For over 150 years, Milwaukee has been home to a large community of people of Polish descent. The Milwaukee Polonia Project hopes to show the interweaving, intertwining family trees that resulted in this community. It is hoped that, eventually, all the families can be connected to one another. The Milwaukee Polonia Project is also a means to explore our common history and celebrate our shared heritage.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lucht to Fons, A Study of Connections Within the MPP Tree

Previously, when I had written a new Featured Profile, I had shown the genealogical path from the last Featured Profile.  Up until the Featured Profile for Louis Fons, this had been easy because the individuals who had been the subjects of the Featured Profiles had all been closely related.  However, the path from Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer (Featured Profile # 6) to Louis A. Fons (Featured Profile #7) was not so clear cut because they are not related at all.  However, they are both on the Milwaukee Polonia Project "Tree."  Therefore, there had to be at least one path of connections that would lead from one to the other.  In fact, at the time, I knew of two, and I strongly suspected that there may be a couple more.  I decided to research all the possible different routes from one to other.  This would serve two purposes.  First, it would give some indication of the interconnections between us (which is the ultimate goal of the Milwaukee Polonia Project).  Second, it would memorialize some of these "loops."  (Neither of the genealogical programs that I use keep can track of these loops in a searchable form, so I have been relying on my memory to know where they occur.)

The research is nowhere near complete, but what I have discovered so far has astounded even me.  Each of the numbered paragraphs below is a separate path between Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer and Louis A. Fons.  I don't expect anyone to try to follow all the paths.  (That would make incredibly dry reading.)  However, what I hope you take away from this is how interconnected we all are.  (Please see the notes at the end of the list for some of my conventions in reading the list.)

The Paths from Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer to Louis A. Fons:

  1. Darlene Lucht > mother, Leona (Grosz) Lucht > father, Anton Grosz > mother, Frances (Domachowsk) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > daughter, Martha (Grosz) Kobza > husband, Sylvester Kobza > father, John Kobza > brother, Anton Kobza > wife, Antionette (Jagodzinski) Kobza > sister, Justina (Jagodzinski) Krysiak > husband, Frank Krysiak > sister, Antonina (Krysiak) Fons > husband, Stephan Fons > brother, Frank Fons > his son, Louis A. Fons

  2. …. Frances (Domachowsk) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > brother, Joseph Domachowski > wife, Agnes (Pluta) Domachowski > brother, Anton J. Pluta > wife, Frances (Sikora) Pluta > sister, Mary (Sikora) Michalek > son, Henry Michalek > wife, Jeanette (Sromalla) Michalek > mother, Elizabeth (Marciniak) Sromalla > mother, Katherine (Ruszkiewicz) Marciniak, > brother, Frank Ruszkiewicz (I) > son, Wallace Ruszkiewicz > wife, Sally (Stachowiak) Ruszkiewicz > sister, Monica (Stachowiak) Marcinski > daughter, Felicia (Marcinski) Fons > husband, John Fons (1) > brother, Louis A. Fons
  1. .... Frances (Domachowsk) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > daughter, Rose (Jagodzinski) [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick > husband, Frank [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (II) > brother, Wallace Ruszkiewicz….

  2. ….Frances (Domachowsk) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > second husband, John Jagodzinski (1) > mother, Rosalia (Sromala) Jagodzinski > brother, Adalbert Sromala > son, August Sromala > son, Joseph Sromalla > wife, Elizabeth (Marciniak) Sromalla.....

  3. ….Martha (Grosz) Kobza > son, Arthur Kobza > wife, Esther (Kitzki) Kobza > father, Stanley Kitzki > brother, Frank Kitzke > son, Stanley Kitzke > wife, Josephine (Jetke) Kitzke > brother, August Anton Jetke > wife, Pauline (Fons) Jetke > father, Anton Fons > half-brother, Frank Fons....

  4. ...Josephine (Jetke) Kitzke > sister, Marie (Jetke) Fons > husband, Joseph Fons > father, Anton Fons....

  5. …. Frank [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (II) > son, Frank [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (III) > wife, PRIVATE (Perlaczynski) Ruswick > mother, Bertha (Kitzke) Perlaczynski > father, August Kitzke > brother, Frank Kitzke....

  6. ….. PRIVATE (Perlaczynski) Ruswick > sister, Florence (Perlaczynski) Jarorsz > husband, Ambrose [Jerry] Jarosz > sister, Eleanor (Jarosz) Tutaj > husband, Stanley Tutaj > father, Paul Tutaj > wife, Maryana (Michalski) Tutaj > sister, Bennedick Michalski > daughter, Wanda (Michalski) Fons > husband, Ervin Fons > father, Albert Fons > John Fons (2)

  7. ….Paul Tutaj > brother, Antoni Tutaj > wife, Frances (Talaska) Tutaj > sister, Mary (Talaska) Kitzke > husband, Walter Kitzke > brother, Frank Kitzke....

  8. ….Antoni Tutaj > son, Steven Tutaj > wife, Marie (Jagodzinski) Tutaj > sister, Irene (Jagodzinski) Kitzke > husband, Bernard Kitzke > father, Walter Kitzke....

  9. …..Antoni Tutaj > brother, Joannes Tutaj > son, Edward Tutaj > wife, Rose (Karczewski) Tutaj > mother, Rozalia (Dettlaff) Karczewski > mother, Mary Ann (Jedka) Dettlaff > brother, August Jedke > son, August Anton Jetke.....

  10. ….August Jedke > daughter, Marie (Jetke) Fons....

  11. ....Adalbert Sromala > daughter, Joanna (Sromala) Maciejewski > son, August Maciejewski > wife, Tekla (Brodaczynski) Maciejewski > brother, Joseph Brodaczynski (I) > son, Joseph Brodaczynski (II) > wife, Anna (Urbanksi) Brodaczynski > sister, Stella (Urbanski) Tutaj > husband, Henry Tutaj > father, Antoni Tutaj....

  12. ….Frank Ruszkiewicz (I) > son, Lawrence Ruszkiewicz > daughter, Irene (Ruszkiewicz) Latus > husband, Edmund Latus > brother, Joseph Latus > daughter, Marion (Latus) Tutaj > husband PRIVATE Tutaj > father, Alois Tutaj > Paul Tutaj.....

  13. .Frank Ruszkiewicz (I) > son, Walter Ruszkiewicz > wife, Veronica (Michalski) Ruszkiewicz > father, Stephen Michalski > sister, Maryana (Michalski) Tutaj....
  1. ….Joseph Latus > daughter, Lorraine (Latus) Wielebski > husband, Daniel Wielebski > mother, Pearl [Pelagia] (Tutaj) Wielebski > father Paul Tutaj....

  2. …. Sylvester Kobza > sister, Anna (Kobza) Kwiatkowski > daughter, Anna (Kwiatkowski) Rakowski > husband, Clement Rakowski > mother, Josepha (Komassa) Rakowski > brother, Michal Komassa, > daughter Emilia (Komassa) Radaj > son, Gilbert Radaj > wife, PRIVATE (Radaj) Boucher > brother, Louis Boucher > wife, Marian (Michalek) Boucher > mother, Mary (Sikora) Michalek….

  3. ….Sylvester Kobza > brother, Ignatz Kobza > son, Eugene Kobza > wife, Virginia (Peszczynski) Kobza > father, Andrew Peszczynski > brother, Joseph Peszczynski > wife, Frances (Tutaj) Peszczynski > brother, Edward Tutaj....

  4. ….Ignatz Kobza > son, Aloysius Kobza > wife, Harriet (Kitzki) Kobza > father, Stanley Kitzki....

  5. ….Bertha (Kitzke) Perlaczynski > brother, Leo Kitzke > wife, Regina (Tomczyk) Kitzke > her brother, Edward Tomczyk > wife, Rozalia Jetke > brother, August Anton Jetke....

  6. ….Rozalie Jetke > sister, Marie (Jetke) Fons....

  7. .... Bertha (Kitzke) Perlaczynski > brother, Edward Kitzke > son, Ralph Kitzke > wife, PRIVATE (Pichotte) [Kitzke] Jusiel > second husband, Norbert Jusiel > father, Felix Jusiel > brother, UNKNOWN Jusiel > wife, Helen (Karpinski) [Jusiel] [Matula] McDonnell > daughter, Margaret (Matula) Kulwicki > husband, Gerald Kulwicki > father, John Kulwicki > mother, Anna (Brozda) [Kulwicki] Kitzke > husband, Frank Kitzke....

  8. .... Bertha (Kitzke) Perlaczynski > sister, Wanda (Kitzke) Orlikowski > husband, John Orlikowski > father, Ludwik Orlikowski > brother, Boleslaw Orlikowski > daughter, Irene (Orlikowski) Czajkowski > husband, Joseph Walter Czajkowski > mother, Walentyna (Waszak) Czajkowski > father, John Waszak > brother, Lorenz Waszak > son, Andrew Waszak > wife, Helen (Kuzba) Waszak > father, Blase Kuzba > brother, Bartholomew Kuzba > son, Casimir Kuzba > son, Irvin Kuzba > wife Olive (Fons) Kuzba > father, Stephen Fons > brother, Louis A. Fons

  9. ….Michal Komassa > son, Albin Komassa > son, Ervin Komassa .> wife, Dolores (Fons) Komassa > father, Albert Fons > father, John Fons (2) > half-brother, Frank Fons....

  10. …. Clement Rakowksi > father, Frank Rakowski > brother, John Rakowski > wife, Mary Ann (Komassa) Rakowski > brother, Michal Komassa ….

  11. …. Frances (Domachowsk) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > son, Bernard Gross > son, Norbert Grosz > son, PRIVATE Grosz > wife, PRIVATE (Mazurkiewicz) Grosz > father, Henry [Harry] Mazurkiewicz > sister, Angeline (Mazurkiewicz) Gigowski > husband, Edward Gigowski > brother, John Gigowski > wife, Clara (Napientek) Gigowski > mother, Angeline (Rosploch) Napientek > sister, Victoria (Rosploch) Kitzke > husband, August Kitzke....

  12. ….Angeline (Rosploch) Napientek > brother, Frank Rosploch > wife, Frances (Kitzke) Rosploch > brother, Frank Kitzke....

  13. ….Angeline (Rosploch) Napientek > brother, Andrew Rosploch > daughter, Susan (Rosploch) [Piszczek] Primakow > ex-husband, Joseph Warren Piszczek > brother, Frank Piszczek > son, Robert Piszczek > wife, Delores (Eskowski) Piszczek > father, Walter Eskowski > mother, Maryanna (Waszak) Eskowski > brother, Andrew Waszak....

  14. .... Maryanna (Waszak) Eskowski > sister, Elizabeth (Waszak) Mirkowski > husband, Jan Mirkowski > brother, Wawrzyniec Mirkowski > daughter, Eleanore (Mirkowski) Maternowski > husband, Emil Maternowski > mother, Frances (Markowski) Maternowski > sister, Elizabeth (Maternowsk) Kitzki > husband, Stanley Kitzki...

  15. ....John Jagodzinski (1) > brother, Frank Jagodzinski > son, John Jagodzinski (2) > wife, Eleanore (Ratajski) Jagodzinski > brother, Anton Ratajski > son, Delphyn Ratajski > wife, Ann (Maternowsk) [Urban] Ratajski > mother, Frances (Markowski) Maternowski....
  1. ….Frances (Domachowsk) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > daughter, Sophie (Jagodzinski) [Wielebski] Kapczynski > husband, Andrew Kapczynski > brother, Joseph Kapczynski > daughter Argypine (Kapczynski) > husband Chester Mazurkiewicz > sister, Angeline (Mazurkiewicz) Gigowski....

  2. .Andrew Kapczynski > brother, John Kapczynski > Grace (Kapczynski) Lukaszewski > son, PRIVATE Lukaszewski > wife, PRIVATE (Budzisz) Lukaszewski > brother, PRIVATE Budzisz > wife, PRIVATE (Ruswick) Budzisz > mother, PRIVATE (Perlaczynski) Ruswick....

  3. .Andrew Kapczynski > sister, Mary Cecilia (Kapczynski) Andraszczyk > son, Harry [Andraszczyk] Andrae > Eugenia (Dembinski) Andrae > Jean Phyllis (Dembinski) Waszak > mother, Helen (Kuzba) Waszak....

  4. ….Michal Komassa > son, Julius Harry Komassa > wife, Clarice Eve (Baranowski) Komassa > sister, Pearl [Bulagia, possibly Pelagia] Dluszkowski > husband, Peter Dluszkowski > sister, Mayme [Mary] (Dluszkowski) Konkol > husband, John Konkol > mother, Teresia Rosilia (Budzisz) Konkol > father, Vincent Konkel > mother, Christina (Budzisz) Konkel > father, Joseph Budzisz > brother, Johann Budzisz > son, Jozef Budzisz > son, Michael Budzisz > son, Ralph Budzisz, > son, PRIVATE Budzisz > wife, PRIVATE (Ruswick) Budzisz....

  5. ....Frances (Domachowsk) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > father, Jacob Marcus Domachowski > father, Albert Domachowski > brother, John Domachowski > daughter, Anna Paulina (Domachowski) Myszkowski > daughter, Julianna (Myszkowski) Lewandowski > daughter, Emily (Lewandowski) Zuber > son, Dennis David Zuber > wife, Adrienne Sandra (Waszak) Zuber > mother, Jean Phyllis (Dembinski) Waszak....

  6. ....Sylvester Kobza > sister, Anna (Kobza) Kwiatkowski > son, Jerome Kwiatkowski > wife Virginia (Gigowski) Kwiatkowski > father, Edward Gigowski > brother, John Gigowski....

  7. .... Anna (Kobza) Kwiatkowski > husband, [Andrew] Charles Kwiatkowski > son by first wife, Harry Edward Kwiatkowski > wife, Sophie (Jankowski) Kwiatkowski > sister, Mary (Jankowski) Ruszkiewicz > husband, Albert Ruszkiewicz > father, Frank Ruszkiewicz (I)....

  8. ....Antionette (Jagodzinski) Kobza > brother, John Jagodzinski (3) > son, Leonard Jagodzinski > wife, Agnes (Tomczyk) Jagodzinski > sister, Eva (Tomczyk) Kitzke > husband, Joseph Kitzke > father, August Kitzke....

  9. ....Frances (Domachowsk) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > son, Joseph Grosz > son, Ralph Grosz > son, PRIVATE Grosz > ex-wife, PRIVATE Andress > mother, Dolores (Wozniak) Andress > mother, Rose (Kowalkowski) Wozniak > half-brother, Valentine Perlaczynski > wife, Bertha (Kitzke) Perlaczynski....

    ....[Name] - means that a previous paragraph shows at least one route from Dalene (Lucht) Brimmer to the named individual
    [Name].... - means that a previous paragraph shows at least one route from that named individual to Louis A. Fons
    [Name] > [relation], [Name] - shows the relation of the second individual named to the first individual named
[Name]  (numeral) - is used when there are two or more individuals in the paragraphs with the same name.  If a Roman numeral is used, then the individuals are different generations in the same line.  If an Arabic numeral is used, then the individuals share the same name, but they may or may not be related in some other way.
Names in "(  )" are maiden names.
Names in "[  ]" are alternate names.  For men, that could be an alternate first name, or a last name before it was changed.  For women, it could also be last names used during another marriage.
A link shown in italics means that I am pretty certain of its accuracy, but I have not "nailed it down" yet.

This paragraph:
.... Frances (Domachowski) [Grosz] Jagodzinski > daughter, Rose (Jagodzinski) [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick > husband, Frank [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (II) > brother, Wallace Ruszkiewicz…

Should be read:
"A previous paragraph shows the path from Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer to Frances (maiden name: Domachowski) [name used in previous marriage: Grosz] Jagodzinski, then to her daughter, Rose (maiden name: Jagodzinski) [name used previous to it being changed: Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick, then to her husband, Frank [name used previous to it being changed: Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (whose father has the same name and also appears in this list), then to his brother, Wallace Ruszkiewicz, and the path from Wallace Ruszkiewicz to Louis A. Fons is previously shown in one of the above paragraphs."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Early Morgandale

Last week, the Featured Profile was of Louis Fons, whose company was largely responsible for the development of many subdivisions where the Polish-Americans could spread out into well-built "Fons bungalows" with more spacious yards.    One of those subdivisions was Morgandale.  (Generally, bounded on the east by 6th Street, on the west by 20th, on the north by Oklahoma, and on the south by Howard Ave.)

A typical bungalow in the Morgandale neighborhood.
   Today, we have the memoirs of Frank Ruswick (born Frank Ruszkiewicz), who spent his boyhood growing up in Morgandale.  Frank Ruswick also provides a link to Darlene Lucht, (Featured Profile # 6) in that he was her first cousin, once removed, through his mother.  Frank Ruswick was a 1941 graduate of St. Stanislaus High School. (The principal, until his death in 1940, was his cousin, Msgr. Michael Wenta.) He would later become an attorney.  He chaired the (unfortunately, unsuccessful) fund-raising effort to keep St. Stanislaus H.S. (then known as Notre Dame) open in the 1980's.

When I was five years old [that would be about 1929, assessment records indicate 1927] mom and dad built a house on 12th Street.  That was the end of the street car line at that time.  It was 2 blocks off of Oklahoma.  We had a great big field across the alley, and when we sat on the back porch, we had an awning there.  What was nice about that was when thunder storms came up and it was lightening and banging away we could sit under the awning and watch the show.  Part of that field across the alley was flat enough so that we could play baseball and we could pitch horseshoes there.  I remember we got horseshoes from the local blacksmith who was about three blocks away.  The only problem was that all of the horseshoes were different sizes.  No two horseshoes were the same size.  But any how, that’s the way we did things back then because nobody had a lot of money and you made due with what you had.  That field led from the streetcar stop to the house.  There was a low spot in the field at one end of if that was about ten feet lower than the rest of the field, and the water used to collect there.  In the wintertime, that would freeze over.   There wasn’t enough room to skate, but nobody had any skates at that time anyhow.  We did have a few sleds around and there was some hills that led from the alley down into the pit where the ice was.  We used to slide on cardboard, and a couple of kids had sleds, and we used to slide down those hills and go across the ice.  After the ice first formed, we used to run across the ice.  You’d get five or six kids running across the ice and sliding on their feet and pretty soon the ice would start cracking.  Pretty soon the whole sheet of ice was like one big piece of rubber.  And every time a kid would go on it, even by himself, you could see the ice bend.  Of course, that called for a little game that we had.  We would keep on running back and forth across the ice until somebody fell in.  Of course, once you fell through the ice, it wasn’t deep, maybe knee deep, and your blue jeans would get wet and it was cold outside so they would freeze.  Our jeans would get stiff and then we would go home for supper and, sooner or later, our mothers would notice these stiff jeans, and they would wonder what we were doing.  We would tell them, we were playing on the ice.  As I said it was no more than knee deep so nobody ever got hurt and nobody was ever in any danger.  We had a lot of fun on that field.

The young Frank Ruswick, possibly in the Morgandale home.

    We used to play a lot of tricks on that alley, too.  One of the tricks we did, a couple of times we.... everybody had an ash box that was emptied on the alley.  They would take the ashes out of their stoves and put it in the ash box, and the guys from the city would come around with their horses and they would empty out the ash boxes at least once a week.  We would go into the ash boxes and pick up a couple of tin cans and we would tie them together with about ten feet of black thread.  Then, we would put one on one side of the alley and the other one on the other side of the alley and when people would come home after dark (it got dark about 4:30), they would get tangled in the black string because they couldn’t see it.  Pretty soon, they would be dragging along a couple tin cans along.  One time, I remember, we did this at night and there were two ladies that got tangled in the black thread, and I never heard such language in my life! 

    Of course now that’s all built up.  There are houses there now too.  There used to be a billboard on one end of that open field.  We used to climb up and down that billboard.  We picked a piece of pipe off the dump someplace and we nailed the piece of pipe across a couple of the braces so that we could use that as a chinning bar and whatnot.  We’d crawl up around this billboard and we’d have a heck of a lot of fun. 

    When we played baseball in that field, as I said, it was partly flat, every so often someone would hit a ball that would go into the neighbor’s yard.  He had a nice vegetable garden there with cucumbers growing, and he had a plum tree there, too.  He used to make plum wine or plum brandy.  Every time somebody hit a ball in the yard, we would go out and help ourselves to one of his cucumbers, even though they weren’t ripe enough to pick.  It was just that we could get away with something.  Eventually, he found out what was happening to all his cucumbers and he would wait for us, and every time someone would go in the garden, he would come down and shake his fist at us.  We generally ignored him.  He was an old guy and he couldn’t move too fast.  He had a fence there that went along the alley that ran between the paved alley and his garden.  The fence had a gate on it.  It was a simple gate.  You could lift it right off.  Just gravity held it in place.  One of the kids, I don’t know who it was, took the gate off the hinge and climbed up the telephone pole and he hung the thing on the telephone pole about halfway up the top because there were rungs up there that people could climb on.  I don’t think they use them today.  Now they use climbers that they strap on the leg.  Anyhow, somebody went up there and they hung his gate up there about halfway up the telephone pole.  One afternoon, I think my mother sent me to the store to run an errand, and I was coming back and this guy (he had a one-car garage) and he popped around the side of the garage and he grabbed me by the collar.  He said to me in Polish, he looked up at the telephone pole and he said to me in Polish, “who put the gate up there.”  I answered him in Polish, I said “nie wiem” (“don’t know”). "I nie było w domu " (“I wasn’t home.” ) So this guy’s jaw dropped.  He didn’t realize I spoke Polish.  About 5:30, when my dad was coming home, he got off the street car and he was walking up the alley to go to our home, this guy stopped him and he said to my dad, “I didn’t know your kid knew how to speak Polish” and my dad says “What?”  And he walked in the house and he talked to my mother and he said, “since when did Frank start speaking Polish?”  And she said “What?”  Of course, all this time, she’d get together with her cronies and they used to gossip a lot when they sat around, she and her friends and they’d have coffee in the kitchen.  For the most part they spoke English except when they’d get to the juicy parts and they didn’t want me to hear anything, then they’d switch over to Polish.  Well, they didn’t bother doing that after a while, because they knew I knew everything that they were talking about.

For another memoir of the Morgandale neighborhood, see A Boy from Milwaukee.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Status Update - Zinda's Added

New Interesting Connections:
I like, whenever possible, to discuss members that are part of "the Tree," on this blog.  However, there are sometimes when I feel that the matter to be discussed is too important to pass up, even if it does not concern any member that are on "the Tree."  Such was the case on October 30th when I discussed the Hattie Zinda Tragedy. At the time, I had spent several hours searching records to see if I could find a way to connect the Zinda family to the current "Tree."  I was unable to do so, but I finished the Zinda story anyway because it was just too important to ignore.

A couple weeks ago, I again took up the search, and this time I met with more success. This is how I did it.  If you remember the facts of the tragedy, Hattie Zinda was abducted and murdered after she had  left the apartment of her sister Mary Erdman.  I was able to find on Family Search the transcription of the marriage record of Mary Zinda and Joseph Erdman.  The parents of Mary Zinda on that record confirmed that it was the Mary Zinda in question.  As for Joseph Erdman, his parents were Dominic Erdman and Katherine Bierdzycka.

The name "Dominic" intrigued me because it is not a very common Polish name.  When I checked my records,  there was already a Dominic Erdman connected to the Tree.  In fact,  the "connected" Dominic Erdman was also married to a Katherine Bierdzycka.  That couple had come from Bługowo.  I had added them when I had conducted my quest to add Roman Czerwinski (See, Influential People.)  I felt pretty confident that this was the same couple.  To double-check, I also located the death certificate from Wisconsin of the Dominic Erdman who had been the father-in-law of  Mary (Zinda) Erdman.  That record did not give his mother's last name, but everything else matched the information for the Dominic Erdman who had been born in Bługowo.  This connection to an existing family allowed me to connect the Zinda family to the Tree,

I then ran across something that was even more tantalizing.  The records indicated that Robert Zinda, another sibling of Hattie, had married Helen Chojnacki.  The parents of Helen Chojnacki were Paul Chojnacki and Pauline Domachowski.  Of course, the name Pauline Domachowski jumped right out at me because there is a Paulina Domachowski, sister of Joseph and Michael Domachowski, who is "missing" (in the sense that the records indicate she came to America, but I cannot find a death or marriage record for her.)  I thought for sure I had found her, but the other records I found tend to dispute this.  Both the 1900 and 1910 census records indicate that Pauline (Domachowski) Chojnacki was born in 1855.  However, the baptismal records from Pomerania indicate that Paulina Domachowski was born in 1865.  Therefore, absent some new evidence, it does not appear to me that they are the same person.

Now, for the usual:

Names Added Since Last Update:

Baginski, Bessa, Bialk, Bichanich

Chalik, Cichocki, Czupkowski

Derengowski, Droski, Dulak

Eivett, Eskowski

Fliss, Fritsch

Haluska, Hojnacki

Janocik, Jasinski

Karolske, Kaczmarowski, Katzmaroski, Knebel, Koltaniak, Kozminski, Kroll, Kucinski, Kurtysiak, Kruszka, Kudlak, Kulesa, Kuszewski

Lemanczyk, Lemanski

Markovic, Mataic, Mirkowski


Paradowski, Pasterska, Patyk, Pechanach, Perszewski, Poniewaz, Preis, Pulkownik

Rydlewicz, Rypel

Sabo, Sbornek, Semski, Skopinski, Stasiewicz

Tenerowicz, Tomczak, Tutay


Wajnert, Westfall, Wienert, Wojtczak,Woltman

Zak, Zalowski, Zaniecki, Zanola, Zeniecki, Zynda, Zyniecki

People Added Since Last  Update:  at least 468

Finally, to put you in the Holiday spirit,  Mad Man Michaels performing his classic "Snack for Santa":

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Featured Profile #7 - Louis A. Fons

Louis A. Fons

Louis A. Fons, (1878-1959)

Real estate developer, builder and banker, Louis Fons had a tremendous impact on the south side of Milwaukee where, according to the Milwaukee Journal, "he built hundreds of homes and developed scores of subdivisions". (Two of the known subdivisions are Morgandale and Vogel Park.)  He was born in a cottage on S. 6th Street, near W. Burnham in Milwaukee on August 25, 1878.  He was the first of the twelve children of Frank Fons and Maryann (Piszczek) Fons, who had come to Milwaukee in 1871. ("Fons" is the original name.  It was not shortened.  There is some speculation that this unusual Polish name is due to the fact that the ultimate ancestors had come to Poland from Holland as engineers to build dikes and canals, possibly in the 1600's.)

 Louis was nothing if not energetic and determined.  He was the consummate self-starter and hard worker.  He started his first job at age 13, earning $2/week.  Working days and evenings and counting pennies, by age 21 he had managed to save $300 with which he bought a one-half interest in a realty business. When he started to work at age 13 he had quit school, but he took correspondence courses to gain business skills.  He eventually earned enough to acquire the whole real estate business, then run it with four of his brothers (Edward, Frank, Jr., Stephen and John) as "Fons and Company."  It was this organization that was responsible for building 23 subdivisions (many near "Polish" churches such as St. Barbara and St. John Kanty) and turning larges tracts of undeveloped land on the south side of Milwaukee into comfortable  "Fons Bungalows".

Besides being well-built, Fons also wanted his homes to be affordable.  During the 1920's, he was able to keep the typical sales price of a single family house and lot to about $5,000.  But, he did even more to put people in their own home.  Another Louis Fons-run organization, the National Savings and Loan Association, would also often loan money to the buyers to enable the purchase.  In typical Fons-fashion, the interest rates were kept low (sometimes as much as 2 percentage points lower than their nearest competitor) because of their belief that the homes should remain affordable.  Probably no other person did as much to better the lives of Poles in Milwaukee by giving them a chance to own their own home and move out of their cramped quarters close to the factories.

The Great Depression caused a financial disaster for countless individuals.  At at time before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, many people saw their life savings disappear when the their local banks collapsed, taking their deposits along with it.  The National Savings and Loan Association was also hard hit, but Louis Fons stepped up.  He contributed his entire personal fortune to ensure that its depositors were paid back 100 cents on the dollar.  Moreover, many of the people who had purchased their houses in the 1920's were in dire straights because of the Depression.  There again, the National Savings and Loan Association stepped up and helped many people keep their houses by arranging for refinancing under the federal Home Owners Loan Corp. program.

You might think that running Fons and Co. and the National Savings and Loan would consume all the time of Louis Fons.  Not even close!  He was also the founder of the Berthelet Pipe and Supply Company, director of the Juneau Investment Company, and organized the Central State Bank.  He was also, for a time, publisher of the Nowiny Polskie.

But Louis Fons was not just a one-dimensional businessman. He was also a fine athlete and passionate about that distinctly American national pastime:  baseball.   He excelled at it so well as to play some semi-pro ball, starting at the ripe age of 16.  He played second base, and the teams he played for won the city championship in 1899 and 1900.  In 1908, he and some friends decided to organize a baseball team that reflected their Polish heritage, and the Koscisko Reds semi-professional baseball team was born.  It may not have been the first "Polish" team, but it was the first one in Milwaukee to crack into the City League, the premier local semi-pro circuit at the time.

The Team had its first game, with Fons as second baseman and captain, on April 11, 1909.  The competed under the strange name of the Kosciusko (sic) Monument Cigars.  In just two years, the team won the City championship with Fons still playing second base (at age 33).  Unfortunately, he sustained an injury in the last game of the pennant that would end his career as a player.  No matter, he simply became president of the team, while still continuing as manager.  Fons made at least two important moves in that position in his first year.  First, he built a new ballpark for the team at the intersection of Harrison and Grove (now S. 5th) Streets.  Called the South Side Stadium, it could seat almost 5,000.  Second, he bumped the team up into the Lake Shore League (which only allowed the top semi-pro teams from SE Wisconsin and northern Illinois).   In the next few years, the Reds would dominate that League. They won the Championship their first year in the league. The first Milwaukee team to do so. They won it again in 1914 and 1915.  After that time, Fons would gradually diminish his involvement in the team.

Given all this activity, it is hard to imagine when Fons found time to be involved in local politics, but he was.  The high point of his political career was from 1918 to 1920, when he represented the 8th District in the Wisconsin state Senate.  Although he was technically a Republican, he actually ran with something that is almost inconceivable these days: a joint Democratic-Republican endorsement.  He only had one term because he choose not to seek re-election.

Louis Fons married Cecelia Sonnenberg in Milwaukee on September 23, 1902.  (Louis' brother Frank, would later marry Cecelia's sister, Helen.)  They had seven children.  Louis passed away on May 18, 1959.

Trivia:  When Louis Fons bought his one-half interest in the realty company in 1902, the name of the resulting firm, Wawrzyniakowski and Fons, combined, arguably, the longest Polish name in Milwaukee with its shortest.

Relation to Last Featured Profile (Darlene Lucht Brimmer):  None
Path From Last Featured Profile:  See upcoming Blog entry.

Sources (all references to page numbers in newspapers are to the page on Google News):

Bruce, William George, and Josiah Seymour Currey, History of Milwaukee City and County, The S. J. Clark Publishing Co., 1922, Volume Three:. The biography of Louis A. Fons begins on page 152.

"50th Anniversary -- Both Business and Marital -- Neared by Louis Fons," Milwaukee Sentinel, August 17, 1952, p. 31.

"50 Years Head of Company, Louis Fons Also Reaches 72," Milwaukee Sentinel, September 3, 1950, p. 39.

"Fons & Co. for 41 Years Have Developed Business," Milwaukee Journal, April 26, 1928, p. 22.

Genealogia - FonsTree  (in Polish)

"Housing Market Wasn't Always So Bleak," Milwaukee Journal, May 19, 1981, p. 36.

"Kosciuskos Are Strong," Milwaukee Sentinel, April 16, 1911, p. 11.

"Louis Fons, Builder, Dies," Milwaukee Journal, May 15, 1959.

"Louis Fons Standing Pat," Milwaukee Sentinel, July 18, 1915, p. 7.

"Morgandale Meets Just About All the Needs of Its Residents" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 17, 2000, p. 26.

Pease, Neal, "Kosciuszko Reds, 1909-1919: Kings of the Milwaukee Sandlots,"  Polish American Studies, Vol 61, No. 1 (Spring, 2004) pp. 11-26.

"Polish Alliance Plans to Honor Louis Fons," Milwaukee Journal, October 8, 1953, p. 13.

"World News Told In Brief," The Ingomar (Montana) Index,  January 10, 1918, p. 6.

For a discussion of the first game held at South Side Stadium based around surviving photographs of the game see,  Pease, Neal, "Big Game On the South Side -  A Milwaukee Baseball Mystery Decoded," Wisconsin Magazine of History, Spring, 2005.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Voting with Your Fists

Sometime, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The following article appeared in the Milwaukee Journal on April 4, 1908, the day before the municipal elections:

Not Yet Connected:  
Richard Gruenwald
George Kadlitz
Charles Kloehn
Judge Unknown Neelen
Joseph Tatera
Jared Thompson


Louis Fons
(He will be the subject of the next Featured Profile.)

At first, I thought the Joe Tatera mentioned in the article was Jozef Tatera, the son of Lawrence Tatera and Cecylia (Zbinik?) Tatera, husband of Weronica (Gruszcznyska) Tatera, and it still possibly could be because you don't have to vote to be passionate about politics.  However, he was not born until March 18, 1888 which means that he was only 20 at the time of the election, and therefore unable to vote.  The next most likely candidate is the Joseph Tatera who was the son of Frank Tatera and Rozalia (Kouice?) Tatera, and who married Wiktorya Malecka. He was born in about 1882, and therefore, would have been of voting age.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Featured Profile #6 - Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer

Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer
  Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer (1938 – 2011)

Milwaukee's sweetheart, the hometown girl who made it to Hollywood. She never quite broke into the leading roles, but she rubbed elbows with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Vincent Price and David Carradine. She even dated Elvis Presley. Through her, all of Milwaukee could live the glamorous life vicariously.

Darlene Lucht was born March 17, 1938, the only child of Gilbert Lucht and Leona (Grosz) Lucht. Her maternal great-grandmother was Frances (Domachowski) Jagodzinski, a sister to Joseph Domachowski (Featured Profile #5) and Michael Domachowski (Featured Profile #3) and a sister-in-law of Andrzej Boncel (Featured Profile #2).

Unlike many girls of that era, Darlene did not start out wanting to be an actress. Quite the contrary. She was so shy that while attending Pulaski High School she did extra work just so she could avoid giving oral book reports. She graduated in 1955 and settled down in as a stenographer in the City's Board of Assessment Office. However, that's not what destiny had in store for her. She would return to a similar position, years later, but in the interim, her life was about to take an interesting detour to Hollywood.

Ironically, it was her shyness that would lead her there. In order to get over her reserve, she enrolled in a self-improvement course at the Rosemary Bichoff Modeling School. She improved so much that she began to earn money in that career. Of course, her striking good looks probably had much to do with that. Moving from modeling to beauty contests seemed like a natural progression, and she excelled there as well. She was chosen as Miss Wauwautosa in 1957 and Miss Milwaukee in 1959. Moving on to a national competition, she was chosen as the first Miss Sun Fun in 1960. (Note: some internet sources list her as being “Miss Wisconsin,” but she was only “Miss Wisconsin” when she represented that state in the Miss Sun Fun competition.)

Darlene Lucht wins the first Miss Sun Fun Contest in 1960.

Her beauty probably also opened doors to her acting chances. However, her start in the thespian profession was a little rocky. Taking a chance, she auditioned to be an extra at a play at the Fred Miller Theater in Milwaukee. Surprisingly, she was chosen not to be just an extra, but to have a speaking part opposite the nationally famous Gene Raymond. Unfortunately, her shyness reared its ugly head, and she turned down the part when she learned that she would have to kiss Gene Raymond, on stage! (Gene Raymond recalled years later that it was the only time a woman refused to kiss him.)

Fortunately, she didn't give up. A modeling friend from Milwaukee, Donna Ehlert, had married actor Harvey Korman. They both encouraged her to throw caution to the winds, and trust on her talent, beauty, and luck to make a career in Hollywood. So, in 1961, she hopped into the Corvair she had won in the Miss Sun Fun Contest and drove west. In retrospect, talent, beauty and luck favored Darlene moderately well. A review of her career on the Internet Movie Database shows a steady stream of roles. They were mostly small. In some movies, she was undoubtedly just “eye candy.” However, she had to have just more than her looks. Given the number of beautiful people that flock to Hollywood every year, Darlene's list of credits shows that she had more going for her than just good looks.

Probably the biggest role in her career was as “Bunny” in Marriage on the Rocks, which starred Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Deborah Kerr. That movie is not available on the internet, but it appears to be scheduled to run on the Turner Movie Classic channel on this coming November 25t.h. (Check your local listings!) 

Darlene Lucht appears on the far left in this promo picture.

 She had a greater success in the “B” movie category. Here she is a a female victim of Vincent Price, walking in a zombie-like trance, in The Haunted Palace  (see appears at about 5:26).

Her largest role ever was probably as “Althea” in the cult classic, Five Bloody Graves. She plays the “working girl” with the big heart whose love almost saves the jaded hero, Ben Thompson. You can watch it it its entirety here. (Darlene Lucht first appears at about 31:22 and her final scene, and the climax of the movie, starts at about 1:11:27.)

In the “Catfight” scene, Darlene, makes eyes at the lead male character, who is played by her real-life husband at that time, Robert Dix (real name: Robert Brimmer). (Robert Dix is the son of Richard Dix, Sr. who was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award in 1939.) Darlene and Robert were married in 1967 or 68 and stayed together for approximately eight years. They had one son together. After her marriage ended, Darlene returned to Wisconsin to raise her son in a more child-friendly environment. She again picked up the steno pad and became a secretary, spending 25 years at the MGIC Investment Corp. However, she keep her hand in glamour, by doing the occasional modeling job.

Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer passed away in Milwaukee on March 5, 2011 of natural causes.

Relation to Last Featured Profile (Joseph Domachowski):  Great Grandniece
Path From Last Featured Profile:  Jospeh Domachowski to his sister, Frances (Domachowski) Jagodzinski, to her son, Anton Grosz, to his daughter, Leona (Grosz) Lucht, to her daughter, Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer. 

Sources (page references on newspapers are to the page on Google News):

“Betty White Has Talent, But Play at Miller Doesn't,” Milwaukee Journal, April 6, 1960, p. 52

“Brimmer Had Movie, TV Career,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 12, 2011

“Looking Good is Routine, Once You've Been a Model,” Milwaukee Journal, September 30, 1980, p. 4
“Miss Sun Fun is Milwaukee Co-Ed,” The Rock Hill Herald, June 6, 1960, p. 1

Scenes from “The Haunted Palace,” Milwaukee Journal, August 6, 1963, p. 69

“Spirits High at Sun Fun,” The [Charleston, S.C] News and Courier, June 3, 1960, p. 1

“Wins Beauty Title,” The [Spartanburg, S.C.] Herald Journal, June 6, 1960, p. 1

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Status Update

Names Added Since Last Status Update:



Chrzan, Czysz

Dettlaff, Drutowski

Fennig, Fromstien

Gaulke, Gorecki, Guss, Gurzynski

Heksel, Homa

Jaga, Januszyk, Jedka, Juda

Kaczynski, Karczewski, Kazmierski, Klug, Kopczynski, Kopke, Kupsik

Lecka, Lenc, Lesniewicz, Lisko, Luczkowski


Padol, Piasecki, Pietrowski, Pinkowski, Pokszywa

Ristau, Rudzinski, Ryczylkan

Schallitz, Senkowski, Singer, Skudlarczyk, Slaski, Stasiak, Starszak, Szomberg,

Tetzlaff, Trebatoski

Wanta, Wilewski, Wiznerowicz, Woyci, Wrzesinski



Also  Corrected:  Maliszewski to Maliszeski

People Added Since Last Status Update:  398
Now, just for fun, Milwaukee's Own Don Gralak, Master of the Concertina, performing  "Under the Double Eagle":

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Hattie Zinda Tragedy

This picture of Hattie ran in the Milwaukee Journal on Tuesday, November 15, 1909.

The night of Friday, November 12, 1909 was cold and dark, and the streets of Milwaukee were nearly deserted. Especially after 8 o'clock. That's when 14 year-old Hattie Zinda made her way home, walking north along Racine Street (now Humboldt Ave.) She had only just finished helping her ailing sister, Mary Ertman, with her housework at 929 Racine St. A gusty wind blew tiny clusters of dead leaves into small eddies of confusion. Who knows what thoughts eddied inside the head of Hattie as she hurried home that night? Perhaps she was thinking of her mother, Johanna (Watzek) Zinda, who had died just a few years previously. Perhaps she was thinking of the two men who had accosted her just the Saturday before. That had occurred about the same time in the evening. She had been crossing the Racine Street bridge over the Milwaukee River on her way home when two men, each about 25 years-old had approached her. They were well-dressed and had long black over-coats and black derby hats. 

“Isn't it pretty late for a pretty girl like you to be on the street?” one of them asked her.
“Yes, don't you think you should be at home?” said the other.

It was dark, and no one else was in sight. Hattie ignored the men and walked on, as quickly as she could. The men followed her, and she heard one say to the other, “We must get her.”

That did it for Hattie. She broke into a run. The men gave chase but could not catch her. She ran several blocks until she finally saw a man and a little girl near Lee Street. Using the last of her breath, she screamed for help and sprinted toward the safety of their company. Her pursuers gave up and disappeared into a side street. 

This portion of a 1901 map of Milwaukee shows the area of the tragedy.

For several days afterward, she was scared. But her sister on the south side of the river needed help. So, Hattie resumed her nightly treks over the Racine Street bridge.

Regardless of her obvious courage, Hattie must have been concerned as she made her way home the next Friday. Crossing that bridge without incident must have brought her a sigh of relief. She was nearly to her home at 909 Weil Street now.

Hattie was not the only one on Humboldt Avenue that night. Miss Rosella Peplinski and Miss Rosa Skarowski, friends of Hattie, were also there heading in the opposite direction of Hattie. They passed each other, without speaking, just before Hattie crossed over the Racine Street bridge. Shortly before they had seen Hattie, the two girls had also seen two well-dressed men leaning against the bar of a saloon about one block north of the railroad crossing of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad on Humboldt Ave. As Hattie headed north, another resident observed her as she made her way toward safety. But then Hattie's progress, and the view of her by the bystander, were blocked by a freight train passing through. For more than five minutes, Hattie was forced to wait on the south side of the crossing, standing in the darkness, as car after car rumbled by. Finally, the caboose cleared the crossing, and as the sound of its wheels faded off to points west, Hattie's way home was now clear.

But, it was too late for Hattie Zinda.

What ensued on that bleak November night has been called “one of the most fiendish crimes ever committed in Milwaukee” and “the most sensational and gruesome murder mystery in the history of the city.” For years afterward, a mention of the “Zinda murder” in the Milwaukee papers would need no further explanation.

When Hattie failed to make it home that night, the rest of her family became frantic.  It was a large family; Jozef and Johanna had had 15 children, and it now included sons-in-law such as Stanley Dudek and William Kuszewski. They spent the whole night searching for her. They enlisted the help of neighbors. The word of the disappearance spread like wildfire and soon the whole Northside was inflamed. However, the police refused to act. They told the anguished relatives that they should look for Hattie in the nickel theaters; they would undoubtedly find her among the other little girls. It was not until the Zindas went to the office of a prominent Pole, and a man from that office went to the police, that the police actually began to act.

Although slow to respond, over the next several days, the entire Milwaukee police department would search for poor Hattie Zinda. Her picture ran on the first page of the Milwaukee Journal along with the details of her disappearance. Hundreds of citizens appointed themselves as private detectives to try to solve the mystery. They flooded the police department with theories. “Not in years,” read a Journal editorial. “have the people in Milwaukee been stirred to [such] depths . . . “ Speculation as to her fate was the topic. The fact that she had vanished while a freight train passed led some to the conclusion that tramps had grabbed her and sold her into white slavery. Meanwhile, her sister Anna Zinda (later Fliss) was positive the two men who had scared Hattie on Saturday had come back to carry out their evil intentions. The police seemed to agree and they let it be know that at least two men were involved in the abduction.

It was not until November 17th that the body of Hattie was discovered in an abandoned shack near the corner of Humboldt and North Avenues. Detective John Shenar was searching nearby when he noticed a black hair ribbon fluttering on the sidewalk. Investigating further, he found the door of the shack locked, but a small window (no more than 11 inches wide) had been broken into. Inside lay poor Hattie Zinda. She had been raped and then strangled. Supposedly, tracks in the dust on the floor showed where her body had been dragged, but a broken chair and bruises all over her body indicated that Hattie had put up a fierce struggle. This was supported by the fact that an examination of Hattie's body disclosed some blond hairs still clutched in her hand. The discovery of the body brought an angry mob to the Zinda residence.  They demanded justice and hinted that a lynching would be too good for the perpetrators.

Piece by piece, the police formed their idea of the culprits. They were two men, apparently because two men had chased Hattie before and the two men who had been seen in the vicinity of the abduction. They were small, because the only way into the locked shed was through the small broken window, and at least one of them was blond. But there was other conflicting evidence. Stanley Grszwaczewski and John Gansezski were on their way to O'Gorman's barber shop about the time of Hattie's abduction when they saw a six-foot tall man with an overcoat and a black derby hat, not dressed as a laborer, standing next to the shack where Hattie's body was eventually found. The boys thought, “[i]t looked as though he wanted to rob someone.” John Worzala, who lived on Dousman Street near the railroad tracks and about a block and half from the scene of the murder said that he was awakened by his dog barking at about 10 pm on the night of the murder. When he went outside, he saw two men hop a north-bound train.

Meanwhile, services were being held for Hattie. An estimated 1,200 people, mostly strangers, passed by the coffin as it lay in the Zinda residence of Weil Street. The next day, thousands more gathered outside as Fr. Joseph Zinda, a cousin, gave the body the Last Rites. Then, from the house the solemn procession with the coffin walked to St. Casimir's, where an over-flow crowd of an estimated 4,000 people attended her funeral. She was then laid to rest in what is now St. Adalbert's Cemetery.

That same day came the “big break” in the case. On Tuesday, November 23rd a bartender on Jones Island told the Milwaukee Journal that on the previous Wednesday (the 17th), two men had entered his bar at about 2:30 p.m. (after the body had been discovered, but before the evening paper came out announcing this fact.) The “two young men, both of them laboring under excitement, discussed ways and means of leaving Milwaukee....” One of the men was about 17, “short, heavy, and darkly complexioned; the other was a good sized man, about 22 or 23, light complexioned and light haired … He was about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches and about 180 pounds.” Evidently, the fact that neither of these men were likely to fit through an 11 inch-wide window, nor, given that they were working men, that they were probably not the "well-dressed" men seen near the crime, was lost in the excitement of this new evidence.

Intrepid Detective Eugene O'Gorman and Patrolman Bernard Ronowski were assigned to track these two men down, or at least track down some two men. Detective O'Gorman had learned that two men had “gone missing” a few days after the Zinda murder, and he felt this behavior was suspicious enough to arrest them for murder. (They might even have been the same two men whose conversation had been overheard in the bar on Jones Island.) O'Gorman and Ronowski spent the next three weeks hot on the trail of the “missing” men. The entire “chase” covered more than 2,000 miles throughout three states, and O'Gorman and Ronowski had to use such diverse means of transportation as trains and a mule team. If the truth be told, they was not “chasing” so much as “looking.” The detective had learned that one of the suspects had, months previous to the murder, talked of working in a lumber camp for the winter, so the detective went from lumber camp to lumber camp, looking for the men. He finally arrested them, in the same location where they had been since leaving Milwaukee: a lumber camp outside Blaney, Michigan. The men were Carol (Karol) Wojciechowski (36), and Adam Pietrzyk (25). They were both from Russian Poland. Wojciechowski could speak broken English, but Pietrzyk could speak none at all.

Karol Wojciechowski (left) and Adam Pietrzyk (right)

The two men were held captive for three days. (Remember, this is way before an accused was given the right to an appointed attorney or were told that they had the right to remain silent.) Then, on the third day, Adam Pietrzyk “confessed.” Speaking through interpreter,  attorney Michael Blenski, he stated that he had seen Wojciechowski accost Zinda and drag her into the railroad yards. He had heard the girl scream and heard the sounds of a struggle. That was all he confessed to, but it was evidently sufficient.

The next night, under the ominous threat both of a lynch-mob and a blinding snowstorm, the two men were taken to court for an unheard-of late-evening session. Within an hour, both had been convicted of first degree murder. Wojciechowski was apparently convicted on the strength of Pietrzyk's statement. Pietrzyk was apparently convicted because he had blond hair and Wojciechowski did not. Since Hattie Zinda was found to be clutching blond hair in her fist, Pietrzyk had to be involved in the murder. (It is unclear, but Wojciechowski may have also given a statement implicating Pietrzyk in the crime.) Before the clock struck midnight, both men had been sentenced to life imprisonment and put on a train to Waupun.

Throughout the rest of their lives, neither man would admit to any involvement in the murder. Pietrzyk would die of tuberculosis in the early 1920's while still in prison. Wojciechowski was finally paroled in 1940. Two years later, Governor Heil granted Wojciechowski, then 70 years-old, a full pardon. The pardon was made on the recommendation of the state pardon board which cited the fact that the evidence which convicted Wojciechowski was “partly circumstantial.”

In retrospect, it seems like there was more than one tragedy resulting from the death of Hattie Zinda.


“All Night Hunt for Young Girl,” Milwaukee Journal, November 15, 1909, p.1.

“Boys Give Police Clew [sic] in Zinda Murder Case,” Milwaukee Journal, November 19, 1909, p. 1

“Deer Hunter is Guilty of Crime,” Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 19, 1909, p. 12

“Find Body of Missing Girl,” Mansfield (Ohio) Daily Shield, November 17, 1909, p. 1

“Find Hair in Grip of Murdered Girl,” Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 20, 1909, p. 10

“Find No Trace of Girl”s Slayer,” Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 18, 1909, p. 5

“Girl Murder Mystery Recalled,” Milwaukee Sentinel, December 11, 1934, p. 1.

“New Theory in Zinda Case,” Milwaukee Journal, November 23, 1909, p. 1

“Offer $1,000 Reward for Hattie Zinda's Murders,” Milwaukee Journal, November 18, 1909,
p. 1

“Pardon is Granted in Murder Case,” Milwaukee Journal, September 26, 1942, p. 15

“Pardon Given to Old Murderer,” Milwaukee Journal, September 27, 1942, p.2

“Police Silent on Zinda Case,” Milwaukee Journal, December 8, 1909, p. 1.

“Says Dead Girl is True Martyr,” Milwaukee Journal, November 20, 1909. p. 1

“Sentinel Will Re-Enact Zinda Slaying Over WISN,” Milwaukee Sentinel, May 8, 1934, p. 17.

“Seventeen Years for Murder?” Milwaukee Journal, April 19, 1926, p. 6.

“Slayers of Girl are Given Terms,” Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, December 12, 1909, p, 21

“Zinda Case Solved,” Milwaukee Journal, December 9, 1909, p. 1.

“Zinda Girl Murdered, Signs of Awful Struggle,” Milwaukee Journal, November 17, 1909, p. 1

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Floating Toward Romance

This picture was published in the Milwaukee Journal on June 26, 1939.  You have to wonder how many of the predictions of romance made that day came true.  Unfortunately, to me  this is a very bittersweet picture because less three months after this photo was taken, the Germans would invade Poland and spark World War II, at least partly over the Polish access to the Baltic Sea which is being celebrated here.

Names Not Yet Connected:
Irene Gwiadzowski
Stanley Gwiadzowski
Isabelle Nastachowski

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Featured Profile #5 - Joseph Domachowski

Joseph A. Domachowski
Joseph A. Domachowski (1872 - 1942)

Joseph Domachowski is the third member of this family to be featured in a profile in this blog. His younger brother, Michael Domachowski, was Featured Profile #3. His brother-in-law Andrzej Boncel was Featured Profile #2. This may appear to unduly weight this blog to this particular family. However, they do all deserve Featured Profiles, and I consider it more interesting to clump the Featured Profiles together by family. Moreover, I have only one more member of this family to go, and then I'll move on. Once more families, whose members are just as interesting, are added, the apparent bias towards the Domachowskis will disappear.

Not much is known of Joseph's early life. He was born on November 26, 1872 in Pinczyn, the sixth child of Jacob Marcus Domachowski and Marjanna Radomska Domachowska. He came to America in 1881 with the other members of his family. He was educated at St. Hyacinth School and in evening public schools. He developed in trade as a painter and decorator, but then moved into the saloon business, and also worked for the Prudential Insurance Company.  He married Agnes Pluta on November 4, 1896 in Milwaukee.

He first comes into notice when he becomes a politician.  He may have got an introduction into this line of work from his brother-in-law Andrzej Boncel who, in 1894, had been elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly from the 12th District. Joseph Domachowski reached his highest elected office in 1906 when he was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly to represent the 14th District of Milwaukee County. He held this office until 1910, when he did not seek re-election. One piece of legislation which he introduced during that time period was a bill to allow public funds to be used to support private school education.

After choosing not to run again for the State Assembly, Joseph Domachowski continued his public service by becoming a probation officer, eventually rising to active Chief Probation Officer in 1927. Shortly thereafter, he was named the Milwaukee County Director of Pensions and the director of mother's aid. (These were, effectively, the first welfare departments in Milwaukee.) His appointment to this office occurred in 1928, just a short time before the Stock Market Crash of October, 1929. The advent of the GreatDepression would greatly magnify the need for the aid that was given. Often, the aid administered by his office was all that stood between a family and starvation.

Joseph Domachowski (photo supplied by Chuck Hardt)
However, the work that Joseph Domachowski is best know for was on behalf of the Polish Association of America.  The Polish Association of America was a mutual benefit society which provided various services, such as life insurance, to its members.  Although headquartered in Milwaukee, the Polish Association of America had members throughout the country. From 1917 until 1940, Joseph Domachowski served as its President.  (This job was in addition to this regular occupation as Probation Officer or the director of the Milwaukee County welfare office.)  In 1940, he was elected to the position of Censor in the Polish Association of America.  In addition to this work, he had also served as the Vice President of the Americanization League of American.

In 1939, he was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit by the Polish Government.

Joseph Domachowski died on July 2, 1942 at the age of 69.  He and Agnes (Pluta) Domachowski had had two sons, (Edward and Michael) and three daughters.  The daughters were Clemenine (Domachowski) Holweck, Wanda (Domachowski) Jeske, and Veronica Domachowski.

Relation to Last Featured Profile (Michael Wenta)First Cousin
Path From Last Featured ProfileMichael Wenta to his mother,  Katarzyna (Radomski) Wenta, to her sister, Marjanna (Radomska) Domachowska, to her son Joseph Domachowski.


"Deputy Denied Probation Job," Milwaukee Sentinel, March 8, 1927, p 2. (Page references to the Milwaukee Journal or Sentinel are to pages on Google News.)

"Domachowski Rites Will be Held on Monday,"  Milwaukee Sentinel, July 5, 1941

"Joseph A. Domachowski," New York Times, July 3. 1942, p. 17

"Lack of Work Hits Women," Milwaukee Journal, February 12, 1930, p. 2

“Martin Gorecki” - from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Memoirs of Milwaukee County, p. 627.

Michael Katzban” - from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

"Milwaukee News Notes," Milwaukee Journal, January 20, 1917, p. 9

The Pinkowski Files - quoting Who's Who in Polish America

"Program Sunday for Polish Group,"  Milwaukee Journal, October 27, 1935, p. 4.

"Stockwell Gets Probation Post,"  Milwaukee Journal, May 17, 1928, p. 1.

"Urges Razing Tenements," Milwaukee Journal, September 19, 1930, p. 2

"Twelve Warrants Out,"  Milwaukee Sentinel, May 28, 1913, p. 21.