Year: 2007


Here is an interesting story from my maternal line. I’ve worked on researching this, but I’ve come up empty.

Charles Van Price (Van Parijs) was born in the early 1800s and came to U.S. in 1874. He traveled to Dousman, Wisconsin in Waukesha County. He worked for Mr. Dousman, later moved to Little Chute, Wisconsin, then to Phlox, Wisconsin in 1887. While staying with his daughter, Effie, in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1922, he went grocery shopping for her and was never seen again. After investigating, it was assumed that he returned to Holland from Milwaukee. He sold his land earlier, and was now one of the wealthiest men in that part of the state. His daughter found he had withdrawn all his savings (a very sizeable amount) and probably left for Europe. They traced him to Antwerp, Belgium — then all trace was gone. He was never heard from again.

I’ve worked on researching Belgium and Holland after 1922, but I haven’t run into anything. The main problem with Charles is that 1) Most genealogy searches don’t work well with two-word last names 2) I’m not sure if I should look for Van Price (Americanized) or Van Parijs.

I actually found the Van Parijs line by complete accident. I was looking for information on the Van Price line, but I always hit a brick wall. I had happened to find something that mentioned that “Parijs” was sometimes written as “Price” in America. So, I searched for Van Parijs and ran across a Dutch Genealogy website. It turns out that this website was a treasure trove of information from the exact area that my dutch ancestors came from, Zeeland in the Netherlands. From there I found information going back many generations.

I know that “Van Parijs” roughly translates into “of Paris” in French, so I’m wondering if this family came from France, since I have traced them back into Belgium. It just keeps going, doesn’t it?

I thought I’d take Miriam’s challenge and do the “list the seven tracks or albums I’ve been listening to lately” post. I’m up for it, though I don’t know if I have seven people to tag afterwards. I usually aim towards rock/hard rock, but I do sometimes fall out of that genre.

Now that I’ve scared everyone off, feel free to take on my challenge by getting tagged and posting your seven.

Zalewski. Not a name you see everyday. Americanized, which is quite common. Though, not very hard to pronounce, some people just shred it because it ends in “ski.” We pronounce it zuh-loo-ski, but I’m told the original pronunciation is something like shuh-lef-ski due to the polish version of these letters.

According to a book on surnames, Zalewski comes from a topographic name for someone that lived on a flood plain or bay. (Leave it to my polish ancestors to live on a flood plain. No wonder we get a bad rap.) This is also similar to the Zaleski name, which means someone who ‘lived on the other side of wood‘. So, all I need to do now is go to Poland and check everywhere that is near water or near trees to find my surname’s origin.

Full Surname Info Page

The farthest back I can go on my Zalewski line is to Frank & Anna Zalewski. They would be my great-great grandparents. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about this couple, except what I can gather through research and my grandmother. My grandfather passed away before I could ask him about the Zalewski family.

From what I can gather, Frank Zalewski, Sr., his wife Anna, and their two oldest children – Martha and Angeline, emigrated to the US from the Baltic port of Danzig (Gdańsk) and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, in about 1890. The couple’s third child, Mary, was born in Baltimore in March 1891 (Though, according to my research, the census says she was born in Ohio.) The family then traveled west to Nebraska and east, from there, to the Polish community in Chicago. (I have not yet found hard evidence of this, but this is what I received from a fellow Zalewski researcher.) By May, 1892, the family had settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is backed-up according to an interview conducted in April 1980 with Frank Gierszewski, Jr, a grandson of Frank and Anna Zalewski by the same researcher. He indicated his grandparents left Poland from the Baltic port of Danzig and entered the United States through the port of Baltimore, Maryland.

There is some confusion, however, as to the area of Poland in which Frank and Anna Zalewski resided prior to their emigration to the United States in 1890. During a telephone interview with their granddaughter, Caroline (Walczak) Sullivan, conducted in January 1995, she indicated that Frank and Anna lived somewhere in the province of Poznan — an area of Poland then under German jurisdiction and known as South Prussia. This would correspond with information supplied on the death certificate and in the newspaper obituary of Frank Zalewski, Sr in 1941. Although neither source mentions Poznan as his place of birth, both list Germany as his country of origin. (Much of western Poland, including Poznan Province, became German territory after the three partitions of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century.)

There is, however, a conflicting story as to the area of Poland from which Frank and Anna originated. During a 1993 telephone interview with another granddaughter, Irene (Zalewski) Lutzenberger, she indicated that her late father (my great grandfather, Joseph Zalewski) had always said his parents came from eastern Poland — an area then under Russian rule. Irene’s father also stated that when his parents entered the United States, their surname was spelled “Salefsky,” thereby reflecting the Russian influence. Although no official documents can be found to verify this, it is interesting to note that in the 1934 obituary of another grandchild, Norbert Cybela, the maiden name of Norbert’s mother is spelled “Zalesky.”

It is hypothetically possible that Frank Zalewski, Sr is, indeed, born and raised in Russian Poland and, at some later point in his life, moved to the German section in which Poznan Province was located. Although traveling across political borders was difficult in 19th-century Europe, to say the least, it was not impossible. In Russian Poland, for example, all debts to the government, including military service in the czar’s army, had to be fulfilled before travel documents would be issued and borders would be crossed. Two years of active military service followed by two years in the reserve forces was required of all males when they reached their twentieth birthday. In Frank’s case, that would have accounted for the years 1878 through 1882. We know he married Anna Lindner (a German) in January 1885, which means he probably relocated from Russian-held, eastern Poland to the German-held, western area sometime between 1882 and 1884. This, of course, is only speculation but would explain the Russian “sky” ending on the surname.

I’ve spent a great deal of my research time trying to find any more information on this family. Unfortunately, getting records from 18th century Poland/Prussia is very difficult, if not impossible. As always, my hopes go out to my readers that I will run across a connection with someone else’s family. Contrary to my popular belief, Zalewski is a somewhat common name in the United States, and even Wisconsin, but I’ve not yet been able to connect my family line to any of them. I find it hard to believe that Frank was an only child, but who knows?

I found a nice collection of Genealogy-related videos ala YouTube at a site called RootsTube. I watched one on “Writing Your Family History” and it was very interesting. I am linking it here, but you can watch the rest or them (and more) at their website.

Go see the rest at RootsTube. To find more videos, click on the “Change the Channel” link. It took me a bit to figure that out. via The Genealogue.

I’d like to compile the largest database of Zalewski family trees this side of Poland. The first step in this process is to collect these family trees. So, I’m asking all of you with Zalewski family trees out there to send them my way. As long as you send them in a format that I can read, it doesn’t matter to me what it is (GEDCOM, Family Tree Maker, XML, Text files, etc.)

Contact me using my quick and easy contact form and we’ll work on getting your data into this project.

I started a database of some of the Zalewski information that I have. I got most of the information from a quick record search, including census records. View the current database.

I am no longer adding to the database, but I did start The Zalewski Project website, which has similar goals.

Some nice links for today:

  • Shorpy – a photo blog about what life a hundred years ago was like: How people looked and what they did for a living, back when not having a job usually meant not eating.
  • Technology Creates Extreme Genealogists – Internet genealogy can be extremely productive, agreed Dick Eastman, who writes an online genealogy newsletter. But it depends greatly on where your ancestors came from.
  • Geni.com – Everyone’s Related

There are some interesting articles over at the National Geographic’s Genographic news site.

I find the Genographic study very interesting. It’s sort of the genealogy of everyone; a very broad view, if you want.

I’m back again or am planning on it at least. I know, I know, you’ve heard that before. Though, I have a lot more free time lately and I’ve already been doing some more research.

I actually found some more leads and doing some more research using my Ancestry.com subscription. I have to admit that their new “My Ancestry” section is wonderful. After I uploaded my tree to it, it automatically helps in searching and attaching sources to my family members. You can also use it to connect to user’s trees together, etc. It’s like Family Tree Maker’s online search function, but a lot better.

I’ve been doing some more research on my wife’s tree. This section of family seems to come from the New York/Connecticut area (if I connected it right.) Does anyone have any good sources to use for research in those areas in the early 1800s and late 1700s?