Monday, October 18, 2021

Beginning the Tedious Process


It is a good thing genealogy is filled with Bright Shiny Objects. If it weren't for the thrill of the chase, those lulls in the research action—translation: the tedious stuff—would have rebuffed us long ago.

So it becomes, as I tackle my research goal for October: to find something—anything—further on my second great-grandfather, Franz Jankowski. It turns out that Jankowski is a fairly common surname in his homeland, the place which now is known as Poland. Even in the tiny town which my great-grandmother Marianna Jankowska once called home—Żerków—apparently more than one family claimed that surname. Whether all those Jankowskis were related to each other—and if so, how closely—will take some work. Hence, the tedium.

Sometimes, I try to skirt the issue by looking for less-common surnames associated with the family. In the Jankowski case, that would be Marianna's mother's maiden name, Olejniczak. At least, that's how one researcher, encased in an American's mindset, might have seen such a name. After all, I hadn't ever heard of that name before tackling my paternal line's mysteries. But guess what: even a name like Olejniczak has its moments. Considering the surname's ranking as 139th in Poland now, it might be surprising to open up, say, a Buffalo, New York city directory and find over half a column dedicated to entries of residents with that exact surname.

Normally, when I can make no headway in finding information on the members of a previous generation—in this case, that would be Marianna's father, Franz Jankowski—I resort to exploring collateral lines. This will likely be my next step for this week. But first in this process will be to return to the Polish website where I originally found the transcription of Marianna's own marriage record. 

There, I've noticed, are ample records sporting either of these surnames. Especially in using the more recent civil records, I can glean parents' names for both the bride and groom. That's where the tedium comes in. From that point—perhaps—I can find enough records to start sorting those Jankowskis and Olejniczaks into family groupings. Maybe that will help me discover some collateral lines to follow. Or not.

Sometimes, the tedium is worth the try. 

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