After many years of guesswork and frustration, I am happy to say I finally have an exact date of birth for my great-grandmother, Franciszka Rochowiak. She was born 1 September, 1852 in Zydowo, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland. The document, a birth/baptismal record from the Catholic parish in Chomętowo, is below. The record is the very first in the document.

franciszka_rochowiak_birth_1852

Franciszka Rochowiak birth record, Archdiocese of Gniezno, Chomętowo Parish, LDS Project #POL GNI-1, Roll #210, Film Unit Serial #657

This was a challenge to find–because her father, Adalbert, was married three times, I had to establish his dates of marriage as well as find as many of his children as possible. This effort was a patchwork of obtaining marriage records from the Poznan Project, some actual film scans for the parishes in Chometowo, as well as scanning through Family Search — believe it or not there are actually some scanned records that can be viewed on line. Be aware, currently it is only a handful of records that can be accessed online. The others you will need to obtain the microfilm and view them at the LDS genealogy center. (You will need to determine the parish and the village your ancestors came from!)

Adalbert married Marianna Mazana in Góra Żnin on 27 October 1851. Franciszka was born the following September. Another child, Marianna, was born to the marriage on 29 June 1855 in Zydowo. Marianna died 12 November 1856. (This record can be obtained from the same set of records indicated in the caption for Franciszka’s birth.)

As a bonus, I was able to determine Marianna Mazana’s and Adalbert’s death records. Marianna died 13 December 1856 in Zydowo. (This record can be located through the Archive Archdiocese of Gniezno, Chometowo Parish, LDS Project #POL GNI-1, Roll #211, Mortuorum.)

Adalbert died 29 March 1865 in Zydowo. There was a mention in his son, Martin’s marriage record (1877) that he died in Zydowo prior to the marriage. (This record can be located through the same set of records as indicated for Marianna Mazana’s death.)

Locating my great-grandmother’s birth record was frustrating to say the least! It appears that Adalbert had moved around a bit: he was born in Gorzyce. His first marriage to Eva Malak occurred in Gorzyce and his first three children with Eva were born in Gorzyce. He then seemed to move on to Chomętowo after Eva’s death. Here, he married Marianna Chleboewski. He had seven children with Marianna Chlebowska, all of whom were been born in Gorzyce. After Marianna Chlebowska’s death, he married Marianna Mazana in Góra Żnin. His two daughters with Marianna Chlebowska, Franciszka and Marianna, were born in Zydowo.

Adalbert’s family is, using modern parlance, “complicated.” I am finally piecing together his life — three marriages, all ending in the death of his wife, a total of 12 children (3 with first wife, 7 with second wife, and 2 with the last wife).

My great-grandmother was orphaned at a young age, she was five when her mother died and 14 when her father died. With this background, it’s likely she had to live with an older sibling. My guesses would be either brothers Lawrence or Martin. Lawrence did not arrive in the United States until 1875 (a marriage record was located for him in Sts. Peter and Paul’s Church in 1875 and his first child was born in Toledo in 1876). Martin married in 1877 and settled in Zydowo for a time. Several of Franciszka’s older siblings died in childhood and several I have not yet been able to trace beyond birth and a marriage for a few of them.
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Roch Rochowiak was the eldest child of Alexi Rochowiak and Marianna Brzykca, born 17 August 1788 in Gorzyce, Kujawsko-Pomorskie. Because I’ve never located a marriage record yet for Alexi and Marianna, this gives at least a clue that they were likely married sometime during 1887.

Roch had married Catherina Piastunowicz 2 February 1817. Of the this marriage, three children can be found:

No other information has been found on these children yet.

Roch died 26 April 1832.

Records are from from the Archdiocese of Gniezno, Catholic Parish in Gorzyce. LDS film #5478GS2, Project #POL2-009.

This past summer, I was the recipient of a genealogical act of kindness. This wasn’t just a small act–this was a mother lode of genealogical data. Through a distant Rochowiak relative (I still haven’t figured out if we are related or not), I received a number of scanned document images from Gora Znin and Gorzyce with many Rochowiak records contained within them. Imagine my surprise, joy, and glee.

Because of this kindness, I was able to learn quite a bit more about my great-grandmother’s family, the Rochowiaks. My great-grandmother, Frances Rochowiak Przybylski, was the daughter of Adalbertus Rochowiak and Marianna Mazana. I had known for some time that Adalbertus was the son of Alexi Rochowiak and Marianna Brzykca (yes, the k is before the c). But the trail was pretty cold until I had received these scans. I was able to locate siblings for Adalbertus thanks to these scans.

So…Adalbertus Rochowiak had eight siblings that I can verify and was the fifth-born child of the nine total children born to Alexi and Marianna. Here is the list of all children born to Alexi Rochowiak and Marianna Bryzkca with their birthdates and birth records. All children were born in Gorzyce, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland, and each of these records were loacated in This is the Baptismal Record Archdiocese of Gniezno, Poland, Catholic Parish in Gorzyce, LDS Film Unit #547GS2, Project #POL 2-009, Roll #13.

Additionally, I did get some details on Adalbertus and some of his siblings. I will follow up in the next few weeks with this information. Enjoy–I do know there are a good handful of Rochowiak researchers out there!

 

Updated 04.19.2015 to correct a misstatement. See strikeout red text below.

I had been seeking connections to my great-grandfather, Andrew Przybylski, for quite awhile. The only clue I had to finding any connection to others in his family that may have arrived in Toledo, Ohio was John Przybylski, who married Tecla Mruk, daughter of Michał Mruk and Margaretha Plenzler (sibling of another great-grandfather, Joseph Plenzler). My gut told me there had to be a connection between them; and yet, I came up empty-handed for years.

Then, as it sometimes does, fate intervened. I had been corresponding with a distant cousin in Florida every now and again who was a descendant of a Michael Przybylski, who resided in Holland, Ohio. I could not provide him any information other than to confirm that this Michael was the son of Tecla and Michał John, and tell him perhaps there was no connection between John and Andrew. Przybylski is a rather common Polish surname. We knew that John’s parents were Michael and Rosalia per the marriage record from St. Anthony’s for Tecla and John and John’s death certificate.

What I hadn’t done in all that time, and what my cousin did think to do, was to search the Poznan Project for a marriage record for a Michael Przybylski and Rosalia. That opened the door. The marriage record was located. And it made a number of connections as well as reinforced the idea that it is so important to keep a keen eye out for names and their variants.

The Poznan Project provided a marriage record for a Michael Przybł and a Rosalia Bocian, 30 August 1868 and took place in Znin, Kujawsko-Pomorskie. It had never dawned on me to search on alternative forms to the name, Przybylski (Przybył, Przybyła)! The marriage record for Michael and Rosalia is here and here (two pages to the record). What a surprise! Michael was the son of Valentine and Josepha Kurczminska. With those two names, it is possible to establish a very high likelihood that this Michael is a brother to my great-grandfather, Andrew. This means that Andrew was John’s uncle. Andrew’s marriage record to Franciszka Rochowiak only indicates that his parents are Valentine and Josepha. However, the dates do line up: Andrew was born in 1843 given the age provided on the marriage record to Franciszka (age 30 in 1873) and Josepha and Valentine were married in 1835. Michael was born in 1839 per the age of 29 stated on his marriage record to Rosalia.

Taking it one step further, I then wrote to the Poznan Project to obtain the marriage record for Valentine and Josepha. And it existed! The marriage took place 23 February 1835 in Juncewo, Kujawsko-Pomorskie. The marriage was recorded for Valentine using the form of the surname as Przybył. The record also confirms a hunch I had that Valentine was widowed at the time of his marriage to Josepha.

What is funny, sad, and true is that some of this evidence had been sitting under my nose for quite a while. A long time ago, I had been researching the Mruk line. I knew full well that one of Tecla’s and John’s sons, Jacob (also known as John) had married Hattie Karamol. I had Hattie’s death information: her parents were given as Frank Karamol and Antonina Przybylski. Guess who Antonina’s parents were? Michael Przybylski and Rose Bocian. I never once followed up on that clue.

It sometimes takes another person to wake me up. I think I got too numb to the clues sitting in front of my nose! It reinforces something I’ve always believed in–there is a Buddhist saying that goes something like this: “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.” I think my teacher was the cousin in Florida, whom I’ve never met in person. It was time for me to learn to look at existing data with new eyes.

I have found no evidence that Michael and Rosalia ever came to the US nor I have I obtained any data beyond the marriage record. But my very strong hunch is: Michael and Andrew were brothers. John and Antonina were Andrew’s nephew and niece.

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

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.

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.