Here is a photo found in some old belongings of my mother. There is no clue to who these four people are. I can’t even say if they are part of my mom’s family or my dad’s family. I do not recognize any of these people. No idea of the date the photo was taken. If anyone may recognize a face here, please let me know.


Quick post tonight. Transcription beneath the scanned image. Have not connected this to my family, it’s sort of an orphan document I’ve had. So am posting here in case it could be useful to someone else.

Frank Kulczak, Sr. Obituary, Toledo Blade, published February 25, 1945

Frank Kulczak, Sr. Obituary, Toledo Blade, published February 25, 1945

Frank Kulczak, Sr.

Services for Frank Kulczak Sr., 1328 Buckingham, who died Saturday in his home after a brief illness, will be 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in 1325 Nebraska Ave. and at 9 a.m. in St. Anthony’s Church. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.

Mr. Kulczak, a Toledo resident for 64 years, retired as a city employee four years ago. He was a member of the Polish Catholic Alliance and the Polish National Alliance.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; sons, Frank, Jr., Matthew, Leo, Clarence, and Lous, and Corp. Alphonse, in the army in France; daughter, Mrs. Helen Szczechowiak; brother, Martin, Bay City, Mich.; sister, Mrs. Mary Kryszak, Bay City, and 12 grandchildren.

Yes, I’m hanging low and quiet. Nothing earth shattering or new being found on the journey right now, and life is keeping me busy outside of genealogy. But I had to log into ancestry.com tonight to reply to a message. Noticed there is a specific resource available on Ancestry that may be of interest to anyone researching the northwest Ohio region.

The lists of crews arriving at the port of Toledo from 1929 through November 1958 are now available through Ancestry. If you have a relative who worked the shipping industry along the St. Lawrence Seaway or on the Great Lakes, you may find your ancestor had a port of call in Toledo.

Link is here: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2139

The list shows the name of vessel, foreign port of embarkation, the crew names and their position, name of shipping company owning the vessel, and crew member’s nationality.

Again, via the generosity of John Plenzler, we have another mystery wedding photo.

Mystery Wedding Photo

Mystery Wedding Photo

Click the photo to get a larger version. There is no ID whatsoever for this photo, there is not even a studio identification on the photo. However, I think the best man looks quite a bit like Raymond Przybylski. Compare and see if you agree! As usual, if you have any idea who these people may be, let me know. Drop a comment here or drop me an email and I’ll follow up. Also, if anyone knows the answer to these questions, I’d like to know: Was there a period when wedding photos were taken in studios? If so, were the photos actually taken the day of the marriage or were they taken before? It seems many of the wedding photos I’ve seen from my parents’ generation and prior have been studio settings. This was not a practice when I was married 30+ years ago–wedding photos and portraits were usually taken at church or at the reception afterwards.

Three year old's delight, Easter morning

Three year old's delight, Easter morning

Now that I’m single and my kids are all grown up, I suppose that it is medically correct to say that I’m healthier because I don’t have all those fattening and sugary goodies around the house during holiday time–today, no chocolate bunnies or jelly beans. But after reading a few other blogs today, I starting reminiscing about the Easter dinner table. Here’s some of the goodies we had on the Easter dinner table–pretty much through the time my kids were grown and gone:

  • Kielbasa
  • Of course, hard boiled eggs. But these weren’t just cracked, peeled, and eaten. We made Eggs Jeannette with them. (Ok, they weren’t Polish, but Jacques Pepin’s French cooking made easy made these eggs hard to resist!)
  • Butter molded into pretty lambs
  • Ham (Have we a theme going here? — We were a pork eatin’ Polish family machine!)
  • Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate
  • Kapusta (sweet and sour cabbage, seasoned with — you guessed it — bacon!)
  • Polish coffee cake with raisins
  • Peeps — my mother could consume a box–an entire dozen–of these by herself

Time moves on, and I’m not so sure that I’m unhealthier for having had these delicious memories. And how can I not laugh when I remember my kids bargaining with their jelly beans? If mom or dad wanted any, we got the black licorice jelly beans! Who can not smile when remembering egg hunts and squeals of delight over something as simple as a basket of colored eggs and chocolates?

Happy Easter!

I have made my ancestry.com tree PRIVATE. I have noticed some photo lifting and a few other nefarious activities occurring. If you wish for access to my family tree, please contact me here, via email, or via my ancestry.com profile.

Now for the semi-gentle reminder: please notice I do have a creative commons license posted on this blog. I am happy to share my data, but I do request that you acknowledge the source of all creative works that you obtain from me (particularly photos). I am beginning to see that my Calvary Cemetery photos are being downloaded and used without attribution and I cannot determine whether or not the photos are being used for the correct persons and relationships.

Now, whew. I’m off my soapbox.

Most who personally know me, know by now that my mother passed away over the holidays on December 26.  Mom was 85 and was happy as a kid when I’d seen her on Christmas–she had gotten a bottle of perfumed lotion at a Christmas party and enjoyed reading a Christmas story when I visited her on Christmas Day.  She was chatty when my sister visited her the next day but just didn’t feel well. By evening, we had lost her.

But–and I hope my younger sister doesn’t mind–I’m taking the liberty of being the “big” sister here and lifting something beautiful she had done. I typically ask before doing these types of things, but I forgot to do so.

After all was said and done at the cemetery, we gathered as a family at the table and my sister produced the most beautiful essay about my mom. I want to share it with everyone. I’ve edited it to remove names–because I don’t like to provide publicity to those who have not asked for it. But here is the essay, which my sister honored me with reading at our luncheon last Friday:

Virginia’s Beautiful Life

How does one begin to describe the beauty of a life? What words could capture both the deep sorrow of our grief, and the overhwlming joy of having been mothered by such a devoted, loving, and reverent woman? “Mom” to me and my sisters, “Busz” to her six grandchildren, “Aunt Jean” to our cousins, “Virginia” to close friends. All of us loved her, and are better for having known her.

Today we honor our mother by telling her story. Mom’s life was never easy, having grown up in the depression. Her father died when she was 9, her mother died when she was 19. How lonely she must have felt. Mom had to grow up rather quickly, supporting herself with factory work from a young age. As a teenager, she assumed care of her young nephew when her sister could not manage. And she remained devoted to this nephew with special needs all of his life, emotionally, materially, and financially. Our mother had a very big heart.

On November 16, 1947, Virginia married Edward, a returning WWII veteran who flew missions over Africa and Northern Europe as a ball turret gunner. They lived in the old Kuschwantz neighborhood in Toledo, working hard every day–Dad at Champion Spark Plug as a machine set-up and repair man, and mom at FW Woolworth Co. as a store clerk. We didn’t have the finest house or the luxury of annual family vacations. In fact, by today’s standards we would have been considered very poor. But oddly enough, we never knew that. We believed we were rich beyond all measure because Mom gave us so many things that money couldn’t buy.

We had hugs every day. We had the love of nearby family, cousins, aunts and uncles who lived within walking distance that we visited often and shared holidays with. We had St. Hyacinth’s–our first parochial home where we formed lasting friendships and had a sense of community…baptisms, First Holy Communions, graduations. We had ham and kielbasa for Christmas, Christmas Eve “highballs” with Ciocia (i.e., 7UP with a cherry), and swieconka at Easter. We had the best vegetable soup on the planet (Mom’s, of course).  We had the value of education, the prize that so eluded our parents. And we had the example of a strong work ethic that served us well into our adult lives. Indeed we were rich, and we have bottomless wealth today for having been raised by Virginia and Edward.

Life speeds by too fast, and soon we girls grew up. Then the laughter of grandchildren filled the old house with new joys. Three. Dad was already in heaven by the time the next three arrived. But Mom knew them all. And loved with the rest of her huge heart. Babysitting for their working parents whenever she could, sending special gifts and prayers to celebrate their accomplishments, and traveling far distances to see them one more time. Oh the fun we had when you visited the coast, Mom. I will think of you every time I see your favorite “fee-ushia” ice plant flower carpet in Pacific Grove.

Even as Mom’s health declined in her advanced years, her spirit was mighty and her will to keep loving us never weakened, not even for a moment. Mom’s beautiful soul was always there in her eyes and in her smile. And especially in her appetite for chocolate! I spoke to her late on the day of her death, in the last afternoon. She told my sister to move to the phone to her left ear so she could hear better. Then she told me she didn’t remember what she had for dinner on Christmas but she loved me so much. I knew she was having some pain, but she said everything was alright, that she’d feel better soon. She went to Jesus later that evening. Her beloved guardian angel, with whom she had a most special relationship, took her by the hand and escorted her to the next world. It her time to go; we had the privilege and joy of knowing Momma long enough, and now it was time for God to take her back to Himself. After all, why should we have all the fun, her soul was created by the Almighty, and it’s time for Mom to go home.

Please allow me to share some of the wisdom Virginia has taught me. Top ten quotes from Momma:

  1. All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl.
  2. Sufficient for the day are the troubles thereof.
  3. God give me patience, and right now!
  4. I don’t know who started it, but I’m going to end it!
  5. After a time, the pain of loss is replaced by the joy of your memories.
  6. The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.
  7. Be good to yourself.
  8. I’m gonna start out swingin’, and I’ll ask questions later!
  9. You’ll forget those labor pains after you see that beautiful baby…really!
  10. I love you more and more…and I’m going to hang up now…

Oh dear sweet Momma, sleep in His arms, rest in His peace.  Our hearts go on, and you shall live there there with us until we meet again. Our very own angel Virginia, our love goes with you.

Just a quick update. I will not be posting anything here for the next several weeks. Much to share, but ’tis the season.

May you each have a blessed Christmas and happy New Year.

As we’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, I have spent the majority of my downtime eating or working on genealogy. And this is in spite of the fact I live in Columbus, Ohio where a hotly held football rivalry is held annually (good job this year, Michigan <snicker>) and that everyone else is out shopping. It is times like these, when I can let go of the housework and put aside other distractions, that I can make some real connections and really absorb what the overwhelming amount of data that is collected means.

This weekend, I’ve come to appreciate the results from researching collateral relatives–those that are not linearly related to us such as grandparents and great-grandparents–and truly understand the value of those aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws can bring. In my family, that means much work and effort–my mother’s side of the family probably could populate a mid-sized city. But it was through the Plenzler and Przybylski families that I came to understand more fully my great-grandparents’ lives. Eva Dauer and Joseph Plenzer as well as Frances Rochowiak and Andrew Przybylski were relatively obscure to me until I started putting the dots together with their children. For instance, I never would have fully understood that Andrew had been a naturalized citizen of the United States unless I had pursued all of his children’s births nor would I have even been able to pinpoint a time frame for his immigration without knowing his children’s births. It was his daughter Rose who was the last child to have been born in Poznan in June 1880 and his daughter Victoria who was born in Toledo in December 1882. My mom would not have known her Aunt Rose as Rose passed away in 1916. Mom did have a vague memory of Victoria — mom was born in 1926 and Victoria died in 1936 — mom would not have recalled much other than her relationship to Victoria.

Because of Rose’s and Victoria’s birth, I was able to pinpoint that their father would have come to the US sometime in 1880 and without this knowledge, I would not have been able to locate any other documentation for Andrew for his brief life in the US. I was thrilled to realize that he would have been able to vote in the US before his death.

Through my grandmother, Anastasia Przybylski Plenzler, I learned of cholera and typhoid outbreaks in urban regions of the US during the early 1900s. It was her first husband, Stanley Lawecki, who died of typhoid in 1910 and her first child, Daniel, who died of cholera a few months later.

There is great value in researching those collateral family members. Don’t stick to a linear branch of your family tree, especially if you are stuck. Dig into those children, nieces, nephews, aunts, grand uncles, and in-laws. You can find valuable information and understand your common grandparents or great-grandparents so much more if you do. My thinking is that the value of genealogy is not the pedigree you are building–if we all dig far enough or hard enough or long enough, we’ll probably find someone at least semi-famous or of some nobility. What does that really mean if you do not understand the full history behind what occurred in your family and bought you to where you are now and made you who you are?

I may be in a minority: I still haven’t located anyone remotely famous or even remotely connected to nobility or royalty in my family tree. When I hear someone claim they’re related to Robert E. Lee or have a story of a connection to the Windsors, I listen politely and move on and wonder if he or she has missed the richness of the history that surrounds them and fully understands the sacrifice, love, and labor that brought them to where they are now. I don’t dismiss anyone’s research, and a connection to Robert E. Lee is certainly an important and interesting connection to history. But I urge anyone to avoid becoming entrapped in attempting to prove or finding a “proper” or “important” pedigree via proxy. That eagerness may cloud your judgement–if you are indeed something like a fifth or sixth cousin to Robert E. Lee, look deeper. How did that influence your family’s role in history and how has that help mold who you are today? Do not live vicariously through the shadows of long-gone ancestors–you’re missing the richness of who you are and what your family gave you.

Rather, dig deeper and learn your family’s role in history and how it created who you are and how you came to be! Your parents may have been paupers, but there was not a linear chain of events that brought them to their station in life, but rather a three-dimensional web that created the world in which they both struggled and flourished as well. Learn that story!

One of today’s themes over at GeneaBloggers is Sunday’s obituaries. I’ve been fortunate in that many of my ancestors have been concentrated near and in the northwest corner of Ohio, most in Toledo. There is a wealth of free, genealogical data available via internet for the region through both FamilySearch.org and other venues. But I wanted to make special mention today regarding the Google News Archives.

Not long ago, Google announced it would no longer expand the service and has indeed made it more difficult to locate the archives. However, they are still available here: http://news.google.com/newspapers. There are many archived newspapers that you can browse and research for obituaries and newsclippings. This has been an invaluable source and when I get too tired of recording the uncountable number of Mierzejewski immigration records, I go here to see if I can backfill my genealogical data with obituaries or newsclips regarding my ancestors.

The Toledo area has three newspapers that are archived here:

  • The Toledo Blade. While the list states there are editions available from about 1869, there are huge holes in this collection. The collection is probably most valuable from about 1935ish forward. Many, many obituaries available for the 1940s forward.
  • The Toledo News-Bee.  This is a good resource for news and some obituaries from about the 1910s through the 1930s.
  • The Toledo Sunday News-Bee. This is a “sister” publication to the News-Bee. There are huge holes in this series, but is starts at about 1901 and may contains obituaries for the Toledo region.

There are plenty of screen capture/snipping tools out there that can be used to grab what you need from these images.  Google screen capture software if you need to obtain something to do this. (Of course, if all else fails, there’s always the ol’ PrintScreen and Paint trick, but a screen capture tool will make the job a bit easier.) Because I don’t want to make this a post about software or technology, I won’t go into any specific tools here. If you want a recommendation for a decent tool, drop me a message. There are free ones available that do a great job.

I’ve made some interesting discoveries and was able to ascertain some relationships by digging into these archives for obituaries and news bits. Hopefully, you too can before Google decides to fully retire this service. My thinking is that eventually it will go away, although I have not seen any statement yet to verify my thoughts.

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