As a follow up to my previous post, I had to share an experience that led me to encourage someone who may be at wits’ end trying to knit together information on a family — you can’t determine relationships or perhaps you have a birthdate and unless a person is truly Methusala, you cannot ascertain a death date.

This happened to me recently. I was researching the Mruk branch of my maternal Plenzler family. I had known that my great-grand-aunt, Margaretha Plenzler Mruk, had a daughter named Mary. I knew Mary had married a gentleman named John Zielinski. However, I could not put my finger on all of Mary’s and John’s children. Like my maiden name, Zielinski  is a fairly common Polish name. There are many Zielinskis in the Toledo region. Not all are related. And given the fact that these individuals were named Mary and John, I was beginning to think I was never going to find their progeny.

I slowly chipped away at it and found their eldest son, Gabriel, through the 1900 census. Gabriel was a six month old child at the time of the census and he passed away in 1977. One by one, I managed to find the rest of their children using the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census data:

I was able to locate an obituary for each of the siblings except for Ralph and Ameley/Emilia. This proved invaluable to locate or discover who Emilia or Ameley was. It also shows clearly to me how we need to question the data that is provided by the census taker on census materials as well as our own assumptions. Clearly, transcriptions can be inaccurate, but I’ve also come across many instances where the census taker’s information was incorrect or inaccurate.

None of this seems remarkable other than I could find no traces of an “Ameley” or an “Emilia” Zielinski after about 1930. My hunches were that she had passed away, moved away, or married outside of the state or that on the 1920 census data, the name was  entered as “Emilia” and on the 1930 census the name was entered as “Ameley.” (Was Hooked on Phonics was popular in the 1920s or 30s?) So I went with searching for “Emilia”  and its diminutive version, “Emily.”

I had scoured the baptismal registries for both St. Stanislaus and St. Anthony’s parishes to no avail–all of her older siblings were baptized in St. Anthony’s parish. St. Stan’s was in the neighborhood and a new parish at the time, so I thought, ok… it’s possible she were baptized there as well. (Although I do plan to go back through those baptismal records and give them the once-over again.)

No marriages cropped up for Emilia, Ameley, or Emily. But that’s not unusual. I did have several female family members who never married.

I let the situation rest a while as I went on to the mind numbing exercise of locating all of the Mierzejewskis I could possibly find in immigration manifests. So this weekend after putting the Mierzejewski exercise aside, I decided to backfill some of the Zielinski family story with obituaries and thought I’d check to see what could arise from that effort. Since Ralph and Martha were the most recently deceased in 2002, it was a piece of cake to find Martha’s obituary which gave me the needed information to locate Amelia. Here is her obituary published in the Toledo Blade on August 30, 2002, transcribed below:

RYWALSKI, Martha R. (Zielinski)

Martha R. Rywalski, age 90, of Sylvania, Ohio, died peacefully after suffering from a massive stroke on Thursday, August 29, 2002, in her home. She was born on December 14, 1911, to John and Mary (Mruk) Zielinski in Toledo, Ohio. Martha had worked as a clerk for the former Valley Fruit House. She was a member of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church where she was baptized and married. She was a member of the St. Francis Guild and enjoyed bunco.

Martha was preceded in death by her loving Husband, John, in 1969; brothers, Gabriel (Helen), Edward (Helen), and Bernard Zielinski; sisters, Isabel (Walter) Urbanowski, Regina (John) Burzynski, Mary (Andrew) Sieja, and Amelia Zielinsk; son, Donald Rywalski; son-in-law, Gerald Hagen, and great-grandson, Scott Wambold.

She will be deeply missed by her loving daughter, Barbara (Rywalski) Hagen, daughter-in-law, Lois (Donald) Rywalski, grandchildren, Dr. Suzanne (Bob) Wambold, Gary (Sally) Hagen, Gail Rywalski, David (Amy) Rywalski; great-grandchildren, Melissa and Abigail Hagen, Kelli and Katie Wambold, and Morgan Rywalski, and by brother, Ralph (Phyllis) Zielinski.

Family and friends may visit at the W.K. Sujkowski & Son Funeral Home, 3838 Airport Hwy., on Friday from 2-9 pm. Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, August 31, 2002, at 10 am followed by Mass of Christian Burial at St. Stanislaus Church at 10:30 am. A wake service will be held on Friday evening at 7 pm in the mortuary.

When I read that, I began to wonder why I hadn’t thought of “Amelia” as a possibility for her name! Now I knew that Amelia had passed away and I was able to sort through the rest of the obituaries. Not all mentioned the siblings who had passed away previously, however, it was obvious the Amelia was not mentioned as a survivor. Since the earliest date of death I had found for any of the siblings was for Regina and Edward in 1958, I was able to safely assume that Amelia had passed away sometime between the time of the 1930 census and 1958. That narrowed it down to about 28 years.

Then using FamilySearch.org, I was able to pinpoint Amelia’s date of death by locating her death certificate. Amelia passed away at the age of 20 on June 11, 1935.  She did not have what we would consider a obituary by today’s standards; however, it was common practice in the 1930s and 1940s for undertakers to include a classified ad in the local newspapers called a death notice. I located Amelia’s death notice published in the Toledo News-Bee on June 12, 1935, transcribed below:

ZIELINSKI, AMELIA–Age 20. Tues. Beloved daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John, sister of Mrs. R. Burzynski, Mrs. I. Urbanowski, Mrs. M. Seija, Mrs. M. Rywalski, Gabriel, Edward, Ralph, and Bernard. Funeral Sat. 8:30 a.m. from the residence, 1737 Buckingham and 9 o’clock at St. Stanislaus Church. Interment family lot, Calvary. Young Ladies Sodality, please attend. Sujkowski & Son.