April 2010

Joseph and Eva were my mother’s paternal grandparents, my great-grandparents.  They were both born in Prussia in the mid-1800s–Joseph in February, 1855 and Eva in December, 1857.

Joseph’s parents were Joseph Plenzler and Mary Lesiecka.

I have found reference to Eva’s father as John Dauer on Eva’s death certificate. However, research into baptismal records for some of Eva’s and Joseph’s children have indicated her father was named Andreas. I am investigating this and have found a marriage abstract for Andreas/Andrzej Dauer and Marianna Aumiller in the Catholic parish in Głuszyna dated 1856. Eva and Joseph were also married in the Catholic parish in Głuszyna.

Per the 1900 census, Joseph arrived in 1883, Eva arrived in 1884. Joseph departed their residence in Wioreck, Preußen (Germany) on April 13, 1883 via the ship Gainsborough from Hamburg, arriving in Liverpool and then in the US. (Record 4 in the manifest.)

Eva arrived on the ship, Moravia, in the port of New York on May 6, 1884. She departed from Hamburg with her two eldest sons: Marczin (Martin) and Josef (Joseph). Martin was 3 at the time of arrival, his younger brother was just 6 months. (Lines 11, 12, and 13 in the manifest.)

By the time of the 1900 census, Joe Sr. was a naturalized citizen and a home plasterer. Eva and Joseph resided at 1541 Avondale Avenue, near Detroit Street. By this time, they had 10 children, nine of whom survived:

Vincent died in infancy.

Below is a transcription of Vincent’s baptismal record:

Nomen: Vincenti
Parentes: Joseph Plencner, Ewa Dauer
Parentini: Michael Brzoska, Victoria Mosiniak
Natio: 3 Julii
Bapt: 18 Julii
Nomen Sacerdotes: Rev. M.F. Orczechowski

Below is a transcription of Vincent’s death record through St. Stanislaus:

Nomen Defuncti: Vincentius Plencner
Obut: 4 Januari
Seput: 6 Januari
Netas: Six Montuim
Nomen Sac.: Rev. M. F. Orzechowski

I have no burial record.

Pretty amazing that Eva and Joe had nine children survive out of 10, given that cholera, “consumption” (tuberculosis), typhoid, and pneumonia were often fatal to children in the late 1800s and were fairly common in Toledo at that time.

Per the 1910 census, the family was still living on Avondale Avenue. Shortly after the 1910 census, Joseph passed away on May 4, 1910 of pneumonia at the age of 55 and was buried May 7, 1910 in Calvary Cemetery. Here is a transcription of his burial record:

Record #12068
Name of deceased: Joseph Plenzler
Late residence: 1541 Avondale
Age: 55 years, 2 mos., 9 days
Color: W
Sex: M
Disease: Lobar Pneumonia
Date of Decease: May 4
Date of Interment: May 7
Married, Single, or Widowed: M
Place of death: Toledo
No. of Grave: 26
No. of Lot: 112 to 115
No. of Section: 8
Name of Physician: A. Krieger
Name of Undertaker: W. J. Gasiorowski

Eva passed away four years later, on October 20, 1914 at the age of 56. She was interred through St. Stanislaus parish and buried at Calvary Cemetery.  The interment record from St. Stanislaus is transcribed below:

Date of death: Oct. 20
Date of burial: Oct. 24
Name of person interred: Eva Plenzler
Place of birth: Poland
Age: 56 years
Priest: J.L. Kuta
Cemetery: Calvary

Here is a transcription of the burial record:

Record #15797
Name of deceased: Eva Plenzler
Late residence: 1541 Avondale
Age: 56
Color: W
Sex: F
Disease: Abcess
Date of Decease: Oct. 20
Date of Interment: Oct. 24
Married, Single, or Widowed: W
Place of death: Toledo
No. of Grave: 25
No. of Lot: 112/ 115
No. of Section: 8
Name of Physician: C. Storz
Name of Undertaker: W. J. Gasiorowski

While reading and researching, every once in awhile something crosses my eye that makes me put aside any real genealogical interest and follow an odd fact or piece of information.

The Diocese of Toledo has digitized many of its older records, and those of particular interest to me are the ones from St. Anthony’s and St. Stanislaus parishes as well as the Calvary Cemetery burial registry. I find it oddly interesting when I read the Calvary Cemetery burial registry because my ex-husband’s grandmother (Florence) was the cemetery’s caretaker for quite a number of years, and it’s somehow even quieting for me to see a number of names listed in the registry written in her son’s (John’s) handwriting.

Odd, but yes, it does bring back some memories. I grew up less than a three-minute walk from the cemetery–we lived on Coventry Street. If you walked three blocks straight up Coventry to Dorr Street, you got to one of the gates to the cemetery. There was a large house facing the intersection of Dorr and Parkside Boulevard–that is where Florence lived. John talked of playing baseball in the cemetery growing up. Florence and John both have since passed away but each were kind enough through the years to discuss and explain the history of the cemetery and share some stories with me about it.

While in high school, I often volunteered for stage crew for the fall play and spring musical at St. Francis de Sales High School. Calvary Cemetery is bounded by Gesu Church and St. Francis along Bancroft. I would walk home through the cemetery after stage crew. As I became an adult, I lived off of Bancroft on Wyndhurst for a few years. Our two oldest daughters would go for walks with us through the cemetery, and we’d walk to visit family on the other side of the cemetery.

Nothing creepy to me about any of this. Besides knowing quite a large number of the inhabitants of the cemetery (I’m probably related to many of them!), it’s a beautiful piece of property with some interesting history. Bishops are buried there, a major league baseball player is buried there, there’s a peaceful area where the nuns from the Visitation Monastery are buried, Mike LaSalle–former mayor of Toledo and former governor of Ohio is buried there. You get the picture. Most cemeteries have someone at least semi-famous. So I guess I was a bit naive. I never thought about where the infamous were buried.

However, reading the burial logs while trying to find a family member, I stumbled on the name of Stanley Hoppe. The cause of death was listed as Legal Electrocution. My eyes popped. The date of his burial was in 1928, but that still piqued my curiosity. I had to look this guy up, even if it was just an internet search. I had to find out if this guy got the death penalty, and if he did, why.

Sure enough, I found that he indeed was executed via the electric chair (the link takes you to the ODC website listing all executions–see Stanley Hope) and was a resident of the Kuschwantz neighborhood. There are a number of stories in archived newspapers about Stanley Hoppe–and as in the press in the 21st century–it’s more than a bit difficult to ascertain what’s really true and what isn’t true.

In the mid 1920s, there was a murder spree in Toledo. The murderer,  dubbed the “Toledo Clubber” in the press, apparently liked to beat women with a bat or a club until they were bludgeoned to death. The Sarasota Herald reported that Stanley confessed to being the clubber before his execution. The Sarasota Herald and another paper, the Prescott Evening Courier, reported that Hoppe murdered a 7-year-old girl named Dorothy Sielagowski. (The Evening Courier and the New York Times each published his name as Charles, not Stanley.) The LA Times even reported on December 1, 1928 that Stanley was hanged and not electrocuted. A number of other newspapers had either changed his last name, first name, or some other element of the story. I cannot locate a single archived Toledo Blade article about the “Toledo Clubber” or about Stanley Hoppe.

Even the Ohio Department of Corrections lists him as Stanley Hope. I would suspect that part of the name changes are due to privacy issues for the family. It seems as if this was a rather notorious story. Still, makes me wonder why the Toledo Blade didn’t touch it.

Hoppe was a taxicab driver who confessed to the brutal beating of Dorothy during a drunken spree. I can’t speak to Stanley’s guilt or innocence on either the murder of the girl or being the Toledo Clubber–little to no evidence outside discussions of Stanley’s confessions were discussed in the media. My gut instincts tell me that his confession to being the Toledo Clubber very possibly was due to either a pressured confession or was false information published in the press because another man was also accused of the same crimes. During this time, it was a reasonably accepted practice to use “alienists” during trials–physicians or psychiatrists accepted by a court of law as an expert on mental competence or forensic psychology. Today, we’d probably refer to that person as some type of psychiatrist.

The case seemed rather sensational and full of either misinformation or just really bad journalism.

A large crowd assembled near the Toledo Police jail where Hoppe was held before trial, and the trial itself was heavily guarded. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Hoppe entered a not guilty plea. The trial lasted three weeks, and nearing the end of the trial, Hoppe decided to plead guilty–about the time the hearings focused on his sanity and an alienist introduced an alleged confession he made.

The Pittsburgh Press reported that he confessed to one killing attributed to the Toledo Clubber, that of a young schoolteacher name Lily Croy. According to the Pittsburg Press, Hoppe then pleaded insanity, confessed to the murder of Lily Croy, and threw himself on the mercy of the court.

Hoppe was married and had a one-year-old child at the time of Dorothy Siegalowski’s brutal murder. He was quoted as saying he was “full of bootleg whiskey and my recollection of the killing is vague.” He was convicted on July 17, 1928 and was executed November 30, 1928.

Stanley was given a Catholic burial through St. Stanislaus parish and buried quietly in Calvary Cemetery.

The Toledo Clubber mysteries were never fully solved as there up to seven female victims. The New York Times at one point claimed the city of Toledo was “rounding up morons” as suspects and that Mayor Bernard Brough received a letter from the clubber. Another man, James Coyner, serving a sentence in a Michigan City, Indiana prison for grave robbery, was questioned and investigated by Chicago police in connection to the Toledo Clubber as well based on evidence of letters he had smuggled out of the prison to his sister in Chicago. In his letters to his sister, Coyner mentioned a “trunk” that may have had objects stolen from grave robberies and also mentioned that there was other evidence in the trunk that, if discovered, would make him “through forever.” Some of the bodies of the women clubbed to death were reportedly found without skulls, and authorities were on the lookout for these skulls as evidence.

The Chicago police became tipped off and notified the Toledo police when Coyner made statements that he was in the Toledo area when six of the clubbings took place. This further inflammed the press because Coyner was a large black man, over six feet tall. Makes me wonder how this case would have turned out with 21st century technology and DNA evidence. Also makes me wonder just how badly the media can influence a case.

Andrew and Frances are my mother’s maternal grandparents, my great-grandparents.

Andrew and Frances were married about 1873, in a Catholic parish in Chometowo; and I’m going to work with a contact in the near future in order to obtain a copy of their marriage record. There is some discrepancy with Frances’ maiden name. A record abstract that I  located for Andrew’s and Frances’ marriage lists Frances’ last name as Prochowiak.

The marriage abstract information that I was able to locate indicates that Andrew’s father was Valentinus and his mother was Josepha. Frances’ father was listed as Adalbertus and her mother listed as Marianna.

Chometowo is in northwestern Poland and was previously part of Germany prior to 1945.

Andrew and Frances arrived in the US sometime about 1880 and seemed to have settled directly into the St. Anthony parish neighborhood. Their first child, Frank, was born in Germany on May 17, 1876.

Their second child was likely Rose. Her death certificate states her birth as June 16, 1883; however, her marriage record to Kasper Koralewski from St. Anthony’s parish in 1900 indicates she was was born about 1880.

A 1892 city directory for Toledo lists Andrew as living on Vance Street. (I do not know who the other Andrew Przybylski on Blum Street is.)

Five more children were born to Andrew and Frances:

Adam died at about six months of age on October 9, 1893 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery on October 10. His death record through St. Anthony’s is transcribed below:

Date of death 9 Oct 1893, date of burial 10 Oc 1893, Adam Przybylski, fil. leg. Andrew Przybylski et Franscae Przybylski, 5 mos. nescitur, Calvary

I’ve transcribed his burial record below:

Adam Przybylski
1637 Vance Street
Age 5 months
White male
Disease: Intestinal Derangement
Date of decease: 8 Oct.
Date of Burial: 10 Oct.
Buried Grave 6, Lot 133, Section 30.

About six months after Adam passed away, Andrew died. His death was also recorded through St. Anthony’s death registry and is transcribed below:

Andreas Przybylski, maritus Fransicae Pryzbylski, 51 amorium, sepultus in Calvaria.

Andrew also was buried at Calvary Cemetery. His burial record is transcribed below:

Andrew Przybylski
1637 Vance St.
Age 50 years, 10 months.
Disease: Jaundice.
Died 26 January 1894.
Buried 28 January 1894.
Buried Grave 4, Lot 176, Section 30

Frances does not seem to have remarried and remained in the home at 1637 Vance Street for a number of years per an 1897 Toledo city directory, the 1910 census (which also indicates that Anastasia and her first husband, Stanley Lawecki, were living here as well), and the 1920 census (which also indicates that she was living with her daughter, Eva and her husband, Stanley Hejnicki and their son, Leonard).

Frances also lost two other children before she had passed away:

  • Rose, who passed away in 1916 from tuberculosis.
  • Stanislaw, who passed away in 1919 after an accidental amputation in an industrial incident.

Frances passed away on May 12, 1922 in Toledo. Her residence on the death certificate is listed as Frank Seija’s (husband of her daughter, Victoria). She is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Frances Przybylski
1451 Avondale
Age 62
Cause of death: Cirrhosis of Liver
Date of Interment May 15, 1922.
Grave 2602, Range or Lot 17, Grave 3.
Undertaker: Czolgosz.

Charles was my mother’s paternal uncle. He was born to Joseph Plenzler and Eva Dauer on February 19, 1889 and was baptized in St. Anthony’s parish on February 24, 1889. The family resided at 1541 Avondale per the 1900 and 1910 census.

Charles was named and baptized either Casmier or Kaiser, depending upon the source. Census records list him as Kaiser and his baptismal record reflects Casmier.

Charles married Constance Baranek sometime shortly before 1920. They resided for a while at 1688 Avondale with Constance’s (or Cora’s) family per the 1920 census.

Constance was my mother’s Confirmation sponsor. Mom was confirmed May 6, 1937.

By 1942, per Charles’ World War II draft registration card, he and Constance were residing at 1018 Brown Avenue.

Charles passed away November 11, 1960 at the age of 71. His obituary reads:

Charles Plenzler

Charles (Casper) Plenzler, 71, of 1018 Brown Ave., died Friday in S. Vincent’s Hospital.

Mr. Plenzler was born in Toledo. He was a maintenance man at the Collard Lumber Co., retiring six years ago. He was a veteran of the Mexican border campaign.

Surviving are his wife, Constance; daughter, Mrs. John Taylor, Maumee; sisters, Mrs. Sophia Szymanowski, Mary Plenzler; brothers, Robert, Frank, and Leo, all of Toledo, and four grandchildren.

Services will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday in St. Theresa Church, with burial in Calvary Cemetery. The body is in the Sujkowski Mortuary.

Charles is buried at Calvary Cemetery:

No. 62013
Name: Charles F. Plenzler
Residence: St. Vincent’s Hosp.
Age: 71, Cause of death: Cancersomatosis (?)
Date of interment: Nov. 15.
Grave 11, Ranger or Lot 18, Section 43
Funeral Director: W. K. Sujkowski

Constance passed away September 17, 1983. Her obituary reads:

Mrs. Constance G. Plenzler, 88, formerly of West John Street, Maumee, died Saturday in Monclova Care Center, where she had been five years. She was the widow of Charles F. Plenzler. Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Joan Taylor, and a brother, James Baranek. Services will be 1 p.m. Tuesday in Boyer-VanWormer-Scott Mortuary, where the body will be after 7 tonight.

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.