1. Arrival in the old Galicia, my grandparents homeland.

My husband, Jack, and I traveled to Poland in September 2010. After spending several days in Warsaw and Krakow, we started on our journey to research my family. Zenon was an invaluable resource, I cannot begin to thank him for the assistance in this project.

After trying for many years to verify where my maternal grandparents came from, we finally made arrangements with Zenon to visit Poland and attempt to research my family. Fortunately, I have my grandfather’s passport issued by permission of Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria-Hungary. My grandparents (Jan and Catharina Penczak) came from the section of Poland known as Galicia and ruled by Austria. The passport indicated that my grandfather, Johan/Jan Pecak, was born in 1865 in Nagoszyn. Census records in the USA indicated my grandparents were born in Galicia. Naturalization records also stated my grandfather was born in Nagoszyn, which is near Tarnow. Armed with only this information and verbal statements from my mother that my grandfather had one sister and that my grandmother worked for a noble family as a housemaid and had seven sisters who were dressmakers, my husband and I set out for Poland.

Zenon met us in Krakow on Tuesday, September 21, 2010, and we drove directly to Tarnow and the Diocesan Archives Center. I can’t begin to explain how wonderful it was to find my grandfather’s and grandmother’s Baptismal records. My grandfather, Jan (Joannes) Pecak, was born in Nagoszyn in 1865 and my grandmother, Catharina Madej was born in 1863 in Korzeniow, the village next to Nagoszyn.

Nagoszyn – my grandfather’s place of birth.

My grandfather did indeed have one sister, Hedwiga. We also found several records of my grandmother’s sisters. We also found some mysteries. Jan Pecak’s and Hedwiga Pecak’s births are listed as illegimate and their mother is Mariana Pecak, daughter of Jacobus and Agnes Ciesla Pecak, born in 1835. Mariana had four brothers and one sister and two half-brothers and three half-sisters. Jacobus married three times and Mariana’s mother was his second wife.

The village of Korzeniow did not have a parish until around 1900. We researched for records of Jan and Catharina’s marriage in the Tarnow Diocese. We found nothing on the microfilm from 1865 till 1890, and a blacked out page from 1890 to 1891. Possibly the marriage could have taken place during that period. We also visited the State Archives office, the City Archives office and a rectory that might have had some information. No luck. Przeclaw is very close to Korzeniow and there is an estate that was owned by the Rej family. I can only guess that this is the family my grandmother worked for.

Parish church in Przeclaw where my grandfather was baptized.
Parish church in Przeclaw – interiors.
In the open-air ethnographic museum. This is how my grandparents’ farm could have looked.
Guesthouse at the countryside where we stayed.
The guesthouse’s backyard.



  1. I think it is wonderful that others have the chance to read about your tour. Someday someone whose family is from your village will begin to explore their genealogy and thanks to you they will be able to view their ancestral church. Thank you for sharing your stories and photos.

  2. My paternal great grandmother immigrated to the US, settling in Fayette county, PA. She was married when she arrived, to Simon Penczak. Census records show her originally from Tarnow. Makes me wonder about your Penczak ancestors, and whether we may be related.
    Peace! ~TONI
    (Action For Aging)

    1. I learned that both Simon and Caroline (Karolina) came from Tarnow (a year apart; perhaps he sent for her.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *