Ok, I’ll admit. I went into stealth mode. Been quiet, but working on gathering all of the Mierzejewski immigration records I could find. Many permutations and I’m up to over 100 distinct and different Mierzejewski Ellis island manifest records. Slow going to query, transcribe, and record each.

Along the way (and I’m still not done), I came across an interesting discovery.

I found nothing that knocked my socks off until this afternoon–well, at least no one that I could immediately recognize outside my grandparents’ records. Earlier, I had noted that my grandmother’s brother, Kalixty, had emigrated to the US in 1911 per the 1920 census. But I came across an earlier immigration record for my grandmother’s brother, Kalixty. I located a manifest from Ellis that indicated he emigrated into the US on November 12, 1908 and was meeting his brother, Wladyslaw (Wladimir or Walter) in Branford, Conecticut. It clearly is Helena’s brother. Kalxity’s name is hard to interpret on this manifest–the Ellis Island transcribers had transcribed the name as Halikstin. However, upon careful inspection of the document, it is noted that he was born in Borowce, and his contact his his mother, Anna Mirzejewski in Borowce. The age fits perfectly. We have his birthdate documented as December 12, 1886 per his death certificate. His age on the manifest is listed as 22. Kalixty would have been 22 in 1908. Note that the surname is spelled MIRZEJEWSKI.

I have not yet located a manifest that indicates that Kalixty may have returned to Poland and returned to the US in 1911. But it’s still entirely possible–am still working through all the name permutations.

We can now trace that my grandmother’s family was in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. I think I have a lot of work ahead of me!

Today’s theme over at Geneabloggers is Funny Friday. I mentioned earlier how my father answered the phone a few times when I was a teenager and boys would call for dates.

“County morgue. You stab ‘em, we slab ‘em.”

Yes, my dad was wickedly funny and I’m certain he did this because he just got tired of the phone ringing–after all the poor guy had three daughters and the phone was in constant use. I don’t know how many possible dates my dad scared off, but I’m too old to care any longer. Of course, I didn’t like it too much then but he thought it funny when the other person hung up without explanation. (If it were anyone who knew my dad, of course they already knew better and would carry on a conversation with him.)

Another story my sister related to me was when my dad was younger. He and his cousin Mackie would spend hours building model airplanes together and fly them off them of a viaduct over Brown Avenue–of course the planes crashed, probably onto cars below. One other story I remember my aunt telling me was my dad was a bit of a mischief maker in elementary school. He got caught smoking a few times and always had those old-fashioned matches in his pocket, the type you could strike anywhere to get a flame. He was in a bit of trouble with one of nuns, and as the nun stood there correcting him, dad was fiddling in his pocket. Well, needless to say, he rubbed the matches together and burned a hole in his pants. I wish I knew what the nun did after that!

Here’s a picture of my dad in his younger days, being completely silly with his pal, Dukie. My dad is to the right.

Dad in a light hearted moment

Dad in a light hearted moment

Dad was a character. There are probably hundreds more stories like these as well. The family was a hoot and I so miss the laughter sometimes!

I just read an excellent article on archives.com. (Just click the link to read the article.) This article validated my reasoning for using social networking and blogging in an attempt to research my family.  By collaboration and sharing via social networking these good things happen:

  • I can validate my research through others–and there have been many times I’ve been wrong. I want to be accurate as possible and many times, learning from others has helped me establish new connections in my family.
  • By sharing, I get greater access to knowledge and insight.
  • I’ve learned to let go of a lot of misconceptions and hope to help foster a greater learning experience for all involved.
  • I’ve gotten in touch with cousins and others who may have known my family that otherwise I may not have had the chance to know–it’s been a rewarding experience so far.

Enjoy the article. If there’s anything I can do to improve this blog or the data I share, drop me a line. (Note that I’ve tightened the security on this blog a bit, so even if you’ve posted here before, I’ll probably need to approve the comment. Sorry, but I’ve been getting spammed hard again. A minor inconvenience with all of the good stuff one can do via internet when collaborating over distance. I can’t say that internet genealogy is without pitfalls.)

Recently, I found a record for a Plenzler marriage from Poznan sitting on my computer. I forgot how I got it or where it came from, not having written to the Poznan project to obtain it. So I asked a likely source, Judy, what it was. She forwarded to me awhile back and I promptly forgot about it. Can anyone really not get overloaded getting their ancestor’s historical information? It seemed possible to me not too long ago. But Judy informed me that she sent it on to me because of the Plenzler connection. On this marriage register, there are two important records: one for a Niemier (one of Joseph Plenzler’s sisters, Catherine, had married Jacob Niemier) and one for a Martinus Plenzler.

I took a stab at transcribing these marriage records. The language used for each was basically the same. (See records 18 and 20 here.) I’ll place the transcription for #20 (Martinus and Catharine Jaskulanka) below. What this indicates is a record of Martinus Plenzler’s first marriage. (See the post regarding a record located in 1851 for a second marriage here.)

The marriage for Martinus and Catherine Jaskunlanka is transcribed below with a very rough translation included:


Martinus Plenzler, juvenis cum
Martin Plenzler, an unmarried young man with

Catharina Janskunlanka, virgine
Catharina Janskunlanka, an unmarried maiden

Ambo de Pietrowo
Each from the town of Pietrowo

Interrogavi en ecclesia mutu.o
Come to the church to exchange vows

Et elaro consensu ab?? ii recepto per ven?? Vet?
And join together in the commitment of marriage

De presenti juata ratificata
And before those present ratify

Cum consensu parentum
With the consensus of their parents

Age of the groom: 26, age of the bride: 22.

Banns: published 17, 24, and 31 October

Witnesses: Szymanowski, Simon; Szymanowski, Michael, ??? Pankoski (?); Michael Jako~la.

I cannot determine an exact date of marriage from this scanned record. However, since banns (the intent of marriage announcement) were published as late as the 31st of October, it’s reasonable to assume that the marriage took place the first week or two of November, 1841.

Given that this marriage took place in 1841 and Joseph Plenzler (my grandfather) was born in 1855, it is also reasonable to ponder a few possibilities:

  • That Joseph and Martinus were not brothers. The age difference is too great. While it is theoretically possible, it’s unlikely the two are brothers.
  • That Martinus is likely an uncle to Joseph. (Joseph’s father was also named Joseph).

I was searching for a way to share the grave photos I had been taking for Calvary cemetery in Toledo  in order to disseminate the genealogical information I have been gathering a bit wider. This does two things in my mind: it brings further awareness of our Polish immigrant ancestry in Ohio and possibly someone searching for their Polish ancestor in Ohio may stumble upon a grave photo and have more information about that person that they may wish to share.

In that light, I found two possibilities for sharing the photos: Find A Grave and the Ohio Gen Web Gravestone Photo Project.

I originally chose Find A Grave and test drove it. Not any problems. The site gets a lot of traffic, but it seems much of that traffic is generated by those submitting graves. It also has a lot of administrative overhead–no cost, but some bureaucracy. Many who post there seem to enjoy the hobby called “graving”–photographing cemeteries and then uploading photos of all of the graves. Those who do this often have no knowledge of the person whose grave they photographed.  I had found a few “digital graves” of family members there, uploaded by others. One did have a connection, the others did not. And I had learned one of those submitters had passed away. I was unable to link to or update her information. While I felt the traffic generated there was high and could lead me to potential new contacts in the effort to research family, I’m not quite convinced that this is the right site to use for my efforts in researching my family and the general history of the Kuschwantz. Find A Grave disappointed me in that persons who submit data there do not necessarily have to provide any detailed information on the burial–all they need is a photo or an obit. While I’m certain there is a lot of value behind Find A Grave, it at least provides an entry point to those seeking basic genealogical information, the data there can be scant, wrong, or held by someone without an interest or who may no longer be active there.

Another site that I found seems more promising for Ohio based efforts. Very little traffic is coming its way in terms of volume but the information provided seems as valuable, if not more valuable, to real genealogical purposes (my opinion only). Unfortunately, it’s scope is limited only to Ohio. This is the Ohio Gen Web Gravestone Photo Project. I made a few submissions for Andrew Przybylski and for Eva and Joe Plenzler, just to see how it worked. I then made an inquiry to the state administrator of the site because it seemed as if Lucas County and Calvary in particular had few records. That led to an email conversation which in turn led to me becoming the administrator for Lucas County cemeteries.

That said, I hope you visit the Ohio Gravestone Photo Project. URL is http://ohiogravestones.org/. You will need a free login to use the site. If you have any Ohio-based grave photos, I hope you’ll consider sharing and documenting them here. Many cemeteries are aging and have been struck by vandals, have been neglected, stones are lost or broken, etc. You’d be sharing genealogical data with future generations.

While I have uploaded a handful of submissions to Find A Grave, I likely will not be making many more contributions there — probably if and when I obtain grave photos that cannot go to the Ohio project–and then may seek out another venue. Because the preservation and documentation of history are relevant to me, I prefer to remain with the Ohio Gravestone Photo Project for Ohio-based graves. Of course, I will continue to publish relevant photos here as well! You retain copyright and ownership of any data submitted to both the Ohio Gravestone Photo Project and Find A Grave website.

Below is another photo I received from John Plenzler that is unidentified. It’s possible that this is a photo of Andrew Przybylski and Frances Rochowiak Przybylski. However, I have no verification. The gentleman in the photo below does look similar to the man in the previous post–same type of mustache, looks like the same lanky body type, similar facial features.

Andrew passed away in 1894 and my hesitation to believe it is a photo of him is because of the date of his death. Another hesitation for me here due to the woman. Frances was considerably younger than Andrew–by at least 15 or 16 years by my estimates. Click here for a photo of Frances, who passed away in 1922.

Was photography widely available for everyday photos during the 1880s and 1890s? I have no clue about the history of photography. Did everyday people have the ability to purchase cameras for casual, everyday use during the 1890s? This is not a studio photo or seems even to be a professional photo due to the casual background and the way the image of the gentleman in the photo was cut off to the left

If anyone has any information on this photo or can provide me some insight about the history of consumer-like photography during the 1880s and 1890s, I would love to hear from you. Leave a post here and I will follow up.



Sometime ago, I had received scanned photos of the Plenzler and Przybylski families through a cousin, John Plenzler.

A photo on the CD that he graciously sent had no identification. If anyone can identify the photo below, leave a note here and I will respond as soon as I can. I have a hunch that this could possibly be a photo of the Andrew and Francis Przybylski family, taken shortly after their arrival in the US (early 1880s). My hunch is based on that there are five children in this photo, and the first four children of the family were born in Poznan, Poland. The fifth child, Victoria, was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1882. Other than the infant, there appears to be two boys who could possibly be sons Frank and John and two girls who could possibly be daughters Marianna and Rose. However, I have no way to verify. Click the photo to download a full sized scan.

Any input or information would be deeply appreciated!

Can these people be identified?

Can these people be identified?

John Przybylski, son of Andrew Przybylski and Frances Rochowiak, proved to be elusive. Through correspondence with a few distant cousins, some details on his life became uncovered. I had stories about John, but found no evidence of his existence until locating his brother, Joseph’s, obituary published in the Toledo News-Bee on July 9, 1937.

Family stories state that John had been running from gangs in Toledo and had been involved in obtaining liquor from Canada in the 1920s. I could not find any records of border crossings from Canada; however the 1910 census and the 1920 census indicates that he was living in Detroit during that period. Additionally, these census records indicate that he was married to a woman named Hattie. John’s occupation was listed as a molder; Hattie’s as a dressmaker. The 1920 census indicates the name change.

I then located a marraige index from St. Hedwig’s parish in Toledo that states John had married a Hedwig Krzyzaniak on June 20, 1906. Hattie appears to be an Anglecized version of her name.

While the 1920 census data reflects that John was born in Ohio, it’s likely this data is incorrect. His birthdate of May 7, 1878 was noted on his World War I draft registration card places him as the third child to Frances and Andrew, born before the fourth child, Rose, who was born in 1880. Through census data, I’ve noticed that the family emigrated to the US about 1880 0r 1881, and Rose was born in Poznan according to the 1900 census data that shows her with her husband, Casper Koralewski. So it is reasonable to assume that John also was born in Poznan. Family oral history also places John in Miami as a boat captain and states that he changed his surname from Przybylski to Seblaski to elude the gangs. It’s reasonable to assume that by the 1920 census, he was hiding his identity.  At the time of 1917-1918 draft effort, John was already using the last name of Seblaski and has an address in Detroit. His World War I draft registation places him in Detroit and notes wife, Hattie, as his nearest relative. What is interesting to note here is that his birthplace is listed as “Austria?”. This is an angle to research later–we know the family was from Poznan and that Poland during that period was divided between Germany, Austria, and Russia. It is also possible that John hid his true birth place in order to avoid being traced. Also by the 1917-1918 draft effort, John was already using the last name of Seblaski.

By 1927, there is evidence that John was living in Miami. An article in the Miami Daily News on June 12, 1927 mentions a John Seblasky. The article is located here and is transcribed below:

Man Saved from Death by Train By Police Dog

“King” Proves He Has More Than Ordinary Canine Sense in Heroic Feat

“King” may be a dog, but he is no ordinary dog. He has more than common dog sense. He saved a man’s life Friday night.

The man had gone out on a “party,” where a “good time was had by all.” It grew late and slowly and unsteadily he staggered homeward.

A taxicable driver let the man out at Biscayne blvd., between N. E. Sixth and Seventh sts., and he started–a bit wobbly, to be sure, toward the bayfront, apparently intending to “make” one of the boats.

But things sudenly became dark and the man fell across the railroad tracks. He didn’t seem to mind. He really didn’t know his precarious position. So he just slept. In the meantime, a freight train was slowly rumbling nearer and nearer.

“King,” who was being taken out for a walk by his owner, John Seblasky, of the yacht “Hedwig,” moored at Pier 4, broke loose. He apparently sensed something wrong. later, the dog came back and by barking and jumping on Seblasky’s shoulder indicated something was wrong.

Guided by the dog, Seblasky and an F. E. C. railroad watchman found the sleeping man. A few minutes after they dragged the body off the rails the freight train rumbled by.

“King” is a Doverman Pincher German shepherd, commonly known as “police dog.” And he came to the United States in company with a dog which Senator James Couzens of Michigan, its owner, has insured for $8,000.

The 1945 State Population Census of Florida places John in Miami as a boat captain but notes his birthplace as Michigan. Thanks to John Plenzler, a copy of his Captain of Port identification is available here and was issued also in 1945. Note that this identification provides his birthplace at Toledo, Ohio. John Seblaski passed away in 1950. John Plenzler related a story to me that his parents drove to Florida to visit John. When they arrived there, they learned John had passed away just days prior to their arrival.

A Florida state death abstract for John Leo Seblaski states the year but no specific date. No further data is available yet for Hattie and no children have yet been identified.

Below are a few photos of John Przybylski Seblaski, thanks to John Plenzler.

Joseph, Frank, and John Przybylski (left to right)

Joseph, Frank, and John Przybylski (left to right)

John Przybylski Seblaski (date unknown)

John Przybylski Seblaski (date unknown)

Off to enjoy a summer weekend on Lake Erie!

Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania

Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania lighthouse

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