Antoni Umienski: The First Kornaszewski

This is the story of the first “Kornaszewski”. Or at least, the first one in my family. This is the story of how Antoni Umienski became Walenty Kornaszewski. My 3rd great grandfather, Walenty Kornaszewski, married my 3rd great grandmother, Marta Marcella Piechochowska, in the Catholic parish of Strzelno, in Poland, in 1843. But the same man was born 23 years earlier as Antoni Umienski. Antoni was born on May 27, 1820, the son of Franciszek Umienski and Franciszka Kozloska. The Umienski family was one of minor nobility, in Polish known as the “szlachta”. Family lore says that a distant cousin of Franciszek was Jan Nepomucen Umiński, a famous Polish general who took part in the November Uprising.

Being a member of the nobility and living in the Russian partition, young Antoni was sent to an Imperial Russian cadet corps, a military school designed to educate and train officers in the Russian military. One day when Antoni was about 18 years old (circa 1838), one of the instructors made a disparaging remark about Poland, and Antoni, who had a reputation for being hot-tempered, hit the officer in the face. The punishment for this transgression was severe; the Umienski family was on track to be banished to Siberia. Antoni, however, ran away and escaped to the Prussian partition of Poland, while his parents immigrated to Paris, and their estates were confiscated. As part of his plan to avoid detection and punishment by the Russians, Antoni changed his name to “Walenty Kornaszewski” in any official documents, such as his marriage to my 3rd-great-grandmother, Marta. He may have even stolen this identity from a dead man. But he then passed along the Kornaszewski surname to his descendants, who never changed the name back.

“Cholewa” Coat of Arms – Polish Coats of Arms apply to not only multiple people, but multiple families. In this case, Cholewa includes the Umienski szlachta.

After reaching the Prussian partition, Antoni…now Walenty, settled on an estate bought by his great aunt in the village of Chełmiczki, located between Inowroclaw and Wloclawek. The village was just across the border from the Russian Partition, and in the 1863 “January Uprising”, a rebellion by native Poles against the Russian government, Walenty offered aid to the rebels. Walenty, however, drank heavily, and his (mis)management of the estate led to its economic decline. Eventually he sold the estate, bought a house in Strzelno, and became a mason, which he enjoyed much more than managing a farm.

Polish soldiers of January Uprising 1863 by Walery Eljasz-Radzikowski (1841-1905) 

By 1843, Walenty Kornaszewski married Marta, and on December 7 of that year, they had their first child, Antoni Ambroży, baptized in the Parish of Strzelno. On the 26 of May, 1845, my great-great-grandfather, Władysław Filip Kornaczewski was born. Elżbieta on the 7 of November 1847, Waleria, 5 August 1850, and Wincenty Bonifacy, 5 July 1852. It seems only Władysław and Elżbieta lived to adulthood, and Marta died sometime between 1852 and 1854, when Walenty married his third wife, Francisca Pawłowska. With Francisca he had five more children: Julian (4 Jan 1855), Wacław (4 Aug 1856), Ignatius, Józefat, Anna, and Kazimiera (19 Feb 1860). Wacław’s daughter Wiktoria told the story of her grandfather Antoni/Walenty in her diary and through letters to family members, which is how it comes down to me. Francisca died in 1872, and Walenty in 1888. Walenty’s son, Władysław, immigrated to the United States with his family in the late 1800s, and settled in Chicago, Illinois, and eventually shortened the stolen name down even further to just “Korn”. My mother’s Korn relatives had a family legend that Władysław was the head groundskeeper at one of Kaiser Wilhelm’s estates (which, is not true, as far as I can tell). And some of his children’s baptism records in Chicago list his name as “von Kornaszewski”, possibly indicating German nobility. I now believe that both of these probably stem from his father’s Umienski origins.

Michael Hagaman: A Disreputable Quaker

Let’s try this again. Once again Amy Johnson Crow has issued her 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. Once again I am going to try and participate. Last year didn’t go so well for me…I only made it a few weeks. So this year I’ve made my goal a little more realistic for me. Instead of one ancestor a week, I’ll try for one every 2 weeks or so. My goal is 25 ancestors for the year. Even with those lowered expectations, I barely got this one done in the 2+ weeks I’ve been working on it. But we’ll hope for the best. Up first, one Mr. Michael Hagaman, 4th great grandfather.

The first record we have of Michael Hagaman is on the 20th of October, 1820 when he is named in the minutes of the Providence Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, or as they are more commonly known, Quakers. Michael was requesting to be admitted to the meeting as a new member. At the next monthly meeting, on November 21, Michael was accepted as a member. Quite soon after, in the 24th of April, 1821 Providence Monthly Meeting minutes, Michael and Sarah Cope have announced their intention to marry, and are soon married on the 24th of May, 1821. The marriage so soon after his admittance to the group makes me suspect that Michael may have only joined the Quakers for the sole purpose of wedding Sarah. More evidence of his perhaps not so honest intentions shows up later on as well. Months later, in November, 1821, Michael and Sarah left the Providence Monthly Meeting in Fayette County, Pennsylvania for Westland Monthly Meeting in Washington County, Pennsylvania where Sarah’s grandparents, John Co(o)pe and Mary Dickinson, were early members. Half a year later, they rejoin the Providence Monthly Meeting. I’m not quite sure the reasons for the move away and back again. The counties are adjacent to each other, however, so even though they may have switched meetings, it’s very possible they may not have actually moved their home.

Fast forward four years; more evidence that Michael may not have been all that committed to the Quaker ideology is found. He is censured and removed from the Society of Friends due to bad behaviour. His rebuke reads thusly:

Michael Hagaman has declined the attendance of our meetings, has been intoxicated with spiritous liquors and is charged with disreputable conduct towards his neighbors wife therefore after endeavouring to extend the necessary care according to discipline and he not appearing qualified to condemn the same we exclude him from a right of membership, with our society until by application he may be reinstated.

Interestingly, Sarah (who was born into the Society of Friends, and had a long lineage therein) continued on as a member, as did the children. Not only that, but Michael and Sarah stayed married. I wonder what the Friends thought of the woman who was married to an lapsed member, who apparently never rejoined the fold.

Luckily, the Quakers are great record keepers, and so the baptisms of all of Michael and Sarah’s children are recorded. Their first child, Ruth, was born in 1822. Maria in 1824, Isaac C. (likely named after his grandfather Isaac Cope) in 1826, and Anna in 1828. Michael “Hagerman” (a common alternate spelling) is listed in the 1830 Federal Census living in Washington Townhip, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. There is one male 20-29 (himself), one male under 5 (Isaac), one female 20-29 (wife Sarah), two females 5-9 (Ruth and Maria), and one female under 5 (Anna) listed in the household. A likely brother “James Hagerman” (20-29) is listed next door. Michael’s younger children John, Joseph, and Sarah were born between 1830 and 1840. In the 1840 Federal Census, Michael is found in neighboring Jefferson Township, also in Fayette County. There is one male 40-49, one male 10-14, and one 5-9, one female 40-49, two 15-19, one 10-14, and one under 5. Enumerated nearby are in-laws Samuel, Israel, Jesse, and Amos Cope.

By 1850 Michael and Sarah have had their last children, Martha (late 1840), and the youngest, my 3rd great grandmother Rachel (1843). They had also moved west to Marlboro, Stark County, Ohio. In the 1850 Census, Michael Hagaman, a shoemaker, is listed with Sarah (50), John (19, Shoemaker), Joseph (17, Shoemaker), Sarah (13), Martha (11), and “Rachael” (6).

By 1860, Michael has moved even further west, to Amboy Township, Hillsdale County, Michigan. He is 60 years old and his occupation is now “farmer”. His wife Sarah (60), and daughter Rachel (16) are still in his household, as is a “Michael Reeder” (13), most likely the son of neighbor John Reeder. Various relations can be found nearby. Isaac Hagaman and family, Ellis Cope, and John and Riverius Covey (the Coveys being relations of Rachel’s future husband, Frederick Sanderson).

According to the transcription of his headstone on his Find A Grave memorial page, Michael died April 21, 1868. Though he was kicked out of the Quakers, a religion that kept strict rules on marrying outside the faith, and had also apparently done *something* with his neighbors wife in the 1820s, Sarah stayed with Michael for the rest of his life.

Stanisław Wróbel: Polish Immigrant

I started this post on Fat Tuesday in honor of the  holiday (Pączkis anyone?) and the City of Chicago’s 177th Anniversary. I thought it would be nice to do a Polish Catholic Chicagoan for that week’s ancestor profile (I’m only a few weeks behind…). My great grandfather Stanisław Wróbel was born April 14, 1882 in the village of Lutków in what is now the province of Przemysl, on the Polish side of the Polish/Ukrainian border (then Galicia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire…it’s always been a bit tempestuous there). Wróbel is a common Polish surname that means “sparrow” or “little bird”. His parents were Franciszek Wróbel and Marie Fąfrowicz and he had had an older sister, Rosalia, a younger sister, Mary, and possibly an older brother named John. The Podhale (“Under the Mountain Meadows”), or Polish Highland region where Stanisław was born is in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, and is home to the Gorals, a Slavic ethnic group to which the family may have belonged.

Funeral in Galicia by Teodor Axentowicz From the Wikimedia Commons

At the end of the 19th century, Galicia was the poorest of the Austrian provinces. It was overpopulated, and land was hard to come by. The turn of the century saw almost 25% of the population emigrate from Galicia, including my great grandfather. According to the 1910 census, Stanisław immigrated to the United States in 1906 and in 1910 was living together with both his sisters and their husbands. On the 3rd of May, 1913, Stanisław married Katarzyna Szpik at Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Chicago. I’m guessing they got married in a hurry before Katarzyna started to show…six months later Stanislaw and Katarzyna baptized their first child, John Stanley, at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in the Chicago suburb of Summit. Two years later they gave birth to a daughter, Stefania, who died after only a few months. Another daughter, Harriet Simone, my grandmother, was supposed to have been born October 16, 1916, but I can’t find any record of her birth in either the official Cook County birth certificates, or a baptism record in any of the churches the Wróbel family attended.

Church Marriage Record
Church Marriage Record
wrobel, stanislaw & szpik, katherine - marriage certificate
Government Marriage License

In 1918, along with the other eligible men of the country, Stanisław registered for the draft. According to his draft card he worked in the stockyards, was of medium height, and had blue eyes and brown hair. Dealing with more missing records…I can’t find the family in the 1920 census. I, however, blame the census enumerator. According to the birth certificate of their last daughter, Helena, born in July of 1920, the family was living at 2946 Farell Street, in Chicago’s 4th Ward. I manually searched for the address, and it seems as if the census enumerator skipped the end of the block. A whole section of the street was just not enumerated. By the 1930 census he was going by Stanley Rubel (the Polish “ó” sounds like the “oo” in “pool”) and had moved to Lyons, in Summit. By a strange twist of fate he is listed next door to a John Rubel, 2 years older than him, also from Poland. I had always assumed this was a brother, but I have been contacted by a descendant of John. She explained that apparently it was just a coincidence. Her John had different parents, and apparently told the story of living next to a family of unrelated Rubels. Stanley was working as a janitor in a bank at the time. In 1940 Stanley’s last name shows up again as “Wrobel”, even though Harriet used the “Rubel” spelling when she got married to my grandfather in 1943. He is still listed as a bank janitor. Unfortunately, the 1940 census is the last record I can find for Stanisław. Although I have found death notices for both his brother-in-laws in the Chicago Polish newspaper, Dziennik Związkowy, I still don’t know where or when he died. A lot still remains to be figured out about his life and death.

Stanley Wrobel WWI Draft Card
Stanley Wrobel WWI Draft Card

Lora C. Jenks: Civil War Veteran

Lora C. Jenks was born around 1820 in Oswego County, New York. Very likely his father was Nathan Jenks, and his mother is still unknown to me. I have no birth or baptism record for Lora. In fact the first record I have for him is his purchase of a tract of land in Ionia County, Michigan on March 1, 1850. A few months later he is found in Ronald Township, Ionia County, in the 1850 census. By this time Lora has already married Almira Nettleton, and fathered four children. Sarah, the oldest (and my direct ancestor), was born in 1841, then came Nathan (1843), Margaret (1846), and Alvira (1849). 10 years later, Lora had moved across the county line, but only about 10 miles north, to Bushnell Township, Montcalm County, Michigan. He has had another son, George, and is still a modest farmer. But all this time the United States had been becoming more and more divided, and the Civil War was about to tear the country apart.

jenks, lora - muster roll
Lora C. Jenk’s muster roll

April 12, 1861: the first shots of the Civil Wars are fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

November  02, 1861: Lora C. Jenks enlists as a Musician in the Michigan 13th Infantry Regiment.

April 07, 1862: The 13th Michigan takes part in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee.

April 30, 1862: Lora is promoted to “Full Sergeant”.

May 1862: The 13th Michigan fights in the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi.

October 01, 1862: Lora is promoted to “Full Principal Musician”.

December 1862-January 1863: The 13th Michigan fights in the Battle of Stones River, Tennessee.

From the regimental history:

The regiment was engaged at Stone River the 30th and 31st of December, 1862, and in January, 1863, where it distinguished itself by its desperate valor and was most warmly commended for the heroic work that checked the onward rush of the confederate forces. The brigade of which the Thirteenth formed a part was commanded by Colonel Charles G. Harker, and was detached from its division and sent to the extreme right of the Union line, where the enemy had crushed that wing, when it formed a line in the immediate front of the confederates and a desperate conflict commenced. The Union forces were steadily pressed back by the enemy, but the Thirteenth held its position until nearly surrounded, when it fell back a short distance and reformed, continually showing a bold front to the enemy. Colonel Shoemaker ordered a bayonet charge and the Thirteenth sprang forward with a yell, driving the enemy from the field in confusion and capturing a large number of prisoners. The regiment lost nearly one third of its strength in killed and wounded in the action on this part of the field. It recaptured two pieces of artillery of the Sixth Ohio Battery, which had been abandoned when the Union forces were driven back by the furious onslaught of the enemy.


September 1863: The 13th Michigan fights in the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia.

It proceeded almost at once to Chickamauga, where it was engaged the 19th and 20th of September, coming in contact with the enemy near Lee and Gordon’s Mills, and before the close of the battle, lost 107 killed, wounded and missing out of a total of 217, the number of officers and men the regiment carried into action. Such a record tells how the Thirteenth sustained its part in this historic engagement far more eloquently than words can describe.

January 1864: The 13th Michigan Regiment “veteranized” and 173 men, including Lora, re-enlisted.

September 03, 1864: Lora’s son, Henry Jenks, enlists in the 13th Michigan.

November-December 1864: The 13th Michigan joins in the Savannah Campaign, better known as Sherman’s March to the Sea.

March, 1865: The Regiment fights in the Battle of Bentonville, Georgia.

April 9, 1865: Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, officially ending the Civil War.

April 26, 1865: The 13th Michigan is with William Tecumsah Sherman when he accepts Joseph E. Johnson’s surrender at Bennett Place in the largest surrender of the war.

July 25, 1865: The 13th Michigan Regiment, including Lora C. Jenks, musters out at Louisville, Kentucky.

Destroying rail line on Sherman’s March to the Sea

Both Lora, and his son Henry, had survived the war that claimed so many lives. And looking at the 1870 census we see that the last of Lora’s children, Lincoln, was born in 1861. A baby boy, named after the President leading the country during  a great civil war, spent his first years growing up without a father. The father, who named his son after the great leader, believed in the cause enough to not only leave his baby boy, but to re-enlist after an already dangerous three years. In 1870 Lora has gone back to Bushnell, Montcalm County, and has beaten the metaphorical sword back into a plowshare. He is, however, much more well off. His property, worth $200 in 1850 and $400 in 1860, is worth a stunning $8,000 in 1870. Lora has done well for himself after the war. Not only that, but it seems like Lora became a citizen of some standing in the local community. In 1866 and 1868 he is named as one of Bushnell Townships “County Supervisors”. Then, in 1872 he is appointed to be the postmaster of Vickeryville in Montcalm County, Michigan. But Lora’s rise was cut short, and on the 17th of June, 1875, Lora died of “consumption” (tuberculosis). Interestingly, on his death record the occupation is listed as “Merchant”, even though 5 years earlier he is still listed as a farmer in the census. And unfortunately the death record does not give the name of his parents, but as a Nathan Jenks is the father of a few other Jenks kicking around Montcalm County around the same time, he is likely Lora’s father as well. It seems that Lora survived a terribly dangerous 4 year ordeal, only to be brought down by disease when he was finally becoming well off.

jenks, lora - gravestone 01
Lora C. Jenks – Headstone

David Peters: Living in Victorian England

David Peters is my 3rd great grandfather through my paternal grandmother’s line. He is the first in my 52 Ancestors series to not be American. He was born, lived, and died in England. There is no birth certificate for David, but he was baptized on the 20th of August, 1829 in Steyning, Sussex, England, the son of Philip Peters and Eleanor Evans. The Anglican parish church in Steyning where he was baptized, St. Andrew (and St. Cuthman), is also where King Alfred the Great’s father, King Aethelwulf of Wessex, was originally buried. The next time we see David he is living with his parents in Upper Beeding in the 1841 English census.

Ten years later, in 1851, David is living in Lower Lancing as a lodger in the household of Thomas Hacker and is employed as a “Garden Laborer”. Less than a month later, on April 19, David would wed Thomas’ daughter Amy in the parish church of Lancing. David and Amy lived in Lancing for the rest of their long lives. They had nine children, five girls and four boys. Right in the middle of the pack was my great great grandfather David Herbert Peters, who emigrated to the United States around 1885. Why the younger David chose to emigrate to the United States, I don’t really know. I’m sure he could have been well off working in the family business. Perhaps he had a falling out with the family, or maybe he believed America offered better opportunities for him or his children, or maybe he was just the adventuresome sort.

David Peters and Amy Hacker’s Wedding Record

In the 1861 census the elder David is still listed as an agricultural laborer, but by the time of the 1871 census, he had become a coal merchant. David ran a successful coal business for the rest of his life and passed it down to his son-in-law. One of David’s daughter, Emma, married a man named George Lisher. David’s son Thomas, along with George Lisher took over the family business, and even expanded into dairy and eggs as well. Eventually, after Thomas’ death, the Lisher family took over the entire business. George’s granddaughter, Evelyn Farrant, remembered the coal and dairy business in a local history piece that ran in the West Sussex Gazette.

1871 Census showing David as a Coal Merchant living at the Railway Hotel.

 At first glance it may seem like David did not live a very exciting life. We see him baptized, grow up in the censuses, get married, have children of his own, start his own business, and grow old. But I’m sure David’s life was full of joy and sorrow, expectations and disappointments. Most of his life was lived during the reign of Queen Victoria. Perhaps he wondered if Great Britain would take aside in the American Civil War. What did he think when he heard the news of the Boer Wars or the Boxer Rebellion? The advent of British Rail system probably allowed him to become a successful merchant in coal. In fact, the first time he listed in the census as a coal merchant, he is living in the railway hotel, probably to be close to his client base. David died when he was 79 yeas old, on the 29th of July 1909, essentially of old age. His wife Amy would follow two years later.  His life was long and full, and he was a part of history.

Queen Victoria (r. 1837-1901) – David’s Queen for the majority of his life.

Władysław Filip von Kornaszewski: Nobleman?


Władysław Filip von Kornaszewski was born in what was, at the time, Strelno, Bromberg, Posen, Prussia (now Strzelno in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian province of Poland) around the year 1845. Outside of his birthplace, I know nothing about his early years. I have yet to find a baptism record for him in the old country, or indications of who his parents might be. He must have moved north to the area around Putzig (now Puck) where he met his wife Antonia Grabowski. She was baptized in Putzig, and their first children Edward/Edmund and Leokadia were baptized there as well. Family lore says that Władysław was a “veltsman” for Kaiser Wilhelm in one of his palaces, and that was how he met Antonia, who was a maid in the same palace. I have yet to find any confirmation of this story, and there certainly don’t seem to be any Prussian/German royal palaces around Putzig. At any rate, Władysław  and Antonia were married sometime before 1874 when their first child (either Edmund or Leokadia, or perhaps both, the records are unclear) was born. Their first four children were born in Prussia between 1874 and 1882.

On September 13, 1883 a 31 year old “Wladislaw Kornazewski” arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, having departed from Bremen, Germany on the “General Werder”. A year and half later, April 20, 1885, “Wl. Kornoszchefsky”, 40 years old and traveling with Antonia (35), Edmund (7), Leokadia (6), Stanislaus (3), and Gregor (2), arrive in New York aboard the “Martha” departing from Gothenburg and Stettin. The second record is obviously the right Władysław and his family. I’m not sure whether the first record is an entirely different person (based on the age) or perhaps a reconnaissance trip and he later came back to Prussia for the rest of the family

The SS General Werder. Possibly the first ship Władysław arrived on.
Władysław and family listed in passenger registry of the “Martha”, 1885.


The family made their way to Chicago, Illinois and only a few months later, July 5, 1885, Władysław and Antonia’s first American-born child, Helene, was baptized in St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. Sadly, Helene died in September, barely a few months old. Władysław  happened to also be listed in the 1885 city directory for Lakeview (at the time just outside the city limits of Chicago) and was living at 456 Southport Avenue. Over the next 6 years, 4 more children were born; Anselm Andrew in 1886, Alphons in 1888, Elizabeth in 1889 (who also died after only a few months), and the youngest, my great grandfather Alois in 1891. All of the children were baptized at St. Alphonsus, a German parish established almost at the same time Władysław arrived in Chicago. Interestingly, in the baptism records for Helene, Anselm, and Alphons (the first three childen born in America), Władysław has the German “von” added before his last name. Although not always the case, the “von” can sometimes be an indicator of German nobility. Only in these few church records, however, is the “von” present. The earlier baptisms in Prussia do not have the “von”, although those records are transcriptions, so it may be there in the originals. It also seems as if Władysław  dropped the preposition later during his time in America as the later of his children’s baptisms and his death records do not show the “von” as part of his name. This “von”, however, is the only indication that there might be a kernel of truth to the story of Władysław  working for the Kaiser.

kornaszewski, anselm - baptism record (highlighted)
Anselm’s Baptism Record with Władysław’s full name including the “von”
The interior of the second St. Alphonsus church, completed 1897, just two years before Władysław died.

On September 17, 1892, Władysław was granted his final papers and became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. A month later he registered to vote in the City of Chicago. The 27th of November, 1899, while the Chicago Drainage Canalwas in the final stages of construction, Władysław died of Typhoid Fever. During the last half of the 19th century Chicago had one of the highest death rates from typhoid fever in the world, until reversal of the Chicago River in 1892 (during the process of constructing the canal), and the chlorination of the city’s water supply beginning in 1912.

A photograph of the Kornaszewski family taken soon after Władysław’s death. His painted portrait is included and is the only picture I have of him.