Menasha – Winarski Family

In continuing my research on the Winarski/Lichnerewicz lines, since I’m having some trouble finding information on the parents and family of my maternal great-great grandfather, Frank Winarski before he emigrated to America, I thought I would focus on the family’s time in Menasha, Wisconsin. I know that at first he was a farmer, then for a time he was the proprietor of the Fox River House in Menasha. After that ended around 1916 or 1917, I don’t know what he was up to. However, as I learned through my research about the Fox River House, sometimes city directories can be very helpful to see what an ancestor was doing at a certain point in time. I took a look at the 1920-1921 Menasha City Directory, and found some interesting information.

Frank, Agnes, Bernard and Paul Winarski are all listed in the directory. Agnes, Bernard and Paul were all children of Frank, and at this point, Agnes is 18 and the sons were quite a bit older and still living at home with their parents. The family lived at 500 1st Street in Menasha. The house appears to no longer exist, here is about where it should be:

Winarski Agnes emp MP&CCo b 500 1st
Agnes is listed as working as an employee at the Menasha Printing & Carton Company. In the 1920 census, her occupation is reported as Cottrell machine in the printing industry, so that is what she was doing at the company.

David Galassie describes the company and includes a photograph from 1905 in his interesting blog about Menasha.

The company was first known as Menasha Carton Company (building on the left), later merged with the Menasha Printing Company (building on the right), and then they both became known as the Menasha Printing and Carton Company. Eventually, the company became known as the Menasha Products Company , and then Marathon Corporation after a merger with Green Bay and James River Corporation of Richmond, Virginia. Thank you David for the photo and details!

Winarski Bernard lab b 500 1st
Bernard (or Ben as he was called), was 30 years old at this point and his occupation is listed as laborer, however, there is no company listed. In the 1920 census, he is reported as a stockman in a paper company. I’m going to assume this is the same job.

Winarski Frank (Julia) mach b 500 1st
Frank is listed as a machinist in the directory, but it is not listed where he is working. In the 1920 census, he is reported as working as a millright in a paper mill. A millright is a high-precision craftsman or skilled tradesman who installs, dismantles, maintains, repairs, reassembles, and moves machinery in factories; related but distant crafts include machinists.

Winarski Paul lab J Strange P Co. b 500 1st
Paul is 27 years old at this point in time and is listed as working as a laborer at the John Strange Paper Company. In the 1920 census, he is listed as a pipe fitter in a paper mill, so we get more of an idea as to what he was doing at the company.

I googled the company and apparently it began as a wooden pail and butter tub factory. In 1888, the company began fabricating manila paper, strong wrapping paper and newsprint. It was one of the first companies to make Kraft wrapping paper, the paper was used in butcher shops throughout the entire mid-section of the United States.

Thanks for reading!

Lichnerewicz family

Recently, I received the death certificates for Frank and Julie (Lichnerewicz) Winarski, my maternal great-great grandparents (Margaret Winarski Schoudel’s parents). They have kind of been a brick wall in that I have not been able to determine who each of their parents were until I received these death certificates. I really wish the clerks years ago who hand wrote death certificates had been more careful and printed instead of using cursive. There is a lot of illegible fancy flourish in the cursive writing and this is a common complaint among genealogists and not just me. I complain about this because, although I now have the names of four more ancestors, at least two of them are slightly illegible so that there could be five different variations of their names.

For example, Julie’s mother’s name appears to be Jula Subenhaas. But is it Subenhaas? Or could it be Siebenhaas? Or possibly Subenhar? Subenhaus? A person could go crazy trying to figure it out.

Frank’s death certificate is not much better. His last name is spelled differently three times on the certificate. The last name is Winarski, but look how sloppy this is –

Although I will say it doesn’t help my research when people change their names or the names become more Americanized along the way. I have seen a birth document from Berlin for one of his kids and he signed his name as Franz Weinarski.

Here’s another example, Julie’s father’s name. It appears that it starts with an S on the death certificate, even though his last name is actually Lichnerewicz. But it’s not always the clerk’s fault, it could be the fault of Frank who reported the information, who may have not known the correct spelling of the maiden name of his wife, although he really should have (snark snark snark).

But at least I have four more names and leads to see where I can go from here to get even further on these lines.

I have done searches on Ancestry or Family Search for all of them, and have had the best luck with the Lichnerewicz side, although that name was a little problematic because of various spellings. I found both Ignatz (it’s actually not Ignat) Lichnerewicz, her father, and Anna Isbrandt (with a t), her mother, and that led to the birth records of Julie’s brothers and sister. During the process, I thought I had found all of the siblings but then decided to look closer at her brother, Adam’s marriage certificate. I found some names of relatives on the second page who would have been witnesses (and did Adam’s wife spell her married name incorrectly? She added an “e”. Oy!!)

The most interesting thing I discovered is this marriage was performed in what is now Poland, which at the time of the marriage was under German control and known as Prussia. It took place in Radmannsdorf, which is now known as Trzebieluch, a village in the north-central part of Poland, and Ignatz and Anna are listed as residing in Ruda, a village in the southern part of Poland!!

It is really, really very difficult to find confirming documentation from Poland. First, records are usually labeled as being from Prussia, Germany, or even Galacia because Poland didn’t exist from1772 until 1918s; second, name variation problems; and third, many records were destroyed during WWII. I’m figuring this is where my Eastern Europe DNA is from. On 23andme, it states that my Eastern European DNA is most likely from the years 1750-1840, so Julia’s family probably had lived there for awhile. That definitely helps me now as to where to focus further research.

After all of this, I continued on with my searches and was finally able to use birth records to piece together Ignatz and Anna’s little family. They had six children: Agnes, born 1857; my family’s Julianna, born 1859; Joseph, born 1865; Stanislaus, born 1868; Adam, born 1870, who died young; and Adam, born 1873. All of the children were all born in Neudorf (Konighlich, Kr. Briesen), West Prussia, Germany, which is now known as Nowawies, in northern Poland.

This was a really enjoyable research project and what I most enjoy — being able to solve a brick wall, finding out where people have been, where they went, discovering new parts to the history of my family.

Thanks for reading!!

German or Polish? Or both?

One of my cousins and I were texting just recently about whether or not Frank Winarski and his wife Julia were German or Polish. My cousin said they were Polish, but all of my records came up with Germany. I have always assumed Frank was of Polish descent because of his name. According to my research on names with the ending of -ski, these names are Slavic, and this is seen in varying degrees in different countries. -Sky, -ski, -skiy can be seen in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia. These names can also be seen in German names in the eastern part of Germany and can also be found in the western part due to migrations.

In all of the federal and Wisconsin census records, Frank and Julia both indicated they were from Germany and each of their parents were from Germany. However, the 1930 census lists Frank as being born in West Prussia and speaking Polish. So this lead me to research a little bit into Germany’s very confusing geographic changes.

Since I didn’t know much about Germany in the nineteenth century, the one thing I learned is that before 1871, there was technically no “Germany”, the name Germany didn’t exist until that year. So searching for birth records for both of these people in Germany was pointless because they were both born before that year. Their obituaries both listed them as being born in Berlin so researching Berlin records made sense but as there are no Berlin records available before 1871, I turned to searching Prussian records. Unfortunately, I still have not found anything for Frank with his birth date, in any different name variations. For Julia, her name in their son Bernard’s birth record from Berlin is spelled as Julianna Lichnarewitz, so I tried researching that spelling and other variations. (Note the spelling of the Winarski name on this document was spelled as Wienarski).

I found nothing whatsoever with her exact birth date. However, I found one record in West Prussia for a Julianna Licknerowick, the birth date being just thirteen days different than what I have in my records (and the obituary). I just received both of their death certificates and the parents in Julia’s match the names for this Julianna Licknerowick, born in West Prussia. I’m having trouble finding anything with her father’s name, but I did a search for her mother, Anna, whose maiden name is listed as Isbrandt and found this record for another child, Adam, born in the eastern part of Prussia, which is now known as Poland: 

A little more of Germany’s history—before it came into existence as Germany in 1871, it was known as the Kingdom of Prussia. According to Wikipedia, Prussia is considered the legal predecessor of the Unified German Reich (1871-1945) and is a direct ancestor of today’s Germany. Prussia included half of modern Poland and all but southern Germany, and at one point included West Prussia, East Prussia, Brandenburg (including Berlin), Saxony, Pomerania, the Rhineland, Westphalia, non-Austrian Silesia, Lusatia, Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, and Hesse-Nassau.

According to my DNA report, I have over 52% of French and German (including Netherlands) DNA. I also have 9.1% Eastern European DNA. Eastern European classification includes the countries Poland, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Ukraine. However, the testing could not determine the specific locations of my Eastern European DNA, and ethnicity estimation is really still in its infancy and subject to limitations.

Recently, I contacted a fourth cousin on my DNA list with the last name of Winarski. She didn’t have a lot of information but referred me to her aunt, who is related to Paul Winarski, one of Frank and Julia’s children. She said that oral history passed down in her family is that Frank was born in Posen, Poland. She, like me, has been unable to find his birth record anywhere. She also confirmed the northern part of today’s Poland during the 1800’s was Prussia and controlled by Germany and that many of her Polish relatives on the other side of her family also stated in census records they were from Germany.

My library has a fantastic book on German boundary changes (The Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany published by James M. Beidler). The map below is of Prussia between 1806-1905, and Posen is clearly a part of Prussia (see Bradenburg right next to it). The book said that as Prussia continued to grow, many people in the German states began thinking of themselves as members of one nation, rather than separate kingdoms and this is why we may see Germans from different parts of the region known as Prussian — so thinking about what my new friend said makes sense.

Currently, this takes an assumption — even if Frank happened to be perhaps born in the western part of Germany or Berlin, his family was very likely from the eastern Poland area. I will continue my search for the elusive Frank Winarski birth record!

Fox River House, Menasha, Wisconsin

Decades ago, someone told me that Frank and Julia Winarski used to own some kind of lodge in Menasha, Wisconsin. I asked my parents and they had never heard of this—I have absolutely no idea who told me this information.

I started researching this when I found the obituaries for Frank and Julia in The Menasha Record newspaper. Thanks to that subscription, by searching for the name of Frank Winarski, I found numerous articles between 1913 and 1916 that confirmed he was the proprietor of the Fox River House in Menasha. The building was originally built in 1875 and is currently vacant.

Source: Wisconsin Historial Society

Most of the articles were either about fights going on, or taking bids to build a moving picture house next door. In October 6, 1915 Frank appeared before the city council to find out why the council turned him down for a liquor license for the property.

A couple of months later, the Wausau Daily Herald reported on January 21, 1916 that the Fox River House would be closing as the owner (Frank) stated that without a liquor license it would not be profitable.

So then the trick was to verify that that Frank Winarski is my family’s Frank Winarski. I found a great blog about the city of Menasha by David Galassie, who is an expert in that area, and emailed him. He was kind enough to send me a bunch of links, one of which was for an Oshkosh city directory from 1914. Lo and behold, on page 87, Frank Winarski is listed as the proprietor with his wife Julia, and they are listed as living at 230 Main, which is the address of the property. A Paul Winarski is also listed as working as a mason and living at the property. That was enough confirmation for me as I know for certain my family’s Frank and Julia had a son named Paul.

This is when I really love the internet, there are so many resources available I don’t know if I ever could have solved this puzzle without it!