Still stymied by the possibility of selecting the wrong "Walter" Janczak of Buffalo to reside on that new branch in my father's family tree, I followed my own advice yesterday. I sent a message to fellow Janczak researchers via that handy communications device at Ancestry.com, asking if my Walter and theirs might be one and the same. Now, all that's left is the wait.
Meanwhile, I can't just sit still, leaving my answer to fate. I've posted a query to a genealogy forum, and if the silence is deafening in the next few days, I'll send an email to the library in Buffalo to see if anyone can help locate the other Walter Janczak's obituary. One way or another, I'd like to sort these Walters out. Only one of them can be the right candidate to fit in my family tree. May as well do my due diligence to make sure it's the right one.
In the meantime, I decided to keep searching through newspaper archives to see if I could find any other hints.
The reason I need to keep searching is that the one obituary I found already—the one for the Walter who died in 1967—was missing one vital ingredient: the names of his parents. Oh, how much easier it would have made things for me if that November 7, 1967, edition of the Buffalo Courier Express had thought to include those names.
Another thing missing from that obituary was Walter's age. I already knew my Walter was born around 1903 in Poland. But this Walter? No idea.
So here's what the article did say about Walter. Even if this doesn't turn out to be mine, perhaps posting it here will help someone else find a missing ancestor.
JANCZAK—Walter of Clarence Ave., Nov. 5, 1967, beloved husband of the late Victoria, (nee Krasnicka) dear father of Francis (Myrtle), Veronica Zielinski and the late Casmer; grandfather of seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Funeral Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. from Kocol Funeral Home Inc., 1972 Genessee St. and in Queen of Peace Church at 10 a.m. Interment in St. Stanislaus Cemetery. Relatives and friends invited. Family will be present from 2-5 and 7-10 p.m.
There it is, telling me all about this Walter's descendants, and nothing about his ancestors. Frustrating.
I kept searching. Eventually, I ran into something which might help, at least indirectly. Remember how there were two men in Buffalo by the name Walter Janczak? Well, I found a newspaper article that might tell me more about this same Walter, no matter who he turns out to be.
It was a small insert on the twenty-eighth page of the same newspaper, the Buffalo Courier Express. Only this one was published on March 6, 1959. While it didn't tell me much, directly, about this Walter, it did provide enough for me to make inferences.
An elderly man was injured late yesterday afternoon when the car in which he was riding struck a tree in Kehr St. near Genesee St. Walter Janczak, 70, of 161 Clarence St., was taken to Emergency Hospital with lacerations. The driver was Charles Szafarczyk, 50, of 32 Parkridge Ave.
While the article referred to Walter's address as Clarence Street instead of Clarence Avenue, I'm sure it was one and the same location. Chalk it up to another slip of the copy editor. No matter what the street designation was, we are apparently talking about the same Walter as had been mourned in the obituary found in 1967.
Even though the article doesn't present us with any overt genealogical material, it does tell us something about this Walter Janczak. Now, with this other article about his unfortunate injury in 1959, we can calculate this Walter's date of birth to be approximately 1889—too early to be our Walter, whose census records pinpointed his date of birth to be 1900 or a few years afterwards.
Of course, just as newspapers make reporting mistakes and other minor errors, the hospital or a police report could have listed this Walter's age in error. There are any number of mistakes that could have delivered the end product to us with details leading us to make the wrong conclusions.
But for now, I'm betting on the other Walter—the one dying in 1972, likely the husband of Celia—being our family's man.
Images of newspaper excerpts courtesy of the website Old Fulton New York Post Cards.