Monday, October 30, 2023

Which Came First?


...and no, I don't mean the chicken or the egg.

What I am wondering about is the record repository for the Polish town in which Aunt Rose—and thus, my paternal grandfather as well—was born. If I was able to find records for Rose's mother—back home in Czarnylas, known as Anastasia Zegarska—then it would be possible to construct her entire family constellation, possibly extending to a few more generations. If.

As I poked around the transcriptions for baptisms, marriages, and deaths for related surnames, I realized that some records were attributed to the church in Czarnylas, while others credited their source as another town called Pączewo. Looking on a map of the region in Pomerania, I noticed the two towns were barely three kilometers distance from each other—in today's vernacular, a five minute drive, but even back then, accessible by foot within ninety minutes or so.

These two towns were neighboring jurisdictions. If anyone lived in the countryside between the two, the choice of where to register information might come down to a moment's decision of convenience. What decision points might these ancestors consider when making that choice?

Looking further at my source for record transcriptions, the website of the Pomeranian Genealogical Association (PTG), I discovered a page which lists each jurisdiction in Pomerania and the available dates for each record kept in each jurisdiction. Quickly scrolling through the list to the entry for Czarnylas, I saw that birth, marriage, and death records were available, but only from 1840 for marriage and death, and 1820 for baptisms. Thus, if I wanted to find any records for Aunt Rose's maternal grandparents, I was out of luck.

There was, however, better news if I moved to the entry for the other jurisdiction in which I had found some recordsPączewo. According to the list at PTG, the record sets there far predated those at Czarnylas. There were some baptisms transcribed in the collection dating back to 1688, and marriages could be found there as early as 1772.

Why the difference in time frames? Did record keeping tasks get foiled by fires, wars or other tragedies at the one location, but not the other? Perhaps it was simply a matter of when each church was established—thus my question regarding which one came first.

This also may be the explanation for why I was seeing some family records listed at the one church, then also seeing subsequent births at the other—or marriages in one town for one sibling, but in the other town for a younger family member.

Having discovered this earlier stash of church records, I wasted no time examining all the entries for Aunt Rose's Zegarski grandfather. I have now located the names of his siblings by following the listing of all children born to his own parents. Of course, I'll be checking these discoveries further, in case I run across name twins, but it is encouraging to locate at least a possibility for the next generation in this line.

By that same technique—and before time runs out for this month's research project—I will examine related surnames in this family to see what records might show up for the other family members whose names I already know.

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