Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Finding my Maciejewski Family’s Ancestral Origins

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…

I researched Jan and Weronika Maciejewski‘s children’s baptism records in the United States…

And saw that the parents were from Nieżywięć and Tylice in West Prussia…

I finally found Jan and Weronika‘s marriage record…

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 Zgniłobłoty

Which helped me recognize the family’s arrival record at Castle Garden in New York City later that year…

And identify other children of this family who were born and died in West Prussia…

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…

That’s how chain migration works…

Because of the interrelationships of our ancestors, I helped some DNA cousins find their grandparents’ places of origin…  and

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!


Finding New Cousins With DNA Evidence

I have always had a fondness for facts. I was baffled in 2006 when a new doctor first told me about “evidence based” medicine; I had previously assumed that all medical practice would be based on evidence. One of the graduate courses I took while studying information security computer science was in “Formal Methods” using mathematics and logic to evaluate the reliability and robustness of a design and form conclusions. I like facts.

In the past, and through most of the entries in this blog, family history decisions were based on the multidisciplinary benchmark of a “preponderance of evidence.” If multiple reports support a cogent narrative, then they are worth repeating. If there are discrepancies, they are worth investigating. Often, by examining different sources, things can make sense. [1]

DNA results are but one tool in the family researcher’s toolkit, but it is undoubtedly evidence based!

In early 2018, I know almost two dozen people with whom I match with AncestryDNA, all descendants of my ancestors who immigrated to the United States either from

Poland ancestral areas

Poland marked with author’s ancestral locations

  • Marienwerder, West Prussia, now Kujawsko-Pomorskie in north-central Poland, where my father’s grandparents and father were born, or
  • Radom, specifically the Sandomierz area of Świętokrzyskie, historically part of the Małopolska (Lesser Poland) region, where my mother’s parents and grandparents were born.

Most of my known DNA matches are close family, first cousins, second cousins, or third cousins, sometimes removed by a generation or two. Since the estimate of relationships is based on the identified amount of DNA we share, a handful of matches are listed by Ancestry as fourth cousins, even though we are second or third cousins in our genealogical trees.

Since DNA can occasionally reveal links that were unsuspected, it has also brought up some surprises.

For example, I knew my grandfather Antoni Maciejewski had two brothers, Konstanty and Ludwik. I knew that their children, my father’s cousins, had grown out of touch. I had heard stories about the rest of the family. I was delighted when I found a family tree online, and even more so in 2016 when my previously unknown second cousin coordinated a mini family reunion in Buffalo, New York, with several of Ludwik Maciejewski/Louis Warner‘s descendants. Some of us confirmed our genetic connection with DNA evidence.

I was contacted by a gentleman from Ontario when we matched on FamilyTreeDNA. Although we both had Szczepański/Szczepanowski names in our family trees, we found that our Szczepański forebears came from different areas. However, we could trace several of our lines to Świętokrzyskie. His experience encouraged me to continue researching Polish records. Although we never identified a most recent common ancestor (MRCA), we were able to ascertain that we both had Zybała, Bokwa, and Sad(owa) ancestors from Koprzywnica and the villages surrounding it.

Another genetic connection was made with a Canadian woman after we had connections on AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and GEDmatch. She knew she had been adopted, and her birth parentage had become a concern when one of her children was born with a genetic heart condition. She knew the names of her birth parents, and began cold-calling from a phone book people with her birth mother’s last name until she found a family with similar stories. With additional information, her daughter was successfully treated, and her son’s risk was confirmed for proper treatment. Although we never discovered a most recent common ancestor (MRCA), we were able to ascertain that her father’s parents, named Drach and Wieczorek, were from the villages of Świniary and Suchowola near Koprzywnica.

I heard from a DNA cousin with a Kasprzyk ancestor who had immigrated through Canada to Detroit and then to Buffalo from “Poland Oporto (sic) Russia.” We exchanged newspaper clippings and he shared his findings of a researcher in Poland of his ancestors near Opatów in Świętokrzyskie.

Several second cousins and I were contacted by an AncestryDNA match who had been adopted as a baby. She knew her mother had been Polish, and asked her DNA matches if we could help in her search for her birth parents. I was able to share information about our likely ancestors from West Prussia, and their descendants who had immigrated to America, even if I could not give her specific information about her birth circumstances. They were clues, she said, and helped her pursue her search.

Another genetic match had posted a family tree with entirely different people living in the same town as several of my relatives. There is probably a story there.

I had more in common with one match on FamilyTreeDNA and GEDmatch than just our DNA. Although we were born elsewhere in different decades, we are both Cornell University graduates currently living in Rhode Island. We both have ancestors who lived in Prussia in the 1800s, although some of his Jablonowski ancestors moved to Höntrop, near Bochum, Germany, before immigrating to the United States.

Because two Polish siblings that I matched on FamilyTreeDNA and GEDmatch were also matches for one of my first cousins one generation removed, I had originally thought we were connected through my father’s family. However, they were from the Świętokrzyskie area, where my mother’s family had lived! It baffled me, until I realized that our genetic connection may be through both his parents, with his father my first cousin on my father’s side, and his mother a distant relation of my mother’s family. That also explains some other anomalies in our results. Even though his mother does not appear to be a DNA match to me, some of her matches are also matches to me, possibly through a long ago ancestor.

Chicago was a common destination for immigrants from Polish lands, so I have found some DNA (estimated) 4th cousins whose ancestors landed in Chicago. They identified their ancestors as Kalinowski or Kaniecki, from Prussia. Although it has been difficult to identify specifically our most recent common ancestors (MRCA), in several instances we were able to identify our common ancestral villages and actually find their ancestors’ baptism and marriage records in Szembruk and nearby places in West Prussia.

I am intrigued with two recent AncestryDNA matches from Long Island with ties back to Buffalo, New York. There is definitely a link, and I am looking forward to learning more about how to evaluate it when I attend the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh’s course in Practical Genetic Genealogy with Blaine Bettinger at Daemen College in Amherst, New York, this summer.

DNA can confirm genetic relationships you’ve identified through research, find new connections, or cast doubt on identified ancestry. This has all happened in my experience with DNA testing. I have reached out to many DNA matches, and although not all have responded, I am curious about our common heritage. My grandson says we are all related some way. It’s interesting to try to discover how, at least for our closer relations.

[1] Not all evidence is created equal. Professional genealogists apply five criteria in their “Genealogical Proof Standard:”

  • a reasonably exhaustive search
  • complete and accurate source citations
  • analysis and correlation of the collected information
  • resolution of any conflicting evidence
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion

Chain Migration

Since my grandparents had been married in the United States, I had thought that they had met here and that their families had not known one another back in Poland. Instead, as I discovered more about my specific ancestors, I learned that often descendants of families who had been known to each other in the old country would later marry and continue on family traditions in the new country. Their story of immigration and allied families is a tradition that continues today.

Family history researchers refer to this tendency of people from a place to travel together and to bring their families with them as chain migration.

My father’s grandparents had immigrated to Buffalo in the 1880s, when my grandfather Antoni Maciejewski was just a baby. My grandmother Marya Szczepańska was born in Buffalo. I was surprised to learn that their parents had been born half a world away in Nieżywięć and Szembruczek, small villages in West Prussia that were just twenty miles apart. Although I thought I had solved a puzzle when I learned that my great-grandfather Marcin Szczepański‘s mother was born to the Kaniecki family, I subsequently learned that Jan Kaniecki‘s mother had been born Kalinowska, and he was probably first cousin to my great-grandmother, Anna Kalinowska Szczepanska. My father and his siblings called him “Uncle.” There are undoubtedly other family ties that have been lost in the intervening years.

My mother’s parents, Agnieszka Kapuscińska and Jan Skrok, moved to the United States in the 1910s with their siblings, cousins, and other relations.  They married in Buffalo, returned to Poland about 1920, and then came back to America later that decade. Although her grandmother had lived in Buffalo for almost ten years, my mother never met her or other family members who later remained in Poland. Because my aunt and uncle had been born in the United States, they were “anchor babies” who allowed my Polish-born grandmother to travel back to America with an United States passport that included an infant who had been born in Poland. My grandparents subsequently had several more children in America, including my mother.

Many genealogists have used chain migration to identify their family members, but The Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, expresses our family situation best in her blog post “For the record…What “chain migration” looks like”.

Yet though these immigrants personally may not ever have fully assimilated in the United States, they most assuredly contributed directly and personally to this country.

In many cases, they married here in America.

They worked long and hard here in America.

They paid taxes here in America.

They sent their children to school here in America.

They — and their children — and grandchildren — and great grandchildren — are my family.

And their children — and grandchildren — and great grandchildren — most assuredly are fully assimilated and contribute directly and personally to this country.

We have served this nation in the United States Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy.

In the civilian service of the United States and of several states.

In the ranks of the medical profession. The legal profession. As educators. As scientists.

As parents.

And even as grandparents.

This is what my family looks like.

We are precisely what “chain migration” really looks like.

And we’re damned proud of it.

Ancestral First Names: From Abigail to Zebedee

With a new grandchild on the way, I was inspired by “What’s in a Name?: Frequency Analysis of Ancestral Given Names in My Family Tree” by Polish family researcher Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz on her blog From Shepherds and Shoemakers to analyze the first names in both my daughter’s and her husband’s family.

The new baby will have a mix of European heritages and nationalities. While my family history is Polish, both from the German and the Russian partitions, my daughters also have a mix of English (both Yankee and Canadian), and Irish from their father’s side. As far as I can tell, their ancestors fought on both sides in the American Revolutionary War, on the Union side in the Civil War, and were either Catholic or Protestant to an alarming degree of green and orange.  My son-in-law’s identified ancestors are French-Canadian, English-Canadian, and Swedish, and not so contentiously Catholic and Protestant.

Many of the oldest names were found years ago from old published genealogies, and they have not been properly sourced. With that caveat, the names of identified ancestors are listed below.

Mary and John and their variations were most popular through the ages. They, like the other top ten names, were found in trees of various ethnicity. For example, Małgorzata in Polish and Marguerite in French are analogues of the English name Margaret.

The names Jadwiga, Kazimierz, Stanisław, Stanisława, and Wojciech are clearly Polish in origin. Mikołaj is the Polish version of Nicholaus. Adelard, Basile, Célina, Cyrille, Hercule, and Nasaire are French, and Sigfrid is Swedish.

Thankful, Mercy, Patience, Plain, and Prudence were all first names from New England in Colonial times. Baptist minister William Wickenden was in Providence in 1640 and was a close friend of Roger Williams. His second daughter Plain married Samuel Wilkinson. The last names of their descendants and their spouses read like a glossary of Rhode Island street names: Angell, Arnold, Chapman, Comstock, Hopkins, Rogers, Rounds, Slater, Thayer, Waterman, Wickenden, and Williams, but that’s a blog topic for another day.

Here are their known ancestral first names:

Marianna/Mary/Marya/Maryanna 28
Jan/John 27
William 15
Elizabeth 12
Thomas/Tomasz 11
Alce/Alcy/Alice 9
Catherine/Katarzyna/Katherine 9
Ann/Anna/Anne 8
Joseph/Józef 8
Małgorzata/Margaret/Marguerite 8
Sarah 7
James 6
Martha 5
Susanna/Susannah 5
Agnes/Agnieszka 3
Benjamin 3
Daniel 3
Eleanor/Eleonor 3
George 3
Joanna/Johanna/Johannah 3
Maurice 3
Phebe/Phoebe 3
Reuben 3
Wincenty 3
Amos 2
Basil/Basile 2
Caleb 2
Charles 2
Clement 2
David 2
Edmond/Edmund 2
Emily 2
Esther 2
Franciszka 2
Henry 2
Jeremiah 2
Kacper 2
Louis 2
Lucian/Lukasz 2
Mathilde/Matilda 2
Obadiah/Obediah 2
Rebecca 2
Regina 2
Samuel 2
Simeon 2
Stephen 2
Sylvanus 2
Walentin/Walenty 2
Zachariah 2
Abigail 1
Adelaide 1
Adelard 1
Andrzej 1
Annis 1
Antoni 1
Célina 1
Chad 1
Christian 1
Christopher 1
Coles 1
Constant 1
Cyrille 1
Della 1
Douglas 1
Ebenezer 1
Elethea 1
Emeline 1
Enoch 1
Ephrem 1
Flora 1
Florian 1
Forrest 1
Frank 1
Fredora 1
Gertruda 1
Hannah 1
Hercule 1
Jadwiga 1
Jane 1
Jarvis 1
Jemima 1
Joan 1
Kazimierz 1
Lawrance 1
Leah 1
Leslie 1
Lina 1
Lucyna 1
Mae 1
Mahala 1
Marcin 1
Mercy 1
Michal 1
Mikołaj 1
Mildred 1
Nancy 1
Nasaire 1
Neilan 1
Ozina 1
Patience 1
Patrick 1
Peleg 1
Philip 1
Pierre 1
Plain 1
Prudence 1
Quentin 1
Ralph 1
Rhoda 1
Richard 1
Robert 1
Robietta 1
Rubina 1
Ruth 1
Sandra 1
Shubael 1
Sigfrid 1
Smith 1
Sophie 1
Stanisław 1
Stanisława 1
Teresa 1
Tertullus 1
Thaddeus 1
Thankful 1
Virginia 1
Weller 1
Weronika 1
Wojciech 1
Zebedee 1

The Other Szczepański Children

When I first started documenting family history, I asked my parents, aunts, and uncles what they could tell me, and what they remembered. My mother had a collection of funeral prayer cards, wedding invitations, and birth announcements, and these gave me a good start documenting family relationships, dates, and places.

The stories were even more interesting, as different people remembered different things, even sometimes about the same people and events. It made for interesting discussions. People told me what they knew and what they had heard. For example, everyone agreed that Martin and Anna Szczepański had six children.

They had been married in Szembruk, West Prussia, in November 1878, and they had immigrated to Buffalo, New York, in 1881. Their oldest son, Franciszek, was born in Buffalo in September 1884. I began to think that something was missing from this story, and I was right.

In going through the 1880 church registers from Szembruk, I found an entry for the birth and baptism of their first son, Józef, on 2 März 1880. [1]

1880 Joseph Szczepanski birth cropped

1880 church baptism register, Szembruk, Prussia

Sadly, the last page of the available Szembruk records also had an entry for his death on 5 März 1880.

1880 Joseph Szczepanski death cropped

1880 church death register, Szembruk, Prussia

I did not find any other Szczepański children’s entries in the Szembruk records, but in the 1900 Bennington, New York census, Anna reported that she was the mother of nine children, and that five of them were still living.

1900 Szczepanski census cropped

1900 Federal Census, Bennington, New York

Agnes would be born in Bennington, New York, on 2 August 1902.

Who were the three other children?

We know that after the death of their first child in March 1880, Marcin and Anna immigrated to the United States. Although I have not yet found record of their passage, Martin filed his first citizenship papers in Buffalo, New York, on 24 October 1881.

Since their other children were baptized at St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic parish in Buffalo, I re-examined the baptism records. They are now online at FamilySearch, and the Church has an index. There were several listings for Szczepański infants, and three of them were other children of Marcin and Anna.

Maria Szczepańska was born 17 June 1881 and baptized 19 June 1881.

On 2 October 1882, Marcin and Anna had Jan Szczepański, who was baptized 8 October 1882. I would have been surprised about the place listed as the parents’ place of birth, had I not known that Grudziądz is the county name and the name of the city near Szembruczek.

After the births of Franciszek (1884) and Marya (1887), Helena Szczepańska was born 16 Oct 1889 and baptized at St. Stanislaus in Buffalo 20 Oct 1889.

However, in the 1892 New York State census, only Frank and Mary were listed with their parents.

1892 Szepanski Buffalo NYS Census cropped

1892 New York State census, Buffalo, New York

What happened to the other three little ones?

Sadly, St. Stanislaus Church also had records of their deaths and burial at St. Stanislaus Cemetery in Cheektowaga, New York.

Maria died 12 Jul 1881, after living just 25 days. Jan was 11 months old when he died 4 Sep 1883, and Helena was 1 year 5 months 15 days old when she died 31 Mar 1891.

Here is a timeline of the children of this family:

Martin & Anna children
[1] Józef, pronounced YOO-zef, would have been his name in Polish, the language spoken by his parents. Because the Prussian government required even church records to be kept in German, his baptism record had the German/Latin name Joseph, pronounced YO-zef.


St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr RC Church, Buffalo, New York, Helena SZCZEPAŃSKI (Baptism),

St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr RC Church, Buffalo, New York, Helena SZCZEPAŃSKI (Burial),

St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr RC Church, Buffalo, New York, Jan SZCZEPAŃSKI (Baptism),

St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr RC Church, Buffalo, New York, Jan SZCZEPAŃSKI (Burial),

St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr RC Church, Buffalo, New York, Maria SZCZEPAŃSKA (Baptism),

St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr RC Church, Buffalo, New York, Maria SZCZEPAŃSKA (Burial),

Finding Szembruczek

I started researching family history more than twenty years ago. My father’s mother Marya Szczepańska had been born in Buffalo in 1887. Her parents, Martin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska, had immigrated to Buffalo in 1881 and the family grew. By 1997, I was able to identify over three hundred Descendants of Martin and Anna Szczepański, and self-published a book about them. However, I was not sure from where in Germany-Poland Martin and Anna had come.

From American records, we knew a bit about them. Martin and Anna lived in Buffalo until about 1900, when they bought land in Bennington, New York, and began dairy farming. Martin Szczepański was fluent in both German and Polish, and his 1931 obituary in the Attica News said he had come from Germany. It may be the obituary was a misspelling of his name as Martsin, the English phonetic spelling of the Polish name Marcin. Anna‘s obituary in the Attica News in 1938 said she had been born in Poland. Other records said that he was born in 1854 and she was born in 1858.

1938 Anna Szczepanski obit


We knew they were married in 1878, because they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1928, and the occasion was published in the Attica News on November 15, 1928.

1928 Bennington Szczepanski golden wedding

This picture must have been from about that time:

Martin and Anna_0001

Martin and Anna had six children. Five of them—Franciszek (1884), Marya (1887), Bernard (1892), Marta (1895), and Leon (1898)—were baptized at St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, New York. Their children’s baptism records listed the parents’ place of birth as Szombrug, Szömbrug, Szenbruk, Szenburg, Szönbruk, Szymbruczek or a variation.

Szczepanski parents StStan

Borussia is the Latin name for Prussia. Since umlauts are not used in Polish or Latin, it looked like these were versions of a German name, so in German it probably started with SCH and in Polish SZ. In 1997, I thought their place of birth was Schomberg, Prussia, which would have been something like Szomberg in Polish, but that was not correct. More recently, I suspected the German version of the names in Prussia would be Schomberg, Schömberg, or Schoenberg. There were many places with those names, and I wrote about them in a blog post called “Which Szomberg?

In 2017, after talking to some researchers at a conference of the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast in New Britain, Connecticut about patterns of Polish migration, I investigated places that had been in West Prussia, especially those that were Schönberg in German and Szymbark in Polish.

When I did not find their records there, I searched for variations of Szymbruczek and Szymbruk, the names from the children’s birth registers that seemed most Polish, and finally found Szembruczek and Szembruk, in what used to be West Prussia.

The village of Szembruczek is quite small. In German it was called Klein Schönbrück. The nearby larger village was called Groß Schönbrück. In German, Klein means little, and Groß, also written as Gross, means large. In Polish, Małe and Mały mean little. The Polish suffix -ek indicates a diminutive, something little or cute. Marya’s baptism entry actually listed what I now can see was Szembruk Mały, or Little Szembruk.

The database at the website has four entries for Szembruczek:

Kartenmeister Szembruczek

Wikipedia identified:Szembruczek

Szembruczek [ʂɛmˈbrut͡ʂɛk] (German: Klein Schönbrück) is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Rogóźno, within Grudziądz County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, in north-central Poland. It lies approximately 6 kilometres (4 mi) east of Rogóźno, 17 km (11 mi) north-east of Grudziądz, and 63 km (39 mi) north-east of Toruń. The village has a population of 230.

The Polish name Szembruk is an assimilation of the name Schönbrück , derived from the German words “schöne Brücke” (“beautiful bridge”). says Groß Schönbrück was also called Duzy Zembnik [1] and Wielkie Szembruck. Not surprisingly, Duży is the Polish word for big, and Wielkie means great.

Kartenmeister Szembruk

Most importantly, Groß Schönbrück/Szembruk has a Catholic church, Sw. Bartłomieja (St. Bartholomew). The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) filmed the early Parish registers of births, marriages, and deaths for “Groß Schönbruck (Kr. Graudenz), Westpreußen, Germany; now Szembruk (Grudziądz), Bydgoszcz, Poland. Text in Latin, Polish and German.” [2] No longer available on microfilm loan, the records have been digitized, and some are available at the Family Search website.

It had been a puzzle for more than twenty years, but in 2017, I found Martin Szczepański‘s baptism record online!

1854 Martin Szczepanski birth pg11854 Martin Szczepanski birth pg2

He was born 7 November, leg. (legitimate), in Kl. Schoenbruck, and baptized 12 November 1854. Because the records are German, his name is listed as Martin, and not the Polish Marcin.

The second page (here listed below the entry from the first page) shows Martin’s father’s name was Jan Szczepanski. His mother’s name was Franciszka Kaniecka. This information solved an ongoing mystery. In the 1990s, I had asked my father’s older sisters Cele and Imelda, who was called Emily, about their grandparents. Emily thought her grandmother’s maiden name had been Kaniecki, because when Martin and Anna moved to their farm in Bennington, their daughter Marya stayed behind in Buffalo with the Kaniecki family. Emily told me that her mother said that Jan Kaniecki was her only uncle from that side of the family. Cele knew that her grandmother’s maiden name had been Kalinowski, because it rhymed with her married name, Malinowski. But she did not know how the Kaniecki and Szczepański families were related. I wrote about the Kaniecki family in Buffalo on pages 156-157 of the Szczepański book.

1858 Szembruk birth records1858 Anna Kalinowska birth cropped

Anna Kalinowska was born 27 März, and baptized 5 April 1858. Unfortunately, the ink is somewhat faded and her parents’ names are indistinct, but her father’s name is Johannes (German for Jan) Kalynowski and her mother’s name is Marianna Nowakowska. (Marianna’s family name is clearer with her other children.)

1878 Szembrek marriage records1878 Szczepanski-Kalinowska marriage pg1

Martin Szczepanski and Anna Kalynowska were married 12 November 1878. I think he is identified as Jüngling (young unmarried man) 24 years old, and she is Mädfrau, young unmarried woman, of 21. The second page of the record ends with the dates that banns were announced and that the ceremony was performed in Gr. Schoenbruck.


[1] Zębnik is the Polish word for pinion, a round gear.

[2] When the church records were filmed in 1954, Szembruk (Grudziądz) was in the Bydgoszcz province of Poland. During the German Occupation of the 19th century, it was Provinz Westpreußen (West Prussia), or Prusy Zachodnie in Polish. After Poland was reunited in 1920, it was in the Pomeranian Province, and between 1975 and 1998, it was in the Toruń Province. Currently, Szembruk is in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, or in Polish, województwo kujawsko-pomorskie.


  1. Martsin Szczepanski, Attica News, Attica, New York, 29 October 1931.
  2. Mrs. Martin Szczepanski, Attica News, Attica, New York, 13 September 1938.
  4. GOLDEN WEDDING, Attica News, Attica, New York, 15 November 1928.
  5. St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr RC Church (Buffalo, New York), Baptism Register, FHL microfilm . Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  8. Szembruczek. (2017, March 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 3, 2017, from
  9. Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja Szembruk (Grudziądz) (Main Author), Księgi metrykalne, 1795-1917, Manuscript/Manuscript on Film, Salt Lake City, Utah : Mikrofilmowało The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954, 1988.

West Prussia

After finding our great-grandparents Jan Maciejewski and Weronika Lewandowska‘s marriage record in what was then the district of Strasburg in West Prussia (see the the map below), I wanted to learn more about this area.


In searching for the birthplaces of Marcin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska, it appears they may have come from this area as well. The church entries from their children’s baptisms appear to be a mashup of German and Polish, so I looked for more information from Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego. There were no names starting with “Szymbr-“, but there was a Szymbark page. It identifies two places, and gives the German name for each as Schoenberg.

Wikipedia states Szymbark may refer to the following places in North Poland:

Szymbark, Pomeranian Voivodeship (north Poland)  Szymbark [ˈʂɨmbark] (Kashubian Szimbark, German: Schönberg) is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Stężyca, within Kartuzy County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately 11 kilometres (7 mi) east of Stężyca, 15 km (9 mi) south-west of Kartuzy, and 39 km (24 mi) south-west of the regional capital Gdańsk. …The village has a population of 541.

Szymbark, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship (north Poland)  Szymbark [ˈʂɨmbark] (former German name: Schönberg) is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Iława, within Iława County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately 8 kilometres (5 mi) north-west of Iława and 69 km (43 mi) west of the regional capital Olsztyn. The village has a population of 395.

Kartenmeister shows two villages called Schönberg in German and Szymbark in Polish located in West Prussia.

Schonberg Karthaus

Schonberg Rosenberg

For Szymbark in Gmina Stężyca, within Kartuzy County, the LDS Family History Library has Roman Catholic parish registers and transcripts of births, marriages and deaths in Stnedsitz, Westpreußen, Germany; now Stężyca (Kartuzy), Gdańsk, Poland. Text in Latin, Polish and German from 1692-1933 and Parish register of baptisms, marriages and deaths for Berent (AG. Berent), Westpreußen, Preußen, Germany, now Kóscierzyna (Kościer zyna), Gdańsk, Poland.

For Szymbark near Iława, the LDS Family History Library has Civil registration of births, marriages, deaths for Schönberg (Kr. Rosenberg), West Prussia, Germany; now, Szymbark (Iława), Olsztyn, Poland, from 1874 to 1887  and Parish register of baptisms, marriages and deaths in Sommerau (Kr. Rosenberg), Westpreußen, Germany; now Ząbrowo (Iława), Olsztyn, Poland. Includes Groß Herzogswalde, now Laseczno; and Schönberg, now Szymbark. Also includes Schwarzenau, Groß Wolka, Klein Wolka, Wonno, etc. Left-side pages (l. S.) filmed separately from right-side pages (r. S.).

Update: I researched the church registers, but was not successful in finding their records in these registers. I was eventually successful, see Finding Szembruczek.