The Road to Mikołajówek

Part 2

by John Johnson


Good fortune was on my side however, as I had a business trip scheduled for Salt Lake City the following January: genealogy heaven! I was able to spend parts of three evenings in the world's largest genealogical library, with multilingual speakers available to help. 

The very early church records from Janówka were written in Polish, but they all changed to Russian in 1868: retribution for the failed uprising to kick the Russians out of Poland and reclaim their country. I was about to throw in the towel, when a very nice lady asked me what I was looking at, and when I told her, she said it was Russian, and that she could help. She showed me what the family name would look like in the Russian alphabet.

I began photocopying all instances I could find for marriages and births during specific years. In doing so, I found marriage records for my great-great-grandparents, Anna and Michal, which contained the name and village of their parents, and also the marriage records of the great-great-grandparents of my contact in Michigan. Turns out that his Marianna and my Michal were brother and sister! We had the link we had hoped for.


The Church in Janówka


As for the other documents, I had to learn the Russian alphabet, translate them to English, and look for family ties. I found five marriage records where the Harasim (first time we had seen that spelling) person getting married had the same parents, Stanisław Harasim and Teofila Cuper. It took many months to sift through all the documents, and I still haven’t done so satisfactorily.

I emailed a Ukrainian colleague in Brussels, Tatiana, and asked if she could help. She gave me a “readers digest” version of the wedding documents for the five, which was very helpful and much appreciated. Without her help, additional progress would have slowed appreciably.

Examination of all the documents revealed five brothers and sisters, and I shared this with Michael C. in Michigan. Puzzling to us was that Michael had met a family also in Michigan that had letters and photos linking their two families, but we found no records for this “sixth” family, headed by an Antoni Harasim. I had actually talked to a member of this family and sent them copies of old pictures asking if they recognized any of the people. One picture elicited the response: “Yes, that’s mom and dad; we’ve never seen that picture.”  Those people were pictured with my Grandmother and Great Aunt, so we knew they were family. Why else would these Arasim travel from Michigan to Missouri to visit our Arasim? We knew they were family, but we had no documents to show the connection. But that’s just the way it is doing the research: some successes, always more questions.

continued: please click here for Part 3

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written by John Johnson
January 2006
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Polish Roots by Rosemary A. Chorzempa (read Jaga's review)