It has been an idyllic week in Hawaii. Perhaps watching the puffy clouds fly over this paradise has had an effect on my tree-building skills, though. Right now, I'm contemplating how to tackle the disembodied branches of the family tree I'm building—the possible collateral lines of my great-grandfather Thomas Puchała's maternal line.
Thomas Puchała's mother was Susanna Radomska—at least, as far as I can tell. Susanna likely married Thomas' father—a man with perhaps a Polish version of the name entered in his baptismal record as Johann—in Lubichowo, the same two thousand person village in Pomerania where Thomas was born in 1844.
Since my only long-distance resources for records of that time period and location are websites which provide transcriptions, not digitized copies of actual documents, I am somewhat limited in how to approach building a family constellation for either of Thomas' parents. The plan is to search the online resources for all listings of those two surnames, limited to the village of Lubichowo, to see what can be found. From that point, the next step would be to see whether any names could be clustered into logical family groupings.
To achieve that task, I started out with a search at the PTG—short for Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne—to locate any records containing the surname Radomski in Lubichowo. This involved both spellings customary for use of surnames in Poland—Radomski for the men, Radomska for the women—as well as checking three different search options for birth, marriage, and death.
Furthermore, since it helps to familiarize oneself with the website being used, I noticed that there were two categories for records transcribed from Lubichowo. One had, simply, the village's name. The other was labeled "Lubichowo USC."
What's a USC?
Google Search to the rescue: I entered "Lubichowo USC" in the search bar at Google and was rewarded with a few websites in response. Only problem: the websites were entirely in Polish.
I don't speak Polish.
Simple solution: take it to Google Translate. Thus, I discovered that, cutting and pasting "Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (USC) Lubichowo"—the first line on the first hit of my query to Google—into Google Translate, it provided me with the instant answer. "Urząd Stanu Cywilnego"—the words represented by the Polish abbreviation USC—stands for the English term, "Registry Office."
Bottom line: until I can figure out when the people in Pomerania were required to use the Registry Office rather than just record their infants' information in a baptismal record, I will search using both options.
Meanwhile, I not only took my search to the PTG, but also consulted another website which provides transcripts of records: a Polish site known as Geneteka. The best point about this website was that I could drill down to the specific province and parish to search for my Radomski roots—or explore by neighborhoods within a fifteen kilometer radius. Between searches on the birth, marriage, and death tabs, I found several families claiming that surname, then built out each couple's family tree. From that point, consulting death records, I could determine which children died young, and which survived to adulthood so I could continue by setting up a family for their own generation.
Now my challenge is to find a way to connect each of these Radomski relatives from Lubichowo. I can't yet say, for instance, that Susanna Radomska is sisters with Francisca Radomska—or cousins. Likewise with Martin Radomski and Johann Radomski—her brothers? Or her cousins?
At any rate, thanks to these online transcriptions, I've been able to build trees for each of their families. I just don't know yet how—or if—I can connect them to my Susanna Radomska's branch in my tree. I can enter them as "floating" branches, of course, making sure to note the addition somewhere so that I won't forget that outer-space part of my database. With some of the family lines boasting large families with children born like clockwork every two years, I don't want to lose the work that went into assembling the family constellations. Even if they aren't helpful for my purposes in the long run, perhaps they would be of use to someone else researching that Radomski line.
Meanwhile, those pages of handwritten notes I've composed will serve to give me something to muse over as I ponder what my next step might be in tackling my research goal for December. This has turned out to be a far more challenging goal than I had envisioned, back in January when I made the call to head in this direction.