigrated within the years 1889-1891, as did my Zalewskis.
  • They seemed to have collected mainly within the Great Lakes region (Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit.) There were some outside of there and I’m also just starting.
  • They usually lived within the same area, but then again most ethnic groups tended to do this.

You can browse the Zalewski Family Tree Project on my site now. If you find a family member in there, let me know and we can “connect the dots,” if you will.

As always, feel free to send your Zalewski information in.

Joe and Richard

Well, I’ve begun the starting work on my super Zalewski Family Tree project. Unfortunately, I haven’t received many Zalewski trees after I requested them. I’ll have to start marketing it on message boards and mailing lists. Though, I did browse through the documents on I found on regarding the Zalewski name. I ran across a document from the “Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation” about a Charles Zalewski in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The document is basically a declaration of intent to be American and not Pro-German. Interesting stuff over there. I have the document linked on my footnote Story Page that I created for some Zalewski stuff (enjoy his hairstyle.) Once I found that document, which includes his parents, siblings and children, I found him living in Milwaukee in the census reports from 1900-1930 along with his brother Frank (not mine, unfortunately.) No connections yet, but it’s still fresh.

Again, all of you Zalewski researchers out there, send in your Zalewski Family Trees. If we get this all put together, hopefully we can find many connections.

FootnoteI ran across a very cool history/genealogy website via The Genealogy Guys podcast called Footnote. They put together a very slick historical document archive system and they are working on scanning important historical documents into it. You’re able to search through them, annotate them, and also create your own “Story” pages with your information.

But at Footnote, finding an image is just the beginning.

We have created powerful tools that let you interact with and enhance what you find. Annotate important information on the image, easily organize and share your findings or collaborate with people who have similar interests.

If you have original source images of your own that you want to share with your colleagues, classmates, friends and family, simply upload them to Footnote and use our tools to make your images searchable and available to others.

Footnote also gives you an opportunity to share your story, ideas or research with others by creating your own “Story Pages”.

I had signed up for the 7-day trial a few weeks ago and I completely forgot to cancel it before it was over (I’m really good at doing that.) It’s not that there was anything wrong with it, I loved it. I just didn’t find any thing from my family or area at the moment, though they’re adding new stuff everyday. But, now I have a 1-year subscription, so I’ll probably start to use it more. It’s still fun to browse these great documents and also to help othes by annotating them.

Check out and see if you find anything interesting.

Cemetery ResearchWow, it’s been a week. It sure seemed to go quickly. I didn’t get to much family research in the last week, but I did visit my local library and checked out some of their genealogy items.

The first book I checked out was “Your Guide to Cemetery Research” by Sharon Debartolo Carmack. It was one of the only newer books in at the time, so I grabbed it. It was actually very interesting and helpful, even if you don’t plan on doing any cemetery research. She goes over types of stones, types of cemeteries, the different burial ceremonies in each culture, etc. These things will help you pinpoint your ancestors headstone and possibly other information, such as religion and ethnicity.

I recommend it for the genealogy researcher. And you know, we’re always looking for another reason to hang out in a cemetery.

There comes a time in every computer user’s career that they say, “I wish I had backed that up.” Fortunately, I haven’t needed to say that yet. Though, I technically have four hard drives on my computer; my main one, another one inside, and two external USB hard drives. I had it set up this way because I had a lot of data files, including photos, music, movies, etc. Every time I wanted to rebuild my computer, I had to back these up to CDs/DVDs and then move them back. So, I bought some USB-to-IDE boxes and installed some 120GB+ hard drives in them.

I always think about backing up my important data, but I never get to it. A few weeks ago, I installed a backup program called SyncBackSE. Basically, you give it a folder or files and tell it where to send it and it will schedule backups as often as you like using Windows Task Scheduler. The freeware version that I use doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does the backing up. It will sync the directories or just copy files over for you.

I may look into picking up the full copy in the future, since it does have some nice features, including backing up to FTP. This way I can get my data off-site in case of a fire or tornado, etc.  This is especially important for genealogy data and family photos than it is for music or movies. There are companies out there that specialize in giving you storage space for off-site backups, that they themselves also back up regularly. My backup system isn’t too involved, but if I do lose on of my drives, I’ll at least have the data on another one.

So, check into some backup software. SyncBackSE was pretty simple for me, but I haven’t used a lot of backup software. Are there any other good programs out there that other genealogists have used? 

Firmenich 4 Generations

I received my mail from the Wisconsin Historical Society today and it included some nice information. I ordered the marriage certificates for two of my family members from northern Wisconsin and also a death certificate for a possible relative. The society also found an obituary for my 3rd great grandfather, Mathias B. Firmenich. The copy they sent was in really good shape and also included a photo of Mathias (still not as cool as the above one, though.) The obit contained a lot of information that I didn’t really know and also some new leads, including this one.

Born in Cologne, Germany, February 11, 1840, Mr. Firmenich came to Milwaukee in May 1847 and settled with his parents on a farm located in the wilderness 25 miles from that city.

I have some names for his parents, but I was never 100% sure on them. His marriage certificate also confirms this. But, now I can look around the Milwaukee area in the census and also the cemeteries for them. It also helps that I live in the Milwaukee area. Here is some more from the obit.

Coming in contact with Indians who the inhabited the region, he learned to weave baskets from ash wood, a hobby which he enjoyed until the time of his death. His marriage to Miss Pauline Thompson took place at Green Bay, February 11, 1867. Mrs. Firmenich preceeded him in death by 21 years.
Mr. Firmenich first worked in Ashland as a millright for the Miller and Ritchie company. He was employed there for four years. and later became connected with D.W. Mowatt firm where he was employed until 1905. He also lived on a farm near Sanborn until 1916. For the past few years he has been making his home with his daughter. Mrs. Andrew Anderson on Ninth avenue west.

I’ll have to check with the society to see if they have any more obituaries.

Joseph Zalewski

Though, I was alive for more than a year before my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski, passed away, I really don’t remember much of him or have any photos of him and I. He seemed like a nice guy. If he was anything like my grandfather (his son) he was probably strict, yet loving. He was probably pretty stern since he was a Milwaukee Police Officer and fought in World War I.

He served in the US Army Infantry during World War I (1917-1918). Research has said he fought with the Allied Expeditionary Forces in France during several major battles. Unfortunately, his military records were destroyed in a fire in 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center – St Louis, Missouri (according to a reply to a 1994 inquiry submitted by another family researcher.) After the war, he returned to Milwaukee where he served with distinction on that city’s municipal police force for 33 years until his retirement.

Joseph’s parents immigrated from Poland in 1890 and out of all of their children, only two of them were sons. Joseph was the only Zalewski boy to have children, making him the only Zalewski line from Poland in the area that I can prove relation. So, even though there are many Zalewski’s in the Milwaukee area, I don’t know how, or if, I’m even related to them. This is one reason for this website along with the Zalewski Family Tree Project and the Zalewski Surname DNA Study.

Charlotte Last

For the longest time, I thought that I had no ancestors that fought in the Civil War. I was surprised when I ran across a Civil War record for my third-great grandfather, John Last. I ran across this by finding a document calling his wife, Charlotte (Stramm) a Civil War widow. As shown above in the 1880 Census for Grafton, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin, his wife Charlotte is widowed and living with her son and daughter.

I did find a bit more information on what John did in the Civil War, but not much beyond his Infantry division, etc. I plan to dig into more Civil War research to see if I can find more. I’m still not sure if he died in battle, due to disease, or just after the war. It just calls her a Civil War widow.

This is what I found about his regiment so far:

Regimental History Fiftieth Infantry WISCONSIN (1 YEAR)

Fiftieth Infantry. — Col., John G. Clark; Lieut.-Col., Edwin E. Bryant; Maj. Hugh McDermott.

This regiment was organized at Camp Randall and left the state by companies in the latter part of March and beginning of April, 1865. It was sent to Benton barracks, St. Louis; thence to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and in October to Fort Rice, Dak., where it remained until the spring of 1866.

Co. E was mustered out April 19 at Madison. The remainder of the regiment returned in June and was mustered out on June 14.

Its original strength was 942. Gain by recruits, 16; total, 958. Loss by death, 28; desertion, 141; discharge, 127; mustered out, 562.

Source: The Union Army, vol. 4, p. 72
Battles Fought: Fought on 16 September 1865 at Yankton Reservation, DT.

Hopefully, I can find more information on this regiment or this battle. I’d like to see what happened to John. Anyone have any good sources for Civil War information, other than

Remains of four people that were found about a decade ago in my home town, while adding on to a local church, were finally laid to rest this week. According to the news article about this, they are believed to be over 100 years old. Over the last decade, they’ve been trying to figure out who these remains belonged to, even going as far as contacting a forensic pathologist to conduct a bone analysis. All he could say was the they were probably of European descent.

Eisenberg told the crowd gathered Tuesday that it’s not even clear whether all four were originally buried together. What’s known is that one of the four was a male and another was a female. The child was buried with one of the adults – whose gender couldn’t be determined – in a brick crypt.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t find out who these remains belonged to, but it’s good to see them finally laid to rest again.

Read one of the articles here at