Our Dreams Come True. Part 3 – Knocking on Doors.

When Lucjan helped break down our research brick wall before our trip, we learned that our great-grandmother Zuzanna’s parents had sadly died from “Abdominal Typhus” when she was only four months old!  Various church records confirmed that Zuzanna’s family was living with her paternal grandparents at the time of their parent’s passing.  We planned to look for their house plus any buildings that would have been standing before Zuzanna and one of her brothers, Maciej, left for the USA, about 1888.


We arrived in Rogi on an overcast, drizzly afternoon.  The area was beautiful, with terraced fields set in the foothills of nearby mountains, rising to the south. We were looking forward to exploring and to being the first official tour clients to stay at the PolishOrigins guest house in Bałucianka!  After spending two nights in the region, we would head west towards our last stop.

Rogi Village Signpost and Local View

Using our cadastral map, we roamed the area to determine our house locations and to scope out the neighborhoods.  Our great-grandmother’s father was the local miller, as was his father before him, per their marriage registrations, so we searched for the old mill location too.  We fortunately found all the places that we were looking for!  Anxious to learn more, Lucjan said it was time to start knocking on doors!

Regional Map and Cadastral Map Showing Primary Search Area

The first door we knocked on was of the house closest to our search area.  The lady who answered seemed intrigued but cautious as she listened to Lucjan explain our interest in the old mill property and the search for our great-grandmother’s home.  Either Lucjan’s friendly and honest demeanor put her at ease or she felt pity for the three wet and bedraggled explorers on her doorstep! After inviting us inside, we met her husband, who turned out to be a keen local history buff.  When we exchanged names, we learned that not only did we share a couple family surnames, but their first names were the same as our parents! We had a good laugh at the coincidence.

Over the next two days Mr. and Mrs. T, the lovely and thoughtful couple, spent a lot of time sharing their knowledge of the area with us.  They confirmed that our great-grandmother’s family came from a long line of millers, both for the village and the local manor.  Mr. T had an avid interest in the village mill and the local oil industry, extensively researching them over the years.  Mrs. T graciously served tea and cookies as we sat around the dining room table, pouring over the many documents and illustrations.  We scrutinized family photos and family tree branches under the watchful eye of their handsome kitty.  Despite our lack of Polish and their lack of English, we had no language barrier!

Reviewing Documents

Together we walked to the creek bank where a metal shed now stood instead of the historical mill.  Mr.T told us that the original single story mill had been expanded with a second story, and in 1953, modified to include electric power production.  Mr. T’s grandfather’s sister’s husband bought the mill property back in the day, and that is how they came to live there.  We made note of the grand uncle’s unfamiliar surname, searched through our mother’s DNA matches, and found several people who had the same surname in their family trees!  Another piece to the puzzle!

Location of the Original Mill

The location where our great-grandmother was born was just across the creek from the mill.  According to the cadastral map, her old house stood right where an abandoned house stood today.  This “newer” house was likely renovated or built on the foundation of the original house.  Mr. T told us that during his earlier years, the lady of the house (who was housekeeper to the local parish priest), lived there with her niece.  Upon their deaths the property was inherited by several relatives.  While records showed that our family owned the mill in 1858, they did not own the house they were living in.  A quick review of the house owners did not result in any family tree or DNA matches.

Location of Great-Grandmother’s House

With all this information in hand, we knocked on more doors, stopping by the locations of our more distant ancestors’ homes or where current residents with surnames from our list lived.  Surprisingly, most people did not know much about their great grandparents or ancestors – just like us!  We even tracked down an elderly retired school teacher who conversed with us from her second story window.  She could not recall any students during her tenure with our great-grandmother’s last name.  After we returned home, we re-discovered a DNA connection who was able to verify that her 3x great-grandparents were also our great-grandmother’s great-grandparents!  We were happy when we realized that we had seen the property where our mutual ancestors had lived.



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