I realize I haven’t been posting for quite some time. Life has just been incredibly busy. Genealogical events have happened: a marriage in the family, graduations, and an engagement. My family continues to evolve, change, and progress and provide infinite sources of contentment as well as challenges. A huge career change happened for me as well the past few months and I’ve never denied my workaholic tendencies. (I get “lost” in what I am involved in–it’s a trait many introverts have–I just get involved in what I am doing and lose track of time and it’s the reason my genealogy is worked on in spurts. I seem to lack the ability to work steadily an hour here, and hour there on anything. I HAVE to do ALL that I can NOW! I often wonder what ancestor of mine was like that.) I guess this blog will need to suffer whenever I lack the time or ability to pay attention to it.

During the past several months, I did manage to get some research done as well as prowl both Calvary and Mount Carmel cemeteries. Nothing exciting came out of my cemetery prowls (yet, I haven’t worked on all of the photos) but I’ve found a database that I completely fell in love with: Basia. This database is an effort to transcribe and digitize the vital and civil records in the Polish National Archives based on an effort called the Asia project which is making these archived documents accessible. You can search either the Basia or Asia — but it is the Basia website that will provide you with scanned documents. (To use Asia, which will at least provide you with a list of all documents that reference the name or terms you are using, go here: http://szukajwarchiwach.pl/.) All documents and records available through Basia or Asia are from the Poznan area (I can’t tell if the effort will expand beyond Poznan). More historical documentation, from before the early 1900s is available in Basia it seems.

Basia can be read in English if you use the Chrome browser. I’ve tried it also with Firefox and IE–it works fine with any browser, but Chrome has an add-in that will translate non-English text on the fly. Asia, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to translate for me in Chrome. I am not sure why that is–the text does not seem to be coming via graphics but from the database. So if you are unable to read Polish, it would be handy to have Google translate open in another browser window. I love both of these websites, and because Basia has provided me very easily with a number of key documents I can’t sing its praises enough!

A while back, I had a theory that my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Lesiecka, had remarried. I had found a reference to a marriage of Mary Lesiecka to a Joannes Olejniczak on the Poznan Project database but had never written to obtain the record. So upon discovering the Basia database, I had thought to check if my theory was true: that Mary had indeed remarried. That would have given me a timeframe for when my 2nd great-grandfather, Jozef Plenzler, had died. I hit the genealogical jackpot–I was probably more excited with what I had found than when I had won $200 in Las Vegas. The marriage occurred in 1884 in Głuszyna and both Mary and Joannes were indicated as being widowed. The original record is held in the Piotrowo Registry Office, Poznan State Archives. It is too large of a record to show but it does specifically state that Marie (Mary) is a widow of Jozef Plenzler of Wiorek who was the son of Anna Maria Bajerlein. A copy of the record is here.

Searching further for any Lesieckis, I hit more jackpots. I had Mary’s birth record thanks to an exchange I had with the Sobeckis a few years ago (Mary was born 11 September 1825, the parish record from Wiorek is here if you would like it — LDS film #1191623). And because of this exchange, I had known her parents were Adalbertus Lesiecki and Barbara Nachengast (this surname seems to have some debate, whether it is Nachengast or Norhengast, but I am tending to Nachengast with how it has been indexed with Basia–I have not been able to transcribe the name well through Mary’s birth/baptismal record).

Because of this information, I was able to locate two siblings for Mary: Johann and Cunegunda, as well as have found strong evidence for a third sibling, Martin.

Johann was located through his death record which mentions his parents, Adalbertus and Barbara. He died 8 October 1883 in Wiorek. And here’s another kicker: his wife was a Marie Plenzler. I have not yet identified who this Marie Plenzler is. Going out on a limb, I’m going to throw out a theory that it’s very possible she is a sister to my 2nd g-grandfather, Jozef. Johann’s death was reported by a Marcin or Martin Lesiecki. Because Martin was the person who has reported the deaths of Barbara, and Johann, I am theorizing that he indeed is a brother to Mary. Johann’s death record is located here. Martin is someone that will need to be researched later. (The research never fails to provide more puzzles to solve!)

Cunegunda was a complete surprise. She also married a Plenzler. Cunegunda was married to a Bartholomeus Plenzler, whom I had previously identified as a brother to my 2nd great-grandfather. It seems as Batholomeus was married a total of three times! (He actually warrants another separate post on this.) I was able to identify through the Basia database that Cunegunda and Bartholomeus had at least one child together, Barbara. Barbara’s civil birth record is here. Cunegunda’s death record is here.

Finally, I was able to locate a death record for Barbara Nachengast Lesiecki. Barbara died 8 January 1879. The record is located here.

It seems that, while very slowly, Polish genealogical records are becoming more available for the cost of an internet connection. Add the Basia and Asia websites to your bookmarks if you’ve identified relatives from the Poznan region of Poland. I have located much more than what I’ve indicated here with just the Lesieckis–I was able to find more information on my Plenzler family, so maybe if I find more free time, I’ll be able to post on it. (Well, New Year is coming up and I don’t care to go out for New Year’s Eve…)

I hope you all have had a peaceful and beautiful Christmas and wish you a wonderful New Year!

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As an update to this post: Unidentified Jankowski Grave–I did a little sleuthing back in March when I made a quick trip to Toledo. I had thought to go back and take a second photo of the grave before grass grew again for spring and managed to get a name hint. Antoni (1874 – 1928) and Pelagia Jankowski (1869 – 1947) are buried here. Each were born in Poland. Antoni was the son of Joseph Jankowski. Grave location in Calvary Cemetery: Grave: E 1/2, Range or Lot: 121, Section: 25.

Geneabloggers has had a World War I challenge. I thought it a good opportunity to discuss a few World War I tidbits I’d gathered a long time ago that have been sitting on my laptop ignored. While I work on my photos of Calvary, I will often research the person whose grave I’ve photographed. No particular reason, I just want to get to “know” those persons–who they were, what they may have experienced, how (or if) there is some possible connection to my family. In today’s post, I am in no way related to those I’ll be speaking of. But I do feel as if they could be ancestors due to their links to Toledo’s Polonia and our shared experiences and extended families.

Some time ago, I had come across Tony Scymanski via a newsclipping from the Toledo News Bee dated January 16, 1919. Tony had enlisted into the US Army at the age of 21. Tony was a member of the 325 Infantry, 82nd Division, having seen action in Argonne. He had written home to his brother, Frank. A reporter got a hold of the letter he had written and placed a piece on Tony in the News Bee:

Tony Scymanski Wounded Twice

Twenty-two days on the field of battle, and only two slight wounds as a result, is the story of Tony Scymanski, who writes to his brother Frank, of Blade st., to say he has fully recovered and hopes that the rumors of an early sailing come true. Scymanski was in the drive thru Argonne, and proud of the record of his division, the 82nd.

“Imagine how I feel,” he says, “when I walk down the street and the French say, ‘there goes a soldier that fought  hard.’ ”

Newsclipping Toledo News Bee January 6, 1919 Tony Scymanski Wounded Twice

Newsclipping from Toledo News Bee January 6, 1919 Tony Scymanski

Tony was born in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania to Peter Szymanski and Mary Pieczynski. (I am unsure of where the name change had crept in. His death is recorded as Szymanski but the newsclipping and his stone reads Scymanski.) Tony did return to Toledo to gain employment as an rail inspector for Pere-Marquette and married a woman named Martha.

Tony died in 1948 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Tony Scymanski Veteran Gravestone Calvary Cemetery

Tony Scymanski Veteran Gravestone Calvary Cemetery

Another clipping I’d come across was dated March 7, 1918 about Alois Nowicki, who also was writing home to his brother, also named Frank.

Life In France is Like Camping

“Life here is like camping at Point Place,” writes Alois Nowicki of 1159 Blum st., from France, to his brother, Attorney Frank S. Nowicki. Sam Nowicki, another brother, is with the National Army, and Casimir Nowicki, a third brother, is with an aviation section about to leave for France.

Toledo News Bee Clipping March 7, 1918 Alois Nowicki

Toledo News Bee Clipping March 7, 1918 Alois Nowicki

I’m not certain that war time living would be like “camping at Point Place”–Point Place at that time was a sort of middle class resort area in Toledo with beaches and boats and fishing. Maybe Alois did not want to focus on the reality of Argonne, but wrote to reassure his family that he did find something to provide him with a sense of home, however fleeting? Alois certainly did not seem to have an easy time of of it. Per a Veterans Administration Hospital record from the hospital located in Dayton, Ohio, Alois was admitted there for pulmonary tuberculosis in 1925 and was discharged in 1927. By reading this record, one can see that he was admitted to the US Army through Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, Ohio. Camp Sherman was one of about 32 soldier training sites for World War I, and was a significant training site. Nearly 125,000 soldiers had been trained there. In fact, it was the third largest training camp at the time. It suffered a hard hit in late 1918 when the Spanish influenza epidemic hit when over 5,600 men were infected and well over 1,700 died in camp. A number of Toledo soldiers were inducted and trained through Camp Sherman.

Alois Nowicki Veteran's Administration Record

Alois Nowicki Veteran’s Administration Record

The 1930 census places Alois in Pima County, Arizona with a wife, Hedwina and a daughter, Jean (who was born in Arizona). This census record is curious. It reflects no occupation or possible income source for Alois. This indicates to me perhaps Alois never recovered from tuberculosis and was residing there for possible health benefits. (Click the snippet to open in a new tab and enlarge.)

Alois Nowicki 1930 Census Pima County Arizona

Alois Nowicki 1930 Census Pima County Arizona

Alois died March 31, 1938. I have not found whether he died in Arizona or in Ohio. Nor have I yet located his grave at Calvary. But his wife did apply for a veteran’s headstone and the address provided was in Toledo.

Alois Nowicki Veternas Gravestone Record

Alois Nowicki Veterans Gravestone Record

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.

http://dmcmanus.biz/family/marzel_mierzejewski_11251909.pdf

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.

unknown_4

Recently, I had come across a burial for Waclaw Gawronski and ended up doing a bit of research on him. He was an interesting character, whose history included a stint as president and editor-in-chief of the Ameryka Echo in Toledo.

As a child, I vaguely remembered a newspaper called the “Ameryka Echo” which was written for and by Poles. However, I don’t remember reading it myself (I never did learn Polish other than a handful of words and knowing how to use my handy dandy well-worn Polish-English dictionary.) In fact, I don’t remember if my parents had ever read it. I suspect they may have, but I don’t think I remember seeing it in the home. I do remember seeing it for sale occasionally in news shops in downtown Toledo as a kid. The newspaper suspended publication in 1971. At that time, I would have been more interested in the funny pages rather than any actual news or editorial pieces.

The Ameryka Echo had an interesting history. Started in Toledo by A.A. Paryski in 1889, it was a cultural newspaper that was often pro-labor. Paryski had used his publishing corporation to also publish books and other materials on a wide range of subjects from religion and anti-Catholicism to home economics to pulp fiction. He had his admirers and detractors, detractors who believed he was making profit off of illiterate or uneducated immigrants. But his diversified subject matter and the low cost of these publications is precisely what drew his audiences. For a small sum and with language and matter geared toward the Polish immigrant, he was able to sell what he believed was valuable editorial and educational information. The Ameryka Echo was published in Toledo and Chicago, reaching a wide immigrant audience. With this audience, letters to the editor were written (often in Polish) and published.

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities has a short history and inventory of publications of A.A. Paryski and the Ameryka Echo here.

Late last year, Lexington Books had published Letters from Readers in the Polish American Press, 1902 – 1969: A Corner for Everyone, written by Anna D. Jaroszynska-Kirchman and Theodore L. Zawistowski. A preview of the book can be obtained through Google Books. The letters are often utterly fascinating to read: there are debates on Polish-American views on labor movements and strikes, the Cold War, political events in Poland, the Roman Catholic Church, and US government. These letters reflect what I felt was an astoundingly well-informed audience who were well able to express their views, hardly the “illiterate” or “uneducated” that Paryski’s detractors called them.

Issues of the Ameryka Echo are on microfilm, held at Bowling Green State University.

Getting back to Waclaw Gawronski, it seemed as if we may have had a man of some importance within the Toledo Polish community. Not only was he president and editor of the Ameryka Echo, he was Consul of the Republic of Poland in France and Consul General in Berlin and Chicago before he lived in Toledo. Mr. Gawronski lived in Toledo from about 1939 to 1961, moving back to Chicago. During his time in Toledo, he was also founder of the Toledo Polish Arts Club. He died 27 March 1979 in Chicago. His obit is below.

Waclaw Gawronski

Ameryka-Echo Editor, Former Polish Consul

Waclaw M. Gawronski, 86, of Chicago, formerly of the 2700 block of Collingwood Boulevard, retired Polish language journalist and former Polish consul,  died Tuesday in a Chicago hospital.

Mr. Gawronski was president and editor-in-chief of the Ameryka-Echo in Toledo in the late 1950s.

He moved to Chicago in 1961 after the newspaper, then considered one of the foremost foreign-language publication in America, ceased publication here.

He was also a writer for Polish-language newspapers in Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit, and was founder of the Polish Arts Club of Toledo.

He held a doctor of law degree from the King John Casimer University, Lwow, Poland.

Mr. Gawronski was consul of the Republic of Poland in France and consul general in Berlin and Chicago before moving to Toledo in 1939.

His wife, Halina, survives.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Stanislaus Church, Toledo.

There will be no visitation.

The family requests that any tributes be in the form of contributions to the Heart Association.

Waclaw Gawronski Toledo Blade Obituary 27 March 1979

Waclaw Gawronski Toledo Blade Obituary 27 March 1979

Mr. Gawronski is buried in Calvary Cemetery, alongside his first wife, Zofia.

Waclaw and Zofia Gawonski

Waclaw and Zofia Gawonski

 

 

I was recently working on the backlog of Calvary Cemetery photos that I snapped last summer and fall. Sometimes while at the cemetery, I get so intent on making sure I get a decent shot (is the sun too high and casting shadows? are my batteries dying? how can I get the best contrast?) that I sometimes do not recognize that I’ve found someone I am related to. I then go through the photos weeks and months later after downloading them from my cameras and say to myself “holy Toledo–I think I’m related.”

So, here are my latest discoveries. I found a “new” child of Michał Mruk and Margaretha Plenzler as well as a daughter of Joseph Erdman and Marianna Przybylski. Margaretha was a a sibling to my great-grandfather, Joseph Plenzler. She and Michał had emigrated to the US 1884. Marianna was a daughter of my great-grandparents, Andrezj and Francziska Rochowiak, and I had located her daughter Eleanor Jaroszewski.

When I did the original research on the Mruk family, I had located a manifest for the ship Rhaetia sailing from Hamburg that listed the Mruk family: Michał and Margaretha and children Tekla, Stanislaus, Kazmierz, Marianne, and a name written as Kath.a. I was unsure who this last child listed on the manifest was. I searched for a Katarzyna, Katherina, and other variants of the name Catherine or Katarzyna but had no luck. In the back of my mind, I thought the child died during or after the voyage as the 1900 census that enumerates the Mruk family indicates that of the marriage, 16 children were born and 9 were surviving. Below are the manifest and the 1900 census. (Click to open in a new browser window and enlarge.)

Image

1884 Manifest from Hamburg Mruk Family

Mruk Family 1900 Census

Mruk Family 1900 Census

Looking at the scanned manifest, it appears as if “Kath.a.” is struck off the manifest but it’s difficult to tell if it was a deliberate edit or damage due to folding and age of the sheet. While that first indicated to me the possibility that the child did not survive the voyage, the data on the 1900 census really did not provide me with confirmation either way–if the child survived or died.  She was not listed in the 1900 census for the Mruk family and I was unable to locate her in any census data that I reviewed within the Toledo area. “Kath.a.” is indicated as having been born about 1880, so she was four years old at the time of the voyage per the manifest. In 1900, she was about 20 years old and of age to marry or perhaps obtain work as a domestic somewhere else.

The eldest Mruk child that I can verify is Tekla, born in 1873. Her parents were married in November 1866, so there is a span of about seven years without children. More on Tekla is here. But the 1900 census data is interesting to note that Margaretha reported that she had a total of 16 children with 9 surviving. This means that several children were born to the Mruks died in Poland prior to the Mruk family’s emigration. I have been able to verify that two children, Joseph and Michael had died prior to the 1900 census. Michael had been born in Wiorek on 30 September 1881, baptized 02 October 1881. We also have a death date for him, note that the baptismal record from Wiorek has a cross in front of the record, this is a common indication used by priests that the child had died. Go to the second page of the record and notice that there is a note that says “obit. 12/7/82.” So Michael died at about the age of 3 months. Joseph was born in Toledo on 3 March 1896 and died on 13 September 1896.

I had little else to work with for “Kath.a.” until I had come across the gravestones for a Kathryn and George Staniszewski.

George Staniszewski, Calvary gravestone photo

George Staniszewski, Calvary Cemetery gravestone photo

Kathryn Staniszewski, Calvary gravestone photo

Kathryn Staniszewski, Calvary Cemetery gravestone photo

I looked at the dates of death on the stones and knew it would be a bit troublesome to verify the exact date of death because Ohio death certificates are only available from about 1903 through 1953 and past experience had told me that locating data within the Social Security death index has been spotty during the 1950s decade–often due to the fact that many elderly who died during that period likely had not obtained a Social Security Number. Additionally, I’ve noticed quite a few transcription errors with the Ohio death index on familysearch.org. So, I got lucky and found birth and marriage records for a Stanley Staniszewski whose parents were George Staniszewski and Kate Mruk. I thought immediately “Voila!” Stanley was born in 1903. I then located another child whose parents were George Staniszewski and Kate Mruk–this child was named John and he was born in 1902. So, digging into George a bit further, I learned via the 1910 census that he did not emigrate to the US until 1900. I suspect it would have been in the second half of the year 1900 because the census for 1900 was taken in June of that year and I was unable to locate a 1900 census that mentioned George.

I have not yet found a marriage record of George and Kate, but logic tells us that they would have married sometime between late 1900 to about early 1902.

Further investigation (all of about 10 minutes!) led me to Kate (Kathryn’s) obituary and it confirms she was indeed a child of Michał and Margaretha as it provides names of her surviving brothers (Martin and Jack, also known as John Jacob) and sister (Praxeda, also known as Priscilla) Gurzynski. See the obituary below, published 12 October 1965.

Kathryn Staniszewski Toledo Blade Obituary 12 October 1965

Kathryn Staniszewski Toledo Blade Obituary 12 October 1965

Obituary transcription below:

Kathryn Staniszewski

Mrs. Kathryn Staniszewski, 86, of 2626 Midwood Ave., died yesterday in her home.

Born in Poland, Mrs. Staniszewski lived in Toledo most of her life. She was a member of the Polish National Alliance.

Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Charlotte Clark; sons, John and Stanley, all of Toledo, and Walter, of Clackamas, Ore.; sister, Mrs. Priscilla Gurzynski, and brothers, Martin and Jack Mruk, all of Toledo, and one granddaughter.

Services will be Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Gesu Church, with burial in Calvary Cemetery. The Rosary will be recited at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Sujkowski Mortuary.

The second discovery I made within my photo backlog was for Eleanor Erdman Jaroszewski. I knew she had married Conrad Jaroszewski but I did not realize I had found their grave until going through my photos. Conrad had been married prior to Eleanor, to a woman named Helen Sabiniewicz. Conrad and Helen had a son named Thadeus. The photo of the family grave plot is below.

Jaroszewski Family Calvary gravestone photo

Jaroszewski Family Calvary Cemetery gravestone photo

Helen’s parents, Jozef and Josephine, are on the opposite side of the stone. See below.

Jozef and Josephine Sabiniewicz, Calvary gravestone photo

Jozef and Josephine Sabiniewicz, Calvary Cemetery gravestone photo