Steve (1st tour)

Lucjan was amazing! Patient and deeply knowledgeable, he was able to guide us through the family searches in both the civil and church archives, in checking cemeteries, and in talking to parish priests in many towns. With his vast experience, he was often able to “predict” when a record should exist (e.g., the birth of a previously unknown child) before we found it (or after I had accidentally missed it while looking through the books). Lucjan was also fearless in pursuing any and all leads, including knocking on strangers’ doors to ask questions and in search of living relatives. His kind and friendly nature I’m sure opened many doors, to the point where we were even welcomed into strangers homes for fun and useful discussions. By his leadership, we were able to track my family tree of my ancestors from former Galicia (3/4 of my family tree) all of the way back to the 1700s in most cases, to find and meet two living second cousins (and other, more distant living relatives), and to not only locate the homesites of several of my ancestors, but the still-standing peasant house where my grandfather was born and grew up before emigrating to America in 1913! I can’t wait to work with PolishOrigins on the last 1/4 of my family tree in Wielkopolska!

I never would have believed it would be possible to trace my lineage so far back and so completely in so short a time (literally five days). Nor was I prepared for how interesting, satisfying, exhilarating, and deeply moving it was to go through the actual church archives page by page looking for records of my family, but, in so doing, gaining deep insights into the lives of these little villages — what families were there and intermarrying, when there were good years and bad years (e.g., due to disease or famine), what families were close with one another (e.g., serving as godparents), and how very limited were the distance my ancestors moved around for centuries. Going through the archives, visiting cemeteries to get confirming evidence and dates, looking at the homesites of my ancestors identified through our research in near real time, “cold-calling” at people’s doors to ask questions in search of living relatives and homesites, and then finding and meeting several actual living relatives?! Wow!! PolishOrigins gave me truly the most memorable and meaningful travel experience I’ve ever had and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Sure, you could do some of this ancestral investigating using on-line records, or pay someone to do all of this work for you remotely, but it was so much more fun to do this genealogical research in person and get to see the villages and locations within a day of finding them in records. I am so excited that PolishOrigins is now planning a new trip for 14 members of my family (my siblings, their children, grandchildren, and my 91 year old mother and 84 year old uncle), where we will visit these villages and other significant places in Poland. We all can’t wait!!

All of the hotels were very nice and even quite memorable (e.g., Polanka Palace, Hotel Sarmata). Planned meals were also great!

Aga Pawlus did a wonderful job working with us and preparing the tour. Everything was carefully planned, despite a very tight, one-week schedule. It was so nice to be able to meet her at the end of the tour.

My second cousin Waclaw and I standing in front of the house that we found where my grandfather was born and lived.