"Dziadzio" - My Polish Great Grandpa: Adam Pawlowski (1879-1959)

My 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Blogging Challenge has come to end with this final installment! It has been a wonderful journey into the lives and stories of those in my family who came before me.

For this final week I have chosen to profile my great grandfather, Adam Pawlowski (1879-1959). I have only heard a few stories about “Dziadzio” (Polish for grandpa) as he was known by my mother and her generation. He seemed to be a quiet man, perhaps because he spoke little to no English. He was a heavy smoker. His hands seemed permanently yellowed from cigarettes and he had false teeth that he kept in a glass next to his bed.

Adam was the son of Baltazar Pawlowski (1859-1919) and Marie Zuchowska Pawlowski (1851-1932).

Here are some of the few photos I have seen of Adam. The earliest I have seen of him is this one on his wedding day (seated).

Adam Pawlowski and Marianna Grzeskowiak Wedding Day - September 7, 1903

Adam Pawlowski and Marianna Grzeskowiak Wedding Day - September 7, 1903

Adam married my great grandmother, Marianna Grzeskowiak Pawlowski (1879-1941) on September 7th, 1903 in Detroit, Michigan. My guess is that the man standing behind my great grandmother is Adam’s brother, John Pawlowski (1882-1920), but I am not certain of that. I do not know who the other woman is.

Both Adam and Marianna were immigrants from Poland. She came as a child around 1880 and he as a young man around 1900. Their first known address in Detroit was 1176 Dubois St. I believe this is a photo of Adam and his young family at that address.

Pawlowski Family on Dubois St. in Detroit, MI - around 1910-1915

Pawlowski Family on Dubois St. in Detroit, MI - around 1910-1915

According to my records Adam and Marianna had 10 children, 8 girls and 2 boys. One son and one daughter died at birth. Another daughter, Franciszka (1913-1915), died from diphtheria as a toddler. Seven of their children, including my grandmother Claire Pawlowski Halvangis (1916-1980), lived to adulthood. Here is a closeup of Adam and Marianna likely with their 5 oldest.


The two photos above are the only ones I have seen of Adam’s wife, Marianna. Most of the photos I have of this side of the family go back only to the early 1940s and she died in 1941.

This next photo of Adam (far left) was taken at the wedding of his daughter (my grandmother) Claire to his son-in-law (my grandfather), James William Halvangis (1920-1972). On the far right is James’ mother (my great grandmother), Maria Chardoulias Halvangis (1894-1951). It was likely taken on October 28, 1944.

James and Claire (Pawlowski) Halvangis Wedding Day - October 28, 1944

James and Claire (Pawlowski) Halvangis Wedding Day - October 28, 1944

Here is another photo of Adam, far right, taken around the same time. That is my grandfather, James, in uniform. The man in the back right is Wilfred Yuergens (1909-1998), husband of my great aunt Irene Pawlowski Yuergens (1914-2004). Irene is possibly the youngest girl in the family porch photo. The boy in front is Jerome J. Yuergens (1935-1998), my 1st cousin 1x removed. The older boy on the left is also my 1st cousin 1x removed, Thaddeus “Ted” Agacinski (1929-1996). The man in the back left is Frank Zuzek (1904-1981), husband of Adam’s daughter and my great aunt Viola Pawlowski Zuzek (1906-1983).


Here is Adam on the wedding day, September 15, 1946, of his niece (by marriage) Frances Agacinski Berchulc (1925-2004). I always knew her affectionately as “Aunt Fran” even though, technically, she is my “stepdaughter of first great aunt”, Mary Pawlowski Agacinski (1907-1984). Aunt Fran’s biological mother died when she was about 6 months old. Though not a biological relationship, Fran was akin to a 1st cousin 1x removed.

Frances Agacinski Berchulc (1925-2004) One Wedding Day with Adam (her uncle)

Frances Agacinski Berchulc (1925-2004) One Wedding Day with Adam (her uncle)

I am guessing this next photo is Adam a few years later standing on the porch of his Dubois St. home. You will notice that the address changed to 5526 (from 1176) after city of Detroit renumbered all of their street addresses in 1921.

Adam at 5526 Dubois St. - late 1940s

Adam at 5526 Dubois St. - late 1940s

If you go back to the earlier photo of Adam on the porch with his young family you can vaguely make out an address. At first glance it looks like 1123 to me, but I could see it being 1176. Regardless, if you look closely at the front of the house in both pictures details like the windows appear to be the same. What do you think?


Here is a much later photo of Adam, probably in the late 1950s, not too long before his death. I believe it was taken at the cottage of his son, Stanley Pawlowski (1919-2004) Harsen’s Island near Agonac, MI.

Adam Pawlowski.jpg

Adam died on April 3, 1959. His death certificate lists him as a retired mechanic from the Detroit United Railway.

Adam Pawlowski DC 1959.jpeg

I have a photo of Adam in his open casket at his funeral. This seemed a little unusual for 1959, though not unheard of. There is backstory to the funeral photo. Adam’s grandson Jerome (pictured above) was station in the military overseas at the time of Adam’s death. Unfortunately Jerome was not able to get home in time for the funeral and that is why a family member took the photo in the casket.

Though I am not particularly opposed to it, I have chosen not to show it here as there are strong and mixed feelings about post mortem photos. It is interesting to see how such photos are viewed historically, ranging from common place to taboo. Do you have open casket photos in your family? What do you think about them?

Here is the prayer card, in English and Polish, from Adam’s funeral.

Adam Pawlowski Prayer Card.jpg

Adam is buried next to his wife at Mr. Olivet Cemetery in Detroit.


Here are two videos I took on my first trip in 2017 to Mt. Olivet. Many in my family are buried there and I had not yet been to visit. The audio commentary is not great, but it was a beautiful day and the videos seemed worth sharing.

I took this trip to Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Detroit during the summer of 2017. It was my first trip to visit many in my family who are buried there.
This was my first trip to see the graves of my great grandparents, Adam and Marianna (Grzeskowiak) Pawlowski. They are are buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Detroit, MI. Adam lived from 1879-1959. Marianna lived from 1879-1941.

Here is Adam’s Find a Grave memorial.

I hope you have enjoyed learning a little about “Dziadzio” and ALL of the family I have written about in 2018. I am hopefully that telling what I know of his story will help me learn even more. I encourage you to learn and write your family stories as well. It is a wonderful experience and many in your family will appreciate it.

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