Marriage and Birth Records from Troszyn

I’ve struggled with locating records for my dad’s family for years. His parents came from Russian controlled Poland, the area near Troszyn. Records for that region, at least when it pertained to my family, we not readily available or indexed until the past few years. What thrilled me was to find my grandparents’ (Władysław and Helena Mierzejewski) marriage record and the birth records for my dad’s brother and sister. All are written in Russian. Because I had never met my grandparents, both had died before I was born, I was elated to find at least small pieces of their existence in Poland. The marriage occurred in the Catholic Parish in Troszyn1. My grandfather was from the village of Tomasze, my grandmother from the village of Borowce. This record also indicates that my grandfather’s parents, John and Anna Budziszewski was was the Czerwin parish–so that provides me with further leads to hopefully trace my grandfather’s family. There is an additional hint: Damazy Dąbkowski was a witness to this marriage. Władysław’s half brother, Ignacy, married a woman named Marianna Dąbkowski. Hopefully these new hints can provide new insight.

Marriage of Władysław and Helena Mierzyjewski, 9 February 1908

My uncle and aunt, Waclaw (Walter) and Czeslawa (Celia) both were born in Poland. Their dates of birth line up perfectly with the history I’ve been able to build of my grandfather’s travels.

Waclaw had been born in Borowce on 27 March 1909. Czeslawa was born in Borowce on 12 December 1913.

Waclaw MierzejewskiWaclaw Mierzejewski birth 1909 Troszyn Parish
Waclaw Mierzejewskibirth 1909 Troszyn Parish
Czeslawa Mierzejewski birth 1912 Troszyn Parish
Czeslawa Mierzejewski birth 1912 Troszyn Parish

The birth of my uncle, Waclaw, whom the family called Walter in the US, lines up exactly with Władysław’s travels to the US. We suspect he’d been in the US several times, and I do have a possible earlier trip that Władysław made to the US in 1903, however, I have been able to clearly document him coming into the US in November 1909, traveling with his brother, Marcel. Each had indicated Helena as their contact in Poland and that they had left from Borowce. They each were heading to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It appears that Marcel may have traveled further west into Cleveland as there is a 1910 census record that aligns closely with him. He is boarding with a Gorgon family and is working in a car shop. I have not been able to find Władysław on a US census priori to 1930, so it’s possible he did not stay in the US long or he was not detected by the census takers. The family narrative has always said that Władysław was in the US several times, that he came to earn money, send money back to the family and would return to Poland. His brother, Marcel, did not care for the US and he returned there to marry and reside; however, we do know he came to the US for a visit sometime likely in the 1930s or early 1940s.

Waclaw’s birth record also reveals other hints. His godparents were Piotr Mierzejewski and Bronislawa Mierzejewski. I do not know who Piotr is, I have not yet located a Piotr on either side of my family. (Keep in mind that my grandmother’s maiden name was also Mierzejewski so I have to look at both Władysław’s and Helena’s families to determine relationships.) However, Helena’s brother, Władysław, did marry a woman named Bronislawa Mierzejewski. (Pity me please, not only do my grandparents have the same surname but they each had siblings named alike. This is is crazy making situation.)

So, it’s possible I may be able to trace Bronislawa a bit further as well. It’s likely she came from the same parish or village as Helena and her family near the Troszyn parish. When Helena’s brother, Władysław married Bronislawa as a widower, he sent his daughter, Zofia, to Poland. Bronislawa went to Poland to retrieve Zofia to bring her back to the US.

A final hint in Waclaw’s birth record is that the record states that it was read aloud to the illiterate declarant witnesses. I am not sure how to research this, but I have always been fairly certain my grandmother was illiterate when she came to the US, but that my grandfather was not. He certainly was able to sign his name to his naturalization papers, although his naturalization did not occur for nearly 15 years after he was in the US, in 1938. My grandmother did not obtain her naturalization until sometime in the 1940s. However, they were detained at Ellis Island when they arrived in February 1923 with a notation of QE LPC. They ultimately were able to leave Ellis and come to Toledo. However, I am uncertain of how to determine if both or just one of my grandparents were illiterate at the time of their arrival. (Illiteracy was defined at that time as being unable to read a short passage in their native language, not in English.)

My father’s family has always been challenging for me to research. There are some obstacles such as each of them had the same birth surname although not related, they came from a region where the surname of Mierzejewski was quite common, there were several instances of Mierzejewski marrying a Mierzejewski, and finally, the fact that records in this area were not easily accessible or online/indexed until recently has been problematic. Add to the fact they are written in Russian. I can read Polish and Latin but not Russian.

Researching my mother’s family through records from Poland was so much easier. By the mid-1800s, church records for births, marriages, and deaths (while still recorded in Polish and Latin) were no longer narrative format. Records kept at the parish level were formulaic in that they were recorded using a form, standard columns, and standard Latin phrases. And being able to read some Polish and Latin went a long way! Hopefully, more records from Russian controlled Poland can be indexed so they are much more locatable. There has been a lot of activity in this area and have been following a number of websites that provide this information brings a lot of hope that someday I’ll have a fuller history on my grandparents.

1. This record had been translated for me. There is a wonderful free resource on Facebook, Genealogical Translations, that provides a free service. This is a group composed of volunteers who provide translations in many languages–Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and others. It’s a wonderful resource.)