Tag: Zalewski


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.

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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.

After watching the available live streams from RootsTech and following the theme of storytelling, I’d like to go over some of my genealogy goals for the rest of this year.

  • readingbookStart building my family’s stories. There is so much to work with from my ancestry that there are stories everywhere. While I’m not horrible at storytelling, it’s definitely not one of my strengths.
  • More video. I hope to record some basic vlog-type videos on YouTube and also join some Google Hangouts.
  • The Zalewski Project. I hope to collect more data for the site. I’m currently in the middle of the 1910 census, but I’d like to get some other data types on there, too.
  • Find Frank Zalewski. One of  my genealogy research goals is to finally track down Frank’s place of birth. The last big find was finding his marriage record, but I had no luck finding his birth in the area.
  • Interview and talk to my grandparents. I only have one pair of grandparents left, my maternal ones, and they’re getting up there in age and mindset. I’d like to sit down with them and talk. The recent access to photos from that side of the family will help me find things to talk about. I also plan to just out and ask my grandfather about World War II even though he’s never talked about it. Worst thing that will happen is he will say no.
  • Visit a genealogy conference. As I said earlier, my RootsTech visit fell through. I thought about attending the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree in June but after looking at my flight and hotel options, I just can’t spend that kind of money right now. I especially wanted to visit “DNA Day” over there, but unless someone can let me use a spare bedroom, I don’t think it’s happening (hint hint). I plan to find some closer ones that I can drive to around here. With my closeness to Chicago, there should be something.
  • Organize my files. Mostly my physical files. My digital files are somewhat organized already. We are currently working on adding a room to our basement that will be both the computer room and the kid’s playroom. This should open up more room in this house and make this job much easier.

Do you have any goals for the rest of the year?

Image: seasonal wanderer @ flickr

Middle ChildI didn’t actively think about this. It just popped into my head one day and after I looked into it I was pleasantly surprised.

If my wife and I have one more child, making our newest son, Xander, the middle child. He will then be (at least) the 5th generation of the male middle child going back to his great-great-grandfather.

I have only traced my ZALEWSKI line back to Frank Zalewski, but I only know of one of his siblings and nothing about the rest of his family. It is completely possible that he is also a middle child, but I don’t know, yet.

Frank’s son Joseph was the 5th child out of nine, born in 1893, making him the middle child. Frank’s 3rd child, Elsa, died within a year, so Joseph didn’t really grow up a true middle child.

Joseph and his wife Emily technically had four children, though one died stillborn, making three living children. Joseph’s son Richard was then the middle child, born in 1921.

My father, Richard’s son, was born a middle child between his brother and sister.

I was born a middle child surrounded by two brothers.

There are always neat things hiding in your family tree if you look for it.

20121208-162158.jpgThe day finally came after a bit of waiting. After taking his sweet time and not being sure when he would decide to make his grand entrance, we welcomed Xander Lee Zalewski into the family. He was born at 3:15pm on December 8th weighing in at 7lb 4oz. His middle name, Lee, is taken from his grandfather’s (my father-in-law’s) middle name, like Aerissa’s middle name, Jean, is from the middle name of her grandmother (my mother) and great-grandmother.

Aerissa is excited to have a little brother. She wouldn’t stop talking about it in the days leading up to his birth. I’m excited to have a son to go along with my daughter. It will be a sort of new experience raising a boy (though I have some first-hand experience.) Up until now, raising Aerissa was pretty neutral in terms of gender as she is still quite young and hasn’t yet got into her “girly things” stage.

It’s nice to add another branch to my own family tree that will hopefully extend for many more generations. It’s also nice to keep the Zalewski name going down the line. I wrote a bit more about the next child on my wife’s website, if you want to read it.

Tanta, 3rd from left. Click for larger.

The first funeral I remember attending was 25 years ago when I was 7 years old on December 7th, 1987.

My real great-grandmother passed away in May 1941 when my grandfather was only 20. My great-grandfather remarried a few years later to Agnes Pulshinski. I’m told she wasn’t much of a fan of the “step” prefix and since she wasn’t a true blood relative, she told her kids and grandkids to call her Tanta. From a previous post, commentors on the site helped me figure out that “Tanta” usually means “Aunt” in German, but is also sometimes used the way she used it.

I knew Tanta pretty well in my 7 years. I remember her as being a petite, white-haired old woman. She was very nice and I remember her small apartment having plastic on all of her furniture. I don’t remember really being that sad when she passed away as I was not extremely close to her and since I was 7, maybe I didn’t process it. It is interesting that I remember the date of her funeral 25 years later.

Rest in Peace, Tanta.

Joseph Zalewski – WWI – Click for larger

I’d like to thank all of our ancestral military veterans in our family trees. Thanks for fighting for this country in any way you could, be it fighting in combat, fixing machinery, or defending our borders. Thanks for helping fight to allow me things like freedom of speech and the right to vote. Here is a (hopefully full) list of all of our veteran ancestors.

  • Carey TONEY – My wife’s 5th-great-grandfather – Stories say that he served with the Virginia Militia in Rev. War in 1781 and was an eyewitness to the surrender of Cornwallis
  • William J DAKINS – My wife’s 3rd-great-grandfather – His obituary states that he served in the Civil War with the 17th Wisconsin Infantry and was with Sherman on his famous march to the sea.
  • Johann LAST – My 3rd-great-grandfather – My research tells me that he served in the Civil War with the 50th Wisconsin Infantry. It seems he was stationed in what was the Dakota Territory at the time to protect the western front.
  • Jesse TONEY – My wife’s 3rd-great-grandfather and Carey’s grandson – Served in the Civil War as Corporal in Company G 33rd Wisconsin Infantry.
  • Joseph ZALEWSKI – My great-grandfather – Served in World War I with the 86th Division, Company B, 331st Machine Gun Battalion. That division was split apart into other divisions. I wrote a post about my findings. I have not found information on where he went after the split, but stories say he fought in combat in France near the end of the war.
  • Richard ZALEWSKI – My grandfather and Joseph’s son – Served in World War II, though didn’t see any combat. He was stationed with the US Navy in Hilo, Hawaii as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate.
  • Keith MORAN – My wife’s grandfather – Served in World War II. No documented information on his experience, but my father-in-law says he was involved in some combat in the colder areas of Europe, probably around the Belgium area.
  • LeRoy THIELKE – My grandfather – Served in World War II – I have recently posted a large amount of information from his experience in WWII. Though, he’s not the one who likes to talk about it. Hopefully, I can find more information to honor his service.

I may have possibly missed a few individuals. I think there were more Civil War veterans, but it’s tough to search my information for that. In any case, today is the day to honor them, though we should always honor their sacrifices for our freedom.