Kroczewo Revisited

It’s the dawn of a new day (metaphorically, if not literally), and I’m happy to report that Kroczewo’s been found! After last night’s post about the elusive village of Kroczewo, several people wrote to me, proposing candidates for its location. Two of those people were William F. “Fred” Hoffman, and Kasia Dane, and both of them nailed it.

I’ve mentioned both Fred and Kasia in this blog previously. Fred is the author, editor, translator, and publisher whose books include the best genealogical translation guides for Polish, Russian, German, and Latin that I’ve found: the In Their Words series, co-authored with Jonathan Shea, which you can read about on their website. He’s also the editor of Rodziny (the journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America), and the free monthly e-zine Gen Dobry!, in addition to his other scholarly and professional activities. Kasia is an experienced researcher who published an index of Polish immigrants found in the 1920 census in Buffalo, New York, back in the 1990s, before indexes to U.S. census records were readily available online. In those days, I was trying to kick-start my family history research in between changing diapers, and her indexes were invaluable to me. She continued her efforts with an online index to church records from St. Stanislaus parish in Buffalo, the mother church of Buffalo Polonia. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both Kasia and Fred, and the resources which they used to answer the Kroczewo question will be part of my arsenal going forward. I thought those resources were well worth sharing here, and they both gave me permission to quote them. So without further ado, we’ll start with Fred’s comments:

“Hi, Julie,
I found your latest blog entry very interesting. It made me wonder if any of my sources would tell us something about the mysterious Kroczewo.

I checked one of the best sources around, Nazwy miejscowe Polski or NMP, an ongoing multi-volume publication on names of places in Poland. The volume we need, No. V, can be downloaded here:

On page 318, attached, it lists Kroczewo, and the first entry is for “Kroczewo (1), a village no longer existing, was located in Raciąż gmina, Ciechanów province, 1 km. west of Raciąż.” It shows various forms of the names seen in documents over the years, then discusses the derivation of the name, saying it comes from the basic root seen in the verb kroczyć, “to step, to walk in rather large steps, formally.”

That may be helpful in that now we know this village no longer exists, so finding it on recent maps will be difficult. But it lay just 1 km. west of Raciąż. That has to be some help. Then I took a look at this map:

I’m attaching a detail of the map, and I circled a place named Kruczewo very near Raciąż. It is not too unusual to see -o- and -u- vary in Polish names — and I notice NMP does not have an entry for Kruczewo. Maybe?

I also think you’re right that ф. on the Russian map is probably short for Фольварокъ = Polish folwark.

I haven’t given you the answer, but I hope I’ve given you a little more to work with. Good luck!


Figure 1 shows the page Fred mentioned from the Nazwy miejscowe Polski with the specified entry boxed in red.1

Figure 1: Entry for Kroczewo from the book, Nazwy miejscowe Polski : historia, pochodzen, ie, zmiany. [T.] 5, Ko-Ky [Polish Place Names: History, Origins, and Changes, Vol. 5, Ko-Ky].

The map which Fred mentioned is a 1:100,000-scale map of Raciąż from 1935, which can be accessed from the index here, while previously, I had consulted the 1931 map of Raciąż at 1:25,000 scale, which can be accessed from the index here. The map he sent is shown in Figure 2.2

Figure 2: Map showing location of Kruczewo, 1 km west of Raciąż.

In hindsight, I think I was too focused on finding a map with a small scale (i.e. one that shows a smaller area in greater detail), or a map that was more contemporary to Antoni Nowicki’s birth in 1844. Ultimately, although Fred and I both used maps from the same source, the Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny (the Polish Military Geographical Institute), the 1:100,000 scale map from 1935 that Fred selected was sufficient to answer the question, while the 1:25,000 scale map from 1931 did not. Go figure.

Meanwhile, Kasia Dane approached the problem with a search in Google Books. She wrote,

“Julie, I read your latest and found this in Google Books: “KROCZEWSCY rzadko KROCZOWSCY h GRABIE z Kroczewa w ziemi zakroczymskiej Jest Kroczewo i pod Raciążem na którym również pewnie ciż sami Kroczewscy dziedziczyli.” It’s not much to go on but could it help a little? It is from Herbarz polski Wiadomosći historyczno-genealogiczne o rodach szlacheckich, Volume 12, by Adam Boniecki (1908).

Also, which puts it at 1 km w[est] of Raciąż?”

The book she referenced, Herbarz polski: Wiadomosći historyczno-genealogiczne o rodach szlacheckich (Polish Heraldry: Historical and Genealogical Information about Noble Families), mentions Kroczewo in the context of a place of origin for minor nobles of the Kroczewski family, who were apparently owners of the village of Kroczewo near Raciąż.3 The second site she mentioned is one with which I was completely unfamiliar, entitled, Słownik historyczno-geograficzny ziem polskich w średniowieczu, (Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Polish Lands in the Middle Ages). As the introduction explains, the site is the result of efforts dating back to the 1920s, to create a historical and geographical dictionary of Poland that would be the modern successor to the Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich. The ambitious project lasted for decades, and came to include an overwhelming amount of material. Some of the volumes were published by the Instytut Historii Polskiej Akademii Nauk (Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences), while other volumes that were planned were never realized. Ultimately, all the volumes that were published will be made available online, after a two-year moratorium to protect the interests of the publishers.

The online Słownik historyczno-geograficzny can easily be searched for place names, although the entries themselves contain numerous abbreviations, making them a bit formidable to translate. Figure 3 shows the entry for Kroczewo, with the location underlined in red.4 Historical detail aside, it doesn’t take much translating to understand that it was 1 km from Raciąż, in line with the place identified on Fred’s map in Figure 2.

Figure 3: Entry for Kroczewo in the Słownik historyczno-geograficzny ziem polskich w średniowieczu.

As I think about this, it’s somewhat amazing to me that I found that birth record after all. Antoni Nowicki’s marriage record mentioned Kroczewo as his place of birth, and Kroczewo it was, all along. My strategy for locating the place based on finding a place that was similar phonetically was fundamentally flawed, and it was a stroke of luck that brought me to the correct parish, Raciąż.


Had the right Kroczewo not been phonetically similar to the name of a village belonging to the parish in Raciąż, I might be looking still!

Putting a more positive spin on this, genealogical discovery is definitely a process, and no one hits a home run every time they’re at bat. Usually, when I hit a road block, I move on and come back to the question at a later date. Had I done this with the Kroczewo problem, hacking away at it with fresh eyes and renewed enthusiasm at some point in the future, I might have eventually stumbled upon the answer on my own. However, through blogging I leveraged the social network in the same way that genealogy message boards and Facebook groups do, and I’m a big fan of using those methods to find information related to the ancestral hunt. Thanks to Fred and Kasia, I’m getting by with a little help from my friends, once again.

© Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2022


1 Kazimierz Rymut, editor, Nazwy miejscowe Polski : historia, pochodzen, ie, zmiany. [T.] 5, Ko-Ky [Polish Place Names: History, Origins, and Changes, Vol. 5, Ko-Ky], (Kraków, Poland: Wydawnictwo Instytutu Języka Polskiego PAN, 2003), p. 320; digital image, Repozytorium Cyfrowe Instytutów Naukowych ( : 29 March 2022), image 318 of 537.

2 Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny, 4206 @ WIG – Mapa Taktyczna Polski 1:100 000 /1924 – 1939/, [Tactical Map of Poland], “P37_S30_RACIAZ_1935_300dpi_bcuj298338-288240.jpg;” digital image, Archiwum Map Wojskowego Instytutu Geograficznego 1919–1939 ( : 29 March 2022).

3 Adam Boniecki, Herbarz polski: Wiadomosći historyczno-genealogiczne o rodach szlacheckich (Polish Heraldry: Historical and Genealogical Information about Noble Families), Vol. 12 (Warsaw, Poland: Gebethner i Wolff, 1908), p. 257; e-book, Google Books ( : 29 March 2022), image 299 of 424.

4 Tomasz Jurek, editor, Słownik historyczno-geograficzny ziem polskich w średniowieczu (Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Polish Lands in the Middle Ages), electronic edition, Instytut Historii Polskiej Akademii Nauk ( : 29 March 2022), “Kroczewo,” citing “Płock,” p. 152.

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