Tag: Zalewski


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.

Richard
Richard Zalewski (1921-1999)

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.

19820000-Grandpa-GrandmaThielke-Eric-Brian
LeRoy & Marge Thielke

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.

 

The other day I happened to run across the Digital Collections of the Milwaukee Public Library. As any genealogist does, I got lost in it for an hour or so. I then found their WWI Military Portrait collection and searched for “Zalewski.”

I found entries for my great-grandfather, Joseph Frank Zalewski. While it did not have an actual portrait for him, it did have a war service document from the “War Mothers of America.” Most of the information on his document wasn’t new, though it did mention that he participated in no major battles during the war.

There was another Joseph Zalewski listed, which I correctly assumed was my great-grandfather’s cousin, son of Jacob Zalewski. His information was also pretty familiar. He did participate in a battle, the Château-Thierry Vesle Offensive. The part of his document that caught my eye was under the field titled Next of kin. He listed Joseph Goralski. I have been trying to figure out the connection between the Zalewski, Goralski, and Gwiazdowski families for years now.

Joseph Zalewski, Next of Kin

There are many instances of these families crossing into each other, but I just can’t confirm anything. My hope is that connecting them may finally allow me to break down this old Zalewski brick wall. Though, this is the first time that Joseph Goralski is specifically mentioned as “kin” even though that may not really mean blood relation. More mysteries, indeed.

ancestrydna-zalewskiOne of those days I was waiting for finally happened. A DNA match contacted me that is from the Jacob Zalewski line that I had always assumed was the brother of my great-great grandfather, Frank Zalewski. This proves that Jacob and Frank are definitely related. They are probably brothers (as all other evidence points to) but not proven 100%.

Unfortunately, the match comes to me from AncestryDNA. While AncestryDNA is one of the most popular, it also gives the least amount of advanced tools. I cannot see where we match on our DNA as there is no Chromosome Browser like every other site has. I have contacted my match and asked if they would upload their data to GEDMatch so we can do the more advanced matching. I’d really love to see which part of my chromosome comes from my Zalewski line. That could point me towards more Zalewski relations and possibly finally breaking down more of that monstrous Zalewski line brick wall.

The possible Jacob-Frank connection all started back in July 2009 when I noticed a Jacob Zalewski family living with and quite near Frank and his family in Milwaukee in multiple city directories. After many years and finding more and more cross-family connections, I just assumed they were brothers as the pile of evidence was getting quite large. Though, I was always waiting and hoping for a DNA connection. I was planning on trying to convince a few distant cousins from that line that I had found to do a DNA test (I would probably even have paid for it.)

I’m excited. We’ll see where we go from here.

I decided to update one of the first Slownik Geograficzny translations that I did for the town that my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski, resided in when he was married in 1882Goczałki.

Goczałki is currently located in Gmina Łasin, Grudziądz County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, in north-central Poland.

The translation is a work-in-progress and is obviously not completely perfect. I am grateful for some help from Al at Al’s Polish-American Genealogy, who has translated many entries himself. I will mark the words or phrases that I am confident are wrong or are not even translated as I could not find any information on them, with italics. The rest, while they may not flow very well, are mostly right and just need some small tweaking. Some of the diacritics on the letters may not have copied over correctly, I will fix those if  I see them. Any errors in the translations are completely my own.

A few terms that may be confusing are: morg: a unit of land measurement; in this area 1 morg = 0.631 acres – wlók: a unit of land measurement used in Poland, was generally about 30 morgs, but this can vary, depending on what part of Poland and what time-frame one is concerned with. Generally 30 morgs was considered a full-sized farm, big enough to support a family. There are others, though you can find most definitions here if you get confused. Other unique words will be defined in the translation.

Goczalkowo, also called Goczałki, in German: Gottschalk, a knightly estate, Grudziadz district, on the road from Grudziadz to Biskupiec, approximately 1 mile from the township Łasin and 1 mile from Biskupiec, where the Toruńsko-Wystruckiej iron railway station is located. It covers 3100 morgs of land, 23 buildings, 9 inhabitants’ homes, 90 catholics, 96 evangelicals. Parish in Święte, the school site, mail at Łasin.

Goczałki was previously located in Pomezania, at the the border of Chełmno. Probably took the name of the holder of the German mayor Gotschalk or rather, a deviation of the German “Gotschalksdorf”. Belonged to the older Riesenburg Prussian ducal district. In the sixteenth century, this village was owned by a Czarlińscy.

In the year 1543, Duke Albrecht of Prussia issued a new charter for Goczałki to the three Czarlińskim (German Scherlinski) sisters Annie, Urszuli and Elzbiecie, which their deceased father Tomasz (Thomassen) possessed, but during the last war he went missing. Goczałki (Gottschalksdorff) was then 30 wlok and immediately next to it a second estate, that is called in German “Wrozelsdorff”, which consisted of 12 wlok and also belonged to them.

Although Goczałki in Pomezania lay within the limits zlutrzałego(?) Prussian Prince, the people around here remained Polish for a long time. In fact, in 1601 there is a Pawel Stucki of Goczałki who in 1619 with Jan Goczalkowski waives his section in Goczałki to Rafalowi Goczalkowskiemu.

Around 1629, the place holders of the local gentry: Maciej and Rafal Goczalkowski and Bartosz Jaromierski.

In 1667 there were 5 separate shares in Goczałki, which had minor nobility.

In 1720, there were still a few of the shares from earlier. Then a wealthy German, Fryderyk Aleksander Backer, started using the unfortunate times and buying the smaller particles. In 1721. he bought the 14 wlok which were attached to Tymawy from Ernesta von Taube, in 1722 7 wlok from Adama Kosickiego, and in 1740 acquired the right to the mortgage of 21 wlok and a farm from Gotlibkowo and Worzelsdorf (which belonged to Goczałki) for 6000 gold for 40 years. Doing this, he had a total 42 wlok.

After the death of Aleksander Fryderyk Becker, his married daughter, Major Buchholz’s wife, inherited the estate. In 1770, it was acquired by the son of a Prussian lieutenant, Rafel Bucliholz ​​for 10666 talar.

In 1780, Captain Jan Karol Borek is the owner, in 1786 Captain Ferdynand von Pfórtner, in 1794 a royal courtier and adviser Otto Graf von Keyserling, in 1797 von Hippel owned the estate and Lisowski.

Goczałki was acquired in 1836 by subhasty(?) August Teodcr von Peterson, and from him Goczałki and Dohnastiidt was purchased in 1841 for 53,300 talars by Baron Hugo Maksymilian Fryderyk von Blumenthal. Refer to Frolich, “Geschichte des Graudenzer Kreises” 82

Słownik Geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego – Warsaw [1895, vol. 2, p.755-756]. Retrieved from http://dir.icm.edu.pl/pl/Slownik_geograficzny/Tom_II/755 on 5 Nov 2014.

zfam-fbI’m not entirely sure why I waited so long to start up a Facebook group for the “Zalewski” surname. I’ve long been a member of other genealogy-related groups like one for the Corrigan surname, and a few for locations where my families resided, but I never made one myself. So, on a whim earlier this week, I created the “Zalewski Family” Facebook group and invited all of the distant Zalewski cousins I knew about that were on Facebook.

Early on, I just posted some generic “Welcome” posts, a bit of info about my Y-DNA, and links to some Zalewski-related stuff I did on my lines. I asked the other members to send over the information that they had on their own Zalewski lines so we could put all of that information in one place and maybe find connections, or map it.

A Zalewski group member, whom with I share a mutual friend and also lives nearby, sent me her info. Her Zalewski family also settled in Milwaukee, so we were hoping that there was some connection. Currently, we found nothing, but her family originates in Poland not too far from where I traced my Zalewski family, only about 80 miles away.

Another member sent me her info. She is originally from Poland and her family originates from near  the northern coast of Poland, also not extremely far from mine. Though, in her message, she mentions that in her grandmother’s notes she has Frank (Francizek) Zalewski and Anna Lindner (my great-great-grandparents) listed as cousins of her grandfather’s father. If that’s true, than I am very close to possibly finding out who Frank’s parents are, one of the biggest brick walls I have.

I’m also hoping that many of the members take DNA tests (male or female) for relationship calculations, but getting male Zalewski members would be helpful in tracing the Zalewski lines using Y-DNA. Maybe some future group members will already have been tested.

It’s a bit exciting for me. I’ve always been fascinated with my Zalewski ancestry, though most people are more interested in their surname than the others. If you are a Zalewski, or you know some Zalewski descendants, and they have Facebook accounts, feel free to request access to the group.

Zalewski stone

The thirty-fourth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is another non-direct relation, but a line that I do spend a considerable amount of time on. It is Jacob ZALEWSKI, the (almost certain) brother of my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski whom I’ve written about a lot. I do a lot of research on Jacob and his line to possibly figure out the parents of Frank and Jacob, and in turn, my Zalewski line.

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

I ran across Jacob’s name by looking through the Milwaukee City Directories and noticing a Jacob that lived with and nearby Frank for many years. After some more research and a surprise email from a descendant of Jacob who knew my great-grandfather, I’m 99% certain that Jacob is Frank’s brother.

All I know is that Jacob was born around December 1863, but his birthplace, like Frank’s, is unknown except for it being listed as “German Poland.” He immigrated to the US a few years after Frank and his family arrived in 1889. Jacob’s information was found within the New York Passenger Lists from 1891. He arrived on 17 September 1891 aboard the Rhynland. His place of residence of Gottschalk (now Goczalki) matched up with Frank’s. He arrived as a single man and sometime between arriving and November 1892, he married Pauline Wondkowska. Their marriage record is one of those documents I want to get my hands on as it may list Jacob’s parents, but I cannot find it. I’ve searched through just about every Polish church in Milwaukee for the record, but no luck. It’s possible that they were married somewhere else, but I have no idea where. I’ve also had some issues tracking Pauline’s family.

I did a good chunk of what they call “descendancy research” on Jacob’s line, working my way down the tree, to find possible living descendants. I found a bunch whom I still have contact with, but not much luck getting more detailed information. Jacob did pass away in April 1918 at only age 54, so I imagine not a lot of information is remembered about him.

Jacob’s family also intertwines with the Gwiazdowski family that I found. I know they were also involved with Frank’s family according to some documentation. The fact that I found them also involved with Jacob’s family solidifies the connection between Jacob and Frank some more.

This post is 34 of 52 in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge” begun by Amy Johnson Crow.

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.

 

Richard & Mary Jane ZalewskiToday marks 15 years since my paternal grandfather, Richard Zalewski, passed away. His death was the first major death in my immediate family, so I remember taking it pretty hard even though he had been sick for awhile.

I actually remember, pretty well, the last time I saw him and talked to him. My girlfriend, at the time, and I were going to Milwaukee for some reason and we stopped by to see how he was doing. Even though the pancreatic cancer was taking its toll on him, he was cheerful and in good spirits, like I usually remembered him (unless we were misbehaving, naturally.) I’m glad that I still have that vivid memory of him 15 years later.

Another moment I vividly remember from that time was when I was attending his funeral. I was sitting in my dad’s truck waiting to follow the procession to the cemetery and one of my favorite songs came on the radio, Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” The timing of the heartfelt song and what was happening around me caused me to break down into tears which, at the time, I had not done in many years. To this day, that song reminds me of my grandfather and that moment in the car and truthfully makes me feel happy.

Though, his death, and a subsequent newspaper article related to FamilySearch, sent me on a deep dive into the ocean we all know as genealogy. I have yet to come to the surface of that ocean and probably never will. Like most of us, I plan to grow gills and live in that ocean like a genealogical merman.

I know that he would be proud of the information I’ve gathered on his family tree and, unfortunately, he would’ve probably been a great help in tracking down some of the information I am still looking for. If anything, kids, this is a notice to visit your grandparents and allow them to tell you their stories. Even if you think the stories are boring and never plan to go into genealogy, it will definitely make you feel like you know them better and that will bring you comfort for many, many years.

I mentioned in a recent post that I was able to get 23andMe tests for my father and my father-in-law that would hopefully help narrow down DNA matches and also find out more about ourselves. Those tests have been taken, sent in, and now finally analyzed. There were no surprising results, but it does help make a clearer picture of certain things.

With my father’s tests, I was also able to get his mtDNA (or Maternal) Line passed down from his mother’s line. The surnames that it follows would be CORRIGAN > BRAATZ > STEARNS > SCHUMACHER > HEINZ > HETTLER and that’s as far as I have right now. It’s basically a deep German line (minus the obvious Irish one in the beginning.) His mtDNA haplogroup is U4, but the subgroup is U4a3. 23andMe says:

Haplogroup U4 is found in western Eurasia, from Mongolia to central Europe. It arose about 25,000 years ago and subsequently spread with the migrations that followed the end of the Ice Age about 14,000 years ago.

[U4a] diverged from its U4 sister lineages about 21,000 years ago in the region surrounding the Baltic Sea. Today it is most common among the people of the Volga River and Ural Mountains of Russia, such as the Chuvash, Kets and Mari. It is also common among the Baltic and Finnish people of northern Europe who speak languages related to the Finno-Ugric tongues of the Volga-Ural region in western Russia.

That didn’t really surprise me. As for the YDNA line, which I also share, what is interesting is that my haplogroup is R1a1a* which usually means they know you’re R1a1a, but more than likely part of a subgroup. My father’s YDNA haplogroup is found to be just R1a1a, technically putting us in separate groups on the site. More than likely their tests are now more accurate and figured out that we’re directly from the R1a1a haplogroup.

My father-in-law’s tests were doubly useful as both the YDNA and mtDNA info was new to us as my wife doesn’t get either of those passed down from him. His mtDNA line, which follows the surnames: COLLINS > HUIZEL > REINDL > BOHM. The research on this line ends in the South Bohemian section the Czech Republic, which I assume was Czechoslovakia at the time. His mtDNA haplogroup is found to be H5.

H5 appears to have originated during the Ice Age, as the human population of Europe retreated to the few relatively mild pockets of the otherwise frozen continent. The haplogroup appears to have sprung up somewhere near the Caucasus Mountains, or in forests near the Black Sea. H5 is particularly common today in Georgia and in other populations from the Caucasus region. Not long after it originated, a few migrants carried H5 along the southern fringes of Europe into the Balkans and as far west as France, where the haplogroup can still be found today.

It seems to line up with the little amount of data we have on that line. His YDNA line, which we assumed was pretty deep Irish as the surname is MORAN, was pretty close to our assumptions. The YDNA haplogroup was found to be (besides the longest one ever) R1b1b2a1a2f*. There is that little asterisk again.

R1b1b2a1a2f2 reaches its peak in Ireland, where the vast majority of men carry Y-chromosomes belonging to the haplogroup. Researchers have recently discovered that a large subset of men assigned to the haplogroup may be direct male descendants of an Irish king who ruled during the 4th and early 5th centuries. According to Irish history, a king named Niall of the Nine Hostages established the Ui Neill dynasty that ruled the island country for the next millennium.

Northwestern Ireland is said to have been the core of Niall’s kingdom; and that is exactly where men bearing the genetic signature associated with him are most common. Genetic analysis suggests that all these men share a common ancestor who lived about 1,700 years ago. Among men living in northwestern Ireland today that date is closer to 1,000 years ago. Those dates neatly bracket the era when Niall is supposed to have reigned.

Image copyright The New York Times.
Image copyright The New York Times.

Besides matching our assumptions, that is a cool fact about men from that haplogroup. It’s the first haplogroup I’ve dealt with that names an actual (possible) ancestor. It also gives a highly-probable area of where to look for the origin of his MORAN ancestors.

Outside of the haplogroup testing, we’re still using this new info to break down DNA matches. Having at least one parent allows you to know which side a match comes from, narrowing down the research. I’m still working on that. The tests also gave us some interesting data on our Ancestry Composition which I will post about soon.

Anyone test their parents or other close relations and get some useful information?

Frank Zalewski

TimelineI’ve been playing with an open source tool called Timeline JS that builds a visually-rich, interactive timeline based on whatever data I tell it to use.

One of the options it has is to use data from a Google Docs spreadsheet. Add that ability along with their option to embed one right from their site and almost anyone can set one up. I personally like to host the scripts on my own site and do more advanced things, so I did it differently, but I am still using a Google Docs  spreadsheet.

It’s very cool. Take a look at how I transformed my Everything I Know About Frank Zalewski information using it. Feel free to contact me if you want to use it and need help with it.