Friday, October 27, 2023

Research, Rinse, Repeat


If finding Aunt Rose's mother Anna in a website containing transcriptions of marriage records for the region of Pomerania was a research breakthrough, why not keep looking further? Once I found Anna—listed as Anastasia Zegarska, as Polish tradition would have it—in those marriage records, it was an easy step to search for all Zegarska weddings in Anna's hometown of Czarnylas.

That was the process which helped me connect to several mystery DNA matches in my ThruLines suggestions at But why stop there? It was so rewarding to break through that brick wall that I was ready for another research success story. So I kept going with that same research process: look in the website of the Pomeranian Genealogical Association, only this time, look for all the children born to a father with the surname Zegarski. Then note his wife's name, and look for children from a previous generation with a parent claiming that surname. Rinse. Repeat.

Anastasia's father—the Zegarski whose surname we were using as our lead search term—was identified as Johann in the records. This would likely be his designation in church records, which used Latin for such documents. I am quite sure his given name would actually be Jan, according to the vernacular. Still, that is a straightforward assumption; it is when we notice Anastasia's mother's name that variations can't be quite as easily explained.

Anastasia's mother was named Marianna. In transcriptions of her children's baptismal records, I've seen Marianna's maiden name given as Woitaś but I've seen it elsewhere written as Wojtaś. And at other times, the transcriptions include no diacritical marks at all. But why let that be a limiting factor? May as well repeat the process for yet another generation. And in the neighboring village of Pączewo, nowadays a mere five minute drive from Czarnylas, I was able to find the 1833 marriage record of Johann Zegarski and Marianna Woitas.

This provides valuable information, if the custom of marrying in the bride's village holds for that time and place. Thus, the Wojtaś family could possibly have been from Pączewo, with the Zegarskis calling Czarnylas their home. If records are available going back even farther in time for these two towns, I could theoretically piece together the Zegarski and Wojtaś family trees for even more generations...if....

As it turns out, I did find another woman with that Woitaś surname, who married a man with the unpronounceable surname (well, if you don't understand Polish phonics) of Krzewinski. While this couple did not emigrate, themselves, at least four of their children made the journey to Milwaukee in the American state of Wisconsin. How do I know this? Their descendants are among the DNA matches I found at Ancestry's ThruLines when I pushed the generation back just one step beyond the parents of Aunt Rose's mother Anastasia.

Discovering the descendants of Anna Woitaś and Jan Krzewinski in my DNA matches allowed me to add another fourteen new DNA cousins to my own tree, building out the branches that reached from that generation to my own—and beyond. For the most part, these matches are related to me as fourth cousins, while the matches I worked on yesterday were mostly third cousins, descending from Marianna and Jan Zegarski.

It is quite possible that, repeating this process, I can push back another generation as well—as long as there are records available to support such a move. And that could provide a big benefit to me, not because of the brick wall I've been struggling to dismantle for my tree at Ancestry, but because there are other mystery DNA cousins out there who also need to be connected to the right place in this family tree. 


  1. This is so exciting! What a break thru! Pretty exciting to follow the journey of discovering who your grandfather really was. (at least name and family-wise).

    1. Yes, it has been, Miss Merry! While there is still much more to learn, the breakthrough has been in discovering his hometown origin, and finally linking his parents to relatives back in Poland. Almost makes me want to go see the place for myself.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...