As of October 2018 there are 4650 people in the combined family tree between Nancy, myself, and our extended families. The information I've collected about them, for the most part, has come from family members, vital records and census records, plus newspapers articles. In most cases I have images of those records. The entire database is available for viewing if family members are interested. Contact me and I can have an invitation sent to you.
This first map attempts to show the European origins of the ancestors for both Nancy and me. While I've learned much about where they came from before immigrating to the United States and believe this to be reasonably accurate, I expect that this will be tweaked as time goes by. Immigration occurred between 1854 and 1921. This map, as all of my family tree records, is built in most cases from records in this country and that information varies in quality. In many cases, the recorded information was very general indicating just the country or province. Plus, boundaries kept changing and Poland didn't even exist during this period until after WWI. At some point, I may be able to add more foreign research and further refine the map. Until then-- here's where they came from:
This following map is intended to show where some of our ancestors lived after immigration to the US. The short version is that most of the Polish from every branch lived in a rather small area of the Milwaukee south side. Germans lived first in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and then on the north side of Milwaukee. Use Google Street view (close but not perfect) to get a peak at what it looks like now. Realize however that some structures don't even exist anymore.
These are some stories behind a few of the names and dates. In some cases the stories got passed down through family members, in other cases I pieced it together from studying census, passenger lists, city directories, and vital records (birth, marriage, & death). I know some of the information but could use your help in filling in the gaps or mistakes. I believe these stories to be a small but true picture of those who came before us. Nancy has asked me if I've found any royalty. Not even close. However I do see a rather consistent pattern of people who worked hard, took chances, built loving families, and above all, sought a life for their descendants better than they would ever enjoy. For that we can thank them. If you're not sure how you're related to and of these family members, ask me for a link to the online tree and you can check it out. These stories will be listed in no particular order and will be updated periodically so please return. Most of the stories are about our ancestors with few contemporary stories. Those few are to pass on to the next generation to tell.
Jon was going through a box of old photos, school report cards, youth awards, and old newspaper articles, primarily from his soccer playing days at UW-Milwaukee. But 1 newspaper article was unique and I salvaged it from his 'throw out' pile. It's from the Greendal Village Life, April 26, 1979 when he was almost 10 and Christian was 6.
Note: the spelling of his name and the age were wrong in the article. The background to the story is that Nancy received a phone call from the Greendale police letting her know of the accident. Jon was in route to the hospital and Christian was in the squad car. Nancy couldn't believe it. She said no, it couldn't be since they were playing in our backyard, over a mile from the accident. But a quick check of the backyard indicated she was wrong. The good news is that it was only a small cut and all were well. Turns out Jon convinced his little brother to go along on a little adventure without letting anyone know. I'm sure it wasn't the only time.
It had been a nice summer and early fall in 2001. Normally Grandma Mroz would fly up to visit us in Wisconsin each summer, spending a couple of weeks with Nancy and I and another couple of weeks with Pat and Mike in Appleton. This year plans changed a bit. On June 23rd Scott Wagner and Rebecca Seigel were married at Smith College in Northhampton MA, so we all got together there. It was a pleasant time. Nancy, I, and Zach extended our trip to visit the historic sites in Boston and the Freedom Trail. But that didn’t mean Grandma would not come to Wisconsin; just delay it. She came in late August, stayed with Pat & Mike, and then came down to New Berlin. Meanwhile we had been planning a surprise 80th birthday celebration for her. Rebecca shared an apartment on North Jackson St with Alle Mueller and had access to their community room. Grandma’s birthday is really October 1st but this was as close as we were going to get. So on Sunday, September 9th everyone got to yell “Surprise!!” as she entered the room. All of our kids and grandkids were there, plus Pat & Mike, and Scott & Rebecca. There aren’t many of Grandma’s family still around but Terry and MaryAnn Warner traveled down from northern Wisconsin plus a number from Sheboygan including Willard Eisold. Willard was my mother’s close cousin growing up. With the party behind us it was time for Grandma to head back to Ocala. Several days before the trip back home, she had called the airline and got a seat assignment. Midwest Express had direct flights between Milwaukee and Orlando. From there Grandma would board one of the commuter buses which would pick up customers at the airport and drop them off at selected sites including a strip mall not far from her trailer home. Grandma had previously arranged with one of her Spanish Oaks neighbors to drop off her car in the strip mall. This was the routine she had been following for years. At age 80, Grandma was slowing down but could handle this.
Grandma had a flight time of about 8am on Tuesday, September 11th 2001 on a Midwest Express flight leaving Milwaukee. I normally arrive at work around 6:20 each morning. That morning I left a little later, packing up Grandma and her luggage in the car and dropping her off at the airport around 6:30. This was way more time than she needed. Baggage could be checked at the curb where I dropped her off, then a quick walk through the metal detectors to the waiting area where she could get a cup of coffee. Grandma didn’t like to be rushed so getting to the airport an hour before boarding was no problem at all. We said our good-byes and got her bags checked. I continued on to work, just a little bit late. At that time I was heading a team which had operational responsibilities for keeping some of our computer server equipment running smoothly. That means our on call person was paged whenever there were network computer problems and had to respond quickly to get them fixed. That morning was busy with problems already showing up in the Burlington area. One of the staff, Jeramie Johnson, came over to say that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. My reaction was that it was a terrible accident but we have our own problems here. Jeramie wasn’t on call to work on the Burlington problem so apparently had more discretionary time and was able to pick up news on the Internet. It wasn’t much later that Nancy called and asked, “Did you hear about the World Trade Center?” I told her that I had heard about the plane. That’s when she told me about the 2nd plane. That’s when my heart sank. This was no accident. What was happening? Our world would never be the same. Never before had I had to worry about our security here, but my children and grandchildren will never have that peace of mind. Then I remembered Grandma. It was a little after 8 CDT so does that mean her plane is in the air? How do we find out? There was little I could do other than ask Nancy to keep watching the news and possibly try to contact the airport or Midwest. Now I was following the breaking news on the Internet as well. It was chaos in New York; plus the Pentagon. How many other planes do we have to worry about? News came about a suspicious plane crashing in Pennsylvania. All air traffic was ordered to land at the nearest airfield so that the skies could be cleared. Finally the call came from Nancy with news about Grandma. She was safe and was at Mitchell Field in Milwaukee. Grandma had called her and they arranged that she’d be waiting at the curb for me to pick her up. I left immediately and found her, much relieved, at the curb waiting with her luggage. She had gotten as far as boarding the flight and was waiting for takeoff as the plane taxied into position. But there it sat. Finally a flight announcement was made that they would be returning to the terminal. Still not knowing why or what was going on, they were told to disembark and then that all outbound flights were being canceled. In bits and pieces word was getting out that there was some sort of national crisis. Grandma never had a cell phone but she was able to locate a pay phone to call Nancy. She knew our phone number but we’re in area code 262 rather than 414 like the airport. Apparently struggling over the area code or the need to dial 1 first, she never was able to successfully get the call made. She left the phone but fortunately found a man using a cell phone. She asked him for help and he was able to do the dialing for her, lending her the use of his phone.
Grandma stayed the rest of the week with us. It was eerie to be outside not hearing a sound from the skies. The entire airline industry was shut down until it appeared that the immediate threat was over and elevated airport security procedures were implemented.
Wisconsin started it's lotteries in 1988 with the biggest of them, until Powerball came alone in 1992, being Megabucks (still around after all these years). Top prize starts at several million but has accumulated to 10’s of millions of dollars if no one has won in a while. It works like this. Each Wednesday and Saturday night, the state lottery board picks 6 unique numbers from 1 – 49. If you match all of them you get the top prize or at least get to split it with others who have that same pick. If nobody wins, the jackpot gets bigger for the next time. Once someone wins, the jackpot starts over at a few million. Minimum play is 2 plays for a dollar card where you can pick the numbers or let the computer pick them for you (Quick pick).
Nancy started playing Megabucks shortly after it began. Always 1 card, and always with the same number strategy. One set on numbers would be the birthdays of the 6 of us in the family. That is, 15, 16, 17, 25, 26, and 30. The other set of numbers would be our ages which of course would change throughout the year. Of course, once an age got to be over 49 she had to be creative and would use the sum of the 2 digits in the age.
There was an 8 month period in 1990/91 where we lived with Nana and Grandpa while we were building our New Berlin home. More correctly, Nancy and I lived in the basement, Zach (age 4) and Rebecca (14) shared a bedroom, Jon was at UWM and Christian was at Northwestern. It was during that time that her lucky number strategy almost worked at a time when the jackpot was around $26,000,000. I remember sitting in Nana and Grandpa's family room when Nancy came running upstairs from the basement in a state of some excitement. We almost won Megabucks, getting 5 of the needed 6 numbers correctly. It turned out that there was a single winner from West Bend. We ended up winning about $800 for getting 5 correct. All I can say is that if I was 4 years younger (or Nancy had married someone 2 years younger) we’d have some or all of that $26 million. Nancy has not played the lottery at all for many years.
Nancy's family members have told this story since the 1950's but possibly there are those outside the family who haven't heard it. After WW2, Grandpa held a few different jobs finally settling into the painter/decorator trade. 1954 found him painting a home, likely on the near north side of Milwaukee. I say likely because the man across the street from the house was black, and blacks at the time, were highly marginalized in a small north side section of the city. That young black man would sit on the porch of the house and watch Grandpa paint. As the painting finished, the young man approached Grandpa, told him what a nice job he did, and asked for a bid to paint his home. A deal was struck, Grandpa painted the home, and the young black man was so pleased with the results he offered Grandpa a bonus. Turns out the man's name was Henry Aaron and he was a 20 year old rookie with the Milwaukee Braves. As a bonus, he offered bats, balls, gloves, etc. but Grandpa politely (I think) declined. His reasoning was he had 2 girls and no boys at home so obviously they would have no use for them, especially from this obscure ballplayer. Times certainly have changed, at least somewhat, in housing patterns and gender profiling. Henry Aaron of course, went on to be considered among the best baseball players of his era, hitting 755 home runs and in Baseball's Hall of Fame.
This story is a bit different. In fact I really don't expect anyone to read it, but thought I'd put a copy here for posterity. When we built our home in 1990/91 it was a labor of love. Nancy designed it to simulate the character of a Virginia tidewater home circa 1760, but with an indoor kitchen, running water, electricity, etc. and meeting current building codes. We were the general contractors. All was a recipe for disaster so I decided to keep a journal of our adventure. And it many ways it was a disaster, so much so that the journal ended before we moved in -- just too much stress and anguish on the journey to completion. If you ever want to build a home, especially a very custom home, don't read the journal. But it documents an important period in our life together (and it's a home we love). It's in a Kindle format so if you chose to download it, you'll need that app.
Nancy never met her Uncle John Bendyk (Nana's brother). The story of his death in December 1944 in a kamikaze attack is found below. One of the things we know is that he married Betty Ann Jones at the chapel at Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston, November 1943. To Nancy's knowledge she never met her Aunt Betty -- the family lost track of her although they know that she continued a career in acting. Here's what I've been able to learn about Aunt Betty.
Betty, born in 1924, was 6 years younger than Uncle John, and was only 19 when they got married. She was from from the north shore area of Milwaukee (Rufus King High School) and then Fox Point. Her gift was acting and she starred in some local community theater. It appears that shortly after becoming a 20 year old widow (or maybe even earlier), she left the Milwaukee area and headed to New York, landing some roles in theater and on network television which was in it's infancy. You'll find her name referenced in IMDB (incorrectly noted as Betty Bendyke - she seems to have made all of her TV and stage appearances as Betty Bendyk) and newspaper articles as having roles in:
Most of early television was performed live so no video record was kept. Even after film started to be used, most films were lost or destroyed. However some of the last couple of years of the Goldbergs do exist. From what I can tell, Betty appeared in 4 episodes.
All 4 full episodes can be found here and following is a 1 minutes clip from episode 61
There's nothing to indicate that Betty married again until 1965. By that time she was a drama instructor, in New York and really all over the country. While teaching at the University of Iowa she met a renowned author, Nelson Algren, who was also teaching there. Nelson had gained fame for winning the National Book Award for his novel, The Man with the Golden Arm, which was made into a 1955 movie gathering numerous awards including an Oscar nomination for leading man, Frank Sinatra. They were married in February 1965 but divorced in 1967 (no children). According to author Kurt Vonnegut, who taught with Nelson at Iowa in 1965, Algren's "enthusiasm for writing, reading, and gambling left little time for the duties of a married man." And this was written in a memoir shortly after his death in 1981 --
His ex-wife, Betty Algren, an actress living in New York and to whom I had to break the news, remembered he wrote 24 hours a day.
"He had no schedule," she said. "He'd wake up in the middle of the night and go to the typewriter for three minutes, then go back to bed. We had separate bedrooms right from the beginning, which took me by surprise. Of course, I always knew that Nelson valued his independence."
For what I can tell she never married again, passing away on August 17th, 2007 in the Bronx. You wonder what her life, and the life of this family, would have been if John Bendyk survived World War 2.
Alfred is not blood relation but married a member of Uncle Louie's surviving family after Louie's death (Louie's Demise) in 1886. Nicknamed Buster, he started his baseball career in 1905 and joined the minor league Milwaukee Brewers in 1913, playing his home games at Athletic (later called Borchert) Field in Milwaukee (located around 7th and 's Burleigh, it is now gone, fully occupied by I-43). He was one of the states best ballplayers for over 25 years, starting out first as an outfielder then right handed pitcher. Highlights of the spitballer's career included a start in an exhibition game, playing for an all-star team against the 1917 Chicago White Sox. Buster didn't have his greatest game that day, giving up a single and triple to Shoeless Joe Jackson, but he was facing a team that would go on to win the World Series that year and was essentially the same team as the 1919 Black Sox. Buster also pitched against a barnstorming team headed by Babe Ruth, in 1931 at age 45. In the article below, from the Milwaukee Sentinel July 23, 1913, he's referred to as one of the Brewers "Star Flingers'. In the picture below that, Buster is in front, on the right
William C. Brockman is not a blood relative, but is in my family tree through marriage (father-in-law of a first cousin, 1 generation removed). It turns out that in 1920 he was a Sheriff in Sheboygan, with the assignment to travel to Australia to bring back a prisoner. To do so he needed to get a US Passport. That should be an easy task but required an investigation. Apparently William Brockman, despite being Sheriff, had been referred to in the Justice Department as an 'alien radical Socialist' and Bolshevist. You can read part of the results here, signed by J. Edgar Hoover. For the younger generation who may not be familiar with Hoover, he was legendary; the director of the Justice Dept. Bureau of Investigation in 1924, and then was the first director of the FBI from 1935 until 1972.
Nancy's paternal grandmother is Maryanna Bartoszewicz. I found the passenger manifest listing her coming to this country in 1921 as Maryanna Bartossenicz en route to her brother P. Bartossenicz in Cudahy. Sure enough, Grandpa Joe confirmed that his Mother did have a twin brother Peter who lived in Cudahy all of his life. (Grandpa said Peter was a good guy. He really loved it when as a boy, Uncle Peter would give Grandpa 25¢ to buy 4 nickel cigars. He'd get to keep the extra nickel). My problem was that I could find no record of a Bartoszewicz or anything close to that spelling in Cudahy in the first half of the 20th century. At one point I was tracking every Peter living in Cudahy in the years around 1920. I mentioned to Grandpa that I suspected that Peter Bartoszewicz was really known as Peter Baltos. That's when Grandpa told me that Peter's children, later did change their names to Baltos. So I found Peter. Turns out, and I've since tracked down other vital records to support this, that Peter Bartoszewicz used the name Baltos since sometime before 1920 although occasionally would use his real name. I don't know if it ever was legally changed. One more thing. While it's likely he was Maryanna's brother it's almost certain that he was not a twin, instead he was born 5 years before Maryanna.
Over the last couple of years I tried to find out more about Peter, in large part to help understand the the European origin of the Bartoszewicz family. However, the paper trail was elusive, in large part because of the confusion over the surname. I finally used a search by the Immigration Department to locate his naturalization papers. I now have those documents and it fills in some previously missing pieces of information and, as a bonus confirms some elements of the family emigration that I suspected but was not able to confirm. Here are the highlights:
When I first started collecting family tree information for Nancy and me, I never thought that the Civil War would enter into the picture. The immigration pattern for all of Nancy's ancestors and my paternal ancestors was clear, i.e. they arrived in this country as Polish immigrants from Russian controlled Europe between 1900 and 1920. My maternal ancestors were German who immigrated earlier, between 1854 and 1885. Of these I have found one, my great-great Grandfather, Christoph Heyer, who I've confirmed was a Union soldier and served as a private from Oct 1861 to Oct 1864 in the 2nd Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery. Linked are a few extracts copies of his service file and of his invalid pension file I collected from the National Archives. The service file extracts show his enlistment and discharge. The pension file is more interesting. It appears that in the 1880's he filed for an invalid pension due to rheumatism and varicose veins of the right leg, suffered from extreme hardship and exposure. From what I can tell, he received a pension of $17/month initially rising to $23/month by 1903. The injuries left him immobile for the last decade of so of life (he died in 1909). The image linked from his pension file is the notary public recording of Christoph's statement in 1887.
Most fascinating however, is a document written by fellow enlisted member of the same military unit. The 2nd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery, was a unit of about 250 officers and men. The document is an autobiography of young man who immigrated from Norway to the town of Winneconne around 1861. Like Christoph, he enlisted. About 1/3 of his autobiography, written about 1885, is devoted to his Civil War experiences. This unit witnessed some remarkable people and events including President Abraham Lincoln and the battle of the iron-clad warships Monitor and Merrimac. Some of the unit were in Williamsburg and Portsmouth, Virginia (where I was born about 100 years later). I can't claim that Christoph shared the exact same experiences as Ole, but it's likely that he saw some things that history books write about. Linked is the full Civil War section of the autobiography of Ole Andreas Olen Birkeland.The Civil War (excerpt from the Autobiography of Ole Andreas Olen Birkeland)
Emigration, by it's very nature is traumatic and life altering. It's often complicated and confusing to reconstruct and explain especially in the case of the 'early immigrants'. Our ancestors who decided to start a new life in America I'm sure experienced hardship, sorrow, sadness, joy, and hope for a new life. To illustrate one example, the following describes what I know about the beginnings of the Bett family travels from the area around Klobia, Poland to Milwaukee. (Frances Rose Bett is Nancy's maternal Grandmother.) Frances was a young child when her older siblings started to make the long journey across the ocean. This is what I know of that journey of her oldest sister Margaret (Malgorzata) Bett and family.
It wasn't unusual for families to travel in waves. Sometimes it even included return trips to the old country. All in the name of finding a better life for their family.
The original above, references the previous marriage of Margaret Bett. More is now known, but there is still a mystery-- it gets complicated. A death record for Jozef Mateszewski, her first husband, has been found in the Polish archives. He died on 3 Jul 1901. It is commonly believed that Jozef is the natural father of John Sadowski (Mimi Van den Boom's father). However the birthdate for John has also thought to be 24 Oct 1902, so that doesn't add up. Either the birthdate is wrong or the relationship is wrong, but without the birth record we may never know.
I knew Nancy's uncle to be a firefighter, but I never I didn't know this story of his heroism, found on page 1 of the Milwaukee Journal May 14, 1966.
I always knew her as Grandma Rhuby. My grandmother Eleanore was a daughter of Demus Eisold, born in Sheboygan in 1891. She lived until nearly her 91st birthday. In her lifetime, she kept outliving her husbands. Her first husband, Frank Warner, died in his 20's. Widowed with 2 young children, she married my Grandfather Frank Lehnhoff. Grandpa Frank died when my Mother was just 15 years old. Next came Henry Rhuby (or Rhubesky as some documents suggest). Henry passed away in 1962. Grandma was still very active and met Ed Schultes at social organization for widows & widowers. When they married in 1972, he was not quite 66 years old. She had the energy of someone much younger too, so she kept her real age a secret, listing age 74 on the marriage license (she was really 83). She kept up an active life, including many dances, until shortly before her death from cancer.
The paragraph above was written in March 2008. Now in April of 2010 I found an interesting twist. I found the marriage registration for her paternal grandfather Christoph Eisold. In 1887, after the death of his first wife he married again. But apparently he too stretched the truth in listing his age. The best that I can tell from other records, he was 69. On the church marriage records, his new wife's age is listed as 48, while his is listed as 60. This trait must be genetic.
John Frances Bendyk (Nana and Auntie Helen's brother) enlisted in the Navy in 1942, shortly after graduation from UW. He was the first of his family to be college educated and belonged to the same fraternity (I went to UWM) that I did, Alpha Kappa Psi. I also knew that tragically, he was killed in combat in the waters off of the Philippines, however never knew any more of the story. I've been able to confirm that he died in a kamikaze attack on the destroyer, USS Haraden. I'm trying to get access to some documents from the National Archives to understand more, however the following is a public summary of that event.
Entering the Sulu Sea, on the morning of 13 December 1944, the HARADEN and the escort carriers were attacked by four enemy planes. She assisted in downing three of the raiders, but the fourth banked left, gained altitude, and dove on the HARADEN, whose 40-mm and 20-mm guns opened fire. Although hit and trailing smoke, the plane continued on course and crashed into the starboard side of the destroyer. It hit the forward stack and exploded on impact, spraying bomb fragments over the ship. The crash demolished the forward stack and put the forward fire and engine rooms out of commission, leaving the ship dead in the water and without communications. The destroyer TWIGGS (DD-591) came alongside to assist her repair and fire-fighting parties and the HARADEN was soon underway on her own power, bound for San Pedro Bay and emergency repairs. There, also, she transferred her casualties—sixteen dead and at least fifty-eight wounded. Those that were killed were buried at Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines
If you'd ask our about our heritage I'd would have answered half German and half Polish. Nancy would say 3/8 German and 5/8 Polish. It's more complicated than that. First of all, Poland did not exist as a country from 1795 until after WWI. The 1795 Poland was carved up into and absorbed into Russia, Prussia, or Austria. And even over the last several hundred years the borders have changed often so the same locality might be in different nations at different times. Many of our ancestors considered themselves as Polish in culture, however most of them came from the Russian part. This includes Nancy's 'German' ancestors. Most of my research has been after our ancestors came to this country but at some point I'd like to learn more about exactly where they came from.
Demus was my great-grandfather. He was born in 1854 in U.S. territorial waters coming with his family to settle in this country. I'm told that he was named after the ship he was born on. Demus is said to mean 'Thomas' in German, however I have not been able to find record of the ship, a passenger list, or even a translation of Demus. If you've been to the Milwaukee Ale House in Milwaukee, you'll find him, his Father, and his 7 brother's holding their steins high, featured on the menu. He's 3rd from the right.
The paragraph above was written in February 2008. Since then I have found the passenger list record, on the ship 'Thomis' sailing from Hamburg May 4th 1854 sailing direct to Quebec. I suspect his full name is then something like Nikodemus Thomas Eisold. There are still questions though such as the part about being born in US territorial waters which now doesn't seem likely. Also his birth date that I have is June 25, 1854 which would make for a rather long ocean journey, especially for mother Magdalena who was 8 months pregnant on departure.
(Note: The ownership of the Milwaukee Ale House has changed and the photograph mentioned above is gone, so it's included here).
Uncle Louie was Demus's eldest brother. He didn't make the picture mentioned above which was taken around 1887 since it taken at his wake . It turns out that in a Sheboygan bar in 1887 Louie put a chair over a fellow bar patron in a disagreement over a woman. The retaliation was a fatal blow to Louie's head with a beer stein. The bar patron was tried and acquitted of manslaughter. The Milwaukee Ale House has honored Louie with it's feature brew, Louie's Demise (one of the founding owners of the Ale House is my 3rd cousin, once removed, and also a descendant of the Eisold family).
The following images are from September 6th, 7th, and 8th of Oct 1887 from the Sheboygan Morning Telegram, describing the trial. Sounds like court TV would have loved it.
My Grandfather, Frank Mroz, did not intend on staying in the United States, planning to return to Poland (Russia). In fact, he, my Grandma, and 2 young children including my Father, were in the Atlantic ocean returning to Europe when WWI broke out. The ship returned. (Note: Immigrants desiring to return to the old country was common. Just as with my grandparents, Nancy's were planning on returning but had their minds changed by a neighborhood photographer. The family photo from that encounter is found on my Hall of Fame tab). This was when they lived in Illinois, before moving to Milwaukee. After they moved to Milwaukee, it's interesting to track city directories published each year. Many years his occupation was listed as 'molder' which meant making molds in industrial factories. This occupation seems to be one which almost every male ancestor held at one time or another (laborer or helper were other common occupations). However in the 1920's and early 30's Frank was branching out. In the city directors of 1922 and 1926 his occupation was listed as confectioner (candy store?). Then in 1927 - 1932 it was soft drinks (speakeasy?). Then in 1933 at the same location (1835 S 9th St in Milwaukee) when prohibition ended it was a tavern. That only lasted a couple of years because by 1936 and thereafter he was a molder again. At some point during the depression they left the tavern business to run a farm in Waterford, however I don't know what year or how long that lasted. Making a living in the depression was extremely difficult for all of our ancestors.
One interesting note about the Frank and Antoinette Mroz household. In 1935 they settled into a house at 3333 S 14th St in Milwaukee. That would be the home they'd live in for the rest of their lives and the house where my newly married parents would live in a bedroom converted out of attic space. It would also be my first home for a few years before my parents would build a house. I didn't realize until just this last year, that in the house next door on 14th St lived another family with current connections. That house was the family home of the grandparents of Mickey Murawski. I'd guess that it's likely that we spent a little time together as kids. Even after my parents built a home at 3162 S 25th St we would continue to visit, especially on Friday nights for fish and potato pancakes when my Mother was working as a candy department clerk at Schuster's on Mitchell St.
Like Frank Mroz, Joseph worked in a factory, many years as a punch press operator at International Harvestor. I don't know how he ended up in West Allis but that city was home for him and his family shortly after he arrived in this country in 1914. By late 1920 he was already a widow with 2 young children. His first wife, Helen, died weeks after the birth of their son John. The story goes that Helen was dancing at the baptism party, hemorrhaged and died. Somehow, in the next year he met Maryanna from Cudahy. They were married in Spring of 1922 and by the mid-20's were settled into their lifelong home at 1618 S 61st St, West Allis. Also like the Mroz family, there were thoughts of returning to Poland. There's a photograph in Grandpa Joe's basement rec room of the Grabowski family taken around 1925 including Joseph, Maryanna, and the 3 children; Ann, John, and Joe. This was intended to be a family portrait just before shipping out. Grandpa was told that the photographer talked his parents out of leaving. The rest in history.
Excitement entered the Grabowski home, Christmas time 1930. Quoting from the West Allis Star, Joseph "found a gas pipe bomb containing black powder, it's fuse burning in the basement of his home. He had been awakened early Wednesday morning, he said, by the noise of a window breaking in the basement. He rushed down and found the bomb with the fuse burning. He stamped it out and brought it to the police station. Grabowski's wife and four children were asleep at the time the explosive was discovered". A neighbor who had quarreled with Joseph earlier, was arrested after bomb making materials were found in his home.
I found this article and picture from the Milwaukee Sentinel, part 1 page 16 on Christmas Day 1930. One interesting tidbit in the article is the suggestion that the Grabowski children may have had a role in the neighborhood feud. Hmmmm, Grandpa never talked about that. We'll have to get the rest of that story in heaven. A second article notes that the suspect was acquitted after the judge suppressed evidence of bomb making material in the neighbors house could not be entered into evidence. The neighbor's wife let police into their house however their was no search warrant.
Joe Grabowski Jr., Nancy's dad, was just back from the Army in February 1946 wondering what to do with his life. Plans were all set to move to California to begin that new life. Planning to leave with his friend, Al Bergmann on a Monday in February 1946, they got together with friends on the preceding Saturday to celebrate their farewell at The Pub, a bar/dance hall on 3rd Street in Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin Ave. By chance a group of young ladies including Cecile Bendyk and several of her cousins were also at the Pub celebrating a breakup of one of Cecile's engagements (she told me that there had been about 3 engagements during WW2). Conversation lead to dancing and a good time. Al left alone for California on that Monday where he started a successful garage building and then home building company, leaving him a millionaire. Joe stayed behind, marrying Cecile 5 months later in July 1946, becoming wealthy in his own way.
In the late 1800's - early 1900's, 10s of thousands of Polish immigrants settled in Milwaukee, most of them on south side. Some of the immigrants were parts of the extended family we know today. Ever wonder whether any of the various branches of the family tree from back then might have known one another? He's one situation where I've been able to document it happening. I almost need a picture to describe it, but hopefully you get the idea from this summary.
The earliest US record that I can find of Nancy's family (including Susie, Joyce, and Michael) is Ignacy Ciechanowski who arrived in 1903. I'm not certain of the relationship but I suspect that he was a nephew of their maternal Great-Grandmother Maryanna Ciechanowski. After he arrived, others from that branch of the family tree followed and settled in Milwaukee. In the 1910 census I see that Ignacy was a boarder, living with Joseph & Margaret Sadowski (nee Bett) at what is now 1928 W Lincoln Ave. By 1920, the Sadowski's moved to another southside home and Ignacy owned the home and had renters of his own. One of the renters was John Pogodzinski, a brother to Denise Grabowski's Great-Grandfather. By the way, in 1991, Michael Grabowski married Denise at St. Adalbert's Catholic Church in Milwaukee, a mere 2 blocks from 1928 W Lincoln.
It's occurred to me that as I've been writing short monthly news articles and showing a variety of current and old pictures, that not everyone is familiar with all the players. Therefore you now have available a 'who's who'. What I've tried to do with this family tree information, is document many of the current and ancestral family members and show how they're related. This is very much a work in progress. Serious genealogists spend significant time and money in research and documentation. My amateur effort relies on information passed down through family members. I do not have documentation that genealogists consider essential but I do believe the information I have to be very accurate. At this time, however, it is not very complete. I do have some additional information (not a lot) that I haven't published yet due to lack of time. Eventually I will be adding more. At the time of this writing (5/19/2002), I have 102 people documented in the family tree.
Here's where I need your help------
Rather than host family tree information on this web site, I've chosen this site http://www.tribalpages.com/tribes/williamsburg Just click on this link to go to the family tree (Hint: If you'd rather visit the site in a new browser window rather than within this window, right click on the link and choose 'Open in New Window'. I plan on updating it periodically so come back and visit once in a while to see how it's grown.
It's been nearly 6 years since I wrote the above section. At that time I said that I had 102 names in the family tree but hoped to do more. Over the years the documentation has grown very slowly since it does take considerable research time that wasn't readily available. However, I do have more time now and events over the past year have impressed on me how much family history is kept and eventually lost with the older generation. In fact I guess that I can be considered part of the older generation now. So late in 2007 I decided to capture as much family history as I could from those willing to talk, and to devote the necessary time to research. I've especially been focusing in on the period 1905 - 1915, when Nancy's grandparents and my Father's grandparents immigrated to this country. (Grandma Mroz's parent's had settled here earlier). I earlier had help from others on my Mother's side (thanks to the Eisold relation and Sue Miller for providing history on that side of the family, and to Linda Rustad for the Catozzi's). I had a little information on my Father's family and almost none on Nancy's family. Many hours have been spent in libraries, searching vital records at the Milwaukee Country Registrar of Deeds, and searching on-line databases.
So where am I now? From 102 names in the spring of 2002, I now have 557. The most additions have been on Nancy's family, not surprisingly given how little I had known. A big bunch came from Auntie Helen who had a document prepared in 1997 by a Polish seminarian who documented some of the relation that stayed in Poland. But I've filled in gaps most everywhere and I'm still adding.
As I noted back in 2002, I've tried to be accurate but could use your help in correcting me or filling in missing parts. I have made every attempt to document the factual information I've found by recording the actual information from birth, marriage, death certificates, passenger list manifests, etc if those are available. It's surprising however how much interpretation has to be made on those documents because you can't assume that it was recorded correctly. Names and ages change unpredictably over time for the same person. Plus I've found some family stories which, when you look at the official records, are more family lore than facts.
Along the way to gathering the data, I've gathered some digital images of census records up to 1930 and passenger lists as our ancestors came into this country. I could use more pictures of those ancestors if you have them are willing to share. I've also gathered some good stories that deserve telling. I'm adding the Family Stories section which will be updated periodically.
Maps is a new section section added. Like most else on this page it's a work in progress. I'm starting with a map of where the ancestors of Nancy and I lived in this country. In the future I hope to have a map of where in Europe they immigrated from.
Added the European maps.
Removed the link to Tribalpages as an online family tree. An online version of the combined family of Nancy, Tom, and our extended families is kept on Ancestry.com An invitation to view the tree (free) is available upon request.