The William Thompson

The ninth ancestor in my 52 week challenge is my 4th-great-grandfather, William Henry THOMPSON.  With a name like William Thompson, how hard can it be to pinpoint him?

This has been my trouble with William. I have records of him starting in 1850 once his family settled in Wisconsin, but before that is a mystery. If I do a search based on his information, I get thousands of results.

William ThompsonAccording to the sources I do have, William was born sometime between 1810 and 1816 in either England, Ireland, or Scotland. His headstone says he was 77 years of age when he died in 1890, so I usually use 1813 as his birth year. There is a Wisconsin death record over at FamilySearch that I’m pretty sure is this William Thompson that lists his parents as William THOMPSON and Fasmie RUINNET. Though, a lot of other user’s information lists his parents as Edward & Isabella THOMPSON, but no solid sources so far.

According to my records, in 1839, he married Claude-Françoise “Francis” QUINET in Syracuse, New York. I have yet to find solid evidence of this marriage, but the Quinet family was recorded to have been in that area during that time. They must have left not long after the marriage, as their first child was born in Wisconsin in 1841. They settled in in Granville, Milwaukee Co., Wisconsin, which is now no longer around, but part of multiple towns in the area. Sometime between 1854 and 1857, they relocated north to the Morrison and Wrightstown area in Brown County, Wisconsin.

On 4 February 1890, William passed away and is buried next to his wife at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Wrightstown. I wrote a post about our trip to that area and the finding of William’s resting place.

This post is 9 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

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Everything I Know!

 You wish I would just make a post with everything I know in it, but that’s not really the case here. This is related to listing everything I know about a specific subject, though.

The last week or so I spent some time overhauling my Everything I Know collection of genealogy sites. A basic overview of the sites is that they are set up for a specific individual in my tree. They have two main purposes. One, they put all of the information I have about one person (birth, location, census, jobs, etc) all in one place. Two, while I work on them, they sometimes stir more avenues of research, or in some cases, they allow me to see info I missed previously.

The original idea for a site like this was created by Elliott Malkin, who started the Everything I Know About Hyman Victor website for his great-grandfather. I emailed him asking about his WordPress template and he was nice enough to let me use it.

I used it for a few years, but recently got the itch to make it more “my own” (while allowing me to easily update it and add more people.) I also changed the theme to more match this main blog site. Some of the few things I did were putting the info, images, and even a map into their own tabs to more easily browse each part. The site is completely built using WordPress and some of its more advanced features, so it’s very simple for me to add and edit the posts.

I plan on making some more tweaks that will allow me to get even more information into each of the items and some more usability fixes, since it’s not perfect. Feel free to take a look and explore. It should work fine in any modern browser, but it works best in Chrome or Firefox.


SNGF: The Date You Were Born

This week’s post is about the exact day I was born. This is what Randy Seaver’s “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” post says:

  1. What day of the week were you born? Tell us how you found out.
  2. What has happened in recorded history on your birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.
  3. What famous people have been born on your birth date? Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.
  4. Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

Here is my info:

  1. I was born on Friday, January 18th, 1980. Found this by just searching Google for my birthdate.
  2. Events on my birthday. Found this by using Wikipedia’s entry for January 18th. Those articles are a treasure trove of info.
    • 1535 ““ Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded Lima, the capital of Peru.
    • 1896 ““ The X-ray machine is exhibited for the first time.
    • 1911 ““ Eugene B. Ely lands on the deck of the USS Pennsylvania stationed in San Francisco harbor, the first time an aircraft landed on a ship.
    • 1990 ““ Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is arrested for drug possession in an FBI sting.
    • 1993 ““ Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is officially observed for the first time in all 50 states.
  3. Famous people I share my birthday with. Found at the same place as I found the events.
    • 1882 ““ A. A. Milne, English author of “Winnie the Pooh” (d. 1956)
    • 1904 ““ Cary Grant, English actor (d. 1986)
    • 1913 ““ Danny Kaye, American actor (d. 1987)
    • 1955 ““ Kevin Costner, American actor
    • 1971 ““ Jonathan Davis, American singer from the band KoЯn

My wife’s entry is exactly the same, except she was born a year later which puts her birth date on a Sunday.


Weekly History: June 20th – 26th

Joseph & Emily Zalewski
Joseph & Emily (Troka) Zalewski

History from our family trees for this week. As always, this information is available on the Dates & Anniversaries page.

June 20th

Happy Fathers Day to my dad and all of my male ancestors! This is also my last non-father’s day, or my father-to-be day.

June 21st

1891 – Married – Johann THIELKE & Wilomene RATHKE – Johann and Minnie are my great-great-grandparents on my mother’s side. They were married in Milwaukee Co., Wisconsin. This was Minnie’s second marriage and, as far as I know, Johann’s first. My great-grandfather, Arthur THIELKE, is their only child that I am aware of. Johann passed away in 1927 and Minnie in 1929. They are both buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Grafton, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin.

1894 – Born – Margaret S BRAATZ – Margaret is my great-grandaunt on my father’s side. She was born in Philips, Price Co., Wisconsin, the older sister to my great-grandmother, Agnes (BRAATZ) CORRIGAN. According to my info, she married Louis PETERSON. She passed away on 2 Dec 1974 at Munising, Alger Co., Michigan and is buried in Ashland, Wisconsin.

1931 – Born – Robert John ZALEWSKI – Robert is my great uncle on my father’s side. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, younger brother of my grandfather, Richard ZALEWSKI. He married Elizabeth PFEIFFER and had 4 children. He passed away not long after my grandfather on 7 Sep 1999 in Bowie, Prince Georges Co., Maryland.

June 23rd

1615 – Born – Richard CUTTS – Richard is my wife’s 10th-great-grandfather on her mother’s side. He was born in Portsmouth, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire. In 1649 he married Eleanor ALDERSEY. My wife’s ancestor is their daughter Margaret CUTTS. Richard passed away on 10 May 1675 in Portsmouth.

1809 – Born – Sophia Elizabeth STRASSMAN – Sophia is my 4th-great-grandmother on my mother’s side. She was born in Wahmbeck, Hanover, Germany. She married Frederick MUHM in 1844 in New York State before moving to Wisconsin. They had 2 children, including my ancestor Peter MUHM. She passed away on 23 Nov 1869 in Germantown, Washington Co., Wisconsin and is supposedly buried nearby at Christ Evangelical Cemetery in Dheinsville, Washington Co., Wisconsin. We looked for her headstone a few years back and did not find it, though it may be missing or very worn by now.

1873 – Born – Emma Jane FIRMENICH – Emma is my great-great-grandmother on my father’s side. She was born at Wrightstown, Brown Co., Wisconsin, the 4th of 13 children for Mathias & Paulina FIRMENICH. She married Thomas CORRIGAN in 1892 and had 9 children. The last child, Sadie,  was actually born on the day Thomas died. She married twice more before she passed away on 28 Apr 1941 in Ashland, Ashland Co., Wisconsin. She is buried there next to Thomas at St. Agnes Cemetery.

June 24th

1800 – Born – Rachel MINK – Rachel is my wife’s 4th-great-grandmother on her father’s side. She was born in Virginia and married her husband, Peyton WEY, there at Lovettsville in Loudon Co. They later traveled to Ohio and then to Wisconsin where Rachel passed away on 24 Dec 1870 at West Fork, Richwood Co., Wisconsin.

June 25th

1908 – Born – Mary Elizabeth WEY – Mary is my wife’s 3rd-great-grandmother on her father’s side, daughter to Rachel and Peyton above. She was born in Ohio. She married Jesse TONEY in 1851 in Preble Co., Ohio. She passed away on 25 Jun 1908 at West Fork, Richwood Co., Wisconsin.

1919 – Married Joseph ZALEWSKI & Emily TROKA – Joseph and Emily are my great-grandparents on my father’s side. They were married at St. Hedwig’s Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They had 3 children from 1920-1931. Emily died early at the age of 45 in 1941. They are buried together at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.

June 26th

1778 – Married Christoph DIETER & Elisabeth VENNINGER – Christoph and Elisabeth are my wife’s 4th-great-grandparents on her father’s side. They were married at Evangelisch, Adelshofen, Heidelberg, Baden, Germany. They had 7 children, including her ancestor, Frederick DIETER. Christoph died in 1863 and Elisabeth in 1876. They are both buried in Richland Co., Wisconsin.

1929 – Died – Wilomene C RATHKE – Minnie is my great-great-grandmother on my mother’s side. She was born 1 Sep 1857 in Pommerania, Prussia. She married Johann THIELKE in 1891 (above) and had one child. She is buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Grafton, Wisconsin.


Cedarburg Cemetery Records

If anyone happens to have ancestors buried in the Cedarburg, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin area, you’re in luck. I just noticed that Cedarburg has most of their cemetery records available online. This only includes city cemeteries, not church-related cemeteries (with included Find-A-Grave links.)

The records (as of this writing) are from October 2007. They include maps of some of the cemeteries and also much information on the burials. For the burials, it includes: burial date, name (include first, last, middle initial), birth date, death date, cemetery, section, lot, and grave number.


Natural Burials

Ran across an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel this morning about new burial options at some of the area’s largest cemeteries, Natural (or Green) Burials.

According to the article:

All burials in this area will include a biodegradable coffin, or a shroud and other container, and no toxic embalming or concrete vaults. No individual markers will be used, but names and dates will be engraved on large boulders in the 3-acre cemetery, planted in native prairie flowers and grasses.

Currently, it’s being offered at Forest Home Cemetery (which I posted about earlier) and Prairie Home Cemetery in Waukesha, Wisconsin. For us genealogists, don’t worry about not being able to find a loved one.

There’s one other new twist on age-old burial practices: Anyone visiting the prairie cemetery will get a GPS device and help finding the grave.

As a genealogist, I would miss the headstone and other things that are so helpful to photograph for your research, but you can get a photo of the engraved stone.

I do find it interesting and I love that it’s better for the environment. I’ll have to keep an eye on it around this area. I know they’ve been doing it around the country for awhile now.

[ Article Link ]


Paved Paradise

So, here are some strange cemeteries. I ran across a link to this post titled Paved Paradie: Cemeteries in Parking Lots via

Once sacred ground, it’s now a conspicuous patch of grass in a sea of asphalt, a quirky spectacle to the shoppers forced to drive around it on their way to Radio Shack.

The handful of graves had become an absurd sight gag that punctuated the often indiscriminate momentum of American progress. And it got me thinking: were there others like it? Surely this wasn’t the only time the deceased had stubbornly spoiled the aesthetics of a well-drafted parking lot. I mean, the good spots had already started going to the handicapped; it was only a matter of time before the dead horned in on the action, too.

And you know what? I was right. In fact, I found even more than I expected …

It’s a neat visual tour of some very unlucky cemeteries now located right in the middle of urban America. Sometimes you do wonder what happens to this small, family resting places. Here is your answer.


Forest Home Cemetery

I thought I’d do my first post on my favorite cemetery, Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee. Just the sheer size and history behind this cemetery makes it a great place. It’s an unusual peaceful place within the Milwaukee city limits and is full of Milwaukee history. The photo at the top of the site is also from Forest Home.

Soon after the city was founded in 1846, civic leaders began searching for a place where area residents could count on eternal peace. They found 72 gently rolling and forested acres that, although “far” from town, were accessible by the new Janesville Plank Road. The land was acquired, and the cemetery was named Forest Home.

In 1850, the first burial took place. A few years later, as more cherished memories were entrusted to this special place, the road that led from the growing city was renamed Forest Home Avenue.

Forest Home is the final resting place of many of Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s most famous individuals. Ranging from Fred Usinger (Milwaukee’s Sausage King) to Increase Allen Lapham (Father of the Weather Bureau.) Forest Home even has a building called “The Halls of History” which they say “serves not only as a temperature-controlled indoor mausoleum, but also as a community-education center where people of all ages can learn, and honor, the history of Milwaukee.

Their website even has a page that allows you to run a self-guided historical tour, including maps and information. I plan to hopefully take the tour this coming spring or summer. Here are some photos I took there a few years ago.