History and documentation has always hinted that my great-granduncle, Frank Zalewski, Jr, the brother of my great-grandfather, Joseph, never married, never had children. There was never any mention of a wife, anywhere, and he was buried with his parents, Frank & Anna, when he died in 1976. I, surprisingly, can’t find his obituary in the Milwaukee Sentinel archives from November 1976. The Milwaukee Journal does not have any editions during that time available online.
The title of the article didn’t surprise me much. I picked up, through the years of research, that Frank, Jr seemed to never really “amount to much” in his life. There seemed to never be a lot of mention of him or photos of him. He seemed to be the black sheep of this Zalewski family. A far cry from his older brother, Joseph, who was a WWI veteran and a 33-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department. Though, according to the article, it seemed his wife wasn’t much better. That was the key to all of this. It says, “his wife Louise.” I’m almost certain this is Frank, Jr since his age matches up exactly, and this is the same address he lived at when his father died in 1941. I also found him in the 1940 Milwaukee City Directory at the same address, listed as “Frank E jr (Louise K).”
The funny thing is, I can’t find any mention of this marriage (though, by the looks of it, it probably didn’t last much longer) in any records. I’m pretty sure Frank, Jr is always listed as “Single.” Though, come April 2nd, when the 1940 Census comes out, it looks like he was married according to the City Directory. Maybe that will shed some light on the subject.
The Zalewski Project is officially under way. During the last week, I started collecting data. I plan on collecting data from families with the ZALEWSKI surname, or something very similar. I decided against ZALESKI or variations during this first collection since that multiplies the amount of data by a lot. If it’s pronounced like ZALEWSKI, than I probably added it this time. During this collection, I’ve grabbed names like ZELEWSKI, ZALUSKY, and even some like ZIELEWSKI. I also plan on adding SALEWSKI and variations since I’ve seen my ancestors name spelled that way in church records, but I’m going to start small first instead of trying to do too much at once.
I used Ancestry.com’s search to go through the census records. I didn’t find any ZALEWSKI families of note in the 1860 US Census or earlier and only one family in the 1870 US Census. I collected a few families from the 1880 US Census and a whole bunch from the 1900 US Census. I can only imagine it will grow with every new census.
After collecting and sorting the 1900 US Census data, it seems there are three big locations for ZALEWSKI families in 1900. They are, in order: Chicago, Milwaukee, and then Detroit with a few other areas thrown in. They don’t surprise me as those three cities are known for their large Polish populations.
I put the 1900 US Census data online, though only in a quick and dirty HTML table. The next step is to get this info into a database so you can sort and export and view the data in other cool ways. Next on my list, the 1910 US Census. I imagine this one will be much larger. Those ZALEWSKI’s seemed to like to have big families.
I recently ran across a website for a specific surname that’s goal was to collect all of the information it could and provide it in one easy location. The Rainwater Collection of Genealogy Resources purpose is “to assist serious genealogical researchers in their research by providing an archive of well-documented, accurate and uninterpreted data related to the Rainwater family in America.”
This was similar to something I’ve always wanted to do for the ZALEWSKI surname, so recently I purchased the domain for thezalewskiproject.com. Currently, it just redirects here. My plan is to do something similar, collect data and records related to ZALEWSKI families and individuals and present them in an easy-to-use fashion. I like the Rainwater site and I think it’s organized very well. Though, I want to do it my own way. I want to allow you to view data in different ways, to sort data, etc. Collecting, displaying, and analyzing data really interests me, as I mentioned in my post about why genealogy interests me.
One challenge is that, surprisingly, Zalewski is more popular than Rainwater, though not in the US, but worldwide. The Rainwater site specializes in US info only, though I think I will also add data from outside of the US, specifically Poland. In Poland, Zalewski is very popular which could make for a lot of data.
I’m not sure when I will get the site up and running. I need to find time and I also need to spend time researching how best to collect and display this data so researchers can use it however they want. So, keep an eye out.
I am participating in this week’s “Sunday’s Obituary” with my great-great grandfather’s obituary. I’m told that he received a larger obituary since he worked for the city of Milwaukee. From The Milwaukee Journal on Saturday, August 9, 1941.
Frank Zalewski, 82, of 2630 N. Buffum st., was found dead on the floor of his home late Friday afternoon by his son, [my great-grandfather] Joseph, a police officer, who came to visit him. He had been living alone since his wife died two years ago. Death was due to natural causes, according to coroner’s assistants.
Survivors include two sons, Joseph and Frank, jr., and five daughters, Mrs. Angeline Pierzchalski, Mrs. Mary Gierszewski, Mrs. Frances Cybela, Mrs. Helen Stroinski and Mrs. Agnes Walczak.
You can actually view the obituary in the newspaper using Google’s News Archive website. I found it when I searched for “Zalewski” in their archives. Fortunately, he had a larger obituary that was picked up by Google’s character recognition software. Most of the normal obituaries aren’t picked up.
After some research, I think I’ve traced the marriage of my great-great grandparents, Frank Zalewski & Anna Lindner, to Parafia Å›w. Barbary w ÅšwiÄ™tem (or the Parish of St. Barbara at ÅšwiÄ™te.) According to a translation of their Polish Wikipedia entry:
The parish was founded in about 1300 by the Teutonic Knights. During the Thirteen Years’ War the church was destroyed and the parish declined. The present wooden church was built in 1723 on the land of the owner of the village – Waclaw Kozlowski. The last thorough renovation of the church took place in the 1990s.
Also according to their (wonderful) website, this church is the largest wooden structure in the area and one of the largest in Poland.
Their website has a great photo gallery of the church, inside & out, including the adjacent cemetery. They also have a very cool gallery of the cemetery on All Saints Day, November 1st, 2011. The photo above is from that gallery. Click on it to view more photos from that day.
It’s very cool to see the actual church from across the world that your somewhat distant ancestors were married in and baptised some of their children in.
Anyone following the latest research into my ZALEWSKI line knows that I’ve run across the GWIAZDOWSKI surname on a few occasions. They have something to do with my ZALEWSKI family, but I’m still not 100% sure what it is. Research points to many conflicting options: These are Frank ZALEWSKI’s parents, these are Frank’s aunt and uncle, or maybe they’re just good friends. I have more research to do with the Polish/German church records I recently found at the FHL.
Above: More evidence that they’re related to me somehow is that (among other things) they’re buried with members of the Jacob ZALEWSKI family (the brother of Frank) at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their plot is located at the back part of the GORALSKI stone (another family somehow related to me.)
I had a Thursday off this past week, so I decided to visit one of the local Family History Libraries in the area. The last time I went I ordered some microfilm from the area that I had hoped my ZALEWSKI family originated. I was confused since they told me that it takes about six weeks for the microfilm to arrive and then they will send me my self-addressed postcard to let me know, but I never received anything. Six weeks from my last visit would’ve been sometime in May and it still didn’t arrive by August.
When I first arrived, I just double-checked some of the local Milwaukee church records for some more information and also to try to find Frank ZALEWSKI’s brother’s marriage record (Jacob to Pauline WONDKOWSKI.) Still no luck in finding that record. I had thought that maybe they got married at another church, but there were no other churches in the area with records back to 1891-92. Only St. Hedwig’s church had records that old from that area. Jacob and Pauline baptised most of their children there, but I could not find a marriage record. I’m hoping they didn’t get married before they came to Milwaukee since that would be tough to track down.
After lunch I got back and I asked the volunteer on site about my order. She was somewhat new, but she tried looking through all of the orders from the past to see if maybe it didn’t get sent out, etc. She then asked me to get the film number from the Family Search website and she’d look it up that way. Before I could sit and check, she found my order. In big letters written over the card it said, “Film already here. Needs refund.” I guess the film was already on-site when I ordered it, though the volunteer that day obviously didn’t help me check. Either way the news is great. Continue reading
I was put in charge of creating the memorial video that was to be played at my Grandmother’s funeral today, so that everyone could remember her through the years. I assume this is due to the fact that I seemed to have inherited the title of “Family Historian” which I have no problem with. I love seeing all of these old documents and photos. I ran across this photo of my grandmother from 1938 and I really like it. She looks like she’s saying, “Hurry up and get that picture taken!” I also notice on a lot of the older photos of my grandmother that she had prominent freckles. I don’t remember seeing them on her when she was older. It must be her Irish heritage shining through.
After the break, I have embedded the memorial video that I created. Even though you may not know her, I hope you enjoy the video. Continue reading
Mary Jane (Corrigan) Zalewski April 27, 1926 – August 10, 2011
Today we lost my grandmother, Mary Jane Zalewski, one of the world’s biggest fans of Irish heritage. Born in Ashland, Wisconsin on April 27, 1926 along with her twin brother, Tommy, to Maurice & Agnes (Braatz) Corrigan. Story has it that they were born so small that my great-grandmother would bundle them up and put them on the oven door to keep them warm. While in Milwaukee visiting her aunt Ethel Corrigan, who ended up marrying my grandfather’s cousin, Edy Strelka, she met my grandfather, Richard Zalewski. They tied the knot on October 11, 1947 and had their first child, my uncle, in 1948. My dad soon followed in 1951 and then my aunt in 1960.
Throughout my life, they always lived in the little house in Cedarburg, Wisconsin that we used to visit for Christmas Eve and many other times throughout the year. My paternal grandparents were very loving, as most grandparents, but they were also stern. Grandpa would scold us for sneaking into the basement or jumping into the window wells, but Grandpa and Grandma also used to have the greatest toys to play with including the matchbox car track and the puzzles. She was always a big fan of Ireland and anything Irish. Even though she was probably just as much German (and some French) than she was Irish, no one dared to correct her on it. She was a CORRIGAN and she was full-blooded Irish and that’s that!
When I was in my first year of college, my grandfather got sick and passed away on April 18, 1999. It was very sad to me since this was the first major death in my family and the first loss of a grandparent. I didn’t know how my grandmother would handle it. It turns out she did very well with herself. She drove (albeit slowly) where she needed to go, met with friends, knitted like she always did, and was usually in good spirits. Sadly, she fell while living alone and had to move to an assisted living center, but she still made the best of it. I ended up buying my grandparent’s old house from my grandmother and we currently still live here. It’s comforting at times. Unfortunately, during the last few years, Grandma started to forget things and had trouble getting around, but she was her normal self a lot of the time. Even at 85, she still loved her pizza and beer. I’m told that she passed away peacefully in her sleep and now she is in a better place, probably catching up with my Grandpa. He’s probably got the “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” vinyl record already playing on the record player.
We’ll miss you, Grandma. Thanks for everything. Ireland has one less fan today.
How do I live without the ones I love? Time still turns the pages of the book it’s burned Place in time always on my mind And the light you left remains but it’s so hard to stay When I have so much to say and you’re so far away
I love you, you were ready The pain is strong and urges rise But I’ll see you when it let’s me Your pain is gone, your hands untied
Determine who your most recent unknown ancestor is – the one that you don’t even know his or her name.
Summarize what you know about his or her family, including resources that you have searched and the resources you should search but haven’t searched yet.
My most recent unknown ancestor is actually on my ZALEWSKI line. I am not sure about Frank J Zalewski’s parents’ names. Frank married Anna LINDNER in 1885 somewhere in German Poland, though I’m slowly cracking down this wall. Frank and Anna had 9 children, 2 boys and 7 girls. Just recently I have good feelings about tracking down the origin location of Frank and Anna before they emigrated to America. I have tracked this to a place called Gottschalk during the late 1800s which is probably now called Gocza?ki in present day Poland.
No records that I have searched including census, passenger lists, death records, or church records have named Frank’s parents. I did, in the last few years, connect him to his brother Jacob Zalewski who came over to America a few years later and also settled in Milwaukee.
That reminds me to check back with the Family History Library. I ordered the church records from the Gocza?ki area last time I was there and I sort of remember that they were supposed to arrive sometime in May. The FHL was supposed to mail me a postcard letting me know that they arrived. Either they forgot, or I put down some wrong info and the records didn’t arrive. These records will be my next research opportunity to hopefully extend my tree further back. I actually do not know Anna Lindner’s parents either, but I do have a little more possible info for them, including names.
This database contains U.S. Navy muster rolls and associated reports of changes for U.S. Navy enlisted personnel who served on U.S. Navy ships or in other naval activities between 31 January 1938 and 31 December 1949. Over 33 million records are contained in this database.
I ran a search on my grandfather and found many records. Most of them don’t contain any surprising information, but they can be used to track his movement through the Navy during WWII.
The next listing is from 28 Feb 1941, where he is still located at Pensacola. This listing mentions that he has a change in rating (CR). It specifically says, “Rating changed from AS, to Sea2c in accordance with Art. D-5108(1) BuNav Manual.” “Sea2C” is listed as Seaman 2nd Class. He is listed again in Pensacola in 31 Mar 1941, still rated as S2c (Seaman 2nd Class.)
The next listing on 31 May 1941 has two entries. The first entry is from Pensacola which mentions that he was transferred to the NAS (Naval Air Station) in Miami, Florida on 23 May 1941. The next entry is from Miami stating that he was received from Pensacola on 28 May 1941. He is again listed in Miami on 30 Jun 1941, though no changes were made, still a Seaman 2nd Class.
His next change in rating came on 1 Jul 1941 at Miami, written as “to Sea1c. AUTH: BuNav Cir.Ltr. No. 27-41 corrected by BuNav Cir.Ltr. No. 66-41.” Not sure what all of that means, but he did get a promotion somewhere in there. He is still a Seaman 1st Class on 30 Sep 1941. According to Wikipedia, Sea1c is now called Petty Officer Third Class.
On 1 Dec 1941, Richard gets his next promotion from Sea1c to AMM3c, which during WWII stood for Aviation Machinist’s Mate, 3rd Class in his case. They were responsible for “maintaining aircraft engines and their related systems, including the induction, cooling, fuel, oil, compression, combustion, turbine, gas turbine compressor, exhaust and propeller systems” and many other things. The last muster roll entry for Miami is on 31 Mar 1942 where he is still listed as an AMM3c.
There are two entries I also found on ships that are more than likely my grandfather. The “Service Numbers” on the entries match up from the earlier entries. I know the earlier entries were him due to records and photos I have. Though, he never saw combat, he may have been on a ship while it was docked in America. The first entry was on the USS Orizaba on 10 Jul 1944. Though, the ship is listed as travelling from San Francisco to “FRAY.” I’m not sure what “FRAY” is. This matches up with the history of the Orizaba as it says, “Back at San Francisco in June , she underwent repairs; completed a run to the Marshalls and Marianas; and then sailed north to the Aleutians.” He is now listed as AMM1c, so he has been promoted to 1st Class since 1942.
The next and final entry I have found was for the USS Shangri-La on 1 October 1946. Again, the “Service Number” matches and this record matches up with the historical record of the ship, “she made a brief training cruise to Pearl Harbor, then wintered at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.” He is still rated as an AMM1c. This entry contains some information that I can’t quite figure out at the moment. I’ve browsed through the whole muster roll and can’t find explanation of the abbreviations and acronyms they’re using or what the columns mean.
The first entry may mean something like “For Further Transfer (FFT) Work Completed (WC) Discharge (DISCH)” I know he finished his naval work in 1946. Maybe this was the ship he took from Pearl Harbor back to the contiguous 50 states after serving in Hawaii.
While I was aware of a lot of my grandfather’s navy duties during WWII, it’s neat to see them written in government documents. Though, there is no information from his time spent in Hilo, Hawaii from which most of the photos I scanned a put online were from.