"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."


Portraits From The Past

by  Phyllis Zeck

In 2015 I wrote about a long-hidden secret. My father Robert had changed his last name from Winkofske to Winike. For many years I was frustrated that I couldn’t find any information about my father’s birth father.  Dad passed away in 1970 while I was still a teenager and I never thought to ask questions about his father. I only knew that my grandfather’s first name was Frank and I consistently searched for him by the last name of Winike. I was shocked to discover that his last name was Winkofske. I was very curious to discover more about Frank and this new branch of my family tree. I’ve been able to connect a few more dots over the years but so much time has passed most of the relatives who might have know what Frank’s personality was like along with his life story have long since passed.  

Francis John Winkofske (1899-1959) married Grace M. Norder on 05 Nov 1928 in Chicago. Their son was born 30 Dec 1928 in Chicago. Dad’s name on his birth certificate was Francis Winkofske Jr however dad changed his name to Robert Thomas Winike.

In 2018 I connected with a relative through Ancestry.com. Tom’s mother and my grandfather Frank were siblings. I asked Tom if by chance he had any photos of my grandfather. He didn’t, however a few days ago he sent me three photos I’ve never seen before along with the following memories; “
Charles owned a house at 5926 S. Honore St. in Chicago. As I was only twelve at the time of his death I don’t recall very much. As we did not have a car it was a rarity to visit. I do recall he kept homing pigeons, which I thought was kind of neat. I believe he was a teamster – that is he drove horses. I believe for a while he delivered coal.  His father’s name was Louis. His first wife (Catherine) died in 1915. With 8 kids in the house, he married a second wife, Anne Duball, she had two children from a previous marriage, one was Gertrude.”

Charles Peter Winkofske
Catherine GannonThe photos above are my paternal great grandparents Charles Peter Winkofske (born in Germany) and Catherine Gannon (born in Chicago). Dad would never meet his grandmother Catherine as she died in 1915. Since Charles lived until 1960, I wonder if dad and his grandfather had a relationship. 

Edward & Marie WinkofskeThe photo on the left is a snapshot of my paternal grandfather Frank’s brother. Edward & Marie Winkofske pose with their two daughters Marie (Bonnie) and Edith (Kitty).

Charles Peter Winkofske (1874-1960) and Catherine Gannon (1879-1915) had 
eight children:
Jessie Agnes (1895-1983)
Charles P. (1897-1965)
Francis John (1899-1959) (my grandfather)
Jane L. (1901-1978)
Thomas Edward (1903-1937)
Edward John (1905-1982)
Katherine (1907-1922)
Patricia Mary (1911-1991)




by  Phyllis Zeck

In 2022 I received a birthday present from my daughters from Storyworth. I was sent a question a week which prompted me to write a story from memories and experiences that I’ve had in my life. I was able to change the frequency that I received my questions during the summer when I didn’t have as much time for writing as I did the rest of the year. I was also able to change the question if I felt the desire to share an experience that I haven’t yet received a question about.  At the end of the year the questions stopped but I had time to fine tune my stories or add photos.  Once I was happy with my book I pressed the button to print and waited for it to arrive in my mailbox. 

I have to say that this was one of the best gifts that I have ever received.  It was so much fun to reminisce about my childhood and share my thoughts about my relationships with grandparents, parents and siblings as well as life experiences. I loved hunting through old photo albums in search of photos to insert which really livened up my stories.  

Storyworth has very basic editing features so I used photoshop elements to create photo galleries when I wanted to insert a row of photos. They also offer limited designs for their covers but these issues don’t diminish the value of the writing and publishing experience. 

I sent some of my stories to Ashley which she read to the kids here and there before the book was finished. My grands got a kick out of hearing how different my childhood was from theirs.  

I’ll put this book into Abby’s hope chest which is in my bedroom for now. Abby loves to poke around in the chest from time to time and discover any new treasures that I’ve added. I hope she’ll read a few stories now and again. Wouldn’t it be great if it sparks an interest in Abby to research her ancestors herself? 

Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year!



Researching Pescasseroli Family Names

by  Phyllis Zeck

Abby Skiing on Mt Hood

It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that 2021 zipped by without me having much time for genealogy research. This summer I mailed my old VHS tapes, CD disks and Camcorder tapes of family adventures to have them made into digital files. This project has been on my to do list for many years. The last couple of months I’ve had fun going through the digital files to edit them.  I created short videos and saved them to folders which I’ve shared with my siblings, nieces, and nephews. It’s shocking how fast the years have gone by. It was fun to reminisce about our families’ milestones and adventures and to see and hear family members who are no longer with us.

My 8 year old granddaughter Abby went skiing for the first time this weekend. My sisters and I compared a video of Abby skiing to a video I found of Ashley about the same age skiing in our backyard.  Abby looks, sounds, and laughs exactly like her mother. Click on the image below for a 2 minute video of Ashley taken about 1990.

Last fall Michael emailed me to introduce himself.  His paternal grandfather Emidio Finamore and his great grandfather Orazio emigrated from Pescasseroli. Michael wrote “Via Ancestry we have some DNA matches with my Del Principe descendants.  I believe that you and I are 7th cousins, (at least), and are related through your great-grandparents Pietro Del Principe and Elvira Ciolli. There is a common ancestor named Marco Antonio Ciolli b. 1654. I’ve traced Marco to Elvira and also to Maria Scolastica (Saltarelli) Del Principe via Maria’s maternal branch.”

Michael shared a website that I have not yet stumbled across. There are over 16,000 names of family members from Pescasseroli, Italy.  The information is a collaboration from several sources.  The following partial text is a Google translation from the home page:  “This Genealogy research ‘Genealogy of the Pescasseroli families’ contains 16703 individuals and 4640 families. These are the Genealogical Trees of all the Pescasseroli AQ Families from 1716 to the 1920s.

The research is open to the collaboration of all those who wish to report errors or inaccuracies in the data present or communicate other data or photos and documents to be included. It is in fact possible to insert Photographs, Documents and Stories for each Person and for each Family present in the search. With the collaboration of all, it can become a place of memory and memories.

Courtesy of Terre Pesculiasseroli

A particular thanks is due to friend Prof. Tarquinio Gianluca, today unfortunately he is no longer with us, to the parish priests responsible for the Parish Archives of Pescasseroli, for advice, information and great availability. The data entered so far are taken from the Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages 1866 – 1910, from the Draft Lists from 1866 to 1918 and from the Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages of the Napoleonic Period 1809-1865.

On the other hand, decisive help came from the Registers of Families or “Status Animarum” of the Parish of Pescasseroli and from the Population Registers of the Parish for the reconstruction of family genealogies throughout the 18th century, up to the beginning of the 20th century, and for the identification of many household nicknames.

The oldest register contains records of baptisms from 1716, marriages from 1754 of the deceased since 1752, unfortunately many have deteriorated and not all the pages of which it is composed have been transcribed. The program then plans to continue the research with the transcription of the registers of the parish of Opi.  Other news in this research, in particular the data of the military visit, come from the State Archives of L’Aquila.”  

To research your family members click on this link: 
Click on the image to the right of the home box (top left side of the page).
Click on “C”.  
Click on Ciolli. 
Click on Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli to see his and Filomena’s Ursitti’s children.

5/24/24: Update.  Unfortuntly this website is no longer active.  I’ll update this post  if another website replaces it.



Blums & Beckers of New Bilten, Wisconsin

by  Phyllis Zeck

My paternal grandmother Grace Norder descends from the Blum and Becker families of Bilten, Glarus Switzerland. Click here to view my great grandfather’s Pedigree Chart for Edward C Norder. This chart shows the connection between the Blum and Becker family which began with my 6th great grandparents Rudolf Blum and Elisabeth Becker. The Blum’s and Becker’s were part of the first adventurers to settle the Bilten Valley. Following is a link to a site that has an depth history of Bilten www.glarusfamilytree.com  

I find it so interesting that my paternal ancestors from Switzerland desired a quiet, spacious living environment by farming in Wisconsin. This is the opposite of my maternal ancestors from Italy who settled in Chicago. My Italian grandfather’s numerous brothers raised their families within a few blocks of each other and sometimes had apartments in the same building as each other. When I see photos of my great grandparents birth town of Pescasseroli the buildings are built side by side without any space for a front or back yard.

I’ve previously written about my correspondence with Bob Elmer, a historian who has studied the families who settled in New Glarus Wisconsin.  Bob co-authored a very informative document which paints a great picture of how the New Bilten settlement was born which is titled The Planting of New Bilten. This settlement was located between New Glarus and Monticello. Monroe is 11 south of Monticello and is the town my grandmother Grace was born in. Bilten never developed into a village, just farms. The first large block of the town was 40 acres and purchased in 1850 by brothers Mathias and Jacob Marty. Jacob’s in-laws built the first store in the village. Mathias and Jacob built the first hotel in 1851. 

New Glarus approx 1915

As Bob explains in The Planting of New Bilten, there were no families from the town of Bilten Switzerland with the first group of immigrants who came to settle the New Glarus community in Wisconsin. In March of 1847 sixteen families, about 70 people left for America.  Bob wrote “The group left Bilten on March 27, taking a flat boat down the Linth Canal to Lake Zurich (the Zuricksee), a steamer to Basel, wagons to Paris, and then a boat down the Seine River to the French port city of LeHavre. From there they left Europe on April 24 on the ship Columbia (Salmen died enroute). Johann Melchior Blum, (my 4th great grandfather) who at age 65 was the oldest in the group, also died that first year – either after their arrival or possibly enroute from New York. The entire trip from Bilten to New Glams lasted about 100 days.” An additional description of the families arrival in America was found at Google in the biography of Fred Bloom on page 460 of the Illustrated Album of Biography of Southwestern Minnesota, Occidental Publishing Co., Chicago, 1889.  “After 48 days at sea they landed in New York, thence up the Hudson River to Albany, thence by canal to Buffalo, thence by steamer via the lakes to Milwaukee, where they landed July 4th; thence on lumber wagons one hundred miles to the town of Washington, Green county, Wisconsin”.

The photo above is courtesy of the University of Wisconsin. The caption reads “New Glarus Hotel A large crowd of people outside of the New Glarus Hotel. The people appear to be dressed up and some of them are hurrying toward the hotel. The occasion is unknown, but the time is estimated to be before 1915.

Click this PDF Bilten Pioneers Cleared Timberland  which is an interesting article from the University of Wisconsin describing life as the first New Bilten settlers readied their land for farming.

My 4th great grandparents were Johann Melchior Blum and Sophia Kundert. Sophia died in 1835. Johann immigrated to America with his third wife Anna Elisabeth Pfandler on the ship Columbia. The ship docked in New York on 09 Jun 1847. Sadly, Johann died at the age of 65 on 02 Jul 1847. 

My 3rd great grandparents Johann Rudolf Blum (he traveled to America with his father) and Verena Luchsinger had two plots of land (19 & 20) in New Bilten. The following are excepts from pages 34 and 35 from Bob’s essay.

Johann Melchior Blum, 65, and Anna Elisabeth Pfandler, 50. He died in 1847, possibly even before the group arrived here. An 1852 listing of the plots notes that his widow held a right to Plot 20 but the Emigration Society controlled the land. They were the parents of Johann Rudolf Blum.

Johann Rudolf Blum, 38, and Verena Luchsinger, 29. They received Plot 19 and in 1855 they purchased that and the 20 acres to the east, which had been assigned to his parents (today it’s the southeast comer of the intersection of Washington Rd. and Burr Oak Ln.) By 1860 they were cultivating 70 acres (raising more com than most) and had a team of oxen and six 6 cows. Johann Rudolf was married three times and Verena was his second wife and mother of his children. They immigrated with two children: Johann Melchior 7, and Elizabeth.  Johann Melchior died in the Civil War in 1863. Another daughter, Verena, married Dietrich Norder. In 1900 Johann Rudolf was living with the Norders in Monroe, where he died a year later. Click here to read a page of Last Will John Rudolph Blum 08 Mar1895.



Norders Move to Monroe, Wisconsin

by  Phyllis Zeck

In the 1860 census my 3rd great grandparents Leonhard and Magdalene moved their large family from New Glarus to the town of Sylvester which is 16 miles south. Leonhard was a farmer. In the 1870 census Leonard and Magdalena were living with their younger children Mathias, Leonard, Gustave and Emma. Sons Fridolin, Leonard and Gustave remained in the area to raise their families. My ancestors were successful farmers in Sylvester. There was no shortage of cheese factories in the town.  The photo above is courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society and notes “taken looking towards the east side of the square in Monroe. Truckenbrod’s (the photographer) Rexall Pharmacy is in the middle of the picture. It appears that J. Karlen Sr. is the man sitting in the coach. He was an early cheese maker in Monroe. The occasion is the 1915 Cheese Day parade held on October 12.” (click to enlarge)

The first settlement of Sylvester was made by William Woodle in 1836. The town was laid out in part by my 3rd great grand uncle Jacob Norder (Leonhard’s brother). He was living in Sylvester in 1850. The following in an excerpt from the Wisconsin Histrorical Society: “The Evangelical Cemetery Association was formed in 1860. They bought one-half acre of land of Jacob Stauffacher on section 5. In 1872 it was platted into lots. It contains twenty- eight lots, 18×34 feet in size. It was laid out by Jacob Norder, Henry Baebler, Dietrich Stauffacher and Jacob Stauffacher. Among the first burials here were those of the remains of John Rhiner and Michael North. The present directors are Dietrich Stauffacher and Henry Stauffacher. The treasurer is John Elmer.”

By the 1880 census my 2nd great grandfather Dietrich Richard who was 34 and a teamster had moved his family 8 miles south west making Monroe their home. Fanny’s father Rudolph Blum was 91 and lived with them.  In the 1910 census Richard and Fannie owned their home at 1024 East Street in Monroe and Richard was still a laborer for the teamsters. Richard died in 1915, Fanny in 1943.

The following in an excerpt from the Wisconsin Historical Society: The first move toward settlement, in what is now the town of Monroe, was made in 1830. John B. Skinner came here that year, for the purpose of mining. He erected a log cabin and smelting furnace. In the spring of 1834 Nicholas Cornelius visited the place and found four vacant log cabin and a log building for a smelting furnace. One of these cabins was on arise of ground, and there were port holes in every side of it, showing that they were prepared to defend themselves in case of attack. In 1835 operations were again begun here by Nicholas Cornelius, Hiram Rust, Richard Palmer and Joab Enos.  Mr. Enos left in the fall of 1835 while the others remained until the fall of 1836. They sold their ore to William S. Hamilton, a son of Alexander Hamilton, of National fame. He had a smelting furnace at Wiota, WI.”

I found the following article about Richard’s brother Leonard (my 2nd great grand uncle) in the Monroe Times. The Inter Ocean was a Chicago paper.

BADGER BATTLES PUP – Twenty-Five Pounder Gives Stiff Flight when Cornered. Special Dispatch to The Inter Ocean.  MONROE. Wis., Oct. 18 1907.

“Leonard Norder, residing seven miles northeast of town, killed a twenty-five pound badger last Sunday. The animal was “nosed out” by Mr. Norder’s dog and  in front of his domicile turned and gave the pup battle. Being driven into the hole by the arrival or Mr. Norder the badger proceeded to get real busy with his digging trots, and would doubtless have made a getaway, but that he ran Into the rocks and could get no further. A spade diligently wielded soon brought him to light and dog and badger immediately went to the mat again. There, are few dogs that can “hold their own” with a full grown badger and several shots from a revolver saved Mr. Norder’s valuable canine from a bad licking. The trophy of the chase was brought to town Monday, and as badgers are rather scarce hereabouts, many viewed the dead animal with interest.”

My great grandparents Edward C Norder and Matilda Tillie Frey lived in Monroe all of their lives as did their children with the exception of my grandmother Grace who would move to Chicago in her late teens.  

The photo to the left is from the Green County Historical Society (click to enlarge). New Glarus, Sylvester and Monroe are all in Green County. The following is the text below the photo: “Company H of Monroe, Wisconsin. April 28, 1898 was the entrance of Badger troops into the Spanish-American War.  Company H is shown in their brand-new uniforms gathered in the original Turner Hall before they left for duty.  They went to Milwaukee where the three infantry regiments were mobilized.  The Third regiment was the first to be mustered into the Federal service and the first to get away to active service at the “front” at Tampa, Florida.  Col. S.P. Schadel of Monroe commanded the First Wisconsin and Capt. F. F. West commanded Company H.   M.C. Durst and Fred Buehler were lieutenants of the company.” (Edward Norder’s name appears in the list of soldiers. If my great grandfather served, he would have been 17 years old. I’m unable to confirm Edward noted in this photo was my great grandfather). 

The company returned to this city the early part of September 1898.  The war lasted 105 days and cost the U.S. $140,500,000 according to the Wood County Reporter in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin.