Lichnerewicz family

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!!

German or Polish? Or both?

One of my cousins and I were texting just recently about whether or not Frank Winarski and his wife Julia were German or Polish. My cousin said they were Polish, but all of my records came up with Germany. I have always assumed Frank was of Polish descent because of his name. According to my research on names with the ending of -ski, these names are Slavic, and this is seen in varying degrees in different countries. -Sky, -ski, -skiy can be seen in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia. These names can also be seen in German names in the eastern part of Germany and can also be found in the western part due to migrations.

In all of the federal and Wisconsin census records, Frank and Julia both indicated they were from Germany and each of their parents were from Germany. However, the 1930 census lists Frank as being born in West Prussia and speaking Polish. So this lead me to research a little bit into Germany’s very confusing geographic changes.

Since I didn’t know much about Germany in the nineteenth century, the one thing I learned is that before 1871, there was technically no “Germany”, the name Germany didn’t exist until that year. So searching for birth records for both of these people in Germany was pointless because they were both born before that year. Their obituaries both listed them as being born in Berlin so researching Berlin records made sense but as there are no Berlin records available before 1871, I turned to searching Prussian records. Unfortunately, I still have not found anything for Frank with his birth date, in any different name variations. For Julia, her name in their son Bernard’s birth record from Berlin is spelled as Julianna Lichnarewitz, so I tried researching that spelling and other variations. (Note the spelling of the Winarski name on this document was spelled as Wienarski).

I found nothing whatsoever with her exact birth date. However, I found one record in West Prussia for a Julianna Licknerowick, the birth date being just thirteen days different than what I have in my records (and the obituary). I just received both of their death certificates and the parents in Julia’s match the names for this Julianna Licknerowick, born in West Prussia. I’m having trouble finding anything with her father’s name, but I did a search for her mother, Anna, whose maiden name is listed as Isbrandt and found this record for another child, Adam, born in the eastern part of Prussia, which is now known as Poland: 

A little more of Germany’s history—before it came into existence as Germany in 1871, it was known as the Kingdom of Prussia. According to Wikipedia, Prussia is considered the legal predecessor of the Unified German Reich (1871-1945) and is a direct ancestor of today’s Germany. Prussia included half of modern Poland and all but southern Germany, and at one point included West Prussia, East Prussia, Brandenburg (including Berlin), Saxony, Pomerania, the Rhineland, Westphalia, non-Austrian Silesia, Lusatia, Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, and Hesse-Nassau.

According to my DNA report, I have over 52% of French and German (including Netherlands) DNA. I also have 9.1% Eastern European DNA. Eastern European classification includes the countries Poland, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Ukraine. However, the testing could not determine the specific locations of my Eastern European DNA, and ethnicity estimation is really still in its infancy and subject to limitations.

Recently, I contacted a fourth cousin on my DNA list with the last name of Winarski. She didn’t have a lot of information but referred me to her aunt, who is related to Paul Winarski, one of Frank and Julia’s children. She said that oral history passed down in her family is that Frank was born in Posen, Poland. She, like me, has been unable to find his birth record anywhere. She also confirmed the northern part of today’s Poland during the 1800’s was Prussia and controlled by Germany and that many of her Polish relatives on the other side of her family also stated in census records they were from Germany.

My library has a fantastic book on German boundary changes (The Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany published by James M. Beidler). The map below is of Prussia between 1806-1905, and Posen is clearly a part of Prussia (see Bradenburg right next to it). The book said that as Prussia continued to grow, many people in the German states began thinking of themselves as members of one nation, rather than separate kingdoms and this is why we may see Germans from different parts of the region known as Prussian — so thinking about what my new friend said makes sense.

Currently, this takes an assumption — even if Frank happened to be perhaps born in the western part of Germany or Berlin, his family was very likely from the eastern Poland area. I will continue my search for the elusive Frank Winarski birth record!