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.

Mary Goralska

My Milwaukee Deaths database is now live (and alive, so to speak.) You can read the details in my last post or on the database site itself. I’m still currently adding new entries when I get time, so it will keep growing. Currently, it has about 900 entries from all of 1884, early 1885, and early 1910, only from The Milwaukee Journal right now.

You can view the Milwaukee Deaths database on my The Zalewski Project site. Feel free to bookmark it.

19190504-MJ-dealWithDevilOver the years, I’ve spend a lot of time looking for deaths in the archive of The Milwaukee Journal on Google News. The problem is that these entries are usually too small (or too bad of quality) that they don’t get picked up by the character-recognition software when Google put them online. This means you can’t automatically search for them. Also, depending on the date of the paper, the death may be recorded in a normal obituary, a full article (like my great-great grandfather, fortunately), a tiny single-line burial permit, or a small death notice.

So, since I obviously need more work on my genealogy plate, I decided to start recording all of the deaths I can find in these archives. I try to note the date, individual’s name, paper, type of record, age, and address. This will be put into a database where it will be searchable. So far, I’ve recorded a bit over 700 entries (some duplicates due to similar entries on multiple days) mainly from the years of 1884 and 1910. I know I’m behind on recording data for my main Zalewski project, but recording census data is a lot more difficult (especially on the technical side.)

I’ve built my transcription process to be pretty simple. It’s something I can do when I have 10-15 minutes free. I can just open an archived paper, browse through it, and fill out a small online form when I see a death. Once I hit submit, it’s already in the database and viewable online. It’s not publicly available, yet, but I hope to have it up soon. It’s not every piece of information on every death recorded in the paper. I am human and only one person. There will be items I miss or things I enter wrong, but it’s more than is out there now. The benefit is two-fold. This data will be recorded and searchable, and I will probably find information on my family somewhere. Also, who knows how long Google will keep the archives online. These papers are available elsewhere on microfilm, etc, but I’ll do what I can when I can.

Keep an eye on here to see when the data will be available. I foresee in the next week, at least for basic listing and searching.

This all started when, on a whim, I decided to see what happened in Milwaukee 100 years ago. I went to the Google News Archive site for The Milwaukee Journal and brought up the paper from March 19, 1915 (I know, I was one day off.) I read a few front-page stories and then ran across one titled, Boys Seek to Help Widowed Mother-One Loses Both Hands and the subtitle says, “Child Weeps in Hospital While Operation is Performed on Brother.” How could I not keep reading?

Anton Kopfhammer
Click for larger

 

If you can’t read the article, it basically talks about two boys who went off to a train yard to collect bits of fuel (probably coal) that fell off of the trains. While running between two cars, one boy had his hands crushed between them when they moved. In the end, he had to have them amputated at the elbows.

I was now very interested in what happened to this boy, Anton Katshamer, as named in the story. I went directly to FamilySearch and tried looking for that name, but no luck. After playing with the names, spelling, and family members, I ran across a family in the 1910 Census for Milwaukee with all of the correct people; a boy named Max, a younger boy named Anton. Though, their last name was spelled, Kopfhammer. I then found the family in the 1920 Census. This time without a father, which lines up directly with the story that mentions “the father has been dead three years,” so in 1912.

I went to our trusty friend, Google, to try to find more. My search for Anton brought up 3 more articles from The Milwaukee Journal from later in 1915. The first one, from April 10, 1915, is titled Workers Help Fund For Tony. It mentions how a few local companies and individuals put together some money for Anton and his family, totaling $2,318 in this article, including a man who sent in his 35 cents that he saved by skipping his noon meal.

The second one from later in April on the 20th, titled Guardian Named For Boy Who Lost Hands. It mainly talks about who took over Anton’s guardianship while he works on learning to live without hands, including, hopefully, getting artificial hands.

The last one from December 1915 is titled Injured Boy Gets $15,000 in Court. $3,000 of that came from the local businesses and individuals and $12,000 came from the railroad company, though without involving a lawsuit. There are some funny quotes from Anton in this article.

“I don’t know what I will be when I grow up to be a man,” continued Tony, “I can’t be a fireman or policeman, and I might be a lawyer. They have been nice to me.”

It was suggested that Tony would not be a howling success as an attorney without hands, as one of the great requisites for financial success is five flexible digits on each manual extremity.

I also found a death record for an Anton Kopfhammer matching the dates from California in 1989, though no luck on obituaries or more information. I’d really like to see what he became when he grew up. I’ll keep you posted if I find anything more. It’s amazing what information you can find with the records available today.

It was exiting to see another cousin listed on my 23andMe DNA Relatives list yesterday. While going through my matches, I noticed a familiar name, my paternal grandmother’s cousin (so, my first cousin, once removed.) I now have 4 confirmed cousin matches on that list (excluding my father.)

Also, earlier this week I confirmed the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) speculation on another one of my matches. I did some digging on who we thought was our common ancestor and was able to prove it (with like 95% certainty) that we share 3rd-great-grandparents. I found a lucky obituary via a Google search that confirmed her connection to the TROKA surname. Once there, it just took a little source triangulation to confirm dates and connections back up to Thomas Troka to prove he is the brother of my great-great-grandfather, Joseph Troka.

3 out of the 4 of the confirmed cousins on my list are paternal (1 first cousin; 1 third cousin, twice removed; 1 first cousin, once removed.) The connection on my maternal side is a third cousin through my paternal grandfather. I can now fill in the shared genomes of our MRCAs and see exactly which ancestors I received which chromosomes from. Obviously the goal in that is to go back as far as possible to make it as granular as possible.

Below is my updated Chromosome Map, courtesy of the Chromosome Mapping Tool by Kitty Cooper. Added are the new mapping points for my paternal great-great-grandparents, Thomas & Emma Jane (Firmenich) CORRIGAN and also my paternal grandparents, Richard & Mary Jane (Corrigan) ZALEWSKI.

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Click for full size and clearer version

Funny tidbit, I scheduled this post to go up at π (Pi) today: 3/14/15 9:26

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.