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, January 29, 2012

Bronisław, Poland - A Cautionary Tale

Recently, I have been working on entering the data from the Waszak/Kuzba families that was posted on Family Tree Maker on-line by Adrienne Zuber.  (The tree can be found here.)  I was especially excited about this project when I noticed that the Kubza family came from Bronisław, Poland because I already had on the Milwaukee Polonia Project tree two families that had connections to Bronisław.  Walter [Waclaw] Ruszkiewicz had been born in Bronisław in 1885, and his first cousin, Michael Wierzbinski had probably been born there in 1867.  My excitement increased when I noticed that both the Kuzba family and the Ruszkiewicz/Wierzbinski families had connections to Glowacki and Marciniak families.  Bronisław is not that big.  The entire parish, including Bronisław, Ciechsz, Czerniak, Osikowo, and Rzadkwin numbered only 960 souls in 1888.  Surely, there had to be some connection between the Kuzba family and the Ruszkiewicz/Wiezbinski families.

There was only one thing that was troubling me.  Most of the Ruszkiewicz/Wierzbinski sources were in Rzadkwin, which is just a couple miles away from Bronisław on Lake Pakoskie, connected with Bronisław on Lake Bronisławski via the West Notec River. (A dam added in 1975 has increased the size of Lake Bronisławski making it look like one lake.) (click on the following map to get more information):

Bronislaw google map

There is a church (St. Rotha) in Rzadkwin.  Since Bronisław is only a couple miles away from Rzadkwin, I'd be surprised if there was a church there as well.  However, most of the sources for the Kuzba family listed the church as St. Bartholomew the Apostle, not St. Rotha.  Moreover, the postal code for St. Bartholomew the Apostle was 88-210 whereas the postal code for Bronisław was 88-320.  To top things off, when I googled "Bronisław, Poland" some of the maps looked like this:

Where were the lakes?  Where was Rzadkwin?  What was going on?

Well, as you probably guessed quicker than I did, there are two Bronisław, Poland's.  To make matters even more confusing, they are both in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship. (One is in Mogilno County; the other in Radziejowski County.)  In fact, they are only about 20 miles apart.

The moral I learned from this is that you can never be too careful with place names in Poland.  You have to deal with changing names, and changing languages so that the same town can have two names, one in Polish and one in German or Russian, but then you can also have, as in this case, two different towns having the same name. (Which, to be fair, also happens in the United States.)

Two last things to note.

First, although the towns are only about 20 miles apart, their history is dramatically different in one respect.   The Bronisław which lies on the shores of Lake Bronisławski was part of the Grand Duchy of Poznań, and later the Province of Posen.  Thus, it's marriage records are available through the Poznań Project.  The other Bronisław was not in the Grand Duchy, so its records are not so readily available.

Second, a little trivia.  I mentioned above that Michael Wierzbinski was born in Bronisław.  When he came to Milwaukee, he married Antonette Maciejewski who had been born in Podróżna around 1875.  Podróżna is a village in the same parish as Bługowo, which was the first Point of Origin that I discussed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Perfect Baby

The following article and picture appeared in the Milwaukee Journal on August 22, 1913:

One can only wonder whether the rest of his life seemed so blessed.

The following clip shows the family in the 1920 census:

What's interesting here is that  the father, Joseph, is shown as having been born in Wisconsin in about 1873.  That would have made his family one of the earlier Polish families to come to Wisconsin.

Names Yet to be Connected:

Joseph Wnuk
Helen (Unknown) Wnuk
Louis Wnuk

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Year They Played Here

Milwaukee has not been known for professional football. Sure, for a few years we had the Milwaukee Badgers and their star, the Wisconson-born legend, Johnny “Blood” McNally. But that team folded in 1926. So, for years, most of us have rooted for that team from the north. Thankfully, the Packers have acknowledged this support. For a number of years, they even played half of their home games in Milwaukee. And once, just once, they let Milwaukee host the NFL Championship game.

The year was 1939. Green Bay (9-2) had taken the Western Division title by beating the Detroit Lions 12-7 just the week before. The winning score came in the 4th quarter on a 4th and goal carry by Packer war horse, Clarke Hinkle, then nearing the end of his storied career.

Their opponents were to be the New York Football Giants which would make it a rematch of the 1938 Championship game which the Giants had won, 23-17. The Giants final game against the Washington Redskins to clinch the 1939 Eastern Division title has become one of the most controversial in NFL history. The Giants were clinging to a 9–7 lead when the Redskins placekicker, Bo Russell, an erstwhile tackle, lined up to try the winning field goal from the 11 yard line with just 45 seconds remaining. The ball was snapped, the place went down, the kick went up, and everyone thought it was good. Everyone, that is, except Bill Halloran, the referee. His signal of “no-good” caused major pandemonium. The Redskins fans weren't the only ones to rush the field in outrage. Their coach, Red Flaherty took off after Halloran with malicious intent. It was several minutes before order was restored and play could be resumed so that the Giants could run out the clock. (Although he was to referee the title game in Milwaukee, Halloran was eventually banned from the game because of that disputed call.)

So it was that expectations were running high in Milwaukee for the coming of the title game. It was to be played at State Fair Park which had a seating capacity of approximately 30,000. This does not seem like much by today's standards but the 1937 Championship played at Wrigley Field drew only about 16,000 attendees. In fact, this large seating capacity was one reason Curly Lambeau had picked Milwaukee for the game. (The stadium in Green Bay could only sit about 24,000.)  But seats by themselves mean nothing. It is only when they are occupied that they matter. Would Milwaukeans turn out for the game?  There was some speculation that they wouldn't. After all, Lambeau had set the ticket price at $4.40, an all-time high for any pro football game. In fact, it was twice as much as any New York game at the Polo Grounds. However, there was nothing to fear. Even at that rate the tickets were almost sold out within the first 24 hours. Approximately 15,000 tickets were sold in Milwaukee alone. (To some, the run on tickets was to prove the need for a County Stadium.) In the end, even the track chairs which were added to bring the capacity to 32,500 sold. It was the largest sporting event ever in Milwaukee, up until that time.

Ticket seekers line up outside the Milwaukee Journal Office on the first day of sales. (From the Journal.)
Perhaps some Milwaukee demand for tickets could be attributed to the local connections of two of the players. Ward Cuff, the running back and placekicker for the Giants, was a 1937 graduate of Marquette University. He had led the league in field goals in 1938 and 1939. His wife Doris (nee Brigden) still lived in Milwaukee. In fact, the Milwaukee title game was to give Ward Cuff his first chance to see his two-month-old daughter.

Probably of even greater interest to Milwaukee, and to her Poles, was local hero, Eddie Jankowski. The son of William (Boleslaus) and Josephine Jankowski, he was a crushing full back at East Division High School (now Riverside) where he was all-city for three years and set a scoring record in 1932. From there, he went to the University of Wisconsin where he was the Badgers' MVP in 1935 and 1936. He was a first round draft choice for the Packers in 1937, and now here he was, back in his hometown, playing in the biggest game of his life.

From the Milwaukee Journal

 The day of the game dawned cold, and dry, which would make for a fast playing field, but with a strong north wind that could befuddle quarterbacks and kickers Expectations ran high. Milwaukee was in the grip of pro football fever and a steady steam of people made their way into the stands of State Fair Park. (My grandfather and father included.) Spare tickets were scarce, and scalpers were asking, and getting, ridiculous prices. As it turned out, the prices would be worth it; the fans would watch a great game . . . ., as long as you were a Packer backer. The Pack was completely dominant in a 27-0 victory. Although a close 7-0 game at halftime, it was broken open completely in the third quarter with ten Packer points. When Eddie Jankowski rumbled in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the fans had their “dagger.” It was a glorious day to be a Packer fan. 

From the Milwaukee Journal
Ward Cuff attempted only one field goal during the 1939 Championship game.  His 42-yard attempt into the teeth of the strong north wind was no-good.  He would eventually (in 1947) become a Packer himself.  He died in California in 2002.

Eddie Jankowski would play for the Packers for several more years and then enlist in the Navy for the duration of World War II. After the War, he returned to Milwaukee.  He became the football coach at Whitefish Bay High School.  He led them to three city titles in his five years as coach. He was eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He passed away in Madison in 1996.

(Anyone interested in this game should read the description of it by Pat Cannon which appeared in the December 11, 1939 edition of the Journal.)

Sources:  (all page number references are to page number on Google News.)
Conner, Floyd, Football's Most Wanted: the Top 10 Book of the Game's Outrageous Characters, Fortunate Fumbles and Other Oddities, Potomoc Books, Inc. (2000)

"Giants Beat 'Skins; Dispute over Kick", Milwaukee Journal, December 4, 1939, p. 14.

“Is Everybody Happy? That's What We Thought!”, Milwaukee Journal, December 7, 1939, p. 17

"Jankowski Dies at 83," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 23, 1996, p. 15.

"Jankowski of the Packers Hard to Stop, Even by a Wall," Milwaukee Journal, November 9, 1965, p. 62.

“New York Giants Show Little Fire in Final Workout at Home,” Milwaukee Journal, December 7, 1939, p. 17.

“Packer's Power and Deceptive Passing Game Defeat Giants, 27-0” Milwaukee Journal, December 11, 1939, p. 16.

“Packers Triumph 12-7; Tackle Giants Sunday”, Milwaukee Journal, December 4, 1939, p. 14.

“32,500 to See Packers Play Giants for Pro Title,” Milwaukee Journal, December 10, 1939, p. 19.

Ward Cuff at

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Status Update

Names Added Since Last Update:
Badzinski, Betonski, Bruda, Brzerniejewski, Budnick

Cybela, Cyranek, Czarwolinski, Czerkowska

Daniszewska, Dembowiak, Dzuirdziewski

Gacka, Galecki, Gawlak, Gawrych, Gawrylik, Gerlinski, Geske, Gnacinski, Gocolinski, Gorczynski, Grudnowski



Jablonski, Jasiecka, Juszczynski

Kalbarczyk, Karolewicz, Kiss, Klimczak, Koepnick, Kolasinski, Koltunski, Kowalewski, Kozik, Krzyzanek, Krzykowski, Kubiak, Kurkiewicz

Marcowska, Marcyn, Matusiak

Nagorski, Nyka

Parchim, Pierdzioch, Podlaski, Podziemski, Prawdzik, Price, Priewska

Riha, Rokitnicka, Rubin

Sager, Sanders, Sawicz, Schaar, Skreniny, Skrzeczkowski, Stanny, Strassinskee, Szabelski, Szymakowski.


Waskiewicz, Wieczorek, Winarski, Witaszak, Wyrozumski

Zadurski, Zaleski, Zaporska

Number of Profiles Added Since Last Update:  At least 562

New Intra-Connections (Paths from Lucht to Fons):

40)      ....Helen (Kuzba) Waszak > half-sister, Maryann (Kuzba) Stanny > son, Andrew Stanny > PRIVATE (Stanny) Moczynski > husband, Paul Moczynski > sister, PRIVATE (Moczynski) Rosploch > husband, PRIVATE Rosploch > father, George Rosploch > father, Andrew Rosploch >sister, Victoria (Rosploch) Kitzke....

41)     ....Andrew Kapczynski > sister, Mary Cecelia (Kapczynski) Andraszczyk > husband, Joseph Andraszczyk > brother, Stanley Andraszczyk > son, PRIVATE Andraszczyk > wife, PRIVATE (Uciechowski) Andraszczyk > father, John Uciechowski > sister, Helen (Uciechowski) Kitzki > husband, Max Kitzki > father, Stanley Kitzki....

42)     ....Joseph Andraszczyk > father, Andrew Andraszczyk > brother, Frank Andraszczyk > son, Alex Andraszczyk > wife, Wanda (Waskiewicz) Andraszczyk > mother, Stephania (Kuzba) Waskiewicz > father, Blase Kuzba....

43)     ....Sophie (Jagodzinski) [Wielebski] Kapczynski > daughter, PRIVATE (Kapczynski) Drewicz > ex-husband, PRIVATE Drewicz > brother, Carl Drewicz > first wife, Bernadine (Andraszczyk) Drewicz > father, Roman Andraszczyk > brother, Alex Andraszczyk....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lucht to Fons, A Weak Attempt at Analasis

There was a lot of data in my last post, and that much data begs to be analyzed. Unfortunately, I really don't have the knowledge or skills to do it properly. Some of the questions to which I would like to have answers are as follows:

  1. To what extent are these many interconnections between family members “unusual”? In other words, there are about 7,000 individuals on the Milwaukee Polonia Project Tree, so far. As shown by my last post, there are at least 38 known loops in that tree. That seems like a lot to me, but is it? If we took an “average” American tree from a different time or area, how many loops would it have? I suspect that it would have less, but I have facts to support this.
  2. To what extent does the position of Darlene Lucht and Louis Fons on the tree affect the number of connections that were found? I have at least a partial answer for this one, but the answer has two aspects that contradict one another. First, I think the fact that the two end points, Darlene Lucht and Louis Fons, were so far apart increased the number of loops between them. The reason for this was that because those two points were so far apart it enabled me to use every loop that I knew of in the tree. If the two end point had been closer together, then there may have been loops in the tree that could not have fit between the two end points. Conversely, although Louis Fons is very much in the center of the tree, Darlene Lucht is very much on the “edge”. The MPP Tree deals mainly with individuals who were Polish or of Polish descent and who lived in Milwaukee between 1850 and 1945. Louis Fons is in the “center of the tree” because both his parents and his spouse were Polish, he lived his entire life in Milwaukee, and his siblings and some of his children also married Milwaukee Poles. In contrast, Darlene Lucht was on the edge of the tree because only her mother was of Polish descent, she was an only child, her son falls outside of the appropriate time period. Had Darlene Lucht been more in the center of the tree, then it is possible that even more connections could have been found.
  3. Is there anything “special” about the families involved in these connections that made them more conducive to connections being made? For example, did they all come from the same area of Poland? Or, while in Milwaukee, did they all belong to the same parish? It is really too early to say at this point because the research is far from being done. However, to the extent I know where the families come from or where they lived in Milwaukee, I don't see any discernible pattern that really jumps out.
  4. To what extent did the families know of these connections? Or, to what extent were the new connections caused by the pre-existing connections? For example, let's look at Paths 2,3 and 4 and their relationship to one individual who can be connected to all those paths: Frank Ruszkiewicz (I).

Paths 2 and 4, go through his niece, Elizabeth (Marciniak) Sromalla.

Path 4 results because Elizabeth (Marciniak) Sromalla married Joseph Sromalla, the first cousin, once removed of Darlene Lucht's step great-grandfather, John Jagodzinski (1).
Path 2 goes through Henry Michalek, the son-in-law of Elizabeth (Marciniak) Sromalla. His aunt, Frances (Sikora) Pluta was the sister-in-law of the sister-in-law of Darlene Lucht's great-grandmother, Frances (Domachowski) [Grosz] Jagodzinski.

Path 3 goes through the youngest son of Frank Ruszkiewicz (I), Frank [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (II). He married a Rose (Jagodzinski) [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick, the daughter of John Jagodzinski (1) and Frances (Domachowski) [Grosz] Jagodzinski. Thus, Rose was a first cousin, once removed of Darlene. Also notice, the couple from Paths 2 and 4 (Elizabeth (Marciniak) Sromalla and Joseph Sromalla) with the couple from Path 3 (Frank [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (II) and Rose (Jagodzinski) [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick), we see that it is a case of cousins marrying cousins. Frank [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (II) is the first cousin of Elizabeth (Marciniak) Sromalla and Rose (Jagodzinski) [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick is the second cousin of Joseph Sromalla.  Elizabeth (Marciniak) Sromalla and Joseph Sromalla married in 1897.  Frank [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick (II) and Rose (Jagodzinski) [Ruszkiewicz] Ruswick did not marry until 1921. Was the marriage of Frank and Rose somehow brought about by the existing marriage of their cousins? Did they even know that their cousins were married? Unfortunately, I don't know the answers to these questions.

I strongly suspect that in the the many connections shown in my previous post, there is likely to instances of: 1) where the second marriage was brought about by the first marriage, 2) where the couple of the second marriage knew of the pre-existing connection, but was not influenced by it, and 3) where the second couple was not even aware of the previous connection.

So much for my lame attempt at analysis.

In Memorium:  Śp. Eugene Kitzke.

Finally, (and sadly) I need to mention a death in our community. My cousin Gene Kitzke passed away on Christmas Eve. I probably owe my existence to Gene since he is the person who introduced my father to my mother. The story is that when my father was home on furlough during WWII, he went to visit Gene who was a friend of his from St. Stanislaus H.S. While there, he noticed the photograph of Gene's cousin (my mother) on Gene's piano. Gene then arranged a date for the two. As they say, the rest is history. However, as important as that act was to me, it was insignificant to the rest of Gene's accomplishments. He earned a doctorate in botany from Marquette. After a short time as a college professor, he went to work for S.C. Johnson & Son where he eventually rose to become a the V.P. In charge of research and development. However, even that was only one of his many accomplishments. He was a man of many talents and will surely be missed.