Archive for ‘Gazetteer’

May 7, 2018

Searchin’ for Sobieszczanski — #Genealogy #Polish

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Sobieszczanski ( собещаньский )

   114               Sobieszczanski        Jan

A ponderously long search for an ancestral parish is over!

Stanczyk was humbled. This jester could always find someone’s ancestral parish in the Russian-Poland partition (zabory). Yet in his own family tree the Sobieszczanski (aka Sobb) I was unable to locate.

Doubling the frustration is I had Stanisław (Stanley) Roman Sobieszczanski ‘s Naturalization papers. It plainly said Lesnik, Russian Poland.

Declaration of Intent

The problem? In the Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej there were 19 Lesnik/Lesniki and in the Russian-Poland Gazetteer there were another handful (some possibly overlapping as they were different time periods. There were no LESNIK. I had to consider diacriticals (accents). The L could be Ł and the e could be ę and the s could be ś and the n could be ń. Thankfully, the i and k did not have diacritics. But that still left a lot of combinations. But one-by-one I searched. I looked up in the gazeteers and found parishes. Some were not online, but many were. Alas, those online did not have any Sobieszczanski. I searched  (Lubgens)  and there were Sobieszczanski, but I could not confirm they were mine. No Lesnik. I searched in too and again I found Sobieszczanski but again no good matches and not good enough locations to believe that is what Stanley meant.

That’s when I thought to look at a map that indicated parishes. I still thought Lesnik was a parish. So I went to: . I looked at the Lublin powiat (map 31); nothing promising, but I did see a village on the border of an adjacent powiat named Sobieszczany, so I thought perhaps they came from there. So I looked in the adjacent Janow (map39) and I found a couple of Lesnik (duzy/maly) villages in B3 quadrant.

I could not find Lesnik Duzy or Maly in any gazetteer???. Frustration. In looking at map 39, I saw Marynopol looked to be near a circle with a cross that indicated a parish. But I could not find Marynopol in the gazetteer. Very puzzling. I tried to  find nearly named towns and I did find one but it was in Kielce gubernia, not Lublin. So I looked and saw GOSCIERADOW. I quick checked and saw they had GOSCIERADOW in Kielce-AP Sandomierz. Only 1890-1901 but at least I could see if there were any Sobieszczanski and get my bearings as too what Sobieszczanski looked like in Russian/Cyrillic and in cursive handwriting. My first try I found Jan Sobieszcanski in 1891 (see top pic).  His record indicated he lived in LISNIK. Well what do you know Jan’s parents were Michal Sobieszczanski & Stanislawa Kowalska and these were the names I had from Stanley’s first marriage record in USA (Depew, NY). So I was pretty sure (99%) that I had my parish. But they did not go back before 1890 and Stanley clearly enumerated many times his birth year was 1886. However, his younger brother Tadeusz had come to the USA as well and I had his info, so I looked up the birth year and it was 1896! Ok, they had that year in the range 1890-1901, so I should find a Tadeusz in 1896 (+/- 1 year).  Ok, his birthday was in October (not December), but the year and the parent names were exact matches, the village a very close match. I was now 100% certain I had my parish and my family. Success!


LISNIK DUZY was in the gazetteer and GOSCIERADOW was the parish.

May 26, 2015

Atlas of Sources & Materials of Old Poland, Part 2 — #Genealogy #Polish #History & #Technology

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

— — — — — — Diacriticals to Use (in search box):      ą   Ć  ć   ę   Ł  ł   ń   ó   Ś  ś   Ź   ź   Ż   ż

— — — — — — just copy/paste the above text characters as necessary in your search


Stanczyk, was talking about the interactive 16th century map of Polish Crown-Lands the last blog article.

We were talking specifically about a zoomed in search of Pacanów:



Now the last article mentioned:

  1. zoom / scale tool (lower left)
  2. search box (upper left which is closeable )
  3. map features like the square box being the parish, etc.

In this article I want to talk about a few more user interface / user experience (UX) elements:

  1. toolbar
  2. panel, with tabs [far right]
  3. tab, check boxes (for more details) [far right]
  4. “Materials” menu [upper right]

Here is the image (clickable) I will be addressing:


The place name search box has been hidden so we can see more of the map under the search box.


For the toolbar we find the following icons (top to bottom):

Show/Hide Panel (to show hide the layers/legend tabs), max zoom-out, previous map, next map, zoom at selection, zoom-in, zoom-out, pan,  info on selected map object, select rectangluar region to zoom in on, tool tip,  measure (distance, area), query editor, refresh map. Now I want to emphasize a few of the toolbar tools. Just hover over a toolbar icon to see the name of each tool. Click on an icon to select the desired tool (before interacting with the map).

The Show/Hide Panel tool at the top is to show or to hide the right-most area known as the Layers/Legend Panel (that contains the two tabs, “Layers” & “Legends”. This is again a way to show more of the map. I also like the Measure tool. The measure tool allows you to draw either a line or a polygon shape. Drawing a line will give you the distance between two points. Drawing a polygon will give you total area and the length around the polygon edges. To draw a line click on measure tool (3rd from bottom) and drag your mouse to the second location and double-click (to end line drawing). So if you  select the measure tool you will see an info box in lower right corner of your screen that gives the distance/area. So if you click on Pacanów and double-click on Biechów, the distance shown should be approximately 7 km (roughly 4.2 miles) between my grandfather’s village and my grandmother’s village. You can clear the distance info in the bottom corner and redraw your line(s) as necessary. The Pan tool (shown as a hand) is necessary to drag the map up or down or right or left to pan the map. You need to click on the pan tool before trying to move the map (or you will be doing whatever the last selected tool was). The last tool I wanted to mention is the, Tool Tip tool. The tool tip is a very nice tool that provides info on a village as you hover over its square/dot).

Panel / Tabs / Checkboxes

ThePanelThe Panel is the right-most part of the map and you can toggle on or off the showing of the panel via the top tool in the toolbar.  There are five layers for this 16th century map available (from the underlying data). The panel has two tabs, “Layers” and “Legend”.

Each layer has a box with a ‘+’ in it that you click on to expand (the box then contains a ‘-‘ which you click on to close). For this article we are only interested in “Ecclesiastical Borders”. This layer allows us to show the checkboxes for the boundaries for a parish or a deaconate (aka deanery) or a diocese. The two that can be most helpful for studying your ancestors are the parish boundary and/or the deaconate boundary. In the above map, I checked both parish and deaconate boundaries. Now keep in mind that these church boundaries are the way they were back in the 16th century and not for the current times and in most cases also do not match the 18th/19th centuries either. These borders can point out the relationship between nearby parishes and also show which set of villages make up a parish. Both of these visual clues are helpful to the genealogical researcher.

The checkboxes when checked show the boundary and when unchecked do not display the boundaries.

Materials Menu

MaterialsMenuThe Materials Menu  is near the upper right corner (above the map area) and it allows you to switch between collections whose data are map based. It shows the same map but the layers change to show the new details that can be displayed through the user interface.

I particularly found the “Libraries of Wislica”, “Protestant Communites 16th-18th centuries”, and “Religions / Confessions 18th century” to be VERY interesting !

Now using the Layers tab and the Info tool can be most useful. The objects on these maps open up rows of data via the info tool to show a lot of useful material that you must see to believe. This is one of the best uses of a spatial (i.e. map) user interface that I have yet seen. It may take some time to master the user interface, but I assure it is worth it if you want to go much deeper in your understanding of your family history in Poland. If you are looking for old synagogues or to find minority religious denominations that are uncommon this site is a treasure trove of help.

December 22, 2014

1772 Polish Wojewodztwo, Diocese, and Deaconates — #Polish #Genealogy #Maps

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

1772_ParishesInPoland_mapXVIsegmentStanczyk is busy with holiday chores, including wishing you, my dear readers a Happy Holidays & a Happy, Healthy New Year too. As most regular readers know, I spend a lot of my time writing about genealogy with a focus on Polish genealogy and in particular in the geographical areas surrounding my paternal grandparent’s ancestral villages (Biechow & Pacanow in old wojewodztwa Kieleckie, now a part of SwietoKrzyskie woj.). Like most areas in and around Eastern /Central Europe the borders change … frequently. So today’s blog article is about 1772 just before the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth was partitioned amongst the neighboring empires (you know who you are/were, you Black Eagle Empires).

It is interesting to note that Pacanow was a much more important regional village in 1772. It was in fact, a deaconate, subordinate to the diocese of Krakow in the Gniezno Wojewodztwa. At that time, there were only two Wojewodztwo (Provinces): Gniezno in the west and Lwow (Lviv, Lemberg, Leopolis, the city of Lions in whatever language) in the east. Any other wojewodztwo were in the Lithuanian portion of the Commonwealth. So the civil/religious hierarchy of the time was: Poland->Gniezno->Krakow->Pacanow, which  along with Opatowiec deaconate contained most of the villages this author writes about [you might be tempted to toss in Polaniec and Sandomierz too]. That area is shown in the map at the top. I do a lot of research for my family in the above map, west of Polaniec and south of Pinczow (the lower/left quadrant) in almost every parish north of the Vistula (Wisla) river I have located a record for someone in my family tree  —  you might say, the bones of Stanczyk’s DNA are rooted here.

So let me enumerate the parishes from this 1772 map that are present in my genealogy:

Biechow & Pacanow (grandparents), Stopnica, Ksziaznice, Zborowek, Swiniary, Olesnica, Szczebrzusz, Beszowa, Opatowiec, Busko and probably another 8-9 other villages with a person here or there. I think Solec too, but I have not found that record yet. I also a few stray, unconnected family records from Szczucin (the only parish south of the Vistula … so far). Are these in your bones too? Drop me a line in the New Year and we can compare family trees.

By the way, this research is from the PGSA’s CD-ROM, “The Latin Church in the Polish Commonwealth in 1772” [ISBN – 978-0-924207-12-9 ].

December 7, 2014

1772 Map of Poland’s Wojewodztwo (Provinces) — #Map #Genealogy #Poland

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon


Today, Stanczyk was surfing the Internet when I came upon a map from 1772. This map was just as the first partition of Poland had occurred. This segment of the map was part of a PDF document from:

Entitled: “Map of Poland: Outlining Its Provinces and Voivodeships, 1772“. The document if 40.5MB and is 59 pages (about half of whom are blank pages). In 1772 the map segment shown above was in Sandomierskie wojewodztwo/voivodeship. The map is a bit blurry/grainy, so I had to annotate the section to show Pacanow and Szczucin and the river Vistula/Wisla between them. This segment is from the upper left of  page 43 of the PDF.

This map encompasses a large part of the area that blogs emphasizes from my genealogical research in the Russian-Poland partition (zabor). The area north of the Vistula will become part of the Russian Gubernia Kielce. The area below the Vistula becomes part of the Austrian-Partition, known as Galicia.

Knowing the geography of your ancestral villages (in my case Pacanow) can aid you in your genealogical research by identifying the civil administrative hierarchy that records the births, marriages, and deaths of the people. It can also help to locate parishes and in planning a proximity search for adjoining parishes that may also have records of your ancestors. So knowing the maps/geography can help the researcher locate data and the skilled use of Gazetteers can get you to your ancestral parish or parishes. Maps also show the changing borders over time and how the civil administrative hierarchies change over time.

A good genealogist will also be good at geography (as well as many other skills) in order to locate and read records of your family’s history.

March 24, 2013

Gazetteers, Maps, and Genealogy — #Polish, #Genealogy, #Maps, #Gazetteer

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Block_Stanczyk, has been busy revisiting the Metryk (metrical, vital records) images from of the various parishes/synagogues [hereafter I just use ‘parish’ as shorthand for ‘parish/synagogue’]. As my blog, Waiting For Polish Archives 2.4 M Scans (March 18th, 2013), indicated, I have been exhausting the possibilities for Biechow & Zborowek parishes in the Buski (Busko-Zdroj) powiat. The images are clearer, so I am replacing my existing images with these much better images. In some cases, I have found that the images of the Polish paragraph format provide me with additional details over what may have been available via only a Latin Box format copy that I might have previously had. At the very least, I have corrected a few mistakes of translation due to unreadable portions from prior microfilm I have read from/taken pictures of. So I strongly encourage others to make this effort.

I have been using the Metryk database and looking at the images/scans. Sometimes you have to look at dozens of images because there is NO index. But most of the collection (post 1812) have indexes. If you see SKU (that means index/skorowidz of births/urodziny), likewise  for SKM (for marriage), and SKZ (for death) indexes. Sometimes indexes spread across multiple pages, so you may see SK1, SKa (names begining with the letter ‘A’) or SKU1, etc. SO use these indexes to look for your family names, then just load up the scan of the akt (record) number for your ancestor — no need to search  through a multitude of images.

I have also used Geneszukacz as another kind of index to search for family names. These indexes are nice because I can catch ancestors getting married (or dying or giving birth) in another parish that I might not have known to check. If this previously unknown parish is one that has scans, then I go directly to the year/event for that parish and go to the akt specified in Geneszukacz!

So that is all great and I exhort you to do this.

But these new, previously unknown parishes. Where are they? How far away from the ancestral village are they? That is when I need a gazetteer (check out Stanczyk’s Gazetter page) or a map. If you have not been to the Polish War Map Archive (Archiwum Map Wojskowego), then today’s blog is your reason to do so. I have a map on my wall of my ancestral villages. The map’s name is: STOPNICA_PAS47_SLUP32. In fact, I use their MAP INDEX, 1:100,000 scale map tiled in squares ( Please NOTE these map images are from about 4MB to 7MB in size. Make sure you are at a Free WiFi cafe where you can use a high-speed and the large band-width for the map images you download.

When you see, PAS think ROW and when you see SLUP think COLUMN. This is a big Cartesian Grid (or computer types can think 2d-array). It turns out that STOPNICA_PAS47_SLUP32 has: Biechow, Pacanow, Ksiaznice, Zborowek, Swiniary, Szczucin, Beszowa, Olesnica, and STOPNICA. In fact, that one map has many more parishes than those that I enumerated. I have a small snippet of the Map Index below (you can click on the image and it will take you to the actual map index):


So I found an ELIJASZ ancestor in Koniemloty parish getting married, who was from PACANOW parish. Now from the Metryk web app, I knew Koniemloty was in STASZOW powiat. So I go to the Map Index and look at the grid near STOPNICA (P47_S32) and voila, STASZOW is the box due north of STOPNICA in PAS46_SLUP32. If you cannot locate you powiat that way, then you must drop back to (an interactive map that I have raved about before) and look for KONIEMLOTY (do not need to use diacriticals) to get the relative feel that it is north or east (or north-east). So any way, STASZOW_PAS46_SLUP32 is the map for KONIEMLOTY parish. Notice PAS46 is one row less than PAS47 (of STOPNICA). PAS decreasing is going north, PAS increasing is going south. Going east from STASZOW, we see the SLUP increases to SLUP33  (SANDOMIERZ) or going west the SLUP decreases to SLUP31 (PINCZOW). So now you can now work  with the Map Index using the cardinal directions by adding/subtracting to/from the rows/columns.

P.S. Since this is the Passover (Pesach) / Easter (Wielkanoc) season, let me honor my wife (Tereza) by pointing out that her paternal grandfather, Benjamin Solomon, had as a birth village, Proskuriw (aka PŁOSKIRÓW, Хмельницький/Khmelnitski — now in Modern Ukraine). This village is shown in the lower right-hand corner of my map snippet (PAS51_SLUP44).

January 21, 2013

Historical Eras of Poland … For Genealogists

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has lived much history and God willing,  will live much more of it. So across the generations, you see the changing borders of Eastern / Central Europe and how it affects us genealogists (not that I am ignoring the plight of our ancestors that had to evolve with the changing landscape). From the beginning, I was always advised to learn about “The three partitions” and determine which of the three partitions my forebears came from  — good advice, but Poland’s history is a much richer tapestry than just the three partitions (zabory).

So today’s blog is about the Eras of Poland and the names I have chosen to call them going forward so that we can all “be on the same page”. Please forgive this jester as I will limit the discussion to the eras post-Piast dynasties, starting with the Polish-LithuanianCommonwealth. This roughly matches the Papal nuncios that dictated that churches must record the vital records of the parishioners. So we find the beginnings of genealogies for all peoples and not just for the magnate families or the royals.

Let me just utter the era names I wish to use going forward when I write about genealogies or histories. Let me get the mystery out of the way and also let the debates and arguments proceed. Some of these are overlapping eras, because not only are we discussing a vast span of time, but we are also talking about vast distances and a broad swath of peoples / religions / governments.



ERA Name Beg. Date End Date Synonyms / Alternate Names
AUSTRIAN POLAND 06/09/1815 11/10/1918 GALICIA
PRUSSIAN POLAND 06/09/1815 11/10/1918 Bezirks: POSEN, POMMERANIA, DANZIG (GDANSK) etc.
POLAND 11/1/1918 9/1/1939 SECONDREPUBLIC
WWII ERA 9/2/1939 12/31/1946 Occupied Poland, General Government, German Occupied, Russian Occupied
POLAND 1/1/1945 6/30/1975 Post World War II Poland
POLAND 7/1/1975 12/31/1998 1989 is commonly referred to as the start of the THIRDREPUBLIC
POLAND 1/1/1999 Present Times THIRDREPUBLIC and beyond to the present

Some of the era names are well understood and some are controversial (for a lot of reasons). First off, I wanted to make a distinction between the PARTITION era (1772-1815) which I saw as including the Napoleonic wars and ending with Napoleon’s defeat and the Treaty of Vienna.

So I separate AUSTRIAN PARTITION from AUSTRIAN POLAND. The distinction is subtle but I believe defensible. The three Partitions and the Duchy of Warsaw (French protectorate) are separate because during these times there was at least a scrap of Poland in existence (excepting for a decade proceeding Napoleon’s victories). The AUSTRIAN/PRUSSIAN/RUSSIAN POLANDs represent the slightly more than one century that Poland had “disappeared” from European maps. That century coincides with the Great Migration of Poles (including Jews) to the USA – a significant genealogical event for the Slavic Genealogist.

You will note the CracovianRepublic which gets a lesser amount of attention and eventually is folded into AUSTRIAN POLAND. Also there is the JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT (more about that in a bit).

RUSSIAN POLAND is treated differently than I have seen it handled before. My ancestors come from this area, so you will have to forgive me if this appears a bit chauvinistic. I delineated the RUSSIAN occupation finely. So you see a Russian Partition followed by a Duchy of Warsaw followed by  Congress Poland ( a TSARIST hegemony) followed by the Kingdom of Poland and finally resulting in RUSSIAN POLAND. The nuances in the RUSSIAN Zabor (partition) follow the changes in administrative boundaries that so affect genealogical research. Genealogists also should take note that vitals records in RUSSIAN POLAND are written in Russian/Cyrillic and use Gregorian Calendar from late spring 1869 through the collapse of the Russian Empire near the end of World War I in 1917. So, Polish language records are found before and after that period of time. Similarly, for Latin/Hebrew languages for religious records (although you do find Latin, Hebrew and even some Polish records during 1869-1917 timeframe in some limited ways). Since the Russian language edict almost matches exactly the above RUSSIAN POLAND era, I did not create yet another era specifically for that era of Russian language. I merely note it here.

PaleOfSettlementMAPThe JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT was created by the Russian Tsarina, Catherine the Great. She added to the PALE over the years as the Russian Empire acquired new lands. So as I refer to the JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT, it is the 15 western Guberniya where Russian Empire Jews were forced to settle. In practice it also included the 10 Guberniya of the PolishKingdom (Congress Poland/Vistula Land). So Russian Jews had a total of 25 Guberniya where they could live (with some exclusions for large cities which were forbidden to most Jews) within the Russian Empire (European Portion). Most or all of the areas within the 25 Guberniya used to be a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1772), so I thought it important to include the JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT in order to speak of the 15 Guberniya that underlie that geographic area and that era of time (1791-1918) as well as some minor forays on my part into Jewish Genealogical research.  The 15 specific guberniya are (roughly North to South):

Kovno,  Vitebsk,  Vilna (Wilno),  Grodno,  Minsk,  Mogilev,  Volhynia,   Kiev,   Chernigov,  Poltava,  Podolia,  Bessarabia, Kherson,  Ekaterinoslav,  and  Taurida (the Crimean Penninsula)

The astute reader will note four POLAND eras. These cover the two decades between World War I and the up to the time of World War II began. It  also covers the Post World War II era. They also overlap the Second and Third Republics of Poland. Finally, the fine-grain view of Post World War II Poland is coincident with the redefinition of  Wojewodztwo (Provinces) and their underlying powiaty (counties). Again, the emphasis is in order to support genealogical research.

I have not mentioned the WWII era (World War II) yet. I need to do some specific research to see how Nazi / Soviet occupations affected the administrative jurisdictions and what impact if any that had on genealogy during the war. I leave that for some future blog(s).

No mention of religious hierarchies and their administrative boundaries have been addressed, but obviously, that too has an impact on genealogical research. The religious boundaries reflect the changes caused by changing national boundaries, but overall the religious boundaries were more stable until modern times necessitated re-arranging or closing religious areas.

OK, that is my blog and those are my eras. You may now proceed to critique my choices. But I have now defined my terms for future “Polish” genealogical blogs.  As usual, I look forward to your comments and emails.

September 1, 2012

Gazetteer, PGSA, Gen Dobry – A Good Day For Sure — #Genealogy, #Newsletter, #Gazetteer, #Polish

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

September 1st is such an inauspicious day for Polish genealogists. Stanczyk recognizes the memory of WWII starting today in 1939. That being said, it is a good day when the Gen Dobry! newsletter  (uh, e-zine) comes in the email box. I was perusing the e-zine and when I got to “More Useful Web Addresses”, one of my favorite sections.

Stopnica powiat (pow.) of Kieleckie gubernia (gub.)I noticed a link (URL) to the Internet Polish Genealogical Source, their 1907 atlas, also known as, “Atlas Geograficzny Illustrowany Królestwa Polskiego” [ Illustrated Geographic Index of the Polish Kingdom]. Now this is a gazetteer/atlas that I have long enjoyed for its beauty as well as its usefulness for locating the parishes.

It took this jester back about 5-6 years to when I volunteered for the PGSA and helped them partially index the very same gazetteer. The PGSA has built a searchable database on their project. So having worked on that effort, I thought I would compare the two web resources. For the record, this jester worked on the STOPNICA (Stopnicki) powiat of the PGSA project. I would recommend my readers volunteer for genealogy projects as they are a great way to meet other expert genealogists and to further become acquainted with some resource that may help you in your research. So it was for me — I was able to locate all of the parishes near my ancestral villages.

As I noted above this is a 1907 map, so it reflects the Kingdom of Poland as an occupied territory of the Russian Empire. So we see the provinces (województwo) are called “gubernia”, the Russian term. My ancestors were predominantly from Kielce gubernia, Stopnica powiat. So I will use that to compare since that is my area of expertise. That would be map number 28 (from the main  index map).


The iPGS has done a nice job on presentation and navigation. They provide 1907 names vs 2005 names of villages/towns. They have a nice index to each powiat map and show other info like today’s powiat. Their project also looked to be complete. Now I did not work on the iPGS project, so I hate to be nitpicky, but they were not complete and accurate. On map #28, STOPNICA, I noticed that Piasek Wielki was not marked as having a parish, yet the map image clearly indicates a cross on the circle that represents Piasek Wielki. When I compared it to my work on PGSA, it did in fact list a parish. So now I had to know which was correct. So I went to and used their library catalog to do a place name search for Piasek (choose the one for Kielce) .  Clicking on all links to expand upon results leads you to this page, which shows there are two microfilm for the parish spanning the years from 1875-1884  — so indeed it is/was a parish and therefore the PGSA was the correct project.


The PGSA project of which I was a member was a substantial effort. Yet, this project was not complete. The PGSA built a small database look-up web-app. That is nice if you want to see a list towns that begin with ‘Bialy’ so you can compare if you do not quite know which ‘Bialy’ town you need. The PGSA also has a powiat map list page listing the volunteers. The navigation probably should be more like iPGS, but the iPGS should probably implement a search form like PGSA.

I cannot offer a comparison of which web site has more accurate data / complete data; The effort would simply be too great for one person. I can only recommend that you look at the map and see if you see a cross on the circle of a town, then you should see a plus in the data results. Of course, the final resolution if you see difference is to look at and see if they have microfilm or not. You could look at a Polish web site for a listing of Polish Catholic parishes — but there again parishes may have closed or towns vanished, so there is not one complete index anywhere. Even the may not have a microfilm for a perfectly valid parish. PRADZIAD, the Polish National Archive web site for parish / civil records may not have data if data was lost (like in WWII), so it may not be possible to ever really have a complete list of parishes of all time nor know which data is missing/lost. Absence of data does not mean anything (or possibly could mean any of a few things). Never forget that there may be diocesan data in the church archives. Also please note that most sources are CHURCH oriented, so if you are looking for synagogues you are limited to PRADZIAD or to the use of an excellent gazetteer like Brian Lenius’ Galicia Gazetteer.

But at least this new iPGS gazetteer is online and available for all of us to use. Keep in mind there may be limitations on the data you see, but you must not have limitations upon your reasoning ability. Do not assume because you do not see something that it does not exist. Keep looking. Also,  verify what you think you know.

April 22, 2012

Alytus / Olita – Udrija / Baksiai — #Polish, #Lithuanian, #Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Recently, Stanczyk was asked about a Pennsylvania family and if I could find their ancestral villages, so they could make a family pilgrimage to get in touch with their Genealogical Roots.

See the red annotation (circle / underline) near the map center. This is region as shown from a 1757 map of the Polish / Lithuanian Commonwealth.

One of the immediate points of this region needs to be made explicit. Obviously, it was a part of the Lithuanian Duchy before, then Part of Poland, it became part of Prussian-Poland partition, then part of the Russian Empire, before becoming Lithuania in modern times.

That much border re-drawing causes a lot of languages / archives to come into play. Records can be expected to be found in Latin, Lithuanian, Polish, German, Hebrew/Yiddish and Russian.

The region is known in various languages. So I sought out JewishGen ShtetlSeeker to help me learn all of the various names and here is the pop-up if you hover over the Alytus name:

Most researchers will want to take note of it as Olita in Suwalki wojewodztwo (when in the Polish Kingdom) or as Oлита (Russian/Cyrillic) in Troki uyezd, Vilna gubernia.

Family Search has microfilm for both Catholic and Jewish metrical books:

Lithuania, Alytus – Church records (1)
Metrical books, 1797-1873
Lithuania, Alytus – Jewish records (1)
Metrical books, 1835-1914

Pradziad has some archival records too. Their records are for Jewish metrical records in the year range: 1835-1872 .

Obviously, if you visit the locale, then parish records may exist in Udrija or Baksiai parishes/synagogues in the Alytus region of Lithuania. Besides the Catholic records, there may also be Lutheran records too.

A more modern map (Olita/Alytus) can be found on the Polish map site . Please NOTE this is a large / detailed map. The area of this article is in the left-center area on the river.

October 7, 2011

#Genealogy – Russian – Poland Administrative Regions

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In my last article, I spoke about UKASE = Decree. Today, I wanted to write about another Ukase. By the edict (ukase) of Czar Peter the Great on December 18, 1708, he divided Russia into eight guberniyas. A Gubernya (aka Gubernia) is roughly equivalent to a State in the USA or a Province in Canada and is very equivalent to a Wojewodztwo in Poland. Gubernya is a Russian word and is written in Cyrillic as, губерния .

The number of Gubernya and the area they covered changed over time. So if you check out the map from my MAPS page from 1820, my ancestors would have lived in the Krakow gubernya. But by my grandparent’s time they lived in the Kielce (aka Kieleckie) gubernya — no their village of residence did not change, but the Russian Administrative regions had been  re-defined a few times.

A good Gazetteer should be able to give you the Gubernya for your ancestral village. Knowing the administrative region may help you locate where the records are for your ancestors. Obviously, you should check their parish first. But you will also want to know the region to locate the civil or religious archive that might have backup records (vital records, court records, military records, voter lists, etc) for you to research.

Also you should know the Russian, as well as the Polish words and spelling of your ancestor’s residence(s). If nothing else, so that you can Google for data on the Internet. The results you get from Googling “Gubernya” will be different the results you get from Googling, “губерния“.

If your family is from the same area as Stanczyk’s then you may see …

Келецкая губерния = Kielecka Gubernia

Trust me the “orange-ish” area is Kielecka Gubernia.

Near the bottom-right you will see Stopnica and Pacanow (стопнйча, пачанов).


September 7, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy #Maps – Just Another Manic Map Day

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Kielce - Radom (Stopnica pow. - Sandomierz pow.)

Stanczyk has a new meme: “Just Another Manic Map Day”.

The map with this article is a cross section of the old Kielce province (aka Wojewwodztwo, Gubernia). I was looking at this because of an email I received from Jonathan B. His ancestors are from Kloda with perhaps a tie to my village of Pacanow. Hence this map shows both. [Click on image to see full image]

I noticed that Jonathan’s village was JUST across the Kielce border into Radom gubernia. At one time these were both in the original Sandomierz gubernia from which the Kielce and Radom gubernias were formed from. That caused my mind to think about other resources I have stumbled across on the Internet. So let me take today to introduce a useful link for Polish researchers of Kielce / Radom gubernias (wojewwodztwo).

This is a part of the website. They have copies of a Journal (which I have seen in libraries) named appropriately: Kielce-Radom Journal. The journal has now been defunct for a few years — so this Special Interrest Group (SIG) is no more, but its journals can be read online (in PDF format). Click on the link to see the list of journals.

That is my tip. Go look at their back issues. There are many useful methodology articles. It is mostly a Jewish centric journal, but the methodology applies to all genealogists who have ancestors from KielceRadom areas.



I thought I would add a post script. In order to place this map visually, you need to know that Krakow is further south-west along the Vistula river [at the bottom]. Just off the north edge is the town of Staszow. Off the bottom edge, across the Vistula river is Szczucin [follow the road from Pacanow south across the bridge].

August 31, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Searching for RUSEK village in the Skorowidz Miejscowości

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Ok, yesterday I made a note to search for Rusek, a village  I never knew of, except that it was not a village near to the ancestral villages of my grandparents (dziadkowie). So I used my usual favorite Polish Gazetteer: the Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej … The above image is from page 1479 of the book (although it is image #1481 online). You can find this gazetteer from my web page at the top of the blog (Index of Place Names in the Republic of Poland).

I did find two Ruseks. The one in Pomerania seemed very unlikely. The other is in the same wojewodztwo (Kielce) near Krakow — I’d bet on this one.  If the info in the Ship Manifest (see the previous posting) was correct then Leon Wlecial may have been born in Sułoszowa parish in the village of Rusek-Wrona (actually a settlement/osada according to the gazetteer). I’d have to wonder what would have brought his parents to Sułoszowa parish, given that Maciej Wlecial was a restauranteur and that is a long ways from the family business.

According to the LDS Family Search website – the Library Catalog, we do find they have microfilm for  the Sułoszowa, diocese in woj. Kielce but parish in woj. Kraków.  That is kind of an odd configuration (parish/diocese). The list of available microfilm is as follows:

  1. Akta urodzeń, małżeństw, zgonów 1810-1814 –  FHL INTL Film [ 876795 ]
  2. Akta urodzeń, małżeństw, zgonów 1815-1824 –  FHL INTL Film [ 876796 ]
  3. Akta urodzeń, małżeństw, zgonów 1825-1838 –  FHL INTL Film [ 876797 ]
  4. Akta urodzeń, małżeństw, zgonów 1839-1855 –  FHL INTL Film [ 876798 ]
  5. Akta urodzeń, małżeństw, zgonów 1855-1870 –  VAULT INTL Film [ 923367 ]

So they have birth, marriage, death records for the years 1810-1870. No help there since by Leon’s  age, he would have been born in the 1895 (my guess is 1894, even though he always declared 1897 as the year, it is unlikely unless he was a twin of his sister Julianna (in which case where was Leon’s birth). 1894 would also match his Ship Manifest if he were to become 19 after his arrival date. He was married so I cannot see fittiing him into the gaps for later years (i.e. 1896 or 1900) or he would have been too young to have been married in/before 1913 and immigrate. Perhaps one day I will rent one of these microfilm and look for some Wlecial in that Sułoszowa parish — perhaps they originally came from Rusek to Kwasów (in Pacanów parish).

August 30, 2011

#Genealogy – Has Free Access Week (until 9/5) for Immigration Records

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk just wanted to let his readers know they have this Labor Day Week/Weekend to search for free in at least their Immigration records!

I took advantage of this to do some new searches related to the Social Network Analysis (SNA) I did a while back. I also remembered my Haller’s Army article too and so I decided to search for one of my returning Haller’s Army vets (actually his brother Leon). Boleslaw returned in 1920 on Princess Matoika and I got to thinking, I know his brother Leon fought in World War I (in the US Army — not Haller’s Army); Perhaps I can find US Troops returning from World War I too.

Well all of a sudden I found Leon Wlecial on his INITIAL arrival in America in 1913. Too bad it was only the Hamburg Ship Manifest which has such little detail. But then my forensic mind kicked in. If he came to US via Hamburg there had to be a NYC or Philadelphia arrival record for him. I tried variations on the name to no avail to find the matching ship manifest in NYC/Philadlephia. I finally decided to look at all arrivals on 12/20/1913 on SS Pretoria. I searched for all “Leons” assuming they butchered the last name on indexing. No Leon Wlecial in the Leons??? I then did a search on all “Lean”s and lo and behold there was my Leon hiding amongst the Leans with his last name also butchered coming form his wife (??? — never knew he was married) and going to his brother Boleslaw whom I knew well and had a lot of documentation on. So indeed this was my Leon Wlecial (as if there could be another Leon Wlecial with a brother Boleslaw Wlecial in Detroit, MI).

Now the Wlecial/Wlecialowski name is very rare indeed so I did not need much convincing but this info was too good. I now knew Leon had been married in Poland to a woman named “Maten” (??) from whom he was arriving from. I also knew he was living in “Baczanow” (a corruption of Pacanow, often written Paczanow in Ship Manifests) and that he was born in Rusek. Rusek, really ???   Well that might explain why I found his two siblings birth records in Pacanow, but not his. Note to self – FIND R-U-S-E-K (if it exists) in a Gazetteer. I also now had a new residence for his brother Boleslaw Wlecial who was living at 449 Grady Ave, Detroit, MI on 12/20/1913 apparently if you can believe the stuff written on Ship Manifests.

The moral of this story was … Do NOT stop at just the Hamburg Ship Manifest. It means there is a matching Ship Manifest in Ellis Island or for Philadelphia port. Use the date and ship name if the name does not pop up in NYC/Philadelphia searches. You can always go page by page on the Ship Manifest, but often some shrewd guessing can help you divine how the name was mangled by an indexer misreading the Ship Manifest.

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, 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 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. 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 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.

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