Perhaps He Just Didn’t Know

Last night, I was searching the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) for the Massachusetts Marriage Record for Adam Koscinczyk.  Adam was to become the father-in-law of Anthony Chmielewski, whose birth record I described yesterday.

A search of the Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910 resulted in only two hits:  the marriage of Adam Koscinczyk and Valerie Helena Burakiewicz, and the marriage of Joseph Koscinczyk and Rozalia (Bachon) Krawczyk.  The marriage of Adam and Valerie was the record for which I was searching, but I found the other record, the marriage of Joseph and Rozalia much more interesting.

Niewiem Left

The left side of the marriage register shows that Joseph Koscinczyk and Rozalia (Bachon) Krawczyk were married on 22 Nov 1905 in Holyoke (Massachusetts).  Joseph was 28 years old, and this was his first marriage.  Rozalia was a 23-year-old widow, and this was her second marriage.  Joseph was a laborer from Russia-Poland residing in Worcester, and Rozalia was an Operative from Austria residing at 21 Oliver St., Holyoke.

Niewiem Right

On the right side of the marriage register, Joseph listed his parents as Anton Koscinczyk and Margaritte Niewiem.  Rozalia listed her parents as John Bachon and Mary Scribek.  The marriage was officiated by the Rev. St. [Stanisław] Tarnowski, Holyoke, Clergyman, and the event was recorded on 23 Nov 1905.

What’s so interesting about this record?  Well, Joseph’s mother’s maiden name is listed as “Niewiem”, which is not a Polish surname at all.  “Nie wiem” is a Polish sentence that means “I don’t know”.

It appears that, when asked for his mother’s maiden name, Joseph answered in Polish, “Nie wiem”, and the clerk dutifully recorded that response in the register.

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko

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2 Responses to Perhaps He Just Didn’t Know

  1. Janet says:

    I once noticed the spelling of someone’s sir name in a publication as “Niewiadomo”. My mother (who was born in Poland) and I just laughed and assumed that this person was probably a victim of the same registry problems as the above story. Or, maybe, someone’s mother honestly didn’t know the father’s identity… Baby’s father is unknown name, baby becomes “Unknown, Jr.”

  2. sharon says:

    I think this posting is about my great grandparents! I was a little thrown off by the spelling of Joseph Koscinczyk in the posting- but then I looked at the actual text of the document- and the last name is spelled as I know it (Kosciuczyk) e.g. with a U not an N. Funny thing is that in my family records we do have Joseph’s mother’s maiden name.

    Thank you very much for posting this! I’ve been wondering where to look for family records- guess I should start at the New England Historic Genealogical Society!

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