Happy Holidays! I’ve spent part of my holiday season searching for my Mierzejewski ancestors.

Finding Mierzejewskis is easy. What’s not so easy is finding those in my family tree. Been difficult proving relationships. But a minor breakthrough over the weekend.

My dad and his siblings had a father named Wladyslaw and a maternal uncle named Wladyslaw. I had known for sometime that my grandmother’s family had come through the western Pennsylvania and had settled there for sometime. A few cousins were born in the Altoona region or Blair County and I had found some hints that some had lived in or near Cambria or Berks Counties.

One such cousin, Sophia Mierzejewski Owczarak, left some very good clues in her passport application in 1924. In that passport, she stated that her step-mother took her to Poland, so I assumed her mother at the point had died. So at that point, I had searched for any records for her father’s marriage to Bernice. It took awhile but I did come up back then with an Application for a Marriage license in 1912. That was rather hard to find because of the name misspellings, but that marriage license application actually provided the date of death for Wladyslaw’s first wife as September 12, 1910.

Some digging into newspapers.com and Pennsylvania Death Certificates brought me a few more answers.

Ancestry.com does have a collection for Pennsylvania death certificates, but none are indexed. So I took an evening (from say 6 pm until the wee hours of the morning) and poked through a large group for 1912 (there is no real order to these certificates on Ancestry; they seem to be grouped by the serial number, not by county or date). Several hours later, I did indeed find the death certificate. And with some additional luck, I was able to locate an obituary from the Altoona Tribune, dated September 13, 1910.

While the death certificate and obituary provide Apolonia’s first name differently (the obituary states her first name was Cathalina and the death certificate states her first name was Mary), all of the other data lines up–addresses I had and her husband’s name. Sophia was only an infant when her mother had died.

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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Death Certificate for Apolonia (Mary) Mierzejewski, 12 September 1910

The death certificate is exciting for me because it does provide a birth date for Apolonia (February 15, 1890) and her parents’ names: Alonzo Waldislawski and Mary Kerzniski. I’m going to not rely on these names literally because Alonzo is not a Polish name but will search for some similar names in the future (Aloysius comes to mind). I also am unsure of the surname spellings, but it is a start. Daughter, Sophia, was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, I have evidence that Wladyslaw was in the US as early as 1907 per the 1920 census so perhaps I can dig into more Pennsylvania records such as marriage licenses to see if he and Apolonia married in the US and if so, verify her parents’ names.

The obituary is interesting in that it is probably the very earliest obituary I have found in my family (seriously–I haven’t found obituaries in my family before about 1920ish) and the fact it gave a physical description of Apolonia (Cathalina). She is described as an “exceptionally beautiful” woman.

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Apolonia (Cathalina) Mierzejewski Obituary from the Altoona Tribune 13 September 1910.

I’ve transcribed the obituary below because the scan is rather poor quality.

Mrs. Cathalina Mierzejewski

Mrs. Cathalina Mierzejewski After an illness of three weeks duration, Mrs. Cathalina Mierzejewski, wife of Waldys Mierzejewski, a Polish resident of the Fifth ward, died at the Altoona hospital yesterday morning at 4:05 o’clock of typhoid fever. The deceased, who was admitted to the hospital on August 23, was 20 years of age and was exceptionally beautiful. She was a member of St. Mary’s German Roman Catholic Church and resided at 1812 Twelfth avenue with her husband and infant child who survive. The funeral will take place tomorrow morning at 8:30 o’clock. Interment will be made in St. Mary’s cemetery.