Friday, April 17, 2015

What I Think I Know

Back in 1929, would it have been considered unusual for the bride's father's parents to be absent from her wedding? In the case of the wedding of the daughter of John and Blanche Aktabowska Laskowski, that is apparently what happened.

In trying to figure out why Frances Laskowski’s paternal grandparents weren’t in attendance at her wedding, I have to return to the things I already know about the couple. These things, as you can imagine, are precious few.

When I first began this quest, decades ago, one of my oldest cousins shared a childhood memory of hearing this man being called something that sounded like “Joshja”—but then we wised up and realized that was probably the Polish word for “Grandpa.” Sure enough, if you enter the word “Grandpa” into Google Translate now, one of the choices coming up, in Polish, is “Dziadzio.” Clicking on the speaker icon allows you to hear what that word sounds like in Polish. I’d say “Joshja” was a pretty close approximation for a little kid to remember.

Now, I know that Frances’ paternal grandfather’s name was Anton. It has also shown up in census records—at least the ones legible enough to read—as Antone, Antony and Antoni. The best I can figure, so far, is that he was born in what is now Poland, sometime in the early 1840s.

When Frances’ grandfather came to this country from “Posen” is hard to determine. While I’ve recently been ecstatic about finding passenger records for Anton’s wife and children, I still come up empty-handed when it comes to his own immigration.

Likewise, it has been difficult to trace his wife. I have two conflicting reports about her maiden name—and that of her parents. In American census records, she always was listed with the simple American name, Mary—but as we discovered upon finally locating her passenger records, her name was more likely Marianna.

The trouble with her records is a discrepancy between her own death certificate and that of her daughter, Sophie. On her own death certificate, her father was listed as Frank Jankowsky. Since she died in 1939, four years after her husband’s passing, the informant on her records was her daughter, Sophie.

However, when it came to Sophie’s own records, her mother’s maiden name was listed as Zelinski, not Jankowsky. The informant, in that case, was Sophie’s husband, so granted there was a possibility that he wasn’t well versed in all the fine details.

Interestingly, that Zelinski surname surfaces in another family member’s history: Sophie’s brother John’s wife’s mother. (There: confused yet?) Her maiden name was also Zelinski—although on her death record, it was spelled Zielinski.

So, if Frances Laskowski was doubly related through both her grandmothers, why wasn’t Marianna Zelinski Laskowski at her granddaughter’s 1929 wedding?


  1. He (they) may have been too old and frail to attend - or ill.

    Or worse yet, part of the family wasn't "speaking" to another part -- it happens more often than one might think.

    1. At this point, I'd say either one of those was a solid possibility. Wish there was a way to know for sure.

  2. Today I sat down to work on my blog, but first I had to check yours out. One article leads to another and before I know it, lots of time has gone by. I read the one "He Was Really There" ( not sure I got the title completely right. My uncle was on a ship off the coast of Iwa Jima when the flag was raised in WWII. You are right about history. It comes alive with knowing family who were really there. You give me so many great ideas. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Margie. I'm glad to hear that!

      It seems I often run into people who had family in those first forces at Iwo Jima. Of course, that sets me wondering whether any of them knew of each other at the time. I guess that's just the way a genealogist's mind works--looking for connections.

  3. Maybe it wasn't in the "right" church. I hope you find out:)

    1. Oh, now there's a thought. I've known families that have reacted like that. That would be something not likely to be included in a newspaper article, though. It may be hard to find out.


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