Friday, November 4, 2022

When Wandering in Circles,
Learn to Ask Questions


Thanks to a "Theory of Family Relativity" posted at MyHeritage for one of my DNA matches from Poland, I've discovered a new branch in my paternal Gramlewicz tree. Thanks to transcriptions of Polish documents posted at the Polish website BaSIA, I have been able to trace this match's line back to a sister of my second great-grandmother, Elżbieta Gramlewicz. Every step through the generations now has at least one document to confirm the connection, for which I am grateful. Access to Polish records from my family's specific region of Żerków is limited for researchers like myself located in the United States.

For someone used to a more document-rich environment like what we've come to expect in North America, I wish I had more. Working with documents written in a foreign language—or maybe jumping between two or three different languages—I feel tied to my cheat sheets with translations of key words. I still have questions.

Perhaps the more accurate way to put it is that I have "wonders." I'm wondering whether Catholic families in Poland keep the same types of traditions I've learned to watch for when researching my husband's Irish roots. I wonder about the possibility of traditions like naming patterns. Or which family members are called upon to stand with the parents at the baptism of their baby. For my father-in-law's ancestors in Ireland, I knew to expect who the firstborn son would be named after, or which people would most likely be named the baby's godparents.

My big question right now: do the Catholics in Poland have the same traditions as those in Ireland? If not, do they have similar traditions which might guide me in exploring, for instance, the names of those listed as "chrzestna" (godmother).

Sometimes, there are inferences provided in family records which, if we know how to spot them, may reveal a connection we'd otherwise have missed. Sifting through the records in Żerków and neighboring villages, I'm still on the hunt to spot patterns or any other clues to help determine just how this extended family line fits together. 


  1. My Polish husband's family has a tradition of using the father's name as the second name for all sons. My husband and his brothers have his father's name as his middle name, his father and his brothers have my husband's grandfather's name as their middle name. His grandfather immigrated and used his father's name as his middle name, but I have not found his birth or baptismal record.

    1. That's an interesting tradition, Miss Merry. I've heard of one son receiving his dad's name as a middle name, but never every son! It almost sounds like a patronymic naming process, converted to English.

      I hope you do find your husband's grandfather's baptismal record. Have you tried looking at Geneteka? While I don't use it for the location of this family (the particular parish is not on their website), toward the end of October, Teresa wrote a comment about using Geneteka.


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