CategoriesSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: TROKA

This week’s surname is from my paternal Polish ancestors. I’ve heard it pronounced both Troh-kuh and Truck-uh. The TROKA surname first shows up in my family tree with my great-grandmother, Emily (TROKA) ZALEWSKI. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1896. Her father, Joseph TROKA, was born in 1871. I have traced his birth to the Lipusz area of what was then West Prussia. It is now located in KoÅ›cierzyna County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. He immigrated in about 1888 or 1889, either by himself or with his family. I have not tracked down his parents in the US, but have seen note of his brothers and sisters here. His parents are listed as Michael & Joslyna (GRABOWSKA) TROKA on his marriage certificate. Joseph married Clara SZULTA at St. Hedwig’s Church in Milwaukee in 1894.

According to the map below, courtesy of World Family Names, the surname is most popular in the Polish county mentioned above, KoÅ›cierzyna.

Troka Surname
Public Profiler Worldnames. (2010). Surname Troka Polish Map.Retrieved March 18, 2011


CategoriesSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: SHANNON

Nathaniel Shannon
Nathaniel Shannon's Headstone in Boston.

The SHANNON surname first appears in my wife’s family tree at her maternal great-grandmother, Marie R (SHANNON) BANNACH. From the looks of it Marie didn’t have a very good start to her life. Her mother, Mary (DAKINS) SHANNON died when Marie was only four years old. Then, as far as we can tell, her father, George Washington SHANNON, up and left as she is next found in the 1905 Wisconsin State Census living with her grandparents (Mary’s parents.) I have not yet been able to track down George, but some signs point to him dying in Colorado in about 1930.

George’s father is Nathaniel SHANNON, born in 1816 in Gilmanton, Belknap Co., New Hampshire, where the SHANNON family lived for many generations. If naming conventions had been used, his name should’ve been Nathaniel Shannon VII. From this point on my wife is descended from seven Nathaniel Shannon’s straight back to her 9th-great-grandfather Nathaniel SHANNON who was born in about 1655 in Ulster County, Ireland. The seventh Nathaniel also had a son named Nathaniel, but we have not traced it any further. The original Nathaniel Shannon is somewhat famous, at least in death, as he is buried in the famous Old Granary Burial Ground in Boston, Massachusetts with the likes of Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams. According to his headstone (to the right, click to bigify), he was also a Naval Officer of the Port of Boston. This is as far back as we can currently trace the SHANNON line in my wife’s tree, though from this line is where my wife theoretically connects to the Royal Line via the second Nathaniel SHANNON’s wife Abigail VAUGHAN.

CategoriesBelgianDutchSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: VAN PRICE

Photo from Charles' Passport. Note his name listed as just "Price."

By the time the VAN PRICE surname ended in my ancestry, it had already been changed at least once. My great-grandmother, Mildred Vida (DEBROUX) VAN PRICE, was the last to have the surname before she married my great-grandfather. Her father, as he is listed on later documents and his headstone, was Peter VAN PRICE. Though, he wasn’t born with that name. His name when he was born was Pieter Franciscus VAN PARIJS.

For years, I didn’t have much more info on the VAN PRICE surname in my tree besides the two people listed above, and I didn’t have anything on Peter except for his name. That all changed on day when searching for information using Google. 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, Zeeuwen Gezocht [Zeeland Archives]. It turns out that the VAN PARIJS family is from the Zeeland area of the Netherlands and this website was a treasure trove of information. 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.

From the archive website  I found Peter’s parents, Charles Ludovicus VAN PARIJS and Johanna Maria KREBBEKX. Then Charles’ father was found as Jacobus Bernardus VAN PARIJS, then Phillipus Jacobus Bernardus VAN PARIJS, and finally Joannis VAN PARIJS. This is as far back as I’ve been able to find, though I haven’t dug in and done much research in a few years. By this time, the VAN PARIJS family was located in the East Flanders, Belgium area.

CategoriesSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: TONEY

The TONEY surname shows up in my wife’s family tree starting with her great-great-grandmother, Idona (TONEY) POWELL. The surname is also her connection to the American Revolutionary War. So, if all data is correct she should be a proven Daughter of the American Revolution. There is much paperwork to get that finished. Maybe we’ll work on it someday for her (or my future daughter.)

The line than extends to her father, Jesse TONEY, who is known to have fought in the Civil War. Next is his father, William TONEY, born in Virginia and later died in Wisconsin. William’s father is Carey TONEY, who not only lived to 101 years of age (depending on which info is correct), his wife lived to be 100. Carey is my wife’s TONEY ancestor who served in the Revolutionary War. This was written some research that we had found:

He joined the American Army in the Revolution, passed through several campaigns; was present and took an active part in the siege of Yorktown and was an eye-witness to the surrender of Cornwallis in 1781, saw Gen Washington and Lafayette a great number of times during the siege; recollects and describes the personal appearance of Lord Cornwallis, his staff & etc.

The TONEY line than continues on to Carey’s father, William. Then it’s William’s father, Alexander William TONEY and his father William TONEY. According to the info we have, which may or may not be correct, William was born in 1660 at Buckingham County in Virginia. There is a lot of other research out there for the TONEY family, as they must have spread their seed far and wide from Virginia.

CategoriesBelgianSurnameSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: LAURENT

Mary Philomene Laurent

The LAURENT surname is from my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. This is the side with the most French/Belgian ancestry.

The surname first appears in my family tree with my great-great-grandmother, Mary Philomene LAURENT. Mary married Joseph DEBROUX on 8 Sep 1891 in Langlade Co., Wisconsin. Mary’s parents were from two different countries, though of similar origin. Her mother, Olivine ST. LOUIS, was born in Quebec, Canada and her father, Jean-Baptiste LAURENT, was born in Biez, Chaumont-Gistoux, Walloon Brabant, Belgium. I have a United States Land Record for Jean B. Laurent from 24 April 1820 when he received eighty acres of land from the government in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin.

Just recently have I been able to track Jean’s family further back thanks to a Belgian vital record transcription site for the Walloon Brabant area of Belgium called Netradyle that I found. According to a document on Belgian research, this is what Netradyle is:

Netradyle, located in Tourinnes-la-Grosse reopened its doors on March 3, 2009. The organization was created in 1993 with the goal of creating an awareness of the local history, and providing information for genealogy research.

It’s name is composed of the abbreviations of Néthen, Train and Dyle, the three rivers which run through villages in Walloon Brabant.

At the Netradyle site, you will be able to search through the following records from Liege, Namur, Hainaut, Walloon Brabant, and Vlaams Brabant.

– 598,513 birth/christening records
– 148, 167 marriage records
– 303,485 death/burial records

It’s been great so far. If anything, I’m at least able to make some basic ancestry traces and put in some notes before looking for actual records. But, it does give me a better idea on specific areas to look through.

Jean’s parents were found to be Constant Joseph LAURENT and Marie Josèphe BERO (or BEREAU or BERRAUNT, as seen elsewhere.) They were married on 17 May 1809 in Piétrebais, Walloon Brabant, Wallonia, Belgium which is only a small distance from Biez. Constant’s parents were Joseph LAURENT and Marie Catherine MOUREAU (or MOREAUX). They were married on 28 Jul 1776 (only a few weeks after their future descendant’s country’s independence) in Grez-Doiceau, Walloon Brabant, Belgium.

After that, I am only able to trace it back to the names of Joseph’s parents, though no dates. His parents were listed as Guillaume LAURENT and Marie CATTELAIN.

According to, the name is probably of French origin meaning a vernacular form of the Latin personal name Laurentius (or Lawrence.) In 1840, it wasn’t very popular in Wisconsin, but in 1880, it is the 2nd-most-popular state along with New York and Louisiana.

CategoriesBelgianDeBrouxSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: DEBROUX

The DeBroux surname first enters my family tree as my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. The surname itself is Belgian, at least when I trace it back from America. According to, the surname along with the preposition de (“˜from’), denoting someone from either of two places called Broux, in Rhône and Vienne. Both Rhône and Vienne are located in France, which a lot of my Belgian and Dutch surnames tend to originate from.

I’ve been able to trace it back the early 1800s. First through my great-grandfather, Leon DeBroux, who was born in 1901 in Phlox, Langlade Co., Wisconsin. Another piece of information for the DeBroux surname is that the DeBroux family seemed to have settled mostly in Wisconsin, which is good for me. Leon’s father was Joseph DeBroux, who was born in May 1865 in Grand Chute, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin. The Grand Chute and Little Chute area is a very high-percentage Belgian and Dutch area. It’s obvious by all of the “Van” and “De” surnames and businesses in the area.

I originally had Joseph’s parents listed a Desire and Desiree DeBroux. I know it sounds like they were a traveling folk duet, but I’m pretty sure they were just normal people. Even though they sound like a unique name combination, I had no luck in finding any more information about them…until. I ran across a site called “Netradyle” (which is all in French) that seems to be a location of a lot of Belgian vital records. Thanks to Google Translate, I was able to find my way around and after some searching I found my DeBroux family. It turns out that Desire and Desiree were their middles names. They probably used them to separate themselves from the others since it seemed that every family named their children either Jean Joseph or Marie. I know why, but it does confuse things now.

So, it turns out the Desire’s full name is Jean Joseph Desire DeBroux and he was born 16 Feb 1830 in Piétrebais, Walloon Brabant, Wallonia, Belgium, which is a small town in central Belgium just east of Brussel. Desiree’s full name was Marie Desiree LOOD. After that I was only able to find Jean Joseph’s parent’s names, but not any specific information from the records on the site. His parents were Jean Joseph DeBroux (go figure) and Anne Catherine LANGELE.

I did some mapping of the DeBroux family using Google Maps, in case you wanted to see all of the locations. It may include other parts of my maternal line, too.

Any other DeBroux families out there?

CategoriesIrishMoranSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: MORAN

This week I decided to do a Surname Saturday on one of my wife’s surnames, Moran.

The MORAN surname first shows up in her tree with Robert MORAN who was born in Ireland in 1820. We’re not exactly sure where in Ireland. Tracing this name into Ireland is like tracing the JOHNSON surname in America we’re told, it’s very common. I have that problem in my tree with the surname THOMPSON into the UK somewhere.

It looks like Robert first came through Canada (as did my Irish ancestors) and then made it to southwestern Wisconsin. It seems like he immigrated with his wife, Dorothea COOK, who was born in County Cork, Ireland (which may point at Robert’s origin, too.) There is no hard evidence of this information besides some online trees and family information, but it’s something to start with.

Dorothea died in 1872 and Robert re-married to Margaret ENYARD. It says Robert died on 16 Jun 1897 in Tarver, Wisconsin but I can’t find a Tarver in Wisconsin. I’m pretty sure he died somewhere in southwestern Wisconsin. It’s probably an old, unincorporated town. We have a lot of those.

She then descends from Robert and Dorothea’s son, Charles Christopher MORAN, who was born  23 Nov 1864 in Montfort, Grant Co., Wisconsin. Charles married a German, Emma Amelia DIETER in about 1889.

Her MORAN line continues down to her great-grandfather, Frederick H MORAN, who was born on 20 Feb 1891. He married Norma POWELL in 1915. After that it continues all the way down to my wife.

Wikipedia tells us about the MORAN surname [link]:

Moran (Irish: Ó Móráin) is a modern Irish surname and derived from membership of a medieval dynastic sept. The name means a descendent of Mórán, translated as Big One. Morans were a respected sept of the Uí Fiachrach dynasty in the western counties of Mayo and Sligo. In Ireland, where the name descended from the Gaelic, it is generally pronounced (phonetically) “more-in”, an anglicized approximate of the Irish pronunciation. Elsewhere, pronunciation follows the French surname, Mo rant, anglicized to (phonetically) “more-anne”.

Surprisingly, the top countries with the Moran surname are Ireland (obviously) followed by Spain, Argentina, and Australia according to the World Names Profiler.

CategoriesSurnameSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: LAST

No, not a last name, the name LAST. You should see how difficult it is to do any sort of search on this surname. Typing in “last surname” or just “last” into search engines usually gets me a lot more than I need. Sometimes it gives me “Did you mean ‘last name’?” It’s even tough on genealogy sites like Ancestry, since some records put in “Last” if the person’s surname was unknown.

The LAST surname first shows up in my tree from my great-grandmother on my maternal side, Madora Martha Louisa LAST, who married Arthur THIELKE. Madora was one of 16 children! She was the tenth child for Charles Carl LAST and Augusta Johanna LUEDTKE, born in Grafton, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin. Charles was born in Doeringshagen, Pommerania, which is located in present day Poland. His parents were Johann W G LAST (a Civil War veteran) and Charlotte STRASSMAN. Charles has immigrated to Wisconsin with his parents in 1857 and shows up in the 1860 Census in Wisconsin.

According Ancestry’s surname information page, LAST was most common in Wisconsin in 1880. Also, they note it to mean a metonymic occupational name for a porter, from Middle High German last; German Last or Yiddish last “˜burden’, “˜load’. A porter is more than likely someone who was in charge of a door or a gate (similar to a doorman.)

There are many LASTs in this area, most of which probably descend from Augusta & Charles and their 16 children. Augusta not only had 16 children, but she lived to be 100-years-old. Now comes the part when I need to research back in Poland.

CategoriesSurnameSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: SZULTA

Today’s surname is another one from my Polish side. SZULTA is presumably pronounced like SCHULTA. This surname first shows up in my ancestry with my great-great-grandmother, Clara SZULTA, who was born in Poland (or Prussia or Germany, I’m not sure yet.) I can only trace it back to Clara’s father, Ignatius SZULTA, who brought his family to America from Europe.

Ignatius SZULTA was born 1 Feb 1849 in Poland (Austria, as it’s noted.) He married Nepomuncena “Annie” SYLDAKT (I’ve also seen it written as SOZAK) in 1875. Together, they had 9 children with the first 3 born in Poland; Clara, Valerian, and Martha. These three children are listed on the passenger list along with Nepomuncena. Ignatius probably came over first, but I have yet to find his record. They settled in Milwaukee. I first find an “Ignats Szulta” in the Milwaukee City Directory in 1883 living at 943 Sobieski St.

Clara was born in Poland 6 Jan 1876. She married Joseph TROKA at. St. Hedwig’s Church on the east side of Milwaukee on 29 Jan 1894. They had 4 children, including my great-grandmother, Emily M TROKA, where it finally connects to my ZALEWSKI family. Ignatius passed away 25 May 1922 and Annie shortly thereafter on 22 Dec 1925. They are both buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee. Clara lived until 19 Jul 1959, only a few years before her husband was killed by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day in 1962.

It’s one of those surnames that is somewhat uncommon, so finding ancestors is usually simple. I search and if I find results, it’s usually a family member. I do run into some issues when it shows up under SCHULTA or SCHULTE since it usually groups names like Schultz and Schulz along with it, which makes it hard to browse. Googling SZULTA usually just brings up links to my sites and a few general Genealogy surname sites. It doesn’t seem to be very common. I have another researcher that I am in contact with that has been researching this family, as she is descended from one of Ignatius and Annie’s children. One of those lines that I get a lot of searches from is the URMANSKI family that branches out from their daughter Leocadia “Lilly” and her husband, Ignatz URMANSKI. That one seemed to spread out pretty far from the SZULTAs.

I need to spend some time searching these names but replacing SZULTA with either SCHULTA or SCHULTE and see what I get, though most sites include those using Soundex.

CategoriesSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: LINDNER

Anna Lindner (left)
Anna Lindner (left)

LINDNER first shows up in my ancestry from my great-great-grandmother, Anna LINDNER. She was born 27 Nov 1865 in Prussia, but I’m not sure which area of Prussia. She married my great-great-grandfather, Frank J ZALEWSKI, in Jan 1885. They’re noted to have been married in the Poznan Province of South Prussia, which would be modern day Poland. Frank, Anna, and 3 of their daughters emigrated to America in November 1889 and finally settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Anna passed away on 8 Aug 1941 in Milwaukee and is buried there at Holy Cross Cemetery.

There is confusion as to what part of Prussia Frank and Anna were from. The name LINDNER to me sounds more German than Russian, so my guess is they were from the German side of Prussia. ZALEWSKI could be either Russian or German (or straight Polish), but Russian names usually ended in SKY rather than SKI.

I have no proven information on Anna’s parents. A previous researcher whom I talked with had listed her parents as John LINDNER and Eva ZEMFELD. He also noted that he thought ZEMFELD was Jewish, so that’s interesting. I have found no evidence for either of these names myself.

Anna’s obituary did mention that she had a brother named John LINDNER and a sister named Elizabeth KOZLOWSKI. I’m assuming they also lived in the Milwaukee area since the obituary didn’t mention a location, but that’s only speculation. There are a lot of John LINDNERs out there when searching, so I haven’t had much luck. I can only guess his birth year since I have no more information than his name. Elizabeth has been hard to find, also.

I’m hoping there are some other local LINDNER researchers out there that I can connect with. I recently contacted a local ZALEWSKI researcher who is related through Frank’s possible brother, so that’s big news for me.

CategoriesSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: THOMPSON

THOMPSON is probably the most common surname in my ancestry. When I say “most common” I don’t mean that it shows up the most. I mean that’s the most “common” surname. Trying to search for THOMPSON is much more difficult than searching for ZALEWSKI due to the amount of names I get in return. I always assumed that searching for more uncommon names was more difficult, but I was wrong. So what if you only get a few results, at least you can look through them fast. Just try searching for “William THOMPSON” without knowing an exact birthdate or coutry or origin and tell me how fun that is.

The top THOMPSON in my tree is William Henry THOMPSON. The census records show a fuzzy picture. The 1870 census shows him as being born about 1810 in England. The 1860 census and his headstone show him as being born in about 1813 in Ireland. The 1880 census shows him as being born about 1816 in Ireland. The 1850 census and the 1900 census (as birthplace of the father of his daughter) shows him as being born in 1816 in Scotland. So, I at least know that he is from the United Kingdom, but beyond that I’m not sure. I am leaning more towards Ireland due to the fact that it’s on his headstone, but we know those aren’t always 100% accurate. Also, it usually lists his parents as being born in Ireland in his census entries.

I know that William married his wife, Claude-Françoise “Francesca” Quinet, in New York state in about 1839 according to multiple sources. Some sources note it as Syracuse, Onondaga Co., New York, but I’ve not found any useful information in that area. I do know that sometime between 1839 and 1841 William and his wife moved to Granville, Milwaukee Co., Wisconsin since they are listed in the 1842 Wisconsin State census and their first child, Mary, was born in about 1841. This would also match up with the Quinet family as they traveled to Wisconsin about the same time.

The family lived and grew in Granville until they moved up north to the small town of Morrison in Brown County, Wisconsin. Their last child Charles was born in Morrison. I assume Francesca and William lived the rest of their lives in this area as they are listed as passing away in nearby Wrightstown and are both buried at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Wrightstown. I posted about my trip up there last year and finding their headstones.

I’m not sure where I got this, since I probably copied it early in my genealogy research, but I have William’s mother listed as Isabella.

Does anybody have any tips on searching for a common name like William Henry THOMPSON or maybe some more research items for that area of New York besides the GenWeb sites? I’d really like to trace William back to Europe.