July 4, 2010
June 27, 2010
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For some reason, I had an itch to see the Air Force Museum this weekend. So I drove out to Dayton, snapped some pictures, and used the time to start thinking about my father. My dad served as a ball turret gunner for the 42nd Bomb Squad, 2nd Bomb Group in 1944 over Europe. Gave me some time to think about attacking and organizing the Mierzejewski information I have.
Found some information about the 49th Bomb Squad, 2nd Bomb Group and remembered an article that Dad had from Yank Magazine. On the website for the 49th Bomb Squad, there is a searchable database for service members and their missions.
A few pics from the National Air Force Museum.
May 21, 2010
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I’ve noticed queries for Myers, Mierzejewski, and Ceglarski are being captured.
Currently, I’m working with my mother’s side of the family, the Plenzlers and Przybylskis.
I have received a large amount of data and information from Garret Mierzejewski, which I am reading and analyzing. This data is showing that assumptions I’ve made regarding Konstanty are wrong — highly interesting and yes, he is a relative. Stay tuned. I will be focusing more on the Mierzejewskis this summer because there is a lot to learn and tell.
One thing I’m learning through genealogy is patience. Following the bread crumb trail is never a straight line.
Questions, comments, concerns, complaints about any of these posts? Please let me know. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @mcmanusd, or leave a comment here. I am also on Facebook (but using another email address–drop me a message if you wish to connect via Facebook).
April 4, 2010
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I’d heard a few times as a child that my grandmother, Helen, was also a Mierzejewski. My mother told me this a few times, but I had never heard that information directly from my father or his sister. Not having known my grandmother since she died months before I was born, I kept that information in the back of my mind and wasn’t sure how accurate that information was.
However, that information was recently confirmed to me via Garret Mierzejewski, who did extensive research on the Mierzejewski family and name. He provided me with family trees that indicate that Helen’s parents were Stanislaw Mierzejewski and Anna Keijewska. So, it’s very likely that Jan and Konstanty are from Helen’s branch of the family tree–and this is something I’ll have to investigate further.
Even more interesting, Walter Sr.’s (Wladyslaw) father, was also named Jan. Jan was born sometime between 1834 and 1838 in Gorowowo, and had resided in Tomasze, Poland. Jan had married three times:
Jan’s marriage was to the elder sister of Anna Budziszewska. This marriage produced a son, Ignacy. Jan’s first wife died sometime around 1854.
- Ignacy was married twice. His first wife was Marianna Dabkowska. His second wife was Alexandra Mierzejewska.
Jan’s second marriage was to Eleonora Guszkowska. This marriage produced a daughter, Konstanja. Eleonora died in 1864.
- Konstancja married Antoni Mieczkowski.
The third marriage was to Anna Budziszewska. Jan and Anna had married July 31, 1864 in Gorowowo. This marriage produced six children:
Twins: Franciszka and Franciszek, born about January 27, 1868.
Ludwik, born January 31, 1871.
- Ludwik married Katarzyna Goclowska.
Jozef, born February 14, 1874, died February 16, 1953 in Tomasze.
- Jozef married Bronislawa Goclowska.
Wladyslaw Antoni (Walter, Sr.), my grandfather. Wladyslaw was born November 27, 1876 in Tomasze.
- Wladyslaw (Walter, Sr. ) married Helena Mierzejewska.
Marceli Mierzejewski. Born January 16, 1881 in Tomasze, died June 22, 1965 in Tomasze.
- Marceli married a Mierzejewska–Czeslawa Mierzejewska.
So, there are a few twists. My grandfather married a Mierzejewska and three of his offspring married a Mierzejewska. Just how many branches are to this family? And just how are they all related? It also seems as if Lukwik and Jozef could have married sisters.
I’ll ask Garret for permission to post the trees he sent here.
Another interesting tidbit that I’ve noticed was that when Wladyslaw came here in 1909, the manifest shows him traveling with a Marzel Mierzejewski. The arrived from Borowiec, and the manifest notes “sister ill” and that his wife was Helena Mierzejewski. The manifest states their final destination is Pittsfield, Massachusetts. See records 11 and 12 on the manifest.
March 30, 2010
Walter was my uncle, my father’s older brother. Walter was born in 1910; however, I do not have an exact date of birth. He was born in Poland; although his obituary states he was a Toledo native.
Walter arrived in the US with his parents, Walter and Helen, in 1923 at the age of about 13. I do not have much information about Walter’s early life in the US other than he married Helen Ceglarski. When the family first arrived here, they lived at 1763 Buckingham with Jan Mierzejewski (whom I believe to be my great-uncle). Walter Sr. and his family (Helen, Walter Jr., Celia, and Edward) eventually moved to Woodstock and then to Evesham (right behind St. Hyacinth’s parish).
Helen and Walter had three children: Thomas, Richard, and Eugenia. After their marriage, they had moved to Waverly Avenue and had change their last name to Myers. Helen’s and Walter’s daughter, Eugenia (Jeannie) lived and raised their family in the house on Waverly, so I grew up with their children and remember the residence on Waverly quite well. We lived within walking or biking distance of each other.
Helen Ceglarski’s parents were Anthony and Maggie. Anthony and Maggie owned the home on Waverly and seemed to have passed the house on through the generations to Helen and then to Jeannie. Per the 1920 census, Anthony and Maggie arrived in the US with their first daughter, Stella, in 1906. Helen was born in the US about 1911.
I have no pictures of Walter Jr.; however, I do have a few photos of his wife, Helen. Both pictures are taken with my dad’s sister, Celia. It seems as if they were great pals.
Helen and Celia #1. Helen is seated on the tricycle and Celia is pushing the baby carriage. (I guess they were rather playful!)
Helen and Celia #2. Helen and Celia are at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Helen is in the floral print dress, Celia is in the dark suit.
Walter Myers passed away on February 6, 1959. His obituary reads:
Walter Myers, 49, of 605 Waverly Ave., died of a heart attack yesterday at his home.
A Toledo native, Mr. Myers was a painter. He had been employed at Champion Spark Plug Co. 33 years.
Surviving are his wife, Helen; daughter, Mrs. Eugenia Mruzek; sons, Richard and Thomas; mother, Mrs. Helen Mierzejewski; brother, Edward; sister, Mrs. Celia Starzynski, and three grandchildren, all of Toledo.
The body is in the Sujkowski Mortuary. Services will be Tuesday at 9 a.m. in St. Hyacinth’s Church with burial at Calvary Cemetery.
Helen Myers passed away August 19, 1983. Helen’s obituary reads:
Mrs. Helen Myers, 72, of Waverly Avenue, died Friday in St. Luke’s Hospital. She worked 20 years as a machine operator at Champion Spark Plug Co., retiring in 1965. She was the widow of Walter Myers. Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Jean Mruzek, and sons, Richard and Thomas. Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Hyacinth Church. The Rosary will be recited at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Sujkowski Mortuary, where the body will be after 7 tonight.
March 21, 2010
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Konstanty for me was a real find and a bit of a mystery because I am not quite sure how he is related to my family. I never remember hearing my dad or his sister mention him as I was growing up. All dad and his sister, Celia, ever mentioned as best as I can recall was their dad, Walter. I learned about Jan (or John) when first beginning my research and locating the 1923 Ellis Island manifest that showed Walter coming here with his wife Helen and two children, Walter Jr. and Celia. When I reviewed my father’s birth certificate and noted the address of 1763 Buckingham, a few things began to fall into place.
I located Konstanty’s World War I draft registration card. This registration had the 1763 Buckingham address. This piece of evidence leads me to believe that Walter and John had a brother. The draft registration card is dated 1918; and he provides his wife, Stephania, as his next of kin.
I am assuming that Konstanty is a brother to Walter and Jan (my great-uncle) based on the evidence of the address at 1763 Buckingham and the fact that each of these three men had lived within a close distance to each other and the fact that there are some similarities in data on the death certificates for Konstanty and Walter. However, I cannot yet prove this to be the case. I do believe there is some type of blood relationship. This is a screen snap of the family tree as I know it.
Per Konstanty’s death certificate, he was born in Poland on March 15, 1886. His parents are named on his death certificate as Julian Mierzejewski and Anna Borkowski. Walter’s death certificate indicates his parents names are John and Anna. I have evidence that Anna’s name may have been Brzozwska per information obtained from R. Stark on ancestry.com.
This is an area of future research for me, particularly to verify Anna’s family name. I have located a manifest for SS Prinz Oskar arriving in Philadelphia on March 23, 1912 that lists a Konstanty Mierzejewski. He was traveling from Brwilno, Poland and was to meet Boleslaw Rogalski. The notation on the manifest is that Boleslaw was here 5 years and that Konstanty heard from him last 3 months ago. The name of the relative is provided as Jan Mierzejewski in Brwilno.
Still, there are questions concerning the manifests and birthplaces or village locations that I’ve noted with John, Walter, and Konstanty.
Manifests that I’ve located for Walter and John indicate that they’ve originated from near Tomasze, Poland. Konstanty’s indicate Brwilno. And R Stark has indicated Podlanski as Konstanty’s birthplace. I’ve mapped these regions.
Konstanty married Stephania Dykowski. Stephania was born in Pennsylvania, and it seems as if Konstanty had settled there for about seven or eight years. Per the 1920 census, Konstanty arrived here in 1903 and first four children were born in Pennsylvania per the 1920 census:
Edward, born 1908
Bertha, born 1911
Stanislaus, born 1912
Sigismund, born 1915
I am wondering whether Jan and Konstanty both migrated to Pennsylvania together for a time as John’s first child, Helen, was also born in Pennsylvania, although I have not yet found Helen’s birth location.
The 1920 census lists their address as 410 Detroit Avenue. This put the three Mierzejewski brothers in the same neighborhood, within walking distance of each other.
Konstanty’s wife, Stephania, was born in Gallitzen, Pennsylvania per the 1920 census data I located on ancestry.com. It was likely Konstanty married after his arrival to the US in 1903. The 1920 census shows Konstanty’s address as 410 N. Detroit Ave.; however, when his fifth child, Jerome, was born on November 3, 1920, the family was living at 1652 Indiana Street, approximately a mile away. Jerome was born prematurely and died November 4, 1920 and was baptized and interred through St. Stanislaus parish.
The Indiana Street address is about a mile away from his previous Detroit Ave. address.
Per the 1930 census, Konstanty had moved to the east side of Toledo, to 1305 Camp Street. By 1930, he and Stephania had three more children:
Raymond, born about 1923
Violet, born about 1925
Pauline, born about 1927
Additionally, the 1930 census shows that his eldest daughter, was married to George Smith. Bertha and her husband as well as their grandson, George Smith Jr. were living with Konstanty and Stephania. The 1930 census states that Konstanty owns the home on Camp Street and it is valued at $2,000.
By 1942, Konstanty shows an address of 545 Earl Street as indicated on his World War II draft registration card.
Konstanty passed away on February 26, 1945 and I’ve located his obituary from the Toledo Blade dated February 27, 1945. Below is a transcription of the obituary:
Konstanti Mierzejewski died yesterday in his home, 545 Earl St. He was 58.
Surviving are his wife, Stefanie; sons, Edward, Stanley, Zygmund, Pvt. Roman, in France, and Robert; daughters, Mrs. Bertha Smith, Frances and Pauline; sisters, Mrs. Adela Morowski and Mrs. Eleanor Peczynski, and 12 grandchildren.
He was a member of the Polish National Alliance, 1139. Services will be Saturday at 8:15 a.m. in the F. L. Gasiorowski Funeral Home, and at 9 a.m. in Good Shepherd Church. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.
What surprises me is that if Walter and John were brothers of Konstanty, that they were not mentioned in the obituary. Walter died a year later in 1946 and John died at the end of 1945. I had not heard that Walter and John had sisters or a brother; but I was not born until 1959. However, I do believe there is some type of blood relationship given the fact that Konstanty had resided with John for some time and remained in the Kuschwantz neighborhood for a period of time, within a mile of both Walter and John. Would there have been a rift that caused some separation between the brothers? Or was there another type of blood relationship (cousin)?
Konstanty was buried in Calvary Cemetery. Below is a transcription of the burial record from Calvary:
Name: Konstanty Mierzejewski
Cause of Death: Bronchial Asthma
Date of Interment: March 3
Grave N 1/2, Range or Lot 404, Section 33
Undertaker: F.L. Gaswiorwski
March 17, 2010
Jan is the son of Stanislaw Mierzejewski and Anna Keijewska, and is a brother to my grandmother, Helena Mierzejewski. Jan is not a brother to Walter Mierzejewski. Rather, he is a brother-in-law to Walter.
The rest of this post continues unedited, as it was when originally published.
When researching the Mierzejewski family in Toledo, I discovered Jan. For sake of convenience here, I am assuming that Jan is a brother to Wladyslaw (Walter, Sr.). However, it could be he belongs to another branch of the family. (I’ve had confirmation since first writing this post about Jan that my grandmother, Helena, was also a Mierzejewska.)
It was through this address: 1763 Buckingham, Toledo, Ohio that I discovered both John and another relative, Konstanty. Additionally, John (Jan) was the person named on the 1923 Ellis Island manifest that shows my grandfather, Walter, bringing his wife and family to Toledo.
Per John’s death certificate, he was born June 18, 1893 in Poland. His death certificate indicates that his parents are unknown; however, it is likely that his wife may not have known their names or could not remember their names.
John was married to Theophila (Thelma) Klimkiewicz.
John’s address on Buckingham is the same address as the one on my father’s birth certificate in 1924. However, John — like Walter — seems to have traveled between Poland and the US several times before settling in the Toledo, Ohio area.
According to the 1920 census (the first census I located that enumerated John and his family), there is an indication that John had lived in Pennsylvania prior to coming to Ohio. According to the 1920 census, John and Theophila’s first child, Helen, was born in Pennsylvania about 1913. Also per the 1920 census, John arrived in the US in 1906 — he would have been about 13 years of age. I cannot find any manifests yet that indicate his arrival in 1906. Would a 13 year old boy travel trans-Atlantic by himself?
However, I did find a manifest for the SS Finland, sailing from Antwerp to New York with an arrival date of June 18, 1913 — John’s 20th birthday. His age is provided as 19 and I assume that was the age given upon boarding ship. It’s not clearly indicated whether he is married or single on this manifest; however, while the copy is somewhat illegible, it seems to state that he came from Tomsze, Poland. He was traveling alone, so I would assume he was returning from Poland to the US for the birth of his first child.
John and Theophila moved to Ohio sometime around or prior to 1916 as their second child, Frances, was born in Toledo, Ohio on July 11, 1916.
John served in the US Army during World War I, enlisting on September 18, 1917 and was honorably discharged September 25, 1919. Below is the transcription of the Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, World War, 1917-1918:
Co B 322 Machine Gun Battalion to 19 Dec 1917; Co D 308 Ammunition Train to 12 June 1918; Battery C 5 Field Artillery to Discharge Corporal 26 Feb 1918; Private 9 Sept 1918. St Mihiel; Meuse-Argonne; Defensive Sector. American Expeditionary Forces 7 July
Per the 1920 census, John and Theophila were living at 1063 Hamilton Street. However, I do know they had moved to 1763 Buckingham by 1922 as I had stumbled on a death record for their son, John, while trying to locate one of my mother’s relatives! By 1922, John and Theophila had four children:
Helen, born in 1913 in Pennsylvania; Francis, born in 1916 in Toledo, Ohio (link takes you to her baptismal record from St. Anthony’s parish); Lillian, born in 1918 in Toledo, Ohio (link takes you to her baptismal record from St. Stanislaus parish) and John (Jr), born in 1921 in Toledo, Ohio.
John (Jr) died at the age of a year on September 12, 1922. His interment record for Calvary Cemetery shows the Buckingham address. The transcription for John Mierzejewski (Jr) for the Calvary Cemetery record is below:
Page 25, right side, line 30.
John Mierzejewski, 1763 Buckingham. Age: 1 year. Cause of death: broncho pneumonia. Date of interment: 9/13. Grave 2319, Lot 19, Section 30.
The 1930 census reflects the Buckingham address for John and Theophila and their family. By 1930, the family had grown to include three more children: Milton (born 1923), Virginia (born 1927), and Leonard (born 1929). The 1930 census indicates that John had become a naturalized citizen; however, I have not yet located his naturalization records.
John passed away on December 30, 1945 at the age of 52. His address at his death was 1233 Hamilton Avenue. His burial is recorded through St. Anthony’s parish record of interments and through Calvary Cemetery’s interment records.
Transcription of the St. Anthony interment record:
Date of death: December 30, 1945. Date of burial: January 2, 1946. Mierzejewski, John. Place of birth: Poland. Age 52.
Transcription of the Calvary Cemetery burial record:
Right-hand page, record #32:
Name: John M. Mierzejewski, Residence: Toledo, Age: 52, Cause of death: Broncho Pneumonia, Date of interment: Jan 2, 1946. Grave 268, Range or Lot: 15, Section 41. Undertaker: Sujkowski & Son
March 15, 2010
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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.
March 7, 2010
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Dad returned home after an honorable discharge.
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.
March 6, 2010
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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.