March 2010


John Plenzler was my maternal grandfather. Born February 20, 1885 in Toledo, Ohio to Joseph Plenzler and Eva Dauer, he was the third of nine children. There were seven boys and two girls.

Here is a screen snap of John Plenzler’s family tree.

John was baptized February 22, 1885.

John Plenzler baptism record, St. Anthony’s Parish, Toledo, Ohio

Here is the transcription of the baptismal record:

Nom. Inf.: Jannes
Parentis: Joseph Pencner, Eva Dawor
Patrini: Michael Mruk, Catharina Falkensztajn
Dies Natal: 20 February Bapt. 22 February
Nomen Sacradolis: Rev. M. F. Orzechowski

Most Roman Catholic records during this time were recorded in Latin, and Jannes is the Latin version of John.

The last name, Plencner, is also a common misspelling of the name.

Eva’s name is probably misspelled; however, there are a number of variations of Dauer and I am unsure of which is the correct version. John’s death certificate reflects that his mother’s name is spelled Dauer.

Ohio Death Certificate John Plenzler

John joined the US Marines in 1908 and served until about June 1912. John was stationed at a number of bases throughout the US.

John Plenzler Marine enlistment record, August 8, 1908

John Plenzler 1910 Hawaii census (border while in Honolulu)

John Plenzler Marine Muster Call December 1910

John Plenzler Marine Muster Call July 1911

John Plenzler Marine Muster Call August 1911

John Plenzler Marine Muster Call June 1912

After discharge from the Marines, John married Anastasia Przybylski (Lawecki) in St. Anthony’s parish, Toledo, Ohio on November 4, 1912.  Anastasia was widowed in October 1910 after a brief marriage to Stanley Lawecki. She then lost their only son in November 1910.

Marriage record from St. Anthony’s parish, Toledo, Ohio for John Plenzler and Anastasia Przybylski (Lawecki).

John and Anastasia resided at 722 Brown Street, Toledo, Ohio and had three children: Raymond, Florence, and Virginia. John passed away on August 2, 1936 at home of stomach cancer. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery. Below is the transcription of the burial record.

No. 36887 – Right hand page
Name: John Plenzler
Residence: 722 Brown
Age: 51
Cause of Death: Cancer of Stomach
Date of Interment: Aug. 5
Grave 3741 Range or Lot: 8 Section: 32
Undertaker: Sujkowski & Son

My mother’s name is Virginia Plenzler. Mom was born September 12, 1926 to John and Anastasia Plenzler.

Here is a screen snap of my mother’s family tree on ancestry.com.

Like my father, she is the youngest of three children and was considerably younger than her siblings: Raymond and Florence. Raymond was born in 1914 and Florence was born in 1916. Raymond never married. Florence had a son named David and was married to someone with the last name of Soborowski.

I have little in the way of documentation regarding my mother. While searching online records for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo at familysearch.org, it seems as if mom was born a bit too late to have had her records scanned currently — there is a 70 year limit placed on most records — however I was fortunate enough to find a record of her confirmation at St. Stanislaus. There are also are a few photographs of mom while she was dating dad and I literally found an overwhelming amount of information on her parents and their siblings, which provided me quite a bit of background.

Mom’s confirmation at St. Stanislaus May 6, 1937

The woman named as my mother’s confirmation sponsor I believe to be Cora or Constance Plenzler — Konstacja would likely be the Polish version of her name. Cora was her aunt by marriage, she married my mother’s uncle, Casper. Mom made her confirmation May 6, 1937, about eight months after her father, John, had passed away from stomach cancer.

Young mom and dad

This is a photo of my parents, presumably just before or just after they were married. By the time mom and dad were married, mom had lost both of her parents. Her mother, Anastasia had passed away on March 13, 1946 when mom was just 19 years old. Sometime shortly before or after mom and dad had married, they took in her nephew, David (“Davey”) and raised him for several  years. Davey was Florence’s son and he passed away in 1994. Mom’s brother, Raymond, never married and passed away in 1960.

Florence passed away in 1999 in Detroit, Michigan. She had married a man by the name of Soborowski.

New Years Day 1953: Dad, Mom, Davey, and Karen (about 15 months of age)

Mom went on to raise three daughters, work at the Woolworth’s in downtown Toledo as a buyer/sales clerk, and be a parishioner at St. Hyacinth’s until moving to central Ohio. She has six grandchildren who are all adults and living all across the country in Dayton and Columbus Ohio;  Carmel, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Chicago, Illinois;  and Erie, Pennsylvania.

Mom today

Edward Mierzejewski was my father — the guy in the center of the photograph as the header of this blog. A fun-loving guy, he was shooting craps and drinking beer in the middle of winter in that photo.

Here is the full photo.

There is no date on this photo, and no identification for the other two fellows playing with my dad.

Edward Mierzejewski was born December 23, 1924 at home at 1763 Buckingham Street to Walter (Wladyslaw) and Helen Mierzejewski.

Here is a screen snap of the ancestry.com family tree showing my dad’s family.

The Buckingham address was quite important when researching my father’s family. Through that address, I could trace a number of the Mierzejewski family. Several of my father’s relatives used this address on either ship manifests, draft registration cards, or other documents. So far, it is the first address I can locate for my father’s family in the Toledo, Ohio area.

I have not yet located my grandmother’s maiden name. But it is also important to realize and understand that Walter Sr. and Helen also had a son and daughter-in-law known as Walter (Wlclaw) and Helen. However, Walter Jr. had eventually changed his last name to Myers.

Dad was the youngest of three children — Walter, Celia (Cseslawa), and Edward. Walter and Celia both were born in Poland and were considerably older than my father. My father also was the only child born in the US, just shy of two years after his parents, Walter and Helen, landed in the Toledo area. Celia was born December 13, 1913 and Walter was born in 1910. These facts do lead me to wonder whether there were other siblings, possibly older siblings who may have been left behind in Poland. I cannot find so far any record of other siblings in Toledo and I do not remember my father ever mentioning siblings other than Celia and Walter however.

Because my dad was born in 1923, just as the time St. Hyacinth Parish was forming, it seems I cannot locate his baptismal certificate. However, I did locate records of both his First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

First Holy Communion Record

Confirmation Record

Dad seems to have used his confirmation name, Bernard, as his middle name. Most of his records are signed Edward B. Mierzejewski. Most likely, this was an attempt to distinguish himself from a number of other Edwards Mierzejewskis and dad was not given a middle name at birth. My assumption is that dad’s older brother, Walter Jr., was his confirmation sponsor. Ladislaus is the Latin form of Walter. Many Catholic records that I’ve located and found during the time of the Kuschwantz neighborhood settlement and development were maintained in Latin or Polish. Earlier records were in Latin, later in Polish or English.

Goodbye, Toledo...dad shipping out

Dad enlisted into the Army Air Corps in 1943 and was honorably discharged in 1945, having an interesting and dangerous assignment as a ball turret gunner. He kept a log of his missions in 1944, after attending training at MacDill. Additionally, we have a photo of dad with his crew at MacDill along with a legend of the members of the crew.

MacDill crew photo June 10, 1944 (My dad is front row, center.)

Handwritten legend on back of photo identifying crew

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 1

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 2

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 3

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 4

Log of 1944 missions of the 49th Bomb Squad 2nd Bomber Group page 5

It appears as if the squad had missions to destroy enemy supply lines. The Finito! at the end of the log indicates my father’s probable relief at having completed the missions.  I do not know what the numbers indicate in the log; a guess is that the numbers indicate the number of the mission and the number of successful hits they had made.

A poem, in dad’s handwriting, was found in his personal papers after he passed away.  The poem is the lyrics to Taps.  (Thanks to my sister for recognizing that — I never thought there were lyrics.)  But knowing my father, it was probably written as a release after witnessing what he did during the war.

Dad did have furlough to come home for his 20th birthday. A newsclip from the Toledo Blade indicates that he was a veteran of 40 combat raids and earned an Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

Vet of 40 Combat Raids Home for 20th Birthday

Dad returned home after an honorable discharge.

Discharge page 1

Discharge page 2

He met and and then married my mother, Virginia Plenzler, in November 1946. Settling down in the neighborhood surrounding the St. Hyacinth parish, near his sister Celia and brother Walter and their families, he raised a family of three daughters. He was a member of the St. Hyacinth Holy Name Society and a 30+ year production worker at Champion Spark Plug.

Dad passed away on September 7, 1985 at the age of 60 after a stroke and surgery and being hospitalized for about three months. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Toledo, Ohio.

After researching my family genealogy off and on — really in spurts and stops — for a few years, I think I finally have some reliable, solid, and great data. For me, it’s been somewhat difficult because I had sketchy data about my father. I knew about his military service and I did grow up to know his sister and sister-in-law and several cousins on my father’s side. Unfortunately, I never bothered to really sit down with him and talk about his history before he died.

My mother’s side of the family is something else! I’ve learned she had a very large family, with some marriages that really surprised me — one sister had married her sister’s widower, there also were a few intermarriages between the families! But starting out, I had sketchy about her family. She did tell my sisters and me about her mother and father and she knew her grandparents’ names as we were growing up. Of course, we got the lines about how she had to live through the Great Depression and how awful it would be to be wasteful. As a kid, I’d roll my eyes and tune out the discussion but overtime I realized the wisdom of her words and tried to understand the experience. I’m not sure if I ever can fully understand.

I had few photographs to work from. The photographs I was able to locate were primarily of my father’s time in the Army Air Corps and he never talked much about his time in the military — although he loved airplanes and would read history books about the Air Force and different types of aircraft hours on end when he wasn’t reading true crime stories. Additionally, he loved building airplane models in the basement. Never knew what would happen if you walked in on him because the smell of airplane glue rapidly took effect until you reminded him to open a window.

I did not have many photos of my mother save a few of her with my father during their dating, engagement, and early years of marriage. They made quite the attractive and happy couple!

Still, I did not grow up knowing my grandparents as they had passed away before I was born. My mom and dad I suppose were so busy raising a family and working that we never really talked much about how they lived, how their families got here, and who they really were. Truthfully, I don’t think I thought much of it either until my children were grown and had asked me questions for school assignments — my youngest once asked me (she’s the psychologist of the family) about any known mental illnesses or alcoholism in the family as part of her professional studies. I wanted to laugh. Instead, I jokingly reminded her that she’s of Polish and Irish extraction (on her dad’s side) and Catholic. How did that add up? (Yes, we can be a sarcastic bunch.)

So my search was probably different than most — I had to really dig, and digging I still am. While mom’s still alive, I decided to get her involved in some short informal conversation while we would be out having lunch or grocery shopping. Every little snippet of information I could glean, I would squirrel away. Mom tires easily these days but does love to chit chat about family and what she can remember.

Using these snippets, and some original photos and documentation I had gathered from my dad’s mementos, I was able to come up with just enough intelligence — addresses, correct spellings of names, parishes family and friends belonged to — in order to start a search.

While this may sound rather macabre, the single biggest help to me in this search was a series of online, scanned documents for Ohio Deaths, the Toledo Diocese Death, Baptisms, and Marriages, and Calvary Cemetery records. Imagine reading death certificates as part of your historically-inclined hobbies. Honestly, it did make for some fascinating reading and brought much light and background to me about how many Polish immigrants in the Toledo region lived in the late 1800s through the 1950s. The LDS church sponsors this collection free of charge at http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html#start. It is a pilot program, many of the records are just images with no index. But the information available here can be worthwhile, particularly to any researcher with Polish family in the Toledo area.

I have not yet gone “off shore” yet with my research. However, I found the lives of my family so fascinating in Toledo that I felt I had to stop and write about them while I am doing research. Hopefully some day, I will be able to research and locate records from Poland, perhaps even travel there some day.

I’m researching these families: Mierzejewski, Plenzler, Przybylski, Dauer, and Rochowiak. I have confusing information regarding the Mierzejewski family and working to straighten that out. There is some basic information about my grandfather, Wladyslaw (Walter) and his family. I’ve found what I assumed were two brothers to Walter (Jan and Konstanty); however, we all know what assumptions are made of and I may find that assumption is wrong as I’ve just heard a confirmation of a rumor I’d heard as a child and something my mom recently told me: that my paternal grandmother also was a Mierzejewski and it seems that family was quite large. So…it’s off to digging and asking more before I can really assume anything. I’ll update the bios as I learn and confirm.

I have some very good information on the Plenzler and Przybylski families in Toledo and am following up with leads and contacts with cousins I’ve recently “re-found!” My mother’s father was John Plenzler and her mother was Anastasia Przybylski.

I am also working towards locating the Dauer and Rochowiak families. My maternal great-grandparents were Eva Dauer and Joseph Plenzler and Andrew Przybylski and Frances Rochowiak.

But for now, it’s March madness and basketball is interrupting me. (Go UK!)  I will be posting bios of family members as I can complete them. So remember this is a work in progress and if anything is inaccurate, please please let me know.

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