3 Men and a Mum. Finding our Polish Family. Day 4.

April 28

Breakfast at Artis hotel today – good but not as good as the last place we stayed. We headed over to the Szebnie parish church near Jaszczew where Zenon talked the priest into opening the old church for us to see. It’s currently in the process if being restored with about 1 year remaining. Beautifully painted interior but most of it dates from the 1900s after our grandfather left. We saw the baptismal font in the new church – dates to about 1815.

Szebnie Old Parish Church
Szebnie Old Parish Church

Szebnie Old Parish Church Interior
Szebnie Old Parish Church Interior

Next we went back to Edward Twaróg’s home to fill in names from recent generations in the family tree on Ancestry.com. We enjoyed more food and then Edward started pouring the brandy (yes at 11am!). After a while we excused ourselves and went to the library to meet with Janina Twaróg, author of a Jaszczew town history book that I had bought on the internet a year or so earlier. Although her husband’s surname is Twaróg we determined there is no relation to our family.  She was very gracious and gave us copies of her book (and signed them). We listened as she pointed out various historical artifacts from the village of Jaszczew and she even let us try on some of the old uniforms.

Janina Twaróg at Jaszczew Library & Museum
Janina Twaróg at Jaszczew Library & Museum




And then the whirlwind of new cousins began. We stopped to pick up Edward so he could escort us to the home of Helena Twaróg, one of the oldest members of the family living in the area. She and her son Marian Moskal welcomed us into their home where Zenon translated conversation and simultaneously entered the new information into my Ancestry tree.

Cousins Marian & Helena

The stay was brief and then we were off to the home of another Marian, Marian Twaróg in this case.  Marian is a 3rd cousin to Mom and although he spoke no English the communication was easy with Zenon helping us.  We stayed about an hour, asking each other various questions, adding more names to the tree, and laughing together.  Marian and his wife Zdzisława served cookies and a wonderful sweet fruit liquer. Marian took an instant liking to my mother and kept insisting that she return in 2 weeks for the first communion of his grandchild!

lots of family
Drinks, Family and Ancestry.com!

Soon we were off to meet Marian’s 84 year old sister Wladysława and her family. I think we frightened her and she became very emotional – too many unexpected visitors at once maybe. As we added more names and dates to our tree, Wladysława’s grandsons Nikodem and Mateusz got a chance to practice their English with us. We exchanged email addresses and I promised to send copies of the family tree along with the photos we took together today.  Before we left, Wladysława’s neighbor and daughter-in-law insisted that the 4 of us stop by for some tea. The American visitors definitely are causing a commotion and we’re very popular it seems!

Our Newly Found Family

By this time it was past 6pm and we drove cousin Edward back home. He insisted that we come inside for more visiting (and more food!) and although we were tired it was hard to say no. We chatted for a bit and then Marian Moskal showed up explaining that he had gathered many more Twaróg cousins for us to meet and they were all waiting for our arrival. Exchanging tired glances, we realized it would be rude to say no and again we piled into Zen’s car.

It was close to 8pm as we pulled into the dark driveway of this home, and suddenly people emerged from everywhere to greet us. These were the families descended from Michal Twaróg, a nephew of my great grandfather.  We were brought into a tiny room and everyone seemed to be talking to poor Zenon at once, anxious to have their words translated for the American cousins. I counted 10 people besides ourselves and there was no way Zen could keep up with all the conversations. Mom, Mark and I used our few words of Polish and plenty of smiling and did our best to talk with our newly found family. It was overwhelming but exhilarating at the same time.  We shared family photos old and new and did our best to get to know each other in the short time we had.  Zenon was working feverishly to capture all the new names and dates, sitting with each individual as they listed their family.

Sharing Family Photos on the iPhone With our New Family

We finally said our goodbyes close to 10pm and again I made promises to send the photos and the family tree as soon as I could. We made it back to our hotel and each of us collapsed into our beds, exhausted.



  1. New Polish family everywhere…..lots of questions from everyone……thank you ZEN for all the translating….it was a bit overwhelming to say the least ! Where would we be without Zen’s help?

    Everyone enjoyed the laughter and family tree updates…….more WONDERFUL MEMORIES TO TUCK INTO MY HEART.

  2. Jean,

    The whole Tour with you and your sons was a wonderful experience.

    I am so happy every time I see your big smile on each the photos taken by Brian 🙂 . Indeed, it was a long and tiring day for all of us but I think very rewarding and emotional not only for us but also for all the dozens of people we met 🙂 !

  3. Hi Zenon,

    I’m happy to know that you enjoyed having these experiences with us too. Thanks to you we had a tour that was truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ adventure and I will always appreciate that. Thanks again my friend!

  4. Jean, Wow! What a crazy day! Ten people in one room, all excited to meet YOU! I am so happy for you and how successful you all were in finding your family in Poland. Helena Twaróg is sooooo cute! I just want to hug her! Smiles all day long for you – I’m really enjoying this blog.

  5. Brian,

    I had a great time with you because we had understood each other perfectly. What I mean is not only the understanding on the ‘language level’ but deeper, understanding the whole process of doing all the research and guiding job. As you know, each day on such trip is a journey into the unknown. You never now how wearisome the process will be and what results it will bring.

    Thanks to that I could full focused on the most important tasks knowing that you will follow my suggestions adding your comments and rich family information.

    AND you were all simply a great travel companion ❗

  6. Jean how wonderful for you to be able to meet so many relatives & have pictures to remember them by. Truly a once in a life time experience. God has Blessed you and your family. I am having lots of fun reading your experiences. Keep smiling. Hugs !! 🙂

  7. Hello,
    My maiden name is Marshall but I recently found out that it really was Moskal. My father (b-1912) and his mother (b-1890) were born in Godowa, Poland but in 1914 when they came to the USA it Godowa was Austria. On the ship’s passenger list is read that my grandmother had a sister Maryanna in Godowa. I’m wondering how I can find out if I have any relatives in Godowa.

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