Month: February 2010


One of the big mysteries I am trying to solve in my genealogy is to find more information on my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski’s, military history. According to a previous family researcher, all of his military files were burned in the extremely destructive 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire. So, all the information I had was that he served in World War I, possibly in France at some point. By sheer luck, during a random Google Books search, I found him listed in a book about the 86th Division headquartered at Camp Grant in Illinois. From there I was able to determine that they were shipped to France in 1918, but never saw combat due to the Armistice. Though, it did mention that a lot of the division was broken apart and used in other divisions at the time. I did a more in-depth post about this find about a year ago.

In this huge collection of photos and documents that I currently have from my grandmother, there are some documents about my great-grandfather including a military record. It looks to be his “Honorable Discharge” papers. About half-way down on the “Enlistment Record” side it has a hand-written line that says:

5th Co. 161 Depot Brigade. Last assignment to 323rd Machine Gun Bn.

Unfortunately, it looks as though the previous line may be missing, but I do now have more information on where he may have went after the 86th Division broke apart. I have yet to find much information on the 323rd Machine Gun Battalion, which looked to be part of the 83rd Division. I mostly find information on Ohio, since it looked to be originally stationed there.

Here are the two documents. Click the for larger versions.

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This photo was found in my grandmother’s collection and labeled “great-grandparents Braatz” which should make this couple, Wilhelm & Maria (KLEGIN) BRAATZ, my 3rd-great-grandparents on my father’s side. The child is not labeled, but I’m assuming it’s my great-great-grandfather, Frank BRAATZ, since he is their first child. I would also assume the photo was taken sometime in 1870 or so.

Even “The Simpsons” are getting on the genealogy bandwagon in their latest episode, “The Color Yellow” where Lisa traces her genealogy to try to find at least one noble ancestor.

If you don’t see the video, you can watch it here.

February 22

1890 – Died – William Henry THOMPSON – William is my 4th-great-grandfather on my father’s side. Unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure where and when he was born. The census and other records span from 1810 to 1816 and mention England, Ireland, and Scotland. He married Francis QUINET in 1839 and had 10 children. He passed away in Wrightstown, Brown Co., Wisconsin and is buried there at St. Paul’s Cemetery.

February 23

1831 – Born – Herman RATHKEHerman is my 3rd-great-grandfather on my mother’s side. He was born in Germany and married Fredericke C HENKE. They had 3 children in Germany before immigrating to Wisconsin. Herman passed away on 9 Feb 1898 and is buried at Union Cemetery in Port Washington, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin.

February 25

1632 – Married – Herman van CREIJBECK & Joanna PANSARS – Herman and Joanna are my 10th-great-grandparents on my mother’s side. They were both born in 1610 in Belgium. In 1646, they had a baby boy, Nicolaes van CRAYBECK, my ancestor. Herman passed away in 1649 and Joanna in 1653, which makes me wonder where Nicolaes grew up.

1883 – Married – Carl F H LAST & Augusta Johanna Wilkelumire LUEDTKE – Carl and Augusta are my great-great-grandparents on my mother’s side. They were married in Milwaukee Co., Wisconsin after immigrating with their families from Prussia. Together, Carl and Augusta had a whopping 16 children. Carl passed away in 1926, but Augusta lived to be 100-years-old and passed away in 1963.

February 27

1945 – Died – Marianna ZALEWSKI – Marianna is my great-grandaunt on my father’s side. Her birth location and dates differ depending on the record, though tracking this information could help me track the ZALEWSKI family. The dates I have are: March 1890 in Poland/Germany; 22 Mar 1891 in Baltimore; Maryland, 22 Mar 1891 in Ohio; and 1891 in Wisconsin. Since I do have a record of the ZALEWSKI family arriving in Baltimore in 1889 with no mention of Marianna, I can cancel out the Poland/Germany option. They were first found in Milwaukee in the 1892 city directory, so all of the other options still work. Marianna married Frank GIERSZEWSKI (before changing it to GIERSCH) in 1913 and passed away in 1945 in Milwaukee. She is buried with her husband at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.

I started using the Google Maps system to plot some of my family’s locations awhile back, but I never got around to finishing it. Recently, I plotted most of the major Milwaukee locations for my family and it’s interesting to see how it looks once you know where things are. I’ve always had an idea, but it’s better to see it in it’s final state.

An interesting thing about Milwaukee is that it went through a massive addressing overhaul in 1931, so a lot of the address information from census records is different today. Fortunately, I found a website that has some basic conversion tools and was able to (hopefully) pinpoint these addresses. Give it a try sometime. It’s neat to see how your family moved around.

View Milwaukee Locations in a larger map and access to the legend.

Here are some good posts and links I ran across in the last week.

  • Dan Curtis gives you some helpful steps on how to handle and preserve you old, historic photos. I’ve been doing stuff with old photos lately, so this will be helpful.
  • Dean at Genlighten has a geeky post about Genealogy sites and their APIs. Since I come from a geeky background, this was an interesting read for me. It’s also a good read for people interested in other ways sites are allowing people to access their huge amounts of data.
  • Linda at Documenting the Details has a great link on the problems with the “Point-and-Click” Genealogy at some of the major Genealogy websites. I know I have the same issues. Hopefully, the post will help spread the word.
  • Episode 2 of “Faces of America” is now available to view online. This one talks more about the great century of immigration and what some ancestors went through to get to America.
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The lady at the left is my great-great-grandmother, Anna (LINDNER) ZALEWSKI. There is no year on the photo, but it is before 1939 when Anna passed away. Maybe someone can tell from the car in the back. The remaininge two individuals were not noted on the photo, but I’m pretty sure the other lady is somehow related to Harry Potter.

Fat Tuesday around here in Milwaukee, home to a large Polish heritage, is celebrated as Pączki Day. The most popular local bakery in the area, National Bakery and Deli, expects to sell 45,000 of them.

A pączki is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling. I bet you’re like, “Wait! Isn’t this just a donut?” According to Wikipedia, although they look like bismarcks or jelly doughnuts, pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar and sometimes milk.

Sadly, I didn’t get one today. No one brought any in to the office and I didn’t think driving that far for one was worth it. Though, I am always for any sort of ethnic celebration that includes eating lots of donut-like foods.

I usually post a Weekly History on Sunday, but there were not a lot of entries for this week. I received a neat newspaper clipping from my Aunt this week that I will post instead.

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This is the original newspaper ad for the house/subdivision I live in now, which was originally purchased by my grandparents. Do you think if I take this ad to my mortgage company that they would match it?

This week I decided to do a Surname Saturday on one of my wife’s surnames, Moran.

The MORAN surname first shows up in her tree with Robert MORAN who was born in Ireland in 1820. We’re not exactly sure where in Ireland. Tracing this name into Ireland is like tracing the JOHNSON surname in America we’re told, it’s very common. I have that problem in my tree with the surname THOMPSON into the UK somewhere.

It looks like Robert first came through Canada (as did my Irish ancestors) and then made it to southwestern Wisconsin. It seems like he immigrated with his wife, Dorothea COOK, who was born in County Cork, Ireland (which may point at Robert’s origin, too.) There is no hard evidence of this information besides some online trees and family information, but it’s something to start with.

Dorothea died in 1872 and Robert re-married to Margaret ENYARD. It says Robert died on 16 Jun 1897 in Tarver, Wisconsin but I can’t find a Tarver in Wisconsin. I’m pretty sure he died somewhere in southwestern Wisconsin. It’s probably an old, unincorporated town. We have a lot of those.

She then descends from Robert and Dorothea’s son, Charles Christopher MORAN, who was born  23 Nov 1864 in Montfort, Grant Co., Wisconsin. Charles married a German, Emma Amelia DIETER in about 1889.

Her MORAN line continues down to her great-grandfather, Frederick H MORAN, who was born on 20 Feb 1891. He married Norma POWELL in 1915. After that it continues all the way down to my wife.

Wikipedia tells us about the MORAN surname [link]:

Moran (Irish: Ó Móráin) is a modern Irish surname and derived from membership of a medieval dynastic sept. The name means a descendent of Mórán, translated as Big One. Morans were a respected sept of the Uí Fiachrach dynasty in the western counties of Mayo and Sligo. In Ireland, where the name descended from the Gaelic, it is generally pronounced (phonetically) “more-in”, an anglicized approximate of the Irish pronunciation. Elsewhere, pronunciation follows the French surname, Mo rant, anglicized to (phonetically) “more-anne”.

Surprisingly, the top countries with the Moran surname are Ireland (obviously) followed by Spain, Argentina, and Australia according to the World Names Profiler.

Here are some interesting and helpful links I’ve run across recently.

  • Faces of America – I’m mad at myself for not also mentioning this wonderful show when I talked about NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are. The first episode was shown on PBS on Wednesday night on most PBS stations. Sadly, the local Milwaukee affiliate isn’t showing it until Saturday. Fortunately, you can also watch it online. So, go there and do that.
  • Donna at What’s Past is Prologue shares a funny post titled, “If Genealogists Ruled the Television Networks.”
  • A great post over at The Armchair Genealogist written by guest Thomas MacEntee about using Ancestry’s MyCanvas system to make your own family history book. I’d really like to do this at some point.
  • A very interesting post from Lori at Genealogy and Me that talks about her finding and then solving a mystery about the August Hellmund in her tree.
  • Denise writes a post over at The Graveyard Rabbit about writing a living Book of the Dead.

Any other interesting posts out there? Feel free to send them my way.