To help with my research, I have put together a website dedicated to tracking my great-great grandfather, Frank Zalewski. It is located at Everything I Know About Frank Zalewski.
Frank Zalewski, Sr., his wife Anna (Lindner), and their three oldest children - Martha, Angeline, and Elisabeth emigrated to the US from the German port of Bremen (possibly via the Baltic port of Danzig/Gdansk) and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, in November 1889. Elisabeth is assumed to have died either on or not long after the voyage as she is never again listed with the family. The couple's fourth child, Mary, was born in Baltimore (or possibly Ohio) in March 1891. The family is then said to have traveled west to Nebraska and east, from there, to the Polish community in Chicago. By May, 1892, the family had settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Recent research disproves some of the following information. For example, we found that Anna and Frank were married in what is now western Poland, then under German rule. We will keep this here for future reference. Still no exact location of Frank's birth.
There is some confusion, however, as to the area of Poland in which Frank and Anna Zalewski resided prior to their emigration to the United States in 1890. During a telephone interview with their granddaughter, Caroline (Walczak) Sullivan, conducted in January 1995, she indicated that Frank and Anna lived somewhere in the province of Poznan -- an area of Poland then under German jurisdiction and known as South Prussia. his would correspond with information supplied on the death certificate and in the newspaper obituary of Frank Zalewski, Sr in 1941. Although neither source mentions Poznan as his place of birth, both list Germany as his country of origin. (Much of western Poland, including Poznan Province, became German territory after the three partitions of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century.)
There is, however, a conflicting story as to the area of Poland from which Frank and Anna originated. During a 1993 telephone interview with another granddaughter, Irene (Zalewski) Lutzenberger, she indicated that her late father had always said his parents came from eastern Poland -- an area then under Russian rule. Irene's father also stated that when his parents entered the United States, their surname was spelled "Salefsky," thereby reflecting the Russian influence. Although no official documents can be found to verify this, it is interesting to note that in the 1934 obituary of another grandchild, Norbert Cybela, the maiden name of Norbert's mother is spelled "Zalesky."
It is hypothetically possible that Frank Zalewski, Sr is, indeed, born and raised in Russian Poland and, at some later point in his life, moved to the German section in which Poznan Province was located. Although traveling across political borders was difficult in 19th-century Europe, to say the least, it was not impossible. In Russian Poland, for example, all debts to the government, including military service in the czar's army, had to be fulfilled before travel documents would be issued and borders would be crossed. Two years of active military service followed by two years in the reserve forces was required of all males when they reached their twentieth birthday. In Frank's case, that would have accounted for the years 1878 through 1882. We know he married Anna Lindner (a German) in November 1884, which means he probably relocated from Russian-held, eastern Poland to the German-held, western area sometime between 1882 and 1884. This, of course, is only speculation but would explain the Russian "sky" ending on the surname.
There is some sort of connection between this family and the GWIAZDOWSKI/GORALSKI family.
Joseph GORALSKI is located in the Milwaukee US Census records (1900-1930), he is shown living with his wife, Marianna, and in-laws in the same area as Frank. His in-laws are listed as August & Anna GWIAZDOWSKI. Using the information in these records (immigration, birth, etc) I found this same group in a Philadelphia passenger list for December 1892. In the notes for this group of people it says, “Visitors. Nephew Franz Zaleski at 902 Pulaski St.” (where Frank lived at the time.)
This information all put together makes either August or Anna GWIAZDOWSKI Frank’s blood uncle or aunt, respectively, as he is listed as their nephew.
Marianna is buried near her husband Joseph and Mr. and Mrs. August GWIAZDOWSKI. She is also buried in the same plot as some of the Jacob ZALEWSKI family, Frank's brother.
Marianna’s obituary is located in the Milwaukee Journal on April 2, 1940 which includes the line “…also survived by 1 brother, Frank Zalewski…” Then, I started doing the math.. How can Mary be Frank’s brother if there is no way, under normal circumstances, that she would ever have the last name of ZALEWSKI? She was a GORALSKI when she was married and according to the other documents, her parent’s last name was GWIAZDOWSKI. How does that work?
Then I thought, maybe it’s not that Frank Zalewski, but another Frank. So, Mary would be my Frank’s cousin. That makes sense logically and follows the info in the passenger list, but again it doesn't solve the name issue. The only way I was able to solve the surname issue was assuming that Anna is Mary’s real mother and August is her step-dad. Maybe Anna’s first husband (Mary’s father) passed away and she re-married before travelling to the US? I'd love to solve this riddle.
More detailed information on Frank Zalewski is available on his "Everything I Know About Frank Zalewski" website.
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