When we embark on that journey of discovering something new about our ancestors, the chance is always there that we may return from the research adventure empty-handed. As deflating as such an experience may seem to be—especially if we've invested time and money into traveling to a promising major repository, for instance—it is helpful to take a moment to recap not just the negative searches, but the positives, as well.
While those pluses may turn out to be dwarfed in searches such as my goal to find my second great-grandfather Franz Jankowski, it can be encouraging to identify those winnings, no matter how small. For instance, this past month encouraged me to experience major exposure to the background history and geography of the region in Poland—the former Prussia—where my paternal grandmother's ancestors originated. The search also presented me with plenty of opportunities to trawl through—document by document—the records held in two Polish websites, and introduce me to the holdings at the Polish archives, far removed from my familiar research turf at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
There are a lot of resources we otherwise might not discover—until by process of elimination, they remain the only viable options.
Then, too, in paging through those Polish records this past month, I discovered a second sibling for my great-grandmother, Marianna Jankowska, Franz's daughter. Unlike Marianna and her sister Stanisława, this younger sister Antonie—alternately called Antonina—remained in the family's hometown in Żerków, married, and raised a family of at least seven children. Between her 1898 marriage to Josef Karcz and the birth of the last of their children on record, son Wictor in 1913, the consistent reappearance of the Karcz and Jankowska parental names over the years showed that this family remained in Poland, rather than following the older sisters to New York. A helpful detail I might otherwise have missed was discovering the year of her father's death, 1911, still in the same small town where he had lived all his life.
Though I can't yet accomplish the next step, someday I will follow through and build the lines of descent of these seven Karcz children. Who knows? Perhaps it will be their great-grandchildren who will turn out to be the mystery matches in my DNA accounts at Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, or even Living DNA.
Until then, I'll wrap up what I know about Franz Jankowski's wife Franziska Olejniczak. I still need a bit more encouragement before moving on to tackle the next month's research goal.