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-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.

The twenty-sixth ancestor (and half-way point) in my 52-week challenge is my maternal 3rd-great-grandmother Ida (SCHAVANDIE) MUHM. Her last name has been recorded in so many different ways, I don’t know which one to settle on anymore. It has been recorded as Schavandie, Schwendie, Swinty, Schwinta, Schwandie, Sivinty, and for some reason Kalahan in the marriage record on one of her daughters.

Two census records state that Ida was born in Wisconsin in September 1852, but other census records and vital records state that she was born in Germany. The 1910 Census from when she was living in Oregon states that she immigrated in 1910, which also points to a non-US birth. Her parents, on her marriage record, are listed as Lawrence SCHAVANDIE and Anna RASCH. Ida is also part of my mtDNA (or direct maternal) line. Her mother, Anna, is as far as mine goes. This makes her maternal haplogroup H11a, part of the H haplogroup.

On 18 April 1870, Ida married Peter MUHM in Germantown, Washington, Wisconsin, not far from where I live now. Somewhere in the early 1900s, I lose the Peter & Ida family. On a lucky break, I ran across an article about the Muhm family in the Antigo (Wisconsin) Daily Journal mentioning that the family had moved to Portland, Oregon in about 1902. Peter died there in 1905 after falling from some scaffolding. Ida lived in Portland for sixteen more years before coming back to Wisconsin.

Three years after moving to Portland, Mr. Muhm died as the result of a fall he suffered when a scaffold collapsed. Mrs. Muhm continued to live there for sixteen years, then returned here to make her home with her daughters, Mrs. Joe Narlow, and Mrs. Fred Van Atter. Another daughter, Mrs. Peter Van Price lives in Port Washington; a son Edward in San Francisco, and an older son, George, in Portland, Oregon.

Ida passed away on 12 November 1934 in Antigo and is buried there at Elmwood Cemetery, though Peter is buried in Portland.

This post is 26 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The twenty-fifth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my wife’s 4th-great-grandfather, Henry LINT. This time I just seemingly picked an ancestor at random. I know very little about Mr. Lint and what I do have in the database may not be 100% correct, but that’s what these posts are for, right?

Holmes County, Ohio
Holmes County, Ohio

We have the birth of Henry Lint on 11 April 1810 in York, York County, Pennsylvania. According to Wikipedia, this area of Pennsylvania was a big area for the Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants from many areas of Germany, including the Palatinate of the German Rhine. From the little research I did do on Henry Lint, I do remember seeing some Pennsylvania Dutch information.

In 1833, Henry married Eleanor “Ellen” Murphey in Holmes County, Ohio. On a related note, Holmes County is home to the largest Amish community in the country and a lot of the Amish descend from Pennsylvania Dutch, which ties Holmes County back to York County.

In Ohio in 1842, Henry and Ellen gave birth to my wife’s ancestor, Mary Jane LINT. At some point, the family must have settled in southwestern Wisconsin, as Henry is buried there.

Henry died on 7 January 1893 and, just found his entry now, is buried at Bowen Cemetery in Richland Center, Richland County, Wisconsin.

This post is 25 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

Photo: Sunset over Amish Farm by Alvin Trusty on Flickr

The twenty-fourth ancestor in my 52 week challenge is my maternal 4th-great-grandmother, Marie DesAnges (MANSEAU) ST. LOUIS.

Marie DesAnges Manseau
Marie DesAnges Manseau

Marie was born sometime in 1806 in Yamaska, Quebec, Canada to Antoine MANSEAU and Catharine CLOUTIER. Her mother Catherine is my connection to the so-called French-Canadian “super ancestor” Zacharie Cloutier. Through him, I share a connection to a bunch of celebrities and other famous people like Celine Dion, Robert Goulet, and Beyoncé.

Sometime around 1831, Marie married Ephraim ST. LOUIS in Quebec. In 1834, my ancestor, Olivine Marie ST. LOUIS was born in Quebec. The family left Canada and settled in central Wisconsin around 1837 or 1838.

To the right is the only photo I have seen of Marie. She looks like a hard, tough woman, which is to be expected while living in rural Wisconsin the 19th century.

I have written down that Marie passed away on 16 October 1895 in Florence County, Wisconsin and is buried there, but I have no documented source for this entry. This is something I probably added early in my research when I wasn’t the smartest genealogist. My guess is that it’s probably close to the real date, but can’t confirm.

This post is 24 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The twenty-third ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my wife’s maternal great-great-grandfather, Gustave Ferdinand Joseph GYRION.

Gustav & Josephine Gyrion
Gustav & Josephine Gyrion

Gustave was born 24 January 1858 in the village of Warisoulx in the Walloon region of the Namur Province of Belgium. His parents were Casimir GYRION and Desiree CALONNE. Sometime around 1877 or 1879, he left Belgium and settled in Wisconsin. His first marriage was to a woman named Millie DeWitte in about 1880. Millie died not long after the marriage and Gustave married Josephine FRANCOIS in about 1889 in Outagamie County, Wisconsin.

According to the note attached to the photo at the right, that is Gustave and his wife, Josephine, year unknown. It is also not known if Gustave always wore his hats on the side of his head, or if it was just a windy day.

Throughout his life, Gustave worked in the paper industry as did a lot of other men in this area of central Wisconsin. In 1900 and 1905, he is listed as a general laborer at a paper mill. In 1910, he is listed as an Engineer, but no note of where he did this. In 1920, he is listed as an Oiler. According to Wikipedia, an oiler is a worker whose main job is to oil machinery. So, this was more than likely still related to the paper mill.

On 25 August 1934, Gustave passed away in Plover, Wisconsin, leaving his wife Josephine.  He is buried nearby at the Plover Cemetery.

This post is 23 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.