11 November 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: PVT William C. Urban

William C. Urban, son of Stephan James Urbaniak and Ida Agnes Michalak. Inducted at Camden, New Jersey, 19 December 1942. Died at Conca, Italy, 3 November 1943.

American Battle Monuments Commission (Nettuno, Italy), Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, digital image (SicilyRome@abmc.gov : emailed 10 April 2010), photograph of gravestone for William C. Urban. 

Final Statement Other Components, William C. Urban, Pvt., Hq. Co. 3rd Bn., 7th Inf.; Final Pay Voucher; National Personnel Records Center (St. Louis, MO).

11 January 2014

Identifying the Mother of Theresa Michalak


Martin Michalak had two known wives – Agnieszka (Agnes) Sobczak, with whom he immigrated to the United States from Poland, and Franziska (Frances) Drewicz, who emigrated from Poland to the United States following Agnieszka’s death.

A baptismal record and a 1900 U.S. Census entry state that Agnieszka is Theresa’s mother. The same relationship implied in a ship’s manifest. Two records state that Theresa Michalak is the daughter of Franziska, a 1933 newspaper article and a 1937 deed.

In spite of the direct evidence to the contrary, the evidence strongly suggests that Agnieszka Sobczak, not Franziska Drewicz, is the mother of Theresa Michalak.

Agnieszka Sobczak

Martin Michalack and wife Agnes immigrated to the United States from Poland in April 1889.[1] Along with them on the ship’s passenger list is a nine month old, Theresa Michalack. The name and age of the infant would have likely been provided by Martin or Agnes. No relationship is expressly provided; however, a parent-child relationship may be implied.

A baptismal record for the daughter of Martinus Michalak and Agnes Sobczak, Teresia, was recorded in Janowiec Parish, Poland in 1886.[2] This is direct evidence that supports the implied relationship in the ship’s passenger list.

The 1900 U.S. Census entry for Anges also lists a daughter, Theresa.[3] The family’s surname is Mehagi; however, the household matches the known family. In addition, the year of immigration is 1888. While this is not an exact match, the close timeframe and passage of time are likely explanations for the difference.

Franziska Drewicz

In 1937, following the death of her husband, Martin Michalak, Frances names Theresa Skalska as her daughter, among other children in a deed.[4] The information contained within the deed would have been provided by Frances – the source is original and the information on her children would be primary. Frances would be a reliable source of the identities of her own children.

A 1933 newspaper article details an automobile accident in which Frances is named as Theresa’s mother.[5] This corroborates the information contained in the 1937 deed. It is unknown who would have provided the information on the relationship to the newspaper article’s author. Possibilities include the women themselves, the police or their report, or another party involved. Therefore, the relationship may have been assumed rather than expressly stated by either of the women.

Franziska Drewicz immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1906.[6] In the ship’s passenger list, the person she is to join is Martin Michalak, her bridegroom. This is one year following the death of Agnieszka.[7]

On the 1910 U.S. Census, women are asked how many children were born to them and how many were still living. For Franziska, the response is two children born, but none living.[8] Since Theresa was born in 1886 and was still living as late as 1937, this is inconsistent with the other sources identifying Theresa as her daughter.


The parent-child relationship between Theresa and Agnieszka is established only seven days following the birth of Theresa in her baptismal record. Given that she subsequently immigrated to the United States with Agnieszka and is later located in the same household some years later provides additional support to this conclusion. Also, since Franziska did not immigrate to the United States and marry Martin until the year after Agnieszka’s death, when Theresa was approximately nineteen years old, it is unlikely that she was Theresa’s birth mother. Therefore, based on the evidence obtained to date, Agnieszka Sobczak is the mother of Theresa Michalak.

The newspaper article and deed would have been more accurate to refer to Theresa as Franziska’s stepdaughter. However, as Theresa’s mother died and Franziska likely immigrated to the United States and married Martin to care for the children he still had living at home, she may have simply referred to all the children as hers and not quantified the relationship any further.

[1] Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, MD, 1820-1891, microfilm publication M255 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1973), roll 45, Theresa Michalack entry, p. 5.
[2] Janowiec Parish, Roman Catholic Church, “Baptizatorum, 1883-1908” pp. 185, entry 78, baptism of Teresia Michalak, 17 October 1886; FHL microfilm 2,290,965, item 3.
[3] 1900 U. S. Census, Maryland, population schedule, Anne Arundel County, Brooklyn Town, enumeration district (ED) 10, sheet 19B, dwelling 224, family 411, Agnes Mehagi household; digital images, FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 16 December 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1240605.
[4] Baltimore, Maryland, Superior Court Land Records, MSA CE 168-5707 SLC 5699, 1937-1937: p. 512; digital image, Maryland State Archives (http://mdlandrec.net : accessed June 2012).
[5] “Six Baltimoreans Hurt in Delaware Auto Crash,” The Baltimore Sun, 7 August 1933, p. 14; digital images, ProQuest.com (http://www.proquest.com : accessed 16 November 2012), ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
[6] “Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 May 2012), entry for Franziska Drewicz, age 31, arrived Baltimore, Maryland, February 1906 aboard the Frankfurt; citing NARA microfilm publication RG36, roll 51.
[7] Baltimore City Health Department, death certificate B80448 (1905), Agnes Michalak; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.
[8] 1910 U. S. Census, Maryland, population schedule, Ward 1, Baltimore City, enumeration district (ED) 2, sheet 14A, dwelling 217, family 252, Martin Michalak household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 March 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 552.

10 September 2013

Baby Genealogist

The last few months have been very busy, but not necessarily with genealogy. It seems I underestimated how difficult it would be to keep up with my research while raising an infant. There have been times when she has woken up from a nap and tried to help me - mostly by grabbing books and crumpling up printouts of census pages. I like to think those are signs of a future genealogist. I am fairly certain I never had a census in my tiny little hands at five months of age...think of how far ahead of the curve she will be!

I finally made time to record her birth in the bible of her fourth great grandfather. She sat in my lap as I recorded her birth among the generations before her, including the entry my mother made for me.

I also started to complete the 52 Questions in 52 Weeks project from Steve Anderson in the FamilySearch Blog found here. My husband and I each answer the question every week and we email them to the grandparents to collect their responses. It has been very interesting for me to read the responses and I hope one day my daughter will appreciate being able to learn more about her parents and grandparents by reading our own personal histories.

25 March 2013

Mystery Monday: Mystery Solved!

The subject of my last Mystery Monday post was deciphering the handwriting in a church record book of the name of a village in Poland. I believe I have solved the mystery!

I took another look at the microfilm, specifically at the handwriting of the surrounding entries as well as entries with villages named that looked similar to my entry. I found several - below is an image of my original entry and one of the best I could find to compare it to.

From this, as well as the other entries I collected, I felt very confident in all letters except the first two. I went to the Kartenmeister website and did a search in the Polish city name field using a wildcard followed by the letters "oszanowo." The search returned four results. Three of the four results had the exact same Polish city name, Koszanowo, but three different German city names. The fourth result was Włoszanowo. This looks most like the letters in the entry, but I wanted more proof.

Reading more on the Kartenmeister website, Włoszanowo was located in the Catholic Parish of Janowitz, present-day Janowiec. It was also located in the German province of Posen.This corresponds to the Parish where I located the entry, as well as other information I have collected on this family.

Therefore, I believe that the village name where Martin Michalak and Agnes Sobczak were living when they married on 11 October 1885, was Włoszanowo. 


Janowiec Parish. Roman Catholic Church. Copulatorum, 1848-1910. FHL microfilm 2,290,965. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kartenmeister (http://www.kartenmeister.com/preview/databaseUwe.asp : 2013)

17 December 2012

Mystery Monday: What Does It Say?

It's mystery Monday and I need help to solve this one!

I located a marriage record for Martin Michalak and Agnes Sobcak from 1885. The entry is in the records of the Janowiec Roman Catholic Parish in Poland.

The word highlighted below should be the name of the town where they are from, but I am having difficulty deciphering it. Any ideas?

04 December 2012

Tech Tuesday: Dropbox Saved My Research

This summer, I downloaded Dropbox on my computer. Since then, I have use it to store my research files. I have read many blog posts advocating for Dropbox use amongst genealogists for a variety of reasons, including back-up, portability, and sharing of files.

Occasionally, I would open one of my files from another computer or my iPhone. It is a nice feature, but not one I required. That is, until my computer fell victim to a static shock a few weeks ago. Using my husband's computer for a few days, I was able to log in and download whatever files I needed. When I replaced my computer, the first thing I did was download Dropbox. I logged in and there were all of my files. I was up and running again with no data loss thanks to Dropbox!

18 October 2012

Thankful Thursday: Expanding the Tree

Over the last few months, I have not done much genealogy work at all, yet I have been working to expand my family tree. My husband and I are expecting our first child in March!

While I have been too exhausted and sick to work on anything, I have been thinking a lot about my genealogy...especially the women in my family. I realized how little I know about what their experiences with pregnancy and raising a family were like.

As I am slowly getting my energy back and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my little one, I think this is an area I'd like to spend time exploring. I would really like to know what this was like for my female relatives when they were in Poland and how it was different when they came to the U.S.