Hopefully everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is recovering from turkey and pie overload. While working on the photographs I had for Calvary Cemetery, I’ve found a stone that just makes no sense. I cannot for the life of me, using Ancestry, Family Search, looking through my own family data, scouring obituaries, etc. identify this person. Perhaps someone can identify. See photo below, the grave is located in Section 40, I believe in range/lot 18. I’m wondering whether the name is misspelled and should be Rochowiak? You can click the photo to enlarge.

France Rahowiak

Frances Rahowiak

Since the stone is clearly labeled “Mother,” I’m working with the assumption Frances was married. Unfortunately, I have no maiden name in which to use for a clue.

Within my family, there are two Frances Rochowiaks: one is my great-grandmother, Frances Rochowiak Przybylski. The other is the daughter of Martin Rochowiak and Catherine Switała, who by my calculations would be my first cousin, twice removed. Martin was a half-sibling of my great-grandmother. Martin’s daughter was born in Góra Kalwaria, Mazowieckie, Poland in 1880. She married Felix Tafelski and died in 1961. So there is no possible way this grave could be either my great-grandmother or this particular cousin.

If you have any clues, drop a line here or email me.

Today is Veteran’s Day. Thank a vet for his service, remember a vet who died in service to our country.

St. Hyacinth World War II memorial to its lost men, Calvary Cemetery

St. Hyacinth World War II memorial to its lost men, Calvary Cemetery

I am the Resurrection and the Life
For God and Country
World War II
1941 — 1945
Dedicated to and
in memory of
the youth of
St. Hyacinth’s Parish

Casimer Augustyniak
Francis Balcerzak
Harry Czaplinski
Melvin Klofta
Francis Myłek
Stanley Szkatulski
Theodore Stachowiak
Stanley Szczepankiewicz

Let none forget they gave
their all and faltered not
when come the call

Eternal rest grant
unto them O Lord
may they rest in peace

Erected by St. Hyacinth’s Parish

I’ve encountered an issue about our ancestors’ names. In short, I’ve had another volunteer who works to photograph and transcribe grave stones state I should “fix” my records because I am not transcribing correctly. I disagree and I will use your input to make decisions on how to proceed eventually. My practice is, whenever I have proof, I provide both the Polish and Americanized version of our ancestors’ names as well use the male version of the last name. I say “proof” as in the death certificate may provide an American name, the obit may use an American name or the male version of the surname, etc. I feel reasonably certain that this is how they were known in their communities by their friends and family; that is how their stories were handed down to us. There then may be what appears to be a discrepancy to an outsider that their gravestones may reflect a different name or a different spelling. However, that may not be known to their descendants.

I know many of the readers here have direct connections to Polish ancestors–your grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Many of our ancestors who came here during the 1880s and forward were given, obviously, Polish first names. As our ancestors came here, they adopted Americanized names–for example, Andrew for Andrezj, Frances for Francziska, John for Jan, Stanley for Stanislaus, Bernice for Bronislawa, Hedwig or Hattie for Jadwiga, and so on. Often, their children were also baptized with Polish first names and those names were not used. Another name was used. This theme is obvious in my family until perhaps the 1920s or 1930s. One needs only to read the baptismal registries from St. Hedwig or St. Anthony to see this! My grandmother was baptized as “Anastazja” but she was well-known by her friends and family as “Nettie.” Her gravestone reads “Anastasia” and she signed documents in this way. However, a great-aunt was known as “Bernice” but her stone reads “Bronislawa.” She was known for nearly all of her life in the US as “Bernice.”

My question to you is this: How do you know the persons in your family research? Were they communicated to you by other family members using their Polish names or their Americanized names? In my family, it was nearly always using their Americanized names. My grandfather was never called Wladyslaw but Walter, as was his son Waclaw.

If you google or go to an ancestry site to look for your ancestors, do you search using Polish first names or another name? Would you have known what their Polish given name was when you began to seek them? My experience when I began, I started with my grandfather and grandmother–Helena and Walter Mierzejewski. I was aware that Walter’s first name was probably Americanized but would not have known exactly what it was. After all, Walter was the name provided on my dad’s birth certificate as his father!  My father always referred to his father and his brother as “Walter” when discussing them. Unfortunately, both of my grandparents and my uncle were dead before I was born, so I could not ask. And while I don’t have a photo yet of my Uncle Walter’s grave, I might totally throw others into a real tizzy: Walter may have “Waclaw Mierzejewski” on his stone; and yet, he legally changed his name to “Walter Myers.” What is on the stone may or may not be what is listed on official records or how they were truly known to their communities. To me, it makes clear sense to index and insert those names in a way they can be found. If someone is searching for Walter Myers, how should his stone be indexed such that it can be found–if indeed, the stone reads”Waclaw Mierzejewski?”(It very well could, son died before mother and mother had strong ties to Poland, but I do not know yet, I have not found his stone yet–I’m using this name as an example.)

I cannot say why that sometimes it seems as if Poles used Americanized names but their families provided stones with their Polish names; all I know is that it happened and if grave data and photos are used in genealogy, does it not make sense to index these records in a way that reflects both names?

My goal: to provide not only accurate data but to provide it in a way that is searchable and find-able. Genealogy is meant for sharing, and it just seems to me that if someone was known in his or her community by a name other than what is on his or her gravestone, that data needs to be provided up front for searching. Am I wrong or right? Or somewhere in between? Hit me with your best shot, fire away! Drop me an email or leave a comment here. I promise to follow up within a day or so.

I have quite a few photos of graves from Section 30, which has some of the oldest burials in the cemetery. Today’s offerings are not far from my great-grandfather’s grave (Andrew Przybylski) and pre-date 1900.

E. Okonska, Section 30

E. Okonska, Section 30

There is no other identifying information for the grave of E. Okonska other than it is located in Section 30. We can most likely assume that this is a grave for a female due to the form of the last name.

Jakub Zdawczyk, Grave 2, Lot 107, Section 30

Jakub Zdawczyk, Grave 2, Lot 107, Section 30

Stone transcription:
Jakub Zdawczyk
UR 6 Lip. 1802 (b. 6 November 1820)
UM 22 Paz. 1892 (d. 22 October 1892)

Per Jakub’s burial record, he died of railroad injuries.

Pawel Lozny, Grave 11, Lot 22, Section 3

Pawel Lozny, Grave 11, Lot 22, Section 3

Stone transcription:
Pawel Lozny
Pawel Lozny
UM 23 Marsz 1891 (died 23 March 1891)
32 lata, 1 m. 8 d. (32 years)

Per the burial record from St. Anthony’s parish, dated 25 March 1891, “marita superst.”–wife survives. No name for wife provided.

Going through my Calvary photos has been at times tedious (verify the location, name and maiden name), tiresome (crop, color balance, re-size), and irksome (get the photo loaded in my editor, get halfway through the edits, I get distracted, cat walks over computer, crash).

But sometimes, it produces some interesting information that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

My 2nd great-grandmother’s name was Mary Lesiecki, who married Joseph Plenzler. There is no small amount of information available on the Plenzlers–but never yet have I found a Lesiecki. As near as I can tell, from her marriage record to Joseph, she was very likely born around 1825 or 1826.

I’ll admit, I haven’t spent much effort yet attempting to trace the Lesiecki name. But a very curious thing occurred today while I was going through my photos. Whenever possible, I verify the burial by trying to locate a death record and then cross-referencing Calvary’s burial records. So, I had a photo for a John Jagodzinski’s grave. My due diligence provides me a bit of interesting information from John’s death certificate: His mother’s name was Veronica Lesiecki!

Another connection? I don’t know. A clue, and perhaps a valuable one! I may not be remembering correctly, but it seems to me that when I was much younger, there was a Jagodzinski Funeral Home? Does anyone remember such?

and I know you’re out there–I’ve communicated with a few of you. (Paul Jankowski at jankowskis.com!)

I recently corresponded with Fr. Tom Extejt who kindly leaves tidbits of knowledge here in the comments. He’s filled us in with a bit of his family. So I thought perhaps this post may connect a few others researching the Jankowskis. I’m not related to many, mainly through marriage (two of Martin Plenzler’s daughters, Edna and Florence, married a Jankowski).

I thought however that I would share Fr. Extejt’s story of his Jankowski connections and of his great-great-grandmother, Dorota Jankowski. If anyone has additional information, let me know here via comment or via email and I will pass it along to him.

Fr. Extejt’s great-aunt on his mother’s father’s side, Katarzyna Rejent, married Marcin Jankowski.

They are buried in Section 33 of Calvary. She died in 1937; he died in 1943. Their children were Florian (Jonesey), who never married, and Martha Jankowska Kaczorowska. So far, there is no known husband’s name or if there are any children or what their names could be.

Father also recently learned that the maiden name of his great-great-grandmother, Dorota Extejt, was Jankowska. Her place of birth is not known, nor are her parents’ names known. But per Fr. Extejt,

“she was born 2-5-1796 and died on 2-2-1902. So she almost made it to her 106th birthday, having lived in parts of 3 centuries, from the last days of George Washington’s second term to the early part of the Theodore Roosevelt administration. She was 80 years old when the came to Toledo, and liked it so well she stayed for almost 26 years! Her obit was the headline story on Page 1 of the Blade; it mentioned that she went to the January ’02 Rosary-Altar meeting at St. Anthony’s, went to Mass the Sunday before she died, and helped with the housework until 48 hours before she died. Talk about an iron constitution!”

What a wonderful story! If you have details, please feel free to share. If you email, I will follow up as soon as possible, usually within a few days.

Yep, I’m trying to catch up! A second post in one night. My apologies to you who get updates via email, I have a love/hate relationship with email and can sympathize.

But again, due to the generosity of the genealogical community, I have a copy of a Mierzejewski marriage record from St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Perrysburg, Ohio. I had clues via Garret Mierzejewski that there were Mierzejewskis who settled in Wood County; however, I could never connect the dots with my family.

The record reflects the marriage of a Constantine Mierzejewski and Geraldine DeWitt:

  • Constantine was born 18 December 1913, son of John and Constance Sikorska
  • Geraldine was born 22 April 1917, daughter of Grey and Ethel Roach
  • Marriage witnessed by William Baginski and Rose? Mierzejewska (I cannot transcribe the first name, rough guess)
  • The civil marriage occurred 29 July 1937 in Angola, Indiana and dispensation procured 21 September  1937

If you have any more knowledge of this family, please contact me. I’d be interested in learning if there is any connection between my family.


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