Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Detached and Still Floating


They kept showing up, this other family which seemed to be connected with mine, but somehow was not. Back in Żerków, the Polish town my great-grandfather called home, there were Gramlewicz names showing up in records but whom I couldn't connect to my tree. When my great-grandfather, Antoni Laskowski, moved to New York City and sent for his wife and children to follow him to their new home, there was a young Gramlewicz man named Mieczyslaw who traveled with them. And later, when Antoni's children were grown and gone from the family's modest apartment in Brooklyn, somehow the Laskowskis were able to squeeze in another Gramlewicz girl who had recently arrived from Poland.

Her name was Anna Gramlewicz. Although she was actually born in Brooklyn, after her parents tragically lost several young children, the whole family decided to return to their hometown in Żerków—only, after a few years, Anna changed her mind. Coming back to America in 1913, she lived in Brooklyn with Antoni and Marianna Laskowski. When the state enumerator came knocking at the door in 1915, Antoni reported Anna as his niece.

Only...she wasn't. At least, not as far as I could tell. Though I searched and searched on the Polish genealogy websites I had been using—BaSIA and the Poznan Project—I couldn't line up Antoni's mother, Elżbieta Gramlewicz, with Anna's father's parents. So, going back to my family tree, I had to detach Anna from the supposed connection to Antoni's mother's Gramlewicz line. Anna and her direct family line have remained that way ever since: detached and still floating in the ether on my family tree.

My goal this month is to determine whether Anna and her direct line of ascent actually do connect with Antoni Laskowski's mother's family. After all, Żerków is a town of barely two thousand people—now. Surely two different families in the same town with the same surname—not exactly the Polish equivalent of Smith—would be related to each other, somewhere up the line. My question this month is: how far up the line would that be? Can I find the nexus?

For the record, Anna Gramlewicz, born in Brooklyn about 1897, was the daughter of Jan Mieczyslaw Gramlewicz, who in turn was the son of Wawrzyniec Gramlewicz and Marianna Laskowska.

Full stop. Whoever this Wawrzyniec Gramlewicz was, he married someone from a Laskowski family which I also can't identify. Do you see how desperately I need to locate some records hidden in the date gaps of those Polish website collections? Anna—and thus her parents and grandparents—could not only be related to my Gramlewicz line, but also to my Laskowski line. Doubly related. And yet, I'm doubly in doubt, because I can't locate any records to explain such a connection.


Those are the tentative footprints I have already spotted. We'll begin examining what might have been added to those Polish websites since the last time I pondered this research question. Hopefully, there will be some updates. Perhaps, by the end of the month, we'll be able to re-attach Anna and her family to their correct place in this family tree—or have definitive documentation to explain why that would not be possible within those three generations.

Above: Portion of 1915 New York State census for Brooklyn in Kings County, showing Annie Gramlewicz living in household of Anton and Mary Laskowski, listing Annie as niece; image courtesy

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