Back home I am now able to reflect on my research trip and know that I would never have been able to find out all that I did, without the help and experience of Zenon. He was worth every dollar (or zloty) I paid to him. His knowledge of history is fantastic and helped me to understand a lot more, especially the plights of the Polish people during WWII and the Communist regime. His language skills of English, Polish and Russian was brilliant and certainly helped us out when researching parish registers, wills, probates and land records. His past experience in dealing with Priests, Registry and Archive staff proved to be invaluable when approaching these people. My sister and I, together with other family members in Poland, enjoyed his company and found him to be a warm, gentle and patient man who really enjoys helping other people find their family roots.
Zenon was hired by me to help me with my research, but I feel that in the short four days we spent together, we have forged a lasting friendship as well.
See Andrew’s blog (lots of pictures!): Galician attractions where tourists do not go.
The summer of 2009 my son and I traveled to Poland for the first time and visited my family ancestral towns on the last two days of our trip. We enjoyed the trip but found it difficult navigating the small towns since I do not speak the language. We searched cemeteries, local archive and town churches with no results because I was unprepared. I then realized a guide was a necessity on my next trip. The following year in June 2010 I again traveled to Poland, now with all three of my sons on a seven day guided tour and a second week devoted to genealogy research of my family. This time I found a professional company PolishOrigins who placed me with Zenon Znamirowski over the Internet. Zenon helped me plan and understand what had to be done to prepare for my trip. We communicated on a regular basis answering all my questions and exchanging information and plans. Prior to my arrival Zenon reviewed my families historical information so he could arrange a itinerary that could be highly productive. Each day Zenon drove us two hours east of Warsaw where we visited my family’s towns, cemeteries and local archives. It was special for me to attend mass with my sons on (Father’s Day) June 19th in the church my grandfather was baptized in 1891 and his future wife in 1867. Zenon provided us this opportunity.
At the end of our trip Zenon was able to find four of my grandfathers from documents found in the local archives going back to 1775 all living in the same general area, the eastern area of Ostrow Mazowiecka County. We never were able to find any relatives but that’s not from Zenon not trying; we stopped people on the streets, people visiting in the cemeteries and called people from the telephone books. Zenon was a professional, knowledgeable, educated and understanding guide. I would recommend his company’s services to anyone traveling to Poland to look for their past relatives. The journey to my ancestral towns was a trip of a lifetime gift to my sons and we want to thank Zenon for a job well done.
I am continuing to have Zenon translate documents and research for me. He will continue to be a friend of the Bogucki family.
Frank, Stephen, Christopher and Jeremy Bogucki
A scan from Winter 2010 issue of Rodziny, the Journal of Polish Genealogical Society of America, with permission of the editor and the author:
Poland was wonderful. The trip was much more than I expected – and it’s due to Zenon as a guide. He is superb. It was fascinating to me to find that the family names continue in the same towns, although my direct ancestors have been gone for over 100 years. I have more research to do – and I would love to be able to return to Poland after it’s done. (I?d also like more Bigos).
Read more on Leonore’s Tour Blog!
A scan from Winter 2010 issue of Rodziny, the Journal of Polish Genealogical Society of America, with permission of the editor and the author:
If anyone reading this blog is considering a Forefathers Traces Tour with Zenon, you will not regret it. This trip was so exciting and rewarding for me and I could not have had a better guide during this wondrous journey to my ancestral home. This was a trip of a lifetime and the gift of family was more than I could have hoped for from this trip. Thank you Zenon!
Read more on Shellie’s Tour Blog!
If you want to travel to Poland to seek your roots and visit the towns of your ancestors, I highly recommend Zenon Znamirowski from PolishOrigins as your personal tour guide. I have just returned from a highly productive and enjoyable two-week stay in Poland with Zenon as my driver/translator/genealogist.
You do not ever want to drive in Poland. I do not care whether you know Polish and can drive in the big city and/or the countryside in the US, but Poland is different. Save yourself from having a migraine or an accident and hire this driver/translator. It’s worth every penny, and you get to go where and when you want to go.
Zenon is fluent in English and Polish, making for easy conversation and streamlining access to the information I was seeking. He asks what you want to accomplish and how he can make that happen. He listens and offers suggestions in order that you get what you want from your trip. He has a master’s degree in Economics, and we had a great time discussing the ideas of Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, as we made a grand 2000+km circle around Poland.
(…)We were off to Opole to check the archives on the Philipsek side of the family. We were going through the Mechnica church records when Zenon noticed that town sponsors for the Philipsek baptisms came from Twardawa. (By the way, ?Philipsek? is usually spelled ?Phillipczyk? and is pronounced ?Feel LEAP chick?). I had been unable in my research in the USA to verify the marriage of August Phillipczyk and Clara Bannert and the birth of their first two children, John and Anastasia, in Mechnica. Zenon got the microfilm for Twardawa and found August and Clara’s wedding date and the birth of some children, all of which may not be known at this time. Also listed were the names of August and Clara’s parents. (This is what happens when you have a driver/translator who is also genealogist!) (…).
To read and see more about Louis Forefathers Traces Tour through Poland entlitled Sitting Down in My GGGrandfather’s House click here (about 3 MB pdf file): http://polishorigins.com/ebooks /louie_welna.pdf or here for Blog: http://blog.polishorigins.com/2011 /01/20/1-sitting-down-in-my- gggrandfathers-house/ .
Louis D. Welna
+1-802-524-5342 or ojciec(at)comcast.net
My husband Jim and I traveled to Poland in late June 2004 on a quest to find records of my Polish ancestors. Quite by chance, I had corresponded with Zenon, who offered to help me in my search. He and his cousin Cezary met us in Krakow and we traveled together for three days, each day visiting a different ancestral village. (You can read my essay about my genealogical research and this trip here: Click here: The Gift of Family)
Even though this was my second trip to Poland, it seemed an unknowable place to me because I do not speak the language, and the idea of relying so much on people I did not know made me a little nervous. All my fears were dispelled as soon as we met Zenon and Cezary. They are both bright, personable, young men who brought the passion of their interests in Poland and genealogy to my search for ancestors. With their help, we negotiated unfamiliar roads, friendly (and unfriendly) priests, cemeteries filled with graves and flowers, and ancient record books written in Latin. Cezary’s skill in deciphering the old records is remarkable: he is both careful and thorough, and he found many traces of my ancestors.
Zenon organizational skills and his command of the English language are excellent. After I returned home, I asked Zenon to return to one of my ancestral villages and spend an afternoon with family members living there. The result of that visit was a wonderful amount of information from my family, none of whom speak English. Zenon took photographs, recorded stories, and developed an extensive family tree of this branch. I am thrilled with the results of his interviews!
I am continuing to have Zenon do research for me, and I can unconditionally recommend his services to you.
Nancy Maciolek Blake
As I entered my 50s, I became much more interested in family genealogy. Both my parents had died ? with little or no information forthcoming from my father particularly about past generations and potential relations back in Poland.
Searching our Polish family routes was going to be a difficult task for my sister and me. Although our father’s parents had both emigrated from Poland in the early 20th century, we had almost nothing on which to base our search. My father’s last living sibling, Sophie, is 92 and had little additional information to share other than when her parents were born and when they died. We do not speak the language and had never been to Eastern Europe . All we had was a couple of letters written in Polish to our grandmother shortly before her death in 1956 and a single envelope with a return address on it. The name on the return address was Konstanty ? our grandmother’s brother.
Luckily, in my internet search I was able to locate Zenon and his website, www.inpassa.com
After a number of e-mails back and forth with Zenon, I contracted with him to be our driver and interpreter for two days during an upcoming trip to Poland that my sister, her daughter and I would take. Prior to our arrival, Zenon also graciously inquired about and secured train tickets for us to travel from Oswiecim, to Budapest, Hungary at the end of our trip.
After two wonderful days staying in the old town section of Warsaw, Zenon collected us from our hotel on a Friday morning and our family search adventure began! It took nearly 3 hours to make the drive from Warsaw to Kulesze-Chobotki ? the tiny village in the mother parish of Knyszyn located 101.6 KM NE of Warsaw, near the Polish city of Bialystok .
We drove into and around the village until we saw someone out in their yard. Zenon got out and began the conversation ? ?Do you know if any Leszcynskis still live in the area?? The farmer immediately pointed to a farm down the road.
We pulled into the driveway of the farm indicated and got out of Zenon’s car ? my sister, my niece and myself, waiting for Zenon to announce us to the gentleman walking down the steps from his front door. No sooner had Zenon told him that we were his relatives from America , than our 2nd cousin, Stash, grandson of Konstanty opened his arms and his home to us. We spent the remainder of the day with our cousin, his lovely wife, and their three daughters. Later in the afternoon we were joined by Stash’s older sister, and by their father ? our father Edwards? first cousin ? the 76 year old patriarch of the Polish branch of my paternal grandmother’s family. Zenon translated non-stop during our 8 hour visit. His command of English is excellent.
Zenon stayed with us at a local Inn that evening and we returned in the morning to spend more time with our new found cousins. They took us to the cemetery where generations of the Leszcynski line are buried. We also visited with younger sister, and her family at her home and had a tour of the local cultural center of which one of a sisters is the director.
After our visit with our relatives, Zenon drove us all the way to Krakow ? a very long and arduous drive. The following morning, he took my sister back to Czestochowa , as it was her dream to make a pilgrimage to this most holy of Polish sites. All the while, Zenon was kind, bright, enthusiastic and accommodating. Following our return home, Zenon sent some wonderful photographs and, most exciting, some recordings of the conversations we had with our relatives!
We have continued to correspond and to relay on him to translate e-mails to our non-English speaking relatives. We were incredibly fortunate to have located INPASSA! on the internet. Zenon proved himself not only to be capable and reliable but also very generous of spirit. He provided services well beyond what we contracted for ? including the extra day of driving so that my sister could visit Czestochowa .
I can enthusiastically recommend Zenon ? as a wonderful young man, guide, interpreter and driver for your family roots trip to Poland. You won’t be disappointed.
My wife and I traveled to Poland in August 2006 for two weeks. The first week was an escorted tour of some of the major cities of Poland and the second week was devoted exclusively to genealogical research of my family.
Several months before the trip I contacted Tadeusz Wysocki of RootsPoland.com and asked if he could accompany us while I looked for my family roots. He responded that he had other commitments at that time but recommended that I contact Zenon of “INPASSA! Polish Origins” for assistance. Zenon graciously agreed to act as our guide and interpreter for the week and our plans were set up.
Zenon made all of the preliminary arrangements for our stay in Poland – he contacted hotels, he made car reservations, he called local parish priests to arrange time to search records, he even arranged a horse and carriage ride on a day when we had some free time! In short – he went above and beyond the normal expectations of a driver/guide/interpreter. Everything was arranged by the time we got to Poland and, after meeting us in our hotels lobby, we were off to look for my family.
Zenon’s command of the English language is excellent – an obvious big plus for someone who only knows a few words of Polish! He made our week looking for my ancestors not only productive but enjoyable as well. He took us to local churches, cemeteries, and historical societies. He took pictures and videos of the places that we visited and gave us copies at the end of the week. We had the pleasure of meeting his cousin Cezary who has “a passion for genealogy” and who translated some old Russian language birth, baptismal, marriage and death records that we found.
In short, everything was arranged for us prior to our arrival in Poland and everything was meticulously planned and thought out.
I can unequivocally recommend the services of Zenon to anyone who is thinking of traveling to Poland to “look for their roots”. He is professional, friendly, knowledgeable and above all, truly interested in helping people uncover their family history.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Zenon is that not only did my wife and I enjoy the time we spent with him, but we now also consider him a friend!
Sigmund Ancerewicz, M.D.
In September 2006,my brother and I fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Poland , our ancestors homeland. Our visit was made so much more memorable because of Zenon. He was very prompt in responding to my e-mails,and clearly answered all my questions. He picked us up at our hostel at the scheduled date, and time and spent the day with us , driving us to and from Wloclawek , where he made our visit more comfortable with his translation skills. He spoke and understood the English language extremely well , and was very patient with our feeble attempts at Polish(only laughing a few times). We felt as if we were visiting with a friend, and not just another client employing a service. He was very gracious , knowledgeable and went far beyond our expectations in assisting us. I find it hard to believe that anyone would be disappointed using Forefathers Traces Tour offer from PolishOrigins.com .
I know that my next visit to Poland will be scheduled when Zenon will be available to be with us. (Zenon’s comment – The next two visits already took place and is described in Blog! Click here to read and watch it: http://blog.polishorigins.com/category/james-tour/ )
Harpers Ferry , W.V.
A year ago, I had Zenon from PolishOrigins.com do some research for me as well a Virtual Tour at the recommendation of a friend from my local Genealogy Society and as most pleased. Following that, an opportunity arose for me to visit Poland this year (2008) with little time for preparation on my part so, of course, I contacted Zenon with the hope that he would be able to escort us and he was.
Zenon met us in Krakow in early July, 2008 and took us to the Tarnow/Radgoszcz area where my father’s maternal family was from (surname SPERBER). Because these ancestors were all Jewish, I knew their shtetls were all but obliterated during the war so I did not anticipate meeting any relatives but I mainly wanted to visit the ancestral towns. We also visited Kolbuszowa, Sokolow MLP, Trzebos and Rzeszow (surname BIER) with Zenon making arrangements for overnight stays at tourist farmhouses in convenient places at our request prior to our visit.
Zenon was extremely reliable, flexible and did a great job of choosing places that were very nice and comfortable and at affordable prices. His driving was wonderful and safe and he was knowledgeable about the places we visited and called ahead to make sure everything was in order while we were on the road. We spent one day in the Rzeszow Archives with the books that needed searching prearranged and ready for us when we arrived. No request was ignored.
He also did things for us that were above and beyond the call of duty, in fact, despite the fact that he lives a 40 minute train ride outside of Warsaw and our train to Germany was to leave from the somewhat confusing train station there at 7:25AM on a Saturday morning, he graciously insisted on coming back to Warsaw to assist us in carrying our luggage to the station (our very nice hotel, The Polonia Palace, was about 2 blocks away?a long two blocks with heavy bags!) and making sure our tickets were in order and that we were on the correct platform and space for our train. What a feeling of comfort and security that was since we speak NO Polish!
All in all, I can’t say enough about the wonderful time we had, how exceptional Zenon was in every way not only during the time we were with him, but in the pre-planning and post-trip follow up and I couldn’t recommend him more highly and I now consider him a very dear friend!
If anyone would like to contact me personally about Zenon and/or our trip, I will be glad to receive your email at mbwilson(at)jhu.edu.
Zenon’s command of English is very good and was invaluable in communicating with my Polish relatives. He was able to quickly zero in on the Apola’s of Ropica Gorna related on my mother’s side of family, even though they emigrated to the US prior to 1900. He did so with just a few names and references from letters I had from the 1930’s. Coming from a small village himself, made it easy for Zenon to relate to these country folk.
The experience was totally satisfying in large part because of Zenon. Thank you for all your skills!