Monday, November 3, 2014


My mother's entire ancestry is Polish, yet it is also the side of my family that I know the least about.  My mother only has one brother but her mother was one of 10 children and her father was one of 9 children.  You would think that would give me some contacts.

Of course, I was thinking of none of this when I received a friend's request on Facebook at the end of July.  I did my typical thought process -- Does the last name sound familiar?  Did I go to high school with this person?  Is she a fellow UCLA Bruin fan?  Well, all those answers came up "no".  I am happy to report that she was persistent and the next day I learned that we were relatives.  How come there are so many relatives that I don't know about?

It seems that Sally and I share great grandparents -- Charles Stachowiak and Anna Szukalski.  Yes, that is them in the above photo.  Thank you, Sally, for that photo!  My maternal grandfather Leonard Stachowiak was the younger brother of her paternal grandfather Eugene Stachowiak.   An added bonus, was that I got to meet her sister Chris online.  Okay, that has never happened before and I can tell you meeting 2 cousins at once is even better than only meeting one!

So, now are not only Sally, Chris and I friends on Facebook but we have also shared photos and stories.  I don't think I had ever seen a photo of my great grandparents until Sally and Chris shared several with me.  

I have done a ton of genealogical research these past 15 years but the highlights have definitely been finding or more typical in my case "being found" by new cousins, either through Facebook or one of my blogs.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


My great uncle Eugene Stachowiak was married to a woman named Kinga.  This was Eugene's second marriage.  I really don't remember Eugene at all since he died when I was just 6 years old.  Now, I do remember Kinga a little and especially remember her funeral in 1971.

Kinga's funeral was held at Our Lady of the Bright Mount Polish Catholic Church in Los Angeles.  (I devoted a post on my blog to this church in April of 2013).  Since this is a Polish parish, the funeral Mass was recited in Polish.

Well, while I was researching, I decided that I wanted to learn more about Kinga.  I found her listed in the California Death Index.  Her birth date was 6 Jun 1906 and her death date was 9 Mar 1971.  Of course, I also have a funeral card which lists her middle name as Jeanine.  How do I find out more about her without having her maiden name?

On a hunch, I decided to look for her in the Wisconsin Births and Christenings Index with just her first name and birth date.  After all, how many Kinga's could there be born in Wisconsin on that date?  Well, I hit the jackpot -- I found her -- Kinga J. Czerwinski, as well as, the names of her parents -- Albert Czerwinski and Wanda Wozmskiewicz.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


I love taking genealogy classes, especially in a classroom setting.  It allows me to not only learn more about a subject that is important to me but also gives me the opportunity to exchange ideas with others interested in genealogy.  So I was delighted to see that the Poway Adult School was offering a class on Internet Research for Family History.  Too many times, in the past, however, their genealogy classes would be cancelled due to low enrollment.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I walked into the class (okay, a few minutes late) to find twelve other eager students already present.  Twelve might not seem like a lot to you, however, typically there are 6 students in these classes.  As we went around the class introducing ourselves, not only were there students of various ages -- 30's to mid to late 70's, but a majority of them had done a little research but desired some training on how to do it properly.

I am looking forward to learning more about research methods and to discussing  tips and findings with my fellow classmates.

Friday, February 14, 2014


My 2nd great grandfather was Walenty or Valentine Stachowiak.  Until I started researching my family tree, I never knew that any of my ancestors had "Valentine" for their first name.  According to a Polish dictionary, the Polish word for "valentine" is walentynka.   Since I know no Polish words at all, I will have to take their word for it. I am currently learning German and perhaps some day can also learn to speak some Polish words.

Walenty Stachowiak was born on 4 Feb 1833 (fairly close to February 14th) in Poland and died on 11 April 1904 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Walenty was married to Josephine Kowalczyk and they had nine children together -- Mary Anne, Petronella, Lawrence, Albert, Agnes, Joseph, Charles, Casimir and Stanislaus. Charles Stachowiak was my great grandfather.

There was also another Polish "Valentine" in my ancestry -- Valentin Reszel, who was my 2nd cousin once removed.  Valentin Reszel was born on 10 Feb 1915 in Wisconsin and died on 26 Jan 1995 in Milwaukee. Valentin was the son of Walter and Magdaln Reszel. He was from the Braciszewski branch of my family tree.

Officially, there is one more Polish "Valentine" in my family tree.  Joseph William Stachowiak and Martha Ulezelski had a son named Valentine William Stachowiak, who lived from 1907 to 1969.  However, according to records it seems like for most of his adult life he went by the name William instead of Valentine.  Since today is Valentine's Day, we will count him as one of my Polish Valentine -- well, at least for today!

Monday, September 23, 2013


I found this lovely tidbit in the Van Nuys News archives.  It was printed in the September 5, 1949 edition of the newspaper.  Clara Stachowiak Christy was one of my maternal great aunts.  Clara married Ivan Wohlk Christy (Christiansen) in 1934.  Ivan was born in Frederikshavn, Nordjylland, Denmark.  Ivan died in May of 1949 in Burbank.

A month after his death, Clara went to visit her husband's relative.  It doesn't say in this story whether or not she stayed the entire time in Denmark.  It does say that she did stay with her brother-in-law in Denmark.  The part of this story that I love (besides having a 3 month trip to Europe) is that her brother-in-law owns an oleomargarine factory.  Do they even make oleomargarine anymore?  I am thinking this must have been some sort of status symbol.  I am guessing with all those Danish pastries, one should also have some "margarine".

It was very nice of her brother-in-law to host Clara during her grief after her husband's death.  I wonder if this was Clara's first trip to her husband's homeland.  The more information I find, the more questions I have ...

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Continuing on with my "Genealogical Bucket List", my #2 place is Srebrna Gora in Dolnoslaskie, Poland. My third great grandfather Joannes Gruszka married his wife (my 3rd great grandmother) Marianna Pubylowska in this town in 1824.  Joannes was 40 years old when he got married while Marianna was 28.  I don't know whose hometown this was -- whether it was Marianna's, or Joannes' or possibly they both lived here.

My knowledge of Poland is very limited but I do know that Srebrna Gora is located in the south west corner of Poland.  It is just north of the Czech Republic border.  It is just east of a town named Nowa Ruda.

When my Grandmother Lillian's parents and older brothers immigrated to the US from Poland before Lillian's birth, they listed Ruda as their last residence.  I wonder if this is the same Ruda.  I better get back to my research ....

Thursday, September 12, 2013


For the past two weeks, I have been writing about my Genealogical Bucket List -- places that I would like to travel to experience my ancestors' history -- on my other blog  Since today I will be writing about Poland (and sorry for the delay in my regular posting) it had to be posted on this blog.  So, to start off my Polish Genealogical Bucket List is Wielkopolskie, Poland.

My 2nd great grandfather Valentin Stachowiak (on my maternal grandfather side) was married to my 2nd great grandmother Josephine Kowalczyk in Grodziszczko, Wielkopolskie, Poland in 1853.  Grodziszczko is located in Western Germany and is known for its beer and mineral water.  This town is located west of Poznan on A2 (I'm assuming this is some sort of freeway).  The above photo shows a downtown street in Grodziszczko.

My 2nd great grandfather Jacob Gruszka (on my maternal grandmother side) was married to my 2nd great grandmother Antonina Zuchowska in Lechlin, Wielkopolskie, Poland in 1847.  Antonina's parents Thomas Zuchowska and Marianna Koslakowiczowna were married in the same town in 1820.

I would love to visit this area of Poland.  I know very little about it and since the only information that I have about my 2nd great grandparents is either from my Family Bible or the Poznan Project, I probably would do some research in this area. I would love to find information on their births and deaths, siblings, occupations, etc.  I guess I need to do a lot more research on my Polish ancestry!