Transcriptions never trump copies of actual historical documents, of course, but I'm still mighty grateful for the Polish webmasters and their cadre of willing genealogy volunteers who have made it possible to at least get a hint of what might be out there. In tracing the lines of my paternal grandmother's father, Antoni Laskowski, I've found a DNA match at MyHeritage who is likely descended from Antoni's grandparents.
My first stop this week was to check out the information at the BaSIA website—yes, a source of transcriptions—to see whether I could verify that DNA match's ancestors did connect with Antoni's mother, Elżbieta Gramlewicz. While I still need to find a way to view the actual documents referred to at that website, I haven't forgotten another Polish resource I've used in the past: the Poznan Project.
The Poznan Project is also a source of transcriptions. And, as it was put on their website, "our database only provides basic information to identify the spouses" and accuracy "depends on the quality of the record and the skills of the transcriber." While I salute those many willing volunteers for making it possible for me to learn anything about my Polish forebears, I do realize that is a warning to take to heart. This is only a first step on my way to learning about my family. I consider these sources to be way-pointers in my research journey, not the destination.
So, what should I find at the Poznan Project with my first search effort this year? An 1810 Catholic parish entry for the town of Żerków, showing the marriage of twenty three year old Andreas Gramlewicz and twenty five year old Catharina Nowicka. Since this is a Catholic record, the names were likely rendered in Latin, not the couple's native tongue. These two would be the parents of Antoni's wife Elżbieta. To find the original record, I'd have to contact the Archdiocesan Archive in Gniezno, Poland. But at least now I know what to do for Step Two.
Scrolling down a bit further in my search results, I find an 1837 entry from the same Catholic parish for Catharina Gramlewiczówna—that same surname suffix we discussed the other day—and Vincentius Cichocki. Catharina's age was given as twenty five, making her year of birth approximately 1812. Unfortunately, no parents' names were given.
I notice, while searching through other entries in that same parish, that some, but not all women listed in those marriage entries were also labeled with that same surname suffix. Perhaps that was a tradition in that area, or the preferred etiquette extended to the brides by a specific priest. Or maybe it was just the style of a certain time frame, as I saw this suffix used in the earlier records but not those towards the end of that century.
What about the discrepancy between the two maiden names entered for Andrzej's wife Katarzyna? I've already found the entry for their marriage, showing the maiden name Nowicka in 1810. Where does that other surname—Zakrzewicz, from the MyHeritage trees—come in? There certainly were others in the village of Żerków claiming that surname, but none with the given name of Katarzyna (or Catharina), nor any marrying a Gramlewicz. Negative search results are important to note, as well.
I'll continue searching with the other surnames presented in MyHeritage's "Theory of Family Relativity" estimates, to see what can be found on the Poznan Project website. Then, combining this website with the BaSIA website, I'll pull out my warning sign icon and attach it to this line of descent as I tentatively enter it in my family tree. From there, I'll look to other websites to see whether I can find actual documents to support these transcriptions.