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.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Stanley Kaczmarek Preferred Jail to Lonely Christmas

The following article appeared on December 24th, 1911 in the Milwaukee Journal:

Not Yet Connected:  Stanley Kaczmarek

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Featured Profile #35 - Michael Wabiszewski

Michael Wabiszewski (1870 - ?)

The following comes from Memoirs of Milwaukee County, edited by Jerome Anthony Watrous, Western Historical Assoc. 1909, at page 225:

 Note:  It seems unlikely that Michael Wabiszewski married Pauline Dyksnski (or Dykcinski) in 1891.  According to census records, she would have been only about six years old in 1891.  Rather, it appears this couple was actually married in 1903.  Based on the 1900 census, Michael Wabiszewski may have been previously married to a Louise (last name still undiscovered.)

It is not known when Michael Wabiszewski died.  Pauline may have died about October 6, 1930.  It does not appear that they ever had any children.

Relation to Nearest Featured Profile: (Frank (Franciszek) Wabiszewski, Featured Profile #34):  Son

Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  FrankWabiszewski (1) >son, Michael Wabiszewski

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Status Update - December, 2013

Family Names Added Since Last Update:


Profiles Added Since Last Update: 324
 New Intra-Connections  (Lucht to Fons): 
206)  ….Cecelia (Komorowski) Drozniakewicz > brother, William Komorowski > wife, Victoria (Klappa) Komorowski > sister, Angeline (Klappa) Mochalski > husband, Edward Mochalski > sister, Sal (Mochalski) Fons....
207)  ….Michael Mazurkiewicz > sister, Julia (Mazurkiewicz) Kurlinski > son, PRIVATE Kurlinski > wife, PRIVATE (Mochalski) Kurlinski > father, Larry Mochalski > brothe, Edward Mochalski.... 
208)  ….Alex Andraszczyk > brother, Ben Andraszczyk > wife, Hattie (Banaszak) Andraszczyk > sister, Stella (Banaszak) Rozga > husband, Arthur Rozga > sister, Celia (Rozga) Baranczyk > husband, Henry Baranczyk > Sophie (Baranczyk) Adamski....
209)  ….August Cyborowski > brother, Ignatz Cyborowski > daughter, Mary (Cyborowski) Rozga > husband, John Rozga > brother, Phil (Theophil) Rozga > son, Arthur Rozga....
210)  ….Leo Stachowiak (1) > son, Chester Stachowiak > wife, Emily (Lenda) Stachowiak > brother, Ervin Lenda > wife, Eleanore (Rozga) Stachowiak > father, Martin J. Rozga > sister, Rose (Rozga) Ruskiewicz > husband, Stanley [“Jimmie] [Ruszkiewicz] Ruskiewicz > brother, Wallace Ruszkiewicz....
211)  …. Ervin Lenda > brother, John Lenda > wife, Stella (Stasiewicz) Lenda > brother, Stanley Stasiewicz > son, PRIVATE Stasiewicz > wife, PRIVATE (Piszczek) Stasiewicz > father, Frank Piszczek....
212)  ….Stella (Stasiewicz) Lenda > brother, John A. Stasiewicz > son, PRIVATE Stasiewicz > daughter, PRIVATE (Stasiewicz) Kitzke > husband, PRIVATE Kitzke > father, PRIVATE Kitzke > father, William A. Kitzke > father, Walter Kitzke.... 
213)  ….John Jagodzinski (1) > first wife, Aneila (Hejdak) Jagodzinski > sister, Antonina (Hejdak) Paprocki > husband, Joseph Paprocki > first wife > Helen (Grzesk) Paprocki > brother, Peter Grzesk > wife, Mary (Jendrzejek) Grzesk, mother, Rosalie (Tatera) Jendrzejek > brother, Antoni Tatera > wife, Magdalena (Biedrzycki) Tatera > sister, Katarzyna (Biedrzycki) Erdman > husband, Dominic Erdman > sister, Konstancja (Erdman) Wnuk > husband > Szczepan Wnuk > sister, Rosalia (Wnuk) Michalek.... 
214)  ....Joseph Kapczynski > daughter, PRIVATE (Kapczynski ) Radaj > husband, Albin Radaj > father, Stephen Radaj > brother, VincentRadaj > son, Gilbert Radaj....
PCN:  4.11
(For an explanation of the PCN - "Project Completeness Number") see Status Update - February, 2012 and Status Update - March, 2012)

Historical Data:
November, 2013:  3.89
October, 2013:  2.14
September 2013:  2.9
August, 2013: 2.71          
July, 2013: 4.28
June, 2013:  3.01
May, 2013: 6.33
April, 2013: 3.33
March, 2013:  8.2
February, 2013: 2.1
January, 2013:  8.0
December, 2012: 3.29
November, 2012: 6.0
October, 2012:  12.25
September, 2012:  6.4
August, 2012: 3.89
July, 2012:  4.57
June, 2012:  7.75
May, 2012:  9.33
April, 2012:  16.67
March, 2012:  16
February, 2012:  12.8
January, 2012:  19
Newly-Discovered Changed Names:
Baranczyk to Barant
Laczkowski to Lake
Mroz to Frost
Podlaszewski to Podd
to Underwood
Rybacki to Fischer
New Alternate Spellings:
Bzdawka Bzanska
Frydrychowicz Frydrychowiez
Grzybowski Grzybonski
Hejak Hejdak Kejdake
Jendrzejek Jedrzijek Jędrzejak Jendrzejek Jedrsejek
Koniec Kouice
Konieczka Kuniezka Konisofka
Ksobiech Keobiccha
Kuzimski Kivzawski
Lenda Linda
Link Lenk
Olszewski Obszewski
Pesz Pesq
Paprocki Poprocki
Pawlowski Pawloski
Piotrowiak Petroviak
Rupinski Repinski
Senk Szyrek
Smerlinski Smeolyaski Smerlyaski
Stachlewicz Stachlawitz Stochlawitz
Tatera Taterka Foster
Wasikowski Jasikowski

Keobiccha to Ksobiech

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

It is time to once again give a great big THANKS! to everyone who has shared information with the Project in the last year.  Your contributions are greatly appreciated even if I have not yet been able to add your information to the tree.

Lynn S. – for information on the descendants of Albert and Rose (Szpadzinski) Maternowski
  and help on researching the husband of Mary (Maternowski) Gorecki

Mary S. – for information on the Rybarczyk family and Borkowski family

Nancy G. – for information on the descendants of Joseph Gigowski and Barbara (Litwin) Gigowski and the photo of the Gigowski butcher shop in old Milwaukee

Pat K. - for many contributions from researching the original Polish baptismal records

Kathy J. – for allowing me access to the Ramsey/Rudzinski/Janicki family tree on

Pat G. – for sending me the article on Gilda Gray and other help researching the Gorecki family

Chuck H. – for sending me the book on the history of Poland, The Polish Way

Paul W. – for updating information on the Stachowiak family that moved from Milwaukee to California

Charolette M. - for allowing me access to the Paul Grady Flemming family tree on

Dave E. – for providing information on Jan Przybyla and Franciszka (Ksobiech) Przybyla

Dave K. – for providing information on the Matusiak and Zynuticz families

Paul W. – for providing information on the Wutt/Wutschikowski family

Don B. – for providing information on the Kowalkowski and Brej families

Mark P. – for providing information on the Polczynski family

John F. – for allowing me access to the Machulak family tree on

Again, a big heartfelt thanks to all of you.  I'm just sorry that I can't devote enough time to the Project that would allow me to enter all this information in a more timely manner.

If I've left anyone off the list, I'm sorry.  Please send me another note to either remind me of the information that you sent, or to make sure that I actually received it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  Please safe with your travels and enjoy your family.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Featured Profile #34 - Polish Pioneer - Franciszek Wabiszewski

Here is the second in our series on the Polish Pioneers.

Again, please note that the following translation was done with the aid of Google Translate. A copy of the actual article in Polish follows the translation.  If any one who speaks Polish notices an error in (or any improvements to) my translation, please let me know.

Franciszek Wabiszewski (1838 - 1924)

Franciszek Wabiszewski was born on the 12th of September, 1838 in Kwieciszewo, in the Great Duchy of Poznan. His father was Jacob  and his mother was Mary (née Kwiatkowska.) For three years, he went to school in Kwieciszewo.

As an older boy, he learned the trade of shoemaker. When he came of age, he joined the German army. He served in the army during the Austro-Prussia War and was employed in the Department of the Army making shoes for men. When the war ended, he remained in the military another year.

When in 1863 there was an uprising in Poland, he immediately rushed to the border to join the Polish army and fight against the Russians, but on the border [between the German and Russian Partitions], the authorities arrested him and returned him back home.

When he was 25 years old, he married Antonina Kalinowska. The wedding took place in a church in a Sławsko Wielkie located near the Kruświcy.

On March 18, 1886, he came to the United States and landed in the port of New York with his wife and daughter Władysława, (now the wife of Anthony Mikołajewski living at Eleventh Street and Forest Home.)

The eldest son, Sylvester Wabiszewski, a well-known [? - untranslated] contractor, came to Milwaukee two years before his father, when he was only nineteen. Mr. Sylvester Wabiszewski lives No. 880 Latyon Boulevard.

The second son is Mr. Michael Wabiszewski, who resides at No. 929 Windlake Ave. He is a cement  contractor. He came to America in 1885 when he was16 years old . Magdalena Wabiszewska, daughter of Mr. Francis Wabiszewski, died in the old country when she was six years old.

Mr. Francis Wabiszewski came directly to Milwaukee, because both his sons were here, and for many years he ran a shoe store with the late Walenty Czechorski on Mitchell Street.

In 1888, he celebrated with his wife, now deceased, the silver jubilee of their marriage.  The golden jubilee of the marriage fell in July 1913. Unfortunately, death took the wife of Mr Wabiszewski on May 4th of that year,  two months before the date of the anniversary.

After the death of his wife Mr. Francis Wabiszewski went to live with his son Michael.

Mr. F Wabiszewski has belonged to the National Society of General Henryk Dabrowski for more than ten years. He feels  at full strength, even though he is 79 years old.  He has a large group of close friends among older Polish settlers in Milwaukee.

Here is the original article which appeared in the Kuryer Polski on April 22, 1917.

Relation to Nearest Featured Profile: (Joseph Martynski, Featured Profile #25):  No near relationship.

Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  Joseph Martynski > daughter, Apolonia (Martynski) Polewczynski > son, Henry Polewczynski > second wife, Helen (Kornacki) Polewczynski > brother, Frank Kornacki, wife, Colette (Wabiszewski) Kornacki > father, Frank Wabiszewski (2) > father, Sylvester Wabiszewski > father Frank Wabiszewski (1)
Path From Alternate Featured Profile (Joseph Domachowski, Featured Profile #5):  Joseph Domachowski > daughter, Winifred (Domachowski) Polewczynski > husband, Henry Polewczynski > second wife, Helen (Kornacki) Polewczynski > brother, Frank Kornacki, wife, Colette (Wabiszewski) Kornacki > father, Frank Wabiszewski (2) > father, Sylvester Wabiszewski > father Frank Wabiszewski (1)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Status Update - November, 2013

Family Names Added Since Last Update:


Profiles Added Since Last Update:  306

New Intra-Connections  (Lucht to Fons): 

197)  .... Eleanore (Ratajski) Jagodzinski > brother, Walter Ratajski > wife, Josephine (Trojanowski) Ratajski > brother, Nicolaus Trojanowski > wife, Helen (Schubert) Trojanowski > sister, Paulina (Schubert) Ryczek > husband, Joseph Ryczek....

198)  ....Henry [Harry] Mazurkiewicz > wife, Eleanore (Brefka) Mazurkiewicz > mother, Appolonia (Brefka) Gazinski > brother, Andrew Gazinski > wife, Frances (Olbinski) Gazinski > sister, Rose (Olbinski) Czechorski > son, Roman Czechorski > wife, Phyllis (Drozniakiewicz) Czechorski > mother, Cecelia (Komorowski) Drozniakewicz....

199)  ....Rose (Olbinski) Czechorski > husband, Joseph Czechorski > sister, Helen (Czechorski) Kryzinski > husband, Sigfried Kryzinski > brother, Theodore Kryzinski > wife Frances (Koceja) Kryzinski > brother, Sylvester Koceja > wife Mary (Pelat) Koceja > mother, Frances (Bochwitz) [Wenta] Pelat > second husband, Frank Wenta....

200)  ....wife Frances (Koceja) Kryzinski > brother, John Koceja > son, Louis Koceja > wife, Irene (Kobza) Koceja > brother, Eugene Kobza ...

201)  ....Joseph Koceja > sister, Antoinette (Koceja) Gospodarek > daugther, Agnes (Gospodearek) Grohall > husband, Edward Grohall > son Raymond Grohall > wife, Alice (Urbanski) Grohall > sister, Stella (Urbanski) Tutaj....

202)  ....Joseph Warren Piszczek > father, John Piszczek > sister, Maryanna (Piszczek) Fons > Louis A. Fons

203)  ....Hedwig (Jagodzinski ) Pryba > daughter, Helen (Pryba) Koronkowski > son, Private Koronkowski > wife, Private (Piszczek) Koronkowski > father, John Piszczek > father, Paul Piszczek > mother, Katherine (Maciejewski) Piszczek > brother, Lawrence Maciejewski > wife, Johanna (Sromalla) Maciejewski > brother, Joseph Sromalla.... 

204)  ....Joseph Latus > mother, Roszalia (Starszak) Latus > sister, Joanna (Starzak) Miller > son, Florian Miller > wife, Helen (Napientek) Miller > sister, Clara (Napientek) Gigowski....

205)  ....Michael Mazurkiewicz > brother, Valentine Mazurkiewicz > wife, Stella (Mochalski) Mazurkiewicz > sister, Sal (Mochalski) Fons > husband, August M. Fons.... 

 PCN:  3.89
(For an explanation of the PCN - "Project Completeness Number") see Status Update - February, 2012 and Status Update - March, 2012)

Historical Data:
November, 2013:  3.89
October, 2013:  2.14
September 2013:  2.9
August, 2013: 2.71          
July, 2013: 4.28
June, 2013:  3.01
May, 2013: 6.33
April, 2013: 3.33
March, 2013:  8.2
February, 2013: 2.1
January, 2013:  8.0
December, 2012: 3.29
November, 2012: 6.0
October, 2012:  12.25
September, 2012:  6.4
August, 2012: 3.89
July, 2012:  4.57
June, 2012:  7.75
May, 2012:  9.33
April, 2012:  16.67
March, 2012:  16
February, 2012:  12.8
January, 2012:  19
Newly-Discovered Changed Names

Kuczynski to Kay
Laskowski to Larkin

New Alternate Spellings:
 Bloch Block
Blochowitz Bochwitz Bukenwiz
Filips Filups
Gospodarek Gospodarch Gospodarck
Grymczynski Grecinski
Heller Keller
Klapa Klappa
Kuczynski Kuczinski Kuszinski
Laskowski Lackowski
Najdek Najdak
Nitza Nitzer Mitza Meca
Olbinski Albinski
Pelot Pilot Pital
Piszczek Piszcek Piszek
Ratajski Ratajaski
Schubert Szubert Shuburt
Slupecki Sugeski
Starszak Stasiak Staszak
Ulenberg Ullenberg Menberg

Corrected Spellings:

Mylnarek to Mlynarek
Oblinski to Olbinski

Monday, October 28, 2013

First in the Line of Duty - The Death of Frank Piszczek (Featured Profile #33)

Frank Piszczek (@1850 - 1884)

The night of Friday, June 20th, 1884, probably started much the same as any other for Frank Piszczek.  There was nothing -- no portents, no omens, no signs of any sort, that it would unleash a chain of events that would culminate in Frank becoming the first Milwaukee police officer killed in  the line of duty.

Milwaukee Police Officers and wagon outside the West Side Station, 1886

Frank was born in the German Partition of Poland but came to Milwaukee at a time when Milwaukee was still in its adolescence.  There were a number of Piszczek families among the earliest of the Polish settlers, and it is quite reasonable to assume that Frank was related to these, but as to exactly how he fits in, I have been unable to located any documentation.  [If anyone knows, please contact me.] 

Frank had originally been trained as a tanner.  For a while, he had also worked as a brakeman for the St. Paul road.  But in 1876 he had joined the Milwaukee City police department.  At first, he was assigned as a night patrolman.  He was then given a day watch.  Next, he assigned to a station on the South Side.  Finally, in about the beginning of 1884, he was made a roundsman.

When he had reported for duty earlier on that fateful day, he had been told to be on the look-out for two notorious crooks and "cracksmen."   They had been known to have left Chicago a couple weeks before for a trip through northern Wisconsin.  Just a couple days before, the pair had shown up in Manitowoc where they had robbed a saloon.  Since that time, their movements had been traced but they still eluded capture.  They had followed the railroad tracks out of Manitowoc until Sheboygan.  There they had made a wide circle around the city, but had picked up the railroad tracks again south of town.  They had then hopped a freight train which had reached Milwaukee about 7 that Friday morning.  They had leaped from the train about three miles before reaching the Lake Shore Depot, and then had walked into the city.  Since then, the police had scoured the city looking for them, but when Frank Piszczek came on duty, they still had not been apprehended.

There were no sign of the men until about 2:30 on Saturday morning.  Officer Piszczek was visiting Union Depot on Reed Street when he was approached by Private Watchman Dan Kennedy.  Kennedy told him that there were two men near-by who were acting suspiciously.  They had been first seen at the Depot about 10 on Friday night and they had spent most of the intervening hours there.  At one point, the smaller of the two men had tried to change a number of small bills for larger ones.

Union Depot on Reed Street, from the Wisconsin Electric Reader.
They then had crossed the street and had sat for an hour in front of the Exchange Hotel, carrying on a conversation in a low tone.  They were noticed by Tony Belzer, the bartender at the Exchange.  About 2 a.m., the taller man had entered the bar.  He pulled out a wad of bills and exchanged a number of smaller denominations  for a $20, but Tony Belzer did not like the way the man had taken a minute to look over the bar when he had entered.  The man had the "mark of a criminal" and Belzer suspected that the men were planning a robbery.  Fearing the worst, Tony Belzer had pointed out the man to Dan Kennedy, and he had informed Piszczek when the Roundsman had arrived at his regular stop. (The whereabouts of the second man are not mentioned at this time.)

Piszczek, who was wearing plain clothes, crossed Reed Street and sat next to the man, engaging him in some conversation.  He asked his name, where he was from, and several other questions.  Feeling that his answers were not satisfactory and that the man was indeed a crook, Piszczek asked if the man would take a walk with him, and the stranger consented.

An enlargement of an 1883 map shows the area.  Union Depot fronts on Reed St..  Clinton is one block east.

The two men proceeded south down Reed Street until Florida Street.  As Piszczek turned east toward the police station the man became agitated.

"Where are you taking me, you ---- ----- -----?" he asked.  Piszczek replied that he would show him. At that, the man sprang away from Piszczek and landed on his knees in the gutter. Whipping out his 38 caliber revolver, he got off two shots before running away down Reed Street.  Piszczek tried to pursue. He also took three shots with his own gun as the man disappeared in the darkness.  However, he soon realized that he was wounded, so he turned back to the station.  He never made it, instead he collapsed in the street a half block from where the shooting had occurred.  That is where he was found by the patrol wagon from the South side police station which had been attracted by the sound of gunfire.  He was taken to the station and two doctors were summoned.

The doctors determined that Piszczek had been hit twice in the abdomen and that both wounds were fatal.  They were eventually proven correct, but Piszczek fought for his life for 43 hours.  A later autopsy determined that the first shot had hit him in the left side, entering his abdomen between the 11th and 12th ribs.  The bullet passed through the left kidney and then lodged itself near the spinal column.  The second bullet had entered the lower abdomen and had lodged itself in the muscles of the hip. 

The flags of the city were flown at half-mast and all the police stations were draped in black.   The Mayor and the Chief of Police, along with 50 off-duty police officers, attended the funeral.   A long, solemn procession wended its way from Piszczek's residence on the corner of Greenbush and Mitchell Streets to St. Stanislaus Church.  The funeral, presided over by Reverends Gulski and Rogzinski, was one of the largest funerals held in that church up to that time.  Afterward, Officer Piszczek was laid to rest in Trinity Cemetery.  He left his wife and and five children surviving.

In the meantime, all efforts to capture the perpetrator went for naught. It was not that the Milwaukee Police didn't try.  Nearly a hundred officers hit the streets within an hour of the shooting.  All roads out of the city were guarded and every street and alley on the south side was searched.  One officer was sent to Racine, and another to Western Union Junction with orders to search every passing train.  Two detectives were sent south in a carriage, another to the west, and the sheriffs were searching to the north. A reward of $500 was offered.  Detective McManus was sent to Chicago, where it was believed the assailants had fled, and thirty policemen were on the case there.

The murderer was last seen shortly after the shots were fired by Mrs. McFadden, a resident of Reed Street.  She was feeling ill, so she was sitting at her open window at about 3 a.m. when two man walked quickly past.  One was very agitated.  She distinctly heard him say, "I couldn't help it; if he had left me alone, I wouldn't have done it."  But then the darkness closed around both men, and they disappeared into history. 

Relation to Nearest Featured Profile: (Roman Czerwinski, Featured Profile #10):  Father-in-law of grand nephew

Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  Roman Czerwinski > brother, John Czerwinski I > son, John Czerwinski II > wife, Catherine Cecylia (Piszczek) Czerwinski > father, Frank Piszczek


Genealogy Uncovers a Woman's Link to a Moment in Milwaukee's History

Memorial Page of the Milwaukee Police Department

Milwaukee's Finest - 1800's

"Murder of Piszczek,"  Milwaukee Journal, June 23, 1884, page 4

"Peril of Policemen," Milwaukee Journal, June 21, 1884, page 1

"Taken to the Grave," Milwaukee Journal, June 24, 1884, page 1

"Who Shot Piszczek?", Milwaukee Journal, June 25, 1884, page 4.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Believable Story?

The following story appeared in the Milwaukee Sentinel on May 25, 1915:

It seems to me that there is a big part of this story that is missing.  I wish I knew what it was.

I assume that the individual mentioned in the article is this Frank Koceja.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Status Update - October, 2013

Family Names Added Since Last Update:


Profiles Added Since Last Update:  234

New Intra-Connections  (Lucht to Fons):

  183)  ....Roman Kowalkowski > brother, Stanley Kowalkowski > daughter, Victoria (Kowalkowski) Bray > son, Stanley Bray > wife, Julianna (Modlinski) Bray > brother, Clement A. Modlinski > wife, Elaine (Kitzki) Modlinski > father, Andre Kitzki > father, Stanley Kitzki....

184)  ....Edmond Bonk > father, Hyacinth Bonk > sister, Agnes (Bonk) Modlinski > son, Clement A. Modlinski.... 

185)  ....Frank Baranczyk > brother, John Baranczyk > wife, Anna (Januszewski) Baranczyk > sister, Marianna (Januszewski) Cichantek > husband, Stanley Cichantek > father, Albert Cichantek > 2nd wife > Matylde (Czerwinski) [Rutkowski] Cichantek > son, Bernard J. Rutkowski > wife, Helen (Bonk) Rutkowski > sister, Agnes (Bonk) Modlinski.... 

186)  ....John Skonieczny (1) > sister, Agnes (Skonieczny) Piskula > husband Hilary Piskula > brother, John Piskula > wife, Jennie (Grajek) Piskula > sister, Victoria (Grajek) Mogilka > husband, Albert Mogilka > brother, Stanley Mogilka....

187)  ....Henry Bessa > brother, Max Bessa > wife, Martha (Wojnowski) Bessa > sister, Victoria (Wojnowski) Skrentny > husband, Max Skrentny > brother, Stanley Skrentny > wife, Mae (Andraszczyk) Skrentny > father, Frank Andraszczyk.... 

188)  ....Bernhard Grosz > wife, Veronica (Skonieczny) Grosz > brother, John J. [Skonieczny (2)] Skoney > wife, Helen (Wojnowski) Skoney > Victoria (Wojnowski) Skrentny.... 

189)  ....Martha (Wojnowski) Bessa > brother, Frank Wojnowski > wife, Laura (Niewiadomski) Wojnowski > Edmund Niewiadomski > wife, Martha (Napientek) Niewiadomski.... 

190)  ....Robert Myszkowski > daughter, Josephine (Myszkowski) Wilke > husband, Anton Wilke > father, Frank Wilke > wife, Anna (Lukowski) [Zeblewski] Wilke > daughter (thru 1st husband) Mary (Zeblewski) Janicki > husband, Leon Janicki > brother, Louis Daniel Janicki....

191)  ....Anton Wilke > daughter, Evelyn (Wilke) Schmidt > daughter, PRIVATE (Wilke) Kitzke > husband, PRIVATE Kitzke > father, Daniel Kitzke > father, Leo Kitzke.... 

192)  ....Leon Janicki > daughter, Sally (Janicki) Gralewicz > husband, Sygmund Gralewicz > sister, Doris (Gralewic) [Jasinski] Jason > daughter, Camille [Jason] Borkowski > husband, PRIVATE Borkowski > brother, Richard Borkowski< wife, PRIVATE (Tutaj) Borkowski > father, Alois Tutaj.... 

193)  ....Sally (Janicki) Gralewicz > daughter, Mary Ann (Gralewicz) Zabinski > husband, PRIVATE Zabinski > mother, Sophie (Gralak) [Rotta] Zabinski... 

194)  ....Sally (Janicki) Gralewicz > son, David Gralewicz > wife, Darlene (Deja) Gralewicz > father, Raymond Deja > mother, Veronica (Rafski) [Deja] Grutza > second husband, Michael Grutza > sister, Helen (Grutza) Budzisz > husband, Michael Budzisz...

195)  ....Martin Wozny > sister, Rosalia (Wozny) Meller > husband, John Meller, > son (by second wife) Walter Miller > wife, Anna (Cieslik) Miller > father, John Cieslik (I) > son, by first wife, John Cieslik (II) > daughter, Irene (Cieslik) Janicki > husband, Henry Janicki > father, Leon Janicki.... 

196)  ....John Jagodzinski (2) > son, George Jagodzinski > daughter, PRIVATE (Jagodzinski) [Jason] Weiss > first husband, PRIVATE Jason > mother, Doris (Gralewic) [Jasinski] Jason....
 PCN:  2.14
(For an explanation of the PCN - "Project Completeness Number") see Status Update - February, 2012 and Status Update - March, 2012)
Historical Data:
October, 2013:  2.14
September 2013:  2.9
August, 2013: 2.71          
July, 2013: 4.28
June, 2013:  3.01
May, 2013: 6.33
April, 2013: 3.33
March, 2013:  8.2
February, 2013: 2.1
January, 2013:  8.0
December, 2012: 3.29
November, 2012: 6.0
October, 2012:  12.25
September, 2012:  6.4
August, 2012: 3.89
July, 2012:  4.57
June, 2012:  7.75
May, 2012:  9.33
April, 2012:  16.67
March, 2012:  16
February, 2012:  12.8
January, 2012:  19
Newly-Discovered Changed Names:
Bonkowski to Bonk
Brej to Bray
Gorecki to Gray
Jasinski to Jason

New Alternate Spellings:

Bluma Blenna
Cichantek Cichantck Ciechantek
Cieslik Cieslak
Czerwinski Cierwinski
Janusz Janusch
Marifke Marefke
Miller Meller Meler Mueller
Miszewski Myszewski
Piskula Piskuta
Rawski Rafski
Rozek Rozak
Sakomerka Lakomeiki
Skrentny Skretny
Slawinski Stavinski
Stempniewski Stepniewski
Wojciechowski Wojciehowski


Monday, September 30, 2013

A Hard Life

There is no doubt that many of the Poles who came to Milwaukee did have a hard life.  However, the lot of poor little Wladyslawa Bialorucki was deemed so exceptional as to be newsworthy.  The following article appeared in the Milwaukee Journal on April 4, 1913:

It appears that Wladyslawa was returned to her father.  Wladyslawa was often anglicized as "Charlotte." The 1920 census shows a Lottie Bialorucki, aged 7 and born in Wisconsin, living with her father, Joseph, and his wife, Catherine.  I assume this is the same family mentioned in the article.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Featured Profile #32 - Gilda Gray (Maryanna Michalski)

Gilda Gray (Maryanna Michalski) ( circa 1896 - 1959)

The life of Gilda Gray (born Maryanna Michalska) resembles both a hero from a classic drama and many of our modern celebrities.  Starting from very humble beginnings, she rose quickly to fame and fortune, but it didn't last.  In the end, the fortune was all dissipated.  The fame remained, but it was tarnished, covered with a patina of the pathetic.

The details of her rise and fall are covered by many articles, but here is the general outline.  Born in Poland, she came to Milwaukee as a child.  She married, at an early age, to John Gorecki, son of Martin Gorecki (Featured Profile #31.)  Maryanna first became a professional dancer at Jack Litza's Polish Saloon on Mitchell Street.  She was nice to look at, put on a good show, and pleased the (mostly male) audiences.  Outgrowing Milwaukee, she moved first to Chicago and then to New York where she drew larger and larger crowds.  She eventually was one of the principal performers in the Ziegfield Follies.

Her signature move was the shimmy, which she either invented, or named, or did neither, depending on whom you wish to believe.  If you've never seen the shimmy, Gilda performs it toward the end of this video:

The eroticism of the dance is apparent and it was even banned by some dance establishments. Its flagrant style became iconic of the Roaring Twenties with the name of Gilda Gray indelibly attached.  So much so, that F. Scott Fitzgerald used it to set the tone in his masterpiece of the era, The Great Gatsby.   Speaking in the voice of Nick Carraway, the narrator of the tale, Fitzgerald described the opening of one of Gatsby's wild parties:

The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word. The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath; already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the centre of a group, and then, excited with triumph, glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices and color under the constantly changing light.

Suddenly one of the gypsies, in trembling opal, seizes a cocktail out of the air, dumps it down for courage and, moving her hands like Frisco, dances out alone on the canvas platform. A momentary hush; the orchestra leader varies his rhythm obligingly for her, and there is a burst of chatter as the erroneous news goes around that she is Gilda Gray's understudy from the Follies. The party has begun.

As can be seen by the above clip, Gilda graduated from the stage to the movies.   She is credited with ten movies ranging in dates from 1919 to 1936.  Here is a tribute to her composed of some of her movie stills and publicity shots:

While her professional life steadily rose, her personal life suffered set-backs.  She divorced her first husband about 1924 so that she could marry her second, an owner of numerous New York dance halls.  Unfortunately, it was not a happy match.  She sued him for divorce 1928 claiming that he drank too much and verbally abused her in public. He threatened to counter-sue alleging Gilda had committed adultery while in London filming Picadilly.  In the end, he did not even attend the trial, claiming that he had been beaten up in NY by two of Gilda's "gorillas."  

A further setback occurred in 1929 when she lost most of her money in the Stock Market Crash.  Then her mother died in 1931, and Gilda, herself, suffered a heart attack or a nervous break-down.  The family was on public support when her father was committed to the Milwaukee infirmary as an alcoholic in 1932. He died just a month later.

Perhaps reeling from these tragedies, Gilda married her third (and last husband) in 1933.  He turned out to be the worst of all.  He managed to spend through her remaining money and abandon her by 1935.  At that time, Gilda's career was virtually at an end.

Despite the fact that her career had died, Gilda still retained her compassion for others, especially those from her native Poland.  During WW II, she tried to help Poland by raising money, and then during the Cold War, she brought six Polish citizens from behind the Iron Curtain, and subsidized their education in the U.S.

In the 1950's, her career had somewhat of a revival.  The television show, This is Your Life, put her once again before the public eye.  Liberace, who credited with Gilda for giving him the encouragement to  launch his own career also put her on his show:

Gilda did not long outlive this revival.  She died of another heart attack in 1959.  At the time, she was once again penniless, and the expenses of her burial were paid by the Motion Picture Relief Fund.  However, her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame still shines as bright as all the others.

Gilda Gray with her son, Martin, and parents Wanda and Max Michalski, Milwaukee Sentinel, 12/18/1928

Much of the information of Gilda's early life is contradictory.  Jay Joslyn had to deal with these contradictions when he wrote a piece for the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1981:

Born in 1895, or 1898, in Crakow, Poland, or in a dirt-floor hovel on a farm near Crakow, or some place in Germany, Marianna was brought to America and Cudahy when she was 5 or 8.

Since that piece was written in 1981, the date of Gilda's birth has changed again.  Nowadays, most references on the internet list her place and date of birth as Kraków on October 24, 1901.  The source of this information is unclear.  Personally, I find the date highly unlikely and the location dubious.

It is well documented the Gilda's only son, Martin, was born in 1913.  To say that she was pregnant by 11 and gave birth by 12 stretches one's credulity.  It was possible, maybe, but not very probable.

Let's look at the available documentation.

First, it is agreed upon by all that Gilda's given name was Mary Michalski, that her father was Max Michalski, that her mother's name was Wanda, that she had a sister named Josephine, and that they were all living in Milwaukee by 1910.  There is only one family in the 1910 US Census in Milwaukee that meets all these characteristics.  They were living on Second Avenue on April 21, 1910.  The family was composed of the following:

Max, age 40 , married 16 years, born in German Poland.
Wanda, age 37, married 16 years, had two children, both of whom were living, born in German Poland
Mary, age 14, single, born in German Poland
Josephine, age 6, born in New Jersey

Based on this, Max was born about 1870, Wanda about 1873, and Mary in 1896 - all in German Poland.  (Remember that Kraków was in Austria at that time.  It was never in Germany, at least at any time relevant to this discussion.)  Also, the fact that Josephine was born in New Jersey indicates that the family was in the USA by at least by 1904.  This is supported by the census entry that state that Max has been in the country for seven years.

According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal, Gilda's mother, Wanda, died in Cleveland, Ohio on September 9, 1931.  Her death record (which is available on lists her birth date as 1873 and her birthplace as Poznan, Poland which was part of Germany, so it matches the above census record.   It also means that, if she were married in Pozńan, a record just might show up in the Pozńan Project.  Finally, the name of her father listed on the death record is transcribed as "Kinaz."

Here is the death notice which ran in the Milwaukee Journal on September 13, 1931:

In the death notice, her maiden name is listed as "Kuras."

Here is a record from the Pozńan Project that matches what we know about the marriage of Max and Wanda including their first and last names, year of marriage and ages at time of the marriage:

Góra Żnin is not really the name of a town.  It is the name of two towns that used to lie next to one another.  However, Góra has now been absorbed into Żnin.  Neither one of them are anywhere near Kraków.  They are about 490 km to the northwest.
Could the Michalskis have moved from Żnin to Kraków before Maryanna was born?  It is possible but not probable.  The obituary of Max that was published in the Milwaukee Journal stated that he had arrived in the US from Germany, not Austria.  Moreover, I found the name of Max Michalski on the manifest for the Graf Waldersee sailing out of Hamburg in 1903.  Here is part of it:

The second word starting with "B" is Bayonne and that is the intended residence of Max in the US.  Therefore, the 1903 arrival date and the intended residence match the information about the Michalskis arrival in the US based on the 1910 census.  Also, remember that it was stated that Gilda was about 8 when she came to the US. A 1903 arrival date would make Gilda about 8 when she arrived in the US, if she was born in late 1895.

Finally, the first word starting with "B" in that manifest listing is the last residence of Max.  I am not sure what location that is, but it could be Biskupin, a small village just south of Żnin. If the last residence listed in this manifest is, in fact, Biskupin, then I think it pretty strong evidence that Gilda Gray was not born in Kraków.

The bottom line is that if I were to search for Gilda's baptismal record, I'd start with the Góra and Żnin records in late 1895, not those of Kraków in 1901.

So where does the birth information of "Kraków on October 24, 1901" come from?  I don't know.  I assume it was from Gilda.  By some accounts, Gilda was the type of person who never let the exact truth get in the way of a good story.  Moreover, it is certainly not unheard of that actresses will often lie to make themselves seem younger than they actually are, which may explain the 1901 date.  Moreover, the Kraków origin may have come about as a way to may make herself seem more glamorous. It has been estimated 88% of the Poles in Milwaukee came from the German Partition.  When you're a Polish dancer in Milwaukee, what better way to set yourself apart then to say you were born in the romantic city of Kraków, which was in the Austrian Partition?  That's my theory anyway.

[Update:  After completing this entry, I ran across this article which states that Gilda was adopted!  This is the only source that I have seen that has made this claim.  Whether this is accurate, or another of Gilda's fabrications, I have no way of knowing, and maybe that's the point.  Maybe this was something that Gilda made up that would be unverifiable and that would smooth over some of the prior inconsistencies in her history.  Again, I don't know, but it does  go somewhat against the 1910 census which states that Wanda had two children born to her which were both living at the time of the census.  If Gilda is not one of those children, where is the other?]

Relation to Nearest Featured Profile: (Martin Gorecki, Featured Profile #31):  Daughter-in-law

Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  Martin Gorecki > son, John Gorecki  > (ex) wife, Gilda Gray

"Gilda's Father, Michalski, Dies," Milwaukee Journal, November 7, 1932, p. 2

Gilda Gray on IMDB

Gilda Gray on Wikipedia

"Gilda Gray Asserts Husband Was Toper," Prescott Evening Courier, August 17, 1928, p.5

"Gilda Gray is Wed Third Time," Milwaukee Sentinel, May 24, 1933, p. 22

"Gray Rites Set; Son of Movie Star," Milwaukee Sentinel, July 8, 1969, p. 14.

"Gilda Gray, 'Shimmy Queen,' Dies," Milwaukee Sentinel, December 23, 1959, p. 1

"Gilda Gray's Trunkful of Gorgeous Garments," Palm Beach Post, February 28, 1930, p. 25. 

Joslyn Jay, "Shimmy Was Born When She 'Stood Straight, Made My Muscles Move'", Milwaukee Sentinel, August 7, 1981, p. 13

"'Shimmy' is Banned by By Dancing Masters," Pittsburgh Press, August 26, 1919, p. 8 

"The Shimmy Queen," on Wisconsinology

Sobol, Louis, "What's Become of Gilda Gray Who Invented the Shimmy?", Milwaukee Sentinel, February 9, 1941, p 25.

Van Duzer, Winifred, "The A-B-C Romance of the Shimmy Cinderella," The DelMarVia Star, March 16, 1924, p. 18.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Status Update - September, 2013

Family Names Added Since Last Update:


Profiles Added Since Last Update:  211

New Intra-Connections  (Lucht to Fons):

 172)  .... Stella (Jarecki) Myszkowski > brother, Julius Jarecki > wife, Florence (Ryczek) Jarecki > father, Joseph Ryczek > brother, John Ryczek > daughter, Irene (Ryczek) Ruskiewicz > husband, Harry Ruskiewicz > father, Stanislaw (Jimmie) Ruszkiewicz > brother, Wallace Ruszkiewicz...

173)  ....Julius Jarecki > daughter, PRIVATE (Jarecki) Komassa > husband, PRIVATE Komassa > father, Franciszek Komassa > brother, Albin Komassa.... 

174)  ....Ralph Budzisz > wife, PRIVATE (Link) Budzisz > mother, Pauline (Brandt) Link > mother, Anna (Sommer) [Wutscheck] Brandt > daughter by first husband, Cecilia (Wutscheck) Hamernick > husband, Steve Hamernick > sister, Martha (Hamernick) Schabowski > son, Frank R. Schabowski > wife, Martha (Klinkosh) Schabowski > mother, Anna (Tulikowski) Klinkosh > sister, Valeria (Tulikowsk) Philipp....

175)  ....Frank R. Schabowski > sister, Clara (Schabowski) Rakowski > husband, Frank Rakowski > brother, Stanley Rakowski > wife, Louise (Tomczyk) Rakowski > sister, Eva (Tomczyk) Kitzke.... 

176)  ....Frank Drozniakiewicz (II) > Wanda (Woida) Drozniakiewicz > sister, Barbara (Woida) [Hentschel] Radtke > daughter, Dolores (Hentschel) Kaluzny > husband, Edward Kaluzny > brother, George Kaluzny....

177)  .... Barbara (Woida) [Hentschel] Radtke > husband, Joseph Radtke > brother, Raymond Radtke > wife, Rosamund (Hentschel) Radtke > sister, Dolores (Hentschel) Kaluzny... 

178)  ....Peter Dluszkowski > sister, Anna (Dluszkowski) Brzycki > husband, Martin M. Brzycki > second wife, Adeline (Martynski) Brzycki > mother, Mary (Nowakowski) Martynski....

179)  ....Salomea (Paczkowski) Serocki > Victoria (Brzycki) Paczkowski > brother, Frank Brzycki > son, Martin M. Brzycki....

180)  ....August Filip > sister, Julianna (Filip) Mathea > son, Alexander Mathea > wife, Victoria (Kleba) Mathea > sister, Theresa (Kleba) Philipp > husband, Frank Philipp > brother, August Philipp....

181)  ....Julianna (Filip) Mathea > son, Victor Mathea > wife, Victoria (Kleba) Mathea....

182)  ....Joseph Budzisz > brother, Thomas Budzisz > daughter, Christina (Budzisz) Rotta > son, Anton Felix Rotta > son, John Joseph Rotta > wife, Sophie (Gralak) [Rotta] Zabinski.... 

 PCN:  2.9
(For an explanation of the PCN - "Project Completeness Number") see Status Update - February, 2012 and Status Update - March, 2012)
Historical Data:
September 2013:  2.9
August, 2013: 2.71          
July, 2013: 4.28
June, 2013:  3.01
May, 2013: 6.33
April, 2013: 3.33
March, 2013:  8.2
February, 2013: 2.1
January, 2013:  8.0
December, 2012: 3.29
November, 2012: 6.0
October, 2012:  12.25
September, 2012:  6.4
August, 2012: 3.89
July, 2012:  4.57
June, 2012:  7.75
May, 2012:  9.33
April, 2012:  16.67
March, 2012:  16
February, 2012:  12.8
January, 2012:  19
New Alternate Spellings:
Brzonkala Bronkalla
Czaplewski Csaplewski
Detlaff Dettlaff
Hamernik Hammernik Hamernick Hammerling
Kleba Klebba
Klinkosz Klinkosh Klinkorch
Konkol Konkel
Kureski Kurecki
Schabowski Schaboroski
Sierzchulski Szyszulski
Slupecki Slupek
Swierczak Swierciak Swieciek
Tulikowski Pulikowski

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Featured Profile #31 - Martin Gorecki

Martin Gorecki (1871 - 1928)

Martin Gorecki was born in Bydgoszcz on October 20, 1871.  He was educated in the public schools there and when he was 18, he came to America.  It is not known where he wed his first wife, Agnes, (whether it was in Poland or America) but by 1892, the couple was living in Pennsylvania.  It was there that they had what appears to be their only child, John Gorecki.

In 1902, the famly moved to Milwaukee where Martin got a job at the Schlitz Brewery.  He joined the Beer Bottlers' Union Local 213 and then later transferred to the Brewers' Union No. 9.  He represented both unions as a delegate to the Federated Trades Council.  He became active in the Polish School Society, an organization promoting the teaching of Polish in public schools.  The underlying goal of this effort was to move children away from parochial schools and out from under the influence of the clergy.  Not surprisingly, this effort was opposed by the Catholic clergy who wished to increase enrollment in the parochial schools by the exclusive instruction of Polish.  The Polish School Society was backed by the Socialists (known in Milwaukee as the Social Democrats) and Martin used his leadership in the Society to recruit Poles to that party.  He helped organize five branches of Polish Social Democrats in Milwaukee and to found the weekly Polish Socialist newspaper, Naprzod (Forward.)

By 1904, Martin was ready to run for public office.  He ran as a Social Democrat for the Wisconsin Assembly, 14th Ward, but came in second behind Democrat John Szymarek.  He tried again in 1906, but lost to Democrat Joseph Domachowski (Featured Profile #5) by less than 100 votes.  Gorecki challenged Domachowski again in 1908, but in the interim Domachowski had solidified his hold on the seat, so Gorecki did not even get half the vote total of Domachowski.

However, by the time the next election rolled around in 1910, the situation had dramatically improved.  Years of the corrupt administration of Mayor David S. Rose had left Milwaukeans disillusioned with the Democrats.  Sensing this discontentment, the Socialists launched a major campaign to take the reins of the city.  Gorecki switched his sights from the State Assembly to run for the City Council.  When Milwaukeans went to the polls, they were ready for a change and that sentiment swept most of the Socialist candidates into public office.  Socialists took 10 of the 16 county supervisor seats and two judgeships.  They also took 21 of the 35 alderman positions, one of which was won by Martin Gorecki.

Gorecki served two years as alderman-at-large and then, 1912, ran again for State Assembly.  This time he won, defeating runner-up Democrat Joseph Posanski by 400 votes.  He became a member of the standing committees for insurance banking and public welfare. He served only one term in the State Assembly and did not seek re-election in 1914.

It is not clear what he did after his term in the State Assembly.  He started The Cymbal, a Polish humorous newspaper in 1915, but it is not known how long this lasted.  The 1920 census lists him as living on Mitchell Street with his wife, niece and twelve boarders, which makes it look like some group home.  But, that's about all we know.

His wife in 1920 was his second wife, Mary Maternowski, sister of Stanley (Featured Profile #30) His first wife, Agnes, had died sometime after the 1910 census had been taken and Martin had remarried around April, 1913.  We know this because he was serving in the State Assembly at that time, and one of his fellow legislators had offered the following resolution:

If Gorecki ever gave the requested speech on marriage, it was not recorded. That is a shame because it would be interesting to know his views on the topic, especially in regard to the marriage of his son.  John Gorecki had grown up to be a tavern keeper.  Some time between 1910 and 1913, he had married.  His bride was fresh-off-the-boat Polish, from a family with few connections, little money, and less breeding.  As a Socialist, would Martin have discounted these factors and approved his son's choice of wife, or would his paternal instincts have predominated so that he wished for a better match for his son?  There was also the age factor; the bride was young, very young, possibly as young as 12, but certainly no older than 16.  We will probably never know what Martin's feelings toward this bride were.  What we do know is that this young girl would go on to achieve fame and recognition far beyond that ever obtained by Martin.  Mary Michalska will be the subject of our next featured profile, but in the meantime, it may be worth contemplating what it says about our American culture (or maybe humanity as a whole) that a woman whose sole talent was shaking her scantily-costumed body would greatly outshine the accomplishments of a man whose life was dedicated to the common good.

Relation to Nearest Featured Profile: (Stanley Maternowski, Featured Profile #30):  Brother-in-law

Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  Stanley Maternowski > sister, Mary (Maternowski) Gorecki  >husband, Martin Gorecki

Gurda, John, The Making of Milwaukee, pgs. 202-211.

LeMay, Michael C., Transforming America:  Perspectives on U.S. Immigration

Martin Gorecki - in Wikipedia

Reese, William J., Power and Promise of School Reform: Grassroots Movements During the Progressive Era,   p.117

State of Wisconsin Assembly Journal 1913,  pp.  565

Wisconsin Blue Book for 1913, p. 675