Monday, October 25, 2021

When the Trail gets Rougher


In trying to break through the brick wall ancestor Franz Jankowski from my paternal grandmother's roots, let's just say the going is getting rough. It might have been my attempt at cheering myself up over dismal prospects by adopting the outlook, "It's the journey, not the destination," but right now, the forest I'm trudging through is getting thicker and darker—as in, lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

I had thought it might be helpful to try out the new interface at, in which I could search images by place name. Entering "Zerkow," I discovered to my horror that there is more than one Żerków on the map. Besides the place where I'd been exploring records, there was another town by that name in a southwestern part of Poland which once belonged to Germany, and a third town far in the south of Poland, as well. These are details to be aware of at the beginning of a search. Thankfully, I had already found indicators that the historic province of Posen, whose capital city now is known as Poznań, was the right location for the town of my ancestors.

For the brave of heart, the search revealed ten digitized collections containing nearly four thousand images, all of births, marriages, or deaths pertaining to my specific Żerków. The drawback? They are browse only—and once I took a closer look, it appeared that the records actually refer to a different region of Poland. Granted, I don't understand Polish—even with cheat sheets—and need to brush up on my Polish geography. But hundred-year-old Prussian handwriting doesn't help the matter. Yet, the records are there, somewhere, according to FamilySearch.

That search choice, for me, would be the genealogical equivalent of the nuclear option—a last-ditch act of desperation. Remember, FamilySearch also provided some other suggestions for links to Polish resources. It's time to explore our other options.   

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