Monday, November 14, 2022

Nothing Like Seeing the Actual Records


It may not have been one minute too late to explore the Catholic records for Żerków, Poland, home of my Gramlewicz ancestors. But it may be close. Exploring what could be found, now that I've located the digitized records at FamilySearch, clicking through some search results led directly to the page with the scan. But others? The resultant message indicated that the picture could be seen, alright, but only if I go to a Family History Center. Something tells me I better hurry through the accessible files while they may be found.

It is certainly gratifying to view the actual records themselves. Yes, I was grateful for the transcriptions made available by volunteers at two Polish websites I've been using. But there is nothing like seeing an ancestor's name written on a nearly two hundred year old document, like that of the 1839 baptismal record of Piotr, son of my third great-grandparents Andrzej Gramlewicz and Katarzyna Nowicka.

Now that I can pull up the microfilm online, I completed a search for all Gramlewicz kin in Żerków, saving the link to that search request. Bit by bit, I'm reading my way through the records. Some documents are near impossible to read, due to hurried or sloppy handwriting, while others (thankfully!) are easily deciphered.

Because the collection's date range indicates it reaches back farther in time than what I found in the transcription websites, I'm hoping to resolve my primary research question: how do the two main lines of Gramlewicz descendants connect? After all, when I found Annie Gramlewicz in Antoni Laskowski's household in the 1915 New York State census, my great-grandfather called her his niece. I've since found that that is not exactly correct. But I suspect it might be close.

The chase for the right record will not exactly be scintillating, though. I'm torn: keep up the snail's pace as I page through records? Or turn to some other research projects I've been churning through in the background?

In the remaining two weeks left in this month, I'm opting to jump to a faster track and explore at least one of two projects I'm tackling on my maternal lines. One involves what turns out to be the many inter-related lines of my Tilson ancestors from the hills of northeastern Tennessee. The other was inspired by last weekend's unexpected flurry of family photos from some distant McClellan cousins. We'll explore those options tomorrow.

Image above: Parents' names as entered in the 1839 record for Piotr Gramlewicz, baptised in Żerków, Poland; record accessible through

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