Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Checking Collateral Lines


I'm still struggling to find documentation on the Gramlewicz family from the nineteenth century in Żerków, Poland. What had first prompting this search was the appearance of a DNA match in my account at MyHeritage. While the online resources are limited, thus hampering my search, I thought I might try one of my usual alternate strategies: look for information on collateral lines.

My direct line reaches back to my second great-grandmother, Elżbieta Gramlewicz. My DNA match claims Katarzyna Gramlewicz, sister to Elżbieta, as her ancestor. To augment any details on their parents, I started looking at their siblings in the hope of finding further information.

Among the records now accessible through Ancestry.com is the collection of family trees posted to a French company known as Geneanet. While Geneanet was launched by French genealogy enthusiasts in 1996, it was not lost upon me that, like the trees at Ancestry or MyHeritage, they are drawn up by people who, just like me, could make mistakes. Hence, my desire to find documentation, not just online assertions of relationship.

While Geneanet has been acquired by Ancestry.com (in August, 2021), it is still considered an independent business operating under the Ancestry umbrella. Because of its base in France and availability in six other languages besides English (but not in Polish, unfortunately), the site does offer the tempting reach of a European-based organization. Still, the drawback is that, from what I can access via Ancestry, I see trees, but no forest of documentation.

But I can take a peek, can't I? Maybe a hint found might lead me to a clearer idea of what records to seek.

Right away, in searching for siblings of my Gramlewicz kin, I spotted a now-familiar name: the jawbreaking, consonant-crushing surname Zakrzewicz. That's a name we had run across before, with the befuddling connection to Elżbieta's sister Katarzyna. Now, I've found yet another connection. 

Apparently, the two Gramlewicz sisters had another sister named Apollonia. And she, for a short-lived moment, was married to a Zakrzewicz.

While the church records listed the man's given name as Paulus, I'm sure that's Latin for someone the Polish might prefer to call Paweł. Taking that collateral clue from Geneanet and scouring the website at BaSIA, I came up empty-handed, but when I switched my search over to the Poznan Project, I did locate the marriage record in Żerków for Paweł and Apollonia in 1843.

And then, I found Paweł once again in 1844. With the record's additional sad note "viduus" (a widower), only a year later, Paweł was married to a woman named Theophila Gawronska.

Searching both websites for anything further, I found records showing two daughters for Paweł and his second wife but no sign of any descendants from his first marriage. However, I did notice that his father's name was one which I had run across in so many Gramlewicz family baptisms and weddings: Adalbertus Zakrzewicz. Perhaps this explains why that name showed up so many times in Gramlewicz family records—and perhaps why, at Katarzyna's death years later, people had supposed her mother was a Zakrzewicz, not a Nowicki.

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