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.

The thirty-fifth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my wife’s maternal 4th-great-grandfather, Lyman Eugene WHIPPLE.

According to the information we have, he was born in about 1816 in Smyrna, Chenango, New York to William Walton & Rosina Whipple. Sometime, probably in Ohio in the late 1830s, he married Cheney Mariah HEATH. My wife’s ancestor, Nancy Whipple, was born about 1849 in Ohio.

The 1850 US Census, when his family was living in what was then called Indian Lands, Marquette County, Wisconsin, his occupation was listed as a “Cooper.” According to Wikipedia, “examples of a cooper’s work include but are not limited to [the creation of] casks, barrels, buckets, tubs, butter churns, hogsheads, firkins, tierces, rundlets, puncheons, pipes, tuns, butts, pins and breakers.”

According to his bio, he entered military service August 13, 1862 in Berlin, Wisconsin into the Union Army Company C, 32nd Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

His first wife, Mariah, passed away in 1864 in Wisconsin. He later married a woman named Catherine and moved to Minnesota. He passed away in Cass County, Minnesota in July 1894 and is buried there.

This post is 35 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

zfam-fbI’m not entirely sure why I waited so long to start up a Facebook group for the “Zalewski” surname. I’ve long been a member of other genealogy-related groups like one for the Corrigan surname, and a few for locations where my families resided, but I never made one myself. So, on a whim earlier this week, I created the “Zalewski Family” Facebook group and invited all of the distant Zalewski cousins I knew about that were on Facebook.

Early on, I just posted some generic “Welcome” posts, a bit of info about my Y-DNA, and links to some Zalewski-related stuff I did on my lines. I asked the other members to send over the information that they had on their own Zalewski lines so we could put all of that information in one place and maybe find connections, or map it.

A Zalewski group member, whom with I share a mutual friend and also lives nearby, sent me her info. Her Zalewski family also settled in Milwaukee, so we were hoping that there was some connection. Currently, we found nothing, but her family originates in Poland not too far from where I traced my Zalewski family, only about 80 miles away.

Another member sent me her info. She is originally from Poland and her family originates from near  the northern coast of Poland, also not extremely far from mine. Though, in her message, she mentions that in her grandmother’s notes she has Frank (Francizek) Zalewski and Anna Lindner (my great-great-grandparents) listed as cousins of her grandfather’s father. If that’s true, than I am very close to possibly finding out who Frank’s parents are, one of the biggest brick walls I have.

I’m also hoping that many of the members take DNA tests (male or female) for relationship calculations, but getting male Zalewski members would be helpful in tracing the Zalewski lines using Y-DNA. Maybe some future group members will already have been tested.

It’s a bit exciting for me. I’ve always been fascinated with my Zalewski ancestry, though most people are more interested in their surname than the others. If you are a Zalewski, or you know some Zalewski descendants, and they have Facebook accounts, feel free to request access to the group.

Zalewski stone

The thirty-fourth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is another non-direct relation, but a line that I do spend a considerable amount of time on. It is Jacob ZALEWSKI, the (almost certain) brother of my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski whom I’ve written about a lot. I do a lot of research on Jacob and his line to possibly figure out the parents of Frank and Jacob, and in turn, my Zalewski line.

Zalewski stone
Jacob & Pauline Zalewski, with daughter Anna. Edward and his wife Kathryn are on the other side.

I ran across Jacob’s name by looking through the Milwaukee City Directories and noticing a Jacob that lived with and nearby Frank for many years. After some more research and a surprise email from a descendant of Jacob who knew my great-grandfather, I’m 99% certain that Jacob is Frank’s brother.

All I know is that Jacob was born around December 1863, but his birthplace, like Frank’s, is unknown except for it being listed as “German Poland.” He immigrated to the US a few years after Frank and his family arrived in 1889. Jacob’s information was found within the New York Passenger Lists from 1891. He arrived on 17 September 1891 aboard the Rhynland. His place of residence of Gottschalk (now Goczalki) matched up with Frank’s. He arrived as a single man and sometime between arriving and November 1892, he married Pauline Wondkowska. Their marriage record is one of those documents I want to get my hands on as it may list Jacob’s parents, but I cannot find it. I’ve searched through just about every Polish church in Milwaukee for the record, but no luck. It’s possible that they were married somewhere else, but I have no idea where. I’ve also had some issues tracking Pauline’s family.

I did a good chunk of what they call “descendancy research” on Jacob’s line, working my way down the tree, to find possible living descendants. I found a bunch whom I still have contact with, but not much luck getting more detailed information. Jacob did pass away in April 1918 at only age 54, so I imagine not a lot of information is remembered about him.

Jacob’s family also intertwines with the Gwiazdowski family that I found. I know they were also involved with Frank’s family according to some documentation. The fact that I found them also involved with Jacob’s family solidifies the connection between Jacob and Frank some more.

This post is 34 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The thirty-third ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my wife’s maternal 3rd-great-grandmother, Rosina Winslow (Arnold) Shannon.

Multiple census sources note that she was born about 1824 in New York State (info says Three Mile bay in Jefferson County.) Her obituary in the Stevens Point (Wisconsin) Journal says that she was born in “West Canada” which is more than likely “Canada West” in terms of the 1851/52 Canada Census. Both of those locations are quite close physically as Jefferson County is very close to the Canadian border. Her parents are unknown to me, but they are both noted to have been born in New York State.

Sometime in 1838, she married Nathaniel SHANNON in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, which is right across the border from New York. In the 1852 Canada Census, the family lived on Wolfe Island in Ontario which is right on the border within the Saint Lawrence River. According to her obituary, the family left Canada and arrived in Wisconsin in about 1856, settling in the Portage County area. Nathaniel and Rosina had 10 children, including my wife’s ancestor, George Washington Shannon, whom I wrote about earlier in this series.

Nathaniel passed away in October 1878. Rosina passed away many years later on December 20th, 1899. An interesting note is that her son, Rudolph, died on this same day. I first thought maybe it was some sort of accident that took their lives together, but it seemed to be unrelated sickness. Rosina died from dropsy (now known as edema) and heart failure, while Rudolph died of pneumonia. She is buried with Rudolph at McDill Cemetery in Whiting, Portage, Wisconsin, near Plover and Stevens Point.

This post is 33 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The thirty-second ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my paternal 3rd-great grandfather, Michael TROKA. Michael is one of the few ancestors that I have confirmed as an ancestor with my DNA matches on chromosomes 1, 6, 9, and 11 as I talked about in my last post.

I don’t know when Michael Troka was born. The first documented information I have found for him is his marriage to (as it says in this document) Justyna GRABOWSKA in Lipusz, which today is located in Kościerzyna County, Pomeranian Voivodeship in northwestern Poland.

Michael and his wife has 12 children in Lipusz from about 1860 to 1881, including my great-great-grandfather, Joseph Troka, who was one of the previous ancestors I wrote about.

Many of their children later left Poland and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin including Joseph, his brothers Mathias and Thomas, and his younger sister Maryanna. There are probably more, but I have yet to dig deep into that line of research.

This post is 32 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

After getting my DNA tests completed and for the past few years pouring over that data using tools like GEDMatch, and most recently, Genome Mate, I’ve started to accumulate Most Recent Common Ancestors (MRCA) with some of my DNA matches. How to figure those out is another post entirely.

Granted, I don’t have a lot of confirmed MRCAs, yet, but I do have a few. You can use this data to make a chromosome mapping. Genome Mate does this for you in the software, but there is also a web version (seen below) that will do it for you. This will paint all of the segments on your chromosome that match those ancestors. Once you get a lot of confirmed MRCAs, the mapping looks really cool. Mine is getting started.

Click for full version.Do your own here: http://kittymunson.com/dna/ChromosomeMapper.php
Click for full version. Do your own here.

As you can see, I only have 2 MRCAs confirmed, one on each side. My paternal 3rd-great-grandparents, Michael Troka and Josylna Grabowska and my maternal great-great-grandparents, Carl Last & Augusta Luedtke.

The Troka connection is not yet fully confirmed, but the information we have is pretty solid. The Last connection is confirmed as I’ve matched up family trees with a 3rd cousin I found via a 23andMe match. I have a few more matches in progress that are close to finding information on our MRCA. It can be tough work sometimes, but there is hope of finding all new ancestors.

The thirty-first ancestor in my 52-week challenge is the ancestor that I’ve probably written about more than any other, my paternal great-great-grandfather, Frank J ZALEWSKI, Sr. Unfortunately, this is probably the shortest line I have. He was the inspiration for me to start a lot of my research, this blog, and my Everything I Know About websites as his was the first.

Frank Zalewski - 1909
Frank Zalewski – 1909

Frank J ZALEWSKI, Sr was more than likely born around 4 September 1858, though I also have February 1860 as listed in the 1900 Census and 1905 Wisconsin State Census records. All other records indicate 1858. Obviously, there are many different entries for birth place as that area of the world went through many changes. I’ve mainly seen Germany and Prussia listed, so it’s possible that it was in a more German area.

He married Ms. Anna LINDNER (b 27 Nov 1854) on 2 November 1884 in, what was at the time, Schwenten, West Prussia. Today, it is located at Święte, Gmina Łasin, Grudziądz County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. My notes always had it listed as January 1885 in Poznan, Poland. While Poznan is sort of nearby, it’s not really that close to Święte. I imagine someone just picked the largest city in the area. The record notes that Frank was from nearby Gottschalk, which is now called Goczałki.

After looking through all of the records in the Schwenten parish, I found no other mentions of the Zalewski surname. My gut tells me that Frank (and his brother Jacob) are not from the area originally. Family stories indicate that Frank may possibly be from the Russian side of Poland.

Another Zalewski researcher (and semi-distant cousin) put together a Zalewski booklet a few years ago. In this booklet, these notes are listed (though they are from research prior to me finding their marriage record, so some info does not line up):

There is, however, a conflicting story as to the area of Poland from which Frank and Anna originated.  During a 1993 telephone interview with another granddaughter, Irene (Zalewski) Lutzenberger, she indicated that her late father [Editor’s Note: my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski] had always said his parents came from eastern Poland — an area then under Russian rule.  Irene’s father also stated that when his parents entered the United States, their surname was spelled “Salefsky,” thereby reflecting the Russian influence.  Although no official documents can be found to verify this, it is interesting to note that in the 1934 obituary of another grandchild, Norbert Cybela, the maiden name of Norbert’s mother is spelled “Zalesky.”

It is hypothetically possible that Frank Zalewski, Sr is, indeed, born and raised in Russian Poland and, at some later point in his life, moved to the German section in which Poznan Province was located.  Although traveling across political borders was difficult in 19th-century Europe, to say the least, it was not impossible.  In Russian Poland, for example, all debts to the government, including military service in the czar’s army, had to be fulfilled before travel documents would be issued and borders would be crossed.  Two years of active military service followed by two years in the reserve forces was required of all males when they reached their twentieth birthday.  In Frank’s case, that would have accounted for the years 1878 through 1882.  We know he married Anna Lindner (a German) in January 1885, which means he probably relocated from Russian-held, eastern Poland to the German-held, western area sometime between 1882 and 1884. This, of course, is only speculation but would explain the Russian “sky” ending on the surname.

I’ve taken some of this into account when researching, but to no avail yet. It turns out that finding a Zalewski in Poland is almost as fun as finding a Smith in America.

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The thirtieth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my maternal 3rd-great-grandfather, Jean [John] Baptiste LAURENT.

He was born in 1825 on January 18th. A birthday he shares with another famous person. Me. He was born at the small town of Biez in the Chaumont-Gistoux municipality in Walloon Brabant, Belgium. Chaumont-Gistoux is located on the KW-line, which was a defensive line built during World War II to help prevent the German invasion. His parents were Constant Joseph & Marie Josephe (Bero) Laurent.

I have noted that he emigrated from Belgium in June 1856 through Detroit, Michigan, but I have no source attached, so I don’t know how true that is. I’ll need to confirm that.

In September 1856, he married Olivine Marie ST. LOUIS in Little Chute, Outagamie, Wisconsin, daughter of Ephraim and Marie DesAnges (Manseau) St. Louis. I wrote about Marie earlier in this challenge.

Together, they had nine children, including my ancestor, Mary Philomene (Laurent) DeBroux in December 1865. They lived and farmed in the same general area in central Wisconsin throughout these years. Jean passed away on 31 July 1886 in Phlox, Langlade, Wisconsin and is buried at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery in nearby Norwood Township.

This post is 30 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The twenty-ninth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my wife’s paternal 5th-great-grandfather, Carey TONEY. There are a few birth dates listed, but most are usually either in October 1757 or 1763 in Buckingham County, Virginia.

According to a newspaper article about Mr. Toney:

Surrender_of_Lord_CornwallisHe joined the American army in the revolution; passed through several campaigns; was present and took an active part in the siege of Yorktown; was an eye witness to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis in 1781; saw General Washington and Lafayette a great number of times during the siege; recollects and describes the personal appearance of Lord Cornwallis, his staff, etc.

He stated he had seen and conversed with General George Washington at various times – described his dress, personal appearance, etc. – that he was a large man, rather rough featured, etc., but that he was the most kind and noble-hearted man he ever knew.

In August 1782, he married Elizabeth DOREN of Bedford County, Virginia. In 1819, the family left Virginia and settled in Preble County, Ohio. He lived to be 101 years old, passing away in September 1859, which probably puts his birth year at 1757. Carey and his wife were married “for the period of 76 years – had 10 children, nine sons and one daughter – and now living 60 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.”

Another unique thing from his newspaper article is that it mentions that he has voted in every presidential election from the beginning of the republic.

He informed us he had voted for the following persons for president of the United States to-wit: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, James Madison, John Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, William H. Harrison, Henrey Clay, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, and J. C. Fremont.

He is buried with his wife at the small Railsback Cemetery in Union County, Indiana, which is right across the border from Preble County, Ohio.

This post is 29 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The twenty-eighth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my maternal 3rd-great-grandfather, Henry Peter THIELKE. He is the last ancestor that I have information for in my Thielke line. I am hoping to find more information about him back in Germany to expand my Thielke line.

Peter Thielke HeadstoneThe most documented date of birth for Peter, as he usually went by, is October 1813 in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern area of Germany. His parents are unknown. He was assumed to have been married sometime before 1840 in this area to Marie D SPECHT. They had 6 documented children, their first was Sophie, born in about 1840. My ancestory, Johann, was born next in 1843. Another one of their children was Minnie, whom I wrote about previously in this challenge.

Their immigration happened sometime between 1854 and 1856 as their son Frederick was born in Germany in 1854 and their next child, Herman, was born in Wisconsin in 1856. Between 1860 and 1880, the family lived in the Grafton/Port Washington area of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.

There is a closely named individual in the 1817 Schwerin, Mecklenburg census that matches up closely with Peter, but without any more information about his parents or siblings, I can’t verify that it is him. But, I’ve kept that record tagged so I can always go back to it.

Peter was listed as a farmer for all of his life and passed away of 13 February 1899 of bronchitis along with what was then called Bright’s disease. He is buried, I think, next to his wife (stone is very worn) at Union Cemetery in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

This post is 28 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The twenty-seventh ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my wife’s maternal 8th-great-grandfather, Nathaniel SHANNON. Nathaniel is one of seven Nathaniel Shannon’s in a row in my wife’s ancestry, starting with this Nathaniel’s father, born in Ireland in circa 1655 all the way through to her 3rd-great-grandfather, born in New Hampshire in 1816. He also had a son named Nathaniel, but my wife did not descend from him.

This Nathaniel was noted to be born on 9 December 1689 in Boston, British America (or today’s Boston, Massachusetts) to Nathaniel and Elizabeth Shannon. It also states that he was baptized at the famous Old South Church in Boston on 22 December 1689, but I don’t seem to have a source for that (Shame on me.)

Sometime in late 1714, he married Abigail VAUGHAN, daughter of Major William VAUGHAN and Margaret CUTTS. Abigail’s line through her father is my wife’s connection to British Royalty. It’s a bit unconfirmed at the moment from this end, but I am slowly working on sourcing all of the connections.

His occupation is listed as Merchant Seaman, so he was probably not home all that much as he traveled the oceans. His death is recorded in Barbados in the West Indies when he was 34 years old. I’d love to confirm this or get more information on it. While it sounds adventurous and fascinating, it was probably due to disease or injury and, sadly, not fighting pirates (or being a pirate.)

This post is 27 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.