Thursday, September 1, 2016
Dreaming of More Cousins
There is a reason why I was so delighted at the possibility of finding cousins for Sophie. Of course there was. You knew that already—I don't need to recount how many unsolved DNA test matches are lying, unclaimed, at the bottom of my pile of genetic genealogy mysteries.
In fact, out of all my matches, only a small proportion are linked to this side of my family. How do I know that? Easy. I asked a specific member of my family if he would be willing to participate in DNA testing at a company which not only does autosomal but also Y-DNA testing. By earmarking those test results as part of the paternal side of my family, all matches in common with his belong to the paternal side of our mutual family constellation.
Right now, that means there are twenty two matches in my account which descend from this Polish heritage. Most of them are at the range of second to fourth cousin—or beyond. Since I can't reach beyond Mateusz Laskowski and Elżbieta Gramlewicz—my second great grandparents—I'd be hard pressed to identify the common ancestors for matches beyond third cousins.
If I could identify any lines of descent from these Polish family members, it would help leaf out some bare branches on my father's family tree—and maybe identify some likely surnames for DNA matches to latch on to. At least, that was my thinking while I toyed with possibilities that these Polish relatives found via the Poznań Project actually had made the move to America like the Laskowskis had done.
That's why I explored the possibilities with Ignatz and Agnes Giernatowski, the couple who had moved to Brooklyn. One reason: they had a daughter—although, once again, I had to wonder whether I was seeing double, or just finding two different names for the same child. The 1900 census showed the "Gernatofski" daughter as Blanch, born in New York in April, 1889. I couldn't find the family at all for the 1910 census—who knows how their name was mangled for that enumeration. In the 1915 New York State census, the girl—now listed as a twenty five year old woman—was named Pauline, but by 1920, in the same household on the same street but (you knew this) with an entirely different spelling for their surname, the daughter's name was now rendered as Pleshia.
Three daughters? Or one? And what became of her, after the 1920 census? For, with the upcoming state enumeration in 1925, the household at that same location contained only Ignatz and Agnes. If their daughter had moved out—and, more specifically, mothered children of her own—I would never know without discovering her married name.
I wince to think of searching for a surname like Giernatowski in the New York City newspapers, but if I'm to uncover any further surnames to help in discerning possible DNA matches, it looks like that is the next reasonable step to take.
Above: "Summer Day" by Polish artist Kazimierz Alchimowicz; courtesy Wikipedia; this 1878 painting is now in the public domain.