Tag: Milwaukee


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.

Google PlusIf you’re a visitor to social networks of any kind, you’ve probably already heard about Google+ (or Google Plus.) Though, maybe as I have noticed, you seem to hear mostly negative things about it, usually on Facebook. I’ve read posts about how it’s a wasteland or “none of my friends are on it.” I’d like to say now that at least one of those is completely false. Your friends probably aren’t on it.

The problem there is that people are comparing it to Twitter and Facebook when it’s like comparing apples to kiwis . To paraphrase something I read, Facebook is for your existing friends (close friends, grandma, etc), Twitter is for sharing information on current events, and Google+ is for your passions. That’s the key.

I, like almost everyone else, signed into Google+ when it first appeared and found it boring and quiet. I admit that this was before they added a lot of the features that make it what it is today. It’s actually pretty true that not many of my friends are on it, but the ones that are on it aren’t the reason I enjoy it. I find it much more useful for interacting with like-minded people. I’ve collaborated and chatted more about my passions on Google+ in the last few months than on Facebook and Twitter combined over their lifetimes.

So far, the key for me has been the Google+ communities. Browse around and find one that interests you. I’ve joined unrelated communities from Genetic Genealogy to Doctor Who to jQuery to SimCity. I even set up a community myself for the purpose of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Genealogy (self promo!) and it’s already creating some good discussion and contacts.

So, my point is, don’t believe random Facebook commentors (trust them as much as YouTube commentors) and look around Google+ for your passions and start interacting. You’ll be surprised.

While you’re there, look me up.

How can I go through this week without a post about the 1940 Census? The digital images were released on Monday, April 2nd free for everyone, though I personally never got to see them until late on Monday night. I don’t think they expected as much traffic as they got on day one. I heard somewhere around 37 million visits on Monday alone. It was no surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting to be able to view the images right away. I’ve been through my fair share of first day launches with things like MMORPGs and other websites to know not to expect much on the first day.

Since the 1940 Census was just released on Monday, there is no name index created, so you cannot search by name. There is currently a massive indexing project going on, that anyone (including you) can help with, that will hopefully bring us this index soon. You need to know the Enumeration District where your ancestors lived in 1940 and browse page by page through it. If you do not know the 1940 Census ED, the website has a nice little  form that will convert the ED from the 1930 Census to the ED in the 1940 Census. In my experience, most EDs are only 30 pages are so on average. Though, when I was able to access the images, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I could download the entire Enumeration District to browse via my own computer instead on needing to browse one-by-one online.

I was able to find all four of my grandparents pretty quickly since I knew where they lived in 1940 and also my great-grandparents at the same time due to the fact that my grandparents were all in their teens. I also ran across my great-great-grandmother from the same area as one of my grandparents. The first image I found is below.

Frank Zalewski; Ward 13, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; ED 72-288; Household 172 - Click for larger version

The 1940 Census image for my great-grandfather, Frank ZALEWSKI. Frank’s wife, Anna, died in 1939 so he is listed alone in his specific “household.” His youngest son, Frank, Jr., is listed in the same building with his wife Louise. (This also proves the marriage I wrote about the other day.)

I found my grandfather, Richard ZALEWSKI, living near his grandfather, Frank, in Milwaukee, his dad working as a Milwaukee Police Officer. I found my grandmother, Mary Jane CORRIGAN, living in Kingsford, Michigan, her dad working as a machine operator at the Ford Motor Company. I found my other grandfather living in Grafton, Wisconsin and my other grandmother living in Port Washington, Wisconsin. I am currently trying to find my wife’s grandparents. Her paternal grandfather giving me some trouble since I didn’t find him in the ED he lived in in 1930. He was also 21 at the time, so he could be living as a boarder, etc if he is out on his own.

I’m just getting started digging for my family and I also hope to do some indexing soon enough. I know the indexes will help me in the future, why not help everyone else by creating it?

The Zalewski Project is officially under way. During the last week, I started collecting data. I plan on collecting data from families with the ZALEWSKI surname, or something very similar. I decided against ZALESKI or variations during this first collection since that multiplies the amount of data by a lot. If it’s pronounced like ZALEWSKI, than I probably added it this time. During this collection, I’ve grabbed names like ZELEWSKI, ZALUSKY, and even some like ZIELEWSKI. I also plan on adding SALEWSKI and variations since I’ve seen my ancestors name spelled that way in church records, but I’m going to start small first instead of trying to do too much at once.

I used Ancestry.com’s search to go through the census records. I didn’t find any ZALEWSKI families of note in the 1860 US Census or earlier and only one family in the 1870 US Census. I collected a few families from the 1880 US Census and a whole bunch from the 1900 US Census. I can only imagine it will grow with every new census.

After collecting and sorting the 1900 US Census data, it seems there are three big locations for ZALEWSKI families in 1900. They are, in order: Chicago, Milwaukee, and then Detroit with a few other areas thrown in. They don’t surprise me as those three cities are known for their large Polish populations.

I put the 1900 US Census data online, though only in a quick and dirty HTML table. The next step is to get this info into a database so you can sort and export and view the data in other cool ways. Next on my list, the 1910 US Census. I imagine this one will be much larger. Those ZALEWSKI’s seemed to like to have big families.

I am participating in this week’s “Sunday’s Obituary” with my great-great grandfather’s obituary. I’m told that he received a larger obituary since he worked for the city of Milwaukee. From The Milwaukee Journal on Saturday, August 9, 1941.

FRANK ZALEWSKI

Frank Zalewski, 82, of 2630 N. Buffum st., was found dead on the floor of his home late Friday afternoon by his son, [my great-grandfather] Joseph, a police officer, who came to visit him. He had been living alone since his wife died two years ago. Death was due to natural causes, according to coroner’s assistants.

Mr. Zalewski was born in Germany and came to this country 51 years ago. He worked for the department of public works for 39 years, retiring six years ago. He and his wife celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1935. Funeral services will be held at 8:30 a.m. at St.  Casimir’s church, with burial in Holy Cross cemetery.

Survivors include two sons, Joseph and Frank, jr., and five daughters, Mrs. Angeline Pierzchalski, Mrs. Mary Gierszewski, Mrs. Frances Cybela, Mrs. Helen Stroinski and Mrs. Agnes Walczak.

You can actually view the obituary in the newspaper using Google’s News Archive website. I found it when I searched for “Zalewski” in their archives. Fortunately, he had a larger obituary that was picked up by Google’s character recognition software. Most of the normal obituaries aren’t picked up.

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.)

[Find-A-Grave link]

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.

Joseph Zalewski Baptism
Click for larger

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 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.

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.

Goralski Stone
Joseph & Mary Goralski with Jacob Zalewski, Jr - Click for larger

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.

Zalewski stone
Jacob & Pauline Zalewski, with daughter Anna. Edward and his wife Kathryn are on the other side. - Click for larger

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):

Gwiazdowski - 1
Gwiazdowski Connection - Exhibit AClick for larger

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.

Mary Goralska

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.

Gwiazdowski - A
Gwiazdowski Connect - Exhibit BClick for larger

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?