Category Archives: Genealogy

Jedwabne, Poland

I had no ancestors in Jedwabne, but I believe there were some cousins. Few records, or perhaps only one, indicate my family was in Jedwabne. Kurlender has appeared on surname lists.

This town is a sad tale in Poland’s history. Most of the atrocities brought against the Jews were committed by the Nazis, but there were some Poles who took it upon themselves to also contribute. In this village, already under some German influence, they rounded up the Jews into a barn by the Jewish cemetery and burned it down.

I saw three stories about the fate of the Jews in Rutki. In one, they were sent to Łomza. In a second, they were marched out to the forest and killed. (It was along the way to Łomza, so maybe both of those stories are the same.) In a third, they were sent to Jedwabne.

I knew where the synagogue used to be in town, but I just drove by the spot quickly. I went out to the memorial and the Jewish cemetery.

You can read more about the Jedwabne pogrom.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/10/02/jedwabne/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

Wizna, Poland

After the interesting time I had in Rutki, and backtracking some of my journey to find that memorial, I went back to Rutki and followed that sign to Wizna.

I knew the road would take me through a few even smaller villages. One of them was Grądy Woniecko, the birth place of the earliest Mularzewicz ancestor who’s birth record I have. I only stopped long enough to take a picture of the sign. It seemed like the only thing in town was a prison, which Polish Wikipedia confirms opened in 1999.

The earliest Mularzewicz record I have so far is the for a marriage for Moszko in 1838 in Wizna. However, Wizna is primarily known to me as where my Kurlender family comes from. My great-grandmother Sorka was born there in 1865. When I first got her Polish birth record, I was not sure it was hers because I lacked more information about her. But I was just being hesitant. After retrieving all of the indexed Kurlender records, I was able to put them all together into one large family tree.

As I did with Rutki, I tried to find where the synagogue used to be, but while I found some pictures online, I could find no address or other details. So I just went to the center of town. There was a sign pointing for information, but when I followed it, I got to a one way street out of the center of town and could never find where it wanted me to go.

And to be a good genealogist, the names inscribed on the monument in the Wizna park:

  • Dobronski Jozef
  • Glinski Jan
  • Grzeszczyk Marceli
  • Konopko Franciszek
  • Krasnowski Jozef
  • Lipinski Jozef
  • Markfart Boleslaw
  • Olszewski Teofil
  • Ostrowski Stefan
  • Pruszko Jozef
  • Piotrowski Andrzej
  • Ptaszynski Edmund
  • Radziwon Antoni
  • Renkiewicz Apolinary
  • Szulc Antoni
  • Trepanowski Jozef

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/09/23/wizna/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

Rutki, Poland

After my first day of research in an archive, I headed out to see where my ancestors once lived. The first stop was the birth place of my paternal grandmother, Marian Mularzewicz (later Mary Miller).

Marian was born in May 1910 and arrived with her mother Sorka and several siblings to Ellis Island in 1920. Her father Zyskind and all the older siblings were already in America. Zyskind had travelled back and forth a few times, having first visited the US in 1904. The second of his arrivals that I found was in March 1910, so unless he quickly turned around and went back to Poland, he was in America when she was born.

This is all assuming that her birth date is accurate. I have found that none of my Polish ancestors (nor anyone else’s) actually knew their birth dates. They didn’t celebrate every year like we do today, so it wasn’t as important to know. While in the Łomza archive, I looked for records for the children in this family and did not find any except for the first born son (which I’d already had). So the dates that they used in America are the closest we’ll ever know to when they were actually born.

Zyskind probably did meet his youngest daughter before her arrival in America, as a third ship list for him was found in 1913. His birth I found in the records as well as his wife’s.

The Napoleonic records do not give street addresses or even house numbers usually, so I was just in Rutki to visit the town in general. There was nothing left of the Jewish cemetery, but it was established in the 1920s or 1930s, so my ancestors weren’t buried there; some cousins may have been.

I did find online information about the former synagogue, including the street address. I had some trouble finding it because there were two buildings there, neither with addresses. I gathered my courage (and as much Polish language skill as I could muster) and went inside the general store to ask for help. We eventually found that one of those buildings was the correct one, but it was set so far back from the street that they had changed the access to the other side. It is now a few different shops in one building. At one end, the owner invited me in and knew it had been the synagogue. His shop was on the side that was the bima. He pointed out that all of the surrounding houses were once occupied by Jews.

He then told me where to find a memorial to the Jews of Rutki who were killed by the Nazis, which I visited.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/09/22/rutki/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

Zambrow Jewish Cemetery, Poland

There was no Jewish cemetery in Rutki when my ancestors were there. They did have one in later years, but earlier, they used the cemetery in Zambrów. I didn’t visit anything else in the city.

This was a depressing stop. Though I’ve posted photos from the Łomza Jewish cemeteries already, this is the first one I visited (besides Warsaw, where I didn’t go inside). Once I found the entrance right on the main road, I was both expecting and also not expecting what I saw.

At first, all I saw was a field. Was there really no trace of the cemetery besides the sign? I couldn’t remember if I’d read anything about this cemetery. Was it being restored or was there nothing left? I walked in and soon saw traces of a cemetery. The farther up the hill, the more I saw. And it was depressing. I don’t find cemeteries depressing in general, but the condition of this one was abysmal.

The one bright point was that it was obviously being cared for, what was left of it. The grass and weeds were recently enough cut so it was not an overgrown mess.

I’m sure I had a few ancestors buried in this cemetery.

A new memorial was placed in this cemetery less than three weeks after I visited, with further plans to continue cleaning, restoring, and building a new fence around it.

That web site doesn’t say that the cemetery was destroyed in the war, only that it was “gradually falling into ruins” after the war. But there had to be more stones than what I saw. What happened to them? Or were there really that few burials? Maybe the cemetery went even deeper into the forested area.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/09/07/zambrow-jewish-cemetery/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

Lomza, Poland

My first research destination in Poland was Łomza. My paternal grandmother was born in a small village nearby and I had already found records for both of her parents’ families before my trip. While researching at the archive and visiting those small towns, I stayed in the city for a few days.

Łomza is a small city that closes even earlier than Salt Lake City. One evening, inquiring about where I can go for food, I was told that only McDonald’s was open; I think it was around 4pm. I did discover online that there were two 24 hour gas stations near to McD’s. I never did try to find them, but I recall driving past them on my way out of town.

My visit to the city was over two days. The first day, it was raining and I just walked from my hotel to some nearby locations. The second was when I was returning from visiting the small villages and I drove a bit farther away.

For more information:

The URL for this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/08/30/lomza/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

Warsaw, Poland

I was in Warsaw four separate times on this trip, arriving by plane and spending the night, returning from Lomza and continuing on, then passing through by train and plane without leaving the station/airport.

Because I was pressed for time on this trip and had no major research plans, I did not take the time to explore the city more. I had only a few hours on two separate days. I made the Jewish historical sites my priority, visiting only a small number of them.

Want to know more about what some of these are? Here are some Wikipedia links that will shed some light and fill in more details:

The URL of this page is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/08/27/warsaw/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

Europe 2012 – Day 27 – End Game

I don’t know if I missed a day in my numbering or missed double numbers in an entry that covered two days or what, but my trip was 28 days. It’s a little fishy.

I thought I was heading out early to the airport, but I had just the right timing. The lines to check my bag and then get through customs were insane. And at customs, I didn’t even get a stamp; the guy just sent me through when he saw my passport cover. Why did I have to wait there? And people were really rude, trying to cut into both lines.

I arrived at my gate on time and there was a huge crowd. We boarded late. The flight was fine. I watched three relatively new movies, all free, on Air France. Those foreign airlines really are better than the US ones, in terms of number of meals given (two), entertainment options (on a US airline, those movies would never be free), and leg room. We arrived at JFK and were not given a gate for over an hour. I was supposed to have a three hour layover, but I just barely made it on time to my connection. And it wasn’t even boarding five minutes before departure time. Then we sat on the plane for possibly another hour because other planes were in the way and we couldn’t taxi. JFK really didn’t have their act together.

I did find a pleasant surprise on the last flight: Todd Knowles and his wife were sitting next to me. We chatted a bit, but I think we were all too tired. It was late at night in France by then. They were just a few rows behind me on the previous flight too, but we didn’t know.

The airport shuttle couldn’t find my address on his GPS, and then found roads under construction from every direction going to my house. I don’t see a lot of progress in the last month around here.

And now I’m home. My weeds didn’t grow insane while I was gone; I guess it was too hot for most of them. My leaky water line was leaking much more, but the clamp had just spun around; I don’t know how it moved, but I hope it wasn’t for too long. My indoor plant was desperately thirsty, but he’s a high light plant (as opposed to high water) and is already doing better. My swamp cooler is running as well as ever. The ants were waiting for me to leave food in the kitchen. And a delivery from Winder Farms was rotting on the front stoop — it was good of them to cancel my deliveries when I asked; I’m sure there was nothing obvious about the huge bag sitting on my front stoop for the past two weeks.

So now I have a lot of work to do. Besides working on my yard and my house, I have gobs of pictures to sort through, many of them genealogy records, plenty of bills were waiting for me, my web site needs some updating to expand my business to European research trips, and I have to get back to regular work too.

Of course, there’s still more to come about this trip. With the Androids refusing to post the pictures for a while, some of those will definitely have to be shared. And I’m sure I will have lots of interesting things to share from the records, now that I’ll have the time to analyze them and add the data to my family tree.

Europe 2012 – Day 26 – Paris

I ventured out slightly a couple days ago, visiting the Jardins De Luxembourg and finally seeing the Eiffel Tower in the distance, but this one day was my only chance to see the city.

After waking up disgustingly early, I goofed off a little until I was finally ready to leave the hotel. The board meeting had already finished by then and I saw some of them in the lobby, saying goodbye again to some.

I took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower where I took a ton of photos until my SD card was full and swapped it. Right about that moment, someone saw me and called my name and I saw that it was my cousin, in line. He was easy to convince to get out of the long line, then came along with me for the rest of the day. It was really nice having the company.

My camera battery immediately died and I had a replacement for it, but the replacement turned out to be completely dead also. I had left it charging, I don’t know what happened, but I had to use my phone as my camera for the rest of the day. (Note: upon arriving back to the hotel, I plugged in the charger to the same outlet and it didn’t light up. I could have sworn it did before. Good thing for the cell phone.)

I had some places marked on my map and we went to everything except for one museum, but we didn’t go into any of the museums anyhow. We saw the most important monuments, the memorial sites for the Jews, and ended up in the Marais, the Jewish quarter, for dinner: falafel. There were a few falafel places, but only one had a long line, so we went there.

We took the train back to our hotel stop and went to the restaurant next door for dessert: chocolate mousse. It tasted a lot like the inside of a 3 Musketeers bar; it was really good.

Tomorrow I fly home. I have a serious sleep deficit to catch up on.

Europe 2012 – Day 25 – IAJGS Day 4

I took my time getting to the conference with only a late morning session planned. Alla Chastina spoke about records in the Moldova archives. She showed a lot of interesting examples of documents in her slides, but her accent was thick and she read her comments quickly, and I couldn’t concentrate enough to understand much of what she said. But it definitely looked like she had found a lot.

The annual meeting was scheduled for most of the afternoon. The meeting didn’t go the entire scheduled time, but the session I missed because of it was at the beginning.

With trouble finding a dinner companion, I wandered a bit, ending up in the hotel and eating with new friends – I had just met one and the other two I only met then.

This conference was quite short and fell somewhat short of expectations. I was lead to believe that at least one reason it was shorter was because of the translations. All sessions were supposed to be bilingual, but translations only happened in a few rooms. There were some other screwy things they did, like ultra short sessions and no breaks between them.

But I still had fun, saw old friends, made new ones, lost plenty of sleep, and maybe learned a little more about genealogy.

Europe 2012 – Day 24 – IAJGS Day 3

I didn’t see much of interest in the morning, so I went for a walk in a large garden nearby. I saw the Eiffel Tower from a distance, but there it was.

I returned to the conference for the Sub-Carpathia SIG meeting and had an extended conversation with the organizer. He’d been wanting to meet me since hearing about my success in Uzhgorod, without realizing he’d already met me. I learned some secret information from him.

I missed a lecture I thought I’d go to and almost forgot about the Professional Genealogists’ group, which was about as expected.

That was followed by the banquet. I arrived late and hadn’t specifically told someone to save me a seat. How was I to know I’d be so late? It’s not like I planned that. I had to start the last table in the room, but my cousin soon rescued me when someone left and made room at his table. Many interesting conversations ensued.