CategoriesFeaturedTips & TricksWisconsin Research

How to Find Purchased Land

I thought I would write a post on how to convert one of your ancestor’s Land Records into an actual physical location. Right now, I only have the information on how to do this in Wisconsin with the resources that they have available. Other states may have these items available too. Your mileage may vary.

I have Wisconsin Land Records for two of my ancestors, Mathias FIRMENICH and Jean Baptiste LAURENT. I will use Mathias’ Land Record for this example. You can view his Land Record on my Mathias site’s “Land Purchase” entry.

Step One

Find the spot on the record that lists the exact location that your ancestor purchased from the US Government. On Mathias’ record, in the first paragraph, it reads

..the claim of Mathias B. Firmenich has has been established and duly consummated in conformity to law for the southeast quarter of Section 18 in Township 46 north of Range 4 west of the 4th Principal Meridian in Wisconsin containing 160 acres.

To most people, this just looks like gibberish. It did to me at first. I knew what it meant, but I had no idea where to even start to look for it.
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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.

CategoriesFunMilwaukeePolish

Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday around here in Milwaukee, home to a large Polish heritage, is celebrated as Pączki Day. The most popular local bakery in the area, National Bakery and Deli, expects to sell 45,000 of them.

A pączki is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling. I bet you’re like, “Wait! Isn’t this just a donut?” According to Wikipedia, although they look like bismarcks or jelly doughnuts, pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar and sometimes milk.

Sadly, I didn’t get one today. No one brought any in to the office and I didn’t think driving that far for one was worth it. Though, I am always for any sort of ethnic celebration that includes eating lots of donut-like foods.

CategoriesMilwaukeeZalewski

Did You Hear the One About the Polish Flat?

Courtesy of britmum@Flickr
Courtesy of britmum@Flickr

I tried, but I couldn’t come up with a joke for that. “Polish Flats” are common here in the Milwaukee area. I’ve recently been exploring the area where my great-great-grandfather, Frank Zalewski, and his family resided when they immigrated to Milwaukee in 1891. Frank and his family’s first house was located at 902 Pulaski Street in Milwaukee. They are noted to live there until about 1898 when they moved to 900 Fratney Street.

According to researchers at UWM in Milwaukee, “A “Polish flat’ is an American workers’ cottage that has been raised to create a new basement floor, thus becoming a modest two-story flat.” [More information here.] The Pulaski street area is full of these types of houses. They even built them two or three-deep at certain points, so it makes finding the right house a mess. You can see on this Google Maps link just how crowded they built these houses.

I assume the house on Pulaski street is still standing. Unfortunately, the city of Milwaukee underwent a massive address overhaul in 1931 and most of the addresses in that area have changed. There is no common mathematical equation used to figure out the new address, since they based it on measurements. I did find a guide on how to find the general range of the new address, which should be in the 1800 range now.The 1930 census still lists the old addresses, so that doesn’t help.

From the 1900-1930 census, the family of Jacob Zalewski lived at 902 Pulaski. This is the man I assume is some relation to Frank, possibly a brother, since they both lived there for years. Jacob passed away sometime between 1913 and 1920 according to census records. His wife Pauline was living there in the 1930 census with her children. The earliest city directory available at Ancestry after 1930 is the 1937 directory. I checked under Zalewski and it lists Pauline as passing away on December 30, 1936 and lists no address. There are three listings for Zalewskis on Pulaski street: Jacob G, Leo, and Joseph. These are three names of Jacob and Pauline’s sons, though they are also popular Polish names. They all live from 1758 to 1762 Pulaski Street. If I had to take an educated guess, this is probably where Frank Zalewski lived when he came to Milwaukee. Here is a view of it at Google Street View (you’ll need to find the house pushed way back, Google doesn’t automatically point at it.) I also happened to find another photo of it while searching for Pulaski Street information.

I drove through the area at my lunchtime on Monday since it’s only a few miles from where I work. It’s very hard to get around if you don’t know the area due to a lot of one-way streets. Now that I have a better idea, I may make another trip for some photos.

Photo:

CategoriesBig NewsMilwaukeeZalewski

Tracking the Zalewski

I know it sounds like a show on National Geographic, but it’s not. I’m not sure why I didn’t this earlier, but it’s never too late to try. After finding my ZALEWSKI family’s passenger record, I originally decided to see if I could find them in Baltimore city directories since it seems like they spent a few years there. This finally took me back to the Milwaukee City Directories since there are no online versions for Baltimore from 1889-1892.

Ancestry has a lot of Milwaukee City Directories online scattered from like 1880 to 1939 with most of 1880-1900 available. I started with 1889 to see if the ZALEWSKI family made it there yet, but they did not. I first found Frank ZALEWSKI in the 1892 (well, two actually, go figure.)

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CategoriesMilwaukeePolishTell Me Thursday

Tell Me Thursday: Joe & Clara Troka

Wordless Wednesday
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This is a photo of my great-great-grandparents, Joe & Clara (SZULTA) TROKA on their 50th wedding anniversary. The date of this photo would be somewhere around 29 Jan 1944 since they were married in 1894. They were married at St. Hedwig’s Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There is a very nice writeup and history for St. Hedwig’s at Wikipedia. Here is a closer photo from the “Polsih Churches of Milwaukee” website.

CategoriesTell Me ThursdayWisconsin Research

Tell Me Thursday: Country School

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Click for larger image

This ia photo from my wife’s collection. The photo label says that this is her grandmother’s class at “country school.” We can’t specifically pick her out, but we have some ideas. I like how all the boys are in overalls. they probably need to go back and finish up their farm work when school is over. This school is probably located in the rural areas of southwestern Wisconsin, which is where her grandmother grew up.

CategoriesFamily TreeGermanMilwaukeePolishTell Me ThursdayZalewski

Tell Me Thursday: Zalewski

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Click for larger image

According to the note for this photo, this is a picture of my grandfather, Richard Zalewski (middle), with his sister Irene to his left and Eugene Nowiski to his right. I don’t know off-hand who Eugene Nowiski is, but it does look like he’s ready to change someone’s oil. Multiple people have said that my grandfather looks a bit like me in this photo when I was a kid. I can see it. I assume the photo was taken in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as Richard lived there most of his life.

CategoriesMilwaukeeSaturday in the AtticZalewski

Saturday in the Attic

I was able to scan some neat stuff from my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski, that my dad had in his possession. Joseph was a Milwaukee Police Officer for 33 years.

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Click for larger image

There was also a writeup after his retirement in 1951. (Sorry for the blurriness. It’s tough to scan since it’s taped to the back of a picture frame, so the reflection and angles made it hard to position.)

Joseph Zalewski

CategoriesMilwaukeePolishTell Me ThursdayZalewski

Tell Me Thursday

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Click for larger image

Wordless Wednesday’s Photo is labeled “trokas&szultas” in my list. Unfortunately, when I first scanned a few photos from my grandmother, I didn’t label them very well. Though, it was probably labeled something like that in the album itself. There are only two people I think I can pick out. My great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski, in the middle of the back row and my great-great-grandmother, Clara (Szulta) Troka, third from the left in the middle row. I’m hoping to meet with my grandma and maybe go over some of these photos and see if she knows who they may be.

CategoriesMilwaukeeTechnologyTips & Tricks

Professional Resources

Today I was browsing some of the professional genealogy society-type websites. I hope to one day become certified in some sort of genealogy-related area. I know that I’ll enjoy doing genealogy for the rest of my life and hopefully I’ll be able to help others.

The first one I came to was Board for Certification of Genealogists. I was curious as to what it took to become certified. It actually seems in reach since applicants are sent a photocopy of an historical document that relates to the geographic areas and time periods in which they normally work. I read over one of their example that dealt with an area I’m familiar with, an 1870 Wisconsin Deed. Everything that they went over would be something that I would normally ask myself or make notes on. I don’t have much experience with deeds, but I can figure out the basics of what I’m looking for. Have any of you readers become, or tried to become, certified?

I know that one of my weak points right now is probably sourcing. Don’t get me wrong, I add every possible source to everything I enter into my family tree, but I’m not hip on the lingo. Does anyone know of any good references of how to write out your sources, preferably free? BCG has a book, but they want me to spend $45 on it.

I also looked at the National Genealogical Society’s website. This is not really a certification, but it is a central location that a lot of genealogists go to. Is anyone here a member of NGS? Are the online courses worth the money? I’d like to become a member, but I want to make sure I get my money’s worth. I hope to one day be able to go to one of their genealogical conferences. I’d love to meet other genealogists.

I do plan on becoming a member of a local genealogical society, the Milwaukee County Genealogical Society. A lot of my family lived and died in the Milwaukee County area. Plus, it’s pretty decent deal at $12/year and you get some access to helpful local information, etc. Plus, it’ll make me go out and meet other people doing research in the same area. Maybe I can help them get their website into the 21st century, too. What are your experiences with local genealogical societies?

Photo: amyc500@flickr