Friday, October 28, 2022

There Were Three Siblings


While many family stories about immigrant ancestors may start out with "There were three brothers," in my great-grandfather's case, I guess I'll have to open my family tale with a less story-like "three siblings." Nor did they arrive on one ship. In Antoni Laskowski's case, that immigration story was more of a serial immigration.

It is sometimes hard to pin down the exact date of an immigrant's arrival. Apparently, you can't simply rely on the report captured in a census record. For instance, the 1900 census pins Antoni's arrival ten years earlier, in 1890. Checking with the 1910 census, that arrival date had been modified to report 1888. And the 1920 census moved that date still one year earlier: to 1887.

What did the actual passenger listing show? Though the handwriting on the document bordered on illegible, I was fairly certain that "Anton Laskowsky" was the right man when I saw the confirmation that he was traveling from Żerków. According to that record, Antoni arrived in June of 1887. None of his fellow travelers were from his village, so it appears he was traveling alone.

That, of course, was for Antoni's arrival only. His wife Marianna and his three children followed him in February of 1889. As I suspected, Marianna was traveling with other family members, or at least neighbors from the small village of Żerków. Though the handwriting was near impossible to read on the passenger list, what looks like Mieczysław Gramlewicz was the name entered right above Marianna's listing—if I am reading that handwriting correctly. Same goes for the young man Andreas Langner, also traveling with the party from Żerków.

What about Antoni's siblings? For his brother Lorenz, I face the same dilemma. Depending on which census record I view, Lorenz's arrival in New York City was given as 1883, 1884, or 1888. Considering Lorenz and his wife Anna welcomed two children into their family before their emigration from Żerków—with the second child said to have been born at sea in 1886—I'd say none of those census reports were correct. I'm still looking for the passenger records to see whether the family traveled all together, or whether Lorenz went on ahead to prepare the way for his wife and two children.

Antoni's sister Agnes had a different story, one which poignantly illustrates the sheer difficulty of life back in Żerków before the siblings finally made their exodus. Agnes had been married in the 1870s to a man in Żerków for whom she bore three children. All three children died by the time her husband also died in 1882. Marrying a second time five years afterwards, Agnes and her second husband, a man with a name destined to keep American record keepers stumped for decades to come, arrived in New York City before the birth of their second daughter in 1890.

Like her brother Lorenz, Agnes and her second husband Ignatz Giernatowski have yet to show up in passenger records. Given the unusual surname, though, a search for any documents bearing their names is not only hampered by handwriting woes, but by spelling challenges, as well.

There are other ways to overcome such research obstacles, however. Thankfully, I've found several of Lorenz's descendants in my DNA matches, as well as one line from the Giernatowskis. Finding records for immigrant families in New York proves to be far easier than looking for those relatives who stayed behind in Żerków, but it is more encouraging to discover demonstration of a genetic connection, as well.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...