Last week, I wrote about my attempts to nail down a place of birth for my husband’s great-great-great-grandfather, Antoni Nowicki, whose marriage record from Gradzanowo Kościelne stated that he was born in the village of Kroczewo. There’s only one village in Poland today called Kroczewo, but Antoni Nowicki was definitely not born there. So, I identified a couple alternative locations that were phonetically similar to Kroczewo, including a constellation of villages whose names start with Kraszewo (Figure 1).
All of these “Kraszewos” belong to the parish in Raciąż, and although birth records from the time of Antoni’s birth are digitized at FamilySearch, access is restricted, so I figured the research would have to wait until my next opportunity to visit my local Family History Center (FHC).
After writing that post, I took a look at my calendar, and realized that it might be a while before I had a chance to make it to the FHC. So, I opted for a quick remote research request from the Family History Library, in the hopes that they could at least give me a “yes” or “no” about whether Antoni Nowicki was baptized in Raciąż. This past Wednesday, that answer turned out to be “yes,” and they replied with a copy of Antoni’s birth record (Figure 2).1
The record is in Polish, and is transcribed as follows:
Działo się w mieście Raciążu dnia czternastego/dwudziestego szóstego Lipca, Tysiąc ośmset czterdziestego czwartego roku o godzinie dziesiątej przed południem. Stawił się Maciej Nowicki, Rolnik, zamieszkały w Kroczewie, lat dwadzieścia cztery mający, w obecności Albina Krolewskiego, lat dwadzieścia dwa, Pawła Bułakowskiego, lat czterdzieści mających, na Budach Kraszewskich zamieszkałych, rolników, i okazał Nam dziecię płci męskiej urodzone w Kroczewie dnia siedemnastego/dwudziestego trzeciego Lipca roku bieżącego o godzinie trzeciej rano z jego małżonki Joanny z Ługowskich, lat dwadzieścia mającej. Dziecięciu temu na Chrzcie Świętym odbytym w dniu dzisiejszym nadane zostało imię Antoni, a rodzicami jego Chrzestnymi byli Albin Królewski i Jadwiga Ostrowska (?). Akt ten przeczytany stawającemu i świadkom przez Nas podpisany został. Stawający i świadkowie pisać nie umieją. [Signed] X. Strzałkowski, proboszcz Raciążki”
In English, this translates as,
This happened in the town of Raciąż on the fourteenth/twenty-sixth day of July, in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty-four, at ten o’clock in the morning. Maciej Nowicki appeared, a farmer, residing in Kroczewo, having twenty-four years of age, in the presence of Albin Krolewski, aged twenty-two, Pawel Bułakowski, aged forty, residents in Budy Kraszewskie, farmers, and presented to us a male child born in Kroczewo on the seventeenth/twenty-third day of July of the current year at three o’clock in the morning from his spouse Joanna, née Ługowska, aged twenty. At Holy Baptism, performed today, the child was given the name Antoni, and his godparents were Albin Królewski and Jadwiga Ostrowska (?). This document was read to the declarant and to the witnesses and was signed by Us. The declarant and the witnesses are unable to write. [Signed] Fr. Strzałkowski, pastor of Raciąż.”
This document adds to the growing body of evidence for the Nowicki family by providing a precise birth date for Antoni, who was born 23 July 1844. His parents’ ages suggest birth years circa 1820 for Maciej, and 1824 for Joanna, which makes Joanna a bit older, potentially, than what was supposed previously. Only one other document has thus far been discovered which offers evidence for her year of birth, and that document—the birth record for her son, Franciszek— suggested that she was born circa 1826. Most importantly, this document resolves the practical question of where to look for additional records for this family: Raciąż.
What it does not resolve is the question about where Antoni’s birthplace was located. He was definitely born in Kroczewo; the spelling is identical to the spelling of his birthplace as it was recorded in his marriage record, apart from the fact that this priest had an interesting habit of using the Polish ż in words where a z is typically used, e.g. cżternastego. So although Antoni’s place of birth was recorded as Krocżewo, I think we can safely interpret that as a simple Kroczewo. But where the heck was it? Other records on that same page refer to Kraszewo Gaczułty and Kraszewo Falki, yet the priest distinguished this place name from those in his spelling, which suggests that this was not merely another name for one of the assorted Kraszewos identified thus far. The Słownik Geograficzne Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, which typically mentions alternate spellings for place names when they were known to exist, does not mention any places called Kroczewo other than the one in Płońsk County, which is the wrong Kroczewo (not the one in Raciąż parish). Neither do the entries for the assorted Kraszewo villages mention any alternate spellings that might identify the precise location of “Kroczewo.”
It might be possible to locate a map which includes Kroczewo, assuming a map could be found for the correct time period, and at a sufficient scale to include very small villages. This 1:200,000-scale map from 1913 shows Kraszewo, and “Kraszewo Budy,” which appears to be the village known as Budy Kraszewskie today, given its position relative to “Pulka-Raciążska” which is Pólka-Raciąż today, but no Kroczewo (Figure 3).2
I tried again with a map from the David Rumsey collection, originally published in 1856 (Figure 4).3 Unfortunately, at only 1:370,000 scale, the map only shows the larger villages. Raciąż is called Racionz on this map, but it’s unclear to me whether the “Radzanowo” mentioned here is actually Gradzanowo Kościelne, or if it refers instead to the village of Radzanów, located a little over 5 km north of Gradzanowo.
Next up was a map by Juliusz Kolberg, published in 1827 at a map scale ranging from 1:477,000 to about 1:525,000 (Figure 5).4
This map clearly differentiates between Radzanowo and Gradzanowo, and shows three of the Kraszewo villages—Kraszewo Czubaki, Kraszewo Podborze [sic] and Kraszewo Gaczołki [sic]—to the northwest of Raciąż. Note that Kraszewo Podborze is called Kraszewo Podborne today, and Kraszewo Gaczołki is Kraszewo Gaczułty. Scanning all the other place names on the map within a reasonable distance of the parish in Raciąż, I don’t see any places called Kroczewo.
I finally pulled out the big guns and located a Russian-language 1931 map published at a 1:25,000 scale from the Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny (Military Geographic Institute). This map scale is such that an entire map quadrant is dedicated to the town of Raciąż and its environs (Figure 6).
This map shows the Raciąż area in incredible detail, and permits identification of not only the six Kraszewos shown in Google Maps, but Kraszewo Dezerta, which was mentioned in the Skorowidz Królestwa Polskiego published in 1877. Additionally, there’s a “Ф. Крашево” located south of -Podborne. Maybe that Ф stands for Фольварк, the Russian transliteration of folwark, which is a Polish word for a manor or estate? That’s my current hypothesis, at least.
As interesting as all of this may be, it’s unfortunately not getting me any closer to identifying Kroczewo, since Kroczewo [Крочево] does not appear to be anywhere on this map. At this point, I’m inclined to throw in the towel, and declare this village to be lost to the mists of time, an odd historical artifact preserved in the church books of Raciąż. Maybe Fr. Franciszek Strzałkowski had a clear idea of where this place was when he recorded the birth of Antoni Nowicki way back in 1844, but I sure wish he would have let the cartographers in on the secret.
© Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2022
1 Roman Catholic Church (Raciaz, Plonsk, Mazowieckie, Poland), “Akta stanu cywilnego, 1808-1865,” 1844, Akta urodzeń, no. 95, Antoni Nowicki, born 23 July 1844; digital image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ : 23 March 2022), Family History Library film no. 730110/DGS no. 8024747, image 28 of 785.
2 Offiz. A. Spaczek, Offiz. K. Ginzkey, “Mława,” 1913, 1:200,000 scale topographic map from 3rd Military Mapping Survey of Austria-Hungary; digital image, Térképtudományi és Geoinformatikai Intézet (Institute of Cartography and Geoinformatics)(http://lazarus.elte.hu/hun/digkonyv/topo/3felmeres.htm : 28 March 2022), map 38-53.
3 Carl Ferdinand Weiland, Karte von den Konigl: Preussischen Provinzen Preussen und Posen, nebst dem Kaiserlich Russischen Konigreiche Polen. (with) Umgebung von Warshau. (with) Umgebung von Konigsberg. (with) Umgebung von Danzig. Entworfen und gezeichnet von C.F. Weiland. Gestochen von J. Madel III [Map of the Royal Prussian Provinces of Prussia and Posen, together with the Imperial Russian Kingdom of Poland. (with) Surroundings of Warshau. (with) Surroundings of Konigsberg. (with) Surroundings of Danzig. Designed and drawn by C.F. Weiland. Engraved by J. Madel III], (Weimar: Geographisches Institut Weimar, 1856); digital image, David Rumsey Map Collection (https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/s/f89w04 : 28 March 2022).
4 Juliusz Kolberg, Atlas Królestwa Polskiego, “Mappa jeneralna województwa płockiego / podług Sotzmana ze względem na zaszłe odmiany przez Juliusza Colberg” [General map of Płock voivodship / according to Sotzman with regard to variations by Juliusz Colberg], (Warsaw: Instytut Litograficzny Szkolny, 1827); digital image, Polona (https://polona.pl/item/atlas-krolestwa-polskiego-atlas-du-royaume-de-pologne,NDcwMDgwNjE/11/#info:metadata : 28 March 2022).
5 Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny, 11799189 @ WIG – Mapa Szczegółowa Polski [Detailed Map of Poland] 1:25 000 /1929–1939/, “P37 S30 H (alt. 3730 H) RACIĄŻ (RAZIONSCH), 1931;” digital image, Archiwum Map Wojskowego Instytutu Geograficznego 1919–1939 (http://maps.mapywig.org/m/WIG_maps/series/025K/P37-S30-H_1931_LoC_G6520_s25_.P6.jpg : 28 March 2022).