Recently, I received the death certificates for Frank and Julie (Lichnerewicz) Winarski, my maternal great-great grandparents (Margaret Winarski Schoudel’s parents). They have kind of been a brick wall in that I have not been able to determine who each of their parents were until I received these death certificates. I really wish the clerks years ago who hand wrote death certificates had been more careful and printed instead of using cursive. There is a lot of illegible fancy flourish in the cursive writing and this is a common complaint among genealogists and not just me. I complain about this because, although I now have the names of four more ancestors, at least two of them are slightly illegible so that there could be five different variations of their names.
For example, Julie’s mother’s name appears to be Jula Subenhaas. But is it Subenhaas? Or could it be Siebenhaas? Or possibly Subenhar? Subenhaus? A person could go crazy trying to figure it out.
Frank’s death certificate is not much better. His last name is spelled differently three times on the certificate. The last name is Winarski, but look how sloppy this is –
Although I will say it doesn’t help my research when people change their names or the names become more Americanized along the way. I have seen a birth document from Berlin for one of his kids and he signed his name as Franz Weinarski.
Here’s another example, Julie’s father’s name. It appears that it starts with an S on the death certificate, even though his last name is actually Lichnerewicz. But it’s not always the clerk’s fault, it could be the fault of Frank who reported the information, who may have not known the correct spelling of the maiden name of his wife, although he really should have (snark snark snark).
But at least I have four more names and leads to see where I can go from here to get even further on these lines.
I have done searches on Ancestry or Family Search for all of them, and have had the best luck with the Lichnerewicz side, although that name was a little problematic because of various spellings. I found both Ignatz (it’s actually not Ignat) Lichnerewicz, her father, and Anna Isbrandt (with a t), her mother, and that led to the birth records of Julie’s brothers and sister. During the process, I thought I had found all of the siblings but then decided to look closer at her brother, Adam’s marriage certificate. I found some names of relatives on the second page who would have been witnesses (and did Adam’s wife spell her married name incorrectly? She added an “e”. Oy!!)
The most interesting thing I discovered is this marriage was performed in what is now Poland, which at the time of the marriage was under German control and known as Prussia. It took place in Radmannsdorf, which is now known as Trzebieluch, a village in the north-central part of Poland, and Ignatz and Anna are listed as residing in Ruda, a village in the southern part of Poland!!
It is really, really very difficult to find confirming documentation from Poland. First, records are usually labeled as being from Prussia, Germany, or even Galacia because Poland didn’t exist from1772 until 1918s; second, name variation problems; and third, many records were destroyed during WWII. I’m figuring this is where my Eastern Europe DNA is from. On 23andme, it states that my Eastern European DNA is most likely from the years 1750-1840, so Julia’s family probably had lived there for awhile. That definitely helps me now as to where to focus further research.
After all of this, I continued on with my searches and was finally able to use birth records to piece together Ignatz and Anna’s little family. They had six children: Agnes, born 1857; my family’s Julianna, born 1859; Joseph, born 1865; Stanislaus, born 1868; Adam, born 1870, who died young; and Adam, born 1873. All of the children were all born in Neudorf (Konighlich, Kr. Briesen), West Prussia, Germany, which is now known as Nowawies, in northern Poland.
This was a really enjoyable research project and what I most enjoy — being able to solve a brick wall, finding out where people have been, where they went, discovering new parts to the history of my family.
Thanks for reading!!