Archive for ‘History’

August 13, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Haller’s Army [part one]

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is busy writing an article on this topic (Haller’s Army) written from an Historical / Genealogical perspective. This is not just a blog about history, but about personal history. In fact, it is a set of genealogical documents unique to Polish Genealogy.

Counting this announcement, it will be in three parts:  Announcement,  Background, and My Family Tree.

This announcement is to let people know about Haller’s Army, a little known facet of World War I. Actually, this army spans World War I longer than the US involvement and longer than the actual Great War itself. These men go on to serve for Poland in the Poland-Bolshevik border war from about 1918-1922 too. It is their heroic self-sacrifice that sets back Communism for another twenty years.

Why does this jester write about this little mote of history? Because it is a valuable tool for Polish genealogists to help flesh out their family tree in the first couple of decades of their ancestor’s arrival in the USA. Also because it touches on  many other aspects connected to genealogy.

It will cover military from the PGSA’s Haller’s Army database and answer why Ancestry’s World War I Draft Registrations may not be the full story. It also has info on a Polish database — The List of Casualties of the Polish Army,  from the years 1918-1920. Well it is obvious that the genealogical info is military in nature. But there is a component related to Ellis Island / Immigration when they return.  This emigration information is sometimes further enhanced by the data found in the PGSA database actual data. Finally, you can use Historical Ethnic Newspapers to add even more details to the returning soldier’s background. You will need to search through Polish Language Newspapers for this info, so we will discuss this from my perspective of the Dziennik Polski (Detroit) newspaper. It seems that these soldiers received benefits for serving in Haller’s Army from Poland itself.

So this little obscure footnote of history can have a much greater impact upon your personal history in your family tree. Come read this series … won’t you?

[coming this week]

–Stanczyk

August 11, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Useful Websites … #6 Online Database of Poznan & Gniezno Nobility

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has used and forgotten the following website many times over; It has been online for a LONG time. This website appears to an historical collection of data by a single individual. Here is my best guess as to the Inventory of Materials at the website (all in Polish):

Historical and Genealogical Materials on the history of the nobility of the Wielkopolska from the 15th-20th Centuries. Complete inventories of municipal and land books of the State Archive in Poznan and the books of vital records inventories framework of the same archive as well as the Archdiocesan Archive in Poznan and the Archdiocesan Archive in Gniezno. These were apparently collected by a man named: Włodzimierz Dworzaczek [US Libraries/Archives might call this,  his collected papers].

Website: Teki Dworzaczka – Biblioteka Kórnicka PAN  [a Polish Science Academy]

LINK/URL: http://teki.bkpan.poznan.pl/index_regesty.html

Ease of Use: Slightly Difficult for English Speaking and/or  non-residents of Poland

So if you have ancestors who were from and/or passed through the Western part of Poland, including Poznan and Gniezno, this site has indexed church mertykal records and a great deal of court records too. So far it has not been of use to me, as my known ancestors are predominantly from south-central Poland. But if you have some royal blood (for example Leszczynski), there are many records that can provide you abbreviated notes.

July 24, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Kodexu Napoleon

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Click to Enlarge Image -- to see "Kodexu Napoleon"

A few times before, I have spoken about the Codex Napoleon. Why does Stanczyk speak of Napoleon? Well, he (or his army) did discover the Rosetta Stone, leading to the understanding of Hieroglyphics and also while he was in Egypt he also uncovered the Sphinx which had lain buried in sand for centuries. He commissioned the Arc de Triomphe too. His military exploits reshaped the European borders. Finally, his progressive laws  embodied in the corpus: Codex Napoleon gave personal and property rights to the individual and abolished feudalism. But did you know those codes in the Kodexu Napoleon (see Polish does have the letter ‘x’, at least for foreign words), also designated how to record vital records?

Most European Church Records after 1806 followed this format and it was this code that required the two witnesses in vital records. The image at left/above is from Biechow parish church book in 1811, noting (above the yellow line) that they now follow the Kodexu Napoleon –Biechow now a part of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.  From LDS MF # 936660, it appears to me that starting with August 15th, 1810 the vital records in the Catholic Church in the parish of Biechow switched to the “Napoleonic Form”  — a long paragraph narrative in a standard form, with two witnesses, written in the local language (Polish, not Latin).

This blog’s meme is really about how History/Law shape the discipline of genealogical research.  I am not merely thinking about border changes — although that is certainly a part of this meme. Today’s thread in the meme is certainly about the border changes and the shifting administrative units (Departement vs Wojewodztwo vs Gubernia, etc.), but also the data changes required by the law. For instance, the requirement for two witnesses means we have two more names in the record for our research. One of the witnesses may also be a God Parent or possibly just another family member. Does that indicate a new relationship (i.e. another sibling)? Perhaps a witness or declarant is a mid-wife. Does that indicate an illegitimate birth or that the father is away, serving in the military? More data, means more information or clues/mysteries for further research. Prior to Napoleon and the Codex that bears his name, we did not have this  information, afterwards we do.

Napoleon was beneficial to genealogical research — who knew?

July 23, 2011

House Numbers – Numerus Domus – Redux

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In case you missed my first posting with the questions, you can catch-up by following this link . Debbie G (moderator of the Yahoo Group, Polish Geniuses) sent me some answers — first a reminder of the questions I am researching …

Research Questions

  1. Was the column labeled ‘Numerus Domus‘ in the Latin Box format of church records required by the Codex Napoleon?
  2. When did house numbers get assigned?
  3. How were numbers assigned?  Did they number starting from the church (I have had that said to me.)? Did they give the lowest numbers to the “most important” members of the parish? Were houses assigned numbers in the order they were built without regard to their sequential location to another house or did they start at 1 and proceed down the street numbering each house, such that consecutive house numbers are next door neighbors?
  4. Were house numbers unique to a single village or to the parish they all belonged?
  5. Why did they stop collecting house numbers in the church records?
  6. Did house numbers get renumbered (if so then when)? I am thinking like, in Detroit around 1920 when many/most homes were renumbered.
  7. If the houses were not renumbered, then is it possible to visit the same house (assuming it still stands) and know it was that house where so-and-so lived?

Answers …

#2 … I have seen house numbers on records as old as late-1600s  [Stanczyk: so this way pre-dates Napoleon and as such also answers #1; In Biechow, prior to Latin Box format, circa 1797 no record of a house # exists].

#3 House numbers were assigned starting with the church and moving outwards OR starting with the first house that was built and numbering each house built after that in sequence. This means you would/will find house # 245 across the street from house #1, and next door to house #59 on one side and house #75 on the other. This type of house numbering system makes it impossible to locate a particular house. Homes and buildings in cities are numbered sequentially however. [Stanczyk: Pity. This precludes me from analyzing next door neighbors by using the house numbers.]

#4 House numbers are unique to the individual village.
#5 “They” did not stop collecting house numbers in the church records. This continues today. [Stanczyk: I meant in the church records. But I think Debbie means yes. Just not in Biechow it seems.]
#6 The only time houses/property were renumbered is  if the house burned down. Then the house rebuilt on that same property was numbered sequentially after the last house built. Example: if the number of the last house built in a village was #364, and house # 34 burned down, then when that house is rebuilt it is numbered 365. [Stanczyk: Perhaps, knowing that larger numbers are newer homes will yields some insight.]
#7 In villages where the houses were numbered as they were built, it is almost impossible to locate a particular house unless it is a very small village. If any or all of the village burned down at any time, the process becomes even more impossible (if that can be).  [Stanczyk:  Debbie went on to crush my hopes of locating a family homestead by various reasons on why the house #'s  may be different or non-existent].

Thank You Debbie G. for sharing your expertise!

More Answers …

I have verified that Biechow does not have house #’s  in the church records prior to  1797 — probably as a result of Austrian partition regulations. In MF# 936660,  I found when Fr. Dominicus Cyranski arrives he starts using what I believe are house #’s (i.e. Sub. No 27). These 1797 Church records are in Latin Paragraph format. The house numbers also appear in MF # 936665 (the Latin Box format) beginning in 1797.

Again let me remind the readers that Biechow (and Pacanow, Swiniary, etc.) are rural so they will do things differently than larger towns or cities. Oddly, I went through MF # 936662 and for the years 1836-1848 there were no  house numbers. But in 1849, the records (which were in Polish paragraph / Napoleonic form), the house numbers make a come back. So I have house numbers in 1849-1852 inclusive. In 1853, they stop again. Now there was an explanation, it appears to be by priest sentiment. In 1848, Father (Fr.) Jozef Stanky [the priest who writes likes a chicken] takes over.  In 1849 he adds house numbers back. In 1852 Fr. Michal Krolikowski shares duties with Fr. Stanky. In 1853 Fr. Michal Krolikowski [priest with the angel like handwriting] decides to stop recording house numbers. So it appears to be specific to the whims of the parish priest.

Also when I was posting about Old Tomasz Leszczynski‘s first wife Julianna  Kordos‘ brith record,  I put an image of her Latin Box church record from 1833 (Swiniary parish) and I noticed it had house #’s (hers was house #40). So the variation can be by priest within a parish or variable by different/adjoining parishes. I think that explains why Debbie G. see one thing and I see another. I am guessing that it differs by partition too (Austrian vs. Russian vs. Prussian). I think it is the differences and freak happenstances that make genealogical research so interesting (and/or frustrating).

I do accept the fact that house numbers exist in a village, irrespective of whether they exist in the church records for that village. Stanczyk is NOT thick skulled!

July 19, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Biechow Church Records an Inventory

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is trying to digest Debbie G’s (from TX and Yahoo Group Polish Geniuses) insight and observations. I will need to analyze her feedback in relationship to the data I have seen (which is just about everything extant). So first, I would like to speak about the LDS microfilm, then I want to speak about Pradziad (Poland’s State Archives which contains civil and ecclesiastical data), and finally the  Ecclesiastical Archive for the parish of Biechow. I have in my possession a complete list of all microfilm — that would leave only actual physical books in the parish and possibly the civil and ecclesiastical archives. This discussion is just to convince  myself (and others) of what exists and to compare the sources available to me and draw up an action plan of what I have yet to view.  A further article will compare Debbie’s House Number experiences (which I know include many trips to Poland and its parishes and archives — sadly none in my area) with my data from Biechow. Today’s posting is a long one, but if you stick with it, you should learn where to find sources of data for your ancestral parish.

LDS Microfilm – Family History Library (Salt Lake City)

URL: Biechow microfilm       Family History Library Catalog: http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHLC/frameset_fhlc.asp

First off, I need to admit, I still use the original web user interface, so if you do a place name search from their Library Catalog in their new beta-web interface it will look different, but the data will be the same — I have verified that.

The second line is a single microfilm (LDS Mf# 936665) which says it is a microfilm of the original church records from 1674-1847 inclusive, but many gaps exist. The records are all in Latin. Before 1797, the records are what I call Latin Paragraph Form (the earliest are more like Latin sentence or two, than paragraph). From 1797-1847 the data is in the Latin Box Form with standard columns that seem to vary little across all of Poland. Prior to the Latin Box Form, which includes, the column, ‘Numerus Domus’ (or in some areas an abbreviation of those words), I can state unequivocally, there are NO house numbers recorded. If these really are the actual church records and not a copy then house numbers were not recorded in the Latin paragraph form. After the introduction of the Latin Box Form, the house numbers are used (although not always in the years where they are collected). After reading Debbie G’s comments I will go back to the Latin Box Form and confirm the years they have recorded house numbers. I do know that house numbers are also present in the Polish Long Paragraph Form for the early years of Polish records. I will confirm these dates too. I can also state unequivocally, there are NO house numbers recorded in the Russian Long Paragraph Forms.

The top line resolves in the microfilm notes into 8 separate microfilm: 936660-936664 (five film),  and 1257788, 1807660, 1807661. These last three are for the years 1875-1884 and as such are in Russian (using the Cyrillic character-set). The first five microfilm are written in Latin until 1797, then in Polish for the years 1797-1847. There are no microfilm for years 1848-1868 which would be in Polish, nor are there any for 1869-1874 which would be in Russian. These eight microfilm are supposed to be copies of the original church records. 1868 is usually a cross-over year, part Polish records and part in Russian.

You can view these nine total microfilm at the Family History Library for free or rent copies and have them sent to your local Family History Center to view. I have done both for all nine microfilm. If you have followed my blog, I have taken pictures of these microfilm records and used them in my family tree and in this blog to good effect. I have analyzed these records and inventoried and built indexes of the details of what is present on each microfilm. So I am more than conversant about these nine microfilm. I can say unabashedly, that I have an expert level knowledge of these nine microfilm and derived my own data in summaries or studies I have undertaken from the detailed records. So it should be understood that I have acquired the ability to read Latin, Polish and Russian. I am self-taught and did so in order to trace my genealogy in the Russian-Poland partition (although, as I have said these villages went from Poland to Austria to France to Russia back to Poland autonomy).

Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (USC) – Civil Registration Office

A real secular civil registry did not exist in Poland until after World War II (1945/1946). Before that vital records were maintained by religious adminstrators. In Catholic churches from the 16th century by Papal edict, but it took many decades and future edicts before Church record keeping became reliable and consistent. Since Poland became partitioned in the late 18th century, there arose three ways of civil registration. So I believe the local USC will only have from 1945-forward. I will refer the reader to a couple of Wikipedia pages that offer the details:

Suffice it to say that the religions (protestant churches / synagogues) did not gain individual official recognition as civil registrations until:

In the Austrian partition in 1782, in Prussian partition since 1794, and in the Russian partition in 1825. Napoleon by his civil code established a standard for civil registration and in lieu of any civil office, had the Catholic priest serve in this capacity (1808-1815), such that from 1808-1825 officially in Russian partition, although 1828-1830 may have been when Protestant and Jewish religions were able to finally get control of their own civil registrations and not be recorded in the Catholic Church registers. In my Biechow records, I think I see Jewish records recorded from 1810-1828 in the Catholic register. However, the fact it went past the official 1825 date, is probably more indicative of the rural nature of the region and the scarcity of Jews in some areas. Keep in mind that Napoleon (and his Codex Napoleon) and Russian Czars dictated the civil registration rules in Biechow for most of its records [1808-1918]. During the few years when Biechow was in the Austrian partition (1772-1807) there was probably no change in church registrations, since this era was largely Latin to start and the Austrians maintained the Latin record keeping.

PRADZIAD – Poland’s State Archives

URL: http://bit.ly/qe2pn2  [ link to my Biechow]     PRADZIAD Database: http://baza.archiwa.gov.pl/sezam/pradziad.php?l=en

Biechów           rzymskokatolickie         alegata              1875-1886, 1888-1893, 1895, 1897-1898, 1901, 1904-1905

Biechów           rzymskokatolickie         małżeństwa       1875-1905

Biechów           rzymskokatolickie         urodzenia          1875-1905

Biechów           rzymskokatolickie         zgony                1875-1905

The above table shows my Biechow village. The second column is the Polish word for Roman Catholic. The Third word is record type.

małżeństwa = Marriages ;  urodzenia = Births (usually also has baptisms) ; zgony = Deaths   [your basic vital records]

alegata   =  addendum [often used to show that someone can be married in the church or has converted religions]

Well pretty much it is just 1875-1905, which is good for my grandparents and their siblings (births and marriages maybe). It also means reading Russian since 1868-1918 the records are kept in Russian. So if I view these in the regional Archive in Kielce, then I could add info to the microfilm I have already viewed,  for just the years 1885-1905 inclsuive. That is helpful, because I need my grandmother (Busia) Walerya Leszczynska’s birth record from about 1st-November-1886 in Biechow? I also want to search all of the alegata for: Elijasz, Leszczynski, Kedzierski, and Wlecialowski.

Kielce – Ecclesiastical Archive

URL: http://www.kielce.opoka.org.pl/?mod=contents&g=kuria&id=archiwum

The Church too has copies of the parish books/records that it keeps. Biechow is in the Kielce Diocessan Archive in the city of Kielce itself. I once found this image on the Internet on a Polish genealogy forum (now long since gone). Goes to show, you should keep the static web pages you find on your local hard drive.

Most of these are in the LDS microfilm: 936660, 936661, 936662, 936663, 936664, and 936665. Following the record groups are little notes, that I believe represent the fonds within the Church Archive that  hold those records. There are a few that are NOT in the LDS microfilm. Likewise there are a few in the LDS microfilm that are not in the Church Archive. SO I will need to look at these microfilm in the Church Archive in Kielce.

I have a similar image for Ksiaznice and Zborowek. My heart is heavy because I have never been able to find a similar document (text or image) for Pacanow. PLEASE can someone in Poland help me? It requires a visit to the Church Archive in Kielce to get this info (possibly a phone will get it). At any rate, if can get Pacanow, please can you email Stanczyk at mike@eliasz.com.

So once you find your ancestral parishes, this is what you should do. Build an inventory (a to do list) and a plan to get access to these resources for your family genealogy. Finding your ancestral parish is a process. I need to document my ideas, but that is another posting or two.

Lastly, plan to visit the parish office and the local priest. Be nice (obnoxious Americans please skip this step) and bring a gift of thanks for the priest and his office. When you leave, perhaps you can make a religious offering to the priest for a having a mass for your ancestors. What better way to honor your family and the local parish (or synagogue)! Please make the path easier for the next genealogist by being kind and respectful and generous. There may also be monuments and/or cemeteries in the area or at the church. Do not forget those too.

July 18, 2011

Wojtek the World War II Army Bear – Polish Soldiers Mascot

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Wojtek in his Edinburgh Zoo Cage

Many people are still Googling my Blog about Wojtek. I wrote an article about Wojtek being honored with a statue for his WWII heroics. Obviously this bear was much beloved.

Here is a link to a story from 1959 in Przekrój. 1959, nr 723 (15 II) : http://mbc.malopolska.pl/dlibra/doccontent?id=59278&dirids=1 .

The author knew Wojtek personally , tells the story of the famous bear who was the mascot of Polish soldiers (Anders Army) in Iran and Italy. He also ponders whether Wojtek after 13 years will return from Scotland to Poland.

–Stanczyk

July 18, 2011

#Polish, #Jewish, #Genealogical Research – Church Census

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Perhaps you sneaked a peak at some new pages I recently created. My blog stats indicate that is so. So you may have witnessed the data for this story. But lets take a step back  for a moment.

In Poland, most Gminas or Powiats or large cities (ex. Warsaw) have a website, much like our cities or counties in the USA. These are the basic administrative units: Gminas make up Powiats which make up Voivodeships . Comparable to Townships(Boroughs) -> Counties -> States in the USA. So an understanding of these units of administration and their historical changes is fundamental to tracing your genealogy. Like us, they also have a history and their history is long, VERY LONNNNG in duration. In Poland, the Church is also an organizing presence and like here, they have parishes, deaconates, and dioceses. These too have very long histories. Understanding these units of administration, both civil and ecclesiastical can aid you in finding records to research. So this long preamble leads to my next useful website, which is quite specific to the locale of my ancestral villages  and what you need to do is to find the one that corresponds to your ancestral village and do likewise. Mine is:

http://pacanow.tbu.pl/pa_online/tradycja/index2.html

So grab your Google Translator and follow along, please. Pacanow Gmina is the organizing unit for most of my ancestral villages (and the neighboring gminas cover the remainder). The above link (on a  line by itself) is an older web page that I have kept for years and it is now becoming buried in the official government page that is useful to residents. This page is useful to historians and family history researchers. It covers the history and tradition of both the civil and the ecclesiastical (i.e. parish) histories. Why do I or you care about these fine histories that a local historical society has produced — well if you have been a genealogist for a while you know that Historical Societies are the genealogist’s best friends. They have collected and preserved much of value that will further aid in our family history research. And so it is here. Pacanow is both a parish/deaconate (thus the ecclesiatical) and the civil gmina so they have both histories. From their pages, I have culled Church Censuses for this area covering circa 1340 through 1787 (not continuous, but snaphots at various times) that their local historians researched from church records. So on my Parish Census page is my resulting spreadsheet from a couple of their mages. These are statistical summaries, not individual records. So to be clear I am not talking about a Spis Ludnosci which contains a family and its names for generations in a parish. May we all be so lucky to find such in our individual researches.

Years – 1340, 1618, 1664, 1699, 1747/48, 1782/82, 1787

These are early years. In Biechow, one the parishes these censuses mention, my actual church records that LDS have microfilmed only go back to 1674-1675, then nothing until some deaths from 1697-1743. I have looked at these microfilm and the records are sparse (and in Latin). That being said, these censuses now allow me to evaluate what I have “detailed” records for. From the 1747/48 census I can see how Biechow has many more females than males. That explains why I can see men have many second wives (no doubt after their 1st wives die in child-birth or from the rigors of life with many children) to often much younger wives who can bear the man still more children. I have to wonder at the sizes of the homes. Even with the astonishing infant/child mortality rates of this era, families are large. Deaths are overwhelmingly people under 18 with the usual percentage of deaths for mature adults only a small percentage of the overall total. Populations are growing since the births outnumber the deaths, slightly.

All of these years are before the partitions  of Poland, except for the last two censuses (which come after the first partition of 1772). Now this last census(1787) is interesting for another reason. There was a census of Jews by parish. Now we cannot expect that the Jewish peoples attended the churches and the year 1787 was prior to the 1810-1830 years when the Catholic Church was also required to be the civil registrar and the Jews needed to register their births and marriages with the Catholic Church priest who was also the civil registrar. Like New Orleans which organizes its administrations by parishes, these early/rural parishes acted also as civil units of administration and collected censuses. The overall percentage across all parishes, was that Jewish peoples were about 6.44% of the total population. In Biechow, I see the percentage was 2.6% and that fairly closely matches the rates of Jewish records I see in the overall births from the years 1810-1830  in the Biechow parish church register.

Now that gives us a window into the first partition of Poland. Even though Stanczyk writes of Biechow/Pacanow being in the Russian-Poland partition, this early era was pre-Napoleon and these parishes were in the Krakow voivoide and Stopnica powiat, which were controlled by Austria  (more properly the Austrian-Hungarian Empire). At any rate, in the interest of the Blessed Pope John Paul II and his ecumenical efforts and to honor my own Jewish wife, I have included the Jewish census numbers here with the Catholic numbers to aid the Jewish researchers in their quest. I have collected some records in the early 1810’s that were in Biechow, since I noticed the JewishGen and JRI have not indexed Biechow. Now you know why. There were only 2.4% of the total population and  those scant numbers may have gone unnoticed so far by researchers. I would encourage JRI/JewishGen to take a look at my Parish Census blog page (in reality on Rootsweb).

Well this posting is too heavy on numbers and too slight on story, so let me end it here for today.

–Stanczyk

P.S. I am glad I put their numbers into a spreadsheet. I did find they had numerical errors (one total) and also an editing error, as the total for Jews was 1,000 more than the 821 they showed, thus they dropped the leading ‘1’ by some editorial typo. A spreadsheet quickly caught those errors.

July 16, 2011

House Numbers – Numerus Domus – Domu Jego Pod Numerem

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has been looking at house numbers like he is a postal worker delivering mail. These numbers have led my rather numerate mind to a new musing …

I have noticed that the Catholic Church (let me be precise/narrow, but perhaps it has wider usage) in the Russian-Poland areas, during the years 1797-1825 recorded house numbers (aka Numerus Domus -or- Domu iego pod numerem) in their records. So I am trying to tease some further knowledge from my data by analyzing these house numbers, but I have questions that need research. So here is my laundry list of questions that I will investigate and perhaps by crowd-sourcing / internet collaborating I hope that I can also receive some answers via comments or emails.

Research Questions

  1. Was the column labeled ‘Numerus Domus‘ in the Latin Box format of church records required by the Codex Napoleon?
  2. When did house numbers get assigned?
  3. How were numbers assigned?  Did they number starting from the church (I have had that said to me.)? Did they give the lowest numbers to the “most important” members of the parish? Were houses assigned numbers in the order they were built without regard to their sequential location to another house or did they start at 1 and proceed down the street numbering each house, such that consecutive house numbers are next door neighbors?
  4. Were house numbers unique to a single village or to the parish they all belonged?
  5. Why did they stop collecting house numbers in the church records?
  6. Did house numbers get renumbered (if so then when)? I am thinking like, in Detroit around 1920 when many/most homes were renumbered.
  7. If the houses were not renumbered, then is it possible to visit the same house (assuming it still stands) and know it was that house where so-and-so lived?

Folklore About Houses or their Doors

There was a tradition in Southern Poland whereby at Christmas time, the people would inscribe the lintel above the door, with the names or initials of the three wise men from the Bible:

Gaspar(Kasper), Melchior, and Balthazar (were the wise men’s names by tradition — their names do not appear in the Bible).

Does anyone know this Christmas tradition or why Poles did such a thing ?

Does anyone know any other door or address traditions from Poland ?

Stanczyk

From Polish paragraph form during 1797-1825 years

July 15, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – #Gazetteers and Other Similar Resources

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Gazetteers. You have got to love them to do genealogical research outside the USA. How do you learn the maps of the country your grandparents or great-grandparents knew? Today’s atlases  or Google Maps only give you the view as of the present (at least point at which it was published). You need an historical perspective. Hence why you need to use Gazetteers. Maps/Atlases give you the picture and Gazetteers give you the intelligence/ontext about the maps.

Here’s an  list of excellent  Gazetteers:

  • Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej
  • Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia
  • Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen. 
  • ShtetlSeeker
  • Kartenmeister
  • Slownik geograficzny królestwa polskiego i innych krajów slowiańskych.

Stanczyk has developed his resource (an index of an index?) on the Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej [Index of Placenames of the Republic of Poland]. The Skorowidz is an excellent resource for all of Poland covering all parts (Russian-Poland, Austrian-Poland and German-Poland partition areas) that were within the borders of Poland circa 1934. This is the resource you need to use to find your ancestral parish. It is online (click the above link to reach the online version). It has a short-coming: it does NOT list the synagogues   — pity, otherwise excellent.

The flat out best Gazetteer for its research and even for its included maps to give a sense of location relative to today is Brian Lenius’ well researched, Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia. As its name implies it is only for Galicia, an area that is presently with Poland and Ukraine. This area of historical Poland was in the Austrian-Poland partition and finally eastern parts after Napoleon, were in the Russian-partition. Brian’s book does include synagogues!  Some treatment of Polish versus German names and Ukrainian names is also mentioned. It is not online. Buy the book if you find ancestors lived in Galicia.

The Gemeindelexikon is a very good resource for what was Prussia (or Prussian-Poalnd) areas. It also indicates the location of parishes and gives statistics for sex, ethnicities, or religious affiliation. It is online in the BYU library. But if you have Ancestry.com, it has a faster and easier user interface to the information.

ShtetlSeeker is part of the JewishGen website and is  predominantly a resource for Jewish settlements, villages, synagogues, data, etc. I also use it for my Catholic family villages. It is particularly useful if you do not know the spelling of your ancestral village. It also provides on the map with icons of other resources: Yizkor books, JRI-Poland data. It is by definition online.

Kartenmeister is for those parts of Poland formerly ruled by Prussia. It is online. It is an excellent resource if you only know the Polish name or the German name of a locale and you need to know the other name. It also has maps. It has two mini-lists cross-references: Lithuanian-German-English and Latin-German-English. Which makes sense in that those languages are the language of Prussian records for their territories.

The Slownik geograficzny królestwa polskiego i innych krajów slowiańskych is a multi-volume gazetteer / dictionary of places in Poland and other Slavic kingdoms. The dictionary is written in Polish. It is online here. That is yet another Polish Digital Library that I have written about recently (Malopolska). Each volume (or Tome abbreviated T. or tom.). Some translations are on the PGSA.org website or you use the Google Translator. It is filled with abbreviations (PGSA is helpful).

Here are a couple of more resources…

Family Search with their excellent wiki(s) has a page on Poland Gazetteers. The LDS also have these resources as microfilm or books within their Family History Library.

The LDS also has a PDF (you need Adobe Acrobat Reader) for Finding Places in the former RUSSIAN EMPIRE . This PDF is not a gazetteer, but is a valuable resource. You can Google ‘Spisok naselennykh mest  gubernii’ to find individual volumes in Libraries or possibly online. Finally, see this wiki page for Russian Empire Gubernya Gazetteers.

PGSA.org has a list of map resources here. They also have a project to index the 1907, The Illustrated Geographic Atlas of the Kingdom of Poland . An esthetically lovely historical atlas, with the indexes providing you with an indication of which villages are the parish. Stanczyk indexed the Stopnicki powiat.

July 14, 2011

#Jewish #Genealogy – An Homage to Moja żona

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Moja żona (my wife) Tereza is a very good wife indeed. So I wished to honor her by doing some research for the Jewish faithful. I suppose many genealogists are unaware that much of Europe owes its church records and their format to the Codex Napoleon. Another side effect of this edict was to create a new civil registry of civil records, which Napoleon originally placed responsibility with the Catholic church. So peoples of all faiths had to register with the Catholic church for the years 1810-1830 [approximately] until civil data could be collected by all faiths in their own church/temple/synagogue.

So whilst I was collecting other genealogical research data, I decided to pay extra attention to the Jewish births listed to honor my wife. I am sure this was an onerous requirement for Jewish citizens to have to record their vital records with the Catholic church. This village of my ancestors has NOT been indexed by JRI, as there was no significant Jewish presence in these villages, but there were Jews indeed! So what was probably an imposition for Jews may now be a blessing and a mitzvah for me (and my wife). Why a blessing? So many Jewish records were destroyed during World War II (and possibly in other pogroms) that any echo, any echo at all of those who were here is a blessing.

Births in Biechow (departement de Krakow) for years 1810, 1811, 1813 and 1815

[ source: LDS microfilm # 936660]

First note that 1812 and 1814 had no registry at all for anyone. In 1810 there 50 recorded births and of those fifty, one record was Jewish:

1810 Births – Record #24 – Pinkiesz Szmulowicz (father), Hercyk (baby) and Marya Manasow (mother)

In 1811 there were 116 births and three records were Jewish:

#68 Zelmanowiczowna, Rywka (baby)

#91 Faycer, Jasek (baby)

#96 Menkierowna, Bela (baby)

In 1813 there were 76 births and two records were Jewish:

#26 Wulfowna, Chaja

#36 Fisolowna, Faytsia

In 1815 there were 99 births and one record was Jewish:

#62 Wolf, Sura (baby);  Jasek Wolf (father); Blima Haymnowiczow (mother).

Well I guess you can see why JRI ignored LDS Microfilm #936660. Out of 341 births only seven (just 2%) were Jewish births. Jewish genealogists, feel free to collect this data and add it to your database. These records are in Polish in this era.

Stanczyk

July 11, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – The Biechow Clergy 1326-1919 r.

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Today, I wanted to follow up with the images of the list of priests of the parish of Biechow (parafii Biechów). Please read yesterday’s post for the web link (URL) to image of the digital book I used.

Stanczyk cobbled together the “digital” pages 27-29 into a single GIF image, so you my faithful reader could examine for yourself.

Yesterday we were looking at a Latin paragraph image of a birth/baptism from 1674. The priest was indeed Jozef Walcerz as I read from the priest’s own handwriting (to verify that I could read the handwriting accurately).

Father (Ks.) Michal Krolikowski’s service from 1852-1900 put him on many of the images of Stanczyk’s family. Those were mostly from the years of Russian-Poland occupation (and language mandate/ukase), so I have his signature upon Russian/Cyrillic church records. Because the records for Biechow are extensive, I am able to confirm many of the priests on this list, so this book confirms my church records and the church records confirm this book’s scholarly research.

So we have Latin records, then Polish records, then Russian records (1868-1918) and finally Polish again.

I added this cross-research because I was trying to add a context for my ancestor’s lives to my family history to pass on to my ancestors. It was also a good exercise in verifying my ability to read the old style handwriting (whatever langauage) you see in church records.

Below I would like to share Father Michal Krolikowski’s signature upon the happy day and event of my great-grandfather Tomasz Leszczynski ‘s   marriage to his second wife and my great-grandmother, Aniela Major (pronounce My-Yore). It seems I have a family history of short Polish names that do not look Polish because they are short and vowel filled. This signature was upon an allegata describing the marriage and happily providing my great-grandmother’s birth information. No need to rub your eyes, the signature and seal are in Russian (a Cyrillic “alphabet”).

For those who do not read Russian …

Biechow October  5/17 th day 1885 th year

Father Michal Krolikowski

?-title (NastoJatel  — not in my Russian-English dictionary, probably ADMINISTRATOR) of Biechow

[NOTE: there are two day numbers (double-dating) because Russia was still using the Julian calendar while Poland had long since switched to the modern Gregorian calendar that we use today. Notice that in 1885 the difference was 12 days. Knowledge of this may help you decipher the date when you can only read one date. Starting sometime in 1900 the difference would grow to 13 days. Russia did not switch from the Old Style dates to the Gregorian calendar until january 31st,  1918 (thus eliminating the need for double-dating).]

July 10, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – A Noble Birth in Biechow 1674

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

11th-July-1674 Birth of Maryanna Niedzwiedz

Stanczyk was combing through dusty tomes again. Cough, Cough — excuse me.

This picture is from my cell phone. It is the earliest noble birth I have found for the village of Biechow (near Pacanow in the old wojewodztwo of Kielce). Let me humbly offer the translation (from Latin) …

Jozef Wałcerz, Biechow parish priest, baptized Maryanna, daughter of the Nobleman Jan Gaspar Niedzwiedzki & Agnes of Biechow. Her God Parents both were of noble birth were  Jerzy Paczakowski of Słupia and Ewa Pawłowska of Sobowice. [regrettably I was not able to read Jerzy/George's job/title].

In a fit of boredom I decided to do some cross-research for verification. Previously, I have mentioned the digital libraries in various regions of Poland. So…

From The SwietoKrzyskie Digital Library, in the book,
Historical Description of Churches, Cities, Monuments, & Memorials of Stopnica“,
written by Jan Wisniewska in 1929, see pages 20 and 28 (in Polish):

A Father Jozef Walcerz pastor of Biechow, tithe of/to Pacanow, started his work in
1671 and worked until 1693. In 1672,  Fr. Walcerz fixed half of the church  roof, the bell tower,
and  the chancel floors and repaired the graveyard chapel damaged by a hailstorm.

So indeed, my ability to read priestly Latin handwriting from 1674 is fairly accurate (assuming my ability to translate early 20th century Polish is acceptable). The 1929 book does not put a slashed ‘l’ in Walcerz, but the priest himself did use the, ‘ł’ as the image above shows. At least, I verified the priest. Can anyone verify the nobelman(Nobilium) or the two noble born (generosa) god parents from this church record?

The Church book is from 1674-1675, so I am certain of the date. This was not from ‘Martius’, because on the facing page, this record and others were under the heading, ‘Julius’. The page tops were labeled with 1674. The heading of the record indicates ‘the 11th day in the morning’. The numbers in this tome do indeed range from 1 to 31, so this is indeed the day number and not the hour of the day.

Anyone related to Jan Gaspar/Kasper Niedzwiedzki or his wife Agnes of Biechow or their daughter Maryanna? Send me a note and let me know. Have a blessed Sunday.

–Stanczyk

Post Scriptum

The digital book cited above listed the following parishes, for which you can find these descriptions and lists of priests. The parishes in bold are connected to my genealogy:
Balice , Beszowa , Biechów ,  Busko , Chmielnik, Dobrowoda , Drugnia , Gnojno , Janina , Kargów , Koniemłoty , Kotuszów , Książnice , Kurozwęki , Lisów , Oleśnica , Ostrowce , Pacanów , Piasek Wielki , Pierzchnica , Piotrkowice , Potok , Sędziejowice , Solec , Stopnica , Strożyska , Szaniec , Szczaworyż , Szczebrzusz , Szydłów (woj. świętokrzyskie) , Świniary , Tuczępy , Widuchowa , and  Zborówek

July 7, 2011

Ancestral Villages – Poland, Kielce (old woj.), Stopnica (pow.)

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stopnica Pas 47 Slup 32 Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny 1938 (scale 1:100,000)

This picture is a map of the villages that Stanczyk’s ancestors were from. The river in the South-East corner of the map is the Wisla / Vistula river. To the South-central area are a few more villages that could not be shown: Oblekon and also Szczucin (across the Vistula). North of the Vistula, was the Russian-Poland partition. South of the Vistula was the Austrian-Poland partition. These partitions arose from Austria (aka Austrian-Hungarian Empire), Prussia, and Russia colluding in 1772, 1792, and finally in 1794 to divvy up the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until Poland had vanished from the map of Europe for about 125 years, until it reappeared in 1918. Between 1797 and 1815 various ex-expatriate Polish legions fought along side Napoleon, so the final boundaries of the three partitions continued to evolve until 1815 when Napoleon was finally defeated for good. It is ironic to me that this region on the map above changed hands so many times and that I had ancestors in two kingdoms who would marry across parishes (and indeed national boundaries).

So it was not really surprising to me that my Busia (grandmother) spoke: Polish, Russian and German and most Catholics prior to Vatican II did know a smattering of Latin since church masses were often in Latin. Indeed, my father related to me that my grandmother was fluent enough to make money during the Great Depression by translating letters to/from English to/from  Polish/Russian/German for Americans to be able to carry on correspondences in the old country.

Stanczyk remembers my grandmother speaking to me as a child in perfect English (with the lovely/charming Central European accent). I also vividly remember that after her stroke, she could only speak Polish (her native language). I would converse with my dad acting as translator between us in her kitchen over percolated coffee (ye gads — has it been nearly a half century of coffee drinking for me) from when I was about five or six years old.  My dad laughingly relates how when he was a boy, my grandmother would chastise him that his Polish was no good and that he should speak to her in English. Obviously his Polish was good enough that years later,  the three of us could chit-chat over coffee quite comfortably.

Stanczyk’s remembrances have caused me to digress. The point of this map was to list the villages where I have found vital records / church records for my Eliasz / Leszczynski / Wlecialowski / Kedzierski families. So here is my list (anyone else from here?):

Biechow (parish) – Biechow, Piestrzec, Wojcza, Wojeczka, Chrzanow

Pacanow (parish) – Pacanow, Zabiec, Kwasow

Various Other Parishes/Villages – Zborowek, Ksiaznice, Swiniary, Oblekon, Trzebica, Szczucin and I am sure many of the rest of villages surrounding these villages, but I have yet to see or connect the records to main branches of the family tree.

Now excuse me,  I must go get some more coffee.

July 6, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Gazetteer: Skorowidz Meijscowosci …

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk loves maps. But how do you know which map to examine and where Babcia’s village is? Well today’s post is about a Gazetteer:

Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej [Index of Placenames of the Republic of Poland] circa 1931.

Now this also touches on a previous article, in that I have this Gazetteer bookmarked from a Digital Library in Poznan, Poland. So it is an online resource available through your browser.

A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory, an important reference for information about places and place names (see: toponymy), used in conjunction with a map or a full atlas. It typically contains information concerning the geographical makeup of a country, region, or continent as well as the social statistics and physical features [source: Wikipedia]. The features genealogists look for are: administrative levels (state/woj., county/pow., township/gmina) or location of parishes/parafialny. So the “Skorowidz” gives us this info, if we can know the name of the place/village we are looking up info upon.

I have created a mini index of this Gazetteer age paging through 2096 pages sequentially or randomly is not very productive. My index page for Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej is here.  So I wish you good research in locating your ancestral village and its parish/synagogue. One final note!  There are many excellent Gazetteers for Poland, but that will be another article.

July 4, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Historical Dziennik Polski (Detroit) Newspaper

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk wishes all Americans a Happy Fourth Of July !

I just wanted to update my readers that my page on the Dziennik Polski (Detroit, MI) Newspaper has been updated to include a new repository: PARI – Polonica Americana Research Institute on Orchard Lake, St Mary’s campus, whose Director is the well known Ceil Wendt Jensen (who has ancestors from Stanczyk’s ancestral village, Pacanow).

Their holdings are 1904-1920 on microfilm and 1930’s-? in bundles of actual newspapers.

Mój pies (my dog), Java wants everyone to keep their dog safe today and not to lose your dogs due to the fireworks and the fright they cause in dog’s sensitive ears.

July 2, 2011

#History – 4th of July Holiday – Reading of Declaration of Independence

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Independece Hall Philadelphia

education use from http://etc.usf.edu/clipart

Stanczyk was not born in Philadelphia, but moved here over two decades ago. But I really love the city of Brotherly Love. I like to call it the cradle of American civilization and we are the keystone state because of our position within the original 13 colonies.

One of the reasons I love Philadelphia is its oldness (relative to America — not the rest of the world). I like to play tourist in my adopted home town. So I have seen the celebrated points of the colonial history of our town. Now we are on the verge of another 4th of July and that means the Welcome America celebration which seems to get longer every year (is it two weeks long now?) and with good reason for all of the special events (fireworks, concerts, liberty medals, etc.) that occur.

But let Stanczyk clue you in on a free activity for you and your kids that makes you feel a part of America’s past. Do not just visit the Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell / Visitor center, the Constitution Center and the recently opened National Museum of American Jewish History. These plus all things Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, Elfreth Alley, are worthy ventures (take a carriage ride to get a lay of the land — Stanczyk’s favorite). One event Stanczyk stumbled upon was the Historical re-enactment of the reading of the Declaration of Independence. This happens 4 days later (July 8th). It will be in the courtyard behind Independence Hall. Free for all wandering through. It gives your family a real sense of the American narrative and allows you to pretend you were there at the inception of this grand experiment ! Buy the kids a copy of the Declaration and/or Constitution this is what the Independence Holiday is all about. The National Archives in Washington D.C. has an original document that you can visit.

Declaration of Independence

July 2, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Library Of Congress Chronicling America

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk was reading the Genealogical Society of PA email/newsletter. They were talking about the Library of Congress’ (LOC)  Chronicling America program. This program is about saving/collecting/digitizing Historical US Newspapers, including Ethnic Language (i.e. Polish) newspapers.

Casual readers of Stanczyk will realize that I favor using Historical newspapers to fill in gaps or to provide context in your family history. My own ojciec (father) told me about an ethnic newspaper (Dziennik Polski) that his mother used to read daily in Detroit. That was over a meal the night before Stanczyk was going to the state of Michigan’s Library & Archives and I had plans to read microfilm of Dziennik Polski. So, on the basis of this kismet I searched Dziennik Polski and the first time I searched, I found my grandmother listed as a mother giving birth to a baby boy (my uncle Ted) and it listed the address where my grandparents lived so I was able to confirm it was my family. Thereafter, I was hooked on Historical newspapers.

At any rate, I digress (but I hope I have motivated you to look). Stanczyk’s own Dziennik Polski (Detroit) newspaper page came from the LOC’s Chronicling America program and adding their info to my own research to create my Rootsweb page. That is specific to just the Dziennik Polski (Detroit) newspaper (with a small mention to other MI Polish language newspapers). But today I searched the LOC for Polish Language newspapers in the LOC and my results are below:

American Historical Polish Language US Newspapers in LOC – http://t.co/CeEjpWv

Happy and Blessed 4th of July everyone !

June 27, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Useful Websites … #4 Genealogical Societies in Poland

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, continues with his favorite websites in Poland. I hope you speak Polish or at least have mastered using Google Translate .

Pay especial attention to: Polskiego Towarzystwa Genealogicznego (Polish Genealogical Society). They have valuable databases online and their forums have experts, some of whom speak English and generally all of them are friendly and knowledgeable. Stanczyk once found a Polish genealogist who had ancestors from the same villages as mine. This fine lad (Jacek) from Krakow even shared images from church books with me and he was amenable to being a genealogy researcher for me on a trip to an Archive! I also found some distant cousins who traded emails with me on the website’s email facility and that was helpful. One of my grandfather’s cousins was a member of Haller’s Army (aka Blue Army)  and I was able to find his record amongst the fallen in one of their books, which answered why he was no longer found in any US census or in any US death record [since he had died in World War I overseas in Poland's post WWI battle with Russia]. These snippets of info have been able to enrich my family tree. Finally, they have a database of parishes that is invaluable.

Take a look and see what you find …

Genealogical Societies (Some w/ Heraldic Info) WebSite
Bydgoskie Towarzystwo Heraldyczno–Genealogiczne http://www.mok.bydgoszcz.pl/index.php?cid=199
Galicyjskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne  http://www.republika.pl/slucki/gtg.htm
Kaliskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne http://genealogia.kalisz.pl/
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne http://kptg.pl/
Lubelskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne  http://www.ltg.zg.pl/index.html
MaloPolska Towarzystwa Genealogicznego http://www.mtg-malopolska.org.pl/index.html
Opolskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne http://www.otg.mojeforum.net/search.php
Ostrowskiego Towarzystwa Genealogicznego  http://www.otg.xt.pl/
Polskiego Towarzystwa Genealogicznego (Polish Genealogucal Society) http://genealodzy.pl/changelang-eng.phtml
Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne  http://www.ptg.gda.pl
Śląskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne  http://gento.free.ngo.pl/
Suwalskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne  http://www.mem.net.pl/stg/
Świętokrzyskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne “Świętogen” http://www.genealodzy-kielce.pl/beta2/index.php
Towarzystwo Genealogiczne Centralnej Polski  http://www.tgcp.pl
Towarzystwo Genealogiczne Ziemi Częstochowskiej  http://www.genealodzy.czestochowa.pl/
Towarzystwo Genealogiczno – Heraldyczne w Poznaniu  http://www.tgh.friko.pl/info.html
Warszawskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne  http://genealogysociety.republika.pl/
Wielkopolskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne „Gniazdo” http://www.wtg-gniazdo.org/wiki.php?page=Info_English
Heraldic Societies in Poland WebSite
Polskie Towarzystwo Heraldyczne http://www.sejm-wielki.pl/
Związek Szlachty Polskiej http://www.szlachta.org.pl/

Let me know what you find!

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