Although I had been doing genealogy research on the internet, at seminars and conferences for several years my family tree was somewhat sparse. I had visited all the churches, cemeteries and searched any civil records in New Jersey that were pertinent. Like most other folks who begin their ancestry search sadly after there is no opportunity to interview family members, I felt that perhaps I had as much information as I would ever find.
Last year in October, my sister and I had an opportunity to visit Poland and we jumped at the chance. I had learned about Zenon and the ForefathersTraces Tours from a link on the Polish Museum of America website. I contacted him, and happily reserved 5 days for genealogy at the end of our 10 day tour.
We had had an amazing introduction to Poland during our initial tour, but had not touched at all on the Galician area, the home of our ancestors. When we met Zenon in Krakow, he had already reserved rooms for us, done some background research using the limited information I had emailed and greeted us with warm enthusiasm and cautious optimism for what we were hoping to discover during our time with him.
To say that he is an incredible treasure is a huge understatement. We found church and civil records which added generations to our family tree. His skill in driving on the winding, and sometimes dirt roads made us realize that we would not ever want to drive in Poland. Neither my sister nor myself speak a word of Polish and no one in the small villages that we visited spoke any English. With a smile, Zenon repeated everything twice, once in Polish and again to translate for us. By stopping and talking to folks in their yards and on the streets, he incredibly found living relatives. To discover, meet and spend time with second cousins that were unknown to us, was an emotional and loving gift that is beyond explanation.
My only regret is that I wish we could have stayed longer. There is so much I would like to learn and share with our new family members. Since we have been able to correspond, I know they feel the same way. I can only hope for another opportunity to return and get better acquainted with our past and present family history – all with the help of Zenon, of course!
“I have travelled with Zenon and Polish Origins twice.
He was a wonderful guide, translator and researcher. He was able to set appointments ahead of our arrival for 2 parishes as well as civil records offices
He found family on both sides of my tree.
I would love to go back and travel with him again.
He has become a trusted friend who is always willing to help.”