My dream trip

(This is post copied after permission of the author Joanne originally published on the Polish Genealogy group on Facebook:

I’m in Poland on my dream trip. I booked it in 2019 for a May 2020 departure and began Polish language lessons. Then…COVID. Three years later, here I am. It has been a beautiful mix of history and sightseeing with some amber shopping in Gdańsk.

Now I am in the heart of my ancestral homeland with a marvelous genealogist, Daniel Paczkowski. Yesterday we dug through birth, marriage and death records in the archives and unlocked many mysteries. Many were in Russian! Thank goodness for Daniel! He could quickly scan the Polish and Russian records. He’s also a Geneteka guru, so we only had to hunt through records not on Geneteka.

Archives – You need an appointment. Daniel, of course, made the appointment


Me and Daniel (mostly Daniel) hunting
Daniel capturing documents

Next, we drove to the villages where my great grandparents were born and knocked on doors asking where the old people lived. When we knocked on the door of an 88 year old man and asked if he remembered the Żołnowski family, he said, “Tak!” His mother was married to Stanislaw Żolnowski – my great grandfather’s youngest brother! This man is the half brother of the four Żołnowski children alive when Stansław died and he had stories to share. Magic!

88 yo half brother of Stansław’s children

Today, we knocked on doors and chatted with many kind farm families who were eager to help us find descendants of my great grandfather’s eldest sister, Antonina, and…Yahtzee! Here I am with her great grandson.

Two great grandchildren of two Żołnowski siblings
We strolled through cemeteries and flipped through church records. It’s been amazing.
My husband helping prowl a cemetery
Had to share! PolishOrigins built our tour for us and selected Daniel as our genealogist. The private tour was 10% more than a group tour without genealogy we had considered. The tour guides for Gdańsk and Toruń were phenomenal. Next we head to Warsaw then Krakow.
I know not everyone can come to Poland, but Daniel can research for you.
I do NOT speak Polish. Three years of lessons gives me the ability to say a few phrases, read a little, and order meals. Polish Origins provides English speaking guides and genealogists. Swietnie!
Me and Daniel in front of the house where Antonina Żołnowski raised her family.


Birthplace of my great grandmother


Birthplace of my great grandfather. It’s right next to my great grandmother’s village. They went to the same church and came to Webster, MA in 1888 and married in 1890.


One comment

  1. My husband and I just went to Europe, too, hoping to see where are forebears lived. My grandmother’s family came from Julianowo….the one near Bydgoszcz. Was this the same town your great grandfather was from? We drove through but without having your wonderful resources, we didn’t stop.

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