Wednesday, November 18, 2020

. . . and Maybe a Sister, Too


Don't you just love it when DNA test matches seem to all align in unison and point the weary researcher in a hopeful direction? After years of testing and waiting—and coming up empty-handed—this past year has finally yielded some results for my patience. Remember, it takes two relatives to make a match. No distant cousins who tested, no resultant matches. Simple as that.

The flip side of that scenario is that asking the cousins we know to test won't necessarily provide us any further clues. We already know how we relate to those cousins. And discovering an unknown close cousin—or ruling out the cousins we thought we knew—may include an unexpected surprise we hadn't anticipated. It's the distant cousins, in my opinion, who provide us with the most helpful genealogical direction to build out the branches of our family tree.

Kerwin-surnamed DNA matches whose Milwaukee-based family line traces back to the decidedly Polish-sounding Krzewinski family were not the only ones who descended from those three immigrant brothers we discussed yesterday. There may have been one more immigrant addition from that same family: a sister.

How do I know? Because another DNA match is pointing me in that direction. The only problem is: that particular match's family tree attributed a different mother to that Krzewinski daughter—plus it claimed a variation on her given name, as well.

So: sister? Or cousin? How was this woman related to those three Krzewinski brothers who left home to move to Milwaukee?

If sister, that particular Marianna Krzewinska, baptised in Czarnylas in 1859, was also daughter of a woman I suspect might have been sister to my second great-grandmother, Marianna Woitas. If cousin, her name does not show up in the baptismal transcriptions I can find for the region of Pomerania in northern Poland, entering another knot in this ever-expanding family tangle.

If sister to the Krzewinski brothers, our most recent common ancestor would point to my third great-grandmother, making this sole DNA match from that sister my fourth cousin. Since that woman's descendant and I, as DNA matches, share twenty eight centiMorgans, it is quite possible for us to be fourth cousins. However, at that same shared amount, it is also possible for us to have been fifth cousins, as well—meaning the count alone cannot guide us in determining how Marianna (or Marie) Krzewinska was related to those three immigrant Krzewinski men in Milwaukee.

Let's turn from DNA numbers for a bit and consider what can be found of family records in Czarnylas. Remember, we've already learned that brothers Isidor, Peter, and Andreas were sons of Johann and Anna (Woitas) Krzewinski. Each of those brothers was baptised in Czarnylas at about the same year in which subsequent records in America claim.

In addition to those three brothers, parents Johann and Anna had several other children listed in those transcribed baptismal records, as well. Among them were daughter Anna (1848), son Johann (1850), son Joseph (1853)—all before the birth of the oldest of the immigrant sons, Isidor, in 1855. In addition to Isidor's younger brothers Peter and Andreas, there was another son, Franz (1857), and another daughter, Marianna (1859).

It just so happens that the tree of my DNA match claims that same baptismal date for his direct line Krzewinski relative, despite listing her name as Marie and giving a different name for her mother. For that other mother, I cannot locate entries for any Marie or Marianna who was daughter of Johann (or Jan) within a reasonable latitude of that birth year, not even if I extend the search to all records still existing for the entire region of Pomerania.

Of course, the name change could have occurred following immigration—and one quick glance at records in her adopted home in Wisconsin revealed her headstone recording her given name as Maryanna. In this case, yet another member of the family of Johann and Anna Krzewinski arrived in Milwaukee—and provided a descendant whose DNA matched mine.

Check: Krzewinski sibling, not cousin.

That still leaves me with a research question, though. Now that we know Isidor, Peter, Andrew, and Marianna all share a claim in Anna Woitas as their mother, what can we find about that mother to reveal her own roots? How close a relative was she to the woman in my own direct Zegarski line, called Marianna Woitas? That is, after all, the only genetic connection I can find between our two family lines.

The unfortunate difficulty, so far, is that I cannot find any records among the Pomeranian transcriptions to give me any further direction on that Woitas question. The challenge now is to see whether there are any other resources to answer that question.  

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