If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Let’s take a quick detour from Drajem research today to talk about Lewandowskis.

Stanisław “Edward” Lewandowski/Levanduski and Marianna/Mary Woźniak/Wisnock were some of my husband’s great-great-grandparents. I wrote a little about them previously, and I recently obtained their marriage record, for which a transcription and translation were kindly provided by Marcel Elias. The record is shown in Figures 1a and 1b.1

Figure 1a: First page of the marriage record from the civil registry office in Rogowo for Stanislaus Lewandowski and Marianna Woźniak, 9 September 1882. Click to view larger image.
Figure 1b: Second page of the marriage record from the civil registry office in Rogowo for Stanislaus Lewandowski and Marianna Woźniak, 9 September 1882. Click to view larger image.

Marcel’s transcription is as follows:

“Nr. 38

Rogowo am neunten September tausend acht hundert achzig und zwei

Vor dem unterzeichneten Standesbeamten erschienen heute zum Zweck der Eheschließung:

1. der Knecht Stanislaus Lewandowski, der persönlichkeit nach bekannt, katholischer Religion, geboren den neun und zwanzigsten October des Jahres tausend acht hundert neun und fünfzig zu Szetejewo/Szelejewo, wohnhaft zu Wola rzewajewska (???), Sohn des in Szelejewo verstorbenen Knecht Michael Lewandowski und dessen Ehefrau Elisabeth, welche in Putfelde (???) verstorben wohnhaft zu ……

2. die unverehelichte Knechtstochter Marianna Wozniak der Persönlichkeit nach bekannt, katholischer Religion, geboren den sechs und zwanzigsten Juni des Jahres tausend acht hundert drei und sechszig zu Brudzyn, wohnhaft zu Wola rzewaj. Tochter der Knecht Jacob und Marianna geborene Sobczak, Wozniak’schen Eheleute wohnhaft zu Wola rzewujewska.

Als Zeugen waren zugezogen und erschienen:

3. d Gastwirth Joseph Statkiewicz, der Persönlichkeit nach bekannt, zwei und dreißig Jahre alt, wohnhaft zu Rogowo

4. der Knecht Michael Rajkowski, der Persönlichkeit nach durch den Stadtdiener Franz Lukowski von hier anerkannt, fünf und vierzig Jahre alt, wohnhaft zu Johannisgrün

In Gegenwart der Zeugen richtete der Standesbeamte an die Verlobvten einzeln und nach einander die Frage:

ob sie erklären, daß sie die Ehe mit einander eingehen wollen. Die Verlobten beaantworteten diese Frage bejahend und erfolgte hierauf der Ausspruch des Standesbeamten, daß er sie nunmehr kraft des Gesetzes für rechtmäßig verbundene Eheleute erkläre.

Vorgelesen, genehmigt und Schreibensunkunde von Stanislaus Lewandowski und Michael Rajkowski mit ihrem handzeichen versehen, von den anderen Erschienenen unterschrieben

Der Standesbeamte.

König”

Marcel also provided the following translation:

“No. 38

Rogowo on the ninth September thousand eight hundred eighty and two

Today appeared in front of the undersigned registrar for the purpose of marriage:

1. the servant Stanislaus Lewandowski, of known identity, Catholic religion, born the twenty-ninth day of October of the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty nine in Szelejewo, living in Wola rzewajewska (???), son of the servant who died in Szelejewo, Michael Lewandowski, and his wife Elisabeth, who died in Putfelde (???)

2. the unmarried servant’s daughter Marianna Wozniak, whose identity is known, of Catholic religion, born on the twentieth day of June in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three in Brudzyń, residing in Wola rzewaj. Daughter of the farmhand Jacob and Marianna née Sobczak, Wozniak’ married couple living in Wola rzewujewska.

The following witnesses appeared:

3. Inn-keeper Joseph Statkiewicz, whose personality is known, thirty-two years old, living in Rogowo 4. the servant Michael Rajkowski, whose personality was recognized by the town clerk Franz Lukowski from here, forty-five years old, living in Johannisgrün.

In the presence of the witnesses, the registrar put the question to the engaged couple one by one: whether they declare that they want to marry each other. The engaged couple answered this question in the affirmative and the registrar then declared them legally married couples by virtue of the law.

Read aloud, approved and provided with signature signs by Stanislaus Lewandowski and Michael Rajkowski, signed by the others who appeared. [signed] XXX [Stanislaus Lewandowski’s mark], Maryjanna Lewandowska, J. Statkiewicz, XXX [Michael Rajkowski’s mark].

The registrar

König”

This record is packed with wonderful genealogical information, including Stanisław’s date of birth (29 October 1859) and place of birth (Szelejewo), the names of his parents (Michael and Elisabeth) and their places of death (Szelejewo and “Putfelde”). Similarly, the record informs us that Marianna was born 20 June 1863 in Brudzyń to Jacob Woźniak and Marianna Sobczak, who were still living at the time of the marriage in “Wola rzewajewska,” or “rzewujewska.” Marcel’s notes made it clear that the handwriting was a bit difficult to make out on some of these place names, but he was confident that I could figure it out.

Figuring it out was, indeed, straightforward in most cases. There are a number of good gazetteers for this area which are useful in identifying locations and determining administrative assignments, including the county in which the village was located, the local parish and registry office, etc., and I’ve discussed some of them previously. A quick check in Kartenmeister, for example, identified Szelejewo as a village in Znin County, Posen province, belonging to the Catholic parish in Gonsawa (German)/Gąsawa (Polish). The civil registry office was also located in Gąsawa; however, civil vital registration did not begin in Prussia until 1874, so the only record of Stanisław’s birth would be the church record. Kartenmeister made short work of identifying Brudzyń and Johannisgrün as well, revealing the former as a village belonging to the Catholic parish in Janowiec Wielkopolski, and the latter as the village known as Łaziska in Polish, located just to the northeast of Rogowo. There were no matches in Kartenmeister for “Putfelde,” but reading that first letter as a “G” turned it into “Gutfelde,” which suggests the present-day village of Złotniki, about 6 km from Rogowo.

However, “Wola Rzewajewska” had me stumped. There were no good matches in Kartenmeister for a village with this name. If at first you don’t succeed…try another gazetteer. I checked the Meyers Gazetteer; still no luck. I tried reversing the names, as I’ve noticed that sometimes the word order is inverted in place names mentioned in old documents relative to modern conventions, so “Wola Rzewajewska” might be called “Rzewajewska Wola” today. Nope.

By this point, it seemed clear that the place name was misspelled, so I decided to check the JewishGen Gazetteer, and even played around with some of the different phonetic search algorithms offered at that site. Nada. Well, perhaps the actual village name was sufficiently different, phonetically, that the search engines were missing it? The search algorithms should pick up an equivalent phonetic version, such as Żewajewska, since “ż” is phonetically equivalent in Polish to “rz.” But would they pick up something like Przewajewska? Still no luck.

At that point, I decided to put myself in the shoes of the registrar, and think about this in context. “Wola” is such a popular place name that an advanced search of Mapa.Szukacz brings up 31 places that are within the present-day Kujawsko-Pomorskie province alone. The Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, which is a mammoth gazetteer of places located within the former Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries, devotes 46 pages to descriptions of all the various places called Wola. It’s the kind of place name that strikes fear into the hearts of even seasoned researchers, right up there with Nowa Wieś (which means “New Village”). However, the registrar did not go to great lengths to specify a county or parish, much less a different partition of Poland, so the place in question must be sufficiently close to Rogowo that further clarification seemed unnecessary. I mapped out the places mentioned in this document (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Map of Rogowo and surrounding villages mentioned in the marriage record of Stanisław Lewandowski and Marianna Woźniak. Google Maps. Click image for interactive map.

That’s when it hit me. If you look carefully at that map, almost due north of Rogowo is the village of Czewujewo. And if you zoom in on the map, you see a village called Wola that’s just to the northwest (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Closeup of map from Figure 2, showing Złotniki in the lower right corner for reference, with village of Czewujewo to the north and Wola, marked with a star, to the northwest.

Looking at the marriage record more closely, it’s clear that the place name was intended to be “Wola Czewujewska.” In order to clearly identify the Wola in question, the registrar tacked on the name of a nearby town in adjectival form, to indicate, “the Wola that’s near Czewujewo.”

Having been thus identified, I was able to locate a description of the village in the Słownik Geograficzny which actually included the adjective “Czewujewska” as part of the name, as well as the Meyers Gazetteer, which only referred to it as “Wola.” Both gazetteers agreed that the village belonged to the Catholic parish in Izdebno (Ottensund, in German), and to the registry office in Rogowo, of course, since that was where the marriage record was found in the first place.

In hindsight, I probably would have found the right village had I explored the map first, rather than jumping right to the gazetteers, but I guess I’m a creature of habit, and I’m very fond of gazetteers. In any case, as with most problems in genealogy, persistence won the day. Onward and upward!

© Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2022

Sources:

1“Urząd Stanu Cywilnego Rogowo-Wieś, 1874-1913,” (Rogowo, Żnin, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland), Akta małżeństw, 1882, no. 38, Stanislaus Lewandowski and Marianna Wozniak, 9 September 1882; digital image, Genealogiawarchiwach (https://www.genealogiawarchiwach.pl/ : 02 February 2022), images 39 and 40 of 68, citing Archiwum Państwowe w Bydgoszczy Oddział w Inowrocławiu, Sygnatura 7/540/0/2.2/26.

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