Archive for ‘History’

May 2, 2012

May 3rd Constitution Day — #Poland, #Lithuanian, #History

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Tomorrow is May 3rd and in Poland and Lithuanian it is celebrated as Constitution Day (first celebrated jointly on May 3rd 2007). But Stanczyk is getting ahead of himself in this story.

This jester trusts by now that you know that Poland was country with the second constitution. I am also hopeful that you had read a prior blog article of mine: “Poland 1794, The Tempest, and Catherine The Great” . For the discussion on Poland’s Constitution, I’d like to try my hand at an even broader context.

1732

Stanczyk maintains that 1732 was a very bad year for Poland. On 17 January 1732 Stanislaw Poniatowski was born in Wolczyn (which is in modern day Belarus). If the year had begun badly, then it would get much worse. On 13 September 1732, the secret treaty was signed at the Alliance of the Three Black Eagles. This was a secret treaty between Prussia, Russia and Hapsburg-Austria Empires (all three had Black Eagles as emblems — in stark contrast to Poland’s White Eagle). They agreed to maintain Poland in their “status quo” suffering from a non-functional szlachta with a Libretum Veto — meaning a single veto could derail any new law, further meaning that laws almost never got passed [sounds like 2009-2012 Washington D.C. does it not?]

Now let me narrate the rest of the story, before I give Constitution Day’s Timeline.

In 1750 Poniatowski met his mentor, the Briton, Charles Hanbury Williams . Williams was the British ambassador to Russia. They met again in 1753. Now while the Poniatowskich were a noble family, their family fortunes were not so great as the great magnate families. So they had to align themselves and hope for a strategic marriage for Stanislaw to a wealthier family. None the less, Stanislaw’s father was able to procure him some nominal titles. In 1755, the elder Poniatowski got his son Stanislaw, the title of Stolnik of Lithuania. Stolnik was a court office in Poland and Russia,  responsible for serving the royal table. Keep that image in mind.

So armed with his new title of Stolnik of Lithuania, Stanislaw accompanied the British Ambassador to Russia, where the young Poniatowski met the also young (but very formidable) Catherine who had not yet become Empress of Russia (nor yet earned, her appellation, “The Great”). Stanislaw Poniatowski was only at the Russian court for one year. By 1756 Poniatowski was ordered to leave the Russian Court amidst some “intrigue”. It is thought that this intrigue resulted in the birth of Anna Petrovna (by Catherine the Great) on the 9th December 1757. It is also said that Stanislaw always hoped his bedding of Catherine would result in a future marriage for him. This jester thinks that Stanislaw deluded himself to think he had successfully wooed Catherine and that marriage was possible for the two of them. This jester also further thinks that Catherine, used this virtual “apron string” to manage Poniatowski to do her Russian bidding in Poland.

In 1762 Catherine used her new position as the Russian Empress and she was able to get Stanislaw to be elected King of Poland on 6 September 1764. It has now been 32 years of managing Poland’s status quo by the Three Black Eagles. So by 17 February 1772 the Three Black Eagles agreed to partition Poland. On August 5th, 1772 the occupation manifesto was issued and foreign troops entered Poland’s sovereign territory and forced a cession Sejm to convene with King Poniatowski and agree to the partition manifesto (probably Stanislaw thought it was best to go along with Russia in this matter and that this obedience would be rewarded) on 9/18/1773. Not much leadership in this jester’s mind was exhibited, but opposition to three Empires was probably futile anyway.

Life goes on for another decade. Stanislaw uses what little wealth of the Kingdom to foster arts & science, but with Prussia’s control of the Baltic Ports,  and using its control to extort high custom duties from Poland on 80% of Poland’s economic trades to further collapse Poland’s economy and that limits Poniatowski’s wealth/power. Poniatowski also continues his hope for a noble marriage, but he does engage in a morganatic marriage to Elzbieta Szydlowska in 1783 and thereby maintains his options for a royal marriage.

In 1788 the Four Year Sejm convenes and Stanislaw thinks he can help Catherine The Great in her war with the Ottoman Empire by raising an army in Poland — which Catherine quickly squashes, but leaves the Polish Sejm alone while she wars with the Ottomans. Left to their own devices, this “Enlightened” body of lawmakers passes a constitution on 3rd May 1791. Even King Poniatowski celebrates this event. If you have read my prior blog article listed above, then you know this will NOT end well for Poland (or Poniatowski who is forced to abdicate the Polish throne 11/25/1795).

I think you can see that Poniatowski, Stolnik of Lithuania, served up Poland as a feast for Catherine The Great to enjoy repeatedly until even she was forced to make him abdicate and spend the remainder of his three years of life as a nominal prisoner in St Petersburg, Russia (so he could not meddle further in Russian affairs). Poniatowski died 2/12/1798 in St Petersburg, Russia. Poniatowski’s remains were removed and re-buried in Wolczyn, Belarus — until that church fell into disrepair. Poland reclaimed Poniatowki’s remains and he was buried a third time (14 February 1995) in St. John’s Cathedral in Warsaw, Poland — the very site where he had celebrated the Polish Constitution on May 3rd 1791.

Timeline of the Constitution:

5/3/1791 – Constitution is Passed (2nd in the world).

May 1792 Constitution Day is celebrated.

July 1792 King Poniatowski  joins the Targowice Confederation against Poland and his own nephew (and Kosciuszko too) who were fighting the War To Defend The Constitution with Russia and Catherine the Great who was now freed up from warring with the Ottomans and now able to show her displeasure.

1793-1806 – Constitution Day is banned during the the 2nd/3rd Partition years.

1807-1815 – Constitution Day is celebrated in the Duchy of Warsaw thanks to Napoleon.

1815-1918 – Constitution Day is unofficially celebrated / discouraged in Congress Poland

April 1919 – The re-emerged Polish Republic celebrates Constitution Day again until 1940.

World War II – Constitution Day is banned again.

1945 – Constitution Day is celebrated.

1946 – The Communists cancel Constitution Day. They substitue May Day (May 1st) as an attempt to replace the Constitution Day celebration.

April 1990 – Poland out from under the Communist yoke celebrates Constitution Day again.

May 3rd 2007 – Poland & Lithuania celebrate Constitution Day jointly echoing their former Commonwealth days. This is the first jointly celebrated Constitution Day.

Perhaps one day, the USA will celebrate with Poland on May 3rd as the two countries with the oldest constitutions. [Now, please I know Polonia all over the USA, but most notably in Chicago mark May 3rd annually.]  Indeed you are reading this blog about May 3rd. So Polonia  still mark the day, the old country adopted the second oldest constitution.

Happy Constitution Day!

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March 18, 2012

Dziennik Polski Detroit Newspaper Database App Search Page

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk,

was finally able to use his training from Steve Morse’s presentation at RootsTech 2012 to create a One-Step Search App for the Dziennik Polski Detroit Newspaper Database.

To search on 30,920 Polish Vital Record Events, just go to the new Dziennik Polski Detroit Newspaper Database App Search page (on the right, under PAGES,  for future reference).

FAQ

For more background on the Dziennik Polski Detroit Newspaper click on the link.

You can search on the following fields:

Last Name – exact means the full last name exactly as you typed it. You can also select the ‘starts with’ radio button and just provide the first few starting characters. Do not use any wild card characters!

First Name – exact means the full first name exactly as you typed it. You can also select the ‘starts with’ radio button and just provide the first few starting characters. Do not use any wild card characters!

Newspaper Date – exact means that you need to enter the full date. Dates are of the format:

06/01/1924 (for June 1st, 1924). Format is MM/DD/YYYY. Leading zeros are required for a match.

You can use ‘contains’ radio button to enter a partial date. The most useful partial is just to provide the Year (YYYY). Do not use any wild card characters!

Event Type – exact means the full event type. This is not recommended. You SHOULD select the ‘starts with’ radio button and just provide the first few starting characters. Do not use any wild card characters! Uppercase is not required.

Valid Events Types: BIRTH,  CONSULAR,  DEATH,  or MARRIAGE

Indexer – exact means the full indexer exactly as you typed it. You can also select the ‘starts with’ radio button and just provide the first few starting characters. Do not use any wild card characters!

The Indexer is meant to be informational only, but you could conceivably want to search on this field too, so it is provided.

March 11, 2012

Ellis Island For Sale !!! … back in 1958 — #Genealogy, #History, #EllisIsland

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, was not aware that the US Government once contemplated the sale of Ells Island.

Slav Invasion ???

The 9 Feb 1958 article (from Daytona Beach Morning Journal — in Google’s Newspaper Archives) spoke about the condition of Ellis island and some of the cost drivers. Then the author diverges a bit into opinion and claims Ellis Island was a “scandal ridden bedlam”  and that between 1900-1914 was the great “Slav Invasion apparently from Southern Europe and the Balkans  — whew, for a minute there I thought they were talking about Czechs, Poles, and Russians.

Still this besmirching of the Southern Slavs in 1958 seems to be similar to today’s brand of xenophobia and is even filled with speculation   “How many persons turned away were lunatics?”. No, who-what-when-where-and-why in that journalism.

     Dick Eastman‘s Online Newsletter also had a blog on Ellis Island recently (3/9/2012) … The 9 March 2012 MailOnline (UK periodical) had a article on Ellis Island with some eerie photos of before the island was made into a National Park. Please do go take a look at the pictures.

These two articles provide quite a context for Ellis Island after it was retired and before it was to become a National Park.

March 3, 2012

Library of Congress – Chronicling America — #Genealogy, #Newspapers

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is a Library of Congress (LOC) researcher. Mostly, I have done my research in the Madison building where they keep the Newspapers / Periodicals.

Today they (LOC) sent me an email announcing another 100+ newspapers digitized with another 550,000+ new digitzed pages available via their Chronicling America – Historical Newspaper program. I have written about this worthy program before. Whether you research history or genealogy, these newspapers can be of help and providing evidence or even just adding a context to your ancestors.

Did you know that the LOC has over 220 Polish language newspapers on microfilm (and/or digitized)? To help out the Polish Genealogists, I have  compiled and published a list of the LOC’s Polish Language Newspapers:  here .

Make newspapers a part of your research to fill the gaps or to provide context!

–Stanczyk

February 24, 2012

London, England – WDYTYA — #Polish, #Genealogy, #TV,#Show

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

At the London “Who Do YOU Think You Are?“, the largest genealogy event in the English-speaking world will be held this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in London, England @ a three-day expo at the Olympia Exhibition Hall (February 24-26, 2012).

Between February 24 and 26 the Kresy-Siberia Foundation will have a stand at the “Who Do You Think You Are?” — the world’s biggest family history show.

Tens of thousands of Poles imprisoned in Russian labour camps or “gulags” across the far reaches of Siberia between 1940 and 1941 were freed in 1941, when Russia decided to become an ally of Great Britain in 1941 the prisoners were freed to form the Polish Second Corps — who fought so heroically in North Africa and the Italian campaign of 1943-44, (i.e. battle of Monte Cassino).

Many of these men settled in and adopted as their home, the communities in Bath, Trowbridge and Bristol. Perhaps this event will lead to new connections between these displaced families and their ancestors/descendants in other parts of the world.

Stanczyk wishes to note that the Polish Second Corps included: Wojtek soldier bear – mascot of 22nd Artillery Supply Company, who I have written about a few times.

 

http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Chance-Polish-descendants-trace-roots/story-15298065-detail/story.html

 

January 27, 2012

Pathways & Passages – Journal of PGSCT&NE — #Polish, #Genealogy, #Society

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk, thinks he just got the new issue of Pathways & Passages. I’m not certain because it says 2011 on the cover and in the page footers. But of course, who doesn’t have a hard time writing the new year on their checks.

That aside, their column, “Online Resources” was particularly good this issue (whichever it was, Summer 2011 -or- Summer 2012).

For the PA Polonia …

They had two online resources. For Schuykill County, PA (moje zona has family from that county — in fact I stumbled upon this site a few years ago). So I can state it is a very good from my own experience.

They did mention Lackawanna County, PA (but did not give the URL — so off to Google for you). There are marriages: 1885-1995 and an index to wills.

The Next Online Resources …

Passaic County, NJ – Naturalizations.  This turned out to be an EXCELLENT find! I found a Jozef Zwolski  whose ship manifest I had found before. Now Jozef was a brother of Roman Zwolski and both of these men are sons Jan Zwolski & Petronella Elijasz ! They happen to be from both Biechow & Pacanow parishes. Joseph’s Declaration of Intent was listed and you could view the image (and download a PDF of the document)! So I now have a birthday for Joseph and it matches up well to his ship manifest and his residences in Russian-Poland match up well too — so I am pretty convinced I have my ancestor.

Joseph apparently served in WWI and is taking advantage of privileges as a citizen soldier to become an American.

Antwerp Police Immigration Index. This last resource given, I would not have thought to look into (not having any Belgians in my direct lineage). But apparently, if you stayed longer than normal before your passage to American (from Antwerp port), you had to register with Antwerp Police. A good many Polish must have fell into that category. I did not find any of mine, but did find some whose last names match those in my family tree. If you do find your ancestor — you have a name and a village to ascertain that you have the correct person. But you will gain a birthday. This is another nice database from  FamilySearch.org.

I am glad I belong to some of the various Polish Genealogical Societies — these little resources sometimes pay big dividends.

January 14, 2012

Poland 1794, The Tempest, & Catherine The Great – #Polish, #Genealogy, #History

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk’s blog has a blog roll that includes the talented, Donna Pointkouski’sWhat’s Past is Prologue”. Her blog’s title is from Shakespeares’ play, “The Tempest”. Today’s article is NOT a paean to her fine works, nor to Shakespeare really though this jester has a fondness for the bard – I know I’ve said that before.

Ok, get out your Shakespeare’s 1st Folio and follow along. You will not have to flip too far. The Tempest is the first play in the tome. Just do it. Donna’s quote (“What’s Past is Prologue”) comes from Act II, Scene 1 and is said by Antonio. Today’s article is about Act I, Scene I and how that scene appears in another case of life imitating art. Never fear this is an historical tale from Russian Poland …

Dateline – Easter Week 1794. Poland has already been partitioned twice, the second time was just last year (1793) following the War of the Second Partition. The Empress of Russia is Ekaterina (Catherine) the Great. This Tsarina seems to have had a ‘soft spot” for the Polish diplomat and it was her seduction of Stanislaw August Poniatowski, whom she had caused to be installed as the last elected King of Poland that brought us to this day. It was Poniatowski’s duplicity in trying to move Poland closer to his lover’s Russian Empire that led to the Four Year Sejm only the Empress did not want Poland to re-arm nor Poland’s help in suppressing Turkish aggressions. So the Sejm left to itself,  enacted the world’s  2nd Democratic Constitution on May 3rd, 1791 which led to the War of the Second Partition and finally the 2nd partition in 1793. Violence begets violence and so we find ourselves here Easter Week 1794.

Tadeusz Kosciuszko emboldened by his success in the American Revolution, leads a successful Insurrection in Krakow, where his heroic charge against the Russian General Tormasov results in the capture of the Russian cannons and defeat for the Russian General and his overly small force. This victory results in the ensuing liberation of Warsaw followed by Wilno. Thereby commencing a killing spree led by a tailor whose name (ironically in English) is Jan Kilinski and also by the Guild of Slaughterers (the fascinating occupations of our ancestors). The Russian Ambassador in Warsaw was able to flee eastward across the Vistula bridges[1] just ahead of the Insurrection.

However, the remainder of the Russian sympathizers who were too slow to follow the Russian Ambassador were summarily tried and hung by the Insurrection Council and/or by angry mobs. Amongst those fleeing, was a certain Hetman named Szymon Kossakowski who was caught trying to escape by boat …

Kossakowski  was caught and hanged under the rather literate inscription, “He who swings will not drown.” [1] .

Now compare that quote to Shakespeare’s text in “The Tempest”, published in the 1st Folio in 1623[2]  (performed prior to that publishing in 1610/1611). Near the end of Act I, Scene I  Gonzalo says, “He’ll be hanged yet, though every drop of water swear against it …[3]  .  That scene also contained more dialog about the loathsome boatswain being hanged rather than drowning.

Now we have arrived at the point of Stanczyk’s thesis. That Poland’s rebels were literate and familiar with Shakespeare’s Tempest. They cleverly used this paraphrase in proper context and it was directed at Poniatowski and of course the hangings left no doubt what would happen to other Russian sympathizers when caught. How do I come to suppose such a thing?

Poniatowski, despite his flaws was linguistically talented and mastered many languages, including English due to his mentorship in Russia by the British Ambassador, Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams, who was responsible for introducing Poniatowski to the Russian Empress[4].  Poniatowski was so enamored of the bard he erected a statue at Lazienki Palace of Shakespeare[5] ! Poniatowski’s brother, Michal Poniatowski (a Polish Primate) committed suicide rather than meet his fate at the hands of the Insurrection Council. So the Primate knew more certainly than most what Kossakowski’s hanging meant to all Russian sympathizers.

The Insurrection was short lived and was put down by the Catherine the Great and her Russian Generals. This historical story is what led to the third Partition of Poland.

However, it appears 171 years was ample time for the 1st Folio to be transported to Poland, translated to Polish and understood and used in appropriate context during a rebellion. So Stanczyk lays the events of Easter Week 1794 squarely at the foot of Stanislaw August Poniatowski, including the rebels literate scholarship, and the resulting third Partition of Poland which made Poland’s borders (not her people or her culture) disappear for 123 years (1795-1918). Poniatowski had to abdicate in 1795 (at the 3rd Partition) and he died 3 years later … in St Petersburg, Russia.

Catherine The Great : Portrait of a Woman

I’ll have you know that today’s article was inspired by my wife, Tereza. She is reading the above named book  by Robert K. Massie and because she knows my interest in and knowledge of matters about Poland and our shared Slavic genealogies, we have had many wonderfully animated conversations about this book she is reading.  It was nice for her to hear another viewpoint and for me to be further informed by Massie’s scholarly work. We both recommend the book to biography/history readers. My wife reads the book as Catherine, and Stanczyk pretends he is Potemkin !!!

😉

That is my meme for today.

References

[1] Norman Davies, “God’s Playground”, Volume 1,  2005 Revised Edition, pages 406, 407.

[2] Editor, G. Blakemore Evans, “The Riverside Shakespeare”, page 56.

[3] Edited by Cross & Brooke, “Yale Shakespeare, Complete Works”,  2005 Edition, page 1407.

 [4] Robert K. Massie, “Catherine The Great: Portrait Of A Woman”,  2011  1st Edition, page 175.

[5] Czeslaw Milosz, The History of Polish Literature”, page 169.

January 12, 2012

Happy New Year – ???

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Please forgive Stanczyk for an extended leave of absence. Literally, I have been mailing it (er emailing it in). So let me wish everyone a belated Happy New Year, 2012 (appropriate kind of since this is the twelfth day)!

This year I still have a backlog of comments and research to get to.

I missed a few things that I had wished to blog about. Today’s blog was written two days before Christmas (2011) during Waclaw Hawel’s funeral. So please forgive me for such a belated remembrance …

(but this jester could not just let this pass)

Waclaw Hawel  born (ur.) 5 October 1936 –  died (zm.) 18 December 2011

Vaclav Hawel

Seldom do the deaths of leaders abroad touch upon the American psyche. Certainly the death the year before, 10 April 2010, of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski and many of the Polish leadership who died ironically attempting to reach Russia to commemorate Katyn.  It only reached those of the  Polish American intelligentsia and there but briefly.

To be sure when the much beloved Princess Diana perished in the Parisian car wreck or when the Blessed Pope John Paul II died in Rome, America wept and grieved in a prolonged period of mourning.

For Saddam Hussein, there was nothing but contempt and a distant, removed interest in whether a hanged dictator soiled his clothing at the moment of death. This year, the heroic, action-justice drama of killing bin Laden drew a strong response of pent-up justice delayed and spontaneous joy in the American streets at its long last rendering. But that was short lived. The many spelled Libyan madman, Khadaffi barely registered any interest in his You-Tube video death and even the Hague seemed uninterested in the manner of death. The North-Korean tyrant Kim Jong Il died this week and again America’s disinterest was palpable – though the choreographed grief seemed to  reach the starving North Koreans. It was however quipped that the Wicked & Evil Convention in Hell This Year will have a longer than usual “Memorial Reel”.

However, Waclaw Havel even though his death happened simultaneously with the nuclear armed Korean tyrant, there is a growing swell of recognition for the Czech. Perhaps less than Princess Diana or Blessed Pope John Paul II – but his diverse talent as a literati seems to have lifted this world leader to some prominence here in the USA.

Theaters in Philadelphia are performing his absurdest works. Obvious this author is chronicling his impact in death and contrasting his death with others on some kind of cosmic scale. Others too, in fact  Harper’s Magazine, December 2011 issue, on page 94 in the article, “Speakeasy” there was a mention of Hawel’s “literocracy” and an interesting comparison to Hemingway/post-WWI-Paris. Let the Waclaw Hawel meme live .. on !

There is no doubt that Waclaw Hawel and his “Velvet Revolution” are linked with Lech Walesa / Solidarność, or Blessed Pope John Paul II for their role in opposing tyranny and bringing about an end to European Totalitarianism that had lingered on for far too long after World War II. So as each of these giants of the Greatest Generation pass it is a mix of sadness for their passing and celebration  for their efforts  lifting us out of oppression and restoring our freedoms. Still most Americans will not know of Waclaw Hawel as the Czech Republic President and/or playwrite/author and wonder at Europe’s huge outpouring of grief – but his passing is noted and his greatness is remarked upon and undeniably he left the world a better place for his efforts and his having lived.

So Waclaw Hawel it is fitting that the cosmic scale finds you a weighty, worthy soul. May God rest and lighten your immortal soul!

–Stanczyk

Next … Pacanow Marriage Stats

December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor – A Day That Will Live In Infamy – #History, #Genealogy, #Family

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the day Pearl Harbor was Sneak Attacked by the Japanese — that caused the USA to officially enter into World War II.

Most of the Greatest Generation of Americans would be 83 years old or older — my own father is now 85 (center, front Navy man). It is just him and my uncle Ted (back, left Army man) who remain alive now.

How fortunate for my Busia, that her four sons returned to her (in Detroit) alive. My uncle Joe (2nd from left in back Army) was stationed in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor was attacked. My uncle Steve (left-most, front Navy man) joined Joe there in Hawaii briefly for a war time reunion / shore leave.

From 1941 to 1945, receiving a telegram was something to dread. My grand-aunt, Antonina (Toledo) awaited her four sons too. God Bless my family, but eight men returned from the war safely to resume their lives. Alas, for Antonina and her ailing heart, receiving a telegram about one her sons was too much for her sickly heart and though her sons survived the war, she did not survive that telegram bringing news from the war.

In my wife’s family her uncle Milton, a 2nd Lt. in the Army is buried at Arlington National Cemetery (he had survived WWII too). Her own father had finished his service to country in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyards — just two weeks. He died from that service. He contracted mesothelioma (asbestos poisoning) from his final two weeks — but was fortunate enough to raise a family before succumbing 42 years later to this hidden War-time scourge.

Detroit was the Arsenal of Democracy, shifting from cars to tanks/planes. Many people do not realize that population shift that war caused. A Huge migration from the South swelled the population of Detroit as workers were required to keep the factories running 24x7x365. I still remember eating Southern “cuisine” in diners in the greater Detroit area decades after the war.

Back East, the Shipyards were busy building the warships with their armaments. The USS Dixie (AD-14), Tender Destroyer that my own father served on was built right here in Philadelphia (launched on 27 May 1939) — probably in that Navy Ship Yard. A far cry from that 1913 September day that my grandmother arrived in Philadelphia. How funny for a Midwestern boy, that Philadelphia would be where my grandmother arrived, where my father’s WWII ship was made and where I would wind up living and raising a family with my Philly girl.

Before, I started genealogy 15-16 years ago, I did not know my grandmother arrived in Phillly (we thought Ellis Island like my grandfather and so many others). I did not know that ship my father served on was built here. I had not even moved to Philly yet. Destiny draws you to these places and then you discover that the history of your family preceded you. Full circle.

Remember the Day of Infamy (70 years ago) !    Remember 9/11/2001 too, now ten years ago.  Family History Marches on.

December 1, 2011

A Little Bit of Blog Bigos … #Genealogy, #History, #Birds, #Books

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Bigos – A stew, hunter’s stew rich with meats, mushrooms, sauerkraut and dried fruits.

So today my blog bigos is made up of a slew of blurbs …

From  The News.PL, a couple of days ago, they wrote about historians that uncovered a previously unknown memoir by one of the victims of a notorious WW II Nazi operation against Polish intelligentsia (called Sonderaktion Krakau of November 1939).

One of the principals, Zygmunt Starachowicz, kept a memoir of the experience with:

  • Interesting Profiles of the detainees
  • How he was a law graduate signing documents at Jagiellonian University when he was arrested with 182 academics
  • How 20 of the 183 people died in captivity
  • A memoir penned in 1941, that lay in unopened envelope for 70 years

Sadly, Zygmunt died in 1944 after being arrested by the Nazis in July 1944 [probably as a result of his activities as a member of the underground, leading clandestine lectures in law and history, and forging documents for the official “Home Army” (AK)].

read more »

November 17, 2011

Feliks Elijasz, Roman Catholic Shoemaker – Found in Fold3.com Free WWII database

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk wants to tell you, my faithful readers, a story of Remembrance. This is a fitting tale, since it came from Fold3’s providing free access to its WWII databases for Veterans Day (also known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day). It is the story of Feliks Elijasz, a Catholic Shoemaker from Warsaw, Poland. Feliks shares a last name with Stanczyk’s family, but there is no evidence that Feliks is an ancestor. This story is derived from an historical form (see the end of this article). This story is also another case of cognitive resonance, due to its connection to my wife and a friend she made a while ago and this woman who gave moja zona some significant historical photos earlier this week (just copies, not the originals).

Feliks Elijasz, was a Shoemaker (and as I said a Catholic). Feliks was born the 17th-November-1896 in Warsaw. At the time of this form’s creation, Feliks was living in Warsaw, on Okopowa 30 ( a street address). Warsaw was in occupied Poland at the time. His parents were Wiktor Elijasz (also a shoemaker in Warsaw) and Paulina Elijasz (nee Szczigolska), with whom he lived. Feliks was married to Janina Elijasz (nee Woclarksa). He and his wife had at least one child (20 years old). Feliks was an infantryman in the Polish Army from 1920 to 1921. [Since that is after World War I, it is probable that Feliks fought the Russian Bolsheviks in the border war of that time period.]

Feliks had the bad sense to do something for which he was arrested in Warsaw, on the 10th-August-1944. He was admitted to prison in Krakow, on the 13th-August-1944. Feliks died while incarcerated on the 2nd-March-1945. That is horrible! The horror is further compounded because that prison camp was liberated  just a month later on the 11th-April-1945. The prison camp was Buchenwald!!! The form is from the Buchenwald Camp documents, called, “Camp Records – Inmate Cards“, page 2177.  There a few other details (describing Feliks’ appearance, etc.). The file was discontinued, on the 16th-March-1945. So this entire remembrance was constructed by careful extraction from the historical document — which provided a treasure trove of detail to remember Feliks by.

Now the Cognitive Resonance part is about Buchenwald. Not two days earlier, my wife was given pages of photographs of the Dachau Trials (held at the same time as the more famous Nuremberg Trials). The pictures were of the prosecuted Nazis, the American Liberators, the witnesses, courtrooms, etc. I was able to identify the pictures as from the Dachau Trials, as there were other pictures taken (and published on the Internet) and the windows, light fixtures, room decor, etc, matched EXACTLY. These pictures were taken by a  Norristown, PA soldier (who has since passed). His pictures did NOT contain, the infamous, “Witch of Buchenwald” who was prosecuted at the Dachau Trials (and convicted), but the other pictures that I matched these newly discovered historical pictures to, did, contain, Ilse Koch (the Witch of Buchenwald, amongst other  appellations). Ilse Koch was the wife of the Buchenwald Commandant (Karl Otto Koch).

For the record my wife, has contacted the Shoah Foundation about this woman who has the original historical pictures that her father took in Dachau in 1945. So these pictures will be recorded/preserved for posterity by professionals. We did not handle the originals,  merely copies that the woman had given to my wife. I know the new pictures are from Dachau Trials, because the soldier signed the back of one picture with his name and his location (Dachau). He was the soldier who was assigned to photograph the proceedings (I do not know/think he was the only photographer) and he was also required to witness the death sentences carried out on at least  three different individuals (two of the Nazis for which it appears he has something akin to funeral cards for and Claus Karl Schilling, the camp doctor whom the soldier mentioned witnessing his death). That soldier/photographer was Carmen Frangiosa a man who witnessed and photographed history.

The Inmate Card of Feliks Elijasz …

November 10, 2011

Marine Corps – The US Marine Corps was born Today 10-November-1775

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

 Happy Birthday US Marine Corps. You do not look 236 years old. The Marines were born here in Philadelphia, PA ! The Marines were born 10-November-1775 @Tun_Tavern, Phialdelphia, PA.

Tun Tavern was a significant meeting place for other groups as well. In 1756, Benjamin Franklin used the tavern as a recruitment/gathering point for the Pennsylvania militia. The tavern later hosted a meeting of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, & the Continental Congress.

The US Marine Corps has an Illustrious History. Their motto is: Semper Fidelis, which  is Latin for “Always Faithful”. So when you hear their rallying cry (or welcoming shout), “Semper Fi”, now you know what they mean.

November 7, 2011

Madame Sklodowska Curie, #Scientist

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Did you catch the Classic Home Google logo today? It features Madame Curie, whose birthday is today. It is still true that women do not go into science and/or engineering in the same numbers as men do. That makes Marie Sklodowska Curie and her daughter, Irene, all the more remarkable that their family had two women scientists (both Nobel Prize winners) and that the entire family had a preponderance of Nobel Prizes amongst them.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Smithsonian Magazine’s article, “Madame Curie’s Passion“. Clearly, she was a woman ahead of her time. The Smithsonian thoughtfully included additional pics (including Nobel Certificate).

Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize in Physics(1903) and another in Chemistry(1911). Only Linus Pauling was able to duplicate this feat — They are the only two people who won Nobel Prizes in two separate fields and Madame Curie was the first. Of course, she honored her homeland (Poland), by naming the first radioactive element she discovered, “Polonium”.

She was born, Maria Salomea Skłodowska, in Warsaw (Kingdom of Poland, part of the Russian Empire) 7th-November-1867 to Wladyslaw & Bronislawa Sklodowskich. Wladyslaw’s father was Jozef Sklodowski and his mother was Salomea z. Suktinski. So Maria’s middle name was from her paternal grandmother. She married Pierre Curie and had two daughters (Irene, Eve) with Pierre. She died on 4th-July-1934, Skłodowska-Curie died  in Passy, in Haute-Savoie, France.

Madame Curie's Father, Wladyslaw's Birth Record

November 2, 2011

Dziennik Polski, Detroit, MI – Index, Summary Update #HistoricalNewspaper

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Well Stanczyk have been busy for a few days, trying to update the Rootsweb page dedicated to the Dziennik Polski, Detroit, MI Polish Language Ethnic Newspaper.

The Index page with the names has been updated with nearly 7,000 new names / dates from 1936.  The Summary of all Dziennik Polski transcriptions now totals 48,217 of which 26,745 of those names are indexed and the summary page is here.

The Index page is alphabetical by Last Name, First Name, Date of Newspaper (when the name appeared).  Use your browser’s FIND capability (Ctrl-F in Windows, Cmd-F in Mac) to search for a name or just scroll the page.

 

October 27, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Useful Websites … #7 Prussian Army’s Personnel Losses in World War I

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk was reading  his emails, when he noticed Ceil Wendt-Jensen  has published a useful website on the various Polish / Michigan genealogy mailing lists.

As the Article title suggests this is another database of military personnel from World War I. This one is unlike the ones you’d find at genealodzy.pl . It is however, similar to these databases and even links to the same Fallen in World War I website. But as I said this website/database is different from those.

The aim of the Prussian Army project (link: http://www.genoroots.com/eng/databases.php) is to provide an easy way of searching through the Deutsche Verlustlisten. This is the Prussian Army’s Personnel Losses during World War I .

The authors of the project: Aleksandra Kacprzak  and  Mariusz Zebrowski. They are still updating so check back from time to time. If you click on the “Prussian Army project” link above it will take you to its databases page. There  under the ‘Prussian  Army’ Heading you will see a link ‘Search’. Click on ‘search’ link. You should see the following search form:

Fill in a name and click on the ‘Search’ button. That is it. Should you find an ancestor, you can email them for more info. There is a very modest charge for this follow-on service (the search is free, the detailed info is where the cost is). So if you find someone, then …

e-mail: prusy22@wp.pl. When asking for further information, you must provide the ordinal number (‘L.P.’), the first and last name and the rank of the person in question. The additional information costs 2 Euro per name (=$2.82 as of 10/27/2011), payable via PayPal (to prusy22@wp.pl ). Stanczyk is not affiliated and has no conflict of interest in these entrepreneurial Poles. I did not find any of my ancestors, so I cannot tell you what details you may find. My ancestors were from the Russian-Poland partition (and hence would have been in the Russian army) — keep in mind this Prussian army (not Russian, not Austrian).

Good Luck! Please send me an email with a sample detail if you send for it. Thanks!

October 20, 2011

Polish Heritage Month – Artists & Scupltors

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Copernicus' Deathbed by Walery Elijasz

We always salute the famous historical heroic figures like Pulaski or Kosciusko or possibly scientists like Madame Skladowska Curie and Mikolaj Copernicus or maybe a musician like Fryderyk Chopin. But I do not want this month to go by without a listing of the literary talents and the artistic talents. Yesterday I wrote about the writers and today I wanted to mention the painters and scupltors.

Piotr Michałowski, Jan Matejko (Stanczyk’s portrait painter — see below for self-portrait), Walery Elijasz (guess why he is in the list), Stanisław Wyspiański (also was on the list of writers yesterday too).

Here are an abbreviated list of painters & scupltors for you to explore:

Olga Boznańska, Konstanty Brandel, Xawery Dunikowski, Julian Fałat, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer, Józef Pankiewicz, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Jan Stanisławski, Władysław Ślewiński, Wojciech Weiss, Leon Wyczółkowski, Konstanty Laszczka

Walery Elijasz who may or may not be related to this author was famous for his  book illustrations and travels through Zakopane where he was a major part in the founding an artists colony there.

Jan Matejko - self portrait

If Stanczyk could get you to view one artist’s works it would be Jan Matejko (1838-1893). His home is a museum in old city Krakow and can be visited. He is the artist whose painting is at the top of this blog. You have probably seen his painting of Polish kings in books or on Polish stamps. This jester has a work of his on Copernicus (on a rooftop with his scientific tools, “Conversation with God“) that is much beloved. Jan Matejko also wrote a small book in Polish on the Polish kings using his artwork on them and provides a genealogical/historical sketch of each king. Besides his historical paintings of Battles and Kings, he is also renown for his portraiture. The Krakow Academy of Fine Arts where he served for many years was named for him in 1979. He was a true Master of the Fine Arts.

October 10, 2011

Happy Columbus Day – Get Out Your Polish Flags

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In the USA, we celebrate Columbus Day, the second Monday in October. The actual day is 12-October-1492. Latin America too celebrates this holiday. It has been a federal holiday since 1937. However, I did not say national holiday as three states do not celebrate the holiday at all. Alaska, Hawaii, and South Dakota are the three states that do not recognize Columbus Day.

 

This year, I am asking Polish-Americans, as well as all other Polonia to wave their Polish flags at Columbus Day celebrations. Here are my initial two articles on this topic that establish Columbus as person of Polish Heritage (and therefore appropriate to honor in this Polish Heritage Month):

  1. Columbus Discovers He Is Polish
  2. Columbus’ Real Father ?

I hope Columbus’ roots can be determined scientifically, just as Copernicus’ remains were identified and resolve this hoopla over Columbus’s Heritage.

Happy Columbus Day !

–Stanczyk

October 6, 2011

Ukase – Decree … #Genealogy, #History, #Russian, #Polish

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

This jester thanks my Slavic readers from: Poland, Russian Federation, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Slovakia, etc and of course their American emigres and American born of that heritage. This is after all predominantly a blog of genealogy that focuses on its Slavic Heritage and especially the heritage of Stanczyk‘s paternal grandparents who were born, married, had children and emigrated from Poland … Russian-Poland also known as Congress Kingdom of Poland and to a lesser degree, Vistulaland (a collection of ten gubernia in the czarist Russian Empire). Poland was occupied and partitioned between three Empires: Prussian (German), Austrian (Austro-Hungarian / Hapsburg), and Russian from 1792-1918. As such, in the Russian partition, they were subject to the Czar’s ukases (decrees).

A UKASE (указ) is formally an “imposition” , usually by the czar, but possibly by an Orthodox Patriarch. But ukase is usually translated as decree or edict.

My ancestors were from the Russian-Poland partition, but just across the Vistula (Wisla) river from the Austrian-Poland partition — which had, to me, a surprising number cross-Empire interaction in vital records. The Russian-Poland nominally a fiefdom of the Russian Czar, who was also titled as King of Poland, as well as Russian Emperor.

There were many Ukases from each czar/czarina. So many so, that Czar Nicholas in 1827 ordered a collation of these edicts (a kind of codification Russian law). The result was a 48 volume collection of ukases. Some notable ukases …

  • Created (1791) and others amended the Pale of Settlement
  • 1821 Territorial waters off Alaska (affecting British Empire and a young America)
  • 1861 Freeing the Serfs
  • 1868 Decreed that vital records in the Kingdom of Poland be recorded in Russian

Stanczyk is fascinated by the last one. It is said that it is in the Polish DNA to be multi-lingual. Certainly, my grandmother was capable of four languages (Polish, Russian, German, and finally English). But how did the Catholic priests do this? Switching from recording vital records in Polish to recording them into Russian? The year of the switch-over was 1868. The records start out in Polish but switch during the year to being in Russian ??? Admittedly, the Russian in most cases was a bit … uh “problematic”.

Can you imagine that happening in America? Most of the world thinks of the USA as being linguistically challenged. This jester is fluent only in English. I did receive much French tutelage and can read French. With my genealogy, I have been self taught in Polish, Russian and Latin. Thankfully, Google provides the Google Translator, flawed as it is, for Polish. Still as it was, I was able to use it communicate with a distant cousin in Poland who could not speak any English and my ability to write Polish was so very limited. Yet we overcame and I was blessed with the gift of my grandparent’s marriage record from Biechow church and a civil record of their marriage from a local USC office.

And it was a good thing my cousin sent me both. As the USC mistranslated the Russian language church record on my grandmother’s age. They had accidentally added five years to my grandmother’s age, which I would not have known if I did not have the original church record in Russian (which apparently the local USC could not read as well as I could).

So here is Stanczyk’s UKASE …

All Polish Genealogists must be able to read Latin, Polish, and Russian. (Who can read that German handwriting?)

October 3, 2011

Polish American Heritage Month

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Yesterday’s Pulaski Day Parade (10/2/2011 Philadelphia) was another event in the Month long celebration of Polish American Heritage Month. This year there is a focus on Polish Scientists and in particular, Madam Curie, whose 100th anniversary of her 2nd Nobel Prize (November 2011). Marie Sklodowska Curie was the first scientist (man or woman) to win two Nobel Science Prizes. I believe only Linus Pauling has equaled her achievement.

Stanczyk‘s favorite magazine, “Smithsonian” (October 2011), also has and article on this amazing scientist. Please honor the month and the woman by reading this fascinating article, “The Passion of Madame Curie“.

Remember, to honor Columbus Day and any of its parades with your Polish flag. In the last year it was reported by a Portuguese researcher (Manuel Rosa) that Christopher Columbus is really a Polish son (and not Genovese). So this is new Polish Heritage we need to celebrate. This blog has a couple of articles (here is the original article).

 

September 28, 2011

Calendars – Happy New Year 5772 – #Genealogy, #Calendars, #RoshHashana

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Hebrew Calendar

Tonight at sundown the Jewish New Year, 5772 begins. Stanczyk besides being a bibliophile, also loves calendars. Since I am a Polish Catholic (Latin Rite) I follow the Gregorian (the common calendar). The Orthodox Catholics and also genealogists like myself (Russian-Polish, or Russian Empire genealogists) have an affinity for the Julian Calendar, which was replaced by the Gregorian calendar, except for liturgical purposes in the Orthodox denominations.I have also previously written of the Mayan calendar so popular with doomsday curiosity seekers.

But today we speak of the Hebrew Calendar. My wife is Jewish so for her this is the beginning of the Rosh Hashana holiday that culminates in Yom Kippur.The Hebrew Calendar is a lunar based calendar (synchronized to the solar calendar; aka Metonic Cycle). 1 Tishri is the celebration of the creation of the world and the start of a calendar. So as the Jewish peoples celebrate the of Rosh Hashana, they are not only celebrating a New Year’s birth; They are also celebrating the Creation (Genesis). No matter who you are, you MUST read Steve Morse’s, “Jewish Calendar Demystified“. It explains the Hebrew Calendar back to creation and the first Tishri 1. I absolutely need to read it every year at this time. For my Jewish brethren, I offer up a website to create a personalized Hebrew Calendar. Of course, Steve Morse also has his printable Hebrew calendar here. SteveMorse.org also has a calendar converter to convert historical Hebrew dates to the Gregorian Calendar.

For genealogists who a French background, I know I have encountered the French Calendar in genealogy dates. So keep Claus Tøndering’s Calendar page handy. If you wish to know when each country converted from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar (this affects American Historical dates too) the wiki Gregorian page is for you.

September 14, 2011

#Genealogy – #Historical #Newspapers – Philadelphia Inquirer 9/15/1913

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Philadelphia Inquirer 9/15/1913

Stanczyk, loves using newspapers for historical research or genealogical research. Most of the time I am doing genealogy research. So I look for vital records in marriage announcements or birth announcements or perhaps death notices / obituaries. But there are so many other reasons  to use historical newspapers.

Today I wanted to give you an idea for using the historical newspaper in the port city where your ancestor arrived.

My grandmother, Walerya Eliasz, arrived in America on the SS Prinz Adalbert on 15th September 1913. I have a picture of the ship, but then the thought occurred to me, what if I get a copy of the newspaper from the day my Busia arrived in Philadelphia! It would make a nice graphic image in the story of the ELIASZ family in America.So that is my tip for another use of the historical newspaper to tell your family history. Use it to find the “Ship Arrivals” in the port city where your ancestor(s) arrived.

SS Prinz Adalbert

Walerya arrived that day, age 27 with her four year daughter Aleksandra in tow. They were coming from her father Tomasz Leszczynski in Pacanow and going to her husband Jozef Eliasz in Depew, NY.  [Can anyone tell me why she did not get off in NYC and take the train to Depew from NYC?] This ship departed from the port of Hamburg and I am pretty sure it stopped at NYC before arriving in Philadelphia.

So Walerya was born and married in Biechow, Poland. She got married there in 1907. She had her first two children there in 1908 and 1909. Her husband Jozef Elijasz came to the USA in 1910 from Zabiec. She left Poland in 1913 from Pacanow. She arrived in Philadelphia and went by train to Depew, NY. She had a daughter Catherine (ok really Casimiera) in Depew. Moved to Toledo, OH where she gave birth to Stephen, Joseph, and Bernice. Immediately after Bernice was born , they moved to Detroit, MI (1920) where she had Thadeus, Henry, and Chester. She was widowed in 1930 (bad time to be a widow, during the Great Depression). She remarried in 1947 and moved to Beech Grove, IN. She was widowed again in 1953 and her children helped move her back to MI, to her seven acre farm in Macomb Township on Fairchild Road — which is the only home I ever remembered my grandmother living in.

September 6, 2011

#Jewish #Genealogy – A Continuing Homage to Moja żona – Biechow 1819

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

I am continuing my efforts to retrieve/extract the Jewish records from the Catholic parish of Biechow during the years when the Catholic Church was ordered to act the civil registration authority.  My previous postings were for the years 1810-1818. inclusive.

These are the Jewish Births from 1819 recorded in Biechow parish. Ergo, this posting brings us upto: 1810-1819 inclusive. The prior post is here .

Before I begin, I have been watching the evolution of names in the church register and I thought I would offer a few observations. First off, I am a gentile genealogist. So my treatment of Jewish names as rendered in the Polish language with its complex grammar is suspect — but I am learning.

So earlier I have been struggling with the surname: Golbarka or Goberka (also rendered as Golbarkow). First off, the assumption of ‘bark’ vs ‘berk’ due to poor writing and page condition is definitely off. I now know the name is Golberg (or we would probably render in 20th century English as Goldberg/Goldburg). I think I will keep the Golberkow ending as this is the grammatical construct for referring to the family as when writing the woman’s maiden name.

Notice I have decided to drop the ending ‘a’ on men’s names — which I am also thinking I should do on many first names as well, but my lack of experience with Jewish names of the 19th century Poland causes me to wonder how to apply what William Hoffman calls, ‘The Chopping Block’ to both first and last names when Jewish. So forgive me when I write: Moska, Mendla and Herszla(which in 20th century America I’d write as Herschel as in Herschel Walker). I know I need to drop the ending ‘a’, but I am not certain as to how to write those names, so I leave them as I find them for someone more expert than I to correct. My apologies in advance.

We see three births out of 104 total births. That represents a population of about 2.88% of the total parish population. So we are in the range of 3% +/- 0.25% which seems to be what I have seen in previous years. Again realize I am trying to give an in idea of the Jewish population in proportion to the entire population of the parish in (not intimating that the Jewish peoples are participants in the church parish activities). The 3% represents a modest growth from the 2.6% in Biechow census from 1787. [See Parish Census at the top of this blog]. According to that same census, the entire set of parishes in the surrounding area was about 6.4% Jewish.

My reason for doing this assessment is to convince the JRI, that it should at some point visit all Catholic parishes to pull out the remaining Jewish people without looking at the amount of effort required to yeild such tiny results. We know they are there  — do not leave them behind. After my Social Network Analysis, I am thinking that these non-shtetl Jews are a kind of glue between the surrounding towns/shtetls.

The assessment also shows that Jews and Catholics lived side by side and not segregated [in this very rural area very near to the Austria-Poland partition]. Now this may only be true in Poland and not the rest of “The Pale of Settlement” as defined by the Czars of the Russian Empire. According to Wikipedia,  Jews (of the Pale) were not forbidden by the Czars from rural areas until 1882.

Year: 1819      Priest: Jozef Parzelski         Gmina: Biechow     Powiat: Stopnica     Departement: Krakow      104 Total Births     LDS Microfilm#: 936660

Record #38     Date: 4/17/1819 [about 1 month earlier than the 5/15/1819 record date]

Father: Mosiek Golberg,  Arendarz, Age 34, Wojcza   House #60

Mother: Fraydla z Jakow, age 32

Baby: girl Cyra

Witnesses:  Moska Samulowicz, kaczmarz, age 36 Biechow & Mendla Abramowicz, pakiarz,  <no age>, Wojcza

—-

Record #53     Date: 7/7/1819

Father: Nat Belel,  Mlynarz, Age 25, Wojcza   House #3 (listed as Jozef Pawelec ‘s house)

Mother: Rucha  z Golberkow, age 22

Baby: girl Eydla

Witnesses:  Mendla Abramowicz, pakiarz,  28, Wojcza   &  Moska Szmulowicz, pakiarz, <no age> Wola Biechowska

—-

Record #104     Date: 12/23/1819

Father: Jasek Wolf,  pakiarz, Age 45, Biechow   House #48

Mother: Blima  z Chaymowicz, age 38

Baby: boy Herszla

Witnesses:  Zalman Stemberk(Stemberg??), pakiarz,  28, Biechow   &  Berka Chaymowicz, Handlarz, <no age>  Biechow

–Stanczyk

August 24, 2011

#Polonia – October is Polish History Month – This Year We Celebrate …

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk notes we are six weeks from the start a whole lot of Polish Celebration. First off,  October is Polish History Month in the USA.

Next,  the second Monday in October is the Polish-Portuguese-Italian-American holiday we usually note as COLUMBUS DAY (traditionally October 12th). This year, thanks the Portuguese Historian Manuel Rosa, who has spent 20 years researching Columbus and who determined that Columbus is the son of Wladyslaw III, grandson of Wladyslaw II Jagiełło,  ( see prior article here ), we need to take our Polish Flags out on Columbus Day to the parade and celebrate with the Italian-Americans and reclaim our Polish son (or at least our share). Since Wladyslaw II Jagiełło is the first King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, perhaps our Lithuanian brothers need to bring their flags too.

Third, the very next day in 2011 (October 12) is Casimir Pulaski Memorial Day. A Heroic Soldier of the American Revolutionary War who died for the founding of America (at the siege of Savannah).

Here is a link to Poland’s History.   Columbus Book by Rosa. Dr Rosa, when is the English Language Edition Coming (Polish Edition)?

Do Not Forget Columbus Day, Polonia  — bring the Polish Flag!

August 14, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Haller’s Army (aka Blue Army / Polish Army in France) [part 2]

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Gentle readers, today’s article is about the many genealogical or personal ties to the history of Haller’s Army. The focus is on what the genealogist may want to pursue to flesh out his/her family tree.

Background

The era was World War I  (1914-1918) and the world was mad with war and carnage and pestilence. There were 16.5 million deaths and 21 million wounded making it the 6th deadliest conflict (or possibly 2nd/3rd worse if you include the Flu Pandemic deaths). [See: this cheery web page on the estimate of Wars, Pandemics, Disasters,  and Genocides that caused the greatest number of deaths.] Out of this madness, was an army of diaspora Poles formed, of which over 25,0001

came from the US via a US sanctioned formation of a foreign force, which had to be constituted in Canada due to USA fears and its isolationist policies that limited President Wilson.

These brave 25,000 men were added to another contingent of 35,000 Polish men formed largely from prisoners of war from the German and Austria-Hungarian armies inside France,  who were now willing to fight against Central Powers as a part of the Allied/Central Powers.  They fought bravely in World War I,  before the USA entered the war and for nearly four more years (1918-1922) after World War I officially ended in the Polish-Bolshevik War (aka Polish-Soviet War).

Poster — from wiki

More Background can be found here (Haller’s Army website) or at the wiki page (Blue Army).

Registration Centers

The recruitment centers were in the Polish Falcons centers. The Polish Falcons were called the Związek Sokołów Polskich w Ameryce (ZSP)  and this is what you will find on Haller’s Army enlistment forms. The Polish Falcons still exist and are headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. There are reportedly 115 Polish Falcon Nests across 15 states. Each Nest has its own history that it maintains.

PGSA Database

The Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA.org) maintains a database of the Haller’s Army registrations that can be searched for your ancestor(s). It is free to search and there is a modest charge to get a copy of the actual documents. The search page is here: (http://www.pgsa.org/haller.php) . These documents are archived by the Polish Museum of America in Chicago. This data is also on LDS Microfilm by region see this page for details .

There are three types of forms. These forms are in Polish. You need not worry about that as the PGSA offers example forms in English (FormA | FormC) in PDF format.  On the forms you find the following info:

  • Form A is an intention to volunteer and contains the name, address, age, and marital status.
  • Form B is a medical examination report for the volunteer.
  • Form C is the final commitment paper. It includes date and place of birth and usually the name and address of a parent or other close relative.  The Form’s family notes include close family in USA and in Poland.

Returning Soldiers

The Allies issued medals to their victorious soldiers so you may have in your family heirlooms one of these. This website has an index of the various medals (with images). Many of the websites whose links are in this article also have pictures of men in uniforms — which included their distinctive hats.

We tend to think the soldiers were all Polish men and that these men were Catholics, but our Polish-Jewish brethren also served in Haller’s Army. This page from Polish Roots is about the Jewish soldiers who served and provides a table of many of the men known to be Jewish.

The ship manifests in Ellis Island record the return Haller’s Army soldiers, who returned en masse. You can see the soldiers who are listed on pages together with a note on the bottom, “Reservists”. That notation should eliminate any confusion with other possible passengers/crew members. The soldiers returning from the European theater are known to have arrived via Ellis Island on the following ships:

  • SS Antigone (from Danzig – April 18, 1920)
  • SS Princess Matoika (from Danzig – May 23, 1920)
  • SS Pocahontas (from Danzig – June 16, 1920)
  • SAT  Mercury (US Army Transport), from Danzig, June 16, 1920 / arrived in New York, June 28 1920
  • SS President Grant (from Danzig) – February 16, 1921
  • SS Latvia  – August 17, 1922

 Links to the Ship Manifests

http://bit.ly/rlVaaQ  SS Princess Matoika from Danzig in 1920 [more dates than shown above] 4253 Returning Troops

http://bit.ly/p3ViM2 SS Pocahontas from Danzig  in 1920 [please note the ship name is P-O-C-A-H-O-N-T-A-S. It was misspelled on the PGSA.org website].   4199 Returning Troops

http://bit.ly/nwYwsx SAT Mercury from Danzig June 1920.  2074 Returning Troops

http://bit.ly/n6YRot SS Antigone from Danzig April 1920. 1628 Returning Troops

http://goo.gl/F48dg5 SS President Grant from Danzig February1921. ~1900 Returning Troops3

http://bit.ly/pGwQa5 SS Latvia from Danzig  August 1922. 1517 Returning Troops

Returning passage – Payment of passage was split between the Polish and United States Governments. [see column 16] on ship manifest. It appears some soldiers returned with wives and children too [so those numbers above are not all soldiers].

One more connection. Similar to  the VFW for US veterans, there is a Polish-American organization in NYC called POLISH ARMY VETERANS ASSOCIATION2

They (PAVA  or SWAP) have genealogical data from their membership forms. According to Dr Valasek, the membership application for the association has the usual, date, place of birth, current address, and occupation; It also had something most descendants of Hallerczycy desperately want to know:  the unit in which the man fought, and his rank upon leaving the army. There is also the identification of which post the soldier joined.  Each post has its own history, as well as photos, banquet books, anniversary booklets, etc. All valuable adjuncts to your research once you identify the correct post, (or, as it’s known in Polish, placówka). There is also a question on the form, Do jakich organizacji należy? , to what organizations does he belong. More avenues for research.

Fallen Soldiers

In any war, there are casualties. Haller’s Army is no different. Stanczyk likes this Polish Genealogical Society (http://genealodzy.pl/name-Straty.phtml) named aptly, The Polish Genealogical Society. They have many databases, but they have search front-ends for two related to Haller’s Army. The one from the link above is for:  List of Casualties of the Polish Army, killed in action or died from wounds from the years 1918-1920.

With this link I was finally able to determine that one of my ancestors who was in America up through the 1910 census, but was missing from the 1920/1930 censuses, whom I had previously thought had returned to Poland — had really died while serving in Haller’s Army. I found his Haller’s Army Forms at PGSA and then from this Polish website I found a scanned image of a Polish book listing his name, date/place of death.

Soldier Benefits

Some soldiers who came to America who served in Haller’s Army, earned benefits from the new Polish nation. I have seen land grants awarded (not to my ancestors). They often had to be contacted through the Polish Consulates in America. This leads to my final recommendation — using Historical Polish Language Newspapers from that era to find out about your soldier. The newspaper may write about the returning units in a story and possibly a picture. I have also seen that the Polish Consulate took out listings in the newspaper and referred to Haller’s Army veterans they were seeking to inform them of their veteran benefits. See my Dziennik Polski (Detroit) page at the top menu-tabs for an example what these Polish Consulate ads might look like.

Let me finish today’s article by mentioning Dr. Paul S. Valasek’s book on the subject matter: Haller’s Polish Army in France http://www.amazon.com/Hallers-Polish-Army-France-Valasek/dp/0977975703 and also another book entitled: Remembrance http://www.hallersarmy.com/store/Remembrance.php. written by Charles Casimer Krawczyk.

Tomorrow … Haller’s Army in My Family Tree

–Stanczyk

Notes:

1=Polish Falcons History page . Paul Valasek says the number is above 24,000. The wikipedia says the number is 23,000.

2=PAVA,   address: 119 East 15th Street,  New York,  NY 10003   –   e-mail:  <info@pava-swap.org>,  telephone:  212-358-0306

3= The addition of the President Grant came about from a Newspaper Article mentioned by Daniel Wolinski. A picture of the article has been appended after these notes.

FortDixNJ_HallersArmy_Returnees_1921

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

Kodex NapoleonA 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

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