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.
I made some great discoveries this weekend and late last night. I’m going to try to spell it all out here, so excuse me if I ramble a bit. While the information I found paints a better picture of the family of my ancestor, it also throws a wrench into the whole thing, but when doesn’t genealogy do that?
Let’s start from the beginning, though instead of writing it all out again, I will point you to an older post and one recent post. Though, you should just be able to skim over the newer one. Long story short, this has to do with the GWIAZDOWSKI – GORALSKI – ZALEWSKI connection I have been researching recently.
After finding the passenger list and 1910-1920 Census records for the GWIAZDOWSKI – GORALSKI families, this is how it was all laid out in my head (Thanks to Google Draw for this easy to make figure):
That makes sense to me. Either August or Anna is Frank’s uncle or aunt, respectively. I can deal with that. It helps me a little bit.
Fast forward to last night. I “run across” the website for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Cemeteries. I use quotes there because I’ve been to this site before, it’s been there for years. I just never knew they had such a wonderful genealogy/burial record search. Not only does it have up-to-date burial records for eight prominent cemeteries in Milwaukee, it includes death date, burial date, last know address, marital status at death, and burial location. That’s not even the best part. It also includes a link to “Search for nearby graves or crypts.” With this feature, I can see which graves are nearby to this one. I was able to make (pretty confident) connections between people. More than likely people were buried near family.
So, with this I not only found the death date of Jacob ZALEWSKI (on the figure above) that I’ve been trying to find, but I also found the burial information on a Mrs. Mary GORALSKA (as it’s listed on the site.) She is buried near her husband Joseph and Mr. and Mrs. August GWIAZDOWSKI. On a related note (har har), also buried in the same location is a Jacob George ZALEWSKI (the above Jacob’s son) and his wife Alice. Now that doesn’t prove that Jacob is related to them (which also includes Frank, his brother) but it gives hope.
Now, this information is very helpful on it’s own, but when I use it along with the century of archives of The Milwaukee Journal, it gets even more powerful. Unfortunately, before about 1930 or so, they didn’t list much in the death notices. I found both August and Anna GWIAZDOWSKI, listed in the paper, but it’s just their name, address, death date, and cemetery. What I did find was Mary’s obituary from April 2, 1940.
You see it, don’t you? “…also survived by 1 brother, Frank Zalewski…” I was elated at this point. I thought to myself, “I found Frank’s parents!” Then, I started doing the math.. How can Mary be Frank’s brother if there is no way, under normal circumstances, that she would ever have the last name of ZALEWSKI? She was a GORALSKI when she was married and according to the other documents, her parent’s last name was GWIAZDOWSKI. How does that work? Then I thought, maybe it’s not my Frank Zalewski, but another Frank. So, Mary would be my Frank’s cousin. That makes sense logically and follows the info in the passenger list, but again doesn’t solve the name issue. Here, again I visualized it, which helped a bit.
So, after all of that running through my head I decided the only outcome that made sense is that Mary is my Frank’s cousin (the brother is another Frank), which is safe with the “nephew” info from the passenger list. The only way I was able to solve the surname issue was assuming that Anna is Mary’s real mother and August is her step-dad. Maybe Anna’s first husband (Mary’s father) passed away and she re-married before travelling to the US. Now, this is only true if all of the information is correct, which is another possibility.
I’m still no further in my research, though I now have things I can do. Unfortunately, it seems Joseph & Mary had no children, so I probably need to order Mary’s death certificate from the Wisconsin Vital Records office to find her maiden name. Hopefully, she also lists her parent’s names on it. I should maybe even order Jacob’s or Anna’s. I’ll have $20 riding on that hope.
Did that all make sense? Can you follow it and come up with another conclusion?
After running out of gas on trying to find more online records about my great-great-grandfather, Frank Zalewski, and his brother, Jacob, I decided to work the other way. I’ve read about people making awesome discoveries by connecting with distant cousins and finding out that they have some amazing record or photo that breaks down a wall. That sounded like something good to shoot for.
I was going to try to work my way down their trees, from Frank & Anna and then Jacob & Pauline’s families, and see what I could find using tools from early 20th century newspapers all the way to Facebook. With a few tools at my disposal, I was actually able to get much more information than I thought I would in only a few days.
The last few days I’ve been doing a lot of searching through old newspapers for hints of information, obituaries, articles, etc. On a whim, since my ZALEWSKI ancestors arrived in Baltimore, I decided to see which newspapers Google had from Baltimore. On a side note, as amazing as Google is at organizing data, their historical newspapers are not very well organized. I simply love the fact that I can browse these old papers, so that’s awesome. It’s just that you can easily search everything all at once, but not specific papers. The Milwaukee papers I mentioned in my recent post were different because JSOnline did some of their own code to search all 3 papers at once. Also, the papers are listed alphabetically, but not by location. It’s tough to find all papers from one location, except if the paper was named for the city. To find the location of, say, “The Daily Republican,” you need to open one and look at an image. A lot of work.
Anyway, I found that Google had images from the Baltimore American from 1857 to 1902. I had originally gone in to see if they possibly had any information on one infant ZALEWSKI daughter, Elsa, who was on the passenger list but never seen again. I had assumed she died not long after arriving and thought there may be a mention of it. Instead, I ended up seeing that every day the paper would list the comings and goings at the Port of Baltimore. The first paper I browsed was Saturday, November 23, 1889, the day my family arrived. Nothing listed in there. Then I checked the next day, Sunday, November 24, 1889 and found this:
The first line on the “Arrived Yesterday” list is the ship the ZALEWSKI family arrived on, the S.S. Weser.
Stmr Weser (Ger). Bruns, from Bremen Nov 6 — 426 passengers and mdse to A. Schumacher & Co.
From what I can find, I think “mdse” stands for “Merchandise.” I’m also pretty sure “Bruns” is the name of the captain as the other entires have similar mentions. There is also a bit about the pilot of the Weser seeing some other ships and giving descriptions of them at the bottom. Though, there is no “new” information from this article, except the exact date the ship left Bremen, it’s very cool to see the actual article from when they arrived in America. It almost makes it more real, if that makes sense.
The only thing I did find in the November 23rd edition of the paper was an ad for the S.S. Weser from their shipping company, Nord Deutscher Lloyd.
I think my immigrant ancestors may (or may not) argue that the ships had “splendid Cabin accommodations,” but maybe I’m wrong. I might just have to do some research on “A. SCHUMACHER & CO.” to see what I can find.
This week’s surname is from my paternal Polish ancestors. I’ve heard it pronounced both Troh-kuh and Truck-uh. The TROKA surname first shows up in my family tree with my great-grandmother, Emily (TROKA) ZALEWSKI. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1896. Her father, Joseph TROKA, was born in 1871. I have traced his birth to the Lipusz area of what was then West Prussia. It is now located in Kościerzyna County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. He immigrated in about 1888 or 1889, either by himself or with his family. I have not tracked down his parents in the US, but have seen note of his brothers and sisters here. His parents are listed as Michael & Joslyna (GRABOWSKA) TROKA on his marriage certificate. Joseph married Clara SZULTA at St. Hedwig’s Church in Milwaukee in 1894.
According to the map below, courtesy of World Family Names, the surname is most popular in the Polish county mentioned above, Kościerzyna.
(After posting this I ran across some new info. Listed at the bottom.)
I thought I would revisit the GWIAZDOWSKI connection in my family tree. As I mentioned in a previous post, Brick Wall Coming Down?, I ran across the GWIAZDOWSKI surname by searching for information I found in a short paragraph in a letter I received. You can read that process in detail in the post I mentioned. Go on, I won’t go anywhere.
So, I use all of those names and did some searching and found the GORALSKI family and GWIAZDOWSKI family in a passenger list with this note written next to them.
Frank and his family lived at 902 Pulaski Street until about 1900, when they moved to Fratney St. This information all put together makes either August or Anna GWIAZDOWSKI Frank’s uncle or aunt, respectively, as he is listed as their nephew. It would all depend on if they are related to Frank via his father or his mother. If I get lucky, maybe I can find where the GWIAZDOWSKI’s came from, which may give me information on where my ZALEWSKI family originally came from as I’ve had no luck, yet. Frank and his family traveled from Bremen, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland. It turns out the most of Bremen’s records (at least from 1889) were destroyed either in the war or to make room for new records, so I can’t search those.
Sometimes you find the most important information in a place where you wouldn’t normally look. So, check those extended families!
UPDATE #1: From the last 30 minutes of researching. It turns out that in the beginning of the passenger list document, someone wrote out all of the names alphabetically and where they came from, etc. Listed next to the GWIAZDOWSKI’s (and GORALSKI’s, though written as KORALSKI) is the name “Gottschalk” for Place of Origin. I can’t find a place named that, yet, just people with that surname. Any ideas? Gottschalt, maybe?
UPDATE #2: After some searching around without any luck, I tried an old trusty bookmark: Kartenmeister. It returned a result for “Gottschalk” which looks to now be called “Goczałki” in present-day Poland (Google Map link.) This opens up some new research paths that I’m excited to go down.
This is a photo from my paternal Milwaukee line. I don’t know the names of everyone in the photo, but there are a few I know. My great-grandmother, Emily (TROKA) ZALEWSKI, is at the top-left. Her mother, Clara (SZULTA) TROKA, is right below her. Clara’s mother (and my 3rd-great-grandmother), Nepomuncena (SYLDAKT) SZULTA, is to the right of her. The only other name I know is that of Nepomuncena’s son, John SZULTA, in the middle of the back row. The remaining people are either part of the SZULTA family or TROKA family. I have other photos from this day that include other family members. Click photo to enlarge.
It’s the bane of any genealogy research. Finding out you have incorrect information long after you’ve added it to your family tree. In the worst cases, this could have ended up with you researching the wrong line for years. Fortunately, I’ve never (at least not yet) had that issue.
While I love Ancestry.com with their user-submitted family trees and I have used it constantly in my research, it’s a double-edged sword, especially for newer researchers. I sigh and roll my eyes every time I see their television commercial that shows a woman who notices the “shaky leaf” on some of the names in her family tree. When she clicks on them, she is able to add whole new families to her tree. Unfortunately, it seems most people think it’s that easy. Just click and boom, all your work is done.
I admit that in the beginning of my research over ten years ago, I usually just went for quantity over quality. It was so exciting to find new people and information that you just added it. I’ve paid the price for that now, but fortunately not in any major way. I’ve just had to go back, change a few pieces, and re-find all of the sources. That has actually indirectly helped me find new information, since now I look closer at every source I find.
I can use my great-great-grandfather’s profile to prove my point.
Today would have been my grandfather’s 89th birthday. Richard Joseph Zalewski was born on December 9th, 1921 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 2nd child of Joseph & Emily (Troka) Zalewski.
He passed away in April 18th, 1999 when I was freshman in college. His death, and a few other moments in 1999, was the reason I became interested in Genealogy and the researching of my family tree. The funny part is that my Zalewski line is probably the one part of my tree that I could use more information on. Information that he probably had.
He was taken early from us by pancreatic cancer. Of all cancers, pancreatic cancer has one of the highest fatality rates and is the fourth-highest cancer killer in the US. Everyone probably knows someone who has died from pancreatic cancer, including celebrities such as Patrick Swayze.
If you’re in the giving mood, please give to one of these pancreatic cancer researchers: