Walter was my paternal grandfather. He was married to Helen, but I have not yet verified her family name. I have evidence that her name was likely Brzozwska. Walter’s parents, as noted on his death certificate were John and Anna–however, I also have some reason to think his father’s name may have been Julian. This is an area of future research. Walter had two siblings that I’ve located: Jan (or John) and Konstanty. Walter was the eldest.
Walter was born November 27, 1883 in Tomsze, Poland. He and his wife Helen, had three children: Wlaclaw (Walter, Jr.), and Czezlawa (Celia), and my father, Edward. I grew up to know Celia, whom we referred to as Ciocia.
Walter appears to have come back and forth to the states several times. I’ve located a manifest for a ship departing Hamburg, Germany dated 1903 that had destinations for Boulogne, France; Plymouth, Massachusetts, and New York. Walter’s age on this manifest is 19.
I do not know what Walter’s actual destination was with the 1903 manifest, but I have a few clues. I believe there is a possibility he was heading to Pennsylvania to work the coal mines, which is part of the surprise I had in store in connection with Konstanty. I came to learn that Konstanty immigrated here in 1903 when reviewing 1920 census data — but I’ll continue on with that story when I detail Konstanty and John. The 1903 Hamburg manifest also provides Walter’s ethnicity as Russian; however, this makes some sense — he was born in the Russian partition of Poland. According to the manifest, he traveled under zwischendecke accommodations–steerage.
It seems that Walter had left the US and returned again in 1909. Walter returned to the US on November 26, 1909, as indicated on the ship manifest for the Prinz Frederich Wilhelm, sailing from Bremen to New York. What’s particularly interesting about this manifest is that it also shows a Warzel or Marzel Mierzejewski. This will need to be an area of research for me in the future as there is some confusion and some fact involved in this manifest. This manifest clearly indicates the name of the nearest friend or relative in the country from whence alien came is Helena Mierzejewski of Borowicz and that his person is Walter’s wife, indicating that Walter had married while in Poland. The final destination indicated for both Walter and Warzel is Pittsfield, Massachusetts. What is confusing however is that Walter’s birth place is listed as Borowicz and that he was born in 1879 and that Warzel was born in 1883. It is possible there is a fourth sibling, and this would be an area of future research.
Again, sometime between 1909 and 1923, Walter returned to Poland. An Ellis Island manifest for the Frederick VIII dated February 20, 1923 shows Walter traveling to the US with his wife, Helena, and two children: Wlaclaw (Walter, Jr.), age 13, and Cseslawa (Celia), age 9. Their final destination was Toledo, Ohio and the relative they were to meet was indicated as Jan Mierzejewski at 1763 Bockeham. On this manifest, Walter’s last permanent residence is listed as Gerwaty.
Having grown up in Toledo and remembering my parents mention Buckingham Street a few times as a kid, I had this hunch that the street name was probably misspelled on the manifest. I also did a Google map check to see if a Bockeham Street even existed in Toledo–it didn’t. After all, these guys had pretty thick accents and it’s quite likely the street name was misinterpreted. So I double checked my dad’s birth certificate, and sure enough, 1763 Buckingham was the address there. This address was to be important once again when discovering Walter’s brother, Konstanty.
Walter moved on to live at 622 Woodstock per the 1930 census and went to Poland again in 1927 with Helen. This time, they went to Kaczyny, Poland to visit either Walter’s or Helena’s father. I’ve located the return manifest to New York dated September 21, 1927. This manifest indicates that Walter was in the US previously in 1908 and in 1925 and that he and Helen were heading towards home in Toledo at 620 Woodstock. Helen is listed as Bronislawa on the manifest — this must be a Polish version of Helena. They were issued immigration visas in Warsaw: Walter on July 6, 1927 and Helen on August 23, 1927. Amazingly, considering this was 1927 and they were traveling a considerable distance, was the fact they had $200 in their possession. $200 in 1927 was a substantial amount of cash. A single dollar in 1927 had the same purchasing power as $32.35 in 1998! Of course then, there was no FICA, city, or state income taxes and the federal tax rate was about 1%. See http://www.jitterbuzz.com/costs.html.
It seems as if Walter and Helen had been in Poland a considerable time given that Walter waited for Helen’s visa to come through for about six weeks. Perhaps one or the other picked up work there during the stay to help finance their return home. However, the 1930 census also indicates that Walter owned the home at 622 Woodstock and that its approximate value was $5,300. They were hardworking, industrious, and financially shrewd!
Walter and Helen then moved to 813 Evesham sometime in the early 1940s. (This is the address provided on my father’s discharge from the Army.) This also was the address that Celia lived at with her husband, Joe, until her death in 1978.
Walter passed away May 1, 1946. This is his death and burial record from St. Hyacinth’s.
Transcription of the St. Hyacinth Death Register:
Name: Ladislaus Mierzejewski
Died: May 1, ’46
Buried May 4 ’46
Officiating Priest: JFL
Date of birth:
Sacraments: Extr. Unc. (Extreme Unction or Last Rites)
Nearest Kin: Wife
Adm. By: Rev. Swiatecki
It would seem as if there is some uncertainty regarding Walter’s date of birth.
I do not yet have his burial location at Calvary Cemetery; however, I will post it here when I locate it.