As you know, if you a reader of this site, I’ve been trying to track down information on my Zalewski line as long as I’ve been doing genealogy. For the longest time it was always my shortest line, ending at my great-great grandfather, Frank Zalewski. This week changed a lot of that and during the excitement I almost totally forgot about RootsTech, which is crazy.
I plan to add more detailed posts this week about how exactly I found this new information, but here is a quick overview. [Update: the detailed post is now up. You’ll find the link at the end of this post, so keep reading.]
A few years back, I found Frank’s marriage record to his wife Anna in the civil archives which listed his parent’s names and his birthplace. This got me one more generation back, but with little more info besides names and a location.
The thirty-fourth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is another non-direct relation, but a line that I do spend a considerable amount of time on. It is Jacob ZALEWSKI, the (almost certain) brother of my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski whom I’ve written about a lot. I do a lot of research on Jacob and his line to possibly figure out the parents of Frank and Jacob, and in turn, my Zalewski line.
I ran across Jacob’s name by looking through the Milwaukee City Directories and noticing a Jacob that lived with and nearby Frank for many years. After some more research and a surprise email from a descendant of Jacob who knew my great-grandfather, I’m 99% certain that Jacob is Frank’s brother.
All I know is that Jacob was born around December 1863, but his birthplace, like Frank’s, is unknown except for it being listed as “German Poland.” He immigrated to the US a few years after Frank and his family arrived in 1889. Jacob’s information was found within the New York Passenger Lists from 1891. He arrived on 17 September 1891 aboard the Rhynland. His place of residence of Gottschalk (now Goczalki) matched up with Frank’s. He arrived as a single man and sometime between arriving and November 1892, he married Pauline Wondkowska. Their marriage record is one of those documents I want to get my hands on as it may list Jacob’s parents, but I cannot find it. I’ve searched through just about every Polish church in Milwaukee for the record, but no luck. It’s possible that they were married somewhere else, but I have no idea where. I’ve also had some issues tracking Pauline’s family.
I did a good chunk of what they call “descendancy research” on Jacob’s line, working my way down the tree, to find possible living descendants. I found a bunch whom I still have contact with, but not much luck getting more detailed information. Jacob did pass away in April 1918 at only age 54, so I imagine not a lot of information is remembered about him.
Jacob’s family also intertwines with the Gwiazdowski family that I found. I know they were also involved with Frank’s family according to some documentation. The fact that I found them also involved with Jacob’s family solidifies the connection between Jacob and Frank some more.
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.)
Well, after over a decade of doing genealogy research, I finally made a trip to one of the “local” Family History Libraries. I put local in quotes, because it was still a good 30 miles away, but not too far. I’m not exactly sure why I never visited one. I like knowing how things work before I go since I hate being somewhere and not knowing how to act. For example, I had my iPhone with me, but hidden in my pocket since I wasn’t sure the rules on electronics/cameras. I wasn’t even sure if I could use a pen and paper. Some places are strict in that regard. Later on in the day I saw a man using a laptop right next to a microfilm reader, so now I know.
I just wanted to make a quick trip and look over the records they had on “perpetual” loan. The lady who showed me around seemed confused when I said that, though all of the records I used said that they were on “indefinite” loan, so I’m sure it’s the same thing. They have all of the Milwaukee church records and vital records on-hand. I really wanted to look through the church records for both St. Hedwig’s and St. Casimir’s churches on the east side of Milwaukee since those two are where most of my Polish family attended. My main ZALEWSKI ancestors first went to Hedwig’s and then Casimir’s when they moved.
I was also really hoping to find the marriage record of Frank ZALEWSKI’s brother, Jacob to his wife Pauline WONDKOWSKI. I am somewhat lucky in the fact that Jacob was unmarried when he immigrated. This should hopefully allow me to find his marriage record and maybe his parent’s names (which would also be Frank’s parents, my 3rd-great-grandparents.) As luck would (not) have it, I couldn’t find the record. Jacob and Pauline baptised all of their children at St. Hedwig’s, but I could not find their marriage record. I looked countless times going back and forward a few years, too. It is possible that they may have been married at another church in the area, which I will pursue or there is a very rare possibility that they married elsewhere before coming to Milwaukee, which would not be fun to track down. Plus, I also found many spellings of Pauline’s last name, from WADKOWSKI to LUTKOWSKI.
I did, again, solidify the relationship between the ZALEWSKI, GWIAZDOWSKI, and GORALSKI families. A lot of both Frank’s and Jacob’s children were sponsored by one or more of the families. Frank and Anna ZALEWSKI’s last child, Agnes, was sponsored by both August and Anna GWIAZDOWSKI. It also seems that in some of the earlier baptism records, they listed the female sponsors with their maiden names as I found Pauline listed as Pauline LANDKOWSKA on my great-grandfather Joseph’s baptism record (which I posted about earlier this week.) Also, on their next child, Frances Dorothy ZALEWSKI, I found the female sponsor listed as Maria GWIAZDOWSKI, better known as Mary GORALSKI, which now (somewhat) proves that she is the daughter of both August & Anna, though it still messes up the fact that she is listed as Frank ZALEWSKI’s sister.
I also found some other possible family connections that I need to pursue, mainly on the LINDNER side, though some on the TROKA side, too. I ordered the records from what I hope is the original location of my ZALEWSKI and LINDNER ancestors, Gocza?ki (or more specifically, the parish of ÅšwiÄ™te.) We’ll see how that turns out once the records arrive, usually in about 6 weeks.
While looking for some other documents, I ran across a record that again pretty much seals the fact that my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski, and the Jacob Zalewski I have been researching were brothers (or worst case, cousins of some sort.) Below is my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski’s, “Certificate of Baptism” from St. Hedwig’s Church in Milwaukee. The document itself is from 1960, but the information is probably taken directly from the church’s records.
The part that interested me on this specific item was the list of “sponsors.” It lists Joseph GORALSKI and Pauline ZALEWSKI. Joseph has been mentioned a lot recently along with the GWIAZDOWSKI’s. Pauline is Jacob’s wife and probably Joseph’s aunt. Mary may also be Joseph’s aunt, if her obituary is to be believed.
I probably didn’t pick the best day to do some more research at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee today. A wonderful “spring” day in Wisconsin, a windy 23 degrees with snow flurries. I also should have probably worn more than a sweatshirt, but it wasn’t all that bad. I did have a knit cap on.
Last night I made a list of all of the headstones I wanted to find at the cemetery, including some I already had. I wanted to get better quality photos. Well, the small list turned into two pages of entries, about 55 total. Thanks to the Archdiocese website, I was able to map (the general area) of where the stones were. I hit up the stones I really wanted to find first, the Gwiazdowski, Goralski, and Jacob Zalewski family. Once I found the section and started to walk the graves, I cursed myself for not wearing a larger coat. Though, once I found the collection of stones I forgot about the cold.
All of the stones were in one area in the middle of Block 4B. I caught the “Goralski” name on one of the large stones while walking. The way the graves were set up mostly solidifies the Gwiazdowski/Goralski/Zalewski connection, because Jacob Zalewski, Jr and his wife were on the same stone as the Goralski’s and Gwiazdowski’s. I know it’s not proof, but there are few reasons why else they would be on the same stone.
On the other side of this stone are August & Anna GWIAZDOWSKI and Jacob’s wife, Alice. That’s another notch in the connection that Mary is August & Anna’s daughter. Jacob, Sr & Pauline ZALEWSKI, along with their son Edward and his wife Kathryn were on the next headstone to the south.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much but dates on the stones. I was hoping maybe for maiden names or birth places. It’s still more proof and it’s nice to finally visit their final resting place. I didn’t get to my whole list since the other sections were mostly all flat headstones and I didn’t want to have to walk in the snow and cold to try to find them. Even though I had pinpointed it to Section, Lot, and Grave number, it was hard to figure out where the specific Lots were.
I’ll come back later and get those photos once it’s actually spring here. My dad said he would also like to tag along, but he wasn’t feeling well today and it wasn’t a very pleasant day to go anyway.
I made some great discoveries this weekend and late last night. I’m going to try to spell it all out here, so excuse me if I ramble a bit. While the information I found paints a better picture of the family of my ancestor, it also throws a wrench into the whole thing, but when doesn’t genealogy do that?
Let’s start from the beginning, though instead of writing it all out again, I will point you to an older post and one recent post. Though, you should just be able to skim over the newer one. Long story short, this has to do with the GWIAZDOWSKI – GORALSKI – ZALEWSKI connection I have been researching recently.
After finding the passenger list and 1910-1920 Census records for the GWIAZDOWSKI – GORALSKI families, this is how it was all laid out in my head (Thanks to Google Draw for this easy to make figure):
That makes sense to me. Either August or Anna is Frank’s uncle or aunt, respectively. I can deal with that. It helps me a little bit.
Fast forward to last night. I “run across” the website for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Cemeteries. I use quotes there because I’ve been to this site before, it’s been there for years. I just never knew they had such a wonderful genealogy/burial record search. Not only does it have up-to-date burial records for eight prominent cemeteries in Milwaukee, it includes death date, burial date, last know address, marital status at death, and burial location. That’s not even the best part. It also includes a link to “Search for nearby graves or crypts.” With this feature, I can see which graves are nearby to this one. I was able to make (pretty confident) connections between people. More than likely people were buried near family.
So, with this I not only found the death date of Jacob ZALEWSKI (on the figure above) that I’ve been trying to find, but I also found the burial information on a Mrs. Mary GORALSKA (as it’s listed on the site.) She is buried near her husband Joseph and Mr. and Mrs. August GWIAZDOWSKI. On a related note (har har), also buried in the same location is a Jacob George ZALEWSKI (the above Jacob’s son) and his wife Alice. Now that doesn’t prove that Jacob is related to them (which also includes Frank, his brother) but it gives hope.
Now, this information is very helpful on it’s own, but when I use it along with the century of archives of The Milwaukee Journal, it gets even more powerful. Unfortunately, before about 1930 or so, they didn’t list much in the death notices. I found both August and Anna GWIAZDOWSKI, listed in the paper, but it’s just their name, address, death date, and cemetery. What I did find was Mary’s obituary from April 2, 1940.
You see it, don’t you? “…also survived by 1 brother, Frank Zalewski…” I was elated at this point. I thought to myself, “I found Frank’s parents!” Then, I started doing the math.. How can Mary be Frank’s brother if there is no way, under normal circumstances, that she would ever have the last name of ZALEWSKI? She was a GORALSKI when she was married and according to the other documents, her parent’s last name was GWIAZDOWSKI. How does that work? Then I thought, maybe it’s not my Frank Zalewski, but another Frank. So, Mary would be my Frank’s cousin. That makes sense logically and follows the info in the passenger list, but again doesn’t solve the name issue. Here, again I visualized it, which helped a bit.
So, after all of that running through my head I decided the only outcome that made sense is that Mary is my Frank’s cousin (the brother is another Frank), which is safe with the “nephew” info from the passenger list. The only way I was able to solve the surname issue was assuming that Anna is Mary’s real mother and August is her step-dad. Maybe Anna’s first husband (Mary’s father) passed away and she re-married before travelling to the US. Now, this is only true if all of the information is correct, which is another possibility.
I’m still no further in my research, though I now have things I can do. Unfortunately, it seems Joseph & Mary had no children, so I probably need to order Mary’s death certificate from the Wisconsin Vital Records office to find her maiden name. Hopefully, she also lists her parent’s names on it. I should maybe even order Jacob’s or Anna’s. I’ll have $20 riding on that hope.
Did that all make sense? Can you follow it and come up with another conclusion?
Since publishing my Single View post on my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski, Sr. I have been checking all information I have on the Zalewski family. I ran through each of his children’s records and all of the other info I had written down. I was then looking for copies of obituaries that I know I’ve seen. I checked the “Zalewski” folder in my file cabinet and decided to just browse through everything in there again. In 2000 I was in contact with a descendant of Frank & Anna, Michael Rynka, that was also doing some research. When my dad and I met him, he gave me a nice booklet with all of his Zalewski family information in it. There was nothing new in that book, but I was able to scan in a lot of the photos that I had never scanned.
Then I read over the two letters that he had sent me originally. There was nothing new in the letters that popped out, until I read this:
I am especially interested in learning more about the parents and siblings of Frank Zalewski, Sr. I do not know their names, nor do I know how many brothers and sisters he may have had. My mother’s (Editor’s note: his mother is Frank & Anna’s granddaughter) godfather was Joseph GORALSKI, and she remembers that he was somehow related to the Zalewski family. However, I don’t know what the relationship may have been. Joe GORALSKI was not Frank’s brother-in-law, since his wife’s maiden name was not Zalewski. Perhaps Joe was Frank’s cousin.
I decided to go down this path. This paragraph most likely means that Joseph GORALSKI had lived in the Milwaukee area. After finding a Joseph Goralski in the Milwaukee US Census records (1900-1930), he is shown living with his wife and in-laws in the same area as Frank & Anna. His in-laws are listed as August & Anna GWIAZDOWSKI. Using the information in these records (immigration, birth, etc) I found this same group in a Philadelphia passenger list for December 1892. In the notes for this group of people it says, “Visitors Nephew Franz Zaleski at 902 Pulaski St.”
Seeing that Pulaski Street is right near Fratney Street in the Riverwest neighborhood of eastern Milwaukee where Frank and his family lived most of their life, this was a very, very good clue. Now, assuming this all adds up, this would make August GWIAZDOWSKI Frank’s uncle and Mary GORALSKI (Joe’s wife) his cousin. And, obviously, this would make Frank’s mother’s maiden name GWIAZDOWSKI, also.
Now, I have yet to prove this information, but I am so happy that this passenger list happened to list that much detail as to where exactly the passengers were going. This is the first time I’ve seen that much detail and it was the exact information that connects them to my family. Without it, I wouldn’t have gave it a second thought.
This opens up more research, but that’s a good thing. One good and bad thing is that the surname GWIAZDOWSKI doesn’t seem to be extremely popular. I’ve already found some information on other people researching it, so I have some contact to make.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure if Michael Rynka is still around. It’s been 9 years since I’ve last contacted him. When we met him he was already blind in one eye and I had heard that he may have had a stroke in the last few years. I checked around today using online phone books and even looked through the obituaries, but I haven’t found him. I do have his address and phone number from 2000, so I may just go out on a limb and give them a try.