Year: 2012


Xander LeeAs I did with our daughter when she was born, I like to see which other ancestors or related individuals our newly born son, Xander, shares his birthday with on December 8th.

According to the “Dates and Anniversaries” page on my family tree site, these things happened on December 8th.

Born

  • Johanna THOMPSON – 1852 – She is his paternal 5th great aunt, the daughter of William & Francis (QUINET) THOMPSON.
  • Leocadia SZULTA – 1886 – His paternal 4th great aunt, daughter of Ignatz & Nepomuncena (SYLDAKT) SZULTA.
  • Charles M LAST – 1894 – His paternal 3rd great uncle, son of Carl & Augusta (LUEDTKE) LAST.

Died

  • Elisabeth FLECK – 1769 – His maternal 7th great aunt, daughter of Johann & Elisabetha (UHL) FLECK.
  • Mehitable NEWBURY – 1787 – His maternal 8th great grandmother, married to James ROGERS, III.

Married

20121208-162158.jpgThe day finally came after a bit of waiting. After taking his sweet time and not being sure when he would decide to make his grand entrance, we welcomed Xander Lee Zalewski into the family. He was born at 3:15pm on December 8th weighing in at 7lb 4oz. His middle name, Lee, is taken from his grandfather’s (my father-in-law’s) middle name, like Aerissa’s middle name, Jean, is from the middle name of her grandmother (my mother) and great-grandmother.

Aerissa is excited to have a little brother. She wouldn’t stop talking about it in the days leading up to his birth. I’m excited to have a son to go along with my daughter. It will be a sort of new experience raising a boy (though I have some first-hand experience.) Up until now, raising Aerissa was pretty neutral in terms of gender as she is still quite young and hasn’t yet got into her “girly things” stage.

It’s nice to add another branch to my own family tree that will hopefully extend for many more generations. It’s also nice to keep the Zalewski name going down the line. I wrote a bit more about the next child on my wife’s website, if you want to read it.

Tanta, 3rd from left. Click for larger.

The first funeral I remember attending was 25 years ago when I was 7 years old on December 7th, 1987.

My real great-grandmother passed away in May 1941 when my grandfather was only 20. My great-grandfather remarried a few years later to Agnes Pulshinski. I’m told she wasn’t much of a fan of the “step” prefix and since she wasn’t a true blood relative, she told her kids and grandkids to call her Tanta. From a previous post, commentors on the site helped me figure out that “Tanta” usually means “Aunt” in German, but is also sometimes used the way she used it.

I knew Tanta pretty well in my 7 years. I remember her as being a petite, white-haired old woman. She was very nice and I remember her small apartment having plastic on all of her furniture. I don’t remember really being that sad when she passed away as I was not extremely close to her and since I was 7, maybe I didn’t process it. It is interesting that I remember the date of her funeral 25 years later.

Rest in Peace, Tanta.

Joseph Zalewski – WWI – Click for larger

I’d like to thank all of our ancestral military veterans in our family trees. Thanks for fighting for this country in any way you could, be it fighting in combat, fixing machinery, or defending our borders. Thanks for helping fight to allow me things like freedom of speech and the right to vote. Here is a (hopefully full) list of all of our veteran ancestors.

  • Carey TONEY – My wife’s 5th-great-grandfather – Stories say that he served with the Virginia Militia in Rev. War in 1781 and was an eyewitness to the surrender of Cornwallis
  • William J DAKINS – My wife’s 3rd-great-grandfather – His obituary states that he served in the Civil War with the 17th Wisconsin Infantry and was with Sherman on his famous march to the sea.
  • Johann LAST – My 3rd-great-grandfather – My research tells me that he served in the Civil War with the 50th Wisconsin Infantry. It seems he was stationed in what was the Dakota Territory at the time to protect the western front.
  • Jesse TONEY – My wife’s 3rd-great-grandfather and Carey’s grandson – Served in the Civil War as Corporal in Company G 33rd Wisconsin Infantry.
  • Joseph ZALEWSKI – My great-grandfather – Served in World War I with the 86th Division, Company B, 331st Machine Gun Battalion. That division was split apart into other divisions. I wrote a post about my findings. I have not found information on where he went after the split, but stories say he fought in combat in France near the end of the war.
  • Richard ZALEWSKI – My grandfather and Joseph’s son – Served in World War II, though didn’t see any combat. He was stationed with the US Navy in Hilo, Hawaii as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate.
  • Keith MORAN – My wife’s grandfather – Served in World War II. No documented information on his experience, but my father-in-law says he was involved in some combat in the colder areas of Europe, probably around the Belgium area.
  • LeRoy THIELKE – My grandfather – Served in World War II – I have recently posted a large amount of information from his experience in WWII. Though, he’s not the one who likes to talk about it. Hopefully, I can find more information to honor his service.

I may have possibly missed a few individuals. I think there were more Civil War veterans, but it’s tough to search my information for that. In any case, today is the day to honor them, though we should always honor their sacrifices for our freedom.

I’ve collected a bunch of links over the years to help in my research. They’ve really only sat in my Google Chrome bookmarks. I have now moved most of them to my wiki so you can also use them.

Helpful Research Links

Along with those links, which cover all areas of my genealogy, there is also a page of links that may be helpful to anyone doing any Polish research. I helped set up a page on our local Milwaukee Area Polish Research Group wiki that contains a lot of Polish research links. The site itself also contains a list of surnames being researched by other members that may be helpful.

Milwaukee Area Polish Researchers Group Links

Deal with Devil

Reading through historical newspapers looking for stories relating to your ancestors is interesting not only on a historical level, sometimes it’s just plain fun. For example, while browsing through papers from 1919 looking for any mention of my great-grandfather’s return from the war, I ran across this gem in The Milwaukee Journal from May 5th, 1919.

Deal with Devil

Transcription:

Lives Century After Pact With Devil

St. Paul — St. Paul’s modern Faust is dead.

Edwin E. Fisher, 104, who gained notoriety four years ago by declaring he made a pact with the devil when a child that he should live a hundred years by consigning himself to hades after death, will be buried Sunday afternoon. April 11, 1915, he prepared for the end, scheduled at midnight. He continued at his cabinet maker trade for two years, and retired because of ill health.

I’m going to delve deep into theoretical things here, but it’s something that always sort of fascinated me. Since the completion of the human genome project and the advent of more accessible DNA testing for us “normal” people, there have been amazing things coming out of that area of science and genealogy.

Besides the standard health information and deep ancestry testing, I’ve always been curious about the possibility of our ancestors leaving traces of their memories in their DNA as it gets passed down. This idea has been used in some movies, like the 1980 movie Altered States, or in video games, like the Assassin’s Creed series.

While I doubt that their specific experiences are burned into our DNA, but possibly certain memories related to their experiences. For example, an article that talks about this idea contains this:

Let’s say you have always had a significant fear of bears since you were a child. Even Smokey the Bear and other friendly Hollywood bears could not convince you to regard bears with anything but anxiety and fearful feelings.

Maybe it is possible that deep, deep within your DNA memory banks, your great-great-great-great-grandmother or great-great-great-great-grandfather had a very bad experience with a bear two hundred years ago. Maybe they saw someone be killed by a bear. Maybe they had to climb a tree to save themselves from being eaten by a bear.

Would a life-changing experience like this, resulting in knowledge very useful for survival, possibly be encoded in the DNA and passed on to future generations and you?

Who knows? I find that to be a fascinating idea. Though, I would find it even more fascinating if we could tap into these memories. Maybe then I can finally figure out my great-great-grandfather’s parent’s names.

 

Embarkation of the Pilgrims - Robert Walter Weir - Mayflower

It has been a bit quiet on the genealogy front. I haven’t had as much time to do any research, but recently I have come across some extra time and interest.

I recently added another individual to my “Everything I Know” site. This is the first person I did a site for on my wife’s ancestry. He is James COLLINS. I picked him because we previously had his information down and also information on his parents. Then we ran across a new census record that threw all of that out the window. I try to put together the info we have now (or lack thereof) and try to see if we can track down his real parents.

While researching James COLLINS and getting lost down other lines of my wife’s ancestry, I (tentatively) traced one of her maternal lines back to Plymouth Colony Governor and Mayflower passenger William Bradford. I say tentatively since most of the info I found was surprisingly located on Find-A-Grave entries (sidenote: glad they added those “Family Links” options.) Though, I did back a lot of it up using other sources. I just need to now source and confirm her line back to the more researched lines, though it looks pretty solid. This now adds the “Mayflower Descendant” title to her maternal line along with the other previous titles of “(Tentative) Royal Descendant” and “Daughter of the American Revolution.” All I have on my lines so far is “Sort Of Related to Robert Goulet.”

I’m hoping that if these connections stay true, this will hopefully help our children feel more connected to history. It’s a known fact that I’ve posted about earlier, I didn’t really enjoy History classes very much in school. Though, once I started genealogy and felt more connected to these places and events, I can’t get enough of it anymore. Now when my daughter starts learning about Thanksgiving in school (probably one of the first historical things kids learn) we can tell her that one of the Pilgrims is her 12th-great-grandfather.

Photo: Embarkation of the Pilgrims – Robert Walter Weir – Public Domain – Wikipedia

When the 1940 Census was released in April, I spent a couple of days browsing through them by hand to find my ancestors and my wife’s ancestors. I knew where they all lived (generally speaking) and I was finally able to find everyone, except a few. My wife’s grandmother, Barbara COLLINS, and her parents, Albert and Anna, were nowhere to be found. I personally looked through every enumeration district in the area that they had lived in 1930 (and 1941, based on a newspaper article.) When we visited my wife’s parents, I sat with my father-in-law and did the same thing. We couldn’t find them. We were stumped.

I decided to wait until some of the indexed versions of the Wisconsin censuses were relased. Once Ancestry.com released their indexed version, I tried searching. No matches. I tried every possible search combination using names, dates, places, but nothing. I was starting to think they were missed, which is very rare.

FamilySearch had not released an indexed Wisconsin census at the time. They had indexed their version separately from Ancestry. Once the Wisconsin census index was released, I searched FamilySearch’s version. I found them on my first try in Scott Township, Crawford County, Wisconsin. I honestly don’t know how we missed them in our manual search, since I know we checked Scott Township.

The other big, important lesson to take from this is to always check multiple sources. A few of the major genealogy sites indexes the 1940 Census themselves, so different people indexed them. Once I found their entry on the Ancestry version of the 1940 Census, I could see why I missed it.

The individuals who transcribed this entry on Ancestry marked Barbara down as 19, instead of 16 (which to me is obvious) so when I searched based on her birth year, it didn’t help. They made the same mistake with her father, Albert, though it was further off. Ancestry had him indexed as 44, and not 64 (which, again, is obvious to me.) The other issue I had, which wasn’t the indexer’s fault, is that Anna is marked down as Emma. All three of these things made it almost impossible for me to search for this family based on the info I knew about them.

Always, always, always check multiple sources. Different people transcribe differently. Also, look again at the pages you’ve already looked at. You may have missed something the first time.

Ancestry sent me an email a few months back giving me an early invitation to their new Ancestry DNA service. I couldn’t resist, so I ordered one and sent it back in. The results were recently posted and there are some cool new things in there.

The first interesting fact is that according to them, I am 50% Eastern Eurpoean (which is no news to me) but that I am also 45% Scandinavian. That is definitely news to me. The other 5% is lumped under “Uncertain.” Obviously, like an genealogy-related DNA test, according to Ancestry, “Your genetic ethnicity results may be updated. As more DNA samples are gathered and more data is analyzed, we expect our ethnicity predictions to become more accurate, and in some cases, more detailed.

My DNA results according to Ancestry DNA

This also doesn’t take into account recent history as DNA goes way, way back. I know I trace my family to Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, etc and none of those are listed. Poland and Germany can technically fall under “Eastern European.” According to their info, my guess is that I may descend from either the Vikings or the Goths.

While the Vikings were feared by the coastal towns of medieval Europe as seaborne raiders and violent pillagers, they were also well-travelled merchants and ambitious explorers. They raided the Mediterranean coast of Africa, settled areas as far south as the Black Sea, and traded with the Byzantine Empire.

The rise of the Viking culture spread Scandinavian ancestry far throughout Europe. Their earliest coastal voyages took them to Scotland, northeastern England and established the settlement of Dublin, Ireland. As their power continued to grow, the Vikings spread farther afield, down the Volga River in Russia, to the coast of France and Spain.

And it wasn’t just the Vikings who had an irrepressible urge for adventure. In the days of the mighty Roman Empire, the Goths, originally from Sweden, wandered south and settled in what is now eastern Germany.

That could explain the Scandinavian DNA. They settled (and probably sacked) a lot of areas I have ancestry.

The other part of Ancestry’s DNA area is the “Member Match.” The one thing that propels their test over 23andMe’s test is that it’s tired directly to member’s family trees that they uploaded. The matches are broken down into “Confidence” and “Distance.” I had 2 people match me within the “4th Cousin” distance with 96% probability. One was anonymous with no tree, so that wasn’t helpful, but I did leave them a message. The other was helpful and as soon as I saw their tree I knew how we were related.

On a side note, originally I had incorrectly linked my DNA profile to my family tree entry in my Facebook app Ancestry tree, not my full detailed main tree, which threw off the results. After I fixed this issue, when I went back to this match, it actually told me exactly which ancestor we shared. We both shared my 3rd-great-grandparents, William “Curly Bill” CORRIGAN and Mary MCCANN. I found that fascinating as I have not yet even found a genealogical match on my 23andMe test. Hopefully as more people add their DNA, I will get more matches. I do have a bunch of matches in the “5th-8th Cousin” area, but those are at Moderate confidence and I have yet to see any similarities.

Ancestry showing me exactly where we match in our genealogy. Click for larger version.

If you get an invitation or Ancestry opens the test up to everyone, I would recommend ordering one. Though, make sure you have a nice detailed tree uploaded and this will help a lot. I love the future of Ancestral DNA and it’s only getting better and cheaper.

It seems I took one of my unplanned breaks again. Sometimes the perfect storm of not having much time and my interest in other things comes together and I don’t get any genealogy time. It’s been a busy few months, especially the last few weeks. Last week I was finally able to visit New York City, something I’ve wanted to do for many years. My wife was attending a conference there, so the whole family tagged along. My main job was to keep an eye on our 21-month-old daughter while my wife did conference-y things. Due to that, I didn’t get to tour everything I would’ve liked to, but I am still young overall, so I will probably get another chance. It was still great to just see the city. (More photos below)

We were situated in Midtown Manhattan at the Hilton New York, so anything within walking distance was fair game. I took my daughter on walks almost everyday so we got to see Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center including 30 Rockefeller Center (aka 30 Rock, the NBC headquarters), and Central Park where we spent a lot of time. I would’ve liked to see things like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and Ground Zero, but didn’t get the chance. Interesting fact, none of my direct ancestors stepped foot in Ellis Island (apart from maybe visiting, but I doubt it.) All of my family arrived before it opened. The only close one is my great-great-granduncle, Jacob ZALEWSKI. He arrived at Castle Garden in 1891.

To put it into a genealogy perspective, I don’t have very many ties to the city. It’s rumored that my 3rd-great-grandfather, William “Curly Bill” CORRIGAN, was born there after the CORRIGAN family arrived in North America. On my wife’s side, it is said that both her 3rd-great-grandparents (who were married), George LANT and Emma DOUGLAS were both born there in 1842 and 1844, respectively.

After visiting, I am interested in the city’s history. I did some reading while I was there, mostly on Central Park, which was actually very fascinating. It’s a beautiful park which looks so out of place right in the middle of Manhattan, but it is definitely a nice place to relax from the busy, busy city rush.

The trip was nice and was only marred by a “slight” 5-hour delay on our flight home due to storms. Normally, while that would be annoying for myself, it was much more difficult while traveling with a 21-month-old. We made it home safely and all is well.