Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

I was recently contacted by someone researching Maciejewski ancestors who had the same first names as mine did. Although we did not appear to be related (Maciejewski is not a rare Polish name), I was able to commiserate about how difficult it can be to find places in the old country where our families originated, and demonstrate how, over years, I found and confirmed my Maciejewski family who came from West Prussia in 1883.

My great grandfather Jan Maciejewski‘s church death record said he was born in Tylice, and there are four places with that name in Poland. I picked one, and I guessed wrong. I wrote about it, though…  https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/maciejewski-from-tylice/

I researched Jan and Weronika Maciejewski‘s children’s baptism records in the United States… https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/st-stanislaus-baptism-records/

And saw that the parents were from Nieżywięć and Tylice in West Prussia… https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/maciejewski-family-from-tylice-near-niezywiec/

I finally found Jan and Weronika‘s marriage record… https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/marriage-of-johann-maciejewski-and-veronica-lewandowska-in-niezywiec-prussia/

But their son, my grandfather Antoni Maciejewski, was not born/baptized in Nieżywięć! I searched civil records from the Torun archives and found my grandfather’s birth record in 1883 in Zgniłobłotyhttps://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/1883-birth-of-antoni-maciejewski-in-zgnilobloty-west-prussia/

Which helped me recognize the family’s arrival record at Castle Garden in New York City later that year… https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/maciejewski-family-arrived-in-new-york-21-december-1883/

And identify other children of this family who were born and died in West Prussia… https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/maciejewski-family-resilience

I recommend checking all the records, including siblings, cousins, and other relatives and friends. This is sometimes called “cluster genealogy.” When you seem to be stuck, genealogy author Elizabeth Shown Mills recommends checking the “FAN club”  of your ancestor’s friends, associates, and neighbors. Even for ancestors who were married in America, I have found that couples often knew of each other’s families in the old country.

I wrote about how my grandparents grew up and were married in the US, but their parents’ places of origin were only twenty miles apart half a world away… https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2017/12/25/torun-gingerbread/

That’s how chain migration works… https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/chain-migration/

Because of the interrelationships of our ancestors, I helped some DNA cousins find their grandparents’ places of origin… https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2018/05/06/kalinowska-from-szembruk-west-prussia-looking-for-common-ancestors/  and https://myfamilyhistoryresearch.wordpress.com/2018/05/11/szennato-szynnato-szynwald-gros-schonwalde-deciphering-polish-prussian-place-names/

I often share information about other families I find along the way. Others have helped me. It is always rewarding to help others find primary or contemporaneous sources, and I like to hear from researchers of related families.

Happy ancestor hunting!

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