The hospitality of Bernarda and Edward Twarog continued to amaze us. When we arrived at their home late this morning, wonderful aromas drifted from the kitchen and we learned we were in for a real treat: Bernarda was serving home made pierogis Ruskie (cheese and potato). Very appropriate too, since the polish word for this type of cheese is Twaróg! They did not disappoint – hands down the best pierogis I have ever had and my mother agreed.
As a small thank you for their kindness, we had brought a bottle of wine and also Krupnik citrus vodka. Of course as soon as I told Edward the vodka was a gift for him, he fetched some glasses and the bottle was opened. It was delicious and a very nice way to end our visit with this wonderful family.
After saying our goodbyes, we were on the road to our next destination: Ryglice, home of my great grandmother Zuzanna Sarad who immigrated in 1898. My family information wasn’t very recent – the last local name I had was her half-brother Leon Besciak whom Zuzanna had visited in 1934. Using the LDS microfilms of parish records, I did know Leon had 4 children who had lived in the area until their deaths in the 1970s. We used them as a starting point and headed to the records office.
The records office is located on one side of the town’s large central square – Ryglice is a larger town than the previous ones we’ve visited. The square was a beautiful place to linger on this sunny day and we took our time viewing the statue dedicated to immigrants (many of the area’s residents immigrated at the turn of the last century).
Once inside the records office, our searching progressed very quickly. Using the Besciak family as a starting point, Zenon worked with the clerk and within 15 minutes we had identified a living cousin, Tadeusz Grzebieniowski. As luck would have it, we were told the 86 year old Tadeusz lived only steps away from the office.
We walked over and knocked on the door. Tadeusz answered and Zenon did his best to explain the somewhat convoluted relation between he and my mother. Still somewhat unsure of the connection, our cousin invited us upstairs into his home. We arranged ourselves around a large table and I unrolled the printed family tree I had brought with me. We penciled in Tadeusz’s name to show the relationship and this helped greatly – a picture is worth a thousand words.
His daughter popped into the room and studied the charts for a while, scratching her head. Then we were told there was another older relative in town that may remember more: Adela (Besciak) Chrobak. Zenon used his phone to call the number and explained the situation to Adela’s daughter Jadwiga.
After some back and forth in Polish that I couldn’t understand, I heard the woman on the other end say “Tak, tak – Twaróg!” Wow – she knew of the Twaróg family that my great grandmother Zuzanna married into after leaving Poland! Soon after there was a cry of ‘Oh yay!?’ from the phone and we all smiled – it was obvious that Adela knew of our family connection.
We learned that Adela is 97 and is Leon Besciak’s daughter, making her the niece of my great grandmother Zuzanna. Jadwiga asked us to visit tomorrow afternoon, giving her some time to prepare her mother for our visit.
Pleased with our findings, we headed back to Tarnów and checked into our hotel. Zenon and Aga had offered the Hotel U Jana as one of the options for our Tarnów stay and it proved to be an excellent choice. Located right on the central square, the hotel has large apartment-like rooms (good thing since this will be our longest stay of the trip, 4 nights). Mark and I are sharing a 3-room apartment: 2 separate bedrooms, a bathroom, and a 3rd room furnished with a table and chairs. My Mom had a similar room all to herself – very nice.
>Before dinner I took some time to explore the nearby area. Tarnów is a good sized town (about 115,000 citizens) and full of old-world European charm. Cobblestone streets, an old cathedral, and many interesting shops. We enjoyed our first non-Polish meal of the trip: Italian food. I had pizza, Mark had lasagna, and Zenon & Mom each chose spaghetti marinara. Total price for the 4 of us was about $19 USD – such a bargain compared to home.