In researching our immigrant ancestors—especially when speculating over the land of their origin—the duly diligent are those who heed warnings to take their investigations step by step. No wild leaps of faith, flinging ourselves across the Atlantic, at least not without a paper trail.
I threw all such sage advice to the four winds. Impatience got the better of me, and I struck out to see whether I could find Anna Krauss, or Kusharvska, or Puhalski, or whoever she was. If my DNA test results have any say in the matter, at one time, Anna was a young Polish woman with a maiden name of Zegarska.
Despite the rigors of science—which brought us genetic genealogy in the first place—I still have a hard time swallowing such an assertion. I have been too indoctrinated in the mandate that we adhere to a paper trail. And so, I look. And I look again. And I still can't be sure, even though the matches add up to several individuals who all know their roots and all claim that same surname, Zegarski.
So, back again I go, checking out the online resources, since at a time like this, I sure won't be traveling to Poland. FamilySearch provides me with a handy listing of online sources for records concerning Pomerania, the northwestern shoreline section of Poland where those Zegarski roots were supposed to originate. And reminds me that Ancestry.com has a collection of Pomeranian Parish Register Transcripts and also Pomeranian Passenger Lists.
I search. And I find nothing.
Then I look at the fine print for these collections. As it turns out, the parish register collection reminds me that "This collection does not represent all parish records for this area and time period." And the passenger collection pipes up, "In comparison to the millions of emigrants who traveled via Bremerhaven and Hamburg, the 20,000 passengers who passed through Szczecin and Swinoujscie represent only a small portion of the total."
But of course.
Still, I can go back to my old Polish staple for all things Pomeranian: The Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne (PTG)—or, the Pomeranian Genealogical Association, for those of us who can only speak English. And, once again—as if I can't believe my eyes—I did.
I searched for all unmarried women in the parish of Czarnylas who went by the name Zegarska between the years 1865 and 1876, dates generously extending both before and after the likely time in which my paternal grandfather's parents might have married. While there wasn't any mention of an Anna, at least there was an Anastasia:
There was a Marianna who, in 1864, married Franz Krocz, and a Susanna who married Mathias Machlus in 1875. Right in the middle was Anastasia and her intended, Thomas Puchała, with the very reasonable marriage date in 1868.
Why reasonable? While, best I can tell, my grandfather was born in 1876, if we turn to that same website to examine baptismal records, we find that, in another parish nearby, the same couple was named as parents of a son, Joseph, in 1869, and a daughter named Rosalia in 1872. In addition, there was a son named Theodor who was born in 1876, though no name was provided for his father, and his mother was listed by both her married surname plus the notation that she was "born Zegarska."
What happened to those other Zegarska women in Czarnylas? If they were this Anastasia's sisters, can we follow their records to discover what became of them? Perhaps we can trace them along their immigrant trail to North America—if that is indeed how I ended up with Zegarska DNA matches in Wisconsin.