CategoriesFamily TreeMilitary

Civil War

Charlotte Last

For the longest time, I thought that I had no ancestors that fought in the Civil War. I was surprised when I ran across a Civil War record for my third-great grandfather, John Last. I ran across this by finding a document calling his wife, Charlotte (Stramm) a Civil War widow. As shown above in the 1880 Census for Grafton, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin, his wife Charlotte is widowed and living with her son and daughter.

I did find a bit more information on what John did in the Civil War, but not much beyond his Infantry division, etc. I plan to dig into more Civil War research to see if I can find more. I’m still not sure if he died in battle, due to disease, or just after the war. It just calls her a Civil War widow.

This is what I found about his regiment so far:

Regimental History Fiftieth Infantry WISCONSIN (1 YEAR)

Fiftieth Infantry. — Col., John G. Clark; Lieut.-Col., Edwin E. Bryant; Maj. Hugh McDermott.

This regiment was organized at Camp Randall and left the state by companies in the latter part of March and beginning of April, 1865. It was sent to Benton barracks, St. Louis; thence to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and in October to Fort Rice, Dak., where it remained until the spring of 1866.

Co. E was mustered out April 19 at Madison. The remainder of the regiment returned in June and was mustered out on June 14.

Its original strength was 942. Gain by recruits, 16; total, 958. Loss by death, 28; desertion, 141; discharge, 127; mustered out, 562.

Source: The Union Army, vol. 4, p. 72
Battles Fought: Fought on 16 September 1865 at Yankton Reservation, DT.

Hopefully, I can find more information on this regiment or this battle. I’d like to see what happened to John. Anyone have any good sources for Civil War information, other than Ancestry.com?

CategoriesCemeteriesFamily Tree

Thompson and Quinet

St. Paul's Cemetery

Yesterday, my wife and I made a trip up north to the Wrightstown, Wisconsin area to search for a few headstones for my family tree. It was a nice day and we decided to spend most of it outside.I wasn’t exactly sure which cemetery they were buried in, if any, but we checked the first one we ran across, St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery. We didn’t find them in that one, so we planned on checking for a St. Paul’s Cemetery, since I’ve seen that listed before. We spent a good 30-minutes trying to find it before I had to stop and ask for directions. It turns out that we turned around right before we came to it when we were checking some of the main roads.

We search for about 10 minutes. I ended up finding them on my second scan, since they were old stones and also replanted laying face-up in the ground.

Frances (Quinet) Thompson and her husband William H Thompson.

It was actually a worthwhile trip, besides getting photos of the headstones and finding their final resting place, I now have William’s death date and better approximate birth year. Before yesterday, I had his death listed as “Between 1880 – 1900” since he was listed in the 1880 census, but not the 1900 census (and we know that the 1890 census is missing.) Hopefully, this will help me trace his line much easier. Previously, searching blindly for a “William Thompson” usually returned more records than I could really do much with.

We didn’t find any other family members, but I plan to take a trip to Fredonia (which is actually in the same county) later this spring to find some of the Quinet family. They’re last residence is Fredonia. I did a small run-through last year, but didn’t find anything. Hopefully, I’ll have more luck today.

CategoriesFamily TreeGenetic GenealogyZalewski

Hanging Out My Genes

R1a1

I saw a show on the National Geographic channel a few years ago about Genetic Genealogy, or Genetealogy as the cool kids call it. It really interested me. I’ve recently become more interested in world history, especially in the areas of my ancestors and how they lived (This would’ve been helpful in college, when I needed to know it.) This show was telling me that I could order a test and find out exactly where my ancestors came from, at least, my paternal ancestors. Sign me up! I ordered the kit and sent it back. I waited a few months and received my results. They tell me that my DNA data falls into the “R1a1 haplogroup.” That makes complete sense, doesn’t it? For more on haplogroups and genetic genealogy, visit the Wikipedia article.

This what the National Geographic’s Genographic project, who ran my tests, says about the R1a1 haplogroup.

Today a large concentration of — around 40 percent — of the men living in the Czech Republic across the steppes of Siberia, and south throughout Central Asia are members of haplogroup R1a1. In India, around 35 percent of the men in Hindi-speaking populations belong to this group. The M17 marker is found in only five to ten percent of Middle Eastern men. The marker is also found in relatively high frequency — around 35 percent — among men living on the eastern side of present-day Iran.

This only applies to my direct male line, which is my Zalewski line. I only have that back a few generations, so it’s not too much help, yet. If I find a perfect match to someone else with the Zalewski surname, it means that we more-than-likely have a common ancestors in the recent past. Unfortunately, I’ve not run across this, even though I do have perfect matches with a few individuals. Since they’re different surnames, it probably means we share an ancestor prior to the use of surnames. This is why I set up the Zalewski Surname DNA Study group on the Family Tree DNA site. Hopefully, more Zalewskis will join the study and we’ll find some connections. Nothing yet, but we only have a few members. So, all you Zalewski men out there, get testing!

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.

CategoriesFamily Tree

I’m from Holland. Isn’t that veird?

Here is an interesting story from my maternal line. I’ve worked on researching this, but I’ve come up empty.

Charles Van Price (Van Parijs) was born in the early 1800s and came to U.S. in 1874. He traveled to Dousman, Wisconsin in Waukesha County. He worked for Mr. Dousman, later moved to Little Chute, Wisconsin, then to Phlox, Wisconsin in 1887. While staying with his daughter, Effie, in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1922, he went grocery shopping for her and was never seen again. After investigating, it was assumed that he returned to Holland from Milwaukee. He sold his land earlier, and was now one of the wealthiest men in that part of the state. His daughter found he had withdrawn all his savings (a very sizeable amount) and probably left for Europe. They traced him to Antwerp, Belgium — then all trace was gone. He was never heard from again.

I’ve worked on researching Belgium and Holland after 1922, but I haven’t run into anything. The main problem with Charles is that 1) Most genealogy searches don’t work well with two-word last names 2) I’m not sure if I should look for Van Price (Americanized) or Van Parijs.

I actually found the Van Parijs line by complete accident. I was looking for information on the Van Price line, but I always hit a brick wall. I had happened to find something that mentioned that “Parijs” was sometimes written as “Price” in America. So, I searched for Van Parijs and ran across a Dutch Genealogy website. It turns out that this website was a treasure trove of information from the exact area that my dutch ancestors came from, Zeeland in the Netherlands. From there I found information going back many generations.

I know that “Van Parijs” roughly translates into “of Paris” in French, so I’m wondering if this family came from France, since I have traced them back into Belgium. It just keeps going, doesn’t it?

CategoriesFamily TreeZalewski

Frank & Anna

The farthest back I can go on my Zalewski line is to Frank & Anna Zalewski. They would be my great-great grandparents. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about this couple, except what I can gather through research and my grandmother. My grandfather passed away before I could ask him about the Zalewski family.

From what I can gather, Frank Zalewski, Sr., his wife Anna, and their two oldest children – Martha and Angeline, emigrated to the US from the Baltic port of Danzig (Gdańsk) and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, in about 1890. The couple’s third child, Mary, was born in Baltimore in March 1891 (Though, according to my research, the census says she was born in Ohio.) The family then traveled west to Nebraska and east, from there, to the Polish community in Chicago. (I have not yet found hard evidence of this, but this is what I received from a fellow Zalewski researcher.) By May, 1892, the family had settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is backed-up according to an interview conducted in April 1980 with Frank Gierszewski, Jr, a grandson of Frank and Anna Zalewski by the same researcher. He indicated his grandparents left Poland from the Baltic port of Danzig and entered the United States through the port of Baltimore, Maryland.

There is some confusion, however, as to the area of Poland in which Frank and Anna Zalewski resided prior to their emigration to the United States in 1890. During a telephone interview with their granddaughter, Caroline (Walczak) Sullivan, conducted in January 1995, she indicated that Frank and Anna lived somewhere in the province of Poznan — an area of Poland then under German jurisdiction and known as South Prussia. This would correspond with information supplied on the death certificate and in the newspaper obituary of Frank Zalewski, Sr in 1941. Although neither source mentions Poznan as his place of birth, both list Germany as his country of origin. (Much of western Poland, including Poznan Province, became German territory after the three partitions of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century.)

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 (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 spent a great deal of my research time trying to find any more information on this family. Unfortunately, getting records from 18th century Poland/Prussia is very difficult, if not impossible. As always, my hopes go out to my readers that I will run across a connection with someone else’s family. Contrary to my popular belief, Zalewski is a somewhat common name in the United States, and even Wisconsin, but I’ve not yet been able to connect my family line to any of them. I find it hard to believe that Frank was an only child, but who knows?

CategoriesFamily TreeSite

Here’s Johnny!

I’m back again or am planning on it at least. I know, I know, you’ve heard that before. Though, I have a lot more free time lately and I’ve already been doing some more research.

I actually found some more leads and doing some more research using my Ancestry.com subscription. I have to admit that their new “My Ancestry” section is wonderful. After I uploaded my tree to it, it automatically helps in searching and attaching sources to my family members. You can also use it to connect to user’s trees together, etc. It’s like Family Tree Maker’s online search function, but a lot better.

I’ve been doing some more research on my wife’s tree. This section of family seems to come from the New York/Connecticut area (if I connected it right.) Does anyone have any good sources to use for research in those areas in the early 1800s and late 1700s?