Author: Brian Zalewski

I started genealogy research about mid-1999. My grandfather had passed away in April of that year. Since then I’ve done a lot of research not only for myself, but for friends and other relatives. In 2006, I married the love of my life, Darcy, and welcomed the birth of our daughter, Aerissa Jean, in 2010 and our son, Xander Lee, in 2012. I can’t wait to tell them stories about all of their ancestors.

Marjorie Jean (DeBroux) Thielke

8 June 1927 – 13 February 2015

Earlier today, my maternal grandmother passed away. Her death, while not a shock or surprise, still pains us deeply. Even though you try not to pick one, she was always my favorite grandparent. I loved all of them the same, but I was always most excited to see Grandma Thielke.

Marjorie Jean DeBroux was born on 8 June 1927 in Port Washington, Ozaukee, Wisconsin to Leon & Mildred (Van Price) DeBroux. She was the middle child of five children. On 28 August 1948, she married my grandfather in Port Washington. I remember celebrating their 50th (and then 60th) wedding anniversary. They were both owners of a wonderful sense of humor, which they obviously passed down to their descendants and always made family get-togethers a lot of fun. I know my cousins would agree with me when I say that Christmas with that side of the family was always something to look forward to.

Thinking about Grandma will always remind me of how she was always so vibrant and full of happiness. It will remind me of spending time with her and my grandfather at their cottage on the lake, which we affectionately called “Grandma’s Lake.” It will remind me of the countless times we made our way over to her house in all kinds of weather to get to pick a few candies out of her candy jar. She was always ready to feed our sweet tooth. Her memory will also live on in my daughter. My daughter’s middle name, Jean, is from my mother, who gets her middle name from my grandmother.

I am sad, but not very emotional about her passing. Maybe it’s because I feel like I processed a lot of that emotion when I visited her on Monday and said my goodbyes or due to the fact that I think she’s in a better place now. If all is right with the world, she can now see her parents again, or even her younger brother, Donald, who suddenly passed away in 1942 when she was only 15, that she still openly cried about . However it all happens, one thing is always true, we’ll miss you Grandma.

Her video memorial is now available to watch online.

I carry the things that remind me of you
In loving memory of the one that was so true
Your were as kind as you could be
And even though you’re gone
You still mean the world to me

Alter Bridge, “In Loving Memory” —

Marge ThielkeI’m going to be doing a few posts this week about my maternal grandmother’s ancestry in honor of her. She has not been doing too well for the last few months and her condition has taken a turn for the worse this week. I visited her yesterday, possibly for the last time, so I thought I should honor her with a few posts about the people who came before her.

Her maiden name, DeBroux (deh-broo), as far as we can tell at this point, hails mainly from Belgium. Though, Belgium itself has gone through a few “owners” throughout history (Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Burgundy.) By the time the earliest ancestor we have documented dates for, Jean Joseph Desire DeBroux, was born in 1830, Belgium had just gained independence from the Netherlands. The DeBroux family was mainly from the Walloon-Brabant region, which is a predominately French-speaking area. Also, based on the amount of DeBroux burials from the Walloon Region on BillionGraves, I may have a lot of cousins still living there.

This same ancestor was the first DeBroux in our line to arrive in the United States, settling in central Wisconsin in the mid-to-late 1850s. The family stayed in that area for a few generations before her father, my great-grandfather, Leon DeBroux, moved with his family to Port Washington, Ozaukee, Wisconsin in the 1920s presumably due to employment.

Next post I will dig into another interesting line from her mother’s ancestry, the Van Price (van Parijs) line. For now, keep her in your thoughts.

One of the first steps in my 2015 Year of the DNA project is to look at new avenues of research and get my DNA info out there to other possible cousins. In the last few days I did a few things.

I finally transferred my 23andMe DNA over to the Family Tree DNA Family Finder. You can transfer it over for free right now to see a bunch of your matches, but you can’t do much analyzing and meeting until you pay the $39 transfer price. It’s actually a good deal to get into FTDNA’s database as they have a lot of users in it already who seem more interested in genealogy than a lot of the 23andMe members. I saw a few new matches and also someone with the surname CORRIGAN, which is my paternal grandmother’s surname. We matched on a location that both my father and my paternal cousin match on, so that’s good news.

I also finally donated to GEDMatch.com. I’ve been using it for a long time and even though it’s mostly flaky when using it due to its popularity, it’s still an invaluable tool to be able to match people from multiple testing companies. With a $10 donation, you also get access to their “Tier 1” tools like Triangulation, which are pretty helpful.

And I also updated my DNA information over at WikiTree. Once you add that, it will add your information to anyone that you may share DNA with including Y-DNA, mtDNA, and Autosomal. This way when someone finds one of their ancestors, they will also see that you share DNA with this ancestor. If they’ve also taken a test (or have a GEDMatch ID) you can see the match info. It’s just another way to find more people. You can see how it looks here on my great-great-grandfather’s wiki page.

Hopefully, some of these updates will help bring more matches and cousins to my door (well, not physically to my front door, that’d be weird.)

 

DNA CompositionAs some of you may know, genetic genealogy exploded in 2014. Hundreds of thousands of people have now tested their DNA with the big three testing companies (23andMe, Family Tree DNA, or Ancestry.) I have been interested in tracing my ancestry using DNA since back in 2006 with the first version of National Geographic’s Genographic Project when I swabbed my cheek for the first time (and last, actually, since the other tests were taken differently. )

I’m extremely interested in digging deeper into my DNA origins and my DNA matches, whether it’s using Autosomal DNA or Y-DNA. This year I’m planning to dig deeper and do more than ever before. Advanced analysis is a somewhat difficult thing to get into. There is a lot of information to learn and process along with the requirement of lots of DNA data to work with. I hope to use this new goal as a way to post about my journey and hopefully teach you along the way. People related to me may find it even more interesting.

Unbeknownst to me, one of my paternal cousins took a 23andMe test last year. I learned about this on Christmas Eve and have since hooked up with him on the site. What’s cool about that is that I can now mostly confirm which parts of my DNA come from my paternal grandparents. Though, not all of it, only the sections that we match on specifically since my father and his father may have have received different parts of DNA from my grandparents, which in turn may also be different than what he finally got from his father (my uncle.) Hopefully, other closer cousins start to test.

I’m not sure what my first post will be about, but we’ll see once I start digging. I’ve been recently reading a lot of posts from both Roberta Estes at DNAeXplained and Kitty Cooper. They do some great posts on the inner workings and complexities of our DNA and matching it with other people. Some of the posts get quite technical, and even if I don’t completely understand it, I love it. I guess that’s the data geek in me.

Here are some of my general goals, in no particular order:

  • Do more advanced analysis on some of my largest matches. Try to find MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor.)
  • Try to prod more cousins (close and distant) to test with one of the companies (preferably not Ancestry, or if they do, to upload their data to GEDMatch.)
  • Try to determine which parts of my DNA come from which ancestors (Chromosome Mapping.) I have a bit of it already. Works together with the last two goals.
  • Possibly get more Y-DNA upgrades with my data on Family Tree DNA to help determine my deeper R1a1a subclade using the Family Tree DNA project, currently it’s estimated to be R1a1a1b1a2b* or YP340-45 (in the Carpathian area of Section 6 on that linked graphic), but I need more of my Y-DNA analyzed to get more information. This one will cost something.
  • Post somewhat consistently about my journey and what I’m learning, even if it’s confusing to me.

Frank Braatz and Margaret StearnsThe forty-first ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my paternal great-great grandfather, Frank F BRAATZ.

According to his obituary, he was born 17 April 1867 in Bavaria, Germany, though there is some confusion as to where in Germany the Braatz family is from. His parents has listed birthplaces in other parts of the country. He immigrated to Wisconsin in June 1868 with his parents, Wilhelm and Maria (Klegin) Braatz. In the 1870 census, his family’s first after arriving, they lived in Caledonia, Waupaca County, Wisconsin.

In June 1891, he married Margaret STEARNS in Bear Creek, Outagamie County, Wisconsin. From then until 1898, they lived in Waupaca, Waupaca County, Wisconsin. In 1900, he was working at a Tannery and living in Philips, Price County, Wisconsin. In 1903, my great-grandmother, Agnes Braatz, was born in Mellen, Ashland County, Wisconsin. The family seemed to move around a lot as they were living way deep into the upper peninsula of Michigan in Munising, Alger County from about 1911 to 1919.

Frank seemed to settle down a bit after he moved back to Ashland County in 1919, living in that area for the rest of his life, working on his farm.

He passed away on 10 July 1948 after a short illness at 81. He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Ashland, Wisconsin.

This post is 41 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The fortieth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my wife’s paternal 3rd-great-grandmother, Mary Jane (Lint) Dieter.

She was born 28 May 1842 in Ohio (some items say Pennsylvania) to Henry and Eleanor (Murphey) Lint. Her family may have been of the Pennsylvania Dutch or Mennonites as they lived in York, Pennsylvania and then to Holmes, Ohio before moving to Wisconsin. Information says that she married Johannes Dieter in 1859. He passed away about 1867 and she married his brother, Friedrich Dieter on 18 August 1868, whom my wife descends from.

With Friedrich, she had 12 children, including my wife’s ancestor, Emma Amelia Dieter in 1870.

Her death certificate says she passed away on 20 October 1913 in Dayton, Richland, Wisconsin. She is buried at Luther Cemetery in nearby Richwood Township.

This post is 40 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

© 2011 Photos - Kaja Gwincińska
St. Barbara Parish in Święte – © 2011 Photos – Kaja Gwincińska

The thirty-ninth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my paternal 3rd great-grandmother, Eva (SOŃEFELD) LINDNER.

She was born on 20 December 1842 in Schwenten, Graudenz, Westpreussen, Germany, which today is Święte, Grudziądz County,  Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. According to her baptismal record, her parents are August SOŃEFELD and Catharina ZIELINSKA. In March 1862, she married Johann LINDNER in Schwenten. Together they had about 9 children, including my ancestor, Anna. Most of the children ended up migrating to the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area.

Early in my research, another Zalewski researcher had found some information that her name was Eva Zemfeld. He also mentioned that there was rumor of her being of Jewish descent, though according my DNA tests, there is no trace of Jewish ancestry. When I found the baptismal record for their daugther, Anna Lindner, I found Eva’s correct surname of Sońefeld, though it was very close.

I don’t know when Eva or Johann passed away or where they are buried, though I assume it’s in Święte. I don’t think they migrated to Milwaukee with the rest of their children, but it’s completely possible. I just have not found any clues related to that.

This post is 39 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

PeshtigoFireCemeteryThe thirty-eighth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my wife’s maternal 3rd-great-grandfather, Adrien FRANCOIS.

His birth is listed as 18 March 1832 in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Brabant, Belgium, which actually is not too far from where my Belgian ancestors originated. His parents are noted from his birth record as Guillaume Francois and Marie Josephe DENIS. In 1851, it says her married a woman named Flora Seetnogle, but I have no source for it, so it may or may not be definitive. She died not long after this in 1852. This was not my wife’s ancestor.

Francois emigrated to America from Antwerp, Belgium and arrived in New York on April 1856 aboard the Trumbull. He made his way west and settled in Door County, Wisconsin (which for you non-Wisconsinites, is the little arm on the east side of the state.) He married my wife’s ancestor, Fulvie Adelaide PIETTE (presumably there) in about 1863. Their daughter, and my wife’s ancestor, Josephine FRANCOIS, was born in Brussels, Door, Wisconsin in 1871.

There are also some random notes listed on his entry, though not well sourced (he is one of the ancestors that we have not yet cleaned up.) It is noted that he served in the US Civil War with Company F 34th Wisconsin Infantry from 1862 until he “deserted” in January 1863.

According to the book titled History of Door County Wisconsin it is said that he “lost house and contents, barn, crops, farming tools, and cattle in the Great Fire of Northeastern Wisconsin, October 1871.” Also listed here on a nice historical write-up of the event.

Francois was a farmer throughout most of the US Census records. It is not known yet when he died, though he is presumed to be buried somewhere in the Brussels area.

This post is 38 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

Erie CanalThe thirty-seventh ancestor in my 52-week challenge, is my paternal 4th-great-grandfather, Michael John CORRIGAN. He is the furthest back that Corrigan researchers have been able to track, as far as I know. Michael and his wife have a lot of descendants. Out of all of my lines, I have met and connected with more descendants of their’s than most others. Maybe their descendants just like to do genealogy more?

He was born about 1792 in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. My notes say that he was married on 20 December 1816 in Killeeshil Parish in County Tyrone to Elisabeth Roseann NUGENT. Together, they had a few children in Ireland before something made them leave and come to North America in about 1823. Somewhere during or after this trip, my ancestor, William Corrigan was born. Records say he was either born in the United States and born “at sea.”

They may have come to North America to find work, as they spent a bit of time in New York, possibly helping to build the Erie Canal as the entry on Wikipedia mentions:

Many of the laborers working on the canal were Scots Irish, who had recently come to the United States as a group of about 5,000 from Northern Ireland, most of whom were Protestants and wealthy enough to pay for this caravan.

After that, they moved north and settled in the Brock Township in Ontario, Canada. By the time of the 1852 Canadian Census, they had moved to the Mara Township, which was close by.

While I don’t have exact sources for this information, a Corrigan researcher sent me this a few years ago:

There was a rebellion in 1837 in Ontario and Michael Corrigan was among many families guilty of treason. The majority of them were pardoned and allowed to return on parole for three years after paying a security bond. Briefly, the rebellion was led by William Lyon Mackenzie against the authoritarian system, which culminated early in December 1837 with a abortive attempt to take over the government in Toronto. He had farmers joining him from all over the providence. Most of the rebels were captured or ran away as their take-over was foiled by government troops.

On a list of prisoners held at Parliament House in Toronto, December 13, 1837 was Michael Corrigan along with 312 others jailed there. Michael was arrested January 6, 1838 some weeks after the rebellion was quashed. He was released May 12, 1838 and pardoned on finding security to keep peace and be of good behavior for three years.

Michael passed away on 7 September 1859 in Mara Township. It is assumed he is buried near his wife at Saint Columbkille Roman Catholic Cemetery, in Uptergrove, Ontario, Canada, but his headstone has not yet been found as far as I can tell.

This post is 37 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The thirty-sixth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my 4th-great-grandfather, Johann Peter FIRMENICH (Think it’s pronounced Fer-meh-nick.)

I don’t have a lot of information on Johann. His birth date of 1792 in Prussia is estimated from US Census records (though, one lists him as being born in France.) There is a promising record over at the Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 collection at FamilySearch for a Joannes Petrus Firmenich born in 1794, but without some more info, I can’t say for certain. Though, the Firmenich name is not very common, so when I do find it, it’s usually somehow involved.

According to the Germany Marriages, 1558-1929 index at FamilySearch, he married Anna Maria VOISSEL on 30 Mar 1832 in Buervenich, Rheinland, Preussen, which looks to be near Zülpich in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. This also matches up with the birth location of their son, and my ancestor, Mathias Balthazar Firmenich, in Eicks in 1842, which is nearby.

I found a record in the Wisconsin Deaths from 1820-1907 for a Peter Firmenich on 18 Nov 1872, which I’m assuming is him as it is close to the location where he was last located in Brown County, Wisconsin. I have yet to find his burial location.

This post is 36 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

I decided to update one of the first Slownik Geograficzny translations that I did for the town that my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski, resided in when he was married in 1882Goczałki.

Goczałki is currently located in Gmina Łasin, Grudziądz County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, in north-central Poland.

The translation is a work-in-progress and is obviously not completely perfect. I am grateful for some help from Al at Al’s Polish-American Genealogy, who has translated many entries himself. I will mark the words or phrases that I am confident are wrong or are not even translated as I could not find any information on them, with italics. The rest, while they may not flow very well, are mostly right and just need some small tweaking. Some of the diacritics on the letters may not have copied over correctly, I will fix those if  I see them. Any errors in the translations are completely my own.

A few terms that may be confusing are: morg: a unit of land measurement; in this area 1 morg = 0.631 acres – wlók: a unit of land measurement used in Poland, was generally about 30 morgs, but this can vary, depending on what part of Poland and what time-frame one is concerned with. Generally 30 morgs was considered a full-sized farm, big enough to support a family. There are others, though you can find most definitions here if you get confused. Other unique words will be defined in the translation.

Goczalkowo, also called Goczałki, in German: Gottschalk, a knightly estate, Grudziadz district, on the road from Grudziadz to Biskupiec, approximately 1 mile from the township Łasin and 1 mile from Biskupiec, where the Toruńsko-Wystruckiej iron railway station is located. It covers 3100 morgs of land, 23 buildings, 9 inhabitants’ homes, 90 catholics, 96 evangelicals. Parish in Święte, the school site, mail at Łasin.

Goczałki was previously located in Pomezania, at the the border of Chełmno. Probably took the name of the holder of the German mayor Gotschalk or rather, a deviation of the German “Gotschalksdorf”. Belonged to the older Riesenburg Prussian ducal district. In the sixteenth century, this village was owned by a Czarlińscy.

In the year 1543, Duke Albrecht of Prussia issued a new charter for Goczałki to the three Czarlińskim (German Scherlinski) sisters Annie, Urszuli and Elzbiecie, which their deceased father Tomasz (Thomassen) possessed, but during the last war he went missing. Goczałki (Gottschalksdorff) was then 30 wlok and immediately next to it a second estate, that is called in German “Wrozelsdorff”, which consisted of 12 wlok and also belonged to them.

Although Goczałki in Pomezania lay within the limits zlutrzałego(?) Prussian Prince, the people around here remained Polish for a long time. In fact, in 1601 there is a Pawel Stucki of Goczałki who in 1619 with Jan Goczalkowski waives his section in Goczałki to Rafalowi Goczalkowskiemu.

Around 1629, the place holders of the local gentry: Maciej and Rafal Goczalkowski and Bartosz Jaromierski.

In 1667 there were 5 separate shares in Goczałki, which had minor nobility.

In 1720, there were still a few of the shares from earlier. Then a wealthy German, Fryderyk Aleksander Backer, started using the unfortunate times and buying the smaller particles. In 1721. he bought the 14 wlok which were attached to Tymawy from Ernesta von Taube, in 1722 7 wlok from Adama Kosickiego, and in 1740 acquired the right to the mortgage of 21 wlok and a farm from Gotlibkowo and Worzelsdorf (which belonged to Goczałki) for 6000 gold for 40 years. Doing this, he had a total 42 wlok.

After the death of Aleksander Fryderyk Becker, his married daughter, Major Buchholz’s wife, inherited the estate. In 1770, it was acquired by the son of a Prussian lieutenant, Rafel Bucliholz ​​for 10666 talar.

In 1780, Captain Jan Karol Borek is the owner, in 1786 Captain Ferdynand von Pfórtner, in 1794 a royal courtier and adviser Otto Graf von Keyserling, in 1797 von Hippel owned the estate and Lisowski.

Goczałki was acquired in 1836 by subhasty(?) August Teodcr von Peterson, and from him Goczałki and Dohnastiidt was purchased in 1841 for 53,300 talars by Baron Hugo Maksymilian Fryderyk von Blumenthal. Refer to Frolich, “Geschichte des Graudenzer Kreises” 82

Słownik Geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego – Warsaw [1895, vol. 2, p.755-756]. Retrieved from http://dir.icm.edu.pl/pl/Slownik_geograficzny/Tom_II/755 on 5 Nov 2014.