September 2011


I realize that when one undertakes to research both sides of the family, that’s a very big undertaking. I’ve had a lot of help along the way from cousins, my mom, and my sisters. Still there are times I feel as if I’m neglecting one side or the other. Lately, I’ve been neglecting my dad’s side of the family. The Mierzejewskis in Toledo just don’t seem to want to be found. But sooner or later, I’m going to tease them out by hook or by crook. Many of the Mierzejewskis that I knew liked a good joke, so it’s likely they’re still playing games. (And yes, I am half serious by saying that–my dad was a joker and played some serious pranks–some day I should post the story how he answered the phone when my sisters and I were teenagers and boys would call for dates.)

Today is Tombstone Tuesday over at GeneaBloggers. So here are the graves of two possible Mierzejewski relatives. I cannot place them in my tree; however, chances are good I’m related to them. It all goes back to that business of having two grandparents, unrelated but with the same last name before marriage. However, you’ll notice the names aren’t spelled quite the same way. Like Plenzlers/Plencners, the Mierzejewski name has morphed over time as well.

These are the few graves that I have photos of from Calvary but have not recorded the grave location and cannot look up the grave location. If I ever find the locations, I’ll eventually post them.

First grave stone of the day is for Stanley Mizejewski.

Grave Stanley Mizejewski Calvary Cemetery

Grave Stanley Mizejewski Calvary Cemetery

I corresponded with Garret Mierzejewski, a Mierzejewski expert. Garret did have an obituary for Stanley. The obituary has no date other than the year, 1962. I’ve transcribed the obituary below.

Stanley Mizejewski

Stanley Mizejewski, 70, of 9735 Douglas Rd., Temperance, Mich., died Tuesday at Flower Hospital.

Mr. Mizejewski, born in Poland, lived in the Toledo area more than 50 years. He had been a machinist at the Baker Bros. Co. for 35 years, retiring in 1958.

Surviving are his daughters, Mrs. Virginia Berend and Mrs. Marcella McClean; son, Harold S. Brooks, all of San Diego and five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Urbanski Mortuary, with burial in Calvary Cemetery.

I may be able to find Stanley’s grave location if I poke through the Calvary burial logs again. I attempted to last night, but 1962 seemed to be a particularly good year for business at Calvary. I got blurry eyed reading and might have missed it.

Here is the next grave. The stone is very worn, it’s difficult to read and I cannot fully transcribe it.

Unknown: Possibly Konstancia Mierzejewski grave Calvary Cemetery

Unknown: Possibly Konstancia Mierzejewski grave Calvary Cemetery

I believe the name on this gravestone may be similar to Konstancia Mierzejewska (the feminine form of the surname). However, it’s weather worn and difficult to read. The death year on the stone also is difficult to determine. Is it 1913, 1916, 1918, or 1919? As Garret pointed out to me, the birth year is clear enough to determine that this person was born in the 1850s. Yet as he pointed out, most of Mierzejewskis who came here were born in the 1880s, possibly 1870s. Mierzejewskis emigrated during a later phase of Polish migration to the US: my grandfather was documented as coming to the US as early as 1903 when he was just 18 or 19 and he returned to Poland a few times before settling permanently in Ohio. So this person is a unique surprise and it would be interesting to learn more about him or her.

If anyone has any information, please leave a comment or drop me an email.

A while back, John Plenzler shared a number of photos with me. In a document with the photos, he explained that he believed this photo to be of the Przybylski brothers–the sons of Frances Rochowiak and Andrew Przybylski. However, Frances and Andrew had only four sons that I am aware of and can document: Frank, John, Joseph, and Stanislaw.  Here is the photo that needs some identification. There is no date for the photo. Click the photo for a larger, high-res version.

Frank Pzybylski, back row, 3rd from left, Joseph Przybylski front row left,  possible John Przybylski front row right--need to identify others

Frank Pzybylski, back row, 3rd from left, Joseph Przybylski front row left, possible John Przybylski front row right--need to identify others

Frank Przybylski is the third from left, back row. Joseph Przybylski is at the left, bottom row. It is possible that John Przybylski is bottom row, last on right. Can anyone identify the other gentlemen? Date of the photo unknown. May be a wedding photo. Stanislaw died in 1919 due to an industrial accident. Might Stanislaw be in this photo?

With this post, I also realized that I have never written up any documentation for Joseph Przybylski. Coming soon.

If anyone has any insight or information, leave a comment here or drop me an email and I’ll follow up.

As promised, here’s a write up the last located sibling for Joseph Plenzler, Kunegunda. I tried to look up the name Kunegunda because it’s a pretty unusual name–at least for me. Never heard of it until I encountered Joseph’s sister. All I could find was this from catholic.org.  So it’s pretty obvious Kunegunda didn’t get the name from being born on July 24, all records I could locate place her birth as March 22, 1872. I then posted a question to Ask Sister Mary Martha. She seems to be knowledgeable about such things, so maybe she’ll be able to provide some insight. (Now back to our regularly scheduled post. I tend to be interested in some of the odder trivia of genealogy such as answering questions like “Why in the world would a parent give their child THAT name?”)

Kunegunda arrived in the US in Baltimore on June 15, 1892. The manifest seems to indicate that she traveled alone, there are no other Plenzlers or other related family names that I can recognized on this manifest. She was 22 and single and her final destination is listed as Indiana. So she was heading to be with her sisters in South Bend.

Kungunda married Stanislaw (Stanley)  Zalas on January 16, 1892 in St. Hedwig’s Parish in South Bend, Indiana per the South Bend Area Genealogical Society. (Contact the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library.) The 1900 census shows that Kunegunda and Stephen had four children:

  1. Piotr (age 6)
  2. Stanislaw (age 5)
  3. Zofia (age 4)
  4. Jadwiga (age 8 months)

By the 1920 census, the family added five more children:

  1. Hattie (age 19)
  2. George (age 17)
  3. Jacob (age 13)
  4. Verna (age 9)
  5. Klara (age 4 or 5, the census noted the age as 4 12/12 months)

I have little further data on this family. Per Kunegunda’s obituary, Stanislaw died in 1950. Kunegunda died in 1953. Her obituary was published in the South Bend Tribune on November 19, 1953 and  is obtainable through the South Bend Library and I’ve transcribed it below:

Mrs. Kunegunda Zalas, 714 South Brookfield St. Died at 7:30 PM Saturday in St. Joseph Hospital after four weeks illness. She was born in Poland March 22, 1872, and came here 65 years ago from that country. She was married here 62 years ago to Stanley Zalas, who died in 1950. Surviving are four sons; Peter, Stanley Jr., Albert and James; and three daughters, Mrs. Sophia Jaronik, Mrs. Verna Caplin and Mrs. Clara Gapinski, all of South Bend; 24 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren. Friends may call in the Kaniewski Chapel after 6 PM today and the funderal at 9 am Tuesday in St. Adalbert’s Church, with Rev. Ignatius J. Capczynski, pastor, officiating. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery.

This post continues on with the siblings of Joseph Plenzler.

Elizabeth was born in Poznan in March 1866. A passenger manifest from Philadelphia places her date of immigration as April 27, 1888 at the age of 22. About a month later, she married Joseph Zalas in South Bend, Indiana on May 30, 1888–making me think the marriage was already planned when she left Poland.

By 1900, Elizabeth and Joseph were living nearby in St. Joe’s, Indiana and had six children per the census:

  1. Stanislaus (b. October 1889)
  2. Joseph (b. November 1890)
  3. Tekla (b. August 1893)
  4. Agnes (b. January 1895)
  5. Martin (b. September 1896)
  6. Wiktor (b. November 1899)

What’s interesting about the 1900 census data for the Zalas family is that it shows that a Kazmier Mruk is living with the family as a border. Elizabeth’s sister, Margaretha had married a Michal Mruk. There very likely is a connection, that perhaps this Kazmier is a brother to Michal Mruk and is an area for future research. Also note that one of the daughters of Margaretha Plenzler and Michael Mruk, Tekla, married John Przybylski. I have not yet found whether there is a link from this John Przybylski to my branch of the Przybylski family; however, my instinct tells me there is some link. These families all came from villages surrounding Gluszyna and Wiorek, Poland. Again, it’s another area for research.

By 1910, the census shows three more children born to the family:

  1. Clara (b. 1902)
  2. Lucia (b. 1904)
  3. Hermonin (Harry) (b. 1907)

Joseph was naturalized in 1924. He passed away July 1, 1927. His obituary was published July 2, 1927 in the South Bend Tribune and is transcribed below:

Joseph Zalas, age 60, died in his home, 1052 West Ford Street at 9 o’clock Friday morning, following an illness of four months. He was a resident of South Bend for 40 years. He was born in Poland March 1, 1867, and is survived by his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Zalas; three daughters, Mrs. Agnes Kluk, Mrs. Lucille Cwidak, and Miss Clarice Zalas, and five sons, Stanley, Joseph, Martin, Victor, and Henry, and two sisters, Mrs. Mary Janiszczak and Mrs. Hattie Plencner. Funeral services will be held Monday morning in St. Casimir’s Roman Catholic Church, the Rev. S. J. Gorka, C. S. C. officiating. Burial will take place in St. Joseph’s cemetery.

There is a name in this obituary that leads to another Plenzler connection: Mrs. Hattie Plencner. Remember that Plencner is a variation on the Plenzler name and it was used interchangeably within this family. This may mean one of Joseph’s siblings married a Plenzler sibling. However, The only sons that I am aware of within this generation are John (who lived in Middle River, Minnesota) and Joseph (who lived in Toledo, Ohio). So we have another clue to another Plenzler who may have immigrated to the US–another area for research!

Elizabeth passed away December 19, 1950. Her obituary was published in the South Bend Tribune the same day and is transcribed below:

Mrs. Elizabeth Zalas, aged 79, of 1502 West Ford street, died at 4:25 a.m. today in her residence after an illness of three days. She was born in Poznan Poland, March 6, 1871, and came here 65 years ago. Surviving are four sons; Stanley, Joseph, Martin and Harry; two daughters, Mrs. Agnes Jackson and Mrs. Lucille Cwidak; 19 grandchildren; sixteen great grandchildren and a sister; Mrs. Constance (Kunegunda) Zalas, all of South Bend. Friends may call in the St. Joseph funeral home after 5 PM Wednesday until funeral services at 9 am Saturday in St. Casimir’s Catholic church. Burial will be St. Joseph cemetery. She was a member of St. Anne’s Society.

I do not have an original of this obituary as it was shared with me via email as a transcribed copy.

Family oral history tells that Elizabeth, Catherine, and Kunegunda  communicated with the family in Toledo via written letters and that there were personal visits between the families; however, I have no direct evidence of this although find it a credible story. South Bend, Indiana and Toledo, Ohio are only about 160 miles apart. By the 1890s and early 1900s, there were several railroad lines in Toledo that would have made this possible.

As usual, if you have insights, comments, corrections, etc., let me know.

As promised earlier, I’m going to focus on the siblings of my great-grandfather, Joseph Plenzler. So far, I’ve found two Plenzler siblings who settled in Toledo after emigration to the US: Joseph and Margaretha.

A brother, John is discussed in an earlier post. Catherine, Elizabeth, and Kunegunda are all documented by Lucky Ladlewski. Each of the sisters had settled in the South Bend/St. Joseph area of Indiana.

Catherine married Jacob Niemier in Głuszyna,  Poland in 1881. (I do not have the marriage record.) Thanks to Judy Stewart, we have a photo of Catherine.

Katarzyna (Catherine) Plenzler Niemier

Katarzyna (Catherine) Plenzler Niemier

Catherine and Jacob arrived in the United States 1887 per the 1900 US census. At the time of the 1900 census (see here and here, the data spanned over two pages), the family was living in South Bend, Indiana. Children were listed as

  • Mary, age 17. Mary was noted as having been born in Poland and was employed as a cigar maker.
  • Wojciech (Albert), age 14. Albert was also noted as having been born in Poland.
  • Lucya, age 11.
  • Piotr (Peter), age 9.
  • Melchoir, age 6.
  • Joseph, age 4.

By the 1920 census, twp more children were added to  the family:

  • Anna, age 16
  • Alec, age 13

And a grandchild was also noted on the 1920 census: Irene, age 1-1/2. Peter is noted as living with the family still in 1920 and the census notes that he was widowed.

The 1910 census also showed a child, Aloizy (Aloysius), age 3, this most likely is the child listed as Alec in the 1920 census.

Catherine passed away January 15, 1944 in South Bend. I have a copy of Catherine’s obituary (unfortunately, I do not know where it was published) and it is transcribed below:

Mrs. Catherine Niemer, aged 75, died at 1:55 p.m. Saturday in her home, 1503 West Poland street, after an illness of six weeks. She was born in Poznan, Poland, March 28, 1868, coming to South Bend 56 years ago. Surviving are three daughters, Mrs. Mary Kazmierczak, Mrs. Lucille Hes, and Mrs. Anna Vargo, all of South Bend; five sons, Albert, Peter, Melchiar, Joseph, and Aloysius, all of South Bend; two sisters, Elizabeth Zalas and Gwendolyn Zalas, both of South Bend; 33 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be conducted at 9 a.m. Wednesday in St. Casmier’s Roman Catholic church and burial will be in St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

As always, if you have more information, please do share! Send me an email or leave a comment here and I’ll follow up.

Genealogy certainly isn’t cheap nor is it easy. For me, having a large concentration of my ancestors in Toledo, I had a bit of luck in that I was able to obtain a king’s ransom in genealogical data through the Catholic Dioceses of Toledo and by sharing with cousins. But when I began my search beyond Toledo, it became a bit more difficult. My mother’s family in particular presented a bit of a conundrum for me. Originally I believed they all settled in northwest Ohio, but was I wrong! While publicprofiler.com indicated to me that there are four major areas in Poland that Plenzlers are concentrated and it also indicated that a large concentration was located in Toledo, Ohio; it gave me no further clues that the Plenzlers would have settled elsewhere in the US.

Then Judy Stewart asked me if I had ever heard of Lucky Ladlewski. Couldn’t say I ever had. But through Lucky, she had obtained the Plenzlers who had settled near South Bend. Unfortunately, Lucky passed away a number of years ago, but through volunteers and the generosity of her husband, her work lives. See Lucky Ladlewski’s papers. What a great thing to share!

Lucky documented as many as she could of Polish descent living in the South Bend, Indiana region. Who knows? Take a look at Lucky’s work. You might find that one of your Polish ancesters were documented by Lucky if they lived in Indiana.

One of today’s themes over at GeneaBloggers is Wedding Wednesday. Below is a photo of the wedding of Raymond Przybylski and Virginia Wesolowski. Date unknown. The groom’s sister, Pearl Przybylski Zarecki is standing next to the bride. Click photo for larger, high-resolution image. If you can identify any of the other individuals in this photo or have more details, drop me a comment here or an email. I’ll follow up.

Raymond was the son of Frank Przybylski and Josephine Mielcarek, born April 4, 1919, died October 27, 1986. Photo courtesy of John Plenzler.

Wedding photo of Raymond Przybylski and Virginia Wesolowski

Wedding photo of Raymond Przybylski and Virginia Wesolowski

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