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, February 26, 2012

Featured Profile #9 - Jennie (Saskowski) Fons

Jennie (Saskowski) Fons making one of her recipes (from the Milwaukee Journal)
Jennie (Saskowski) Fons (1890 - 1989)

Jennie (Joanna) Saskowski was born in Milwaukee around September, 1890.  She was one of at least 13 children born to Valentine Saskowski and Josephine Peksa.  Even while she was a young girl, her family showed a penchant for getting in the newspapers.  One uncle, John Peksa, is mentioned in "Rumble at St. Vincent's."  Another, Julius Peksa, is mentioned in "The Old Rug Swindle."

However, Jennie's path to the newspapers led through her cooking.  Seriously, although she obtained only a fifth grade education, she did most of her studying in the kitchen.  First, growing up, as a daughter in a large family with many siblings, then married to Stephen C. Fons (1888-1940), then as a mother of six children, she had plenty of practice to became an excellent cook of Polish cuisine.  Even in her later years, she would host (and cook for) large family reunions.

Eventually, some of her old Polish family recipes were published in the Milwaukee Journal and became the favorites of readers.  Her Polish sausage recipe was published in the Milwaukee Journal on December 23, 1962 in "Family Enjoys Breakfast Tradition".  Years later, one of her grandsons was bragging about Jennie's Polish sausage to a friend in northern Wisconsin.  His friend boasted that he had a better recipe.  However, when produced, it proved to be none other than Jennie's recipe saved from that 1962 article.  Here's that famous recipe.  Jennie took the basic recipe from her grandmother, but reduced the fat, garlic and spice.  When you read the proportions, remember that they didn't have any Kitchen-Aides back then, everything was hand-ground and stuffed.  And many women in Milwaukee Polonia, my mother included, would make a batch of this sausage every Christmas and Easter, and usually several times in-between, for years and years.

Mild Polish Sausage
About 1/4 lbs. port casings
15 lbs. port (butt)
4 Tbsp. salt (1/4 cup)
4 Tbsp. mustard seed (1/4 cup)
3 tsp. crushed marjoram
2 tsp. ground pepper
3 small garlic buds
About 2 cups stock, lukewarm

Soak casings in cold water until soft and pliable.  Wash them inside and out.  Leave them in cold water until they are stuffed.  Cut meat from bones and trim excess fat from meat if desired.  Leave some fat on meat as this is necessary for the sausage.  Coarsely grind the meat, then add remaining ingredients except casings, using just enough water to make the mixture soft enough to push easily into casings.   Stuff meat into casings by hand or with a grinder.  If using a grinder, use a plate with three bars across the opening rather than blades and a funnel attachment over the opening.  Slip a wet casing over the funnel opening and grind or push sausage through into casing.  Stuff firmly, but do not pack too tights.  Divide each link in half by pushing sausage aside and twisting casing at the center point.  Hang sausage on rod overnight to dry. [So in the original.  I'm not sure this would conform modern sanitary practices, unless they were hanging in a refrigerated room.]   Refrigerate until cooked.  To cook, simmer in water to cover 45 to 60 minutes until well done.

Jennie's cooking could not have been too unhealthy.  Even with all the hard work in her life, and bearing six children, she lived to be 98. Her obituary was published in the Milwaukee Journal on July 16, 1989, on page 13 of Google news.

Relation to Nearest Featured Profile (Louis Fons):  Sister-in-law
Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  Louis A. Fons > brother, Stephen C. Fons >wife, Jennie (Saskowski) Fons

Before leaving this family, there are two other individuals that need to be mentioned however, I don't think I can do Featured Profiles for them.  In the first case, I don't think I have enough material for a Featured Profile.  In second case, the individual is not of Polish descent and he is in the tree only through marriage.  Therefore, I've developed a new category:

People of Note:

Conrad Saskowski - (I believe this was Jennie's younger brother, unless there were two Conrad Saskowskis in Milwaukee.)  By profession, he was a guidance counselor and history teacher at South Division High School.  However, by inclination, he was a composer and booster of fine arts in the Polish Community.  He composed many pieces that were performed by Milwaukee orchestras, including the operetta, "Polonaise", the operetta "Yours to Command," the choral piece "Credo", the dance piece "Mazur" and the "Mass in Honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa,"  He even penned the musical comedy "Blond Squaw" based upon an old Milwaukee legend.  He was the founder and the long-standing president of the Polish Fine Arts Club.  In recognition of his promotion of good will between the United States and Poland, he received the "Cross of Merit" from Poland in 1939.  (At the same time that Michael Domachowski also received that award.)

Billy Sixty, Sr. - (the father of Jennie's son-in-law.) - He was employed by the Milwaukee Journal for sixty-one years starting as an office boy in 1912.  He eventually became a sports writer, and for years he penned his own column, "Going Like Sixty."  He was also an excellent athlete in his own right not only in golf and bowling at which he most excelled, but he also took honors in baseball, handball, bicycle and motorcycle racing, swimming, tennis, ice skating and roller skating. In 1970, he was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.  He was also voted into the American Bowling Congress, and the Greater Milwaukee and Wisconsin State golf honorary halls.  For time, he also hosted a popular bowling television show in Milwaukee.  (For more information, see "Journal's Sixty Ends Long Writing Career."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Changed Names

Perhaps nothing drives a genealogist to conniptions as much as changed.  They destroy the one link that we have to trace families.  Moreover, members of the Polish-American community, whose Polish names can be unpronounceable other Americans tend to be under more pressure to change their names.  That is why I have decided to post some of the name changes that I have run across in my research.   The information may help some researchers pick up the vital link that they are missing.

Andraszczyk Andrae
Baldikoski Balden
Baranowski Baren
Boncel Bonzell
Brzezinski Brezinski
Chojnacki Howard
Ciesielski Ciesel
Domagalski Demski
Drozniakiewicz Drosen
Dziekan Bush
Dziurdziewski Davis, Jeske
Drzewiecki Drew
Filips Phillips
Gawrylik Garlic
Grzegorski Gorski
Jagodzinski Berry
Janezick Joseph
Jendrezejewski Jenders
Kapczynski Kapp
Karbouski Karr
Kasianowicz Kasian
Kicki Kitzke, Kitzki
Kieliszkowski Kiel
Kobza Kobs
Kopczynski Kopp
Koslakowicz Koslar
Kowalkowski Good
Krafczyk Kraft
Machnik Jonak
Markiewicz Markey
Markowski Marks
Maryak Mareak
Mazurkiewicz Marks
Michalski Baker
Mylymaki Maki
Niewiamdomski Nevers
Niespodziany Nasby
Ostrenga Ostranger
Paczocha Pack, Page
Pelat Pilot
Posieczek Posek
Ruszkiewicz Rusk, Ruskiewicz, Ruswick
Szymanski Manske, Simmons, Syman
Trapczynski Trapp
Tyczynski Tysen
Walczykowski Walsh
Wojciechowski Wallace
Zupan Supane

Now, in honor of St. Valentine's Day, a little "romantic" humor.  The following is an add that ran in the Milwaukee Journal in the late 1890's.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Featured Profile #8 - John C. Kleczka

Hon. John C. Kleczka
John C. Kleczka  (1885 - 1959)

John Casimir Kleczka was born in Milwaukee on May 6, 1885, to Michael Kleczka and Agnes (Wiza) Kleczka, both of whom had come from Poznan, Poland and who were members of the pioneer Polish families of Milwaukee.  He went to St. Stanislaus School in Milwaukee and then attended Marquette University from which he graduated in 1903 with a A.B.  He then attended the law school at Marquette and graduated in 1905.  He subsequently took post-graduate courses at the Catholic University of America and the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

On January 1, 1906, he was appointed deputy clerk of the Milwaukee County Circuit Courts.  He served in that position until the fall of 1908 when he was elected state senator (Eighth Senatorial District) as a Republican.  He won the election by defeating ex-city treasurer and quondam Democratic candidate for mayor William. H. Graebner and Ferd Rehfeld the Social Democratic candidate.  He served there one term until 1911.
He also sat in the  U.S. Congress (representing the 4th Wisconsin Congressional District from 1918 to 1922 as a Republican).  His election to Congress was the result of co-operation between the Democrats and the Republicans, and was brought about by the intervention of the Patriotic Congressional League whose members believed that if the Democrats and Republicans voted separately, a Socialist, William J. Cary, would win the seat.  Therefore, although the Democrats originally nominated William J. Kershaw to run against Kleczka, he later withdrew, by plan leaving Kleczka as the sole alternative to the Socialist.  Kleczka served two terms in Congress.

A strong supporter of Poland, he worked hard to raise money and manpower in its defense. As a result, he was awarded the Order of Polonia Restituta in 1924. The honor was conferred on him by Ignatz Paderewski.

However, his main calling in life was to be a judge, and he served as a Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge for 23 years (1930-1953). During that time, he presided over many proceedings, ranging from simple family matters (such as where a wife was suing for divorce because, among other things, her husband swore at her during a church social) to issues like the proceedings over the A.J. Lindemann & Hoverson, Co., strike that put the whole community in turmoil. (See the Featured Profile of Frank Boncel, for more information.)

John Kleczka retired as a Circuit Court judge in 1953.  However, he continued to serve as conciliation judge and court commissioner up until the day of his death.  He was survived by his wife, Wanda (Lukomski) Kleczka and four children.

Trivia:  Rt. Rev. Michael Domachowski (Featured Profile #3) preformed the marriage of John C. Kleczka to Wanda Lukomski in St. Vincent de Paul Church on October 18, 1911.  (See, "A Polish Wedding.")  Twenty-eight years later he said the mass in the same church, when John Kleczka's daughter Rosemary married John Hennessey.  (See, "Miss Kleczka is Married," Milwaukee Sentinel, September 17, 1939, p. 15.
Relation to Nearest Featured Profile (Louis Fons):  Nephew of Sister
Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  Louis Fons > sister, Mary Magdalene (Fons) Wiza, > husband, Anthony Wiza > sister, Agnes (Wiza) Kleczka > son, John C. Kleczka.

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

"Citizens of the Right Kind,"  Milwaukee Journal, November 9, 1918, p. 4.

"Death Ends 50-Yr. Kleczka Service,"  Milwaukee Sentinel , April 22, 1959, p. 2

"Former Judge Kleczka Dies," Milwaukee Sentinel, April 22, 1959, p. 19

"He Swore at Wife at Church Supper, She Gets Divorce,"  Milwaukee Journal, May 16, 1935, p. 3

"Hon. John C. Kleczka," in History of Milwaukee City and County by William George Bruce and Josiah Seymour Currey, The S. J. Clark Publishing Co., 1922, Volume 3, p. 858

John C. Kleczka on Wikipedia.

"The Blame for It," Milwaukee Journal, September 4, 1918, p. 6.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Status Update and Introducing the "Tree-Completeness Number" or "TCN"

Names Added Since Last Update:
Bankoski, Bankowski

Ciesiewicz, Cuenim, Cweykurkow, Cwiklinski, Czarapata

Dalecke, Depcinski, Dobrowski, Domagalow, Dominiak, Drew, Drzewiecki, Durka, Dzieminska, Dzik,




Jakubiak, Jarlowski, Jereczek

Kempka, Klemens, Kuligowski

Lass, Lubinsky

Maciejczak, Maiczak, Majchrzak, Malicki, Mietlicka, Milosch, Mindak, Mokelke, Murawsk, Muszynski,

Nalepinski, Niemiec, Nowaczyk


Pankau, Paczesniak, Perszyk, Placzek, Ploszaj, Podorowski, Popinski, Poprok, Potrikus Powicki

Raszk, Rataj, Ratajczyk, Remba, Rozmiarek

Schooter, Sienko, Smolterowicz, Soczynski, Stamczyk, Strzeminski, Sturomski, Suwalow, Szczerbiak, Szeliga, Szpera, Szumski


Wask, Wesolowski, Widkowski, Wodkowski, Wroclawiak


Changed  Szyperska to Szyperski
Corrected Koltaniak to Koltoniak

Number of Profiles Added Since Last Update:  At least 767
New Intra-Connections (Paths from Lucht to Fons):

44.     ....Carl Drewicz > mother, Theresa (Janusz) Drewicz > sister, Irene (Janusz) Parchim > husband, Anton R. Parchim > sister, Rose (Andraszczyk) Parchim > husband, Roman Andraszczyk....

45.     ....Ignatz Kobza > son, Henry Kobza > daughter, PRIVATE (Kobza) Galaska > husband, PRIVATE Galaska > mother, Rose (Samolinski) Galaska > mother, Catherine (Andraszczyk) Samolinski > brother, Frank Andraszczyk

46.     ....Martha (Grosz) Kobza > daughter, Clemetine (Kobza) Michalski > husband, Arthur Michalski > sister, Eleanor (Michalski) Kurzynski > husband, Alponse Kurzynski > brother, Walter Kurzynski > son , PRIVATE Kurzynski > wife, PRIVATE (Galaska) Kurzynski > mother, Rose (Samolinski) Galaska....

47.     ....Blase Kuzba > brother, Antoni Kuzba > daughter, Helen (Kuzba) Gapinski > husband, Casper [Casimer] Gapinski > sister, Blanche (Gapinski) Kuzba > son, Irvin Kuzba ....

48.     ....Joanna (Sromalla) Maciejewski > daughter, Antionette (Maciejewski) Wierzbinski > mother, Elizabeth (Ruszkiewicz) Wierzbinski > brother Frank Ruszkiewicz (I)....

49.     ....Valentine Perlaczynski > mother, Michalina [Minnie] (Markowski) [Perlaczynski] Kowalkowski > brother, Joseph Markowski > daughter, Ester (Markowski) [Wamser] Bonk > husband, Edmond Bonk > brother, Richard Bonk > wife, Mary (Walczak) Bonk > sister, Sylvia (Walczak) Kitzki > husband, PRIVATE Kitzki > father, Andre Kitzki > father, Stanley Kitzke...

TCN:  12.67
Last month's (January, 2012) TCN:  18.75
The "TCN" or "Tree-Completeness Number" is the ratio between new names added to the number of new connections discovered. It is supposed to be a very rough measure of the progress toward the goal of showing all the connections between the families of Milwaukee Polonia, 1850 to 1945.  The theory behind this number is that the Milwaukee Polonia Project can be compared to a giant jig-saw puzzle.  When you just start on a jig-saw puzzle you are just connecting one piece to one piece.  However, as the puzzle fills in, the new piece you add will more often connect to two pieces at the same time.

In this project, adding a new name to the list represents a puzzle piece that just connects to one other piece.  In contrast, a new Intra-connection is a puzzle piece that connects to two pieces at the same time.   Thus, as the ratio between the number of new names to Intra-connections drops (i.e., the TCN gets smaller) that is an indication that the tree is becoming more complete.

This is a very rough measure.  Therefore, I expect to be quite a bit of variation in the TCN from month to month.  However, I expect that the trend of the TCN will be an ever smaller number.  We shall see.