The Krawczyńskis’ New Home

This past week was pretty exciting for me in terms of genealogy.  My 6th cousin in Poland, Zbyszek Krawczyński, visited the State Archive in Poznań and found this deed from Zagórów in 1791, when our mutual 5x-great-grandparents, Andrzej and Marianna (nee Paczkowska) Krawczyński purchased their home from the original owners, Grzegorz and Agata Orczykowski1:

Page 1
Page 2

My Polish is sufficient to allow a general understanding of the text, but a dear friend (and distant cousin of my husband’s), Anna Smith, provided the following clear translation:

“Having presented themselves in person to the Council Records Office of the town of Zagórów, the spouses Grzegorz and Agatha Orczykowski, residents and citizens of the town of Zagórów together with Izydor and Artoni Orczykowski, their natural heirs, declare voluntarily that, having a house standing in Rynek Nowy on the corner with Wodna Street, [indeed] with [?obonami] and the whole plot which belongs to it, they have agreed on the sum of 900 Polish Złoty in figures 900 with Andrzej and Maryanna Krawczyński, former citizens of Żerków and now residents and citizens of Zagórów, who, after coming to an agreement on the sum promised by themselves, nine hundred Polish Złoty in figures 900, counted this out and handed it to the sellers. Therefore Mr.Orczykowski and the purchaser Mr. Krawczyński confirm this immediately in writing, confirming that by the transaction entered into today, the Orczykowskis and their heirs give the aforementioned house to the Krawczyńskis in perpetuity, they renounce [their rights] and leave no property [whether] of their own or anyone else’s in the house. Indeed the informants freely allow themselves to sign in their own hand (illiterate, led by the hand). [signatures, each ‘with the hand held’]”1

This document places us in medias res regarding the Krawczyńskis and their story.  It’s better to begin at the beginning, but unfortunately, we don’t know where Andrzej and Marianna were born, or where they married.  However, we do know a few details about their lives, thanks to the research carried out by my third cousin, friend, and genealogical collaborator, Valerie Baginski.   Andrzej was born about 1745, based on his age at the time of his death,and Marianna was probably about four years younger than he.3  The first location mentioned in reference to them in the records is the town of Kościan in the Grand Duchy of Poznan (Wielkie Księstwo Poznańskie), where their oldest son, Marcin, was born circa 1773, as indicated by the record for his second marriage to Marianna (née Dymkoska) Stężalska,4 shown here:

film 2162131 item 2 record 11 page 66

We don’t know precisely how long Andrzej and Marianna might have stayed in Kościan, or if they had any additional children there who perhaps died in infancy.  Records for Kościan are available, and are on our research agenda, and perhaps these will give us further insights into Andrzej and Marianna’s earlier years.   But the next time they appear in the records is in the town of Żerków, where their son Sylwester was born on the Feast of St. Sylvester, 31 December 17795:

film 1981505 item 10


The town of Żerków is a little more than 45 miles from Kościan.  These distances always seem to beg the question of why people might have moved.  When I began my genealogical journey, I had visions of pinpointing tiny villages in Europe where people lived in quiet contentment for centuries, until the day when one brave, adventurous, or perhaps foolhardy soul — my immigrant ancestor! — ventured out to the New World.  So it came as something of a shock when I realized just how mobile my ancestors were.  I’m sure they probably moved for many of the same reasons we do today — seeking better economic opportunities, and a better standard of living for their families.  Andrzej’s mobility suggests that he wasn’t tied to the land as a farmer, so what did he do to earn his living?

The only document found to date which provides an answer is the marriage record for this same son, Sylwester, to Agnieszka Olęcka in 1813.  This document describes the groom as, “a bachelor, having thirty-four years of age, residing in Zagórów, begotten son of Andrzej Krawczyński, of the brewing craft, residing in Zagórów…”:6

Sylwester Krawczynski marriage crop

So what makes a brewer from Kościan pack up his family and move to a village 45 miles away?  By 1772, both those locations (Kościan and Żerków) would have been under Prussian control, so political motivations for the move seem unlikely.  We may never know their reasons, but the records of Żerków tell us that Andrzej and Marianna went on to have five more children there before moving once again, this time settling in Zagórów, another 20 miles east of Żerków.

The youngest of their seven children, Teresa, was not quite 7 months old7 when Andrzej and Marianna Krawczyński purchased the house on Rynek Nowy on the corner with Wodna Street on 20 May 1791.  The translation of the record indicates that, after agreeing upon the sum of 900 zlotys, Andrzej and Marianna “counted this out and handed it to the sellers.” One wonders how much money this represented in those times, and how long it would take for a brewer and his wife, with 7 children, to save that money in cash in order to purchase a home.  I can imagine Andrzej’s hands might have trembled a bit as he counted it all out.  Or perhaps he inherited some or all of this money?  In any case, I attempted to determine how much this might represent in modern currency, by comparing it with the price of silver, on the basis of this article, which describes monetary reforms stipulated by King Stanisław August Poniatowski.  The system he instituted, which was in place until 1787, set the value of the zloty relative to value of silver as follows:

1 Cologne mark = 233.855 grams pure silver

1 mark = 10 thaler, so 1 thaler = 23.3855 grams silver

1 thaler = 8 zloty, so 1 zloty = 2.92 grams silver

Therefore 900 zloty = 2,630.87 grams silver

Today’s price per gram = $0.56, meaning they bought their house for $1,473.

Unfortunately, that extrapolation doesn’t work very well.  Another way to go about it might be to determine the price for a pint of beer in a pub in zlotys, and extrapolate based on that, as my friend Mente Pongratz did with success with old German currencies. However, I’m still trying to find some reference that indicates what a pint of beer might have cost in 1791, and if I’m successful, I’ll revisit this issue in another blog post.

Another question which comes to mind is where this house would have been located, and if perhaps any part of it remains.  To answer that, we need to look carefully at the modern map of Zagórów.  The house was described as, “standing in Rynek Nowy on the corner with Wodna Street.”  “Rynek Nowy” means, “New Market,” and a “rynek” in Poland is the market square that one typically finds in or near the center of most towns in Poland.  If one zooms out from this map of present-day Wodna Street, it’s not anywhere close to a market square.  Moreover, there’s no place called “Rynek Nowy,” in Zagórów today, so one must assume that a square which was considered “new” in 1791 has since been renamed.  With that in mind, the present-day “Duży Rynek,” shown here, seems to be a good candidate for that “Rynek Nowy”:Zagorow map

To the west of Duży Rynek, ending at the square, is a street called Kościuszko which merits further consideration.  Kościuszko Street was clearly named after Tadeusz Kościuszko, the military hero honored in both Poland and the U.S. He died in 1817, so in 1791, while he was still alive, it seems unlikely that he would have had any streets named after him.  Therefore, this seems to be a good candidate for the original Wodna Street.  Based on all of this, it would seem that the red brick shop shown here at 1 Duży Rynek, stands more or less on the site of the Krawczyńskis’ home in Zagórów.

It would be nice to confirm that hypothesis with cadastral maps.  A quick check of resources available from the various Polish State Archives doesn’t turn up anything promising here.  However, it should be noted that complete inventories are not available online for the State Archive in Poznań, so perhaps some such maps have survived.  In any case, I like thinking about Andrzej and Marianna Krawczyński, raising their family in that house on the corner of the square.  I hope their years there were happy ones.


1Zbygniew Krawczyński, Zagórów, Wielkopolskie, Poland to Julie Szczepankiewicz, e-mail, “Rok 1791,” 15 June 2016, with attached images of the deed of purchase and sale of the house on the corner of Wodna Street and Nowy Rynek, from Grzegorz and Agatha Orczykowski to Andrzej and Marianna Krawczyński, dated 20 May 1791.

2Roman Catholic Church, Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish (Zagórów, Słupca, Wielkopolskie, Poland), Księgi metrykalne, 1592-1964, 1819, Deaths, p. 206.; 2162126 item 1.  Andrzej was 74 at the time of his death.

3Roman Catholic Church, Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish (Zagórów, Słupca, Wielkopolskie, Poland), Księgi metrykalne, 1592-1964, 1821, Deaths,  p. 218, #17.; 2162126 item 1. Marianna was 72 at the time of her death.

4Roman Catholic Church, Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish (Zagórów, Słupca, Wielkopolskie, Poland), Kopie księg metrykalnych, 1808-1947, Akta małżeństw 1826-1833, 1828, #11, record for Marcin Krawczyński and Maryanna Dymkoska Stężalska.; FHL# 2162131 item 2.

5Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Parish (Żerków, Jarocin, Wielkopolskie, Poland), Księgi metrykalne, 1683-1923, Akta urodzeń 1780-1781, 1780, baptismal record for Sylwester Krawczyński.; FHL# 1981505 item 10.

6“Akta stanu cywilnego Parafii Rzymskokatolickiej Zagórów (pow. slupecki)”, Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe, Szukajwarchiwach (, Akta malzenstw 1812-1813, 1813, #34, record for Sylwester Krawczyński and Agnieszka nee Olęcka Jabczyńska.

7Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Parish (Żerków, Jarocin, Wielkopolskie, Poland), Księgi metrykalne, 1683-1923, Akta urodzeń 1778-1830, 1790, record for Teresa Krawczyńska.; FHL# 1981505 item 10.  Teresa was born on 14 October 1790.

© 2016 Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz






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