CategoriesFeaturedMilwaukeeTechnologyTips & Tricks

Maps. Maps. Maps.

I started using the Google Maps system to plot some of my family’s locations awhile back, but I never got around to finishing it. Recently, I plotted most of the major Milwaukee locations for my family and it’s interesting to see how it looks once you know where things are. I’ve always had an idea, but it’s better to see it in it’s final state.

An interesting thing about Milwaukee is that it went through a massive addressing overhaul in 1931, so a lot of the address information from census records is different today. Fortunately, I found a website that has some basic conversion tools and was able to (hopefully) pinpoint these addresses. Give it a try sometime. It’s neat to see how your family moved around.

View Milwaukee Locations in a larger map and access to the legend.

CategoriesFamily TreeFeaturedSiteZalewski

Everything I Know About Frank Zalewski

I have a new site to show all of you. But, first, how it all came to be.

While I was searching for more information on a passenger ship from one of my ancestors a few months back, I ran across a site called “Everything I Know About Hyman Victor.” The site is basically one man’s story about his great-grandfather. It shows off all of the vital records, memories, and information about Mr. Victor.

I was very impressed by both the idea and the layout of the website. Since I noticed the site was built using WordPress, just like this site, I emailed the owner of the website and asked him about how he put it together. He was a very nice guy and said that he would send me some of the files I would need. Recently, I received these files and started putting together a site for my great-great-grandfather, Frank Zalewski.

I wanted to do this for a few reasons. First, I wanted to create a nice site dedicated to Frank and his life. Secondly, going back over a lot of this information may bring me new discoveries. Sadly, I didn’t find anything new, but now all my information is better organized.

I can’t take too much credit for the site, since most of the work was done by Elliot Malkin at Everything I Know About Hyman Victor. Thank you Elliot for the help. Though, I did tweak a few things for my own use.

Without further delay, I bring you Everything I Know About Frank Zalewski.

CategoriesFeaturedNon-GenealogySaturday Genealogy Fun

SNGF: Your All-time Favorite Song

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings posted his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun and I’m going to do it on a Monday. Why? Because I can.

1. What is your all-time favorite song? Yep, number 1. It’s hard to choose sometimes. If you made your favorite all-time Top 40 music selections, what would be #1?

2. Tell us about it. Why is it a favorite? Do you have special memories attached to this song?

My favorite song of all-time is a pretty simple choice. It’s something I have thought about in the past. It seems I’m constantly trying to figure out my favorite musicians and songs. Overall, it’s a tough thing to choose, but my Top 1 or 2 are usually pretty well cemented. My taste in music is probably a lot heavier than most of the genealogy community, but even though my favorite band is pretty heavy, the song is not.

My all-time favorite song is “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. Metallica has been my favorite band since I started to enjoy music. I remember listening to them on my older brother’s cassette tapes in the 1980s. When I came into my own musically at about 11 or 12, it was some of the first music I bought.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Metallica? So this must be some heavy metal song about worshiping the devil or something, right? Not even close. Due to the fact that Metallica has very few songs mentioning the devil and none of those actually say anything about worshiping him, that’s unlikely. “Nothing Else Matters” is actually a very slow and melodic song. According to Wikipedia, “some say it meant that “no matter how far” away he [singer, James Hetfield] was, he was still “so close” with the heart.”

I originally enjoyed the song because I liked how it sounded and I liked the lyrics. It felt like it had a lot of emotion behind it. When I heard it on the radio in April of 1999, the song gained new meaning. I was sitting in my father’s truck on a chilly, rainy April morning outside of St. Francis-Borgia church in Cedarburg. I was waiting for my grandfather’s funeral procession and the song came on the radio. I felt I was holding my emotions pretty steady for most of the day, but that song seemed to force me to let it all out.

I bet some of you would even enjoy the song. I even have a link that will allow you to listen to it, so you can make your own assessment. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even like it. Listen to it here.

CategoriesFamily TreeFeaturedPolishSingle ViewZalewski

Single View: Frank J Zalewski, Sr

This is the first of my “Single View” posts. These will be entries on a specific individual (or possibly family.) I will put out as much detail as I have in hopes to find someone who may have more information. Not only will this help me get the info online, but it will also help me dig through the data again and maybe find something I missed originally. I welcome any research tips.

This entry is about Frank J ZALEWSKI, Sr. Frank is my great-great-grandfather and the oldest Zalewski entry in my family tree. As with most people, I’d like to dig deeper into my paternal (surname) line as far as I can. Unfortunately, this is probably the shortest line I have.

CategoriesFeaturedMilitaryTips & TricksZalewski

Thanks Google Books!

After getting more interested in the military history of my family tree due to the talks and searches I did on Saturday, I decided to try some other options. I usually don’t do a lot of searching on Google for family members, since I usually get a lot more misses than hits. I tried to narrow it down by using quotes and full names, locations, etc. Somehow, I had ended up on Google Books. I kept wanting to search their collection of books, so I decided to try now.

I had no luck finding anything on my grandparents in World War II. I then searched for my great-grandfather, Joseph ZALEWSKI, who was in World War I.  Unfortunately, his military records were destroyed in a fire in 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center – St Louis, Missouri, so it’s all been info based on word-of-mouth. But, lo and behold, what is this?

The first book I found was “Soldiers of the Great War.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find his name in this book, but a lot of the text was very small. The second book was much more important, anyway. The second book was “The Official History of the Eighty-Sixth Division” published in 1921. On page 110, it listed a Joseph F Zalewski that lived at 900 Fratney St, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That was my great-grandfather’s exact address in that time period. Success!

Now we know exactly what division and battalion he was in when he shipped off to Europe. He was part of the 86th Divison, Company B, 331st Machine Gun Battalion. I scanned through most of the book trying to find any other important information. It did mention that when they were shipped off to France in August 1918 that they never saw combat before being shipped back in November, due to the Armistice. Stories say that Joseph saw combat and was involved in some “major battles.” My guess is that when they “skeletonized” the 86th Division before shipping them back that Joseph was sent to another division. I still need to find this information, but at least I have much more to work with.

Text not available

The Official History of the Eighty-Sixth Division
By John G. Little, United States Army 86th Division, States Publications Society

As luck would have it, I found a copy of this book on eBay by someone who was selling some of his grandfather’s military books. I was able to download a copy of the book in PDF form from Google Books, but having a hard-copy would be very cool.

So, again, repeating what I said in my last post about newspapers, never underestimate some of these lesser-known places for family information. They can be invaluable.

CategoriesFeaturedHistoryTips & Tricks

Goodbye, Cruel World

I’ve been doing some indexing for FamilySearch. Helping index old documents for other people to be able to freely search is a good thing to do. Plus, I like seeing all of the history of some of these places. Stop on over there and lend a hand.

While indexing a bunch of New Hampshire Pre-1900 death records, I came across a lot of “causes of death.” A few of them interested me since they were named quite odd. I first was confused by “Consumption” since my first thought was that someone ate themselves to death (come on, you thought it, too.) So, I visited the site where everyone goes to figure something out, Wikipedia. It turns out that consumption is actually Tuberculosis or TB. It was called consumption is the 1800s because “it seemed to consume people from within.” I thought a lot of these names were interesting and it’s also interesting to see epidemics sweep across certain areas. Also, if you’re looking through your family tree, it’s good to be able to see patterns such as Heart Disease or Stroke in your genes.

I thought that listing some of the more common causes of death and their descriptions/name changes would be helpful to some people out there.

Tuberculosis – aka TB, Comsumption, phthisis pulmonalis – a common and often deadly infectious disease caused by mycobacteria. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs (as pulmonary TB) but can also affect the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, the circulatory system, the genitourinary system, the gastrointestinal system, bones, joints, and even the skin. TB caused the most widespread public concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as an endemic disease of the urban poor. In 1815, one in four deaths in England was of consumption; by 1918 one in six deaths in France were still caused by TB. In the 20th century, tuberculosis killed an estimated 100 million people. source

Diptheria – is an upper-respiratory tract illness. It is characterized by a low grade fever, a sore throat and a membrane adhering to the tonsils, pharynx and nose. This membrane can suffocate the victim. One of the deadliest outbreaks was from 1735-1740 in New England. During this time, some towns had 80% of their children under 10 die.

Myocardial infarction – commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart is interrupted. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death for both men and women all over the world. Important risk factors are previous cardiovascular disease (such as angina, a previous heart attack or stroke), older age (especially men over 40 and women over 50) and tobacco smoking. source

Dysentery – is a disorder of the digestive system. Dysentery is typically the result of unsanitary water containing micro-organisms which damage the intestinal lining. source Amoebic dysentery is caused by a small parasite found in contaiminated water. Ameobic dysentery is often known as “Montezuma’s Revenge”, a reference to the legend that the Aztec king Montezuma poisoned the water of Mexico for all that were not born there as revege on the conquistadors.

Cholera – is a water-bourne disease. It is transmitted through contaminated water or through eating improperly cooked fish, especially shellfish. Cholera killed due to the fact that it severely dehydrated the victim. There were a few cholera outbreaks in the early to mid 1800s in North America.

There are also some larger ones such as Influenza, or the flu, and Smallpox that caused issues in the 1800s. You also get the common “Old Age” cause and others such as “Accident” or “Suicide.” It’s interesting to see how they lived in the 1800s and what things you always had to be worried about. That makes me think how good we do have it today.


Famous Milwaukeeans

Milwaukee was the birthplace and home to a few famous individuals. People who have shaped our world with their entertainment and their creations. Here are some of the people from the Milwaukee area. There are comedians, brewers, socialist mayors and even a Prime Minister.

Take a trip back with some of these famous individuals as I find them in the local census reports. It is neat to actually see these people listed in a census report, which I usually match up with normal citizens like myself and my ancestors.

CategoriesFamily TreeFeaturedGerman

Wisconsin Pioneer

I received my mail from the Wisconsin Historical Society today and it included some nice information. I ordered the marriage certificates for two of my family members from northern Wisconsin and also a death certificate for a possible relative. The society also found an obituary for my 3rd great grandfather, Mathias B. Firmenich. The copy they sent was in really good shape and also included a photo of Mathias (still not as cool as the above one, though.) The obit contained a lot of information that I didn’t really know and also some new leads, including this one.

Born in Cologne, Germany, February 11, 1840, Mr. Firmenich came to Milwaukee in May 1847 and settled with his parents on a farm located in the wilderness 25 miles from that city.

I have some names for his parents, but I was never 100% sure on them. His marriage certificate also confirms this. But, now I can look around the Milwaukee area in the census and also the cemeteries for them. It also helps that I live in the Milwaukee area. Here is some more from the obit.

Coming in contact with Indians who the inhabited the region, he learned to weave baskets from ash wood, a hobby which he enjoyed until the time of his death. His marriage to Miss Pauline Thompson took place at Green Bay, February 11, 1867. Mrs. Firmenich preceeded him in death by 21 years.
Mr. Firmenich first worked in Ashland as a millright for the Miller and Ritchie company. He was employed there for four years. and later became connected with D.W. Mowatt firm where he was employed until 1905. He also lived on a farm near Sanborn until 1916. For the past few years he has been making his home with his daughter. Mrs. Andrew Anderson on Ninth avenue west.

I’ll have to check with the society to see if they have any more obituaries.

CategoriesFamily TreeFeaturedHistoryWisconsin Research

Life in Rural Wisconsin

I came across a very interesting letter in my genealogy collection. I’m not really sure how I got it, but I assume it’s from my grandmother. It’s a letter written by my great-great Uncle Edwin Corrigan that he wrote to another relative. In the letter, he describes his life growing up in rural Ashland, Wisconsin and beyond. It’s a great first-person view into life in the country in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, Edwin passed away a few years ago as the longest living descendant of Thomas Corrigan, who came to Wisconsin from Ontario, Canada.

The letter copy I have is written on a typewriter, but a few months ago I transcribed it for my website and also for the Ashland County USGenWeb site as a donation. Here is an excerpt from it where Edwin describes his father’s passing and his older brother’s (my great grandfather) many jobs.

My dad, your great grandfather, died on July 25, 1915 at Ashland. Mother was in the hospital expecting the birth of Sadie ““ she was brought out to the house to the funeral. Funerals were from the homes in those days. I was 6, but can remember the casket and funeral, although I can’t remember going to the cemetery, which was just kitty-corner from our house ““ across the line into the city of Ashland.

At that time Maurice was 16 ““ he did some of the selling of the sand for that summer, then got a job with the Kellogg grocery store, delivering groceries, those were the horse and buggy days ““ he later got a job working in a saw mill at Odanah, 12 miles east of Ashland, later got a job as a night clerk in the Menard Hotel downtown Ashland. As each of our family members got old enough to work they did so. I recall that when I was 11 I got a job driving horse on a farm when they hauled in the hay ““ also had to help with the milking and chores. Henry was two years older than I and he got a job when about 14 working at Gingles farm, that is after he finished the eighth grade.

Later on I worked on the same farm for board and room while going to high school ““ in my senior year I got a job for the Molls where they had 125 colonies of bees, a five-acre orchard and a little garden, I stayed there the next two years while attending the Ashland County Normal to become an elementary teacher. Molls also raised about 300 turkeys each year.

We grew up with very little, but appreciated the fact that Mother was able to keep the family together. I recall that many night when we were about the heater stove, she would shed tears, as she didn’t know what was in store for her and the 9 children.

Very interesting stuff. I have put the complete letter online in my wiki. Read the whole Edwin Corrigan letter.