My father’s family has proven itself difficult to research. They originated from a region of Poland that was controlled by Russia and torn by upheavals, wars (World War I and II and the Russian Civil War/Polish-Soviet War), and invasions. This region, surrounding Czerwin, Gerwaty, Goworowo, Tomasze, and Borowce, finally has a number of online records for the region at the Polish Genealogical Society’s metrics website. Of course, my difficult search has been only more frustrating since both of my grandparents had the surname of Mierzejewski and let’s face it–despite the fact that name may appear unusual to anyone without a clue in Polish ancestry–it’s one of those names. There are many of us, and it has come to my conclusion that it’s the Polish equivalent to the surnames of Jones, Smith, and Johnson. (Those of you with deep Polish roots can understand if you’re from a family named Mierzejewski, Przybylski, or Kowalski. There are just too many of us!)

Until I can get to Poland, digital and social connections and the use of whatever knowledge I have that my relatives have shared will have to do.

So, I’ve been scouring the metrics website this weekend. I believe I’ve come up with a direct connection to my father’s family. I knew that my grandfather’s (Wladyslaw or Walter) father was Jan and that he married three times: to Anna Budziszewska, to Anna’s elder sister (name yet to be determined), and Eleonora Guzskowska. Sometime ago, Garret Mierzejewski kindly shared with me Jan’s marriage record to Anna. The marriage occurred in 1864. This led me to confirm that Jan and Anna had a son name Ignacy although I have not confirmed his date of birth.

Ignacy was married to a woman named Marianna Dabkowska. This I had learned by researching his son, John (b. 1894), who had immigrated to the US and resided in Toledo. Many in this branch of my family seem to have either remained in Poland or have traveled to the US and returned to Poland to remain. I’ve heard a few stories about this branch that have told me some just didn’t care to live in the United States and returned home. So far, I have not found any records for Ignacy to have traveled to the US. Along the way, I had discovered that John had a brother named Edward (b. 1903) through the 1930 census, where he is listed a boarder living with John and his wife, Anna, on Hamilton St. in Toledo.

Through the PGS’s metrics website, I was able to locate a birth record for Edward, written in Russian. I have queries out to have it translated. However, for me, this was a pretty wonderful thing. I finally got a record, from Poland, on my own for my father’s family. I never thought that would happen due to the issues of distance, history and language. (I can’t even begin to understand Russian and the history, both of Poland and of my family, are working against me!)

The record is below. Click image to obtain the full resolution, full size image. The record for Edward is #67, top left.

Birth record for Edward Mierzejewski, b. 1903 to Ignacy Mierzejewski and Marianna Dabkowska, from Catholic parish in Czerwin.

Birth record for Edward Mierzejewski, b. 1903 to Ignacy Mierzejewski and Marianna Dabkowska, from Catholic parish in Czerwin.

Late last summer, I had the pleasure of corresponding with a descendant of one of my father’s crewmates on Mission 234 with a target of Memmingen, Germany. They had flown together in a plane named “The Flying Latrine.” This contact was kind enough to share information with me as well as a picture of one of the other men who had flown with my father, Sgt. George Lawson Ratje. Sgt. Ratje was a tail gunner on Mission 234. My father was a ball turret gunner.

The Flying Latrine

Crews did not always fly the same plane nor did the men fly with the same crew each time. However, I was kindly provided with a list of missions my father and members of the 2nd Bomb Squad flew as well as a list of each of my father’s missions. (These files are in Excel format.)

George Lawson Ratje survived World War II to return home. However, he had died 30 July 1950 in California.

George Lawson Ratje

All who were on Mission 234 over Memmingham, Germany were:

  • John F. Rice, Pilot
  • Grant W. Ramsey, Co-Pilot
  • Granville C. Egleson, Navigator
  • Charles T. Wright, Bomb/Togglier
  • Herman T. Butko, Engineer/Top Turret
  • Harold S. Barth, Radio Operator
  • Edward B. Mierzejewski, Ball Turret
  • J. J. Casey, Waist Gunner
  • R. L. Reynolds, Waist Gunner
  • George L. Ratje, Tail Gunner

Yesterday’s mystery seems to have been halfway cleared up. The wonders of social networking! A cousin through my dad’s family contacted me and her mom looked at the photo. Verdict was the two on the left were my paternal grandparents, Walter and Helena. I studied them against a photo of them taken in the backyard of the house they owned on Evesham, and I’m convinced it is them. Yesterday’s photo I would think was probably taken before Walter and Helena lived on Evesham. The house on Evesham was bought sometimes in the 1930s as the 1930 census shows them living a few blocks away in the first home they purchased at 622 Woodstock.

Walter and Helena Mierzejewski, Evesham

Walter and Helena Mierzejewski, Evesham

Now, the other half of yesterday’s mystery is who are the man and woman on the right? I am wondering whether it a sibling and spouse? A hunch I have, and it’s a long shot, is if it is Walter’s brother, Marcin or Marzel. Some oral history and some documented fact: Marcin did come to the US a few times with Walter. I had been able to document a few of his moves through manifests. The manifest below (see lines 11 and 12) is particularly intriguing to me as they are each heading to Masschusetts first–Wladyslaw to New Bedford and Marcin to Pittsfield. This is particularly interesting as there is quite a few Mierzejewskis in that region and many Mierzejewskis traveled westward through New England to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.


Wladyslaw is stating that his contact in Poland is his wife, Helena, who lives in Borowiec, Lomza. Marcin is stating that his contact is his sister-in-law.

There are other miscellaneous manifests, from 1903 and 1907 from Hamburg that also show Walter and Marcel traveling to the US. Unfortunately, I have not yet located the manifests that indicate their arrival at a US port yet. So, I am fairly certain Walter and Marcin traveled together and separately for work in the US for a while prior to Walter and Helena permanently settling in Ohio in 1923.

The oral part of this story is that Marcin did not like living in the US and he eventually returned to Poland to remain permanently where he married a woman named Czeszlawa, in 1914. He died in Tomasz in 1965. I do know of a story that he did come to the US to visit Helena and Walter at least once. Walter died in 1946, so the visit would have had to occur prior to 1946. If I study both of these pictures, it’s clear to me that the two men are related in some fashion. While one has a prominent moustache, their facial features are very much alike: very round faces, downward slopes of the nose, and similar mouth and jaw features. Hopefully, by putting this out “there” someone can identify and maybe confirm that the two persons to the right are Marcin and his wife Czeszlawa.


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.


I am beginning to think that some links to connecting some of my Mierzejewski are in central Pennsylvania. My grandmother’s (Helena Mierzejewska) family seems to have come through central Pennsylvania. I have found them in Altoona, Reading, and in Cambria, Beria, and Blair Counties. I suspect they were there for a few reasons: coal mining was easy work to get and the land there likely drew them because they were farmers.

For sometime, I knew a few of my cousins were born in or around Reading or Altoona. But this weekend, I had zeroed in on a cousin named Zofia. Her father, Wladymir or Wladyslaw (my grand-uncle) had settled in Blair County for a time. I had Zofia’s passport application and I studied it for clues.

Zofia was born April 10, 1909 in Beria County. Her birth certificate was attached to the passport application. It indicates that her mother’s name was Apolonia.

Birth certificate, Zofia Mierzejewski

Birth certificate, Zofia Mierzejewski

In 1912, Wladmir or Wladyslaw married woman named Bronislawa (Bernice) Mierzejewska. Again, this is a case of a Mierzejewski marrying a Mierzejewska. So I have to assume Apolonia has passed away. The passport application mentions that Zofia is traveling with her step-mother from Warsaw, wishing to return to the United States, to her father’s home in Toledo, Ohio–to 1763 Buckingham. This is the address where my father was born.

Passport Letter of Inquiry Zofia Mierzejewski

Passport Letter of Inquiry Zofia Mierzejewski

What is interesting about this is this passport application is so that Zofia can travel from Poland back to the United States. She had been in Poland since 1921–about three years. At the time of the passport application, Zofia was about 15 years old, so she had left about the age of 12. The correspondence was in order to verify her US birth and provides documentation, so now we know where she was baptized: Our St. Mary of Czestechowa Church in Gallitzen, Pennsylvania. We also know now her birth was recorded in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Her father must have moved from Pennsylvania to Toledo during the time she was in Poland.

I have a passenger list for March 1924 that lists Wladimir with the address of 1763 Buckingham, Toledo, Ohio stating he is a brother of John. It is noted that Wladimir did not sail. He probably did not sail because Zofia did not have a passport yet to return to the United States. We even have a poor, many times reproduced, photo of Zofia as well as her signature.

Zofia Mierzejewski, Passport Documentation

Zofia Mierzejewski, Passport Documentation

It’s been quite a while since I’ve paid attention to this blog. There really is no reason for that, other than I simply haven’t taken the time to write much lately. I got involved in other activities and somewhere along the way, this website gathered dust. Funny how my priorities work–in my 30s and 40s, I was a whirling dervish. I hardly slept. Now in my 50s, I’m noticing that I am not so much into all of that “busy-ness” and prefer to take my time to get around to things, after I’ve slept.

Some of the genealogy activities I’ve participated in this year so far have been quite interesting. The Toledo Polish Genealogical Society conducted a field trip to Calvary Cemetery and honored many of the early Polish immigrants to Toledo this past May. I was honored to be invited to make a small presentation on Lawrence Rochowiak. Unfortunately, I was hit with an awful sinus infection that week due to allergies and in between sneezes and hacks, I was hardly intelligible. Despite the seasonal discomfort, it was a wonderful day, I learned so much by attending and was able to chat with members of the TPGS, catch up a cousin and learn more about many of the first Polish settlers in Toledo, including the idea that Calvary Cemetery land may have been donated by some of the early Polish settlers. I hope to learn more about that in the future.

While there (and as usual, when I make the occasional trip up to Toledo), I take as many photos of Polish graves as possible–as long as there is light outdoors and my camera batteries remain alive. (I actually carry three cameras: a Canon, a Samsung, and the cell phone–I will take photos until there is no more battery power left in all three.) So, this past spring and summer, quite a bit of my spare time at home was spent researching the headstones and uploading the photos to the Ohio Gravestone Photo Project. There now are about 1,600 records for Calvary on that website. Perhaps I’ve managed to dig up one of your relatives? Link is here: Lucas County, Ohio Gravestone Photo Project, Calvary Cemetery. If I’ve made any errors transcribing the stone or the data doesn’t seem right, let me know. (There is a link under the photo to email the contributor.)

I’ve also obtained some interesting military documents for my grandfather, John Plenzler and for my dad, Edward Mierzejewski. I have to scan the Marine records for my grandfather, but have uploaded an accident report that I’ve located for my father. I found it interesting–for a few months in early 1944, dad was stationed at Las Vegas Army Air Field (now Nellis AFB in Nevada) for training. While he was there, there was a crash of a B-17 where he was a crew member and was involved in the crash. I knew his discharge papers indicated he had attended a service school — Sperry Gun — for aerial gunnery but never followed up on that detail until this summer. I wrote to accident-report.com after querying for my father on the site. Lo and behold, dad’s name popped up and I order the report. The incident occurred 4 February 1944, and was due to landing gear that malfunctioned. Orders were for the pilots to locked down anything moveable on the plane and to fly until their fuel load was lightened so they could crash land.

Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in this accident, but the report has photos of the B-17G that was damaged in the flight and has names of the crew involved. If interested, a PDF of the report document is here. I haven’t transcribed it (too tired and lazy!), but it is interesting. I’ve been reading quite a bit about the role of the Army Air Forces in World War II lately, including a book title “Fortress Ploetsi: The Campaign to Destroy Hitler’s Oil Supply” by Jay Stout–which got my attention after studying my father’s July 1944 – November 1944 mission log, which did include Ploetsi. Simply astounding that my dad lived through that and helped put an end to the Nazis by destroying their critical fuel supplies.

I’ve been continuing on a quest to locate more data on my father’s family. As I’ve pointed out earlier when attempting to find all of the different variations of the surname, it becomes difficult locating these individuals because of the many variant name spellings.

Knowing that some of dad’s family did come through Pennsylvania, I had been scouring the records on FamilySearch.com in order to see if perchance I could find any hint of my family in Cambria and Blair counties or the regions surrounding Altoona. I knew to look at these areas because a few death certificates indicated that a few cousins were born in that region. This was a search similar to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack because of the name. But persistence paid off, and I’ve found more variants in the name spelling. I think this time the errors were literally due to clerical errors.

A huge question I’ve had is how, or if, Konstanty Mierzejewski is related to the family. (Note that while I have linked to a previous post that states I think Konstanty was a sibling of my grandfather, I have since had information that leads me to disregard that idea. But there is some good identifying material in that post in case anyone stumbles upon this website.) My guess is that Konstanty may well be related, but I can’t prove it yet. The parents I have for him are not those of either my grandmother OR my grandfather.  I have only been able to ascertain through a 1912 Philadelphia Passenger list that Konstanty had been born somewhere near Brwilno Gone, a considerable distance from my grandparents’ ancestral villages of Gerwaty and Borowce. All three villages surround Warsaw, and all were considered part of the Russian Partition of Poland. It is very possible Konstanty is no relation. Still, Konstanty’s life patterns were all too parallel to my grandparents’ family, he was in the Cambria County and Altoona, Pennsylvania regions shortly after his immigration here; my grandmother’s brother Wladyslaw Mierzejewski (not to be confused with her HUSBAND Wladyslaw Mierzejewski–can you understand my constant confusion?) had settled for a period in the Altoona, Pennsylvania region–his eldest daughter, Sophia was born in Altoona. Additionally, another of my grandmother’s brothers, Jan, had settled near Altoona for a time and his first daughter, Helen, was born in Altoona. The last in a trifecta of coincidences that leads me to believe Konstanty might very well be related through one of my grandparents is that upon my grandparents’ arrival here, they were living at 1763 Buckingham. They arrived in February, 1923 and this address is reflected on my father’s birth certificated dated December 23, 1924. Konstanty had used this address on his 1918 World War I draft registration. Unfortunately, I have not been able to trace the ownership of this home at the time (it was likely rented though) and by 1920, Konstanty had moved to Detroit Avenue, just a few blocks away. Coincidence or relationship? That is the question I am still trying to solve.

I digressed, considerably. Some digging through the few records for Pennsylvania on FamilySearch.com did bring two marriage records for the Mierzejewski clan! And were those names mangled.

I did locate the marriage record for Konstanty and Stephania. And this record provides a hint as to where the permutation spelling MIEZEJEWSKI may have arisen. It is how the name is spelled on the official county marriage record. However, in Konstanty’s situation, all other records that I’ve located use the spelling MIERZEJEWSKI. This marriage record doesn’t provide much information that I did not have prior, I knew the parents (Julian and Anna); however, the name of the priest marrying the couple is provided. That is a clue, and with that name may be able to trace the parish they were married in sometime! Also note that the bride’s name is incorrect. She is listed as Suffie, and we know her name was Stephania. Additionally, the bride’s surname is provided as Decosky, which also is incorrect, the name on other records for Stephania is DYKOWSKI. However, knowing these spellings may be helpful in the future. Click the image to view it full size.

Cambria County, Pennsylvania, Marriage Record for Konstanty Mierzejewski and Stephania Dykowski, 18 June 1907

The second Mierzejewski marriage record I’ve located was that for my grandmother’s brother, Wladyslaw (Walter) and his wife, Bronisława (Bernice). This marriage occurred November 6, 1912. And (the themes continue…do I hear the violins yet?) the names are misspelled and indicates that Mierzejewskis married other Mierzejewskis. I knew Bernice was a Mierzejewski prior to marriage; however, it is misspelled for both of the groom and the bride. For the groom, the name is spelled MIERZEYSKI and for the bride the name is spelled MERSEJEWSKA. I did learn one new interesting fact about my grand uncle. I did not know he was previously married. According to this marriage record, Wladyslaw was widowed September 2, 1910. So, another hint to follow. It may be possible his first wife died in Pennsylvania. I also did not know Bernice’s parents prior; their names are given as Peter and Emily–so some good possibilities to chase down with first names would be Piotr and Anelia or Emilia. Click to enlarge the record and view it full size.

Wladyslaw and Bronisława Mierzejewski marriage record, Blair County, Pennsylania 6 November 1912

I think another theme with my locating my grandparents’ family will be patience! Given that I know that at least several of my ancestors married others with the same surname and give how many ways the surname has been spelled, I think I’m just going to need a lot of patience. Lord, give me patience and give it to me now? Old joke, I know. But I know so much about my mother’s side of the family and so little of my dad’s that I wonder if they are playing tricks on me by revealing themselves to me ever so slowly. Mom’s family was wham bam thank you m’am, here we are! They were relatively easy to find and connect unlike my dad’s family. While I continue to learn about mom’s family, I also want that history in Russian Poland that forced my grandfather here in 1923!

Next Page »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 313 other followers