People, Place, and Time

Telling my family's stories

Major breakthrough on the Zielinski family!

You might recall that a few weeks back, we figured out that Ignatius Zielinski had a brother who also lived in Winona, MN – a man named Lorenz Zielinski, and that his death record listed his parents as John Zielinski and Catherine Dirdowski.


Well, that’s a lot of information to go on, then – two brothers, their parents, and birthdates. So I started to root around the web. I came across the Pomorskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne (Pommeranian Genealogical Society) here:

These lovely people have been painstakingly transcribing marriage/birth/death records for the eastern part of what used to be the country of Pommerania, now part of Poland (called Pomorskie in Polish today). 

With a little bit of searching, I found the following records: 


Czarnylas: 1875. Lorenz Zielinski & Catharina Reszka


Czarnylas: 1877. Ignatz Zielinski & Anna Norek.


Those names and dates match the two Zielinski brothers perfectly. In Lorenz’ case, his wife’s name is perfect, but in Anna’s case, the name listed here is ‘Norek’ not Cieklinski. More on that in a minute.

I then went and looked for a birth record for Ignatz and Anna’s only child to be born in Poland – Teodora. In fact, there is a record for her in Czarnylas, with the right date. This time, the mother’s name is listed as Cieklinska.

‘Czarnylas’ is a tiny town in the Skórcz district (called a ‘gmina’) of one of the municipalities of Pommerania (Starogard). Here’s a map of where it is.

We then went looking for Lorenz’ immigration record to see if it might help confirm this information. He and his family immigrated in 1885 aboard the ship ‘Eider.’ Here is a snip of their immigration record.


In the column that lists where they’re from, the following is written:


To my German-literate eye, this looks like it says “Schwarzwalde.” I was puzzled until I tried typing this and ‘Czarnylas’ into Google. Guess what ‘Czarnylas’ means in Polish? ‘Czarny’ is ‘black’ and ‘las’ is ‘forest.’ Guess what ‘Schwarzwalde’ means? Heh. Black Forest. The record, taken down by a German-speaking person in Bremen, recorded the German name of the town, which was, at that time, controlled by German-speaking Prussians.

I went to their baptism records, then, to see if I could locate their births in Poland. I found these records.


Śliwice: 1853. Ignatius son of Jacobus Zieliński & Catharina Derda (Dyrda)


Śliwice: 1850. Laurentius son of Jacobus Zieliński & Catharina Derda (Dyrda)



The dates and Children’s are perfect. The only troubles are the father’s name (Jacob instead of Johann or Jan) and the wife’s last name (Dyrda instead of Dirdowski). However, they’re close enough. The -owski ending seems to be tacked on to a lot of names. There’s a bunch of Drozdowskis runnin’ around there, too, and sometimes Drozd is Drozdowski in the records for the same person. So I’m not worried about that. Regards the Father’s first name, it’s complicated by the fact that Poles usually had two names (like our First and Middle) and also a Catholic name. It’s not clear which name would be used on a baptismal record at the church. Hence, he could be John in one context and Jacob in another. 


I did some reading on Śliwice (pronounced, roughly, Shli-veet-seh). It is a tiny town of only a few hundred people in the forests of Tuchoslki province in Kuyavia-Pommerania. This is the major province directly to the south of Pommerania proper, where the rest of the action took place. Have a look at the map I marked.


About Hattifattener

Age: 37 Lives: All over the place. Education: PhD, linguistics, UBC.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 1, 2011 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: