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.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Featured Profile #29 - Nina Polcyn Moore

Nina Polcyn Moore (1914 - 2007)

Nina Polcyn, a pioneer in the progressive Catholic Worker movement and a leader in the Catholic intellectual revival, was born in Milwaukee in August, 1914, the oldest child of Max Polcyn and Helen (Tomkiewicz) Polcyn.  Her father, older brother of John Polcyn (Featured Profile #26), was a railroad switchman and her mother worked at a notions counter in a store.  The family was very poor.  Her father was a Socialist, although for a worker in Milwaukee, which has a strong Socialist tradition, this would not have been unusual.

When growing up, Nina took the opportunity to hear visiting St. Louis Jesuits speak at her local parish.  Therefore, early on, she was exposed to a more in-depth look into Catholic theology.  In 1934, Nina was enrolled at Marquette and attending more religious classes at St. Matthew's when she was introduced to The Catholic Worker newspaper which were distributed by Rev. Franklyn Kennedy, a graduate student in journalism at Marquette and the editor of the diocesan newspaper.  About that time, Nina learned that Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, was going to be in Chicago.  Nina persuaded Jeremiah O'Sullivan, Dean of Marquette's School of Journalism, to invite Dorothy to speak at Marquette.  Dorothy accepted, and after the speech, she stayed with Max and Helen Polcyn.  Dorothy and Nina formed a friendship that night that would last the rest of their lives.  Besides working together, Dorothy and Nina took several foreign excursions together, and Nina also helped Dorothy in other ways, such as occasionally bailing her out of jail. (Nina's relationship with Dorothy Day may be our community's closest connection to a saint. Some already consider Dorothy Day a saint and her possible canonization is under review by the Vatican.)

In 1935, Nina graduated from Marquette.  In what must have been an act of faith, her parents let her leave and travel to New York City by herself where she stayed at the Catholic Worker for a month.  Inspired by that experience, she returned to Milwaukee were she eventually co-founded the Holy Family House, Milwaukee's first Catholic Worker house.  Nina lived in the Holy Family House for four years until it was forced to close to in part due to lack of manpower to run it.

Upon the close of the CW house in 1941, Nina was given a job working in St. Benet's religious book shop in Chicago's Loop. In the evenings, she taught adults in subjects such as liturgy, science, mathematics, women in wartime and race relations.  Within a few months, the attendance at those classes exceeded 2,000.  By 1943, she was handed the management of the bookstore which she ran for the next 30 years.  During that time, she made it into a haven for those interested in Catholic progressive thought, as well as religious art and religion in general.

In 1973, Nina retired from St. Benet's when she married widower Thomas Eugene Moore, whom she had known at Marquette. (He had been among the audience during that fateful 1935 speech of Dorothy Day.)  They resided in Sauk Center, Minnesota until they retired to Evanston, Illinois in 1982.

Relation to Nearest Featured Profile: (John W. Polczyn, Featured Profile #26):  Niece

Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  John Polcyn > brother, Max Polcyn > daughter, Nina Polcyn Moore

 Harmon, Kathleen E., "Nina Polcyn Moore and the Next Generation of Liturgical Advocates," in There Were Also Women There:  Lay Women in the Liturgical Movement in the United States, 1926 -59.
"Nina Polcyn Moore," Sauk Center Herald,
"Nina Polcyn Moore: 1914 - 2006" [sic]
Riegle, Rosalie G., "Nina Polcyn Moore (1914-2007) at 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Featured Profile #28 - Joe Just (Joseph E. Juszczak)

After a quick diversion to talk about tornadoes, we return to the family of Police Chief John Polcyn (Featured Profile #26).  He had a couple of interesting near relations.   One was his son-in-law, Joe Just, the subject of this week's Featured Profile.  The other was a niece, Nina Polcyn Moore, the daughter of John's brother Max, who will be discussed in the next Featured Profile.  Both individuals are interesting in their own right, but they are also interesting in the contrast with one another.  They were both passionate about their interests, but what I find fascinating is that their interests (professional sports on one hand and social justice on the other) are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  I think that tells us something about our nature as human beings.

First,  the son-in-law:

Joe Just (1916 - 2003)

Joe Just (birth name - Joseph Erwin Juszczak) was a professional baseball player, coach, and manger.  He was born in Milwaukee, the son of Andrew and Catherine Juszczak, in January, 1916.

Joe first comes into the news in 1936.  He appears to have graduated from high school and then spent at least one summer playing amateur baseball.  He played well enough (his position was catcher) to earn a try-out in 1936 with the old Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association.  He did not make the team that year and was sent to the minors in Virginia.  However, he did eventually came back to play for the Brewers in 1938. He played there until 1940, when he was farmed out to the Eastern Baseball team in Elmira, N.Y.  He was in Elmira when he married John Polcyn's daughter Naomi.  The next year, he was given another shot at the Brewers in 1941. It appears to have been around this time, when Joe was becoming a professional athlete, that the whole family changed their name to "Just."

After 1941, Joe spent another couple years in the minors, and then finally broke into the major leagues on May 13, 1944 at the relatively old age of 28 playing for the Cincinnati Reds.  He caught 25 games for the Reds. The highlight of his career was catching for Bucky Walters on opening day in 1945.  Sadly, his major league career spanned just two seasons, and lasted exactly one year. His final appearance was May 13, 1945.  After that, he was again acquired by the Brewers and spent the next four years shuffling back and forth between the Brewers and their farm teams.  

One gets the sense from reading Joe's biography that the was always on the cusp of becoming an established major league player, but he never quite made it.  Some attribute this to an injury he sustained in 1939 during batting practice in Kansas City when he was a rising prospect.  He was accidentally hit in the face by a fellow teammate's bat.  He was out of the line-up for two weeks, but even after he returned, he did not have the same potential he had before the injury.  (You can find Joe's major league statistics here and his minor league statistics here.)

After he ended his playing days, he stayed in baseball as a coach.  He spent three years coaching for the Milwaukee Brewers and two years coaching for the Toledo Sox.  In 1954, he was promoted to manager of the Eau Claire Northern League Club, and he spent the next five years as the manager of various Milwaukee Braves minor league teams. He retired from baseball around 1959.

Relation to Nearest Featured Profile: (John W. Polczyn, Featured Profile #26):  Son-in-law

Path From Nearest Featured Profile:  John Polcyn > daughter, Naomi (Polcyn) Just > husband, Joe Just

"Brewers Buy Catcher Joe Just," Milwaukee Sentinel, May 26, 1949, p. 15

"Brewers Take 34 Players to Spring Training" - Milwaukee Sentinel, February 12, 1936, p. 7
History of the Milwaukee Brewers -
"Jacksonville Gets Just as a Manager," Miami Sunday News, June 16, 1957, p. 9
Joe Just -

Joe Just -
"Joe Just Appointed Eau Claire Manager," Milwaukee Sentinel, November 3, 1954, p. 60

"Joe Just, Naomi Polcyn Are Married at Elmira," Milwaukee Journal, May 28, 1940, p. 36

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Status Update - June, 2013


1.   Sara Z. is trying to return a box of pictures that she acquired a few years back. She figured out the pictures belonged to Helen and Bernard Kwasinski who lived on South 7th Street in 1937.  If you are related to Helen and Bernard Kwasinski and would like this box of pictures, please contact us at and we'll put you in touch.

2.  Laurel B. is a descendant of Edmund Grant (f.k.a. Grontkowski) through her mother.  Her mother died when Laurel was young so she has lost contact with her Grontkowski relatives.  She would like to reconnect.  If you are related to Edmund through his siblings Stanley Grontkowski and Helen (Grontkowski) Januszewski, please contact Laurel at

Family Lines:

I have given some further  thought to what I want to do with the Family Lines feature that is available on the Milwaukee Polonia Project Tree.  I have started to show some more family lines with a view to:  a) connect as many people to a family line as is possible, and b) to show relations to Featured Profiles.

With that in mind, I have added the blood relations of Joseph Domachowski (blue.)  That not only picks up Joseph (Featured Profile #5).  It also picks up Rt. Rev. Michael Domachowski (Featured Profile #3), Rev. Michael Wenta (Featured Profile #4), Darlene (Lucht) Brimmer (Featured Profile #6) and Edward Dams (Featured Profile #27).  It also picks up the wife (and descendants) of Andrew Boncel (Featured Profile #2).

I also added the blood relations of Hattie Baranowski (yellow.)   This picks up Hattie (Featured Profile #12), Thaddeus Wasielewski (Featured Profile #16) and Eugene Wasielewski (Featured Profile #17).  It also picks up the wives and descendants of Francis Wasielewski (Featured Profile #15), Walter Celichowski (Featured Profile #13) and Roman Czerwinski (Featured Profile #10).  Moreover, it also adds the brother-in-law of Edmund Czaskos (Featured Profile #14).

I plan to add more in the next month, but the current chart of designated Family Lines looks like this:

Family Names Added Since Last Update:


Profiles Added Since Last Update:  400

New Intra-Connections  (Lucht to Fons):
138)  ....Andrew Peszczynski > father, Michael Peszczynski > brother, Frank Peszczynski > wife, Pauline (Spirewka) [Peszczynski] Walkowski > father, Paul Peter Spirewka > brother, Michael Spirewka > daughter, Veronica [Spirewka] Hapka > daugher, Rose (Hapka) Moczynski > husband, Paul Moczynski....
139)  ....Michael Spirewka > son, John Spierewka > daughter, Stella (Spierewka) Laabs > son, Ervin Laabs > wife, Dorothy (Michalek) Laabs > brother, Henry Michalek....
140)  ...Paul Peter Spirewka > wife, Rosalia (Breza) Spirewka > sister, Jozefa (Breza) Spirewka > daughter, Veronica [Spirewka] Hapka ....
141)  ....Ervin Wozny > father, Ladislaus Wozny > mother, Anna (Bzdawka) Wozny > brother, Andrew Bzdawka > son, John Bzdawka > wife, Alvina (Bolda) Bzdawka > brother, Ignatius Bolda > wife, Alice (Boinski) Bolda > Martha (Boinski) Gramza > son, Gordon Gramza > wife, Esther (Kobza) Gramza > father, Arthur Kobza....
142)  ....Joseph Placzek > wife, Mary (Frankowski) Placzek > brother, Thomas Frankowski > wife, Veronica (Stachowiak) Frankowski > half-brother, Leo Stachowiak (2) > daughter, Private (Stachowiak) Polcyn > husband, Richard Polcyn > mother, Helen (Fons) Polcyn....
143)  ....Leo Stachowiak (2) > wife, Stella (Stanczyk) Stachowiak > mother, Agnes (Brzezinski) Stanczyk > father, Michael Brzezinski > sister, Anna (Brzezinski) Wnuk.... 
144)  ....Stella (Stanczyk) Stachowiak > brother, John Stanczyk > son, Private Stanczyk > wife, Joan Braun > mother, Frances (Stachowiak) Braun > half-sister, Helen (Stachowiak) Piasecki....
145)  ....Stella (Stanczyk) Stachowiak > sister, Helen (Stanczyk) Piszczek > husband, George Piszczek > father, Paul Piszczek > mother, Katharina (Maciejewski) Piszczek > brother, Lawrence Maciejewski > wife, Joanna (Sromala) Maciejewski....
146)  ....George Piszczek > mother, Josephine (Kaczmarowski) Piszczek > sister, Angeline (Kaczmarowski) Piszczek > son, Frank Piszczek....
147)  .... Josephine (Kaczmarowski) Piszczek > brother, John Kaczmarowski (I) > son, John Kaczmarowski (II) > wife, Adele (Kwasniewski) Kaczmarowski > mother, Mary (Drozniakiewicz) Kwasniewski > brother, Casper Drozniakiewicz > wife, Angeline (Jankowski) Drozniakiewicz > sister, Mary (Jankowski) Ruszkiewicz....
148)  .... Josephine (Kaczmarowski) Piszczek > sister, Mary (Kaczmarowski) Brzezinski > husband, Charles Brzezinski > sister, Blanche (Brzezinski) Baranczyk > daughter, Sophie (Baranczyk) Adamski > husband, Stanley Adamski > sister, Anne (Adamski) Zablocki....
149)  .... Blanche (Brzezinski) Baranczyk > husband, Frank Baranczyk > mother, Agatha (Dziekan) Baranczyk > father, Franciszek Dziekan > second wife, Anna (Jankowska) [Biedrzycki] Dziekan > daughter, Katarzyna (Biedrzycki) Erdman > husband, Dominic Erdman > sister, Konstancja (Erdman) Wnuk > husband, Szczepan Wnuk > sister, Rosalia (Wnuk) Michalek....
150)  ....Anna (Jankowska) [Biedrzycki] Dziekan > son, Pawel Biedrzycki > daughter, Sophie (Biedrzycki) Maciejewski > husband, Antoni Maciejewski > brother, August Maciejewski....
 PCN:  3.01
(For an explanation of the PCN - "Project Completeness Number") see Status Update - February, 2012 and Status Update - March, 2012)
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:

Grontkowski to Grant
Juszczak to Just
Kogutkiewicz to Kote
Piszczek to Fisher, Peschek
New Alternate Spellings:
Breza Brzezinski Brzyza
Brzezinski Brzyzinski
Dylit, Deliczonka, Dylitt, Delik, and Dyliki
Hapka Hapha
Haruanka Harzionka, Chart, Hart, and Harcionka
Leszczynski Lescinski
Wozny Woznia