Month: March 2014


The seventh ancestor in my 52 Week Challenge is my paternal great-great-grandfather, Joseph TROKA (pronounced like Truck-a).

Joseph Troka and his wife, Clara.
Joseph Troka and his wife, Clara in 1944.

Joseph was born on 17 November 1871 in the town of Lipusz located in modern day Kościerzyna County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. His parents are listed as Michael & Joslyna (GRABOWSKA) TROKA. He is listed as immigrating to the Milwaukee, Wisconsin are in about 1889. It is not yet known if he traveled alone, or with family, as there are other Troka families in Milwaukee that are more than likely related to Joseph.

On 29 January 1894, Joseph married the daughter of Ignatz & Nepomuncena SZULTA named Clara. Ignatz was the 5th ancestor that I posted about. They were married at St. Hedwig’s Church on the east side of Milwaukee, which at the time was the go-to Polish church in the area.

He started working as a tanner in the tannery industry in Milwaukee as a lot of the Polish immigrants did. By 1905, Joseph is listed as a Tavern Owner at a tavern on 28 Lee Street in Milwaukee, which was also his residence. Today, 28 Lee Street is now about 900 E. Meinecke Avenue and his tavern was probably located somewhere in this vicinity near the intersection with North Bremen St. He ran the tavern until somewhere around 1930. After that point he was listed as being a Treasurer for the Pulaski Building and Loan Association, a position he was said to hold until about 1960.

From the Milwaukee Journal, 1962.
From the Milwaukee Journal, 1962.

Joseph and Clara had 4 living children (4 died during or not long after birth) including my great-grandmother, Emily. In 1959, Clara passed away. Tragedy struck in 1962 when Joseph was walking from his home on Bremen Street  a few blocks to St. Casimir’s church on the morning of Januray 1st. He was struck and killed by a man named Frank Merz , who was later only fined $200 for failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. Rumor has it that he was also drinking and driving. Joseph was 92. He was buried next to his wife at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.

This post is 7 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The sixth ancestor in my 52 Week Ancestor challenge is Robert MORAN. Robert is my wife’s 3rd-great-grandfather on her paternal side.

moranRobert-possible
Possibly the same Robert Moran as it is labeled “Grandpa Moran” in the same album as “Uncle Chas and Uncle Gurley”, who are Robert Moran’s sons. – Monfort, Wisconsin library

Robert is listed as being born about 1820-21 somewhere in Ireland to Robert & Mary Ann (KNOTT) MORAN, though a few naturalization indexes list this as England, United Kingdom. By 1845, he has traveled from Ireland and settled in Granby, Shefford, Quebec, Canada. Here he marries Dorothea COOK on 5 August 1845. Robert and Dorothea’s first three children are born in Quebec. After that, they travel around a bit, having a child in Illinois, then, Iowa, and finally settling in southwestern Wisconsin where my wife’s ancestor, Charles MORAN, is born in 1864.

Dorothea passes away in 1872 and Robert remarries to a Margaret (KEARNS) ENYART. Margaret happens to be another one of my wife’s 3rd-great-grandmothers. Though, they have no children together, so the branches of the tree stay pretty straight.

Robert is also part of my wife’s father’s Y-DNA line and he has taken a DNA test with 23andMe. The Y-DNA haplogroup for him, and so also Robert, is R1b1b2a1a2f*. The interesting thing about that haplogroup is that it is part of study of one of the ancient kings of Ireland:

R1b1b2a1a2f2 reaches its peak in Ireland, where the vast majority of men carry Y-chromosomes belonging to the haplogroup. Researchers have recently discovered that a large subset of men assigned to the haplogroup may be direct male descendants of an Irish king who ruled during the 4th and early 5th centuries. According to Irish history, a king named Niall of the Nine Hostages established the Ui Neill dynasty that ruled the island country for the next millennium.

Northwestern Ireland is said to have been the core of Niall’s kingdom; and that is exactly where men bearing the genetic signature associated with him are most common. Genetic analysis suggests that all these men share a common ancestor who lived about 1,700 years ago. Among men living in northwestern Ireland today that date is closer to 1,000 years ago. Those dates neatly bracket the era when Niall is supposed to have reigned.

Most of the men who carry this haplogroup congregate mostly in part of County Tyrone in Northern Ireland and a few more in County Mayo to the west. This may help with future research of this MORAN line.

This post is 6 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

Hawaii (or Hawai’i) is the next state on my Genealogy of the States series. I have no direct ancestors that were born in the state, but my connection to it is that my grandfather, Richard Zalewski, was stationed there for many years during World War II.

Richard Zalewski, Waikiki Beach, October 1944
Richard Zalewski, Waikiki Beach, October 1944

He spent most of his time in Hilo, on the island of Hawai’i stationed there with the US Navy. From the looks of it, he did a lot of mechanical stuff with the Navy’s airplanes. He also did a bit of work with the US Coast Guard and he was at Hilo during the 1946 Hilo Tsunami caused by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands. I have a copy of an article from April 2, 1946 talking about the US Navy rescuing some men who were lost out at sea due to the Tsunami.

Along with the stories, I have a collection of dozens of photos he took during his time in Hilo. Most of them are even labeled with the names of the men in the photos. I have put them up on Flickr, among other places, hoping to possibly get copies of the photos to the families of the men in the photos. Not a lot of luck, yet.

My ancestor post is a little late this week as we were on vacation this weekend. It was nice to escape the clutches of a winter that is hanging on a bit too long this year.

Nepomuncena (Syldatk) & Ignatz Szulta
Nepomuncena (Syldatk) & Ignatz Szulta

The fifth ancestor on my 52 Week Ancestor challenge is Ignatz Peter SZULTA, pronounced like Schulta. Ignatz is my 3rd-great-grandfather on my father’s side. Ignatz was born on 30 January 1849 in a little town called Bukowa Góra in the what is today, Sulęczyno Parish, Kartuzy County, Pomorskie, Poland. According to his baptism, which was sent to me by another local Polish researcher, his parents were Anton & Marianna (MALSZYSKA) SZULTA.

On 3 February 1875, he married Nepomuncena SYLDATK in the nearby Sulęczyno Parish. Their first child was my great-great-grandmother, Clara, born in 1876. They had two more children in Sulęczyno Parish before Ignatz emigrated to Milwaukee. He lived here a few years before Nepomuncena and the children traveled over, which was gleaned from the Milwaukee City directories at the time and the second passenger list that does not include Ignatz. When I was attending a local Polish researchers group, it turned out that Ignatz rented a house from one of the other researcher’s ancestors while he was living here on his own.

Ignatz and Nepomuncena had 6 more children while living in Milwaukee. The photo at the top is the only photo I have of Ignatz and I need to find it again in my grandmother’s collection to rescan it. That is the highest quality I have. The photo seems normal, but I just don’t know why his wife looks to be carrying a rolled up newspaper.

The only first-hand information I heard about Ignatz was from my grandmother, who never met him. She also wouldn’t have heard it from my grandfather, as he was only a year old when Ignatz died in 1922. I’m guessing maybe it was from my great-grandfather. She told me Ignatz was a mean, strict man, so I guess I can take that for what it’s worth.

Ignatz passed away 25 May 1922 and is buried near most of my Polish ancestors in Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.

This post is 5 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The fourth ancestor on the 52 Week Ancestor challenge was picked using my patented ancestor-o-matic. It’s really just a random number generator and then using that number on my daughter’s ahnentafel chart. This week is William J DAKINS.

William is my wife’s 3rd-great-grandfather on her maternal side. His obituary in the Stevens Point Daily Journal from Stevens Point, Wisconsin says that he was born 29 April 1846 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This matches up with his census records that indicate he was born in Canada. It looks like his family, including father Amos DAKINS and mother Phoeba C (RILEY) DAKINS, moved from Canada to Wisconsin early in his life as they are found in the Fond du Lac, Wisconsin area in the 1850 US Census. In 1860, the family is found further north in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, though close to where William would settle later in life, in Weyauwega.

On 14 December 1864, William did what a lot of other young men in the country did that year, he enlisted to join the Civil War. He was stationed with Company I in the 17th Wisconsin Infantry. At the time of William’s enlistment, the 17th Infantry was involved in the Carolinas Campaign.

In January 1865, Union Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman advanced north from Savannah, Georgia, through the Carolinas, with the intention of linking up with Union forces in Virginia. The defeat of Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army at the Battle of Bentonville in March, and its surrender in April, represented the loss of the final major army of the Confederacy.

Burning of McPhersonville 1865
Sherman’s March Through South Carolina – Burning of McPhersonville, February 1, 1865

The obituary also states that he was involved in the famous Sherman’s March to the Sea, but that looks to have taken place right when William was enlisting, so I’m not sure if he was.

After William returned from war, he married Helen Marion WARNER on 4 October 1871 and they settled on a farm in Plover, Portage, Wisconsin. Together, they had 6 children, including my wife’s ancestor, Mary DAKINS. They lived in Plover until William’s death on 18 April 1916. The obituary says he was ill with heart and stomach problems. He is buried nearby in the Plover Cemetery.

This post is 4 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

Public domain photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The third ancestor I chose on my 52 Ancestors challenge is my maternal great-great-grandmother, August (LUEDTKE) LAST. She holds a unique position in my ancestry as the only ancestor that I know of to have lived to at least 100 years of age. Though, she passed away 11 days (0.03 years) after her 100th birthday, but it still counts.

Augusta (Luedtke) Last
Augusta (Luedtke) Last in 1948.

As the information I found notes, Augusta Johanna Wilhelmine Luedtke was born around 3 July 1863 in Storkow, Pomerania. Her parents are listed as Carl LUEDTKE and Friederike FRITZ on her marriage record. Funny thing about Storkow is that there are many villages with this name in old Pomerania, which is around modern-day northwestern Poland. There are at least 3 according to Kartenmeister. Fortunately, a lot of the church records for Pomerania are available digitally on FamilySearch. I’ve looked through a lot of them record-by-record in the vicinity of these towns with no luck, so the search continues. It’s one of those nagging brick walls that I always come back to since I feel that I’m very close.

According to census records, she emigrated to the US sometime around 1881-1882. This would make her about 18-19, so it’s hard to say if she came with her family or on her own, but I have found information on a sister living in Wisconsin, so that’s another avenue of research. This is also in that fuzzy area since the 1890 census is missing and by the time I find her in the 1900 Census, she is married and has had 11 children. Some of my next steps are to dig into Milwaukee records from this time as she was married there.

On 25 February 1883, she married Charles Carl LAST in Milwaukee. They soon settled in Grafton, Ozaukee, Wisconsin and, according to an 1892 Plat Map, they lived on a farm close to the town of Port Washington. Charles and Augusta were experts in the field of creating children as over the course of 25 years, they had 16 of them. My great-grandmother, Madora, was born in 1898. A few of them did not make it through childhood, but a lot of them went on to have full lives and create many, many cousins for me to connect with. I actually met a 3rd cousin from this family line through a match over on 23andMe and we’ve shared some information, including the first family photo I saw of this family.

Augusta’s husband died in 1926 soon after they moved out of the rural area and into a house in the City of Port Washington, right near the high school. After she had trouble getting around she moved in with some of her children, including my great-grandmother, where she was when she passed away. She lived long enough that my mom can remember things about her. Augusta passed away 11 days after her 100th birthday on 14 July 1863 and is buried with many of her family at Union Cemetery in Port Washington.

This post is 3 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.