Saturday, May 30, 2009

Meet: Brian Zalewski, "Graveyard Rabbit of Southeastern Wisconsin"

The fortieth in a series

featuring a member of

The Graveyard Rabbit Association







BRIAN ZALEWSKI







I usually get a lot of strange looks when doing research in local cemeteries. When I started my genealogy research in 1999, I was only19 years old. Most people didn't expect to see a young man walking around in a cemetery and probably thought I was up to no good. As I've become older, it's less noticeable, but I still assume I'm in the minority being only 29.


I became interested in genealogy research around the middle of 1999. My Grandpa, Richard Zalewski, had passed away in April of that year. It was about that time that my dad sent me an article from our local paper about a new website started by the Latter-Day Saints called FamilySearch.org (it was about how hard the site was hit on day one.) This sparked something in me. It made me realize that if I want to get the most out of my genealogy, I’d probably get a lot more information from the people that were still alive. Unfortunately, as the genealogy Gods laugh at me, one of my major brick walls is my Zalewski line, whom my Grandpa Zalewski would’ve probably been very helpful in researching.


I know that I've been interested in cemeteries and local history since I was a small boy growing up in Saukville, Wisconsin. Saukville is a small town about 25 miles north of Milwaukee in Ozaukee County. When my brothers and I were young, we used to make our way to Saukville Union Cemetery when it snowed to go sledding. Don't worry, we were never near any headstones or burials. We would sled down a clear hill at the front of the cemetery.


I didn't spend a lot of time at the cemetery back then, except to sled. As it was with every other child, we assumed there were ghosts there, so I stayed away. I didn't get to spend a lot of time in cemeteries until my genealogy research brought me there. I became very interested in the local history and all of the people that have come and gone and visiting cemeteries became one of the things I looked forward to. Now I enjoy visiting the ghosts.


I now live only a few miles from where I grew up. I'm very lucky that almost all of my ancestors settled in this area for the last few generations. This area has some of the most beautiful cemeteries that are nestled within huge, towering oak trees and rolling hills. I hope to preserve some of the history and stories behind these cemeteries with the help of this site and other sites such as Find-a-Grave. I enjoy reading all of the other Graveyard Rabbit blogs. Thanks for volunteering your time and thanks for welcoming me.


Graveyards of Southeastern Wisconsin - http://www.zalewskifamily.net/sewicem/

Zalewski Family Genealogy - http://www.zalewskfamily.net/

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