Tag: Military


I have a bunch of military documents, so I thought I’d put up some posts in the Military Monday theme.

This the WWI Draft Registration for my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski, who did end up participating in the war overseas.

Joseph registered on (I think it says) June 5, 1917 at the Ward 13, 2nd Precint draft office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time, he was 24 years old, having been born on 21 May 1893 in Milwaukee. He was living at 900 Fratney Street, which is where his parents also lived. His occupation at the time was a “Shoe Maker” at Weyenberg Shoe Co. in Milwaukee. He was not yet married. According to the document, he had “gray” eyes and “light brown” hair.

Joseph Zalewski WWI Registration
"World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 23 March 2008), Joseph Zalewski, order no. 286, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, NARA microfilm publication number M1509; roll 1674886.

Hilo, HawaiiFor Wayback Wednesday, I’m going to give you more than just the one photo shown here. I’m going to give you a whole collection of 119 photos. I recently uploaded my grandfather’s Navy photo collection to Flickr. I was hoping that maybe somebody from the photos, or their families, will find them. It would just be nice to let them see the photos. He has a lot of photos of his fellow navymen from when he was stationed in the Hilo, Hawaii area from about 1942 to 1946. There is also a lot of Hawaiian history in some of his photos, like of old Honolulu.

I’d love for you to visit the Flickr photo set and enjoy the history.

One of the big mysteries I am trying to solve in my genealogy is to find more information on my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski’s, military history. According to a previous family researcher, all of his military files were burned in the extremely destructive 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire. So, all the information I had was that he served in World War I, possibly in France at some point. By sheer luck, during a random Google Books search, I found him listed in a book about the 86th Division headquartered at Camp Grant in Illinois. From there I was able to determine that they were shipped to France in 1918, but never saw combat due to the Armistice. Though, it did mention that a lot of the division was broken apart and used in other divisions at the time. I did a more in-depth post about this find about a year ago.

In this huge collection of photos and documents that I currently have from my grandmother, there are some documents about my great-grandfather including a military record. It looks to be his “Honorable Discharge” papers. About half-way down on the “Enlistment Record” side it has a hand-written line that says:

5th Co. 161 Depot Brigade. Last assignment to 323rd Machine Gun Bn.

Unfortunately, it looks as though the previous line may be missing, but I do now have more information on where he may have went after the 86th Division broke apart. I have yet to find much information on the 323rd Machine Gun Battalion, which looked to be part of the 83rd Division. I mostly find information on Ohio, since it looked to be originally stationed there.

Here are the two documents. Click the for larger versions.

Richard Zalewski
Richard Zalewski, Miami, Florida, Sept 1941

This weekend I picked up the mother lode of photos, documents, and information on my grandparent’s families. My aunt and uncle were holding on to my grandmother’s heirlooms, which included my grandfather’s stuff after he passed away. I knew my grandmother had a few photo albums since I previously borrowed them and scanned some photos. I was pretty surprised at all of the other items in the boxes. There were old documents, death certificates, baptism records, funeral cards, old Navy photos, and even film/video from the 30s and 40s (fortunately, on VHS.)

I only scanned a few things so far, but I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’d like to get everything scanned just as a way to digitally back it all up. I also happen to have a VHS-to-DVD machine that I bought to transfer my parent’s home videos to DVD as a Christmas gift one year, so that makes backing up the video pretty easy. One problem there, I can’t find the remote control for it and it has a lot of little important buttons on it. One of the cats probably stole it and made a bed out of it or something.

That does bring me to a question for somebody out there. My paternal grandfather served in the Navy during World War II. He didn’t see combat overseas, but he was stationed “overseas” in Hilo, Hawai’i. From what it sounds like from stories, photos, and some news articles is that he was there for the 1946 Hilo Tsunami and helped rescue people. Along with his Navy stuff, he has dozens of photos of fellow Navy men, including their last names and which group they served in. What would be the best way to go about possibly scanning these photos in and getting them to family members? Is there a “Navy Veterans” message board or something similar? I think it’d be very nice to get copies of the photos to some of these people’s families.

Along with that, a very helpful fellow Polish researcher sent me some copies of the baptism record of my 3rd-great-grandfather, Ignatz Szulta, from 1849 and also his marriage record with Nepomuncena Syldakt in 1875 that he happened to run across. Ignatz’s parent’s names are listed on his baptism record, which is new to me. I now just need to try to transcribe it. Those were extremely helpful and very interesting to read. Thanks, Al.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I’d like to thank all of my military ancestors and all of your military ancestors, too.

  • Johann W G LAST – Civil War- My 3rd-great-grandfather, server with Company K, 50th Infantry Regiment Wisconsin – 29 Mar 1865 to 14 Jun 1866
  • LeRoy THIELKE – World War II – My grandfather, served in World War II. It’s not a subject that has ever been talked about, but I commend him for fighting for our country.
  • Joseph Frank ZALEWSKI – World War I – My great-grandfather, started in the 86th Division, Company B, 331st Machine Gun Battalion. Later served in the US Army Infantry and fought with the Allied Expeditionary Forces in France during several major battles.
  • Richard Joseph ZALEWSKI – My late grandfather, served in the US Navy during World War II.

Continue for some select photos

(more…)

Since the weather started to get nicer here and the snow is mostly gone, I thought I’d tackle some research involving the cemeteries again. Two of my ancestors are known to have lived and died in the Port Washington, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin area, but I had yet to pinpoint their final resting places.

I did some research and found that on the death certificate of my 3rd-great-grandmother, Charlotte (STRASSMAN) LAST, she is listed as having been buried at Union Cemetery in Port Washington. This is also where her son (my great-great-grandfather) and his wife are buried. I know I’ve looked through most of the headstones there in the past while looking for other LAST relatives, but I don’t remember seeing it. She did die in 1900, which means the stone may be unreadable/broken/missing/etc. One would also assume that her husband, Johann W G LAST, would also be buried there along with her (or at least nearby.) He did die almost 30 years before she did (more on that later.)

Today, since it was in the 50s outside, I decided to make another pass through the cemetery. I was planning on going anyway to get a requested volunteer photo via Find-a-Grave. I first walked through the stones in the older area figuring it should be in there, but I did not find anything (besides some very hard-to-read stones.) I then hit the next section, which does have some older stones on the edges. I also kept an eye out for military flags, stars, etc, especially the Civil War-related GAR signs. I then found a very worn headstone with the name “JHO. LAST”. I couldn’t make out the dates written on it until I realized it actually said “Co. K, 50th Wis Inf which was his exact Civil War information. Unfortunately, it had no vital dates listed, which I don’t have either. All I had for his death date was “Between 1870-1880” since he was listed in 1870 and then his wife was listed as “widow” in 1880. His birth date was based on the census records.

Click for larger image - John's stone is the small one on the right side, middle. Note the large gap to the left of it.
Click for larger image – John’s stone is the small one on the right side, middle. Note the large gap to the left of it.

There was also no Charlotte LAST stone nearby, or any LAST’s for that matter. I checked the rest of the cemetery and still no Charlotte. Since her death certificate notes that she is here (and most of the family is here) I can only assume her stone is either missing, unreadable or broken. There was a large gap (note in the photo) next to John’s headstone, which seemed out of place, so it is possible that she is there. There is also a stone that just says “Mother” on it near her son, Charles LAST. but he died long after Charlotte. Charles’ wife Augusta is also buried there and the “Mother” stone could be talking about her.

But, that wasn’t the end of the good news for John LAST. It turns out I had his death date right under my nose the whole time. I found a listing of good Civil War indexes on Ancestry and decided to just search them all again. Most of the searches turned up documents I already had. Then I searched the “Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1879-1903” database. John was listed as recieving a headstone and on the index card it lists his death date as “14 Aug 1872.” That’ll teach me to make sure I check every database next time.

I emailed the Port Washington Historical Society to see if Union Cemetery has burial index to see if maybe they have a specific plot where Charlotte may be buried. We’ll see how that works out.

Weee!

This Carnival of Genealogy has to do with “The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy. Almost everyone has experienced it. Tell us about the first time, or the last time, or the best time. What event, what document, what special find has caused you to stand up and cheer, to go crazy with joy? If you haven’t ever done the Happy Dance, tell us what you think it would take for you to do so.”

Let’s see. I had a few and, if my thought process works, you probably get more of them as you first start your genealogy research. But, they get much more exciting as your research goes on. I have only been researching for slightly under ten years now (so I’m a bit young in the process) but I’ve had a few of these pop up.

  • Funny thing, the most recent one happened just this weekend. I posted about it. To summarize, I pinpointed the exact division and battalion my great-grandfather was with in World War I. Previously, no one could find any information on his military record because they burned in a fire in 1973.
  • A few years ago when I found an alternate spelling to my great-grandmother’s maiden name. I also posted a bit about this at the time. I had always been stuck on her last name of “Van Price.” Turns out the last name can also be spelled “Van Parijs” in back in their native country of the Netherlands. This find opened me up to tons of new family members and vital records for the area.
  • I had a bit of neat find a few weeks ago (I know, two in one month. How do I handle it?) This one was more of a cool find. It also deals with my wife’s family line and not mine. It also relies on a bit of research to cement the sources and connections, but neat nonetheless. I connected her maternal line back to the Royal Family in England, which also connects to thousands of other famous individuals.

I know I’ve had more joyous moments and I hope I will have many more. This is one of the things that keeps me plugging away at some of these not-so-exciting documents day after day. All it takes is that one little piece of information to blow open a cavern of new information to dig through. And, boy, is that good feeling.