Half a Record Is Better Than None

In my last post, I shared some recent discoveries I’ve made regarding my husband’s Drajem/Draheim ancestors, focusing on his great-great-great-grandmother, Marianna (Kaszyńska) Drajem. Her son, Augustyn Drajem, was my husband’s great-great-grandfather, and his marriage certificate reported that he was born 25 July 1866 in Mielno, Mogilno county, located in the part of Poland that was under Prussian rule at the time.1 In the course of my research, I determined that the village of Mielno where August was born was probably the one that belonged to the Roman Catholic parish in Niestronno, since his parents’ marriage was recorded in that parish, and both of them were noted to be residents of Mielno.2

However, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and until an actual birth record is found, one can’t make any definitive claims. So, I sought a birth record for Augustyn Drajem circa 25 July 1866 in the records from Niestronno.

I was half-successful.

Baptismal records from Niestronno for 1866–1913 are online at FamilySearch, starting here. Unfortunately, the first few pages of the register are missing (Figure 1).3

Figure 1: First available page of the original baptismal register for the parish of Niestronno for the period from 1866–1913. Click to view larger image.

Nonetheless, if you look closely at the image in Figure 1, you’ll see that there is a Drajem/Drahaim baptism recorded on that page (Figure 2).4

Figure 2: Detail from Figure 1, showing the right page of baptisms from 1866 in the parish of Niestronno, with the baptism of a child of Joseph Drahaim/Drajem and Marianna Kaszyńska, boxed in red.

This half of a baptismal record tells us that Josephus/Józef Drahaim [sic], a blacksmith, and Marianna Kaszyńska were the parents of a child baptized in 1866, with godparents Michael Kaszyński, who was a farmer, and Carolina Kaszyńska, who was a day laborer (“mercenaria;” the word is cut off in this image). Michael and Carolina are almost certainly relatives of Marianna, and further research can hopefully elucidate their precise relationships.

The record book was set up so that each entry extends across two facing pages. Since this book is missing the left side of the page, we’re missing the record number; the date, time, and place of birth; the date of baptism, the child’s name and sex, whether the child was legitimate or not, and the name of the priest who baptized the child, for each entry. The next page in the book shows what a complete baptismal entry should look like, but it contains only three baptisms from December 1866, and then the records from 1867 begin (Figure 3).5

Figure 3: Second available page of the original baptismal register for the parish of Niestronno for the period from 1866–1913. Baptisms for 1867 start below the red line. Click to view larger image.

Civil registration did not begin in Prussia until 1874,5 so these church records are the primary source for direct evidence of births that took place in Niestronno, and the villages belonging to this parish, prior to 1874. Thus, this may be the only birth record that exists for Augustyn Drajem. But is it really his? I think it’s likely, although further research in these records is necessary before we can state that with more confidence. Although the possibility exists that Augustyn was born before 1866, and that this baptismal record is for another, unidentified sibling, there’s only a remote possibility that Augustyn was born after 1866. Given existing evidence that Marianna was born between 1820–1822, she would have been 44–46 years old in 1866—pretty much at the end of her childbearing years.

Wojciech Drajem’s Baptismal Record

That said, I also discovered the baptismal record for Augustyn’s brother, Wojciech—in 1862, not 1867, which was the date of birth he reported in his life insurance application (Figure 4).7

Figure 4: Baptismal record from Niestronno parish for Adalbertus (Wojciech) Drajem, born 10 March 1862. Click to view larger image.

Since this record is in Latin, Wojciech was recorded under the name Adalbert, which was commonly used as a Latin equivalent. Although you will almost never see it used in historical records, Voitecus is a more accurate Latin equivalent of the name Polish name Wojciech, which translates as “joyful warrior,” or “he who is happy in battle.” 8 However, the Polish name Wojciech became conflated with the German name Adalbert centuries ago, when Saint Vojtěch of Prague took the name of his tutor, St. Adalbert of Magdeburg, at Confirmation, circa 970 AD.9 Interestingly, the German name Adalbert has nothing to do with the name Wojciech etymologically; it means “noble bright.”10

Getting back to the baptismal record, this tells us that Wojciech/Adalbert Drajem was born on 10 April 1862 in Mielno. (We can be sure that April, and not March, is meant because the column heading specifies year and month, rather than month and year). As expected, he was the legitimate son of Joseph Drajem, a blacksmith, and his wife, Marianna (Kaszyńska), both Catholic. Wojciech was baptized on 13 April, and his godparents were Joannes (Jan/Johann/John) Kaszyński, a farmer, and Elisabeth Siwa, a blacksmith’s wife. There’s another word after “agricola,” the godfather’s occuapation, that looks like “folius,” but that can’t be correct, so I’m moving on for now. [EDIT: After reading this article, my distant cousin, genealogical collaborator, and founder of the Genealogical Translations group on Facebook, Valerie Baginski, suggested that the word “filius” might be what’s intended here. That would mean that Jan Kaszyński was a farmer’s son, which seems very reasonable to me!] It’s becoming clear that the Kaszyńskis were a large family, since that surname is popping up so frequently among the godparents of the Drajem children.

You’ll notice that Wojciech/Adalbert Drajem was one of three boys named Adalbert in that image, all of whom were born at the end of March or in April. This is not a coincidence. Poles celebrate name days (imieniny), which are the feast days in the Catholic Church of baptismal patron saints for whom one is named. Sometimes, the liturgical calendar would influence the name that was chosen for a child, in that a child would be named after the saint on whose feast day the child was born, or whose feast day was close to the child’s date of birth. Since St. Wojciech’s feast day is April 23, it makes sense that boys born near this date would be named after him. This is the roundabout reason why some men named Wojciech opted to use the name George after immigration to the U.S.—April 23 is also the feast day of St. George, Święty Jerzy in Polish. So, even though the names Wojciech and Jerzy have nothing in common etymologically, they are linked through a common name day. A handy calendar of name days is here; it’s in Polish, but you can always use machine translation to get your bearings with navigating the website. Once you’ve figured out the basics, it’s best to view the site in Polish, to avoid potential problems with machine translation of Polish names.

At this point, my Drajem research is moving along nicely, and a small group of Drajem descendants and research collaborators has gathered to share photos and research discoveries via email. If you have a connection to this family and would like to participate, please send me a note through the “Contact” form at the top of this page.

To be continued….

© Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2022


1 “Urzad Stanu Cywilnego Kucharki, 1874 – 1935,” Akta małżeństw 1874-1909, 1890, no. 13, marriage record for August Draheim and Agnes Jamrozik; digital images, Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe, Szukajwarchiwach (http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/ : 28 January 2022), Sygnatura 11/711/0/2/50, scans 29-30 of 75.

2 Roman Catholic Church (Niestronno, Mogilno, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland), “Księgi metrykalne, 1722-1952,” Akta małżeństw 1815-1865, 1850, no. 8, Joseph Drahim and Marianna Radłoska, 7 July 1850; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/: 28 January 2022), Family History Library film no. 2151453, Item 3/DGS no. 8120936, image 593 of 1037.

3 Roman Catholic Church (Niestronno, Mogilno, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland), “Ksiegi metrykalne, 1722-1952,” Akta urodzeń 1810-1865, 1866; digital image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ : 28 January 2022), FHL film no. 2151453, item 2/DGS no. 8120936, image 831 of 1037.

4 Ibid., 4th entry on the page, partial baptismal record for unnamed child of Josephus Drahaim and Marianna Kaszynska.

5 Ibid., image 832 of 1037.

6 “Prussian Poland Civil Registration,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Prussian_Poland_Civil_Registration : 28 January 2022).

7 Roman Catholic Church (Niestronno, Mogilno, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland), “Ksiegi metrykalne, 1722-1952,” Akta urodzeń 1810-1865, 1862, no. 9, Adalbertus Drajem, born 10 March 1862; digital image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ : 28 January 2022), Family History Library film no. 2151453, Item 2/DGS no. 8120936, image 511 of 1037.

8 “Wojciech,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wojciech : 28 January 2022).

9 “St. Adalbert of Prague,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adalbert_of_Prague : 28 January 2022).

10 “Adalbert,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adalbert : 28 January 2022).

6 thoughts on “Half a Record Is Better Than None

  1. Thank you for sharing this Julie. I love your writing style too. I applaud your level of in-in-depth examination of your sources. What’s interesting is the mention of Joseph as being a blacksmith when in another record ( the one I had originally contacted you about) there was mention of him being a master taylor:

    The record is in German, and Johann Kargl provided the following translation in the now-defunct Facebook group “Genealogy Translations,” whose successor is the Genealogical Translationsgroup.4

    “Kucharki 1st February 1890 1. Before the undersigned registrar appeared the farm servant August Draheim, personally known, Catholic, born on 25 July 1866 in Mielno, county Mogilno, living in Kucharki, son of the deceased master tailor Josef Draheim and his wife Marianne, nee Kaszynska, living in America

    Any thoughts on this?

    Sincerely, Debbie Holt 401 Yadkin Ave Church Hill TN 37642 Cell: 301-542-7198


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debbie! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. That’s an excellent point about the different occupations mentioned for Józef, and I have no explanation at present at all. It could possibly suggest that there were two men named Józef Drajem, both of whom were married to women named Marianna Kaszyńska, but the odds of that being the case seem vanishingly small. I think we’ll just have to keep gathering evidence and see what picture emerges. At the moment, we have four records that state that he was a blacksmith and only one—recorded after his death—that states that he was a master tailor. It may just be that the clerk wrote “master tailor” in error, or maybe we will see a change in his profession over time. Blacksmithing and tailoring seem like pretty different skill sets, and I have no idea how common it was to retrain for a new profession in those days, but we’ll have to wait and see what the documents say.


  2. For what it’s worth: For Galician (Austiran-held Poland), I’ve discovered that copies of parish records were often made. If the missing page is in a local parish record, there may be a complete copy in the Diocesan Archive (not sure which that would be for the Poznan area). An additional tip: if there are record gaps of a couple of years (the church burned down or the parish priest died in one of the horrific cholera epidemics), baptisms and marriages were recorded in a neighboring parish. Margie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Margie, you’re absolutely correct, it was common practice to make copies of the parish registers in every partition of Poland. In this case, the missing page is in the copies from the local archdiocesan archive (Archiwum Archidiecezjalne w Gnieźnie) since those collections were the source of the digital images available from FamilySearch, so it’s still possible that the parish itself has an intact baptismal record from this time period. Sometimes it’s possible to get a sense of that by checking the Katalog Zasobów Metrykalnych, and in this case, it states that the parish only has records since 1945 (https://parafie.genealodzy.pl/index.php?op=pr&pid=5484) However, that information probably comes from the parish website, and it’s been my experience that parishes sometimes hold additional records beyond what is stated on their website. Regarding your observation that a neighboring parish might fill in with vital-records keeping—I have not observed that happening in a casual way, i.e. people selecting a neighboring parish at random for their baptisms, marriages and burials. However, I agree that parishioners might be formally reassigned, on a temporary basis, to a neighboring parish in case their existing parish is unable to function for some reason. I’ve seen this happen with my ancestral parish of Mistrzewice, which was closed in 1898 and its territory reassigned to the parish in Młodzieszyn, and my ancestral parish of Kowalewo Opactwo, which closed for a few years around 1890 (I’d have to check the exact dates) and had its functions transferred to Lądek.


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