I was put in charge of creating the memorial video that was to be played at my Grandmother’s funeral today, so that everyone could remember her through the years. I assume this is due to the fact that I seemed to have inherited the title of “Family Historian” which I have no problem with. I love seeing all of these old documents and photos. I ran across this photo of my grandmother from 1938 and I really like it. She looks like she’s saying, “Hurry up and get that picture taken!” I also notice on a lot of the older photos of my grandmother that she had prominent freckles. I don’t remember seeing them on her when she was older. It must be her Irish heritage shining through.
After the break, I have embedded the memorial video that I created. Even though you may not know her, I hope you enjoy the video. (more…)
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 stove 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.
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
Happy Father’s Day to both of our dads! My wife posted a more personal entry about her father over at Tales From the Nursery. I’ve known my dad for 31 years and he still has the greatest mustache in the world.
Determine who your most recent unknown ancestor is – the one that you don’t even know his or her name.
Summarize what you know about his or her family, including resources that you have searched and the resources you should search but haven’t searched yet.
My most recent unknown ancestor is actually on my ZALEWSKI line. I am not sure about Frank J Zalewski’s parents’ names. Frank married Anna LINDNER in 1885 somewhere in German Poland, though I’m slowly cracking down this wall. Frank and Anna had 9 children, 2 boys and 7 girls. Just recently I have good feelings about tracking down the origin location of Frank and Anna before they emigrated to America. I have tracked this to a place called Gottschalk during the late 1800s which is probably now called Goczałki in present day Poland.
No records that I have searched including census, passenger lists, death records, or church records have named Frank’s parents. I did, in the last few years, connect him to his brother Jacob Zalewski who came over to America a few years later and also settled in Milwaukee.
That reminds me to check back with the Family History Library. I ordered the church records from the Goczałki area last time I was there and I sort of remember that they were supposed to arrive sometime in May. The FHL was supposed to mail me a postcard letting me know that they arrived. Either they forgot, or I put down some wrong info and the records didn’t arrive. These records will be my next research opportunity to hopefully extend my tree further back. I actually do not know Anna Lindner’s parents either, but I do have a little more possible info for them, including names.
This database contains U.S. Navy muster rolls and associated reports of changes for U.S. Navy enlisted personnel who served on U.S. Navy ships or in other naval activities between 31 January 1938 and 31 December 1949. Over 33 million records are contained in this database.
I ran a search on my grandfather and found many records. Most of them don’t contain any surprising information, but they can be used to track his movement through the Navy during WWII.
The next listing is from 28 Feb 1941, where he is still located at Pensacola. This listing mentions that he has a change in rating (CR). It specifically says, “Rating changed from AS, to Sea2c in accordance with Art. D-5108(1) BuNav Manual.” “Sea2C” is listed as Seaman 2nd Class. He is listed again in Pensacola in 31 Mar 1941, still rated as S2c (Seaman 2nd Class.)
The next listing on 31 May 1941 has two entries. The first entry is from Pensacola which mentions that he was transferred to the NAS (Naval Air Station) in Miami, Florida on 23 May 1941. The next entry is from Miami stating that he was received from Pensacola on 28 May 1941. He is again listed in Miami on 30 Jun 1941, though no changes were made, still a Seaman 2nd Class.
His next change in rating came on 1 Jul 1941 at Miami, written as “to Sea1c. AUTH: BuNav Cir.Ltr. No. 27-41 corrected by BuNav Cir.Ltr. No. 66-41.” Not sure what all of that means, but he did get a promotion somewhere in there. He is still a Seaman 1st Class on 30 Sep 1941. According to Wikipedia, Sea1c is now called Petty Officer Third Class.
On 1 Dec 1941, Richard gets his next promotion from Sea1c to AMM3c, which during WWII stood for Aviation Machinist’s Mate, 3rd Class in his case. 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. The last muster roll entry for Miami is on 31 Mar 1942 where he is still listed as an AMM3c.
There are two entries I also found on ships that are more than likely my grandfather. The “Service Numbers” on the entries match up from the earlier entries. I know the earlier entries were him due to records and photos I have. Though, he never saw combat, he may have been on a ship while it was docked in America. The first entry was on the USS Orizaba on 10 Jul 1944. Though, the ship is listed as travelling from San Francisco to “FRAY.” I’m not sure what “FRAY” is. This matches up with the history of the Orizaba as it says, “Back at San Francisco in June , she underwent repairs; completed a run to the Marshalls and Marianas; and then sailed north to the Aleutians.” He is now listed as AMM1c, so he has been promoted to 1st Class since 1942.
The next and final entry I have found was for the USS Shangri-La on 1 October 1946. Again, the “Service Number” matches and this record matches up with the historical record of the ship, “she made a brief training cruise to Pearl Harbor, then wintered at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.” He is still rated as an AMM1c. This entry contains some information that I can’t quite figure out at the moment. I’ve browsed through the whole muster roll and can’t find explanation of the abbreviations and acronyms they’re using or what the columns mean.
The first entry may mean something like “For Further Transfer (FFT) Work Completed (WC) Discharge (DISCH)” I know he finished his naval work in 1946. Maybe this was the ship he took from Pearl Harbor back to the contiguous 50 states after serving in Hawaii.
While I was aware of a lot of my grandfather’s navy duties during WWII, it’s neat to see them written in government documents. Though, there is no information from his time spent in Hilo, Hawaii from which most of the photos I scanned a put online were from.
One of the things you need to do once you track down the origin of your Polish ancestors, is to search for an entry for the location in the Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich (or Geographic Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and Other Slavic Countries.)
This massive collection took over 20 years to publish all 15 volumes. [15 volumes. 1880-1902.] The gazetteer was published when officially there was no Poland in existence. From 1772 to 1918, Poland was dominated by three empires: Austria (later known as Austria-Hungary), Russia and Prussia. The gazetteer contains a great wealth of information on cities, towns, and villages, as well as mountains, rivers, and other geographic points of interest in the lands that were once a part of the old Kingdom of Poland.
When I searched for the location that I was pretty positive was the origin location of my ZALEWSKI and LINDNER ancestors, Gottschalk or Goczałki, there were a few entries. But, after some searching I think I narrowed it down to one entry. The entry is located in Volume 2, Page 755 under Goczałkowo. You can use the online search engine to find an entry, though you do need to install a document viewer plugin, but it works nicely.
The book gives amazingly detailed descriptions of even the smallest towns.
Well, after over a decade of doing genealogy research, I finally made a trip to one of the “local” Family History Libraries. I put local in quotes, because it was still a good 30 miles away, but not too far. I’m not exactly sure why I never visited one. I like knowing how things work before I go since I hate being somewhere and not knowing how to act. For example, I had my iPhone with me, but hidden in my pocket since I wasn’t sure the rules on electronics/cameras. I wasn’t even sure if I could use a pen and paper. Some places are strict in that regard. Later on in the day I saw a man using a laptop right next to a microfilm reader, so now I know.
I just wanted to make a quick trip and look over the records they had on “perpetual” loan. The lady who showed me around seemed confused when I said that, though all of the records I used said that they were on “indefinite” loan, so I’m sure it’s the same thing. They have all of the Milwaukee church records and vital records on-hand. I really wanted to look through the church records for both St. Hedwig’s and St. Casimir’s churches on the east side of Milwaukee since those two are where most of my Polish family attended. My main ZALEWSKI ancestors first went to Hedwig’s and then Casimir’s when they moved.
I was also really hoping to find the marriage record of Frank ZALEWSKI’s brother, Jacob to his wife Pauline WONDKOWSKI. I am somewhat lucky in the fact that Jacob was unmarried when he immigrated. This should hopefully allow me to find his marriage record and maybe his parent’s names (which would also be Frank’s parents, my 3rd-great-grandparents.) As luck would (not) have it, I couldn’t find the record. Jacob and Pauline baptised all of their children at St. Hedwig’s, but I could not find their marriage record. I looked countless times going back and forward a few years, too. It is possible that they may have been married at another church in the area, which I will pursue or there is a very rare possibility that they married elsewhere before coming to Milwaukee, which would not be fun to track down. Plus, I also found many spellings of Pauline’s last name, from WADKOWSKI to LUTKOWSKI.
I did, again, solidify the relationship between the ZALEWSKI, GWIAZDOWSKI, and GORALSKI families. A lot of both Frank’s and Jacob’s children were sponsored by one or more of the families. Frank and Anna ZALEWSKI’s last child, Agnes, was sponsored by both August and Anna GWIAZDOWSKI. It also seems that in some of the earlier baptism records, they listed the female sponsors with their maiden names as I found Pauline listed as Pauline LANDKOWSKA on my great-grandfather Joseph’s baptism record (which I posted about earlier this week.) Also, on their next child, Frances Dorothy ZALEWSKI, I found the female sponsor listed as Maria GWIAZDOWSKI, better known as Mary GORALSKI, which now (somewhat) proves that she is the daughter of both August & Anna, though it still messes up the fact that she is listed as Frank ZALEWSKI’s sister.
I also found some other possible family connections that I need to pursue, mainly on the LINDNER side, though some on the TROKA side, too. I ordered the records from what I hope is the original location of my ZALEWSKI and LINDNER ancestors, Goczałki (or more specifically, the parish of Święte.) We’ll see how that turns out once the records arrive, usually in about 6 weeks.
While looking for some other documents, I ran across a record that again pretty much seals the fact that my great-great-grandfather, Frank J Zalewski, and the Jacob Zalewski I have been researching were brothers (or worst case, cousins of some sort.) Below is my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski’s, “Certificate of Baptism” from St. Hedwig’s Church in Milwaukee. The document itself is from 1960, but the information is probably taken directly from the church’s records.
The part that interested me on this specific item was the list of “sponsors.” It lists Joseph GORALSKI and Pauline ZALEWSKI. Joseph has been mentioned a lot recently along with the GWIAZDOWSKI’s. Pauline is Jacob’s wife and probably Joseph’s aunt. Mary may also be Joseph’s aunt, if her obituary is to be believed.
I have a bunch of military documents, so I thought I’d put up some posts in the Military Monday theme.
This the WWI Draft Registration for my great-grandfather, Joseph Zalewski, who did end up participating in the war overseas.
Joseph registered on (I think it says) June 5, 1917 at the Ward 13, 2nd Precint draft office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time, he was 24 years old, having been born on 21 May 1893 in Milwaukee. He was living at 900 Fratney Street, which is where his parents also lived. His occupation at the time was a “Shoe Maker” at Weyenberg Shoe Co. in Milwaukee. He was not yet married. According to the document, he had “gray” eyes and “light brown” hair.
I probably didn’t pick the best day to do some more research at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee today. A wonderful “spring” day in Wisconsin, a windy 23 degrees with snow flurries. I also should have probably worn more than a sweatshirt, but it wasn’t all that bad. I did have a knit cap on.
Last night I made a list of all of the headstones I wanted to find at the cemetery, including some I already had. I wanted to get better quality photos. Well, the small list turned into two pages of entries, about 55 total. Thanks to the Archdiocese website, I was able to map (the general area) of where the stones were. I hit up the stones I really wanted to find first, the Gwiazdowski, Goralski, and Jacob Zalewski family. Once I found the section and started to walk the graves, I cursed myself for not wearing a larger coat. Though, once I found the collection of stones I forgot about the cold.
All of the stones were in one area in the middle of Block 4B. I caught the “Goralski” name on one of the large stones while walking. The way the graves were set up mostly solidifies the Gwiazdowski/Goralski/Zalewski connection, because Jacob Zalewski, Jr and his wife were on the same stone as the Goralski’s and Gwiazdowski’s. I know it’s not proof, but there are few reasons why else they would be on the same stone.
On the other side of this stone are August & Anna GWIAZDOWSKI and Jacob’s wife, Alice. That’s another notch in the connection that Mary is August & Anna’s daughter. Jacob, Sr & Pauline ZALEWSKI, along with their son Edward and his wife Kathryn were on the next headstone to the south.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much but dates on the stones. I was hoping maybe for maiden names or birth places. It’s still more proof and it’s nice to finally visit their final resting place. I didn’t get to my whole list since the other sections were mostly all flat headstones and I didn’t want to have to walk in the snow and cold to try to find them. Even though I had pinpointed it to Section, Lot, and Grave number, it was hard to figure out where the specific Lots were.
I’ll come back later and get those photos once it’s actually spring here. My dad said he would also like to tag along, but he wasn’t feeling well today and it wasn’t a very pleasant day to go anyway.
I’ve been on a roll this week finding information in unexpected places. Earlier it was the cemetery website and newspaper archives.
Tonight, I went to the FamilySearch website to see what records they may have on Goczałki or Gottschalk, the area of Poland that I’m targeting in my latest research according to a recent post. I actually never got to finding the records since I was sidetracked by a link they had labeled “Free Classes.” I assumed these were classes at the local Family History Library and thought that they may be interesting. It would both get me to one of the libraries and also maybe learn more about how to use them. Instead, these are online classes. The one I picked was Introduction to Polish Research, which was about 53 minutes long. I paid attention for about 23 minutes when she was talking about ship manifests and origin locations. She recommended searching the passenger lists by origin location instead of by name. This way you could find other families that came from the same area. She also mentioned the amazing genealogy search website setup by Steve Morse at stevemorse.org.
I’ve used his site previously to find updated streets and addresses for Milwaukee and also converting the 1930 Census occupation codes. It’s not the prettiest site, but neither is Google. I never really got into the other search tools that he created, so I just started going down each of his passenger list tools pasting Gottschalk into the “Place of Origin” box. Not much luck. I did find Orlowski and Sobieski families, but I don’t have those names in my family tree. Then I got towards the bottom, beyond the Ancestry.com tools, and into a very basic looking one called Germans to America (1850-1897). It sounded too broad, but let’s try it. It came back with four people from Gottschalk, but one caught my eye, Jakob Salewski. The information didn’t give a port of arrival, but it did give an arrival date of 17 Sep 1891 and a ship name, the Rhynland. 1891 was the year of immigration listed on most of Jacob ZALEWSKI’s records. His age is also listed as 28, which calculates to about 1863, which also matches my Jacob.
I searched Ancestry’s immigration database for the keyword “Rhynland” and found one arriving in New York on 17 Sep 1891. Fortunately for me, Ancestry has a lot of New York passenger lists. What is interesting is that I’ve searched over and over for Zalewski, Salewski, and all other variations. I also tried all forms of Jacob and 1891 trying to find him. So, next, I browsed the New York records manually, picking 1891, then September, and then 17. As I had hoped, there was a “Rhynland” entry. I started browsing it manually page-by-page and found Jakob Salewski on page 16 of 19 and it did say he was from Gottschalk. This matches all of the other information I’ve been leaning towards. Interestingly, he is also traveling with two other men from Gottschalk, but they don’t ring a bell and who knows if they went to Milwaukee, also.
So, my next step (out of many other steps) is to see what records I can get for Goczałki and start digging. What a week.