What do you do when the foreign database you are relying on includes an enormous gap, right in the middle of the dates you need? That's when we need to look for inferences.
I'm still hard at work, piecing together the Gramlewicz family constellation in a little town in Poland called Żerków. Somehow, my paternal line is related in two different ways to that surname, but I have yet to discover the connection.
I was delighted to find a Polish website which at least provided transcriptions of Polish birth, marriage, and death records for the region including my family's town of origin. The BaSIA website provides a useful way to search through the data by surname and by location.
However, as I studied my search results line by line, I began to realize something: there was a gaping hole in the details. Record dates for documents containing the surname I was seeking—Gramlewicz—began with the year 1818 and continued steadily through 1828. And then...nothing.
Well, at least nothing until 1874. Then the litany of vital records resumed its steady thrum of names and dates, all the way through 1913, suffered a hiccup or two until the war years passed, and then sputtered to a whimper with a few records to wrap up 1919 and 1920.
All told, an amazing span of material, but not for the bulk of the records I was hoping to find. After all, my relatives were gone from their homeland shortly after the records picked up in 1874. What was vitally important to me was whatever happened to my ancestors and their related lines during the years of that gap.
That's when I decided to go back and comb through those records carefully. After all, not only were there birth records, but marriage records. And the marriage records, for the most part, identified the parents' names—including mother's maiden name—for both parties in the wedding. While the gap prevented me from finding birth records for the generation prior to that of the relatives I know, it at least could allow me to infer the details I'd otherwise miss from lack of baptismal records.
Going through the record set another two times helped fill in the family group records for two sets of Gramlewicz families. The only trouble is, there are two other Gramlewicz families which I still diagram, but can't find a way to connect to the lines I know. Living in a town which, even now, only has about two thousand residents, they can't be unrelated people with the same surname. Most likely they are either siblings or cousins—thus I'm faced with the same dilemma I wrestled with last month, concerning my Pomeranian family line. Without any other guidance, I won't be able to determine the right connection.
And yet, the exercise did serve to fill in several blanks and develop some lines through two generations. Depending on availability of records, that may be the only recourse available to me right now. I'll repeat the process over the next few days with the other surname I'm researching—Laskowski, of which two people of that surname married into those Gramlewicz lines. While the Laskowski surname is far more common than Gramlewicz—and thus will take more time to complete—hopefully, the inferences found will help sort out these intertwined families for my own records.