#52 Ancestors: Week 4 Close to Home
This week’s theme is about being “close to home” and I would like to share the home in which Charles Daniel Pawlak grew up. You can read more about him growing up in my previous posts! If you missed the first post, here is a bit of background on Charles’ family. His parents, Stephan and Bronislawa (Blanche) Pawlak immigrated here from Poland in January of 1905 and, at first, lived at 557 Bartlett Street in Milwaukee.
Their first child, Stanislaus Pauel (Stanley Paul) Pawlak was born on 2 April 1905 and their second child, Edward was born in 1906. Later came Joseph in 1908 and Clara in 1909. The first four children were baptized on St. Hedwig Catholic Church. The family was living at 557 Bartlett St in 1910 according to the 1910 Census. Sigmund Joseph Pawlak was born in 1913 and Zofia Kataryzyna (Sophia Catharina) was born in 1915. Finally the last child was Charles Daniel Michael Pawlak (Karol Michal) on 9 April 1916. The last three children were baptized at St Adalbert Catholic Church.
According to Milwaukee County Records, Stephan and Bronislawa Pawlak purchased a home at 2032 W Becher Street in Milwaukee on 12 March 1917. The address was originally 864 Becher before Milwaukee implemented a new street numbering system in 1931. This is the home that Charles grew up in. It was a two family home with a two bedroom apartment upstairs and a two bedroom apartment downstairs. Milwaukee in 1920 was the 12th largest city in the nation with a population of 457, 147. This was big city living! At that time, many streets were made of brick and a street car ran down nearby Forest Home and Muskego Avenues.
I was able to find some bits of history on the Pawlak home on Becher Street. The Pawlak family lived in the downstairs and rented out the upstairs until the older children got married. In 1930, daughter Clara and her husband, Raymond Berndt moved into the upstairs until they purchased their own home. After Stephan died in June of 1940, son Sigmund and his wife Christine, along with their infant son, Stephan (Steve), moved in with Bronislawa to help and keep her company. They lived with her for a year.
Son Charles and his new wife, Elizabeth, moved in with Blanche in 1946 lived with her for about five years. Their first two sons, Daniel and Thomas were born while they lived on Becher Street. Joe and Agnes lived upstairs at the time. Bronislawa (Blanche) sold the home to son Joseph and Agnes in the sixties but stayed in the house living with Joe and Agnes. Joseph’s son Alfred and his family lived upstairs. In 1965, Blanche moved in with daughter Clara and Ray who lived on 31st Street in Milwaukee and Joe and Agnes sold the Becher Street home to their son Alfred and his wife Marilyn. Alfred and Marilyn later sold the home and moved to Franklin, Wisconsin. That is all the history I could find!
To show more of the Becher Street home, I searched through old family pictures and found some details in the backgrounds! Stephan had built a playhouse for Clara in the backyard and Clara remembered that she made curtains to put into the little house. She had little chairs and a table in the house. After Clara grew up, the little house was used as a shed. I found picture that shows the little house in the background. The picture is of Daniel, son of Charles and Elizabeth Pawlak in 1948.
Here’s a few more pictures of Daniel showing the neighbors in the background and the sidewalk running from the house to the back alley. Cousins Ralph and Alfred Pawlak lived upstairs. These pictures are from 1948 and 1949.
These were the only pictures I could find to show the Pawlak home – a home with many memories for many people – not only the people who lived there at one time or another – but memories of children who loved to go to “Grandma’s house!” It was the center of family and holiday celebrations and Sunday gatherings. It wasn’t just a house on the block, it was the Pawlak home where all were welcomed and loved.