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

Mary Plenzler was the seventh child born to Eva Dauer and Joseph Plenzler on September 14, 1892. Mary was baptized in St. Anthony’s Parish, September 18, 1892. Mary’s baptismal name was Marianna Magdalena. Her baptismal record is transcribed below:

Nativae: 14 Sept.
Bapt.: 18 Sept.
Nomen: Marianna Magdalena /binom./
Genus: foem.
Thori: Leg.
Parentes: Plencner Josephus fil. Josephi et Mariannae; Dauer, Eva fil Andreas et Mariannae n Aumiller.
Patrini: Franciscus Zielinski et Magalena Brzoska

As noted with her brother, Robert, it is interesting to note that paternity of the child’s parents is also noted during this period with St. Anthony’s baptismal records. While Eva Dauer’s mother was noted as Marianna Omler on Robert’s baptism record, it is noted as Marianna Aumiller on Mary’s baptism record. It will be interesting to see if there are any more leads with Eva’s family name if it is possible to obtain the marriage records from Poznan for Eva and Joseph.

It seems as if Mary resided with her brother, Robert, her entire adult life and never married. The 1930 census shows Robert and Mary living at 1541 Avondale and this was the address on her death records as well. This is a picture of the property.

Mary passed away January 4, 1969 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery through St. Stanislaus Parish. Her obituary was published January 6, 1969 in the Toledo Blade and is transcribed below:

Mary Plenzler

Mary S. Plenzler, 75, of 1541 Avondale Ave., died Saturday in her home.

Miss Plenzler was a lifelong resident of Toledo. She was a member of St. Stanislaus Church and its Council of Catholic Women.

Surviving are a sister, Mrs. Sophia Szymanowski, and brothers, Robert and Frank Plenzler, all of Toledo.

Services will be Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in the church, with burial in Calvary Cemetery. Rosary will be recited at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Sujkowski Mortuary.

Mary’s interment record through St. Stanislaus is transcribed below:

Name: Mary Plenzler
Address: 1541 Avondale
Age: 75
Parents or Spouse: Brother, Robert; Sister, Sophia Szymanowski
Date of Death: Jan. 4, 1969
Date of Burial: Jan. 9, 1969
Celebrant at Funeral: S.J. Wojceichowski

Her burial record from Calvary Cemetery is transcribed below:

No. 71940
Name: Mary S. Plenzler
Residence: 1541 Avondale
Age: 75
Cause of Death: Coronary Occlusion
Date of Interment: Jan. 9
Grave: 6
Range or Lot: 193
Section: 46
Funeral Director: Sujkowski
Remarks: R-46

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