Tag: Wisconsin Research


The eight ancestor is my 52 week challenge is my wife’s paternal great-grandmother, Anna (HUIZEL) COLLINS. I’m not completely sure of the pronunciation of that surname, but I’ve heard both Oot-zuhl and Ooh-zuhl.

Anna (Huizel) Collins - unknown year
Anna (Huizel) Collins – unknown year

Anna was born around July 1881 in what is today, Netolice in the Prachatice District, South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. In 1881, I think this was just considered Bohemia. Her parents are John HUIZEL and Barbara REINDL. There is no birth record that we have found, yet, but I did find records of her parent’s marriage and the births of some of her other siblings in the area.

I basically tripped into the Czech records one day while browsing FamilySearch. I found a lot of info on her family at the online records available at the State Regional Archives Trebon. I got a lot of help from a very well-done blog about Czech Genealogy. You can read more about what I found on a post I wrote about it.

Anna immigrated from Bohemia around 1885-1888 with her parents. On Valentine’s Day 1899, she married Albert COLLINS in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, where her parents resided. Albert and Anna had four children, including my wife’s grandmother, Barbara.

One of Anna’s siblings, a brother named Jacob, gave us one of the first humorous family mysteries. We had some photos from her grandmother and one of them was a photo of a gentleman and all it said on the back was “Uncle. One arm.” We ended up finding out that this was Anna’s brother, Jacob, whom we all refer to now as “Uncle One-Arm.”

Albert passed away around 1945 and Anna lived on in Madison, Wisconsin until she passed away in 1945. She is buried with her husband in Boscobel, Grant County, Wisconsin, where they lived for many years.

This post is 8 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

The fourth ancestor on the 52 Week Ancestor challenge was picked using my patented ancestor-o-matic. It’s really just a random number generator and then using that number on my daughter’s ahnentafel chart. This week is William J DAKINS.

William is my wife’s 3rd-great-grandfather on her maternal side. His obituary in the Stevens Point Daily Journal from Stevens Point, Wisconsin says that he was born 29 April 1846 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This matches up with his census records that indicate he was born in Canada. It looks like his family, including father Amos DAKINS and mother Phoeba C (RILEY) DAKINS, moved from Canada to Wisconsin early in his life as they are found in the Fond du Lac, Wisconsin area in the 1850 US Census. In 1860, the family is found further north in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, though close to where William would settle later in life, in Weyauwega.

On 14 December 1864, William did what a lot of other young men in the country did that year, he enlisted to join the Civil War. He was stationed with Company I in the 17th Wisconsin Infantry. At the time of William’s enlistment, the 17th Infantry was involved in the Carolinas Campaign.

In January 1865, Union Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman advanced north from Savannah, Georgia, through the Carolinas, with the intention of linking up with Union forces in Virginia. The defeat of Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army at the Battle of Bentonville in March, and its surrender in April, represented the loss of the final major army of the Confederacy.

Burning of McPhersonville 1865
Sherman’s March Through South Carolina – Burning of McPhersonville, February 1, 1865

The obituary also states that he was involved in the famous Sherman’s March to the Sea, but that looks to have taken place right when William was enlisting, so I’m not sure if he was.

After William returned from war, he married Helen Marion WARNER on 4 October 1871 and they settled on a farm in Plover, Portage, Wisconsin. Together, they had 6 children, including my wife’s ancestor, Mary DAKINS. They lived in Plover until William’s death on 18 April 1916. The obituary says he was ill with heart and stomach problems. He is buried nearby in the Plover Cemetery.

This post is 4 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

Public domain photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The third ancestor I chose on my 52 Ancestors challenge is my maternal great-great-grandmother, August (LUEDTKE) LAST. She holds a unique position in my ancestry as the only ancestor that I know of to have lived to at least 100 years of age. Though, she passed away 11 days (0.03 years) after her 100th birthday, but it still counts.

Augusta (Luedtke) Last
Augusta (Luedtke) Last in 1948.

As the information I found notes, Augusta Johanna Wilhelmine Luedtke was born around 3 July 1863 in Storkow, Pomerania. Her parents are listed as Carl LUEDTKE and Friederike FRITZ on her marriage record. Funny thing about Storkow is that there are many villages with this name in old Pomerania, which is around modern-day northwestern Poland. There are at least 3 according to Kartenmeister. Fortunately, a lot of the church records for Pomerania are available digitally on FamilySearch. I’ve looked through a lot of them record-by-record in the vicinity of these towns with no luck, so the search continues. It’s one of those nagging brick walls that I always come back to since I feel that I’m very close.

According to census records, she emigrated to the US sometime around 1881-1882. This would make her about 18-19, so it’s hard to say if she came with her family or on her own, but I have found information on a sister living in Wisconsin, so that’s another avenue of research. This is also in that fuzzy area since the 1890 census is missing and by the time I find her in the 1900 Census, she is married and has had 11 children. Some of my next steps are to dig into Milwaukee records from this time as she was married there.

On 25 February 1883, she married Charles Carl LAST in Milwaukee. They soon settled in Grafton, Ozaukee, Wisconsin and, according to an 1892 Plat Map, they lived on a farm close to the town of Port Washington. Charles and Augusta were experts in the field of creating children as over the course of 25 years, they had 16 of them. My great-grandmother, Madora, was born in 1898. A few of them did not make it through childhood, but a lot of them went on to have full lives and create many, many cousins for me to connect with. I actually met a 3rd cousin from this family line through a match over on 23andMe and we’ve shared some information, including the first family photo I saw of this family.

Augusta’s husband died in 1926 soon after they moved out of the rural area and into a house in the City of Port Washington, right near the high school. After she had trouble getting around she moved in with some of her children, including my great-grandmother, where she was when she passed away. She lived long enough that my mom can remember things about her. Augusta passed away 11 days after her 100th birthday on 14 July 1863 and is buried with many of her family at Union Cemetery in Port Washington.

This post is 3 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

Moran Family

I wasn’t really sure who to pick next. I didn’t want to pick an ancestor I always talk about, so I opened up RootsMagic and closed my eyes and clicked a random person from the pedigree tree. I picked Frederick MORAN.

Moran Family
Frederick & Norma (Powell) Moran family

Frederick MORAN is my wife’s paternal great-grandfather. He was born 21 February 1891 in the small Richwood Township in Richland County, Wisconsin to Charles & Emma (DIETER) MORAN. According to early census records, he was a farm laborer until his marriage on 31 October 1915 (Halloween and my daughter’s birthday) to Norma POWELL. For some reason, this line seemed to like marrying in Iowa as they were married in McGregor, Clayton, Iowa and my wife’s paternal grandparents also married in Iowa. They had two children, my wife’s grandfather, Keith, and his sister, Vivian.

He had many occupations over the next few decades including Farmer, Lime Grinder, and Janitor at the public school. He passed away on 22 March 1949 in Boscobel, Grant County in southwestern Wisconsin and is buried there with his wife.

Much of my wife’s paternal ancestors, including the MORAN family, settled in the southwestern area of Wisconsin, which is full of hills and mines, though none of them were miners as far as I can tell. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, a lot of people were drawn to this area in the 1800s due to it’s potential for mining:

Although southwestern Wisconsin is best known today for its rich farmlands, place names such as Mineral Point and New Diggings evoke an earlier time when local mines produced much of the nation’s lead. In the early nineteenth century, Wisconsin lead mining was more promising and attractive to potential settlers than either the fur trade or farming. Its potentially quick rewards lured a steady stream of settlers up the Mississippi River and into Grant, Crawford, Iowa, and Lafayette counties in the early nineteenth century. By 1829, more than 4,000 miners worked in southwestern Wisconsin, producing 13 million pounds of lead a year.

This post is 2 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

So, using the speed and power of the Internet, I come bearing updates. While I didn’t completely solve the original issue, I still don’t know who is in that photo, I did confirm that is it not the Charles & Augusta Last family. But, I also now have a copy of a family photo of the real Last family that I had originally hoped for.

As I said in the original post, I sent the photo off to a Facebook friend that I connected to via a 23andMe Relative Finder connection. She sent it to her mother and family and they also ruled out the photo due to the ages of the children, etc, but then they sent a scanned version of the Last family’s photo. See it here.

Last Family

It’s the best quality scan, mainly because they did it quickly for me. It also turns out that the original photo is in possession of someone in a town in the same county that I live, which I assumed since the family lived there. It also turns out that it’s at the same Senior Apartments that my grandparents are currently living. So, soon I hope to make a visit, bring my FlipPal over there, and get a nice scan for myself.

This family lines up much, much better with the kids.  I definitely see Augusta in this mother’s face. My great-grandmother, Madora, is obviously the one in the back with the big, white bow in her hair. Also, the twins are there on both sides of the front row. I do have to say that I think Charles looks much cooler in this one than the other one, I mean look at that massive mustache. Doing a bit of guessing based on ages, my guess is this photo was taken around 1912-1913.

As for the original photo, I still think it looks strikingly similar to Augusta. It is possible that it is her sister’s family. Or maybe it’s a completely different family. This is the life of a genealogist.

UPDATE: There is an update posted on this mystery photo.

We’ve been doing a bit of cleaning at my grandparent’s  house recently, which has caused us to come across a lot of new family photos from my maternal side. This comes as a double-edged sword as there are some amazing old photos, including a very old photo album filled with late 19th-century, early 20th-century photos, but most of them are not labeled. I hope to spend some time with my grandfather and run a few of them by him, but he may not remember anymore.

There was one neat, large family photo that we found. I had no idea who it was. Then, I noticed a few things on the mother in the photo. She looked strikingly similar to my great-great-grandmother, August (Luedtke) LAST. Though, I only have more recent photos of Augusta and she lived to be 100, so her age changed her appearance quite a lot (as it does to us all.) But, there were certain things about her face in both photos that matched up quite well. Here is a quick comparison image I put together.

Augusta Last Comparison

One of the few things I noticed was her mouth, how both of them are very straight across. Then, I noticed the nose. Both have a bit of a ball on the tip. The last thing I noticed were the ears. Augusta seemed to have ears that landed in the “larger” category and both women also have these. It’s tough to match the eyes as her age has caused some problems around that area, but they do look similar. Her forehead and hairline match up quite well. The only lingering issue is when I look through the list of children I have and try to match them up with the children in the photo. They don’t line up quite right.

Here is the complete family photo with the children listed below. I’ve tagged the children from oldest to youngest based only on how old they look in the photo. Click for larger version.

Possible Last Family - Edited

Family Group Sheet for reference.

  • The couple’s first child was John, born in 1885, whom is probably child #2.
  • Their second child was Emma, born in 1886/1887 whom is probably child #1.
  • Their third child was William, born in 1888, probably child #4.
  • This is where it goes off the rails. Their next children were Ida and Helena, twins born in 1889. I don’t see any twins in the photo and their both recorded as having lived until at least 1969. The next child of that age range would be child #3.
  • The next child would be August, born in 1891, whom may be child #5.
  • The next 3 children either died not long after birth or at a date unknown, Bertha, Charles, and Freida (1893, 1894, 1897) so I assume they’re not in the photo based on this info.
  • That would make child #6, Madora, my great-grandmother, born in 1898. Though, she always had dark hair, but I know hair can change as kids grow, so who knows.
  • #7 and #8 don’t really even line up unless we can work out the previous issues.

I guess the moral of the story is to label your photos. I’ll keep you updated on anything more I figure out. I’ve already sent the photo to some descendants of Helena that I connected to via 23andMe to see if they notice any similarities.

When the 1940 Census was released in April, I spent a couple of days browsing through them by hand to find my ancestors and my wife’s ancestors. I knew where they all lived (generally speaking) and I was finally able to find everyone, except a few. My wife’s grandmother, Barbara COLLINS, and her parents, Albert and Anna, were nowhere to be found. I personally looked through every enumeration district in the area that they had lived in 1930 (and 1941, based on a newspaper article.) When we visited my wife’s parents, I sat with my father-in-law and did the same thing. We couldn’t find them. We were stumped.

I decided to wait until some of the indexed versions of the Wisconsin censuses were relased. Once Ancestry.com released their indexed version, I tried searching. No matches. I tried every possible search combination using names, dates, places, but nothing. I was starting to think they were missed, which is very rare.

FamilySearch had not released an indexed Wisconsin census at the time. They had indexed their version separately from Ancestry. Once the Wisconsin census index was released, I searched FamilySearch’s version. I found them on my first try in Scott Township, Crawford County, Wisconsin. I honestly don’t know how we missed them in our manual search, since I know we checked Scott Township.

The other big, important lesson to take from this is to always check multiple sources. A few of the major genealogy sites indexes the 1940 Census themselves, so different people indexed them. Once I found their entry on the Ancestry version of the 1940 Census, I could see why I missed it.

The individuals who transcribed this entry on Ancestry marked Barbara down as 19, instead of 16 (which to me is obvious) so when I searched based on her birth year, it didn’t help. They made the same mistake with her father, Albert, though it was further off. Ancestry had him indexed as 44, and not 64 (which, again, is obvious to me.) The other issue I had, which wasn’t the indexer’s fault, is that Anna is marked down as Emma. All three of these things made it almost impossible for me to search for this family based on the info I knew about them.

Always, always, always check multiple sources. Different people transcribe differently. Also, look again at the pages you’ve already looked at. You may have missed something the first time.

I had the luck of finding a photo of my 4th-great-grandmother while doing some research on her descendant lines on Ancestry.com. I happened to see a photo of her daughter, Mary, with some other people. I clicked on it and saw that it said the name of the older woman was “Frances Thompson.” I did a double-take to make sure that was the name I thought it was.

Frances was born Claude-Françoise QUINET in 1817 in Menoux, Département de Haute-Saône (Franche-Comté), France. She came to America with her family in about 1832 and I think settled in New York state for a bit. She married William THOMPSON in that area in about 1839. I find them next in the 1850 Census in Granville, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Granville is now mostly part of the Brown Deer area. After that they traveled up to Wrightstown, Brown, Wisconsin where they lived out the rest of their lives.

This photo includes Frances, her daughter Mary, Mary’s son Charles, and Charles’ son Edwin. I don’t know the exact year, but Frances died in 1899 and Edwin was born about 1889. If I had to guess I’d say it’s from about 1894-95 or so since Edwin looks to be about 5 or 6.

Click for larger version

I’m going to participate in this week’s Sunday’s Obituary theme.

This is the obituary for my great-great grandmother, Emma Jane (FIRMENICH) CORRIGAN in from April 28, 1941. I’m not sure exactly which newspaper since I found the article in my grandmother’s collection and she didn’t note it. If I had to guess, it’s probably from a local Ashland, Wisconsin newspaper.

MRS. COOK, 67, OLD RESIDENT DIES MONDAY

Wife Of Former Street Commissioner Succumbs To Long Illness

Mrs. Emma Cook, 67, of 109 North Ellis avenue, a resident of Ashland and the Chequamegon region for the past 59 years and wife of the late George S. Cook, former city street commissioner, died Monday evening at her home following a lingering illness.

The former Emma Firmenich was born in Wrightstown, Wisconsin, on June 29, 1873, but moved with her parents to Ashland in 1882. The Firmenich family lived in Ashland for a few years and then moved to Sanborn.

She was married to Thomas Corrigan in 1892 at Sanborn where the couple lived until 1905. They then moved to Ashland and lived near the cemetery on Sanborn avenue for several years. Mr. Corrigan died in 1916, but his wife continued to live in their home until 1926 when she moved to Milwaukee. Six years later she returned to the city and in 1932 was married to Mr. Cook in Ashland. Mr. Cook died on December 5, 1940.

She was a member of the St. Agnes church, the Altar Society and the Old Settlers’ Club.

Survivors are twelve children, Edwin and Sadie of Ashland; Maurice, Clayton and Mrs. E. H. Olson of Iron Mountain, Michigan; Henry, Mrs. Norbert Enders (Lenore) and Mrs. Ed Strelka (Ethel) of Milwaukee; Mrs. Harry Nantais (Beatrice) of Dearborn, Michigan; Frank of Rivera, Florida; Mrs. Joseph Maurer and Mrs. Mary Foster of Detroit; four sisters, Mrs. A. F. Anderson and Mrs. Joe Fabro of Ashland, Mrs. William McKindley and Mrs. Thomas Gorman of Grand Coulee, Washington; and one brother, Henry Firmenich, Baudette, Minnesota.

Funeral services will be held at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Cook home and at 9 a.m. at St. Agnes church. Interment will be in St. Agnes cemetery. The body will be removed from the Wartman Funeral Home to the Cook residence on Thursday where is will lie in state until time of services.

Amanuensis Monday – An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging theme which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin – some we never met – others we see a time in their life before we knew them. A fuller explanation can be found here.

I’ve posted about this letter in the past, but I thought I’d talk about it again. I have possession of some typewritten letters that my great granduncle, Edwin Corrigan, wrote to another relative. My grandmother must have had them in her possession since I have a lot of her old family documents. Edwin was born in 1909 and grew up in rural northern Wisconsin in the Ashland area. He was a well-traveled and bright man and he had seen a lot of things. The letter is a great insight both into life in the early 20th century (in rural Wisconsin and other similar places) and also other aspects of his life. Read on for some excerpts:

(more…)

Richard & Mary Jane Zalewski

Mary Jane (Corrigan) Zalewski
April 27, 1926 – August 10, 2011

Today we lost my grandmother, Mary Jane Zalewski, one of the world’s biggest fans of Irish heritage. Born in Ashland, Wisconsin on April 27, 1926 along with her twin brother, Tommy, to Maurice & Agnes (Braatz) Corrigan. Story has it that they were born so small that my great-grandmother would bundle them up and put them on the oven door to keep them warm. While in Milwaukee visiting her aunt Ethel Corrigan, who ended up marrying my grandfather’s cousin, Edy Strelka, she met my grandfather, Richard Zalewski. They tied the knot on October 11, 1947 and had their first child, my uncle, in 1948. My dad soon followed in 1951 and then my aunt in 1960.

Throughout my life, they always lived in the little house in Cedarburg, Wisconsin that we used to visit for Christmas Eve and many other times throughout the year. My paternal grandparents were very loving, as most grandparents, but they were also stern. Grandpa would scold us for sneaking into the basement or jumping into the window wells, but Grandpa and Grandma also used to have the greatest toys to play with including the matchbox car track and the puzzles. She was always a big fan of Ireland and anything Irish. Even though she was probably just as much German (and some French) than she was Irish, no one dared to correct her on it. She was a CORRIGAN and she was full-blooded Irish and that’s that!

When I was in my first year of college, my grandfather got sick and passed away on April 18, 1999. It was very sad to me since this was the first major death in my family and the first loss of a grandparent. I didn’t know how my grandmother would handle it. It turns out she did very well with herself. She drove (albeit slowly) where she needed to go, met with friends, knitted like she always did, and was usually in good spirits. Sadly, she fell while living alone and had to move to an assisted living center, but she still made the best of it. I ended up buying my grandparent’s old house from my grandmother and we currently still live here. It’s comforting at times. Unfortunately, during the last few years, Grandma started to forget things and had trouble getting around, but she was her normal self a lot of the time. Even at 85, she still loved her pizza and beer. I’m told that she passed away peacefully in her sleep and now she is in a better place, probably catching up with my Grandpa. He’s probably got the “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” vinyl record already playing on the record player.

You can view the memorial video I made for her funeral.

We’ll miss you, Grandma. Thanks for everything. Ireland has one less fan today.

How do I live without the ones I love?
Time still turns the pages of the book it’s burned
Place in time always on my mind
And the light you left remains but it’s so hard to stay
When I have so much to say and you’re so far away

I love you, you were ready
The pain is strong and urges rise
But I’ll see you when it let’s me
Your pain is gone, your hands untied

Avenged Sevenfold, “So Far Away”