An Unexpected Connection with Dubiecko

I just got off the phone after speaking with Kathy Smith about Dubiecko, the parish of my Danko ancestors.  Kathy is leaving tomorrow morning for a trip to Berlin, Kraków, and Dubiecko, and she was searching the web for information about Dubiecko.  By chance, she happened to come across my blog entry The Church in Dubiecko and What I Found There, and posted a comment.  She also sent me an email message to which I responded and then she called me this evening. 

In reading my blog, Kathy had noticed some interesting connections between our ancestors, and in talking with her, we noticed even more connections.  While we may or may not be related to each other by blood, our families did seem to cross paths.

  • Two Polish villages that appear in Kathy’s family history are Dubiecko and Sliwnica.  My Dańko ancestors were members of the Roman Catholic Parish in Dubiecko. My great uncle, Jan Dziurzyński, and the my great aunt’s husband, Pawel Goliński, were both from Sliwnica.
  • The maiden name of Kathy’s grandmother was Pilch.  One of the witnesses at my great-grandfather Jakub Dańko’s second marriage was Marcin Pilch.  My step-great grandmother is descended from Jadwiga Pilch.  I have attached the marriage record for Andrzej Głowacz and Jadwiga Pilch.  The midwife for at least two of my great-grandparents’ children was Agnieszka (Agnes) Pilch. I have attached the birth and baptismal record for Tomasz Dańko, showing that the midwife was Agnes Pilch.
  • Three of Kathy’s ancestral relatives bore the surname Sowa.  My great grandmother was Agnieszka Sowa and one of the witnesses at my great grandfather’s second marriage was Jakub Sowa.

There are no smoking guns here to indicate that we are related, but it’s exciting to find someone searching for the same surnames in the same Polish villages as I am!

Kathy and I spent quite a bit of time telling each other about our families, and I told her about my experience in Dubiecko.  I told her about the church, and about the cemetery, and I gave her some suggestions on how she might get to see the parish records in Dubiecko.  Since Kathy doesn’t speak Polish, and few (if any) people in Dubiecko speak English, I suggested that she find a translator before she goes to Dubiecko.

I gave Kathy the name of a Polish genealogist I met last year at the Annual Meeting of the Polish Genealogical Society of America, Adam Jędryka.  Adam lives in Krakow and I had spoken to him briefly about doing some genealogical research for me.  Since Adam speaks fluent English and is familiar with the church records in the southern Poland, I thought he would be the perfect person for Kathy to contact.  Kathy has already sent Adam an email and she plans to call him when she reaches Krakow.  Who knows?  Adam may be able to accompany Kathy to Dubiecko, or at least find a translator for her.

So, with that, I wish Kathy szczęśliwej drogi (bon voyage)!

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One Response to An Unexpected Connection with Dubiecko

  1. Kathy Smith says:

    Hello Steve – I have just returned from my trip to Poland. I’ll give you a brief summary of my visit to Dubiecko.

    Let me back up and say that my uncle visited the area two or three times before he died. He was our family historian and he was curious about his mother – my grandmother. There was a suspicion she might have been Jewish, but it was not spoken about in the family. It was something like a “family secret.” Apparently, he collected some anecdotal information about my grandmother’s family along the way.

    My grandmother’s maiden name was Pilch. I knew that there were Catholics and Jews with the surname “Pilch” at the turn of the century. I also knew Dubiecko was half Catholic and half Jewish at the turn of the century. It was a typical Polish Shtetl. During my uncle’s trips, he couldn’t find any official information about my grandmother’s parents who were peasant farmers. He kept a “dead” end, so to speak.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t speak to him about his family tree research. I wasn’t too interested at the time. His daughters gave me the names and addresses of possible ancestors or friends of family.

    I flew to Krakow on May 20′th 2006. When I arrived in Krakow, I contacted Adam Jedryka. I hired him to drive us to Dubiecko and act as a translator. We only had one day to look around, so my expectations were not high.

    Before we hit the road from Krakow to Dubiecko, we phoned the church in Dubiecko to inform them of our arrival. However, we were unable to get through by phone. No answering machine.For the sake of adventure, we just took off to see what we could see.

    When we arrived at the village we went directly to the church. No answer.
    So, we head for the Roman Catholic cemetary. It was a busy place. There was someone tending to the graves. There were a few visitors. The graves had flowers, and candles and shrines. We found all the headstones of the Kolanos (my maternal grandfather’s ancestors) and Pilch (the name of my maternal grandmother). Curiously, we could not find the graves of my great grandmother, great grandfather or any of their 8 children who were born and died in the area.

    The church opened at 4:30 PM and we glanced through some records but with so little time – we could not find anything, much as I expected. In order for me to continue the family history work started by my uncle, I would consider hiring Adam to help me.

    Out of curiousity, we went to find the Jewish cemetary but it was deserted. We thought we might find my ancestors there. What a shock! There was no evidence of graves or gravestones. It was just a big piece of overgrown weeds. The headstones had been removed by the Nazis. They were used to make a road. There was no evidence of the Synagogue in Dubiecko. The few Jews who did not leave the area before the holocaust were shipped off to concentration camps. There is absolutely no evidence that Dubiecko was once a thriving Jewish community.

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