11 October 2016

Poland: Target Wisła River

Poland has been on my genealogy wish list for years. 

In My Genealogy Sabbatical Year, I wished for two months in Poland and Germany. I feel lucky that I was able to spend two weeks there.

Lake Radyszyn
Target: Vistula River (Wisła in Polish)

I hoped to stay near the Wisła River. My ancestors lived in various small towns along the river between Włocławek and Płock. I wanted to feel what it felt like to be there. The Gostynin-Włocławek Landscape Park, a beautiful post-glacial area, absorbed many of the towns. The land and its' beauty remains. 

Ancestral Locations on Vistula River
Research Location #1: Płock or Włocławek?

Since my last posting about finding genealogical records in Poland, I have found evidence of ancestors in several more towns. Most of these ancestral towns, are part of Powiat Włocławski in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. These towns belonged to the Nowa Wieś Lutheran parish. Nowa Wieś is just south of the border of Powiat Włocławsk in Powiat Płocki in the Masovian Voivodeship.  When it was active the Nowa Wieś Lutheran parish encompassed 36 towns and villages. Our first research stop will be the Płock archive

Research Tip: Carefully examine ancestral locations over time to determine which government or religious body created the records when your ancestor lived. 

A River View

We found a fantastic hotel right on the river in Płock; Hotel Tumski. It is less than a block from the archives. Our guide, Zbigniew, picked us up at the Warsaw airport and brought us straight there. PolishOrigins had planned research for the first day, but I knew we would all need a break. Plus, our cousin, Erwin, would be coming from Potsdam, Germany, in the evening to meet and join us in our ancestral quest. We did not want to leave him out of the fun.

Research on!
Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Reconnecting Relatives®, LLC

Let's Remember together! Visit my business page to learn how to hire me in 3 easy steps to help you find and reconnect with your ancestors and family. 

My Genealogy Sabbatical Year
Gostynin-Włocławek Landscape Park
Using Google Maps to Find Genealogical Records
Płock Archives
Płock Evangelical Lutheran and Catholic Indexing Project
Polish Archival Resources for Nowa Wieś
Search Polish Archives

04 October 2016

Poland: Hiring a Genealogy Tour Guide

As you know my parents invited me on their trip to Germany. They added a side trip to Poland where I could research in the Polish archives. My Mom wanted to stand on the land where our ancestors lived. I felt prepared for a research trip to Poland. I knew our family surnames and previous residences. I had exhausted all online, FamilySearch and U.S. record groups. I also knew the record groups to review at the archives and which records I was hoping to find. For example, my great grandparents birth records from 1891 and 1895.

Here is the catch. I do not speak Polish. I can usually recognize names/surnames in Polish handwriting in genealogical records, but speaking, writing or even sounding out Polish is beyond my capability. What does a good genealogist do when she does not have a needed skill to complete a project (and I didn't have enough time/years to learn Polish)? Just like you, we hire someone. 

Over the last year, I have become familiar with the website and company, PolishOrigins. Their online strength is their active forum. I posted a marriage record there and it was translated by one of their kind volunteers. Then an unknown cousin from Connecticut contacted me because the record was for our shared 4x great grandparents. Boom. Just like that. A new cousin (connection) is born. :)

Zbigniew at the Płock archives.
PolishOrigins is a registered tour operator. They travel to Poland and nearby countries that have been part of Poland. My new cousin, who had been using PolishOrigins for longer than I have, encouraged me to hire them to guide us on our research trip to Poland. I did and we were all happy to have Zbigniew, their chief genealogy guide to assist us on our journey into the past. 

PolishOrigins was extremely flexible with our planning. September is their busiest season, but Zbigniew fit us 
between a big trip to Belarus and his next client. While with us, he gave us his full attention and energy to our family. It was super hectic as we had only two full days to accomplish so much, but he kept us on task and going forward. Sometimes he even let us have a coffee break. Zbigniew is a typical genealogist. Finding the records and the places and the people are more important than sleeping or eating. Although, sometimes I like to eat. And sleep. But he and my parents (Remember those rocket to Mars travelers?) kept telling me that I would have time on the train to sleep and eat. And I did. 

I highly recommend Zbigniew and PolishOrigins. My husband and I already plan to go back in two years for the IAJGS 2018 Jewish genealogy conference in Warsaw. Did I tell you that all we did in Warsaw was get off a plane and then onto a train after three days? I don't even like to think about everything I missed. I start to get anxiety. Anyway, Zbigniew insists that we must go first to Kraków before the conference because there is an amazing Jewish festival there every summer. It makes me happy to hear that Jewish life is flourishing in places where it had been obliterated. It is clear that Zbigniew loves Kraków and Poland and his job. 

I wonder if I could learn to speak Polish in two years...

Research on!

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!

30 September 2016

It Begins in Poland: Traveling at the Speed of ... My Parents

Buckle your seatbelts! We are traveling at the speed of my parents. Oh, did you think that speed might be slow? Not with my parents. They may physically move at a slower pace than me, but they travel with the purpose and intensity of a rocket trip to Mars. 

We spent two weeks in Poland and Germany with a small day trip to Austria. During that time, we visited eight cities and numerous villages; researched our family in archives in Płock and Włocławek (Poland); spent time with six new (to me) cousins (ages 8 months to 95 years); crawled through overgrown cemeteries and the locations of long gone villages; and even did some sightseeing. 

My parents invited me on their nostalgic trip to Germany, where they began their lives together more than fifty years ago, while my Dad was serving in the U.S. army. True, they wanted some help along the way, but they enticed me with family research in Poland and new cousins. New cousins and dead ancestors. What could be better? 

Research on!
Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Reconnecting Relatives, LLC
Let's Remember!

10 January 2016

Bubba-isms from the Heart - World War II

23 April 1944 9:00 P.M.

"Someday we will own our own cottage at the seashore. Then the 
whole family can spend many days at the seashore instead of only
once in a while. We will spend every possible minute of the summer
days there. Won't that be fun?"
                   - Edward H. Smith S/2C to his wife, Ruth

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