Final Resting Places of the Last Generation of My Husband’s Family in Poland

In my last post, I discussed the final resting places for the last generation of my family to be buried in Poland. When I wrote it, two of my adult children were in the midst of a two-week trip to Poland, and I wanted them to have a sense of their ancestral origins, even if they’re not all that interested in genealogy. Although their time in Poland is nearly finished, I’d like to continue the story today with a discussion of my husband’s family, and their known, presumed, or hypothetical places of burial in Poland. As with the previous post, I’m taking a bit of advice from my husband, and starting with the oldest generation that my kids knew personally, or knew from family stories: their great-grandparents.

Grandpa Steve’s Family

My husband’s paternal grandfather, Stephan Szczepankiewicz, died in 1998, when my oldest son was still in preschool and my second son was just a toddler. Consequently, none of my kids really knew him, although he lives on in all the family stories. Figure 1 shows his pedigree chart.

Figure 1: Pedigree chart for my husband’s paternal grandfather, Stephan Szczepankiewicz. Blue squares represent people who died in the U.S., while red squares represent those who died in what is now Poland. Click image to enlarge.

Grandpa Steve’s parents were Michał/Michael Szczepankiewicz and his second wife, Agnes Wolińska, both of whom were Polish immigrants. Michael was born in 1873 in the village of Obrona in Konin County, in the Russian partition of Poland, to Wojciech Szczepankiewicz and his second wife, Anna (née Augustyniak), whose dates of death are unknown. Obrona belonged to the parish in Kleczew, and it may be that Wojciech and Anna are buried in the parish cemetery. However, this is somewhat speculative, pending further research.

Grandpa Steve’s mother, Agnes (née Wolińska) Szczepankiewicz, was born in 1888 in the town of Świecie in the Prussian partition of Poland. She was the daughter of Joseph Woliński and Tekla (née Bogacka) , who immigrated with their family to Buffalo, New York, in 1890. Joseph was the son of Antoni Woliński and Agnes (née Kozicka), but I know little about them besides their names. Joseph was born in the village of Kiełbasin in 1853, so I could hazard a guess that perhaps Antoni and Agnes are buried in the Kiełbasin parish cemetery, but that’s only a guess, pending further research.

Tekla (née Bogacka) Wolińska was the daughter of Józef/Joseph Bogacki and Apolonia (née Prusiecka) Bogacka. Apolonia was born circa 1822 and died in Buffalo in 1906, while Józef was born circa 1826 and died in Buffalo in 1919. According to the 1905 census, they’d been living in the U.S. for 16 years, suggesting an arrival circa 1889. The names of her parents were not recorded on her church burial record, and Joseph’s church burial record is not available online, so obtaining a copy of that, as well as copies of both of their death certificates, is on my to-do list. I have yet to delve into any Polish records for this family. Apolonia’s death record, as well as church records pertaining to her children, state that the family was from Chełmno, so I suppose earlier generations of the Bogacki and Prusiecki family might be buried there.

Grandma Angeline’s Family

My husband’s paternal grandmother, Angeline (née Skolimowski) Szczepankiewicz, died in 2004, so my sons have some memories of her. Her pedigree chart appears in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Pedigree chart for my husband’s paternal grandmother, Angeline (Skolimowska) Szczepankiewicz. Blue squares represent people who died in the U.S., while red squares represent those who died in what is now Poland. Click image to enlarge.

She was the daughter of Stanisław/Stanley and Helen (née Majczyk) Skolimowski. Stanley was born in the village of Garlino in Mława County in 1887, and was the son of Tadeusz and Marianna (née Kessling) Skolimowski, whose dates of death are unknown. They were known to be living in the village of Uniszki Zawadzki in 1904 when their youngest son, Czesław, was born, so perhaps they were still living there at the time of their deaths. The village of Uniszki Zawadzki belongs to the parish in Wieczfnia, so it’s possible that Tadeusz and Marianna were buried in the parish cemetery there.

Helena Majczyk was born in the village of Rostowa (Żuromin County) to Stanisław and Aniela (née Nowicka) Majczyk. Their dates of death are unknown; however, we could extrapolate again, and assume that they died in the same village in which they were living when their last identified child was born. That child was Czesław, who was born in 1905 in the village of Suwaki, about 8 km from Rostowa. Note that Czesław is merely Stanisław and Aniela’s youngest identified child: since Aniela was only about 36 when Czesław was born, it is likely that the couple had additional children born after him, who will be discovered in further research. Nevertheless, all the villages in which Stanisław and Aniela’s known children were born—Rostowa, Suwaki, and Bojanowa—belong to the parish in Gradzanowo Kościelne, so it’s plausible that Stanisław and Aniela might have been laid to rest in that parish cemetery.

Papa’s Family

My husband’s maternal grandfather was Henry Bartoszewicz, known as “Papa” to his grandchildren. He was the only one of my husband’s grandparents who was already deceased by the time I met my husband, but I’ve come to know him at least a little bit through all the family stories, which are known to my kids as well. Figure 3 shows his pedigree chart.

Figure 3: Pedigree chart for my husband’s maternal grandfather, Henry Bartoszewicz. Blue squares represent people who died in the U.S., while red squares represent those who died in what is now Poland. Click image to enlarge.

Henry was the son of Józef/Joseph Bartoszewicz and Katarzyna/Katherine (née Lewandowski/Levanduski). Both Joseph and Katherine were Polish immigrants from the Prussian partition, who came to the U.S. with their parents when they were very young. Joseph arrived with his family in 1890, at the age of about eight, while Katherine arrived in 1886, when she was two and a half years old.

Joseph was the son of Stefan/Stephen and Joanna (née Olszewska) Bartoszewicz. They were the parents of perhaps 12 children, about half of whom were born in Poland. More research needs to be done to better understand this family’s history, and I have yet to obtain a birth record for Joseph Bartoszewicz himself. Indexed birth records for Joseph’s known siblings indicate that the family lived in several villages (Kamionki, Zalesie, Smaruj, Brzeźno, and Łysomice) that were all located in Toruń County. However, these villages belong to four different parishes, and I have no further information regarding Stefan and Joanna’s places of birth and marriage, nor have their parents been identified. At this point, the best I can do is guess that my kids’ Bartoszewicz and Olszewski ancestors were buried somewhere in Toruń County.

Katherine Levanduski was the daughter of Stanisław “Edward” Lewandowski/Levanduski and his first wife, Marianna/Mary (née Woźniak). Edward was born in 1859 in the village of Szelejewo (Żnin County) to Michael Lewandowski and Elisabeth (née Radke or Rotka). Although precise dates of death are not yet known for Michael and Elisabeth, the record of marriage for Stanisław/Edward and Marianna stated that the groom’s father died in Szelejewo, and his mother died in Gutfelde (known today as Złotniki Kujawskie). Szelejewo belonged to the parish in Gąsawa, so it’s probable that Michael Lewandowski is buried in the parish cemetery there. Gutfelde/Złotniki belonged to the Catholic parish in Rogowo, so it’s likely that Elisabeth is buried there.

Mary (née Woźniak) Lewandowska was the daughter of Jakub Woźniak and Marianna Sobczak, who were still alive at the time of their daughter’s marriage in 1882. Not much is known about this family, apart from the fact that Mary was born in Brudzyń, and her parents were living in Wola (aka Wola Czewujewska) in 1882, per Mary’s marriage record. Wola belonged to the Catholic parish in Ottensund, presently known as Izdebno, so we can speculate that perhaps Jakub and Marianna were buried in that parish cemetery. However, preliminary research indicates that the parish in Izdebno fell into disrepair and is no longer extant. It was replaced by a new parish founded in 1976 in Czewujewo, with a parish cemetery established in 1977, according to information found here. However, the FamilySearch catalog includes records from Izdebno up until 1952, which suggests that the parish was still in existence at that time, so burial records for Jakub and Marianna should be found in this parish. Despite this fact, there’s no evidence of an old Catholic cemetery in Izdebno, based on Google Maps, and the Wikipedia article on Izdebno mentions only a disused Evangelical (Lutheran) cemetery. Once again, further research is needed, but we can suppose for now that Jakub and Marianna Woźniak might be buried in Izdebno.

Grandma Barth’s Family

My husband’s maternal grandmother, Joan (née Drajem) Barth, died in 2008, so all of my children remember her. Her pedigree is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Pedigree of my husband’s maternal grandmother, Joan (Drajem) Barth. Blue squares represent people who died in the U.S., while red squares represent those who died in what is now Poland. Click image to enlarge.

Grandma was the daughter of Albert and Mary (née Kantowski) Drajem, both of whom were born in the U.S. to parents who were Polish immigrants from the Prussian partition. Albert was born in Buffalo on 8 April 1890 to Augustyn and Agnieszka (née Jamrozik) Drajem, who were married in Kucharki, in Plezew County, on 1 February 1890. So, although the exact date for their arrival in the U.S. has not been determined, it must have been in February or March of 1890, and Agnieszka would have been heavily pregnant during their voyage.

Augustyn was the son of Józef and Marianna (née Kaszyńska) Drajem, or Draheim. who were married in 1850 in Niestronno (Mogilno County). Józef Draheim’s precise date of death is unknown; however, he was born 30 January 1822, and he was reported to have been 50 years old at the time of his death, according to a life insurance application filled out by his son, Wojciech. This suggests a date of death circa 1872. At the time of Wojciech’s birth in 1862, Józef and his family were living in the village of Mielno (Mogilno County). If we suppose that Józef was still living there ten years later, when he died, then his death should be recorded in Niestronno parish—the parish to which the village of Mielno belonged. It’s probable that he was buried in the Niestronno parish cemetery.

Marianna (née Kaszyńska) Drajem immigrated to Buffalo after her husband’s death, where she died in 1905. She was the daughter of Rozalia (__) Kaszyńska and an unidentified father. (I wrote about my research into Marianna previously.) With so little known about Rozalia and her husband, it’s impossible to guess where they were buried, so I won’t even speculate. Similarly, little is known about the parents of Agnieszka (née Jamrozik) Drajem, Jan Jamrozik and Rozalia (née Juszczak). The Poznań Project indicates that they were married in Kucharki in 1856, so it’s possible that they were buried in that parish cemetery, but there’s not a lot of information, currently, upon which to base this assumption.

Mary Kantowski was the daughter of Jan/John Kąt/Kantowski and Marianna/Mary Kończal who immigrated to Buffalo circa 1886. Jan was the son of Piotr Kąt and Franciszka (née Konwińska). Piotr died 8 March 1883 in the village of Klotyldowo (Żnin County)—a village which belongs to the parish in Łabiszyn. Thus, it’s probable that he was buried in that parish cemetery.

Franciszka (née Konwińska) Kantowska immigrated to Buffalo with her children after the death of her husband. She remarried in 1887 to Jan Wasilewski, and she died in Buffalo in 1921. She was the daughter of Dionizy Konwiński and Katarzyna (née Kruszka), who married in 1812 in Słabomierz (Żnin County). Dionizy died on 19 December 1852 in Wolwark (Nakło County). The village of Wolwark belongs to the parish in Szubin, and it’s likely that the cemetery there was Dionizy’s final resting place. Although Katarzyna (née Kruszka) Konwińska’s precise date of death is unknown, all of her children were born in the village of Wolwark, so it’s reasonable to suppose that she, too, might be buried in the cemetery in Szubin with her husband.

Mary (née Kończal) Kantowski was the daughter of Franciszek Kończal and Anna Kubiak. Anna (née Kubiak) Kończal immigrated to Buffalo to live with her children after the death of her husband, and she died in Buffalo in 1922. Nothing further is known about Franciszek’s date or place of death, or the identities of Anna’s parents. However, Anna and Franciszek were married in Łabiszyn, so Franciszek may have died there.

For your viewing pleasure, here is another map which marks all the places discussed in this post, as well as those identified in my first post (my own Polish ancestors).

Conclusions

Analyzing my genealogy data for the purpose of identifying the most recent generation of ancestors who died in Poland has really highlighted all the work that remains to be done on my husband’s family. The data also serve to illustrate the statistical trend of earlier immigration among German nationals (including Poles from the Prussian partition) relative to Russian nationals (including Poles from the Russian partition). And, while it’s impossible to draw any firm conclusions about cultural practices in elder care from these data, I was intrigued by the fact that five of my husband’s 3x-great-grandparents emigrated—all from the Prussian partition— while only one of my 3x-great-grandparents emigrated, from the Austrian partition. Most of these 3x-great-grandparents were over the age of 50 when they migrated, and from this decision, we can infer a preference for uprooting their lives and traveling with their children, rather than remaining in their homeland and living with the families of their siblings or non-emigrant children.

Was that decision influenced by family culture? Was it the result of differing living conditions within each partition of Poland? Are there genetic factors that influence one’s willingness to migrate? I’ve often pondered these questions over the past decade, when dealing with the challenges of long-distance elder care in my own family.

While I may never have definitive answers to these questions, it’s certainly been intriguing to examine my family through the lens of ancestors who died in Poland.

© Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2022

Edited on 19 December 2022 to include current featured image, which was inadvertently omitted when blog post was originally published.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Have you ever known something about your family for a fact, yet discovered through research that it’s just not true after all?  I’ve had this experience very recently, and it came about as a result of this blog post.  Recently, my mother-in-law’s cousin shared with me this photograph (Figure 1).

Figure 1:  Konczal Fabiszewski family circa 1906 lower resolution 001He wondered if I might have any insight into who the people were.  I was excited to see the photo, and believed I could tell him exactly who these people were because Grandma Barth showed me this same photo before she died, and filled me in. I thought this photo would be a nice subject for a blog post, so I started to gather a bit of background documentation to provide some insight into the lives of the people shown here.  In the process,  I’ve discovered that things aren’t really what they seemed, and maybe — just maybe — Grandma might have been wrong about a thing or two.

I admit that I haven’t done much research with Grandma’s family.  She had accumulated so much information on her own, including where her family had come from in Poland, and preliminary research showed her information to be pretty accurate.  So it was easy to accept all her information as fact, and put this on the back burner while working on lines that seemed more challenging.  By way of background, Grandma Barth’s parents were Albert Drajem and Mary Kantowska, both born in Buffalo, New York, to Polish immigrants.  Mary Drajem, Grandma’s mother, was the fourth of seven children born to John Kantowski and Mary (née Kończal) Kantowska, who came to Buffalo from Łabiszyn, a small town in what is now Żnin County in the  Kujawsko-Pomorskie province of Poland, but what was at that time part of the Prussian Empire.  According to Grandma Barth, her maternal grandmother, Mary Kantowska, had several siblings who also eventually settled in Buffalo:  a brother, John Kończal, and sisters Katherine and Josephine.  Grandma also reported that Katherine married Constantine Fabiszewski and had seven sons, while Josephine married Teofil Mroziński, and had four children.  It is the Fabiszewski family —  Constantine, Katherine, their children, and an old woman, whom we’ll discuss more closely in a moment — who are shown in this photograph.

The Fabiszewski Family of Buffalo, New York

Figure 2 shows the Fabiszewski family in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census:

Figure 2:  Extract of 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Buffalo, New York, showing the Constantine Fabiszewski family:

Fabiszewski family 1910 census

Based on their heights in this photograph, it seems logical to infer that the oldest son, Peter, is standing in the back row, behind his father, with his brother Casimir to the left in the photo, and Leon to the left again, behind the old woman.  The fourth-oldest son, Frank, appears to the be boy holding the candle and prayer book, both of which suggest that this portrait was taken on the occasion of his First Communion.  The very youngest son, Stanislaus, is standing between his parents, with Joseph and Anthony to the left in the photo of the old woman.  So who is the old woman?

The Mysterious Anna (née WoźniakKończal

Grandma Barth told me that this woman was her own great-grandmother, that her name was Anna (née WoźniakKończal, and that she was the mother of Katherine Fabiszewski, John Kończal, Josephine (née Kończal) Mroziński, and Mary (née Kończal) Kantowska (Grandma’s grandma).  Grandma remembered her vividly, even though Grandma was only six years old when Anna died in 1922.  She’s buried in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, whose records indicate that she was 60 when she died,conflicting with Grandma’s assertion that her great-grandmother died at the age of 70.  In 1920, per both Grandma and the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Anna was living with the family of her daughter Mary Kantowski, in the same house as Grandma Barth’s family (Figure 3):

Figure 3:  Extract of 192o U.S. Federal Census for Buffalo, New York, showing the Kantowski and Drajem families at 221 Clark Street.  Anna Konczal is noted as mother-in-law to head of household, John Kantowski. 1920 Census Kantowski family

Grandma Barth appears in this census as “Jennie,” age 3 years 8 months.  The census indicates that Anna is a 70-year-old widow (Grandma wins on the age question!) and a resident alien who immigrated in 1891.  This immigration year is in contrast to her daughter Mary, who immigrated in 1886 with her husband John.

That 1891 immigration year gave me a good lead in finding her passenger manifest,2 which shows Anna and daughter Josepha Konszal (sic) arriving at the Port of New York on 19 November 1892 (Figure 4).

Figure 4:  Passenger manifestfor Anna and Josepha Konszal (sic), 19 November 1892:Konszal passenger manifest 1892

 

Anna is 40 here and Josepha is 16, which is consistent with their dates of birth from other sources.  They’re from “Clotildowo, Germany,” which fits nicely with the village of Klotyldowo, a village which belonged to the Catholic parish, in Łabiszyn.  They’re headed to Buffalo, New York, which makes sense.  So we know that Anna came over with the then-single Józefa, but was living with her daughter Mary in 1920.  Where was Anna during those intervening years?

Well, ten years earlier, in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Anna Kończal  seems to be found living with her daughter, Józefa Mrozińska, and family (Figure 5):

Figure 5:  Extract from the 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Buffalo, New York, showing the Mroziński family.Teofil Mrozinski family 1910 census

Although we suspect immediately that this is really “our” Anna Kończal and not Teofil’s mother, there are a couple of problems.  Anna’s name is misrendered as “Kończak” instead of “Kończal,” and she is erroneously reported to be Teofil’s mother, and not his mother-in-law.  However, “Kończak” seems pretty close to “Kończal,” and her age and year of immigration match up nicely with the information for “our” Anna that was reported on the 1920 census.  Unfortunately, it can be argued that these latter facts might also be true for Teofil’s mother, so they don’t constitute irrefutable evidence that this Anna is his mother-in-law and not his mother.  Perhaps his mother remarried a man named Kończak after Teofil’s father died, so she was no longer “Mrs. Mrozińska” at the time of the census.  Fair enough.  So how do we resolve this problem?

Next stop, Pennsylvania

Well, Teofil and Josephine’s marriage record should tell us their parents’ names.  Where do well look for that record?  If you’ll notice, the final column on the right in Figure 4 indicates that the oldest two Mroziński children, Stanislaus and Casimir, were born in Pennsylvania, while the younger two were born in New York. Similarly, if you go back to Figure 1, you see that the oldest two Fabiszewski boys, Peter and Casimir, were also born in Pennsylvania.  These data suggest that both the Mrozińskis and the Fabiszewskis might have married in Pennsylvania, prior to the births of their children there.  Sure enough, I found records of marriage for both couples in Shamokin, PA.

The  Mrozińskis’ marriage record  (Figure 6) gave valuable information, but no surprises.

Figure 6:  Marriage certificate for Teofil Mroziński and Józefa Kończal, 1894.Teofil Mrozinski and Jozefa Konczal marriage 1894 crop

Both the bride and groom are from Prussia, consistent with the “German Polish” notation found on census records.  Teofil was living in Shamokin and working as a miner.  His parents were Andreas Mroziński and Rozalia Mrozińska (no maiden name provided).  Josephine was also living in Shamokin, working as a domestic, and her parents’ names are given as Franciszek and Annie Konczal [sic].  Taken together, these facts offer conclusive evidence that the “Anna Kończak” living with the Mroziński family in Buffalo in 1910 really is Teofil’s mother-in-law, and not his mother.

Will the Real Katherine Fabiszewski Please Stand Up?

However, the real surprise came with the marriage record for Josephine’s sister, Katherine, to Constantine (Konstanty, in Polish) Fabiszewski (Figure 7):

Figure 7:  Marriage certificate for Konstanty Fabiszewski and Katarzyna Kubiak, 1894.

Konstanty Fabiszewski and Katherine Konczal 1894 crop marked

Katherine’s name is given as Katarzyna Kubiak, not Kończal, and she’s the daughter of John and Agnieszka Kubiak!  What?  How can that be?  Grandma said that Katherine was sister to John, Mary and Josephine Kończal, and she’s been right about everything else so far!  How could Katherine be a Kubiak?  Could there be two Konstanty Fabiszewskis in Shamokin, both about the same age, both married to women named Katherine?  Well, stranger things have happened, but then where is the marriage record for Katherine Kończal? And didn’t Grandma say that her great-grandmother’s name was Anna (née WoźniakKończal, not Anna (née KubiakKończal?

At this point, I don’t have enough data to resolve this problem.  More work needs to be done. Grandma Barth has proven to be a very reliable source in the past, but this could very well be an instance in which she’s wrong.  I looked back to see where Grandma might have gotten the idea that the surname Woźniak was associated with this family, and found it in Mary Kantowska’s birth certificate, an official copy of which Grandma had carefully preserved (Figure 8):

Figure 8:  Official transcript from 1906 of Mary Kantowska’s 1891 baptismal record from St. Stanislaus Church, Buffalo, New York

Maria Kantowski 1891.jpg

This indicates that Mary Kantowska’s parents were, in fact, John Kantowski and Maria Kończal, and that her godparents were John Kończal and Anna Woźniak. John Kończal is likely to be Mary (née Kończal) Kantowska’s brother, whom Grandma mentioned among the known Kończal siblings. So Woźniaks might indeed be connected to the Kończal-Kantowski family, but this does not explain why Katherine, who was purportedly”née Kończal” Fabiszewska, is actually Katherine, née Kubiak, Fabiszewska.

The Poznań Project Weighs In

Some interesting insight is gained by search results from the Poznań Project. A search for Franciszek Kończal and Anna, no surname specified — which are the names reported for Josephine’s parents on that marriage record — reveals the following (Figure 9):

Figure 9:  Extract of results from Extended Search in the Poznań Project for marriages between grooms with name Franciscus/Franz/Franciszek Konczal and brides named Anna.Franciscus Konczal and Anna Kubiak Poznan Project hit

Here we see Kubiak again, and in Łabiszyn, the home parish of Grandma’s Kończals.  Anna Kubiak’s age in this record suggests a birth year of 1844 –older than what we would expect based on U.S. records, which point to a birth year of 1850-1852, but within the ballpark.  Moreover, a search for Jan Kubiak and Agnieszka, no surname — the names reported for Katherine Fabiszewski’s parents — produces this hit (Figure 10):

Figure 10:  Extract of results from Extended Search in the Poznań Project for marriages between grooms with name Joannes/Jan/Johann Kubiak and brides named Agnes/Agnieszka.

Jan Kubiak and Agnes Konczal

Curiouser and curiouser!  Same parish, and it would seem that Katherine Fabiszewski’s mother was a Kończal.  Taken together, this might suggest a case of siblings marrying siblings — perhaps Joannes Kubiak and Anna Kubiak were siblings, and they married siblings Agnes Kończal and Franciscus Kończal.  The records from Łabiszyn and Buffalo will tell us for sure.

The Mysterious Anna (née Woźniak) (née Kubiak) Kończal

So where does this leave us?  Who IS the woman in the photo, after all?  Is she Grandma Barth’s great-grandmother, Anna (née Kubiak) Kończal?  If so, why is she in a portrait with the family of her probable niece, and not her daughter?  Was Grandma mistaken, and this photo shows Katherine Fabiszewski and her family with her own mother, Agnes (née Kończal) Kubiak?  It appears that Grandma was misinformed about Katherine Fabiszewski being a sister to her own mother, Mary — present data suggest that they were cousins, or perhaps double cousins, but not siblings.  Yet one wonders if it’s even possible that Grandma would misidentify her own great-grandmother in a family photo.  Like Grandma Barth, I was six when one of my great-grandmothers died, and I can easily pick her out in old family photos.  The very fact that this photograph was handed down in Grandma’s family, and not just in the Fabiszewski family, suggests that it was significant to both families, possibly due to the image of a shared great-grandmother.  Moreover, when Anna Kończal died in 1922, her daughter Mary Kantowska was 54, and her granddaughter Mary Drajem (Grandma Barth’s mother) was 31.  Surely they were the ones to pass this photo down to Grandma Barth, and they would have been able to correctly identify their own mother and grandmother.

There are two final bits of information that we can wring out of that 1910 census listing for Anna Kończal in Figure 4.  The “M1” in the column after age tells us that Anna Kończal was married once, and that she’s been married for twenty years.  The next two numbers tell us that she was the mother of six children, three of whom were still living at the time of the census. Starting with those numbers about Anna’s children, the fact that is says three children still living at the time of the census is significant — not four, Katherine, John, Mary and Josephine — as Grandma Barth recollected.  This would make sense if Grandma was wrong about Katherine Fabiszewska being one of the Kończal siblings.   The next bit, about the “M1/20” only adds to the confusion, however.  Josephine Mrozińska is reported to be 36 years old at the time of this 1910 census — making her 16 at the time of her mother’s wedding, if her mother’s only been married 20 years.  So the census-taker appears to have erred with at least some part of that story.  Either this is a second marriage for Anna, or she’s only been married once, but Josephine was born 16 years out of wedlock.

It’s hard to think of a single hypothetical scenario that would resolve all these conflicts in the data. I considered the fact that perhaps Anna Woźniak was married twice — first to a man named Kubiak, with whom she had Katherine, and then to Franciszek Kończal, with whom she had Josephine, John and Mary.  But if that were the case,then the mother’s name reported on Katherine Fabiszewska’s marriage record should be Anna, and not Agnieszka, and we would expect to see two marriage records for Anna in the Poznań Project.  It’s possible that mistakes were made in recording the census, and also possible (though it seems less likely) that a mistake was made in the marriage record.  Further research should be able to resolve these conflicts and reveal the full story.  In the meantime, we’re left with something of a mystery, and questions today where I thought I had answers yesterday.

Sources:

Note:  Where possible, links are provided to sources online.  Other sources are summarized below.  

1St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Cemetery (Buffalo, Erie, New York, USA) to Julie Szczepankiewicz, Phone Call, Inquired about a burial for Anna Konczal.  Was informed that she died on April 23, 1922 at age 60 and was buried April 26, 1922  in Sec. K, Lot 79, Grave 7.  Her funeral was at Corpus Christi Church and Urban Funeral Home.

2Anna Konszal, 19 Nov 1892; citing departure port Rotterdam, arrival port New York, ship name Werkendam, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), accessed on 30 August 2016.

© Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2016

Grandma Barth’s Box of Genealogical Treasures

My husband’s grandmother, Joanna “Jean” (née Drajem) Barth was the family historian for her generation, and I loved her for it.  I loved her for other reasons, too, of course, but listening to her stories about Buffalo’s East Side in her childhood and youth gave me such a vivid impression of Buffalo’s pious, hard-working Polish immigrants who brought with them their language, culture, faith, and traditions and created a microcosm of Poland in their new homeland.  Grandma Barth was my Grandma-in-law for seventeen years before she passed away in 2008 at the age of 92, but she was mentally sharp as a tack until she died and an incredible font of family knowledge.  She could tell me names, birth, marriage and death dates from memory for the entire extended family for several generations, with stories about each person, all in her East-Side Polish accent that was somehow comforting to hear.

Grandma Barth’s stories laid the foundation for my research into my mother-in-law’s family.  In the spring of 1999, she traveled from Buffalo to our home in Illinois for our third son’s christening.  I remember spending as much time as possible during that visit, cradling my baby in one arm while typing with my free hand, inputting all the family data from Grandma’s memory into Family Tree Maker.  A few years later, she was back for another christening, this time for my daughter, in 2003.  And this time, she brought with her a plastic shoebox that I came to refer to as, “Grandma Barth’s Box of Genealogical Treasures.”

This plastic box contained newspaper clippings, funeral home prayer cards (my family always called them “obrazki,” which means, “pictures” in Polish), and assorted scraps of paper on which Grandma had jotted down bits and pieces of family history.  Never one to waste paper, most of these notes were written in Grandma’s neat, careful penmanship on the backs of junk-mail coupons for pizza and car washes.  What she preserved was amazing.  There were obrazki in there from the 1930s  through the early 2000s. Her parents’ marriage certificate was there, along with other vital records.  There were newspaper articles about her home parish, Corpus Christi, a collection of articles about Fr. Justin Figas (founder of the Father Justin Rosary Hour, a Polish-language radio program) and a series of “Anniversary Books” from Corpus Christi, arranged according to month. Each monthly book covers the years 1898 through 1997, and lists the names of all those who died in the parish during that month in each year.

I tried to photocopy as much of it as I could during her visit, but I recognized that care needed to be taken with this project.  Some of these newspaper death notices had been trimmed into tiny, yellowed bits of paper not more than two inches square.  Moreover, there was clearly an organizational system in place that must be respected. Grandma paper-clipped the scraps of paper together in batches, and put these individual batches into plastic storage bags according to the branch of the family tree to which they belonged. Grandma admitted that in some cases, she didn’t know exactly how some of these people fit into the family, she only knew that they were cousins, which made it all the more important to maintain the associations between the documents which she created through her organizational scheme.

As much as I wanted to photocopy all of it, there was only so much that I could do, given that I had a houseful of out-of-town guests visiting for my fourth child’s christening and only a few days’ time.  Grandma told me there was no rush — she wanted me to have the box when she passed away.  In the meantime, though, she wanted to share it with a cousin.  I thanked Grandma wholeheartedly, congratulated myself on getting as much scanned as I did, and went back to raising my family and researching my family tree.

After Grandma passed away in 2008, we discovered that the box was missing.  The cousin who was supposed to have it didn’t remember anything about it.  My mother-in-law asked around the family, but no one seemed to know what happened to it.  It was presumed to have been thrown out with the trash.  It was an inestimable loss — I was sick at heart over the thought of so much family history, Grandma’s legacy, rotting in a landfill somewhere.

But as you can tell from the photo at the top, the story has a happy ending, and my worst fears never materialized.  One day last spring, my Mom-in-law got a phone call from this cousin, saying he’d found a box of her mother’s things, and he’d like to return it to her.  She called me immediately, and said, “I have some good news for you!  Are you sitting down?  My cousin found the box!”  So this past weekend, several of us got together for breakfast, including Mom, her cousin, Grandma’s youngest sister, and me, and the box found its way back to me at last, looking exactly as I’d remembered it.  Mom’s cousin also kindly shared with me some additional family history treasures from his personal collection.  The poor man was so apologetic — Grandma never mentioned to him about her intentions for the box, and he had no idea what kind of treasure trove he was sitting on.  I’m sure that my discoveries based on the contents of this box will fill quite a number of future blog posts, but it’s going to take some time to process and analyze all of this.  In the meantime, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few of the “goodies” from the box.

Figure 1:  Obrazek from the funeral of Agnieszka (née Jamrozik) Drajem, Grandma Barth’s paternal grandmother, who died 13 February 1946.

Agnieszka Drajem obrazek 1946

 

Figure 2:  Notes from Grandma’s notebook regarding the family history on her mother’s side (Kantowski and Kończal).

Grandma Barth notebook p 1

 

Figure 3:  Photocopy of newspaper interview with John and Mary Kantowski (Grandma Barth’s maternal grandparents), published circa 1934.

Streets of the East John & Mary Kantowski interview

So you can see why I’m pretty excited!  So far I’ve scanned 27 “batches” of clippings, and there’s still more to go.  Here’s to you, Grandma Barth, with love and gratitude for all your love and diligence in preserving the family history for future generations to enjoy.