Home Sweet Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!

#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.

This is what the home on Becher Street looked like a couple years ago.

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.

Favorite Photos of Charles Daniel Michael Pawlak

#52 Ancestors: Week 2 Favorite Photo

My favorite photo of my father-in-law, Charles Pawlak, was taken when he was a young boy probably around eight years old in about 1924 or 1925. Who could resist that impish grin and mischievous eyes! I can imagine that he was a real rough-and-tumble little boy, especially with four older brothers and an older sister! There is a family story of Charles getting hit in the head with a horseshoe and his mother cured it by using Vaseline and tying a clean rag around his head for a bandage!

Charles Daniel Michael Pawlak was born the 9th of April in 1916, the seventh and last child of Stephen and Bronislawa Pawlak in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His “Certificate of Birth Registration” has his name in the English form, but he was born into a polish-speaking family and named Carolus Daniel Michael in Polish. His family always called him Karl (Karol) but he went by the name of Charles as he grew up.

The family lived on Becher Street on Milwaukee’s South Side, which was a mainly Polish neighborhood in the first half of the 1900’s. They lived relatively close to St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church and Charles was baptized in that Church on 23 April 1916 by the Rev. Waclaw Kruszka. Friends of the family, Adalbert Sobanski and Anastasia Kawicka were chosen to be his godparents.

According to Roman Catholic Church procedures, the church records were written in Latin but I was able to find the official record of Charles’ Baptism.

The family were devoted Catholics and much of their lives and celebrations centered around their church and religion. The children attended St. Adalbert’s Catholic School and learned not only English, but also studied and spoke Polish. Of course, all the children made their First Holy Communion and I am pleased to have a picture of Charles taken in a Photo Studio to commemorate his First Communion and his First Communion Certificate written in Polish! He was seven years old when he celebrated this event on 20 May 1923. Gone is the impish grin replaced by an Angelic countenance!

These are my two favorite pictures of Charles and I will be writing more about him and his family in posts to come! Another precious document I would like to share from his childhood is his 8th grade Certificate of Graduation from St. Adalbert’s school on 13 June 1930.

You can read more about his parents, Stephen and Bronislawa in last week’s post! https://thepawlakpast.com/2020/01/04/a-fresh-start-stephen-and-bronislawa-pawlak/