Year: 2011


Richard & Mary Jane Zalewski

Mary Jane (Corrigan) Zalewski
April 27, 1926 – August 10, 2011

Today we lost my grandmother, Mary Jane Zalewski, one of the world’s biggest fans of Irish heritage. Born in Ashland, Wisconsin on April 27, 1926 along with her twin brother, Tommy, to Maurice & Agnes (Braatz) Corrigan. Story has it that they were born so small that my great-grandmother would bundle them up and put them on the stove door to keep them warm. While in Milwaukee visiting her aunt Ethel Corrigan, who ended up marrying my grandfather’s cousin, Edy Strelka, she met my grandfather, Richard Zalewski. They tied the knot on October 11, 1947 and had their first child, my uncle, in 1948. My dad soon followed in 1951 and then my aunt in 1960.

Throughout my life, they always lived in the little house in Cedarburg, Wisconsin that we used to visit for Christmas Eve and many other times throughout the year. My paternal grandparents were very loving, as most grandparents, but they were also stern. Grandpa would scold us for sneaking into the basement or jumping into the window wells, but Grandpa and Grandma also used to have the greatest toys to play with including the matchbox car track and the puzzles. She was always a big fan of Ireland and anything Irish. Even though she was probably just as much German (and some French) than she was Irish, no one dared to correct her on it. She was a CORRIGAN and she was full-blooded Irish and that’s that!

When I was in my first year of college, my grandfather got sick and passed away on April 18, 1999. It was very sad to me since this was the first major death in my family and the first loss of a grandparent. I didn’t know how my grandmother would handle it. It turns out she did very well with herself. She drove (albeit slowly) where she needed to go, met with friends, knitted like she always did, and was usually in good spirits. Sadly, she fell while living alone and had to move to an assisted living center, but she still made the best of it. I ended up buying my grandparent’s old house from my grandmother and we currently still live here. It’s comforting at times. Unfortunately, during the last few years, Grandma started to forget things and had trouble getting around, but she was her normal self a lot of the time. Even at 85, she still loved her pizza and beer. I’m told that she passed away peacefully in her sleep and now she is in a better place, probably catching up with my Grandpa. He’s probably got the “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” vinyl record already playing on the record player.

You can view the memorial video I made for her funeral.

We’ll miss you, Grandma. Thanks for everything. Ireland has one less fan today.

How do I live without the ones I love?
Time still turns the pages of the book it’s burned
Place in time always on my mind
And the light you left remains but it’s so hard to stay
When I have so much to say and you’re so far away

I love you, you were ready
The pain is strong and urges rise
But I’ll see you when it let’s me
Your pain is gone, your hands untied

Avenged Sevenfold, “So Far Away”

NOTE: This post is from 2011. Some of these videos may or may not be available to stream as of today.

I’ve been a customer of Netflix for many years now. Back when I first signed up, it was only DVDs by mail. Now you get instantly streaming shows and movies into your living room through a PC or an XBox or a Wii console and it’s glorious.

I’ve run across a bunch of different history and genealogy related instant streaming options and I thought I’d share them with you. Though, these are not all specifically genealogy-related, some may be about the areas your ancestors once lived. Also, these videos are obviously more related to my ancestry than just general ancestry. If you have a Netflix account, these links should link you right to the video info page. If you don’t have a Netflix account, I will try to find another informational page for you to view. These are only Netflix Instant versions, not DVD by mail versions. There are a lot more if you also count DVD versions, though you’ll need to wait for those. Instant ones you can watch right now. Let’s see the list I can up with. (more…)

With the change in the way I built my “Everything I Know” sites, I added a new one.

This one is about my maternal great-great grandfather, Johann THIELKE. This is the first one I’ve done on my maternal line. It’s also actually the first one I’ve done with not a lot of information. The first two I did, for Frank ZALEWSKI and Mathias FIRMENICH actually had a good deal of information. After doing this one for Johann, I started to notice how much info I didn’t have. I’m hoping the site will help me find more information or more avenues to research.

Take a look at the Johann THIELKE site or even browse the other sites I’ve done.

It seems I’ve been away for almost two months. Sorry about that. I just haven’t had the time I’d like to do any genealogy research. Though, I’ve been able to do some stuff recently.

I  ran across more information and was also able to add more generations to my paternal line. Thanks to FamilySearch’s German records, including their Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898, I was able to find ancestors of my great-great grandmother, Barbara Margaretha Magdalena (Maggie) STEARNS. So, I was able to add surnames like KELLER, HEINZ, and BAUER.

I was also able to find more information on an unknown line on my wife’s tree. Following her maternal line, I was able to add a surname to her 3rd-great grandmother, Nancy (WHIPPLE) CLEVELAND. From there I’ve been able to trace her via more records and also some WHIPPLE researchers.

To prepare for the future, I’ve also merged my “Everything I Know” sites into one place (currently just one for Frank ZALEWSKI and one for Mathias FIRMENICH.) The reason is more technical than anything else, but it will pave the way for easier “Everything I Know” sites. I really enjoy putting those sites together. They not only allow me to do some web work, which I enjoy, but they also require me to go through an individual’s information with a fine-toothed comb. I sometimes find new information or new leads doing this. Plus, it may help someone else in the future.

We also have a mini-reunion coming up in the middle of August with some of the CORRIGAN descendants. When I was a kid, we used to go up north to the upper peninsula of Michigan or to Wausau, Wisconsin for a family reuinion for the descendants of Thomas CORRIGAN. They were pretty large. But, now since a lot of the elders are no longer with us, we haven’t done that in many years. So, they put together a small one with mainly descendants of Thomas’ son, and my great-grandfather, Maurice CORRIGAN.

Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun for this week is to:

  1. Determine who your most recent unknown ancestor is – the one that you don’t even know his or her name.
  2. Summarize what you know about his or her family, including resources that you have searched and the resources you should search but haven’t searched yet.

My most recent unknown ancestor is actually on my ZALEWSKI line. I am not sure about Frank J Zalewski’s parents’ names. Frank married Anna LINDNER in 1885 somewhere in German Poland, though I’m slowly cracking down this wall. Frank and Anna had 9 children, 2 boys and 7 girls. Just recently I have good feelings about tracking down the origin location of Frank and Anna before they emigrated to America. I have tracked this to a place called Gottschalk during the late 1800s which is probably now called Goczałki in present day Poland.

No records that I have searched including census, passenger lists, death records, or church records have named Frank’s parents. I did, in the last few years, connect him to his brother Jacob Zalewski who came over to America a few years later and also settled in Milwaukee.

That reminds me to check back with the Family History Library. I ordered the church records from the Goczałki area last time I was there and I sort of remember that they were supposed to arrive sometime in May. The FHL was supposed to mail me a postcard letting me know that they arrived. Either they forgot, or I put down some wrong info and the records didn’t arrive. These records will be my next research opportunity to hopefully extend my tree further back. I actually do not know Anna Lindner’s parents either, but I do have a little more possible info for them, including names.

 

 

Ancestry just recently add a massive collection of U.S. Navy Muster Rolls from 1938-1949. My grandfather, Richard Zalewski, served with the Navy from about 1940 to 1946. Here is their description:

This database contains U.S. Navy muster rolls and associated reports of changes for U.S. Navy enlisted personnel who served on U.S. Navy ships or in other naval activities between 31 January 1938 and 31 December 1949. Over 33 million records are contained in this database.

I ran a search on my grandfather and found many records. Most of them don’t contain any surprising information, but they can be used to track his movement through the Navy during WWII.

He is first found on 31 Jan 1941 at the U.S.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. It says he enlisted in 23 Oct 1940 in Chicago, which is close to his hometown of Milwaukee. His “rating” at this time is listed as “AS,” which in naval terms stands for Aviation Support Equipment Technician. It also notes on the page that he transferred from US NTS (probably Naval Training Station) Great Lakes, Illinois.

The next listing is from 28 Feb 1941, where he is still located at Pensacola. This listing mentions that he has a change in rating (CR). It specifically says, “Rating changed from AS, to Sea2c in accordance with Art. D-5108(1) BuNav Manual.” “Sea2C” is listed as Seaman 2nd Class.  He is listed again in Pensacola in 31 Mar 1941, still rated as S2c (Seaman 2nd Class.)

The next listing on 31 May 1941 has two entries. The first entry is from Pensacola which mentions that he was transferred to the NAS (Naval Air Station) in Miami, Florida on 23 May 1941. The next entry is from Miami stating that he was received from Pensacola on 28 May 1941. He is again listed in Miami on 30 Jun 1941, though no changes were made, still a Seaman 2nd Class.

His next change in rating came on 1 Jul 1941 at Miami, written as “to Sea1c. AUTH: BuNav Cir.Ltr. No. 27-41 corrected by BuNav Cir.Ltr. No. 66-41.” Not sure what all of that means, but he did get a promotion somewhere in there. He is still a Seaman 1st Class on 30 Sep 1941. According to Wikipedia, Sea1c is now called Petty Officer Third Class.

On 1 Dec 1941, Richard gets his next promotion from Sea1c to AMM3c, which during WWII stood for Aviation Machinist’s Mate, 3rd Class in his case. They were responsible for “maintaining aircraft engines and their related systems, including the induction, cooling, fuel, oil, compression, combustion, turbine, gas turbine compressor, exhaust and propeller systems” and many other things. The last muster roll entry for Miami is on 31 Mar 1942 where he is still listed as an AMM3c.

Ships

There are two entries I also found on ships that are more than likely my grandfather. The “Service Numbers” on the entries match up from the earlier entries. I know the earlier entries were him due to records and photos I have. Though, he never saw combat, he may have been on a ship while it was docked in America. The first entry was on the USS Orizaba on 10 Jul 1944. Though, the ship is listed as travelling from San Francisco to “FRAY.” I’m not sure what “FRAY” is. This matches up with the history of the Orizaba as it says, “Back at San Francisco in June [1944], she underwent repairs; completed a run to the Marshalls and Marianas; and then sailed north to the Aleutians.” He is now listed as AMM1c, so he has been promoted to 1st Class since 1942.

The next and final entry I have found was for the USS Shangri-La on 1 October 1946. Again, the “Service Number” matches and this record matches up with the historical record of the ship, “she made a brief training cruise to Pearl Harbor, then wintered at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.” He is still rated as an AMM1c. This entry contains some information that I can’t quite figure out at the moment. I’ve browsed through the whole muster roll and can’t find explanation of the abbreviations and acronyms they’re using or what the columns mean.

USS Shangri-La, 10 Oct 1946. Ancestry.com. U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949 (database on-line).

His entry says:

Zalewski, Richard J — AMM1 — 2FFT WC DISCH — 28 — 30022228
Zalewski, Richard J — AMM1 — 1PEARL HARBOR — 20 — 30022228

The first entry may mean something like “For Further Transfer (FFT) Work Completed (WC) Discharge (DISCH)” I know he finished his naval work in 1946. Maybe this was the ship he took from Pearl Harbor back to the contiguous 50 states after serving in Hawaii.

While I was aware of a lot of my grandfather’s navy duties during WWII, it’s neat to see them written in government documents. Though, there is no information from his time spent in Hilo, Hawaii from which most of the photos I scanned a put online were from.

Today I received another great email that two more of my ancestor’s headstones were found and photographed by a friendly Find-A-Grave volunteer. I don’t remember when I requested these, but it’s nice to finally know where they are located. Though, it’s interesting to see that their headstone spells their name Sterns, instead of Stearns. Click the thumbnails for larger versions.

My 3rd-great-grandparents, Henry Stearns (also known as Georg Heinrich Stierns) and his wife Margaret (also known as Katherine Rosina Margaretha Schumacher), immigrated from Württemberg, Germany with their four children and settled in northern Wisconsin. They are both now buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Weyauwega, Waupaca Co., Wisconsin.

Links to their Find-A-Grave entries: Henry Stearns & Margaret Stearns.

You’re at the right place, don’t worry. I decided to put together a new template since I felt I didn’t have a lot of customization options on the last one without tearing it apart. I built this one from the ground up, so while it may not be full of zazz, it allows me complete freedom (as far as WordPress will let me go.) I originally built the theme for my wife’s website, Tales From the Nursery, so I had just gone through the process. I may or may not have stolen a lot of ideas and code from that template, but don’t tell anyone.

I find it sort of fitting (though not planned) that I’m releasing this new theme on the 12th anniversary of the passing of my grandfather, Richard Zalewski. His death was sort of indirectly the catalyst of my genealogy adventure. Plus, I’m finally starting to crack open the mystery of the Zalewski ancestry, which has been causing me trouble for all 12 of those years.

You will notice the photo at the top-right. I felt it was a neat place to show off photos of our ancestors and links to more information. Also, at the top of the main page, you’ll see the “Featured Posts” box. This will allow me to feature certain posts for a longer period of time, especially if I’m proud of them. I was also able to more prominently display links to my other genealogy sites under the photo. Those were getting lost in the old theme. I am not completely done with the theme. I need to do some more work on the sidebar, but it works right now. I just want to jazz it up a bit.

As always, please don’t mind the dust or broken things, I’m finishing everything up. If you do find something that’s broken, please leave me a comment or use my Contact Form. When doing so, please also mention your Operating System (Windows 7, Ubuntu 10.10, etc.) and your browser (Internet Explorer 7, Safari, etc.) That will help me troubleshoot. I have tested as much as I can at the moment, but the site should work very well in any modern browser, the most popular being Internet Explorer 8+, Firefox 3 and 4, Chrome,  and Safari. It probably looks horrible in Internet Explorer 6 (and maybe 7), but it should and you should really not use that anymore. Microsoft even says so themselves. Plus, if you’re using IE 6 or 7, you will get a nice message at the top of the site telling you to update it.

Thanks for stopping by.