Tag: Milwaukee


The third “ancestor” in my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project this year is (in one direction) my first cousin, twice removed, Edward John “Edy” STRELKA. I say, “in one direction” because that is how I’m related to him through my paternal grandfather. If I go through my maternal grandmother, he is my great-great-grandaunt’s husband. I ran a relationship report on Edy for myself and found the 1C2R relationship through my grandfather. I ran it again on one of his children, and I am also a first cousin, twice removed to them, though through my grandmother’s line. Genealogy can be weird sometimes when people cross the streams.

Milwaukee

Edy was born 19 September 1909 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to John & Martha (ZALEWSKI) STRELKA. Martha is my great-grandfather’s older sister. Martha passed away in 1930 at the age of 45 when Edy was 21. In July 1933, Edy married Ethel CORRIGAN, my maternal great-grandfather’s sister. It is actually due to this marriage that my grandmother meets my grandfather, so in turn, partly why I exist today. Ethel was living in Milwaukee in 1930 with her mother and a few other siblings. Her mother had re-married after my great-great-grandfather died in 1915. I’m told my grandmother was down in Milwaukee working when she met my grandfather.

I do actually have video of Edy, along with many of the other Corrigan family. I put it on YouTube a few years back. There is no sound, but I did put some quiet music over it. Edy was found and bookmarked in a few places, thanks to my first cousin twice removed, Jackie. You can view the video here. To view Edy’s clips, just browse to the description and click on the timestamps. It will take you there automatically.

The Grocery Business

Edy ran a grocery store in Milwaukee in 1940s/1950s called “Edy’s Food Market.” I found it listed in the 1950 Milwaukee City Directory. It was the earliest year I could find it. The directories they had from the 1940s were missing a lot of pages. It was located at 2900 N 7th St. Today that location is still a food store called 7th Street Foods, though the area may be a bit different. It’s also shown a bit in the video I mentioned above and linked in the video description. Before that, in 1937, it looks like Edy worked for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company as a Yard Clerk according to railroad employment records. According to his obituary, he also ran a place called “Edy’s Recreation” on E. Clarke St.

Edy and Ethel had two daughters. I don’t have a lot of information on the family after the 1940s, but at some point I think they moved north to Random Lake in Sheboygan County. Edy passed away on 2 May 1990 in Milwaukee at the age of 80. They are now buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Random Lake. They were originally interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee. I know this because of the information I had and when I went to take photos a few years ago, I could not find them. The person working there told me they were moved to Random Lake. I’m not sure why.

DNA

In terms of DNA, I probably share some with Edy. Though, I do not have any known connections that descend from him. Since we both came from the Zalewski family, it’s very possible. We don’t share Y-DNA, since his connection to Frank & Anna Zalewski is through his mother. His mtDNA would be up through Anna’s line and then through her mother, Eva Sonefeld. I do have at least one known connection with the Zalewski line, though it matches one generation back before my great-great-grandparents.

Doing this post does give me a few things to do. I’m going to try to contact Edy & Ethel’s daughters, or grandchildren, to see if they may have any photos of Edy’s mother Martha and beyond.

tzpMy Milwaukee Death Index site is still proceeding nicely. Many more entries have been added, we now have over 1300 entries and all of 1884 and 1885 have been completed. The site itself has also been getting some updates. To make it more helpful when selecting a year to filter by, the site now shows how many entries that year has next to its selection. A lot of other work has been done under the hood to try to make the site cleaner and quicker.

Also, big thanks to Lisa Louise Cooke over at the Genealogy Gems for putting up a blog post talking about the index. I’ve been a longtime listener to her podcast and I know how she likes to help the genealogy community get their info out. Hopefully the site will help other people find some useful information.

I continue to add data to my Milwaukee Deaths Database, though I have also spent some time adding a few helpful features. I don’t want it to just be a list of deaths, though that is helpful in itself, I also want people to be able to use that information. Personally, I find the entries much more compelling when they’re tied to a real person, not just an entry.

Now, within the details of a death entry, you can search for the individual in a few burial index sites. Currently, this includes the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Cemeteries burial index, Find-A-Grave, and BillionGraves. The search, while helpful, is not perfect. I can only search using the information included in the entry. Sometimes this does not work if they spelled the name differently in one of the places, though you can always tweak the search variables once you’re at the indexing site. If I happened to find a matching entry from one of those sites, that entry is now linked directly from the entry. The entry will be flagged with the little headstone icon you’re used to seeing on Find-A-Grave.

I’m hoping to add a few more features that I think would be helpful down the road. Features like the ability for any users to submit corrections or links to burial entries from the sites listed above, more indexing sites, and better ways to search and filter the data. I plan to add a “changelog” page on the site to let people know which features/bugs were added/fixed.

There are a few things I learned while looking for deaths in hundreds of old newspapers from the late 1800s, besides that it’s very hard to just scan the page for information. A lot of these things I was already well aware of, but it’s still good to know when going into it.

One, these papers are just chock full of information. The Milwaukee Journal papers from the mid-1880s are only 4 pages long, but they have so much information. Once you find sections like “Wisconsin News” and “Jottings About Town” where they have dozens of small bits of information in a list, you see all kinds of neat things.

Two, they knew all kinds of information about the least important people. Unlike today where most of the information in the paper is from big stories, in these you can find stories about a toddler that broke her arm or where your neighbors were visiting this week.

Three, they didn’t sugarcoat anything. I’ve read through enough articles about men being pulled through machinery or crushed by trains to last me a lifetime. One article noted (not quoting, but going off of memory here) that “he was pulled into the machine, his limbs torn off and his body ripped in half.”

18840425-insaneMan-PortWashington

Four, a lot of people were labeled as insane or committed suicide. It was a different time back then. A lot of stories talk about how someone just instantly went insane and was committed to the asylum, or how someone committed suicide by drowning themselves in a fit of insanity. I have a feeling the percentage of suicides today may not be that much less, but they reported on them more back then (see #2.)

Five, you will probably find something about someone related to your family if they lived in the area. Again, going off of #1 and #2, there are so many tidbits of info, the odds are pretty good. I have not yet come to the years when my family lived in Milwaukee, but I’m definitely going to look closer once we get to 1891-92.

I hope the little bit of transcribing helps someone out there. It’s fun for me to look at the history of Milwaukee through the eyes of the papers and its citizens. If you haven’t visited the Milwaukee Deaths database, we’re up over 920 entries now.

Mary Goralska

My Milwaukee Deaths database is now live (and alive, so to speak.) You can read the details in my last post or on the database site itself. I’m still currently adding new entries when I get time, so it will keep growing. Currently, it has about 900 entries from all of 1884, early 1885, and early 1910, only from The Milwaukee Journal right now.

You can view the Milwaukee Deaths database on my The Zalewski Project site. Feel free to bookmark it.

19190504-MJ-dealWithDevilOver the years, I’ve spend a lot of time looking for deaths in the archive of The Milwaukee Journal on Google News. The problem is that these entries are usually too small (or too bad of quality) that they don’t get picked up by the character-recognition software when Google put them online. This means you can’t automatically search for them. Also, depending on the date of the paper, the death may be recorded in a normal obituary, a full article (like my great-great grandfather, fortunately), a tiny single-line burial permit, or a small death notice.

So, since I obviously need more work on my genealogy plate, I decided to start recording all of the deaths I can find in these archives. I try to note the date, individual’s name, paper, type of record, age, and address. This will be put into a database where it will be searchable. So far, I’ve recorded a bit over 700 entries (some duplicates due to similar entries on multiple days) mainly from the years of 1884 and 1910. I know I’m behind on recording data for my main Zalewski project, but recording census data is a lot more difficult (especially on the technical side.)

I’ve built my transcription process to be pretty simple. It’s something I can do when I have 10-15 minutes free. I can just open an archived paper, browse through it, and fill out a small online form when I see a death. Once I hit submit, it’s already in the database and viewable online. It’s not publicly available, yet, but I hope to have it up soon. It’s not every piece of information on every death recorded in the paper. I am human and only one person. There will be items I miss or things I enter wrong, but it’s more than is out there now. The benefit is two-fold. This data will be recorded and searchable, and I will probably find information on my family somewhere. Also, who knows how long Google will keep the archives online. These papers are available elsewhere on microfilm, etc, but I’ll do what I can when I can.

Keep an eye on here to see when the data will be available. I foresee in the next week, at least for basic listing and searching.

This all started when, on a whim, I decided to see what happened in Milwaukee 100 years ago. I went to the Google News Archive site for The Milwaukee Journal and brought up the paper from March 19, 1915 (I know, I was one day off.) I read a few front-page stories and then ran across one titled, Boys Seek to Help Widowed Mother-One Loses Both Hands and the subtitle says, “Child Weeps in Hospital While Operation is Performed on Brother.” How could I not keep reading?

Anton Kopfhammer
Click for larger

 

If you can’t read the article, it basically talks about two boys who went off to a train yard to collect bits of fuel (probably coal) that fell off of the trains. While running between two cars, one boy had his hands crushed between them when they moved. In the end, he had to have them amputated at the elbows.

I was now very interested in what happened to this boy, Anton Katshamer, as named in the story. I went directly to FamilySearch and tried looking for that name, but no luck. After playing with the names, spelling, and family members, I ran across a family in the 1910 Census for Milwaukee with all of the correct people; a boy named Max, a younger boy named Anton. Though, their last name was spelled, Kopfhammer. I then found the family in the 1920 Census. This time without a father, which lines up directly with the story that mentions “the father has been dead three years,” so in 1912.

I went to our trusty friend, Google, to try to find more. My search for Anton brought up 3 more articles from The Milwaukee Journal from later in 1915. The first one, from April 10, 1915, is titled Workers Help Fund For Tony. It mentions how a few local companies and individuals put together some money for Anton and his family, totaling $2,318 in this article, including a man who sent in his 35 cents that he saved by skipping his noon meal.

The second one from later in April on the 20th, titled Guardian Named For Boy Who Lost Hands. It mainly talks about who took over Anton’s guardianship while he works on learning to live without hands, including, hopefully, getting artificial hands.

The last one from December 1915 is titled Injured Boy Gets $15,000 in Court. $3,000 of that came from the local businesses and individuals and $12,000 came from the railroad company, though without involving a lawsuit. There are some funny quotes from Anton in this article.

“I don’t know what I will be when I grow up to be a man,” continued Tony, “I can’t be a fireman or policeman, and I might be a lawyer. They have been nice to me.”

It was suggested that Tony would not be a howling success as an attorney without hands, as one of the great requisites for financial success is five flexible digits on each manual extremity.

I also found a death record for an Anton Kopfhammer matching the dates from California in 1989, though no luck on obituaries or more information. I’d really like to see what he became when he grew up. I’ll keep you posted if I find anything more. It’s amazing what information you can find with the records available today.

The thirty-first ancestor in my 52-week challenge is the ancestor that I’ve probably written about more than any other, my paternal great-great-grandfather, Frank J ZALEWSKI, Sr. Unfortunately, this is probably the shortest line I have. He was the inspiration for me to start a lot of my research, this blog, and my Everything I Know About websites as his was the first.

Frank Zalewski - 1909
Frank Zalewski – 1909

Frank J ZALEWSKI, Sr was more than likely born around 4 September 1858, though I also have February 1860 as listed in the 1900 Census and 1905 Wisconsin State Census records. All other records indicate 1858. Obviously, there are many different entries for birth place as that area of the world went through many changes. I’ve mainly seen Germany and Prussia listed, so it’s possible that it was in a more German area.

He married Ms. Anna LINDNER (b 27 Nov 1854) on 2 November 1884 in, what was at the time, Schwenten, West Prussia. Today, it is located at Święte, Gmina Łasin, Grudziądz County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. My notes always had it listed as January 1885 in Poznan, Poland. While Poznan is sort of nearby, it’s not really that close to Święte. I imagine someone just picked the largest city in the area. The record notes that Frank was from nearby Gottschalk, which is now called Goczałki.

After looking through all of the records in the Schwenten parish, I found no other mentions of the Zalewski surname. My gut tells me that Frank (and his brother Jacob) are not from the area originally. Family stories indicate that Frank may possibly be from the Russian side of Poland.

Another Zalewski researcher (and semi-distant cousin) put together a Zalewski booklet a few years ago. In this booklet, these notes are listed (though they are from research prior to me finding their marriage record, so some info does not line up):

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 [Editor’s Note: 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 taken some of this into account when researching, but to no avail yet. It turns out that finding a Zalewski in Poland is almost as fun as finding a Smith in America.

(more…)

The twenty-first ancestor in my 52 week challenge is my great-great-grandmother, Anna (LINDNER) ZALEWSKI. I didn’t get a post up last week since I was out for the holidays and didn’t get a chance to write it. Anna is the husband of who I like to call my “primary” ancestor, Frank ZALEWSKI. Frank, and his family, are the ancestors that I spend a lot of my research time on. I want to figure out where Frank came from. It’s probably mostly due to the fact that this is my surname line.

Anna (left) and two unknown individuals.
Anna (left) and two unknown individuals.

Anna was born 15 August 1865 in what was Schwenten in Graudenz, Westpruessen, Germany at the time. The town is now called Święte in Grudziądz County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, in north-central Poland. Her parents are Johann and Eva (Sońefeld) Lindner. I found their names at the same time that I finally tracked down the marriage of Anna and Frank. Anna and her family were from Schwenten, but unfortunately Frank was not.

Anna married Frank Zalewski (or Salewski in the record) on 2 Nov 1884 in Schwenten. Their first three children, Martha, Angeline, and Elisabeth were born in Schwenten before the family made the long, hard trip to America in 1889. They made their way from Balitmore to Milwaukee and are recorded there in 1892. My ancestor, and their first son, Joseph was born in Milwaukee in 1893.

Anna’s parents had more children and a lot of them also settled in Milwaukee according to Milwaukee church records. This is a helpful line of research since they may have traveled together.

On 11 Apr 1939, Anna passed away in Milwaukee at the age of 73. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery with her husband Frank and her youngest son, Frank, Jr.

This post is 21 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

 

The seventh ancestor in my 52 Week Challenge is my paternal great-great-grandfather, Joseph TROKA (pronounced like Truck-a).

Joseph Troka and his wife, Clara.
Joseph Troka and his wife, Clara in 1944.

Joseph was born on 17 November 1871 in the town of Lipusz located in modern day Kościerzyna County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. His parents are listed as Michael & Joslyna (GRABOWSKA) TROKA. He is listed as immigrating to the Milwaukee, Wisconsin are in about 1889. It is not yet known if he traveled alone, or with family, as there are other Troka families in Milwaukee that are more than likely related to Joseph.

On 29 January 1894, Joseph married the daughter of Ignatz & Nepomuncena SZULTA named Clara. Ignatz was the 5th ancestor that I posted about. They were married at St. Hedwig’s Church on the east side of Milwaukee, which at the time was the go-to Polish church in the area.

He started working as a tanner in the tannery industry in Milwaukee as a lot of the Polish immigrants did. By 1905, Joseph is listed as a Tavern Owner at a tavern on 28 Lee Street in Milwaukee, which was also his residence. Today, 28 Lee Street is now about 900 E. Meinecke Avenue and his tavern was probably located somewhere in this vicinity near the intersection with North Bremen St. He ran the tavern until somewhere around 1930. After that point he was listed as being a Treasurer for the Pulaski Building and Loan Association, a position he was said to hold until about 1960.

From the Milwaukee Journal, 1962.
From the Milwaukee Journal, 1962.

Joseph and Clara had 4 living children (4 died during or not long after birth) including my great-grandmother, Emily. In 1959, Clara passed away. Tragedy struck in 1962 when Joseph was walking from his home on Bremen Street  a few blocks to St. Casimir’s church on the morning of Januray 1st. He was struck and killed by a man named Frank Merz , who was later only fined $200 for failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. Rumor has it that he was also drinking and driving. Joseph was 92. He was buried next to his wife at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.

This post is 7 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

My ancestor post is a little late this week as we were on vacation this weekend. It was nice to escape the clutches of a winter that is hanging on a bit too long this year.

Nepomuncena (Syldatk) & Ignatz Szulta
Nepomuncena (Syldatk) & Ignatz Szulta

The fifth ancestor on my 52 Week Ancestor challenge is Ignatz Peter SZULTA, pronounced like Schulta. Ignatz is my 3rd-great-grandfather on my father’s side. Ignatz was born on 30 January 1849 in a little town called Bukowa Góra in the what is today, Sulęczyno Parish, Kartuzy County, Pomorskie, Poland. According to his baptism, which was sent to me by another local Polish researcher, his parents were Anton & Marianna (MALSZYSKA) SZULTA.

On 3 February 1875, he married Nepomuncena SYLDATK in the nearby Sulęczyno Parish. Their first child was my great-great-grandmother, Clara, born in 1876. They had two more children in Sulęczyno Parish before Ignatz emigrated to Milwaukee. He lived here a few years before Nepomuncena and the children traveled over, which was gleaned from the Milwaukee City directories at the time and the second passenger list that does not include Ignatz. When I was attending a local Polish researchers group, it turned out that Ignatz rented a house from one of the other researcher’s ancestors while he was living here on his own.

Ignatz and Nepomuncena had 6 more children while living in Milwaukee. The photo at the top is the only photo I have of Ignatz and I need to find it again in my grandmother’s collection to rescan it. That is the highest quality I have. The photo seems normal, but I just don’t know why his wife looks to be carrying a rolled up newspaper.

The only first-hand information I heard about Ignatz was from my grandmother, who never met him. She also wouldn’t have heard it from my grandfather, as he was only a year old when Ignatz died in 1922. I’m guessing maybe it was from my great-grandfather. She told me Ignatz was a mean, strict man, so I guess I can take that for what it’s worth.

Ignatz passed away 25 May 1922 and is buried near most of my Polish ancestors in Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.

This post is 5 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.