Posts tagged ‘History’

December 16, 2010

Tomasz Leszczyński de Biechów (part two)

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The 2nd Marriage of Tomasz Leszczynski

The 2nd Marriage of Tomasz Leszczynski

This is the second part of my search for Tomasz and family. The first aritcle is here . This amazing find was done by my equally amazing friend from Krakow, Jacek.  Stanczyk prized his great-grandfather Tomasz so much, Jacek made an extra effort on my behalf. Thank You Jacek (researcher / genealogist of the Sokolowskich from Swiniary/Biechow/Pacanow/Zborowek parishes).

This document is an alegata. Let me review a bit of Polish genealogical terms to help other new-to-Polish-genealogy researchers. The Polish archives have a few databases ( I have written of them before ), but the most critical to me so far has been Pradziad. If you search their database for Biechow (do not bother with diacriticals), you will find:

urodzenia – Births

małżeństwa – Marriages

zgony – Deaths

and … alegata – Addendum (other, miscellaneous).

So this is an addendum … to something. Now this alegata is fascinating on many levels to me. First off, it is from 1885 and it is testimonial from 1863 !  So this document recounts the events of 22 years ago (from 1885).  Second, since it is the era from 1868..1918, it is written in Russian as is required and … also in Polish. Take a closer look…

Alegata from October 1885 about ...

This portion is written in Russian (old style Cyrillic). Notice the stamp which shows that a fee/tax was paid and the date: 4th-October-1885. The last words (bigger than the rest) mean.. BIRTH RECCORD. Oh, so this recounts a birth from 1863. To give you a place we read the first three lines …

Gubernia Kieleckie

Uezd Stopnickie

Parish Biechow

This is from the Russian Empire era where this portion of Poland is one of ten gubernias previously from the Duchy of Warsaw (Russian- Partition of Poland also known as Congress Kingdom of Poland before the czar made it direct territories of the Russian Empire which would last until 1918).

The three pages go on to describe the birth of a female child to Marcin Major &  Katarzyna  z  Ozarowiczow. I like that this birth was originally recorded at 7pm (in 1863) and describes a birth from 5am. Such detail! It is commendable that their bureaucrats worked late into the evenings. Oh this is a quote of the birth record of my great-grandmother Aniela born Piestrzec (part of Biechow parish)! Oh so the Polish is a direct transcription from the church record of 20-July-1863.

All that was great! But the third page was a Marriage Certificate. I had waited so long to see my great-grandfather’s marriage certificate. Now I would have a definitive age and his parent’s names. I was disappointed that his age was not listed in the record?? Oh, well I know he was born 1835 +/- 2 years, so his second bride was as young as his children from his first marriage. My 50-ish great-grandfather was married again and I know in 1886 what happens (Stanczyk’s babcia comes along).  It appears Tomasz is the town burgher and a farmer and now Aneila lives in Pacanow, while Tomasz still lives in Biechow. Wait a second, neither set of parents are listed. I know Aniela’s from the first two pages retelling her birth. But I had hoped to learn Tomasz’s parent’s names. Oh, this IS a disappointment!

Now I will have to track down his marriage record from his first marriage and that would be the late 1850’s, an era where no microfilm exists in Biechow. I do not even know where Julianna Kordos was born; I do know her parent’s names and her approximate age — so if I do find her record I will know it is her.

December 16, 2010

Swinary Parish – A Survey of Births 1826-1852

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Once again, I have reviewed the images of the indexes to compile a brief survey of the births in the Swinary parish.  As I posted before this Swinary is in southern Poland:

Świniary – 409 osób(people) woj.:  świętokrzyskie,   powiat: buski,  gmina: Solec-Zdrój,    Polish Postal Code: 28-131
Year Count Of Births
1826 124
1827 111
1828 99
1829 95
1830 96
1831 53
1832 95
1833 92
1834 99
1835 112
1836 94
1837 91
1838 99
1839 111
1840 98
1841 92
1842 114
1843 97
1844 109
1845 86
1846 N/A
1847 N/A
1848 N/A
1849 N/A
1850 80
1851 N/A
1852 86

I do not know what to make of the data. There are years missing and the first year was the highest birth registration. 1831 seems to be an outlier with only 53 births. From reading in books, works in newsletters (like by Dr. Paul Valasek), and in my own grandmother’s parish of Biechow which is very nearby, I know 1831 to be a year of the Cholera epidemic. So perhaps an epidemic limited births (or at least their registration).

From birth records (so this may not be a complete/exhaustive list), we see the following villages make up the Swiniary parish:

Ludwinow, Oblekon, Parchocin, Swiniary, Trzebica, Wlosnowice, and Zielonki .

One final note, this parish was in the old wojewodztwo, Kielce in this era (1826-1852).

Other Surveys of Nearby Parishes, I have previously done:

Biechow 1810
Biechow 1811
Biechow 1812-1831
Pacanow 1883 10 sample births Out Of 203 Births
Pacanow 1884 15 sample
December 5, 2010

Tomasz Leszczyński de Biechów (part one of many)

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Tomasz Leszczynski It was said by my elders and confirmed by distant cousins who had heard the same story, that Tomasz Leszczynski lived to the ripe old age of 104! For me as it was for Tomasz, I am sure that is a mixed blessing. Now perhaps my grandmother, my father (and his siblings) and perhaps even myself have inherited that longevity. That would be, should be  a blessing. In 104 years of life on this planet, you could generate a whole  lot of genealogy and played  a large role in that genealogy. Tomasz outlived his first wife (Julianna) and took a second wife (Aniela). It is from Aniela and Tomasz  that my grandmother comes, the first born child of that second union.

Tomasz was a shoemaker and an innkeeper, those are facts recorded in the church records of Biechow. There are family stories about Tomasz (was he or was he not descended from royalty). How did my grandmother, Valeria, inherit a mill (not certain what kind of mill) in Łodz ??? In an era of limited literacy, my grandmother was fluent in Polish (undoubtedly her native language), Russian (Biechow was in Russian-Poland partition), and German (the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was just across the Vistula river). Plus she learned English when she arrived here in America, so four languages she was fluent(read/write/speak) in.

The picture that was given to me by Carol (my 2nd cousin, who I have never met in person). The picture is hard to see, it so old (perhaps a century old). But it appears that Tomasz wears a tie and he is seated outside with his wife Aniela [see full picture at end]. I was told that my Busia (Valeria) was one of 12. Well so far I have info on Tomasz having 14 children across his two wives. Indeed two of those children died in infancy (so 1 of 12 cannot be said to be incorrect info). But he lived to be 104. So I have not found his death record (circa beginning of World War 2), but I am fairly confident when I find it, that it will NOT list his parents (as many church death records do), the curse of a long life, your survivors no longer remember that far back. I was never able to find the Leszczynski records in Biechow, except for one record that I believed at the time was my great-grandfather Tomasz’s first wife (Julianna Kordosów). So I recorded the fact, uncertain as I was (time will tell). This jester later joined a Polish social network (Nasza Klasa) and eventually I traded emails with a kind woman who spoke no English. Her maiden name was Heliasz and was from Biechow parish. We realized that we were still too far apart with too many missing links to connect our family trees (although we are very close to connecting them). Unbeknownst  to me she went to Biechow and got the marriage record of my grandparents! So it was true. My grandmother was from Biechow and her father was Tomasz Leszczynski and her mother Aniela Major. So now I had confirmed many US documents listing these two whose names were spelled many ways. Well I was elated for sure. Still why so little info on the Leszczynskich  from Biechow when I had so many microfilm from the LDS spanning decades/centuries even. Well I had also joined a Polish Genealogical Society website ( From there I met a genealogist (Jacek of Krakow) whose family also came from Biechow. I lamented to him my problem of not finding Leszczynski when I had so much evidence that this where they were from. Well Jacek, was also very kindly and he found a few early records from Biechow born to Tomasz Leszczynski and a Julianna Kordos from the early 1860s (not in the LDS microfilm I had seen). So now I had a pretty strong confirmation that the death record of Julianna Kordos from Pacanow parish, was indeed my great-grandfather’s first wife. But I do not have a marriage record for Tomasz and either wife nor do I have any birth info on Tomasz other than an indication he was born in the mid 1830’s. So I cannot go further back. If only I could find a marriage record of Tomasz and one of his wives, then I would know his parents’ names.

Aniela Major & Tomasz Leszczynski

Let me end this posting at this point, but the story continues…

December 2, 2010

Christopher Columbus Discovers … He Is POLISH!

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Polonia, this jester is pleased as punch to tell you, that you can now celebrate Columbus Day as well as Pulaski Day, so get out there in September with the Italians and celebrate with pride our newest Pole, Christopher Columbus! Portuguese historian Manuel Rosa has spent the better part of two decades studying the Columbus myth and has now reached a new conclusion, that everything we thought we knew about Columbus was wrong.

First book up on the background articles:

Apparently Columbus’s grandfather was the founder of the Jagiellonian Line of Polish Kings. And his father was Wladislaw III . Wladislaw III was thought to have died at the Battle of Varna in 1444. Luckily for America he survived, found absolution in Palestine for his wrongs, and settled in Portugal, where the Portuguese King gave him land on  the island of Madeira,  and he married Portuguese aristocracy and had two sons (one of which was Columbus).

Now this story makes sense of why Columbus had access to no less than four royal lines who he could approach and propose such a venture of discovering a new path to the Orient (uh America, ummm, the Caribbean Islands). A Book is coming and National Geographic is also interested in the story. Manuel Rosa is now seeking access to DNA to prove his theory. In the mean time, lets see some Polish flags next September at the Columbus Day Holiday Parades and reclaim our prodigal son from the Italians. This will be a nice entre into October (Polish History Month, Pulaski Day celebrations) giving Polonia two months of pride. Also drink some Madiera wines. It appears we can thank our Polish son for this wine appearing in the Americas — a nice red wine. This also adds to the credibility that Columbus was born on the Island of Madiera (a Portuguese territory at the time) and not in Genoa.

November 24, 2010

Milosz, Dlugosz and Eliasz … Shhh

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Czeslaw Milosz (June 30, 1911 – August 14, 2004), the Nobel Prize author,  should have the 100th Anniversary of his birth commemorated, June, next year. I do not know why I took a fancy to this person who took my mind captive. It is probably because he was Polish (and a naturalized American) and his first name was the same as my ojciec (father). That got me to read this man’s works. But what kept me reading his works is his Captivating Mind and his way around the rhythm of language (quite extraordinary to be so  talented in two languages).  So I was reading a book of his, “The History of Polish Literature“; London-New York: MacMillan, 1969. When I read, I am rather immersive, so I read the text and Google the concepts or the author. It provides a richer experience for me. So I noticed that Milosz (or the concept that was Milosz) is about to turn 100!

This jester has many of this writer’s books in his personal library. I chose the Road Side Dog for a picture, because I am a long time dog  aficionado and I have made a reservation, “to let” some of Milosz’s ideas for my own writings. So from my readings today in The History of Polish Literature“, here are a few memes and things for you think upon:

  • Marcholt – The Polish Aesop, particularly the connection to the Wise King Solomon
  • Sowizrzal
  • Melusine
  • Jan Dlugosz ( 1415-1480)

In the above list, the first three are literary characters, while the fourth is a historical figure and writer. His historical writings are  a rich source. See Annales Poloniae.  Jan Dlugosz endeared himself to me by teaching himself Cyrillic in order to be to source info from the Letopisi. So this jester identifies with Dlugosz and his need to read Cyrillic texts to have ready access to Russian information.

Alas, in the partitions of Poland by the three black-eagled Empires,  my ancestors were  mostly in the Russian-Poland partition, so reading Cyrillic handwriting and Russian language (pre 1918 language reforms) became a necessary skill. I think I dislike the Russification of the ELIASZ name into Elijasz. I still remember my Busia teaching me that our last name was in the Old Testament and that we were named for the prophet Elijah. In Polish, it appeared as ELIASZ.  So when I got further into the genealogical research and I saw post-partition Catholic priests change the name into Heliasz and Elijasz, I saw something of a diminishing of respect for its biblical roots. But whether we are ELIASZ or HELIASZ or ELIJASZ or even ELJASZ or ELYASZ. I still see Elijah. In fact, amongst the Slavic peoples, other variations exist: Iliasz, Oliasz, and Uliasz. So now you know, that this jester’s family with the short name (6 characters) of which uncharacteristically,  half of them are vowels is very much Polish with  a very uncommon Polish name.


A Reasonably Complete Bibliography of Czeslaw Milosz can be found in the New World Encyclopedia  article.

October 27, 2010

Romanov Russian Royalty.. oh my

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

This jester has a deep appreciation for Dr. Stephen Morse and his many works, especially those related to genealogy. I have used his One Step Web Page for many years. So it was thrill to meet him at various conferences and I was touched at his kind offer to help  moje zona read her grandparent’s tombstone (alas the jester struggles with his Hebrew language skills). I have followed his recent work to make yet a 3rd generation soundex algorithm (for us Slavics).

Originally, we had American Soundex, which you still see on Immigration documents (mine is E420). Then along came the most excellent Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex which was a vast improvement for those whose heritage was Slavic (mine is 084000) and you would see it on Russian Consular records.  Recently Dr Morse has developed the Bieder-Morse Soundex algorithm which further improves name matches (by eliminating false matches). So my family name would have Bieder-Morse soundex tokens of:  elaS elas [exact match tokens only] . I think only the JewishGen website has implemented that matching.

Now Dr Morse has an article(Genetic Genealogy Revisited) in the APG’s professional journal: “Association of Professional Genealogists QUARTERLY”. It was on the use of genetics in genealogy and he used the Romanov Family mystery as a demonstration of using genetics to solve a question. Now I read in the Current issue of the Smithsonian,  the Resurrecting the Czar, article. It too covers the latest background on murder mystery of Czar Nicholas II and his family and attendants. I found that the two aritcles read together give a fascinating account of the story.

Now this jester is not a fan of the Russian Empire (even though my grandparents and their parents were born into Russian-Poland partition).  The Rus betrayal of Poland not even a century after the great  King Jan Sobieski, the Savior of Vienna [indeed all of Europe],  the “Lion of Lechistan” and  their betrayal again in 1939 at the start of World War II sour my feelings for our brother Rus. So while I enjoyed the two articles read back-to-back, I was appalled by a few “royalists” who want to bring back the monarchy to the Russian Federation. One woman artist actually is hoping for a Russian fascist (to clean up the mess??) followed by a transition back to the monarchy. That would be quite a rewind of history huh?

Czech, Lech and Rus – there is a legend of three brothers that settled central and eastern Europe. Czech went on to found the Czechs and Rus went on to found the Russians. Lech and Lechistan became Poland. So we can see again that monarchies and the battles between them are really nothing more than family squabbles done on a grand scale. By the way both articles mention the British monarchy  and their family connection to the Romanovs (via Hapsburgs).  Canute the Great was a Grandson of Mieszko I (first king of Poland) and of course another ancestor of this jester, the twice king Stanislaw Leszczynski, had a daughter marry into the Bourbons. Alas all of Poland’s goodwill and family relationships could not prevent the Deluge and Poland’s slip from History’s main stage. We will have to content ourselves that Rus and their partitions, produced Kosciuszko and Pulaski and they in turn helped to produce America.

October 20, 2010

Doomsday has been Delayed Due to Unavoidable Circumstances

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has regrettably to be the bearer of bad news to this court (of public opinion).  Contrary to Tea Party (aka Teabaggers, until they understood the implications), the world’s demise will now be delayed. I felt compelled to blog about this, since in the recent past I have written on the topic:

Mayan Calendar – no more dates

10/10/10 – another doomsday (come and gone)

So I am now compelled to write again, since science has now weighed in on the topic. To whit the folks at have released word, that the end of the world as we know it has been unavoidably delayed. This jester appreciated the uncommon good science in their thoughts. However, I was disappointed that they did not question the fact that the calendar is not over because the Mayan Long Calendar reads: . Now for people with an aversion to the number 13 this may be a rare occurring unlucky date. It is still a rare astrological alignment date that occurs every 6500 or so years.

I urge people to read the book, “The Origin Map” if they now wish to switch from an end-of-world meme to the ever popular astrological-day-of-import meme. Actually, I found Dr. Thomas  Brophy more compelling than most horoscope practitioners. Particularly as he matched his calculations to an archaeological dig.

October 16, 2010

Wojtek – The Anders Army (WWII) Fighting Bear Gets A Monument !

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Wojtek fought in World War II for the Polish Army famously in Italy at Monte Cassino. He carried ammunition (heavy artillery shells) for the troops.  Wojtek was a Syrian brown bear cub adopted by soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps. In 1942, a local boy found a bear cub near Hamadan, Iran. He sold it to the soldiers of the Polish Army stationed nearby for a couple of canned meat tins. As the bear was less than a year old, he initially had problems swallowing and was fed with condensed milk from an emptied vodka bottle. The bear became quite an attraction for soldiers and civilians alike, and soon became an unofficial mascot of all units stationed nearby. Because of this, he was officially drafted into the Polish Army and was listed among the soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps. [Source:  Wikipedia article]

Happily, this heroic bear survived the war and settled down to live in Edinburgh, Scotland (in the zoo). The bear used to be visited by Polish veterans and they would greet him with some Polish and the bear would sit up and beg for cigarettes!!! Apparently, Wojek, like many army troops like cigarettes and beer. Wojetk finally passed in 1963 (about age 21).

Well I am happy to say that Wojtek is getting a monument in Scotland.  See the article here . He has a Facebook page too. An even better story about Wojtek is here. Back in January 2008, they started to work on honoring this amazing bear and to educate people about Wojtek, according to a BBC article.

October 15, 2010

St. Stanislaus, Catholic Church, Philadelphia, 1905

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

For a brief history of the church, please visit the following link: Stanislawo , which also has a picture of the interior of the church. The church was founded: 1891 – St. Stanislaus (Polish), 240 Fitzwater St., 215-925-2631 [Source: Genealogical Society of PA ] .

This jester was doing some research and was given a copy from its Marriage register of 1905.  I am endeavoring to supply these random snippets I am given, as a random act of genealogical kindness.  So I am hopeful that someone can use this info.

The page had 5 couples, plus half a couple (the bride) of a sixth marriage. These six marriages ranged in date, from 4-February-1905 –  6-February-1905. I wanted to list these six couples in my blog in hopes that their ancestors can find them via Google or Bing or some other search engine. Email me for the full size image and a second page listing parents / witnesses.

  1. Groom: <cut off>                             Bride: Aniela Renska, age 18, Front Street, Philadelphia, PA
  2. Groom: Piotr Rozanski, 23            Bride: Anna Sento, age 17,  751 So. Front Street, Philadelphia, PA
  3. Groom: Jozef Dorczyk, 21              Bride: Maria Dudkiewicz, age 18,  735 So. Front Street, Philadelphia, PA
  4. Groom: Jozef Szelagowski, 26       Bride: Stanislawa Adamska, age 19,  502 Water Street, Philadelphia, PA
  5. Groom: Wawrzyniec Oszeiki, 30   Bride: Bornislawa Petkowska, age n/a,  11 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, PA
  6. Groom: Kazimierz Nowik, 28         Bride: Anna Zytkowska, age n/a,  Coatesville, PA

October 12, 2010

Count Kazimierz Pulaski

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

With this being National Polish Heritage Month and a good bit about Pulaski being written or even televised and of course the parades, I thought I would add to the milieu of this worthy American.

I said American, because on November 7th, 2009, Count Pulaski became an honorary American citizen, posthumously. It was put forth by Senator (now President) Obama. He is one of only seven individuals so honored, five posthumously. Count Pulaski saved General George Washington’s life with his valor and service, without which there might never have been a USA. It was from this heroic action that he received his Brigadier General commission.

Sadly, the Brigadier General was killed in service to our nation, at the siege of Savannah. His his final resting place is still disputed between a burial at sea and a location in Georgia. He was the Father of the American Calvary. His banner for his legion was created by some Moravian women from Bethlehem, PA. There are nearly 8,000 mentions of “Count Pulaski” in database. Many are in the Continental Papers, but today’s genealogical / historical treasures come from the PA Archives (also in Since this jester now resides in PA, I have included two pages from the PA Archives of the soldiers of Pulaski’s Legion who were from PA.

Pennsylvanians in Pulaski’s Legion:

Captain Henry Bedkin
Quarter-Master John Shrader
Sergeant Richard Laird

Isaac Andrew
John Bentley
Thomas Bond
Frederich Boyer
Richard Cheney
William Coram
Frederich Cook
William Furnshield
Joseph Fogg
William Formshell
Joseph Gale
Benjamin Johnston
Martin Miller
Peter Miller
John Myer
James Rolls
Frederich Ruger
Peter Snyder
Edward Smith
John Smith 3rd
William Sommerlott
Henry Walker
George Ziegler
George Yohe

John Shuler

October 10, 2010

10/10/10 Doomsday?

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Some say that 10/10/10 is a doomsday date. Others say 12/21/12 or 12/12/12, when the Mayan calendar is said to end. I say all this pressure of not knowing is stressful.

This fixation on Doomsday reminds me of the plethora or Protestant prophets who went around America, predicting the date of the end of the world. Some even re-computed and re-predicted when their doomsday rolled around and the world failed to expire.

This device to my left is an authentic doomsday device. It can be purchased here:

The good thing about this doomsday device, for budding megalomaniacs, is that when it fails to bring about the end of the days, you can still use it as a four port USB hub. Thus I find this more useful, then say, Glenn Beck ( a modern doomsday prophet), because it serves some other purpose besides what it purports to be.

William Miller was one such preacher. His predicted date was 10/22/44. 1844 that is. Needless to say, Miller and his Millerites were wrong! Do you know what 10/23/1844 was known as?  “The Great Disappointment”. Perhaps we can re-purpose that label for Glenn Beck or any other of these modern day doom and gloom sayers. Here are 220 “Date Setters” all of whom were wrong.

Sadly, unlike the Hale-Bopp comet that came and went, Beck and his ilk have not made like Heaven’s Gate Devotees and disappeared. Perhaps in 2012 or in 2016 they will disappear from the airways when they will no longer have a Barrack Obama to rail against. Every yin must have a yang. And so it is true for every ding -dong.

Have a Happy 10/10/10! See you next year on 11/11/11 and by all means do not forget to look me up,  12/12/12. After that we should be good for another century.


October 3, 2010

Russian Poland 1867-1875

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, was traipsing through some archives this week for the Suwalki gubernia. In particular, the parish records for Wizajny . One thing I noticed was how complete the church records are. It was very complete (the Roman Catholic records) from 1808-1884. It is too bad that my ancestors did not come from this parish !   However, if your surname is Narkiewicz, your ancestors do — how fortunate for you.

So I was reading the church books (or the microfilm anyway) for 1867-1875. Well as you may or may not know 1868 is the year the Czar proclaimed that the Polish records in Vistula Land gubernias (formerly Congress Kingdom of Poland and  Grand Duchy of Warsaw before that) be written in Russian forever more (or at least until 1918 which signaled the end of Russian occupation of Poland — and the records returned to being kept in Polish). So this multi-lingual,  genealogical jester was reading Polish in 1867. As the calendar year flipped over, I was wondering if the next year (1868) would be in Polish or Russian — i.e. how fast did the Czar’s ukase get implemented. I was surprised twice. 1868 started off being written in Polish, but about half way along, the church records swithced over to be written in Russian.

So 1867 was all Polish. Then 1868 was about a half year in  Polish and half year in Russian. By 1869, all of the records were in Russian. I was always curious about this. because in the ancestral parishes of my grandparents, there were no records available from this era (only 1875-1884 on LDS microfilm). In case, you were wondering, the format was paragraph format, still written in the manner prescribed by Napoleon’s Codex. Let me point out a not so obvious bonus to American Polonia.

Because you can read the Polish records for the period immediately before 1868, you can learn the family surnames and village names of your parish as they were in Polish and this will help you translate the Russian surnames. Having a familiarity of the village names means you need not struggle with the transliteration from Russian/Cyrillic to Polish/Latin before making your best attempt to “translate” the proper nouns.

Have a Happy October, which is the National Month of Polish Heritage in the United States.

September 19, 2010

Black Sheep Sunday: “A Bullet Sings Goodbye”

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

This is my first blog, in conjunction with GeneaBloggers. So hello other GeneaBloggers!

I think most genealogists seek an ancestor who was a king or queen, maybe relationship to a historical figure or a Pilgrim. Some of us even seek ancestor of some notoriety like Jesse James of John Dilinger. It offers relief from the many leafs in our tree that are just mundane. Now I would not mind a king or Daniel Boone or being a Polish Genealogist maybe Kasimierz Pulaski. I was not seeking a notorious, Black Sheep to liven up the old family tree, but alas these things do happen.

OK, my Black Sheep is from Detroit, MI. Actually, Stanley Gawlick [sic], really born Stanislaw Gawlikowski, was a street tough during the roaring 1920’s and a member of the “Shotgun Gang”. Stanley was born about 1902 in Poland and came along with his Father Antoni & mother Katarzyna through Ellis Island. I do not know how Stanley went bad.

“Well, Here’s Stanley”

That was Stanley’s MO. He liked to introduce himself that way at the bank robberies. A tad narcissistic, n’est-ce pas? Apparently, that was par for the times. As you can see, his headline is entitled, “A Bullet Sings Goodby[sic]”

Well here is his mug, printed in the Detroit News,  that fateful day, the 5th of August 1924. Now this newspaper clipping was saved by my cousin’s parents. When I asked my father, who was not born at that time, he said he never remembered anyone in the family speaking of this.

This goes to show that historical newspapers can provide you with vital record info too, such as date of death and cause of death (gun shot wound). I am an aficianado of the Polish Daily (Detroit), named, Dziennik Polski.  They provided an even longer article !

Well I said it was probably just a local story. Then a year later, I found another article on this crime in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that describes the crime. From the article in the Dziennik Polski, I am wondering whether the female  robber may have been a common-law wife or whether she was just a gun moll. Along for an exciting ride.

That’s my Black Sheep meme and I am sticking to it ! Let me hasten to add that Stanley and I share no blood. We are merely related by marriage.

September 19, 2010

What Do You Know?

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

What Do You Know?

This jester has been a trusted advisor at the court of two kings and many companies, both large and small. As a matter of course, you develop a book of precepts to deal with a great many situations and to provide yourself with a context in which you ferret out a truth when you only have partial information. You also develop a toolkit and like the proverbial Felix The Cat, you pull something out of your bag of tricks, when the situation arises.

I want to talk today about timelines and facts. As I was saying last paragraph, I had some precepts and platitudes to carry me through uncharted waters. One of my favorites was, “The man with one clock always know what time it is, but a man with two (or more) clocks is never certain what time it is.” Whilst I knew my ojciec (father) was one of seven children, I was fine. But imagine my confusion, as I was chiding my god-father (my Uncle Steve) that he did not know his birthday and that the Diocese of Toledo said, he was born a month earlier – as an aside, my uncle was correct and the Diocese of Toledo was wrong.  A week later my uncle mails to me his birth certificate from Lucas County, OH and it does show his birthday as we always celebrated it. So it was good that I received another source fact for his birth. Now this is not a diatribe on whether the church was correct or the state (of OH) was correct on recording vital records. No,  the state certificate had other “facts”. On it was a question, “Number of children for this mother”, with three parts.

  • Part A. Born alive and still living: 3 (of course, Aunts Alice and Catherine and now uncle Steve)
  • Part B. Born alive, but now dead: 1 (Hmmm??)
  • Part C. Stillborn:                                  0.

But clearly at the time Uncle Steve’s birth, he was the fourth child, not the 3rd. So my father was one of 8 (not one of seven). Ok, so there was another child who was born and died before my father was born. I could not expect him to know of this fact. I also knew that this child was not stillborn. So I mentioned this bit of unexpected news to my father. Now this triggered a conversation that we had never had. He said he was born at home (not in a hospital) and that in 1926 this was not uncommon. Well Stanczyk always knew things were “different” in the olden days. Then he proceeds to bring out his “delayed birth certificate”. Ok since there was no official record of his birth, he had to have a copy of his baptism and a witness swear that they knew his true birth date. Not too surprising, but interesting as I scanned his “delayed birth certificate”. A fascinating birth certificate from 1943 (showing my dad to be one year too young to serve in the military in 1943). But this birth certificate from Wayne County, MI had two questions on it: “Number of children born alive to this mother” and “Number of children still living”. Now with answers nine and seven respectively. Now hold on here a second, my father was the 9th child, not the 7th as he had supposed.

But this goes to show. A few months ago I was certain my dad was one of seven children. A few weeks later I was disabused of that long-held fact and “knew” he was one of eight. Now I was confronted with the fact he was one of nine. So I am like the man with 3 clocks in his house. Who were these other two children, that we had no knowledge of? Let’s start with when were they born…


Fortunately, I had learned of the marriage date of my grandparents and had the church record from Poland. They were married, the 28th of January, 1907 in Biechow, Poland. So lets start with that date in our timeline.

Dates Description of Event Children Alive

1/28/1907          Jozef Elijasz & Walerya Leszczynska marry in Biechow                                                                    0

1909 or 1910    Alice (aka Aleksandra) Eliasz was born in Poland.                                                                                 1?

5/31/1910       Josef Eliasz arrives Ellis Island on SS Finland from wife Walerya in Zabiec to

brother-in-law Teofil Leszczynski@41 Neoga Street, Depew, NY

9/15/1913      Valeria(Waleria, age 27) Eliasz arr. in USA with Alice(Alexandra, age 4) in Phila.

on SS Prinz Aldabert; Sailed 9/2/1913 from Hamburg, Germany                                                      1

8/27/1914    Catherine Eliasz born in Depew, NY (see birth cert+baptismal cert);                                                 2

10/5/1916    Stephen E. Eliasz born in Toledo, OH baptised 11/8/1916 St Anthony                                               3

3/14/1919    Joseph S. Eliasz born in Toldeo, OH (1108 Campbell Street)                                                                   4

11/27/1920 Bernice Eliasz born in Toledo, OH and baptised in Detroit.                                                                      5

2/11/1924    Ted Eliasz born in Detroit, MI                                                                                                                               6

8/18/1926   Chester S. Eliasz born in Detroit, MI at home.                                                                                                7

So we have “gaps” in the timeline in: 1908,  and 1909 or 1910, [ignore 1911-1912 when apart], 1915 as possibilities for Baby#1. This baby must be born before Steve in 1916. Baby #2 must be born between 1916 and 1925. We have “gaps” in: 1917, 1918, 1921, 1922, and early 1923, technically even in late 1924 could be another birth. Finally 1925 was possible.

Now fortune smiled down upon me when I was searching Mt Olivet’s cemetery records for a missing uncle. They had a Henry Eliasz who died in January 1923. So I sent away for the death certificate and was shocked to find that Henry, was Baby#2 (of the two unknown siblings of my father). He was born to my grandparents, prematurely in December 1922 and died one month later in January 1923. One mystery solved.

Now my aunt Alice maintained until her dying days, that she was born in 1910. I have no proof to the contrary other than the Ship Manifest on 1913 saying she was four in 1913, implying a birth year of 1909. As luck would have it, a genealogist in Poland whose family came from my ancestral villages agreed to perform some research for me. I was seeking my grandparents and any other born in Poland, their birth certificates. In the package I received was church record of a birth of a Wladyslaw Jozef Eliasz born on the 31st of March 1908 to my grandparents. So now, I had unknown baby #1’s birth and my timeline is now almost complete. I still need to find aunt Alice/Aleksandra’s birth record, but now I know, my dad was one of nine children (and that he was the ninth child born to Jozef & Walerya).

June 12, 2010


by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Mayan Calender

Many of you may recognize the title date, as the day the world ends. This popular notion is from the Mayan Long Calendar. On 12/20/2012 we will be: and rollover to on 12/21/2012. Pretty nifty, right on the winter solstice. Now according to Mayan stories the last creation was on the previous time. But what is the Mayan Long calendar and what do the numbers: mean?

The Mayans reckon their calendar into 5 parts (hence: 12,19,19,17,19). The last number is called a K’in and 1 K’in = 1 day. The Mayans being rather astute in their calculations use a system that is roughly base-20 (as opposed to our base-10). So they count from zero to 19. So K’in in their system would be the units. Next “digit” up is the winal which is equal to 20 k’in (or 20 days). After that, the next number is called a tun which is equal to … only 18 winals (or 360 days). Next, we have the K’atun which is equal to 20 winals (or 7200 days). Finally, we arrive at the B’aktun which equal to 20 k’atun(or 144,000 days). So, when they write the long date: they really mean:

(12*144,000) +   (19*7200) + (19*360) + (17*20) + (19 *1) days = 1,871,999 days or 5128.76 years.  So they are counting from the date:  26-February-3117 BCE using the Gregorian calendar and projecting it backwards well prior to its creation. Ok, you might argue that is almost the vernal equinox.  Hmmm. Wait what is the date of 12/21/2012 in the Mayan Long Calendar: .  This is not the end of their calendar, as has been commonly expounded by many people hyping new-age kinds of things or books or apocalyptic movies or Sara Palin as President. In fact, there are 7 full B’aktuns left in their calendar, meaning the human race can count on living another 33,139.73 yrs (no worries until the year 35,151 or so). While 12/21/2012 may appear to be an unlucky day to triskadecaphobiacs [people who fear the number 13], it does not mean an end to the Mayan calendar and certain doom.

Now wait a minute, the Mayan story said, that the last time, their calendar was was the creation date. Ok, let’s ignore the fact that there must have been  1,871,998 prior days before creation (since we are not starting from But lets go with it and see where we end up, shall we?

Let’s start at 12/20/2012 which will be the next in the Mayan Long Calendar. Ok, we can now infer that the time prior must have been 38,268 years from 12/20/2012. So subtracting  38,268 from 2012 and allowing for the fact that there was no year ZERO, then in 36257 BCE,  at or near the winter solstice, the world was created. Assuming 20 years per generation (as we established in a prior blog), we find that we each have 1913 or 1914 prior generations, that we will need to account for in our family tree [direct line backwards].

Well I have about  another 1900+ generations to research, but at least I can now relax, now that I know the world will not end on 12/20/2012. I was feeling pressured to finish my research in the next 2.5 years. Now that I know the Mayan Calendar will not run out  for another 33,000+ years, I know I have plenty of time to research and publish the family tree.

I am not certain why they broke the base-20  on the tun (it being only 18 times the winal). But the 360 days in a year is only an error of 1.4% which is as good or better than the Julian calendar and if we consider they started using their calendar 2/26/3117 BCE, then I think we can say they were pretty good mathematicians and astronomers.

Why did the Mayans and Egyptians orient their pyramids to point to  Orion’s Belt? Could they possibly have known that our solar system is in the Milky Way Galaxy’s Orion-Cygnus spiral arm? Why did they pick ( as the creation date)? That equates to  Sagittarius which according to NASA’s website,  the center of the Milky Way galaxy is in the general direction of Sagittarius constellation. Were they good astronomers or did they just believe that passing the winter solstice is when things get created?

I guess those will be musings for another time!

June 5, 2010

Congressional Record

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Ok, perhaps you think that Washington D.C. has a rather large concentration of fools/jesters/harlequins and this is merely Stanczyk pandering some professional courtesy to his Professional peers. I can hardly blame you for thinking them like myself.  The difference is that they get paid to be fools and Stanczyk  is just an amateur. Of course, if you want Stanczyk for the Senate, write me  in this fall in PA’s senate race. Then Stanczyk too can be a professional fool and surely I can do no worse.

I was lamenting the Library of Congress changing their links again and breaking my web pages.  As many of you know, I have a web page on Dziennik Polski (the Detroit daily Polish language newspaper). This jester is rather fond of newspapers for their value in their historical context and for their use in genealogy. So I was reviewing my web page when I noticed the LOC link broke again. Damn! I am fixing that.

I did a little googling to find the new page. Instead I stumbled across the Congessional Record itself. Fortunately, I had written, the 108th Congress, 29-September-2004, and page S9931 in my article on the web. This was enough for me to locate the exact page in the actuall Congressional Record which available online (1998-present). Here is the link:

So your research experiment is to:

  1. select Archived Tables (pick 2004, click on “Go” button.
  2. scroll down to number 120 (which equates to 29-September, 2004) click on the link in Senate column: S9867
  3. this loads a PDF document. Scroll to bottom type in field next to Go to page button, then type S9931 and click

This will have to suffice, until I fix my link. At least you can find my reference and more importantly, it is a valuable resource for research (albeit primarily on the doings of fools in D.C.). Be a good electorate and read…then vote informed with FACTS not the current rhetoric that tries to masquerade as facts when its is just a freak show misrepresentation. The circus is always in town and right now the clowns run amok.

May 31, 2010

Mount Vernon Cemetery – Philadelphia

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

This is Mount Vernon cemetery. Now before you think this the George Washington’s Mt Vernon, it is not that one. This is a cemetery in Philadelphia nearly next door to Philadelphia’s famous, historical Laurel Hill cemetery that is on the hill above Philadelphia overlooking the Schuykill River (quite a lovely vista — in fact today the jester met an artist at the Mt Laurel cemetery painting a landscape on an absolutely beautiful day surrounded by these wonderful cemetery monuments).

Mount Vernon Cemetery to my horror is now a nearly defunct cemetery. There appears to be very little in the way of funds to maintain this lovely old cemetery. Overgrowth is obvious, the paths for cars is overgrown and truly I needed the caretaker to guide me through and not run over any tombstones. The picture at the top of this blog is obviously an old image. The entrance which is what the picture shows,  is now very much overgrown and disheveled and looks nothing like the image. I spoke to Norman the caretaker and he said that almost all families are no longer providing for upkeep. I felt for Norman as he is very local and doing his best to keep this cemetery together on something less than a shoestring budget.

This cemetery has Drew Barrymore’s ancestors (find-a-grave) ! This jester does not have family interred here. I would however be willing to help Norman do a project to capture the genealogy from his records and the tombstones and develop some kind of saleable product to help sustain this cemetery. But realistically, unless the lovely Drew Barrymore were to  provide some kind of endowment fund or help raise funds for this cemetery, it will  become perpetually defunct and eventually go back to the state of Pennsylvania for guardianship. My guess  is that  if anything happens to Norman, this cemetery will die. Death of a Cemetery.

Mount Vernon Cemetery Philadelphia                 28-February-1856   —  2010?

May 12, 2010

Dziennik Polski [Detroit]

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Dziennik Polski 1924Dziennik Polski (“Polish Daily”). Many times this has been used as a title for a local  Polish language newspaper. This jester originally came from Detroit, MI where we too had such a newspaper. One day I was having a meal  with mój ojciec (my father). I had decided to go to the Library of the State of Michigan in Lansing the next day and I was going to do my first foray into reading an historical newspaper on microfilm. The newspaper I selected was Dziennik Polski; I am not even certain why I chose that newspaper, perhaps it was an article I read in the PGSM’s Eaglet newsletter. Now Michigan was blessed with many Polish language newspapers:

And those were just from Wayne County. I was going to try and find the birth announcements for my father and his siblings and perhaps I’d also find some death notices too.


At any rate, as we eat a meal together I told my father that I was going to the State Library and perhaps read some newspapers. Out of the blue and for the first time, my father tells the family how his mother, Walerya, used to read the Dziennik Polski newspaper! What serendipity he mentioned the exact newspaper I was going to research. So I was armed with birth dates and off I went secure in the knowledge that my new idea would be successful. For if my busia read the newspaper, then surely she must have put announcements into to it too. Now the more experienced genealogists are probably laughing at that naiveté. Well I did not find my father’s birth being announced. However, I did find my uncle Thaddeus’ birth being announced and the street address was one my father had recalled to me in an earlier conversation. Well you can imagine I was hooked on this charming little Polish language newspaper.

I was certain, that I’d find my great uncle Jan’s death announcement – but I did not have the date, just that it was after my grandfather’s death (06-January-1930). So I would just gut it out and search this newspaper for all of the 1930’s decade until I found him. By now you must realize that this  is a daunting task. Each microfilm contains about 2-3 months of newspapers and I found I could do one microfilm in a single day. By my math I would need 40 days at the Library or possibly on average maybe only 20 days. Of course, I no longer lived in Michigan, so that posed a problem. Of course, they also did not have every day on the microfilm either, so it just might not be on the microfilm. Finally, it was during the Great Depression, so death announcements would not be there unless you paid for them; That was certainly going to be a problem for my widowed grandmother with 7 kids to feed.

Well Stanczyk is still pursuing this enterprise, albeit more slowly due to the tough economic times. I enjoy the genealogy and also the history preserved in these newspapers. I also get some kind of surreal connection to my grandmother by putting myself in her place and reading these historical newspapers in her native tongue. I have painstakingly gathered some expertise on this newspaper and gathered info the PGSM Eaglet, my own research and the work of the PGSCTNE and have built an index now with over 20,000 names. Because this is a Polish language newspaper, it is largely a story of the Poles who settled in Detroit, MI (and of course Hamtramck). I have that index and my collected research available here on Rootsweb website:  Dziennik Polski .

Read your local newspaper or that of your grandmother’s. Read the Second World War, through your grandmother’s eyes. It is horrific to see Hitler and Stalin splashed across the pages of the 1920’s and 1930’s and to know that they eventually will collectively kill nearly 40 million people – back then, for busia  it was news, now for this jester it is history. History carries a much greater impact when read through the context of your ancestors and the newspapers of their lives.

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