As I entered my 50s, I became much more interested in family genealogy. Both my parents had died with little or no information forthcoming from my father particularly about past generations and potential relations back in Poland.
Searching our Polish family routes was going to be a difficult task for my sister and me. Although our father’s parents had both emigrated from Poland in the early 20th century, we had almost nothing on which to base our search. My father’s last living sibling, Sophie, is 92 and had little additional information to share other than when her parents were born and when they died. We do not speak the language and had never been to Eastern Europe . All we had was a couple of letters written in Polish to our grandmother shortly before her death in 1956 and a single envelope with a return address on it. The name on the return address was Konstanty – our grandmother’s brother.
Luckily, in my internet search I was able to locate Zenon and his website, www.inpassa.com
After a number of e-mails back and forth with Zenon, I contracted with him to be our driver and interpreter for two days during an upcoming trip to Poland that my sister, her daughter and I would take. Prior to our arrival, Zenon also graciously inquired about and secured train tickets for us to travel from Oswiecim, to Budapest, Hungary at the end of our trip.
After two wonderful days staying in the old town section of Warsaw, Zenon collected us from our hotel on a Friday morning and our family search adventure began! It took nearly 3 hours to make the drive from Warsaw to Kulesze-Chobotki – the tiny village in the mother parish of Knyszyn located 101.6 KM NE of Warsaw, near the Polish city of Bialystok .
We drove into and around the village until we saw someone out in their yard. Zenon got out and began the conversation “Do you know if any Leszcynskis still live in the area” The farmer immediately pointed to a farm down the road.
We pulled into the driveway of the farm indicated and got out of Zenon’s car, my sister, my niece and myself, waiting for Zenon to announce us to the gentleman walking down the steps from his front door. No sooner had Zenon told him that we were his relatives from America , than our 2nd cousin, Stash, grandson of Konstanty opened his arms and his home to us. We spent the remainder of the day with our cousin, his lovely wife, and their three daughters. Later in the afternoon we were joined by Stash’s older sister, and by their father – our father Edwards’ first cousin – the 76 year old patriarch of the Polish branch of my paternal grandmother’s family. Zenon translated non-stop during our 8 hour visit. His command of English is excellent.
Zenon stayed with us at a local Inn that evening and we returned in the morning to spend more time with our new found cousins. They took us to the cemetery where generations of the Leszcynski line are buried. We also visited with younger sister, and her family at her home and had a tour of the local cultural center of which one of a sisters is the director.
After our visit with our relatives, Zenon drove us all the way to Krakow, a very long and arduous drive. The following morning, he took my sister back to Czestochowa , as it was her dream to make a pilgrimage to this most holy of Polish sites. All the while, Zenon was kind, bright, enthusiastic and accommodating. Following our return home, Zenon sent some wonderful photographs and, most exciting, some recordings of the conversations we had with our relatives!
We have continued to correspond and to relay on him to translate e-mails to our non-English speaking relatives. We were incredibly fortunate to have located INPASSA! on the internet. Zenon proved himself not only to be capable and reliable but also very generous of spirit. He provided services well beyond what we contracted for ? including the extra day of driving so that my sister could visit Czestochowa .
I can enthusiastically recommend Zenon as a wonderful young man, guide, interpreter and driver for your family roots trip to Poland. You won’t be disappointed.