20 years ago. April 18th, 1999. That dates holds a few key moments in my life and in my genealogy research. My paternal grandfather, Richard Zalewski, passed away on that day. He was the first grandparent I had lost, so it was a life milestone. Also, I always use that day as the day I started my voyage into genealogy. I’ve told that story before.
Last year I made the realization that it was the same amount of time from when I was born to the day he died and that same day until last year, 19 years. I had known my grandfather as much as I was without him. So, now the realization is that this year the balance is tipping in the latter direction.
Since that day in 1999, I have now lost all of my grandparents, but fortunately that has only happened recently, so I was able to enjoy their company for many years. His death was always harder on me since it was the first major death that directly affected my life, which made the later ones a bit easier to swallow after experiencing it once.
For the longest time (almost 20 years) my Zalewski line was the shortest and most difficult to crack. A few years ago I did make some headway into that brick wall and then only a few months ago I finally slammed through it and made many more discoveries (and ran into another one of those infinite brick walls.)
I always wonder how much quicker I would have made it through that brick wall if I was able to talk to him about his family history. A lot of his ancestors were mysteries for awhile and some of them may have had some interesting stories. I really would have loved to talk to him about his mother, Emily (Troka) Zalewski, who passed away in 1941 when he was only 19 years old and away in Florida in Navy school.
I would’ve loved to talk to him about his grandfather, Frank Zalewski, and about his personality and other small things since he lived until 1941, also, and my grandfather would’ve definitely known him well. He lost his grandfather at the same age I lost my grandfather.
There is this thing I heard somewhere recently, but I forget where, about imagining how far back you can connect to your ancestors by visualizing each ancestor that was able to hold hands with their grandparents, and so on, which in turn connects you to them since you held your grandparent’s hand. If you think about it, based on how long some generations lived, you can sort of feel that connection to your deeper ancestors.
So, today is a bittersweet type of day. I fondly remember my grandfather and everything he means to me, but I also thank him for sparking that fire in me that has brought me joy and mystery and challenges and meaning to my life for the past 20 years. Miss you every day, Grandpa.
As I mentioned in an update post last week, I was able to take back my Zalewski line back a few more generations. Here’s how that went down.
A few years back, I had found Frank and Anna’s marriage record in the Polish Civil Archives. That record listed his parent’s names and his birthplace which was listed as Krottoschin. This got me one more generation back, but with little more info besides names and a location.
Using sites like Kartenmeister and Google Maps, I quickly was able to find the location and it’s modern equivalent. It is now Krotoszyny, Biskupiec, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Poland. Not be confused with the more popular one in the Poznan area that I kept running into.
What I couldn’t find were any church records for this location. Civil records were available, but those didn’t start until 1874. Frank was born in 1858. I’ve always had great luck at finding record listings for almost any location using FamilySearch’s Catalog, no matter how small. For some reason Krottoschin wasn’t even listed on their site. I was at a loss and disappointed.
On a whim I decided to post about my conundrum in the Polish Genealogy! Just Ask! Facebook group I belong to. I haven’t interacted much in there, but it was worth a shot. Someone might know something.
Well, they did. Only a short time after I finished posting, a few comments came in. In one of the comments someone told me to try records for Schwarzenau, West Prussia, Germany. I questioned how they knew to look there and they said they used some clever Google searches.
After my own research, it seems that while Krottoschin had a Catholic Church, it wasn’t started until the mid 1890s. Before that, it seems Krottoschin residents used the church in nearby Scwarzenau.
Finding the Record
I started browsing the records and fortunately they were available online. It’s hit or miss with these church records. More recent ones only seem to be available online when viewed from a Family History Library. Also, fortunately, the records around 1858 had an index for baptisms, which is rare. When I jumped in and browsed, I immediately saw a Zalewski baptism entry for a Frantz born on Frank’s exact birth date, October 4th, 1858! Jackpot!
As most genealogists may know, you get a little giddy when you’re starting to browse through these old records expecting to come across written evidence of your ancestor. I had that feeling when I finally saw the baptism record I’ve been wanting to find for almost 20 years.
The record didn’t give me much new information, but it did solidify a lot of it. For one, I had his mother’s surname as Mushowski, but it really is Muszkowski, confirmed by many other records I looked over for matching family members.
I was also able to finally confirm and solidify the fact the Jacob Zalewski is Frank’s brother and also get his actual birth date. I only had Dec 1863 from census records, but he was born on 10 Dec 1863.
I looked back and forth through the records and found three other siblings for Frank and Jacob who are Johann, Catharina, and Anna. Unfortunately, as it is with a lot of families during this time period, I confirmed with burial records that all of them died young. Johann lived to be about 12, but the others died within their first few weeks. I am curious about Johann’s death as Frank’s father Michael also died around the same time, but those records need to be viewed from a FHL, so I can’t look at them right now.
Once I found Frank and his siblings, I moved further back as much as I could. I found Michael and Anna’s marriage record in 1855, which gave me their ages and estimated birth years. From there I found both of their baptism records. Michael was born on 30 Aug 1825 and Anna on 16 Jun 1831 both in Krottoschin.
Those records gave me both of their parent’s names. Now I had a completely new generation back. I got to meet my 5th-great grandparents on that line. Michael’s parents are Martin & Marianna (Sobotka) Zalewski. Anna’s parents are Jacob & Marianna (Urlicki) Muszkowski. I confirmed both of those maiden names with other records from the area. Both Sobotka and Urlicki are very common in Krottoschin.
I used this same process to keep going back as far as I could. Krottoschin records only went back to about 1772 and those are either hit-or-miss or very hard to read (and in Latin.)
I was forced to look outside the area to nearby records to find some of them. I could not find Martin Zalewski’s baptism record anywhere in Schwarzenau. Through some lucky records and interesting finds, I started looking in the records for the parish in Lippinken (now Lipinki) which is a bit south of Krottoschin.
There I found a promising baptism record for the right time period for a Martinus Zaleski. I know better than anyone that Zalewski and Zaleski are not the same surname, but based on other baptism records in the same parish, it seems that the Zalewski surname was never listed the same way. Sometimes Salewski, sometimes Zaleski.
I haven’t entered it into my database, yet, until I dig a bit more in the area. Plus, I’m not really sure what his mother’s maiden name is, possibly Walecka/Walecki. It almost looks like they wrote an I and then changed it to the feminine A.
Because this area is obviously a multi-generational home to my Zalewski ancestors and their ancestors, as I browsed through basically every page of the available records, I recorded any entries mentioning the new surnames I found. As of this writing I have 324 baptisms, 61 marriages, and 27 burials. I’m hoping it will help me as I continue my research.
In case your curious, and also to feed the Google beast to help distant cousins find this post, here are the new surnames I have found: Zalewski, Muszkowski, Sobotka, Urlicki, Walecki, Hincowna, Eykowna, and Olszewski. Now, both Hincowna and Eykowna are using their feminine modifiers, so I’m not sure what the standardized surname should be on those. The -owna suffix is new to me, so I’m not sure how to convert it. I may ask in that Facebook group.
I’m continuing to track as much information as I can, and obviously, you’ll be some of the first to know. Thanks for reading all of this.
For whatever reason in the last few weeks, I’ve dove straight into everything related to WikiTree. Once I started looking at all of the things that were possible with a huge, helpful, friendly community of users and a system that allows a lot of interconnectedness, I was able to find the power in the site. I’ve always used the site, but I picked up a bunch more responsibility with it recently.
Not only have I started up the Zalewski Name Study project on the site, I also started one up for the next largest surname in my tree, the Thielke Name Study. Those are still in their infancy, with the Zalewski one being a bit further. The Thielke one only has two lines on it so far, but it’s a start.
I also spent a lot of July adding sources to a lot of profiles on the site, mostly my own. This got me the “Sourcerer” and “Club 100 – July 2017” badges for my profile. I also became a member of the US History project, the Categorization project, the Wisconsin project, and the Cemeteries project (aka a Cemeterist.) But, not only did I join those, I am also now the Project Coordinator for the Wisconsin Project itself. This means I get to coordinate all of the sub-projects under Wisconsin and try to recruit volunteers to help build Wisconsin’s information and profiles.
Once I became that coordinator, I noticed Wisconsin has no county sub-projects. So, I went ahead and created the Ozaukee County project since it is the one I feel that I have the most expertise with.
Then once I became a Cemeterist, I decided to pick one local cemetery and work on it. Back in May of 2000, I transcribed a small, local cemetery in the area named St. Finbar’s Cemetery. I posted it up on interment.net as this was probably the leading cemetery transcription site at the time. Surprisingly, it’s still up and listed.
So, I added the St. Finbar’s Cemetery project up onto WikiTree and added my transcription even though it’s slightly outdated. Now, my goal is to either link existing profiles to the listing or create new profiles for every person buried there. I’ve added a few so far and learned a bit of history about the cemetery and its “inhabitants.”
I’m excited and I hope I do well coordinating all of these things. My profile is getting long.The one thing I love to do outside of researching my own family is to help others find information about their family. If you do genealogy, I recommend you join the site or at least visit and look around at all of the amazing things people are doing on their own time to help others.
My grandfather was part of the reason I started on this genealogical journey over the last 18 years (wow, 18 years.) When he passed away in April 1999, it coincided with the launch of FamilySearch’s first website. One thing led to another, and here we are.
Richard was born on 9 Dec 1921 (one day after my son’s birthday) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Joseph & Emily (TROKA) ZALEWSKI. He was the 2nd child of three after his older sister Irene and before his younger brother Robert. He was also a middle child, like me and my father, and his father. The family was living at 826 Bremen St in Milwaukee at the time. His middle name was actually Melvin at birth (not sure where that came from), but it was changed to Joseph a bit later on.
In October 1940, Richard joined the US Navy. He was stationed in Pensacola, Florida in Spring 1941 as an Aviation Support Equipment Technician when his mother suddenly passed away on 1 May 1941 of a stroke. The story goes that he could not afford the trip home for her funeral and just happened to find a $20 bill on the ground that he was able to use for his ride home. I have a few letters that his mother wrote to him in April 1941, so these would be the last words he had from her, which is probably why he kept them.
During most of World War II, Richard was stationed with the US Navy in Hilo, Hawaii where he was a Aviation Machinist’s Mate, 3rd Class. They were responsible for “maintaining aircraft engines and their related systems, including the induction, cooling, fuel, oil, compression, combustion, turbine, gas turbine compressor, exhaust and propeller systems” and many other things.
When Richard returned from the war, a young woman named Mary Jane CORRIGAN was living with her aunt and uncle, Edy & Ethel (CORRIGAN) STRELKA in Milwaukee. Edy Strelka was Richard’s first cousin, so Richard and Mary Jane met and after some time were married on 11 October 1947 at St. Gall’s Church in Milwaukee.
The family lived in Milwaukee where their first two children were born, including my father. In about 1955, the family moved north to the “suburbs” in Cedarburg, Ozaukee, Wisconsin where they lived for the rest of their lives and had one more child.
Richard worked with the US Postal Service in Milwaukee for many years, retiring in 1978. On 18 April 1999, Richard passed away from a quick bout with Pancreatic Cancer. His death was my first loss of a grandparent and it hit me a bit hard at the time, which I’ve written about a few times. Every year since his death and the beginning of my journey into genealogy, his Zalewski line was, and is still, my most difficult line to research. I’ve only recently pushed back one more generation. He is buried at St. Francis Borgia Cemetery in Cedarburg.
In terms of DNA, I definitely share DNA with him. Probably 25% based on how DNA recombines. My father and my paternal cousin has also tested, so I can see a lot of the DNA I know I got from them.
I ran across a helpful site recently called draw.io that allows you to build flow charts and other diagrams pretty easily. It also ties in nicely with Google Drive and Dropbox so you can get your designs anywhere. I ended up using the site to visualize some of my DNA matches, specifically matches on certain lines in my family tree. It worked nicely and allowed me to see how exactly we’re connected and what information may be gleaned from those matches (i.e., Y-DNA lines, etc.)
Here are my three designs, in the following order. I visualized my Zalewski cousin tests, my Corrigan cousin tests, my Thielke cousin tests, and my Last cousin tests. The last two are on my maternal side and sort of overlap. I have some other lines to do, yet. Click the images for a larger version.
Since finding their marriage record that I talked about in my last post, I’ve done my best to transcribe and translate it to the best of my ability (and Google Translate.) Here is what I was able to translate, with some notes within and more notes after.
Schwenten on the 2nd of November one thousand eight hundred and eighty-four
Before the undersigned registrar released today for the purpose of marriage
Tagloehner(?) (day-laborer) known as Franz Zalewski, Catholic religion, born the fourth of October the year on thousand eight hundred fifty-eight in Krotoschin in Loebau, resident of Gottschalk in Graduenz. Son of (?) Michael Zalewski and (?) (?) Anna born Muschowska(?), residing in Gottschalk
Known as Anna Lindner, catholic religion, born the fifteenth October (incorrect? baptism record is in Sept 1865) of the year one thousand eight hundred sixty-five in Schwenten in Graudenz, residing in Schwenten in Graudenz. Daughter of (?) Johann Lindner and (?) (?) Eva born Sonnenfeld residing at Schwenten.
Witnesses were drawn and published:
The (?) known as Johann Lindner, 48 (?) years old, residing in Schwenten
The (?) known as Franz Gurski, 36 (?) years old, residing in Schwenten
In the presence of the witnesses, the clerk of the court addressed to the betrothed the question individually and one after the other:
Whether they know they want marriage with each other. The fiancée replied to this question in the affirmative, and made the statement of the civil servant that he was now giving it up to the law of the law
Presented, approved and (?)
XXX (?) Franz Zalewski XXX (?) Anna Zalewski born Lindner XXX (?) Johann Lindner XXX (?) Franz Gurski
A few notes here. It describes Frank’s birthday as 4 October 1858, which is probably correct. I’ve always had 4 Sep 1858, but I honestly don’t know the source of that specific date. I’ve never seen it myself, though the year is probably correct as that has been found in multiple places. I also now have Frank’s place of birth, which is a nearby town named Krotoschin in 1884. Today it is Krotoszyny, Biskupiec, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Poland, just northeast of their marriage location. I don’t know if Frank’s mother’s last name is Muschowska. It’s a bit tough to read.
All of the question marks (?) in the transcription are words I could not make out. Lowercase letters like e, n, and r look very similar in German Gothic script especially when the writer is a bit sloppy. They all look like one squiggly line with a few peaks and valleys. Most of the missing words are the occupations of the individuals. The three X’s at the bottom near the four names is probably similar to “his mark” in other documents stating that the person could not write their name.
For whatever reason, it looks like Anna’s birth date is wrong. I’ve previously found her baptism record in the church records and it was from September 1865. This states she was born in October.
The only other new item is the name of one of the witnesses, Franz Gurski. Not sure who that is, so I’ve been looking for the Gurski name in the rest of the civil records. I found a few birth records for Franz and his wife. I’ve also found a few more Zalewski/Salewski records and I’ve made note of them. They’re probably, or possibly, related to Frank Zalewski. Unfortunately, the civil records only go back to 1874, so I will need to track down the church records to see if I can find Frank’s baptism record in Krotoschin.
One of the most solid, longest standing brick walls in my personal genealogy research has come down this week. This wall has stood since I started researching my family in 1999, though I didn’t heavily pursue it until a bit later. I now have the names of my paternal 3rd-great-grandparents on my Zalewski line. Meet Michael & Anna (Muschowska) Zalewski.
The path to breaking down this wall started as a lot of them do, just doing random searching and browsing. I occasionally visit most of the sites on my “Genealogy Community” link list on the sidebar. I almost always visit Al’s site at Al’s Polish-American Genealogy. I know Al personally since we used to attend a local Polish research group for a few years. Al works very deep in Polish records and blogs in detail about what he found and how he found it. He had a post recently talking about the records he has on a specific individual and in it he mentioned a few sites he used. One of these sites was one he called the Genealogy in Archives website. I googled it and visited the only Polish one I saw.
I haven’t been able to find a good description of the site, but it looks to be a program dedicated to getting Polish Civil records online from the various archives. Fortunately for me, it also includes records from the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship including the community of Łasin where my Zalewski ancestors resided. I already had the Schwenten church marriage record of my great-great-grandparents, Frank & Anna, in 1884, along with the birth records of their first three children.
I wasn’t able to find the town of Święte/Schwenten in the list, so I first browsed the records for Goczałki/Gottschalk, which is where Frank resided in 1884. I searched through the year 1884 and also all of the birth record up to 1891 and found nothing for this family. I did find a few other Zalewski families (or Salewski.) I also found the marriage record for Joseph Goralski and Marianna Gwiazdowski.Previous research points to them being somehow related to the Zalewski family, but that connection is unknown. One record says Marianna’s parents are Frank’s aunt and uncle and another record says that Marianna is Frank’s sister. I decided to ignore the brother/sister record for now and focus on the nephew one. This would make Marianna’s mother, Anna, Frank’s mom’s sister.
These civil records compared to the church records also include the individuals parents, mother’s maiden name, and residence locations, so it’s a nice gold mine. It not only confirmed Marianna was August & Anna Gwiazdowski’s daughter, it gave me Anna’s maiden name as Muschewski. This may be Frank’s mother’s maiden name.
I had no more luck in Gottschalk besides a few possible side relations and common surnames. I started going through nearby town records just in case when I decided to browse the whole list of towns in the Łasin community. There, right in plain view, was Święte. It didn’t show in my searches because the beginning Ś is not the standard S. I opened up the records and browsed to the 1884 Marriage records. I was literally shaking as I looked through the dozen or so in 1884 in Schwenten. Then I saw it, the husband’s name listed first, Franz Zalewski. Before even confirming the wife’s name (it was correct) my eyes shot down to the parent’s names and there they were, Michael and Anna. And Anna’s last name was Muschowska (or something similar.) Ignore the fuzzy Instagram photo I used, still processing the full versions.
You may have noticed that Frank’s mother Anna Muschowska and Marianna’s mother Anna Muschewski may not be sisters since they have the same name. A few quick possibilities is that they both go by Anna but have different names or Anna remarried to Marianna’s father August after Frank’s father Michael died. This would confirm the brother/sister connection, but then it would invalidate the nephew one. Those two don’t ever really go together, one question solved, many more added.
I’m still a little excited today. This was, so to speak, the Holy Grail of brick walls in my research. I may research other lines a lot of the time, but I always prioritize this line since it is both my surname line and (probably still) my shortest line. It’s also a line that no one else seems to be actively researching, so I feel like an explorer visiting uncharted territory unlike some of my other lines. As it goes in genealogy, one brick wall down and many more in the distance, but at least they’re new and untouched.
The sixth ancestor is my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2017 is my paternal 3rd-great-grandmother, Eva SOŃEFELD. I am related to her via my father → his father (Richard ZALEWSKI) → his father (Joseph ZALEWSKI) → his mother (Anna LINDNER) → her mother (Eva SOŃEFELD).
Early in my research, I met another Zalewski researcher/cousin who was also researching the Frank & Anna (Lindner) Zalewski family. He had done some leg work and had guessed that Anna’s parents were John Lindner and Eva Zemfeld. He also mentioned that her surname may possibly be Jewish. Two things I found during my research on these lines, her surname was close to what he had and she’s probably not Jewish (at least my DNA thinks that.) Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get in contact with him in many years. He was having some issues with his sight and I thought some other health issues, so I’m assuming the worst (but I can’t confirm that, either.)
I found Eva’s name when I found the baptism record for their daughter, my great-great-grandmother, Anna Lindner in the church records of Schwenten, West Prussia in 1865.
Moving my way back from there, I also ran across Johann and Eva’s marriage record on 2 Mar 1862, also in Schwenten. From there I was able to get their ages and I worked my way back to around that time and found her baptism record in December 1842. This record, as with Anna’s, listed Eva’s parents as August Sońefeld and Catharina Zielinska.
There wasn’t much in the Eva news up until very recently when doing research of Anna’s siblings I ran across a passenger list for her brother, John and posted about it. Listed along with John and his family was an Eva Lindner close to the same age as Eva would have been in 1908. So, now I know she probably arrived in New York in 1908, but that’s where the trail ends. She’s not listed in any 1910 Census Record that I can find and I’ve seen no death record. I’m not sure if she ever made it to Milwaukee with her family.
As for DNA results related to Eva, I’m not sure. I have a lot of paternal matches, but nothing yet solidly linked to the Lindner line. There is probably one in there somewhere, but I need to track it down. The Lindner line is pretty deep which may only show up in distant matches.
I’m not sure how I fell into it this past week, but I decided to jump head first into trying to find and record all of the Zalewski lines in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. My main reasoning is to try to figure out where my great-great-grandfather, Frank Zalewski, was born (or possibly his brother Jacob.) Another reason is to try to connect some or all of them together. That is doubtful as a lot of them come from completely different parts of Poland or Russia and Zalewski is actually somewhat common over there.
This is also somewhat part of The Zalewski Project that I started. I did end up using a lot of the info over there to help figure out where to start.
Currently, in my RootsMagic database that I made specifically for this project, there are 586 individuals in 227 families. I have color-coded some of the main lines to help me better separate them and so far I have 8 major lines, with 2 of them (Frank and Jacob) technically from the same line, though we don’t know their parent’s names. One line also comes from the Stevens Point area in central Wisconsin, but they do come to Milwaukee and also connect to the Jacob Zalewski line at one point, so I included them.
Maybe someday I can add “Zalewski Expert, Milwaukee Area” to my genealogy resume. I’ve learned a whole bunch about the Zalewski families in the area already. I also started a subscription over at GenealogyBank to better search Milwaukee newspapers, which was very helpful. There is so much information in obituaries, wedding announcements and other random articles.
I’d love to see if any Zalewski descendants in the area have purchased DNA tests. If so, hopefully they can transfer their info over to GedMatch to see if we can determine where the Zalewski DNA is hiding.
If you have Zalewski connections in the Milwaukee area, give me a shout. I might have some information on it.
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.
My first connection to Edy is through my father → his father (Richard ZALEWSKI) → his father (Joseph ZALEWSKI) → his sister (Martha ZALEWSKI) → her son (Edy STRELKA). The second connection is through my father → his mother (Mary Jane CORRIGAN) → her father (Maurice CORRIGAN) → his sister (Ethel CORRIGAN) → her husband (Edy STRELKA).
Edy was born 19 September 1909 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to John & Martha (ZALEWSKI) STRELKA. Martha is my paternal 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.
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.
With the death of my maternal grandfather this week, I hit one of those sad life milestones. I now have no more living grandparents, and it’s an odd feeling. I was fortunate to have all four of my grandparents throughout most of my life. I got to spend time with all of them. My children also got to meet most of their great-grandparents on my side, which can be a rare thing.
I lost my first grandparent in April 1999 at 19 with the death of my paternal grandfather. That death did actually have a lot to do with my journey into genealogy. After that there was a long gap until August 2011 when I was 31 when my paternal grandmother passed away. This year has been particularly rough, especially for my mom, who lost her mom in February 2015 and now her father in November 2015. I am in awe of her perseverance and strength these last 12 months.
For some reason, I was hit hardest by the deaths of my grandfathers. If you would have asked me, I honestly would’ve thought it would have been the other way around. I think it was mainly due to timing. My first grandfather’s death wasn’t completely sudden, but it was quick (pancreatic cancer), so that fact along with it being the loss of my first grandparent hit me hard. I’ve wrote a few times about his funeral and when I broke down while waiting in the car after hearing a favorite song of mine come on the radio.
News of my maternal grandfather’s passing came to me during my morning drive to work while I was in traffic. It wasn’t completely unexpected as he was not doing so well for the last few months. At first, I had a feeling I knew what the call was about so I handled it well, but after I hung up and, specifically, when I thought about how my mom was feeling, I teared up a bit (thanks, empathy.) Let me tell you that driving in morning rush hour traffic with teary eyes is no fun. Coincidentally, the same song that set me off when my paternal grandfather died 16 years ago was on my car radio this morning. Eerie. After I parked, it took me a few minutes to text my wife the news, since after every other word I would get choked up and have to pause.
Comparatively, the deaths of my grandmothers didn’t feel as sad. They both had issues prior, so I wasn’t caught off-guard. I got to say goodbye to both (actually all four) of them on my own terms that helped me better accept their deaths. Though, I do regret, with all of them, not talking to them more about their lives and their ancestors. I kept putting off taking some time with my grandfather and having him look at some old photos and asking him questions. To anyone else, do it now, don’t put it off.
So, now everything just feels a bit different. That phase of my life is over. What I can do now is to teach my children about how amazing they were and keep the legacy going. I love you, Grandpa Z, Grandma Z, Grandma T, and Grandpa T. I’ll see you when I get there.