My great grandfather, Paul Sanetra, told me he was an orphan and spent most of his life looking for his family. Then he asked me if I would help him find his family. He started telling me stories he remembered. Paul was born in Evanston, Illinois (near Chicago) about a year after his parents immigrated from Żywiec-Zabłocie, Poland. Paul had 2 sisters he’d never met, Bronisława and Jadwiga. He last saw his brothers and father on the orphanage steps in October 1918 after his mother died from the flu epidemic. Paul wrote many letters (for at least 60 years) looking for his family! He paid translators to write letters to Poland. Paul never did find his brother Stanisław, last seen in October 1918 or his sister Bronisława who disappeared between Ellis Island and the train station in Chicago where the family went to meet her February 1911. These are our two big 100 year old unsolved mysteries. This image is part of Jadwiga Sanetra’s letter to her brother Paul. She was happy they found each other and asked if he had found Staniław or Bronisłwa yet. This site will share my findings, and things I’m learning.
I tried to find Alfreda’s brother, Bronisław Mazurkiewicz for 2 years. He was challenging to find having a name that is often misspelled in English, having moved to several cities, and having several occupation changes. Bronisław was baptized in 1887, in Kolbuszowa, Poland. He immigrated to Stamford Connecticut in 1907, had various labor jobs, then changed his name to Benjamin Miller giving a birth year of 1889 on U.S. records – a 2 year difference from his baptismal record. He also lived a short time in New York City working as a butler. His wife was listed as both Bronisława and Gertrude. Here is how I found Bronisław and what I learned about him.
Alfreda, sister of Bronisław Mazurkiewicz
Wanting to learn more about Alfreda Mazurkiewicz’s family, I ordered and received church records for Alfreda’s parents and siblings. Their records were at All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Kolbuszowa, Poland. There was a notation that Alfreda’s brother, Aleksander Stansław Mazurkiewicz, immigrated to America. I started looking for Alfreda’s brother in ship manifest records. I have not yet found Aleksander, but I found her brother Bronisław immigrating to the U.S.
Bronisław was on the SS President Grant, arriving in New York City on 20 Dec 1907. His father, Antoni Mazurkiewicz had previously died, so as the manifest notes, he was leaving his mother Mary in Kolbuszowa. This was as far as I could trace Bronisław for 2 years. This week I discovered Bronisław’s naturalization papers to become a United States citizen.
This ship’s manifest confirmation (above) in the naturalization record, matches the immigration record I had found. This is the first naturalization record where I found depositions with the record. This deposotion states that Michał Moranski was his brother in law, and that Antoni Horodyski’s wife was the cousin of Bronisław Mazurkiewicz. The ship manifest said Bronisław was going to his brother in law Jan Losinomi (?). I started trying to learn more about these new family names, and look for connections. I’m still not sure about “brothers in law”. The records I ordered for Alfreda’s family said this:
Alfreda only married Adam Sanetra. I don’t know who either her brother, Aleksander Mazurkiewicz, or her sister, Jósefa Maria Mazurkiewicz, married. Józefa was born in 1892. Maybe they didn’t literally mean brother in law? I looked through immigration records on FamilySearch, Ancestry.com and Fold3. I found Bronisław’s declaration record in Connecticut on Ancesty.com. Many naturalization (citizenship) records I see are declaration, oath, petition, and proof of the ship name and arrival date. On FamilySearch the book containing the citizenship records was scanned, and I saw these records for Bronisław fastened in the book. I also checked Fold3 because they have a lot of New York citizenship papers. Bronisław filed the declaration in Connecticut, but then moved to NYC to work as a butler, for only a year or two; enough time to have his citizenship granted in New York. On Fold3 there were an additional 3 pages for Bronisław, which were the depositions of Michał Moranski and Antoni Horodyski, saying they were relatives, as well as that they were already naturalized citizens of the United States. The immigration book has a note inside that states there were two depositions given and by who:
This notice above was in the court book as part of the naturalization record. But, Fold3 had the depositions which this paper references, which appear to be a separate record collection. It was amazing to see the actual depositions that told how they were related and that they saw each other almost daily. They appear to me to be close family and friends. Here are a few highlights with comments. (Cropped so you can read the images better):
Further searching for Michał still does not tell me how he or Michał’s wife could be related to Bronisław or Bronisław’s wife. Michał’s wife Emelia was born in Kolbuszowa. Her children’s vital records list Emelia’s maiden name as Serafia. Emelia also could not be a sibling of Bronisław because his father had already died by the time Emelia was born and there is no record of his mother remarrying. Michał’s family and Bronisław’s family lived on the same street at the same time. Moranski at 64 Selleck, Mazurkiewicz at 68 Selleck St in Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut.
I do think I figured out the relationship Antoni mentioned. I discovered that Anna’s maiden name was Olszowy and her father was Piotr Olszowy. I can confirm with records Bronisław’s parents and grandparents. And I have proof for the links to Anna. I don’t yet have a record showing Piotr Olszowy is the son of Jan Olszowy. Here is a chart I made to show what I think the cousin relationship is. The PDF is a downloadable chart of this image, formatted to 11×17 inch paper.
I created a time line to help me find the marriage record. Bronisław is single on this draft registration card in 1917, and used the name Benny. He filed his declaration application form in 1918, stating that he was single. His first child ,Josephine, was born in 1922 in Stamford, CT. This narrowed the time period of marriage to between 1918 -1921. So I did a search for any Benjamin married in Fairfield County between 1918-1921 and found the marriage. Bronisław Mazurkiewicz and Bronisława Krempa were married 4 May 1921 in Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut. Bronisława Mazurkiewicz was indexed as Marurkiewicz. The “z” being typed (or transcribed) mistakenly as “r” prevented me from finding the records in various searches I tried.
Bronisław Mazurkiewicz informally changed his name to Benjamin Mazurkiewicz. This record above shows when his name was legally changed to Benjamin Miller, on 21 Dec 1925. His wife and children’s names also changed from Mazurkiewicz to Miller, and they too became US citizens from this same record. Most of the time, Bronisław was listed as a laborer. But at the time of naturalization in 1925 he was a butler at a house in New York City. By 1930, his wife was listed on the Census as Gertrude and widowed. I looked for records to try to narrow down the time period that Benjamin died. On the 1930 Stamford city directory Gertrude was listed as the widow of Benjamin Miller. I saw Benjamin was listed as living in the 1929 city directory in Stamford. I searched the Stamford Advocate newspaper on FamilySearch and found that Benjamin died 30 Jan 1930. Gertrude died 1 Feb 1959. Benjamin and his wife Gertrude are buried at St. John’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Darien, Stamford, CT.
I’ve seen Gertrude written as both her first name or the middle name on various records. I’m thinking her first name was Bronisława, since that was written on her marriage and naturalization papers. But because her name and her husband’s name were so close in spelling, I think she went by her middle name of Gertrude after marriage. I’m not sure why Alfreda didn’t live near her brother Bronisław. Alfreda immigrated in 1914 with Anna Baranowski and her son Kazimierz Bazarnik. The ship manifest states that they were leaving Krakóv, Poland, and that Anton Bazarnik was the relative they left from (son of Anna, brother of Kazimierz). Alfreda was listed as a maid on the manifest, grouped with Anna and Kazimerz. Anna was not listed as a maid. I theorize that Alfreda left Kolbuszowa,after her father died and moved to Kraków to work for Anna. Then Alfreda immigrated with the family she worked for to Chicago. In Dec 1920 Alfreda married Adam Sanetra. In 1922 Adam, Alfreda, and Adam’s 2 sons Józef and Bronisław Sanetra went back to Poland where Adam had been raised in Żywiec. I noticed both Alfreda and her brother Bronsław gave 2 years different age in America than on Polish records. I’m hopeful with these new clues to family in the depositions that I can figure out more family connections. Here’s a timeline of some changes with Alfreda and her brother Bronisław.
Do you have any pictures of Żywiec you’d be willing to share for this website? I have never been to Poland and would like to know what the area looks like that my ancestors are from. I do not make any profit from this website. I pay to keep advertisements off the website. If you are interested in helping me share family stories or if you have any pictures (old or current) you are willing to share, please let me know: email@example.com. These pictures are all the pictures I have of Żywiec and Zabłocie.
Here are two pictures to show what it looked like where Paul lived in the early 1940s. Richard Sanetra, son of Paul wrote these notes on the pictures.
Paul Sanetra lived in Illinois until he was in his 30s. He was raised in Chicago, then moved about 40 miles west to St. Charles, Illinois where his 2 children were born. Paul moved his family to Sunnyslope, Arizona (near Phoenix) in the early 1940s with the hope of improving his health. Jesse Buckner who was Paul’s brother in law also moved there. Jesse married Celesta Stowe, the sister of Catherine Stowe Sanetra. George Stowe was Paul’s father in law who lived there during the winter. I’m told Jesse was amazing with horses, what today people would call “a horse whisperer.”