September 2011

In an attempt to keep my sanity, I started a small database of Mierzejewskis as I located them through immigration records from Ellis Island. This is in no way complete–these were the “easy” targets I’ve located so far. These records do not include any variations in spelling nor immigration records from anywhere except Ellis Island.

The records are located here. Consider it a work in progress. As I located new records, I will update.

Today’s theme over at GeneaBloggers is Wednesday’s child.

Ronald Jankowski was the son of Florence Plenzler and Stanley Jankowski. Florence was the daughter of Martin Plenzler and Minnie Machowiak. Interestingly, Stanley was widowed when Florence passed away in 1946. He then married her sister, Edna, in 1950 Edna was widowed a few years prior when her husband, Daniel Sieja passed away.

Ronald was born December 14, 1933 and died February 13, 1934 of pneumonia.

Ronald S. Jankowski, grave, Calvary Cemetery, Toledo, Ohio

Ronald S. Jankowski, Calvary Cemetery, Toledo, Ohio

Here is a photo of the 8th grade graduating class of 1933 from St. Hyacinth’s school. Alice and Aloysius (Ollie) Przybylski are twins, my first cousins. Thanks to John Plenzler for sharing this photo. Click photo for larger, high-res copy and to read the attached identification of class members.

St. Hyacinth 1933 8th Grade Graduation

St. Hyacinth 1933 8th Grade Graduation

We all have various ideas of what “home” means to us. To me, part of that idea encompasses the notions of comfort, where we physically are located, what we put into our lives emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and where we have come from. And part of that notion also includes the idea that we can never really return “home.” Time moves forward, waiting for no man or for no reason. Yet we move on, claiming new places as home, placing into these locations people, ideas, and things that comfort and nourish us.

For me, a place that will always be considered “home” in my heart is St. Hyacinth’s parish. It’s a small parish to be sure, but it was one of the parishes built for and supported by the Polish community in Toledo. It’s history is nowhere near as grand or complex as that of say St. Hedwig’s, St. Anthony’s, or even St. Stanislaus in Toledo. Those were the original Polish parishes in Toledo. St. Hyacinth was actually a parish that developed due to the growth of second and third generation Polish Americans.

St. Hyacinth was formed in 1927 and its first Mass was said on Christmas Eve that year. It was sometime before 1930 that my father’s family moved into the parish and were one of the original families belonging to the parish. Originally, dad and his family lived on Woodstock; however, the Great Depression affected the family enough so that they lost the home on Woodstock. Eventually (I don’t know all of the details) they managed to purchase the property at 813 Evesham where my aunt and her husband remained for many years. This is where my grandparents had lived with Celia and Joe until each passed away. This property is immediately in back of the parking lot of St. Hyacinth’s elementary school.

Sometime in the 1950s, the parish outgrew its church building and instituted a fund raising drive where each parishioner who was employed donated $2 per Sunday to expand and re-build the church. Each parishioner promised to donate an additional $2 per week until his or her donations reached $300. Over 260 families contributed this amount, others exceeded it. The church was expanded to seat about 700 and was completed in 1960. As a child born during this period, I was one of the first baptized in the new church (although that really meant in the basement!–the story I’ve been told was that the baptismal font wasn’t complete yet). The church was dedicated later in 1960.

The church is amazingly beautiful with its modern architecture and stunning stained glass windows. It’s a simple design, but gorgeous! Some folks in the neighborhood have called it the “Jewel of the Boulevard.” I have no interior pictures of it handy–I’m sure I have some but these would need to be scanned. If I have a chance I’ll have to scan some. The interior is amazingly beautiful despite the fact it was not built with the traditional Gothic architecture of many of the Toledo parishes such as St. Anthony.

However, visit this blog: Catholic Architecture and History of Toledo, Ohio. Jeffery Smith has some stunning pictures of the church. In particular, see these photos he has of the stained glass windows and main altar.

A small bit of trivia: my sister was married in the church in October 1984. A beautiful wedding. However, a few hours after Mass was concluded and we completed the obligatory photo sessions, an arsonist torched the beautiful church in an attempt to cover up a robbery. Again, generous parishioners conducted a drive to collect funds to clean and restore the church after the sacristy, altar, and forward area of the interior were damaged.

You can’t miss the church as you drive down Parkside Boulevard. It’s about a mile or so from Calvary Cemetery, not far from the intersection of Parkside and Nebraska. Be sure to look for the windmills located at Scott Park. Drive towards the windmills and you’ll eventually reach the church as you come from Dorr Street.

I do have a photo of the exterior and a photo of the elementary school, taken last summer on quick trip. I would have stopped to see if I could enter; however, it was a hot July Saturday that I was photographing the cemetery and I was filthy and smelly and almost time for Saturday evening Mass. (Having mud caked on one’s knees and smelling like you’ve just rolled in a pile of it doesn’t make one feel comfortable in joining in for Saturday evening Mass, although dress restrictions have eased significantly over the years for Mass attendance!)

St. Hyacinth Catholic Church, Toledo, Ohio

St. Hyacinth Catholic Church, Toledo, Ohio

St. Hyacinth Parish Elementary School, Toledo, Ohio

St. Hyacinth Parish Elementary School, Toledo, Ohio

A special memory of the church is that it was served by Father Zygmunt Pitula, perhaps in the mid 1960s or so. Fr. Pitula was assigned to the Toledo Diocese through the years to particularly serve the Polish community–he was a native of Poznan, Poland and spent five years as a prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp. A newspaper article published in the Toledo Blade on June 7, 1979 provides a small bit of his history. While the article doesn’t state it outright, Fr. Pitula had the honor of concelebrating Mass with Pope John Paul II. See article below.

A while back. Stanczyk posted a question: Did I have any posts about the 1913 “Big Blow” Great Lakes Hurricane? I couldn’t say I did. I hadn’t really heard of it until he discussed it. I did a bit of looking into the matter, it doesn’t seem to have affected Toledo too badly other than it was an early, heavy snowstorm for the city. However, this storm was terrible. It sunk lake freighters and made a huge impact on the Great Lakes region.

Looking for some historical meteorological data, I did find this:

While it seems that this storm was a maritime disaster, I can’t find whether any of my Toledo relatives were directly affected by this “big blow”–none that I know of worked the freighters or on the port docks (most during this period worked in the burgeoning auto industry or other factories or as masons, carpenters, and a few eventually owned and operated a small grocery), but what I learned was fascinating. Prior to this, the only lake freighter I knew that sunk in the Great Lakes was the Edmund Fitzgerald. The November 12, 1913 edition of the Toledo News-Bee posted a list of lake tolls of this storm:

Lake ship tolls--November 12, 1913 Toledo News-bee

Lake ship tolls--November 12, 1913 Toledo News-Bee

The Toledo News-Bee reported on November 14, 1913 that 275 bodies washed ashore along the Great Lakes due to this storm and that 44 lake vessels were wrecked.

Toledo doesn’t seem to have been too badly affected by the storm. But it did affect transportation and like today, residents were complaining about property owners not cleaning the walks.

Letter to the editor--Toledo News-Bee November 12, 1913

Letter to the editor-Toledo News-Bee November 12, 1913 -- why don't property owners clear walks?

Railroads affected in Toledo during 1913 Big Blow--clip from November 12, 1913 Toledo News-Bee

Railroads affected in Toledo during 1913 Big Blow--clip from November 12, 1913 Toledo News-Bee

As promised, here’s the documentation I have on Joseph Przybylski. I don’t know why I haven’t documented him while going through the offspring of Andrew Przybylski and Frances Rochowiak, but better late than never.

Joseph was born February 18, 1885 in Toledo, Ohio and was the sixth of ten children that I’ve been able to verify born to Andrew and Frances. Ironically, I remember stumbling upon Joseph while researching my grandfather, John Plenzler. John and Joseph were baptized the same day, in the same parish, by the same priest, on February 22, 1885. The Plenzlers and Przybylskis definitely had very intertwined lives.

Joseph married Rose Wiczynska in St. Hedwig’s parish on October 25, 1916. Joseph was 31, and Rose was 25.  I’ve transcribed this record as best as I could below:

No. 74
Matrimomium Contrahentium Nomina: Joseph Joannes Przybylski (juv 31 ex par???, St. Stanislaus Koska); Rosalia Wiczynska (coel. 25)
Residentia: Toleti, O., Toleti, O.
Nomen Parentum: Andreas Przybylski, Franciscea Rochowiak; Adalberti Wiczynski, Franciscea Donarski
Dies Matrimonii 25a Oct 1916
Testes: Casimir Wiczynski, Antonius Rochowiak
Sacerdos: B. Rosinski
Dies et Locus Baptismi: Oricudus (sp?) ex paroccia Stae. Antonii, Toleti, O.; Orincunda (sp?) ex paroccia, St. Hedwigis, Toleti, O.
Publicationes Dispensationes Adonationes: 3 procl.

Notice that one of the witnesses was Antonius Rochowiak. That is a link to investigate later for the Rochowiak family. My guess is that Antonius (likely Anthony) was a cousin to Joseph, nephew to Frances.

At the time of the 1920 census, Joseph and Rose had one daughter, Virginia. They were living at 507 Pulaski Street. (Gasp! He was living in the “rival” Polish neighborhood of Lagrinka! Yes, there was a bit of competition between the neighborhoods at that period. I’ve heard stories that men from either neighborhood would tease each other and daring each other to court or date women from “their” neighborhoods.) Joseph was employed as a riveter at a steel factory.

By the time of the 1930 census, Joseph and Rose were living in the Kuschwantz neighborhood, this time on Belmont a few blocks from Vance street where a number of Przybylskis and Plenzlers lived. By this time, the family had a total of four children:

  • Virgina, age 13
  • Richard, age 9
  • Alvina, age 6
  • Dorothy, age 1-3/4

The family lived in what’s called a “shot gun house.” These houses became ubiquitous in the older neighborhoods of Toledo, particularly the Kuschwantz where the lots were long and very narrow. The house still exists and here is a photo I located via Google maps:

Former Belmont Ave. of Joseph and Rose Przybylski

Former Belmont Ave. home of Joseph and Rose Przybylski--good example of a "shotgun house"

These houses were called shotgun because literally, you could point a shotgun through the front door and hit a target in the backyard. There would be one long hallway leading through the house, and all of the rooms were either on the left or right. Typically, these houses were one story with a basement and an unfinished attic and a sharply pitched, high roof. They were efficient to build and designed to fit on small, narrow urban lots. These houses were generally small–perhaps 1200 square feet total. As a family grew, sometimes the family would finish the attic to house older children.

Joseph died on July 8, 1937 at the age of 52. His obituary was published July 9, 1937 in the Toledo News-Bee and is transcribed below:

Joseph Przybylski died Thursday in his home at 1517 Pinewood Ave. He was 51.

He leaves his wife, Rose; three daughters, Mrs. Virginia Napierala and Misses Eleanor and Dorothy, a son, Richard; four sisters, Mrs. Mary Erdman, Mrs. Dorothy Sieja, Mrs. Netti Plenzler, and Mrs. Eva Hejnicki; a brother, Frank, all of Toledo, and another brother, John, Detroit.

Services will be held at 8:30 a.m. Monday in the residence at and 9 a.m. in St. Stanislaus Church. Burial will be in Calvary.

I don’t have a grave photo for him (yet). But I do have his burial record reflecting his grave location at Calvary:

No.: 38869
Name: Joseph Przybylski
Residence: 1517 Palmwood
Age: 51
Cause of Death: Unknown
Date of Interment: July 13
Grave: 100
Range or Lot: 10
Section: 40
Undertaker: F. Czglosz

Rose passed away on April 28, 1958. Her obituary was published in the Toledo Blade on April 30, 1958:

Mrs. Rose Mr. Przybylski, 59, of 1669 Pinewood Ave., died Monday in Maumee Valley Hospital.

Born in Swanton, O., she had lived in Toledo most of her life. She had been a member of the maintenance staff of the Toledo Stamping Co. for five years.

Surviving are daughters, Mrs. Virginia Napierala, Mrs. Dorothy Croniser; son, Richard; sisters, Mrs. Magdalene Admus, Mrs. Mary Konsinski, and Mrs. Clara Rochowiak; all of Toledo, and 13 grandchildren.

Services will be Thursday at 9 a.m. in St. Stanislaus Church. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. The body is in the Sujkowski Mortuary.

Note here too that one of Rose’s sisters married a Rochowiak! Another Rochowiak angle to investigate.

Rose’s burial record through Calvary Cemetery is transcribed below:

No. 59179
Name: Rose M. Przybylski
Residence: Maumee V. Hosp.
Age: 58
Cause of Death: Auracular Fibrillation
Date of Interment: May 1
Grave; 79
Range or Lot: 10
Section: 40
Funeral Director: W.K. Sujkowski
Remarks: 1763

Thanks to John Plenzler and Justin Croniser, there are photos of Joseph and Rose:

Joseph Przybylski

Joseph Przybylski

Rose Wiczynska Przybylski

Rose Wiczynska Przybylski

I just read an excellent article on (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.)

I realize that when one undertakes to research both sides of the family, that’s a very big undertaking. I’ve had a lot of help along the way from cousins, my mom, and my sisters. Still there are times I feel as if I’m neglecting one side or the other. Lately, I’ve been neglecting my dad’s side of the family. The Mierzejewskis in Toledo just don’t seem to want to be found. But sooner or later, I’m going to tease them out by hook or by crook. Many of the Mierzejewskis that I knew liked a good joke, so it’s likely they’re still playing games. (And yes, I am half serious by saying that–my dad was a joker and played some serious pranks–some day I should post the story how he answered the phone when my sisters and I were teenagers and boys would call for dates.)

Today is Tombstone Tuesday over at GeneaBloggers. So here are the graves of two possible Mierzejewski relatives. I cannot place them in my tree; however, chances are good I’m related to them. It all goes back to that business of having two grandparents, unrelated but with the same last name before marriage. However, you’ll notice the names aren’t spelled quite the same way. Like Plenzlers/Plencners, the Mierzejewski name has morphed over time as well.

These are the few graves that I have photos of from Calvary but have not recorded the grave location and cannot look up the grave location. If I ever find the locations, I’ll eventually post them.

First grave stone of the day is for Stanley Mizejewski.

Grave Stanley Mizejewski Calvary Cemetery

Grave Stanley Mizejewski Calvary Cemetery

I corresponded with Garret Mierzejewski, a Mierzejewski expert. Garret did have an obituary for Stanley. The obituary has no date other than the year, 1962. I’ve transcribed the obituary below.

Stanley Mizejewski

Stanley Mizejewski, 70, of 9735 Douglas Rd., Temperance, Mich., died Tuesday at Flower Hospital.

Mr. Mizejewski, born in Poland, lived in the Toledo area more than 50 years. He had been a machinist at the Baker Bros. Co. for 35 years, retiring in 1958.

Surviving are his daughters, Mrs. Virginia Berend and Mrs. Marcella McClean; son, Harold S. Brooks, all of San Diego and five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Urbanski Mortuary, with burial in Calvary Cemetery.

I may be able to find Stanley’s grave location if I poke through the Calvary burial logs again. I attempted to last night, but 1962 seemed to be a particularly good year for business at Calvary. I got blurry eyed reading and might have missed it.

Here is the next grave. The stone is very worn, it’s difficult to read and I cannot fully transcribe it.

Unknown: Possibly Konstancia Mierzejewski grave Calvary Cemetery

Unknown: Possibly Konstancia Mierzejewski grave Calvary Cemetery

I believe the name on this gravestone may be similar to Konstancia Mierzejewska (the feminine form of the surname). However, it’s weather worn and difficult to read. The death year on the stone also is difficult to determine. Is it 1913, 1916, 1918, or 1919? As Garret pointed out to me, the birth year is clear enough to determine that this person was born in the 1850s. Yet as he pointed out, most of Mierzejewskis who came here were born in the 1880s, possibly 1870s. Mierzejewskis emigrated during a later phase of Polish migration to the US: my grandfather was documented as coming to the US as early as 1903 when he was just 18 or 19 and he returned to Poland a few times before settling permanently in Ohio. So this person is a unique surprise and it would be interesting to learn more about him or her.

If anyone has any information, please leave a comment or drop me an email.

A while back, John Plenzler shared a number of photos with me. In a document with the photos, he explained that he believed this photo to be of the Przybylski brothers–the sons of Frances Rochowiak and Andrew Przybylski. However, Frances and Andrew had only four sons that I am aware of and can document: Frank, John, Joseph, and Stanislaw.  Here is the photo that needs some identification. There is no date for the photo. Click the photo for a larger, high-res version.

Frank Pzybylski, back row, 3rd from left, Joseph Przybylski front row left,  possible John Przybylski front row right--need to identify others

Frank Pzybylski, back row, 3rd from left, Joseph Przybylski front row left, possible John Przybylski front row right--need to identify others

Frank Przybylski is the third from left, back row. Joseph Przybylski is at the left, bottom row. It is possible that John Przybylski is bottom row, last on right. Can anyone identify the other gentlemen? Date of the photo unknown. May be a wedding photo. Stanislaw died in 1919 due to an industrial accident. Might Stanislaw be in this photo?

With this post, I also realized that I have never written up any documentation for Joseph Przybylski. Coming soon.

If anyone has any insight or information, leave a comment here or drop me an email and I’ll follow up.

As promised, here’s a write up the last located sibling for Joseph Plenzler, Kunegunda. I tried to look up the name Kunegunda because it’s a pretty unusual name–at least for me. Never heard of it until I encountered Joseph’s sister. All I could find was this from  So it’s pretty obvious Kunegunda didn’t get the name from being born on July 24, all records I could locate place her birth as March 22, 1872. I then posted a question to Ask Sister Mary Martha. She seems to be knowledgeable about such things, so maybe she’ll be able to provide some insight. (Now back to our regularly scheduled post. I tend to be interested in some of the odder trivia of genealogy such as answering questions like “Why in the world would a parent give their child THAT name?”)

Kunegunda arrived in the US in Baltimore on June 15, 1892. The manifest seems to indicate that she traveled alone, there are no other Plenzlers or other related family names that I can recognized on this manifest. She was 22 and single and her final destination is listed as Indiana. So she was heading to be with her sisters in South Bend.

Kungunda married Stanislaw (Stanley)  Zalas on January 16, 1892 in St. Hedwig’s Parish in South Bend, Indiana per the South Bend Area Genealogical Society. (Contact the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library.) The 1900 census shows that Kunegunda and Stephen had four children:

  1. Piotr (age 6)
  2. Stanislaw (age 5)
  3. Zofia (age 4)
  4. Jadwiga (age 8 months)

By the 1920 census, the family added five more children:

  1. Hattie (age 19)
  2. George (age 17)
  3. Jacob (age 13)
  4. Verna (age 9)
  5. Klara (age 4 or 5, the census noted the age as 4 12/12 months)

I have little further data on this family. Per Kunegunda’s obituary, Stanislaw died in 1950. Kunegunda died in 1953. Her obituary was published in the South Bend Tribune on November 19, 1953 and  is obtainable through the South Bend Library and I’ve transcribed it below:

Mrs. Kunegunda Zalas, 714 South Brookfield St. Died at 7:30 PM Saturday in St. Joseph Hospital after four weeks illness. She was born in Poland March 22, 1872, and came here 65 years ago from that country. She was married here 62 years ago to Stanley Zalas, who died in 1950. Surviving are four sons; Peter, Stanley Jr., Albert and James; and three daughters, Mrs. Sophia Jaronik, Mrs. Verna Caplin and Mrs. Clara Gapinski, all of South Bend; 24 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren. Friends may call in the Kaniewski Chapel after 6 PM today and the funderal at 9 am Tuesday in St. Adalbert’s Church, with Rev. Ignatius J. Capczynski, pastor, officiating. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery.

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