The First American Generation

These were Bonnie Billick’s paternal uncles and aunt.

On this page…
Bruno § Anthony § Stanislaw § Frank § Joseph § Benni § Ben § Zygmunt § Martha § Loose Ends § Chicago Connections

While the first two Jablonski sons were born in Europe, they were just ages 5 and 2 when they arrived in America, so they grew up completely immersed in the immigrant experience. All the children probably spent their formative years in rural Wisconsin and were most likely bilingual. In the 1920 Census, everyone in the family lists their native tongue as German. The Jablonski offspring seem to have been a peripatetic bunch eventually ending up in Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Texas and California.

Other than one mention of his brother Frank (see below), I do not recall Grampa Jackson ever talking about his siblings.

Bruno_Jablonski_ca_1936
Bruno
Jablonski photo and signature, 1942

Bronislaw “Bruno” Jablonski

The eldest Jablonski son, Bronislaw Jablonski (1887-1971), was born in Torun, Poland, September 10, 1888. By the time we find the family’s first documented residence in Little Suamico, he was around 8 years old. In the 1900 U.S. Census, Bronislaw is recorded as a twelve-year-old “farm laborer” who can neither read nor write. He does not show up in the 1910 Census when he would have been twenty-two years old. He reappears in the 1920 U.S. Census, at age 33, living with his father and two teenage brothers and sister, Martha, in Taft, Wisconsin. Records indicate he probably did not attend school and was employed as a laborer “in woods,” likely

Bruno married Mary Wysocki (1888-1972) on March 19, 1936. She was a native of Bialy Dunajec, Poland, and arrived in America in April of 1907. According to an April 1942 draft registration card[1], he and Mary lived on Avers Avenue, just a few miles west of downtown Chicago. He was employed at the famous Drake Hotel between Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue, perhaps as a maintenance worker. Bruno was a stocky man, 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 175 pounds. He passed away in May of 1971 in Chicago, at the age of 83.[2]

Anton “Anthony M” Jablonski

Anton Jablonski (1890-1961) was born in Europe on January 19, 1890. Thus, upon his parents’ arrival in the New World, he was just a bit more than two years old. In the 1900 Census, at age 10, he is listed as a “farm laborer.” Then we lose track of Anton for two decades. He does not appear in U.S. Census records for 1910. He would have been 20 years old and perhaps he had already set out on his own.

The 1930 Census yields some confusion regarding Anton’s status. It indicates his age is 38 but both the 1900 Census and a 1942 draft registration card confirm 1890 as a birth year. The document also notes Anton did not attend school, immigrated in 1896 and worked as a farmer. The immigration date is surely incorrect, but one can imagine Anton not knowing or recalling that detail exactly.

Anthony wed seventeen-year-old Frances Pavlak (1906-1980) sometime around 1923. Frances was the daughter of neighbors in Taft, Lawrence and Aplonia (sic) Pavlak.

A September 1934 article in the Marshfield News-Herald reports Anton transferring plots of land to brother Zygmunt and to his mother-in-law, Apolonia Pavlak. As of the 1940 U.S. Census, Anthony was living in Taft, Wisconsin with wife and their four children. He was working on his farm.

Anthony and Frances’ first daughter, Bonita Mae Jablonski (1924-2010), was born in July of 1924. The couple had three more children: Virginia Frances (1927-1993), Joyce (1933- ) and Henry (1934-2015).[3]

I feel compelled to add that Henry Jablonski, in a 1953 high school yearbook photo, bears a strong resemblance to his uncle, John Jackson, Bonnie’s father.

Henry Jablonski, 1953
Jablonsky_Anthony_draft_form_1942
Anthony’s draft registration form, 1942

On his April 1942 draft registration form he is described as five-foot, nine inches tall, weighing 155 pounds; with an address of RR2 in Thorp.

There’s then a twenty-year lacuna in Anthony’s biography. At some point, he moved to Chicago. In December 15, 1961, Anthony fractured his skull when he fell from a ladder while working in his yard, in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn. He died two days later, on December 17, at age 71. He was buried at the Forest Home Cemetery, in Forest Park, Illinois. The Thorp Courier newspaper reported that he was survived by “wife Frances of Berwyn, one son Henry of Melrose Park, three daughters, Bonita Keating of Chicago, Virginia Sniegowski of Thorp and Joyce Quirk of Norridge, Ill., ten grandchildren and five brothers, Bruno, Stanley, John, Bennie and Zyqmunt.”[4] Wife, Frances, lived another nineteen years, passing away on March 18, 1980.

Stanislaw “Stanley” Jablonski / Stanisław Jabłoński

Stanislaw Jablonski (1892-1974) was born on November 16, 1892 in Buffalo, New York, just seven months after the couple arrived in America. The Jablonskis had moved on to Wisconsin by 1895 yet the Stanley does not appear with the family in Wisconsin in 1910 Census.[5]

On his January 1918 WWI draft registration form, he is listed as a laborer at the Bucyrus Company in Milwaukee, a major manufacturer of mining equipment.[6] His home address at 1310 Monroe Street was only about one-half miles from the Bucyrus plant that straddled Rawson Avenue. Stanley was a private in the 343rd Infantry and departed New York for England in September of 1918. As a member of the 343rd Infantry he fought in France in the summer and fall of 1918 and then in Germany in November and December of that year and is reported to have suffered respiratory problems due to the effects of gas warfare. His enlistment ended in February of 1919.

California Puzzle

Stanley’s post-war endeavors are a mystery. There is a 1940 Census record for Stanley Jablonski, a ranch hand in Napa, California. This Stanley was 48 years old, born in New York. Stanley Jablonski also appears on the WWII draft roles, having registered in Napa, California, in April of 1942. The birthplace and date match the Buffalo-born Stanley. Like many of the Wisconsin Jablonski males, he was a slight person: five-eight, one-hundred-fifty pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Social Security Administration records (card issued in California, in 1952, SSN 570-46-3410) indicate Stanley died May 28, 1974 in Sacramento, California, at age 81,[7] and is buried in the Sacramento County Veterans Memorial Cemetery. There is some indication that brother Frank might have migrated to California (see below).

Frank Jablonski (1895-1979?)

Frank Jablonski (1895-1979) was the first of the children to be born in Wisconsin, taking his first breaths of Midwest air in June of 1895. He is also the most enigmatic of Bonnie Jackson’s paternal uncles. He appears in the family’s 1900 and 1910 Census records. But the latter item is the last mention of Frank in any document.

There is a WWI Draft registration form for a Frank Jablonsky [sic] born in Sobesk [sic], WI on 12 April 1894.

☛ Frank is the only one of Grampa Jackson’s brothers I remember his mentioning. I recall he and Frank took a road trip some time in the mid 1950’s. Or maybe it was a road trip to visit Frank (see next paragraph). Afterward, I recall him talking about a visit to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

Perhaps, like his younger brother, Frank changed his surname to “Jackson.” Veterans Affairs lists a Frank Jackson, born June 17, 1895. His Social Security Number, 465-16-6761, indicates someone who registered in Texas between 1936-1950.[8] Could it be that Frank was living there and that’s the reason for John Jablonski’s Western trip that included Carlsbad, NM? Poles had been immigrating to Texas since the 1850’s and by the end of the century there were substantial Polish populations in Houston and San Antonio as well as in smaller communities like New Waverly and Bremond. Today, there are still many Jablonski families resident in Texas. Another hint comes from a few sentences in the Fremont News Messenger of May 29, 1953, describing John Jackson returning “after being gone several weeks on a trip to California” (accompanied by Edward Obermyer).

This Frank Jablonski died April 5, 1979.

Mystery Years

The years after 1920 represent a curious lacuna in the family history. John (age 22) appears in the Toledo, Ohio city directory in 1923. But where were the brothers: Anton (age 30), Stanley (age 27), Frank (23), Joseph (20) and Benedict (16) during this period? The 1920 Census records the whereabouts of only four of the ten children. The boys were young adults, perhaps not established enough to have their own residence (and thus appear as “Head of Household” in the Census), but surely, they were working and living somewhere.

Joseph Jablonski

There is scant documentary evidence for the life of Joseph Jablonski (1900-1960?), the sixth of the Jablonski children. He was born April 12, 1900, in Oconto, WI and attended grade school. We know he registered for the World War I draft in September of 1918 and was still living in Thorpe. There do not appear to be any records reflecting military service. Joseph appears in the 1900 and 1910 Censuses but those are the last documents about him to be found.[9]

Benjamin “Benni” Jablonski (Jackson)

Benjamin Jablonski (1902?1983?) remains an enigmatic figure. The only documentary evidence of his existence is the 1910 Census that indicates he was born in Wisconsin about 1902. Mary Kathleen Quirk, a grand-niece of this Jablonski generation, reports that “Beni (Benjamin) was a merchant marine, he also went by the last name Jackson while in the service.” After the war, he returned to Wisconsin near the Jablonski farm. According to Mary Katheen’s grandmother (Joyce Jablonki Quirk), “he lived in a cabin and got most of his food from hunting, a fun tidbit his cabin was on the Leinenkugel beer route and the truck would bring him his monthly supply of beer.”[10]

Benedick “Ben” Jablonski

Ignatz Benedyk (“Ben”) Jablonski (1904-1952) was born in Oconto, Wisconsin, 11 March 1904. As a six-year-old, Benedict appears in the family’s 1910 Census record and then again, aged 17, in the 1920 Census. He had a grade-school education through the 5th grade.

Around 1928 he married eighteen-year-old Sophie (surname unknown), a native of New Jersey of Polish descent.

By sometime around 1930, he had moved to worked in Chicago and was already married.[11] Two brothers, Benni and Zygmund, were living with the couple in 133 S. California Avenue. The 1930 Census shows neighbors on California Avenue with the surname “Szrafinski” and Szarnfinski.”

By 1930, Ben, then 26 years old, and family had moved to Chicago, and were living with his brothers Bennie (age 28) and Zygmunt (age 25) and an 18-year-old border, Sophie Rutkowski. The Census for that year shows the couple residing at 133 S. California Avenue. Their neighbors on the same street include families with the surname “Szrafinski” and Szarnfinski.” These are tantalizing similar to Szaflarski and one wonders if these are relatives of Josephine, Benedict’s mother.

This move was, of course, soon after the Stock Market Crash of October 1929. Benedict is reported to be employed as a packer in a “whole drug” (maybe “wholesale”) company, “Bennie” as unemployed, and Zygmunt as an independent plumber. The two Sophies were employed in a box factory.[12] All the residents have a “No” in the “Attended school?” column.

The S. California Street address is a two-story walk-up in a dense neighborhood about 4 miles from downtown Chicago and just about 4 miles south of brother Bruno’s N. Avers Ave., address (as reported in 1942 Draft Registration form).

The couple had a daughter, Bernice, born in September of 1931, in Chicago; and a son, Jerome, born around 1936 in Wisconsin.

By the time of the 1940 Census, the Ben Jablonski family had relocated to rural Wisconsin, having set themselves up as farmers in Thornapple, Wisconsin. Given these dates, the move to Wisconsin must have occurred between 1931 and 1936, the very heart of the Great Depression years. Chicago was one of the cities hardest hit by the Depression and by 1933 unemployment had reached 50%. This might well have been the impetus for the move to remote, but familiar to Benedict, Wisconsin farmland. Thornapple was an agricultural community in rural north central Wisconsin about 50 miles north of Taft and 50 miles due north of Eau Claire. Virtually all the Census families were farmers.

Ben Jablonski died 2 July 1952, at age 53. Sophie survived him by more than fifty years, passing away in 1998, at age 89. Both Ben and Sophie are buried at the Riverside Cemetery on the banks of the Flambeau River, in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, ten miles or so from Thornapple.

Zygmunt “Ziggy” Jablonski

Zygmunt Jablonski (1905-1981) was born April 25, 1905, in Wisconsin; he was educated through the 4th grade.   Around1930 he was living with his brother Benedict in Chicago, working as plumber.

By 1940, Zygmunt was on his own, living in the rear unit of a red brick apartment building at 1248 N Campbell Ave., in an ethnic neighborhood (still called “Ukrainian Village,” today), nearly equidistant between the residences of brothers Bruno and Benedict (although it is not certain that they lived in these locales in overlapping years). He was then married to Bernice (“Vernie”), a 35-year-old Illinois native. Zygmunt was employed in a laundry and Bernice worked in a cap factory.

Zygmunt died in December 29, 1981 in Chicago.[13]

Martha Jablonski

Marta (“Martha”) Jablonski (1907-1927) was born in Thorpe, Wisconsin, on October 19, 1907, where she attended grade school. According to her death certificate she must have moved to Chicago sometime in 1925. In 1927, at age 19, she married Henry Harold Pavlak, the son of Taft neighbors who lived just two farm properties from the Jablonskis. They last resided at 2132 South Fairfield Avenue, again not far from the locales of her brothers’ homes.

Sadly, Martha, seven months pregnant, died of eclampsia on March 5, 1927.[14]

Intriguing Loose Ends

There was a Jablonski family living in Stevens Point, WI contemporaneous with the Ignatz Jablonski brood. Jozef Jablonski and Jozefina Piechowski had at least one child, Benedict G “Ben” Jablonski who subsequently had four children. All three generations appear to have spent their entire lives in the Stevens Point area. A perusal of the Wisconsin Historical Society pre-1907 vital records database shows some forty birth and marriage records for the Jablonski surname, most in Milwaukee and Portage counties. It’s not known if they are relatives of the Ignatz Jablonski family.[15]

Chicago Connections

Several of the Jablonski sons were residents of Chicago, John first, before 1920 or so; followed by Martha in 1925. Then sometime around 1935 to 1945, Benny J., Benedict, Zygmunt, and Bruno also appear in Chicago documents. It’s not certain their residency overlapped but it seems likely they did to some extent. The addresses where they lived are all within less than a ten-mile radius.

approx. years residence
John 1918 Washington Blvd.
Martha 1925 Fairfield Ave.
Ben 1929-39 S. California Ave.
Benny J. 1930 S. California Ave.
Zygmunt 1930-81 N. Campbell Ave.
Bruno 1940- ? Avers Ave.

Although there is no documentation of Anton ever living in Chicago, his wife Frances was the daughter of the Pavlak family, natives of Cook County, Illinois.

Jablonski_Chicago_addresses_map

 


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Notes

[1] The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration), for The State of Illinois; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2097
[2] Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011.
[3] It’s Joyce Jablonski’s (1933- ) marriage to John Patrick Quirk (1929-2005) that produces the DNA connection that shows up in David Billick’s 23andMe profile, where Mary Kate Quirk is noted as a 2nd or 3rd cousin.
[4] Thorp Courier (WI), 28 December 1961.
[5] There are possible confusions here. There is another Stan (Stanislaus) V. Jablonski living in Buffalo, NY, at this same time. He was the son of Lawrence and Valeria Jablonski, born 9 May 1889; died June 1954. Several Ancestry trees assume this Stanley is the same as the son of Ignatz. I believe these are different people based on birth dates, Draft registration forms and listed occupations. The born-in-1889 Stanley was residing at 229 Barnard Street in the 1910 Census; another Stanley, age 19, was living as a boarder at 863 Broadway Street. Was this the Ignatz son or still a third Stanley Jablonski?
[6] See “Bucyrus International Inc.,” in Encyclopedia of Milwaukee (https://emke.uwm.edu/entry/bucyrus-international-inc/). The company became famous for supplying many of the steam shovels used in building the Panama Canal.
[7] Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
[8] There are numerous online resources for deciphering Social Security numbers. One easy one to use is “Decoding Social Security Numbers in One Step,” at https://stevemorse.org/ssn/ssn.html.
[9] There are several military service records for a Joe (or Joseph) Jablonski, the same age as our Joseph. But they are for a person born March 19, 1900 and are probably not about the Jackson ancestor.
[10] Email communication from Mary Kathleen Quirk, 3 November 2018.
[11] The Census transcription records the surname as “Jablinksi.”
[12] The Master Paper Box Co. facility is just 3.5 miles from the Jablonski home. There’s no way to be certain, but this could have been where the women were employed.
[13] U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Ancestry.com, 2011.
[14] Standard Death Certificate. State of Illinois, Dept. of Public Health-Division of Vital Statistics. Number 6658, March 5, 1927.
[15] As of this writing (8-March-2020), there are no Jablonski surnames among the 1,343 “DNA Relatives” in my 23andMe profile; although several list a “Jablonski” among their ancestors.
{last update: 8-Mar-2020}