Tuesday, September 10, 2019
About That Other Brother
Pulling those threads—tugging, actually, and rather firmly, too—to follow the line of my great-grandfather's newly-discovered brother in the Laskowski tapestry has not been easy. Yes, I could find his marriage record back in Poland, but had no idea to look for him in New York—until, that is, I received news of a DNA match with a "Laskoski" ancestor in her tree.
Other than that one missing "w," everything else seemed to match up. Mostly.
I had traced the rudiments of Lorenz Laskowski's family tree in Poland—a place where Laskowski was still spelled that way in the majority of records I found on the extended family. I had found his 1878 marriage record to Anna, she of the impossibly long maiden name Blaszczynska. And I had found a transcription reporting the birth of a son, Joseph, in 1885. And then, nothing more.
That was on the Polish side of the search. On the New York side, once I discovered this DNA cousin, things were different. Gone was the surname spelling of Laskowski; it was now Laskoski. Gone also was the first name spelled as Lorenz; the head of this family opted for the more American-looking Lawrence. And in the 1900 census, it was easy to trace just about when the family arrived in the New World: the child born after their son Joseph had her place of birth listed as "at sea."
Yet, no passenger records for any of them, neither at their likely port of entry (New York City) nor from their likely point of departure (Hamburg, Germany). Not singly for Lawrence, despite many immigrant men traveling first to prepare the way, then sending for the wife and children to follow. Nor could I find any passenger record for Anna or their son Joseph. Those I could find turned out to have problems with dates or details—wrong name of husband or several other children whose names didn't align.
Because this Lawrence Laskoski was the ancestor of my DNA match, though, I could trace that line forward in time. Though Lawrence and Anna undoubtedly had another child before the birth of the one I could find in documents (Joseph, born almost seven years after their marriage), the first American record I could find them in was the 1900 census. No trace in the 1892 New York State census, and of course, no recourse to the loss of the 1890 U.S. census. And 1880 would tell us nothing—it would be too early for their arrival on our shores.
Still, moving forward from that point did provide assurances. The most encouraging was to find records showing entries of Anna's maiden name. Remember that impossible-to-spell name? This is when that unusual string of Polish consonants made me nearly jump for joy. We'll take a look at that discovery tomorrow.
Above: Entry in the 1900 U.S. Census for Lawrence and Anna Laskoski and household in Rockland County, New York, including the notation that daughter Hattie was born in September 1886 "at sea," helping to approximate the date of the family's arrival in the United States. Image courtesy FamilySearch.org.