Looking for Great-Grandpa Ludwik. Part 2. We return with mom to discover even more!

This is continuation of the first visit of Abraham in Poland in 2014. You can read it here: https://blog.polishorigins.com/looking-for-great-grandpa-ludwik/.

In 2015 Abraham returned and took his mother to show her newly-found family in Poland and to discover more family in Lithuania. Our team was again privileged to organize the tour.

The blog is adapted with permission from Abraham’s FB entries when he was relating ‘hot off the press’ the adventures they were experiencing :-).

Kamianka, Poland

Mom meets her family in Poland. Sharing family stories and laughs with some homemade cakes in the Polish countryside.

Back in Kamianka with Polish family, mom and Meghan.

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Cio cia Janina in front of her home in Kamianka.

Mom with her mother's first cousin Henryk, 88 years old.

Mom with her mother’s first cousin Henryk, 88 years old.

Mom visits her great grandparents Ana and Stanisław's grave to light a candle with cousin Urszula

Mom visits her great grandparents Ana and Stanisław’s grave to light a candle with cousin Urszula

Mom and I made it together to the Polish village my great grandfather Ludwik Jadczuk left 100 years ago to immigrate to America.

Mom and I made it together to the Polish village my great grandfather Ludwik Jadczuk left 100 years ago to immigrate to America.

 

Vilnius (Wilno), Lithuania

While our genealogist toiled away at the Lithuanian National Archives trying to gather details about the Jurkiewicz family at the time my great grandfather Michał Jurkiewicz lived here, Mom and I toured the city. We walked the streets he would have walked when he visited the city to trade. We visited the church he would have come to for Easter. And we had some modern, Lithuanian fun.

Mom and our English speaking tour guide at the merchant entrance to Vilnius (Wilno, to the Polish majority 100 years ago).

Mom and our English speaking tour guide at the merchant entrance to Vilnius (Wilno, to the Polish majority 100 years ago).

The modern city looks much as it did when my great grandfather lived in a nearby village. This is the city he identified as his origin on American documents.

Mom and I in front of the main, 15th century cathedral

Mom and I in front of the main, 15th century cathedral

The Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace

Kernave (Kiernów), Lithuania

Jurkiewicz Family legend has it that at the end of the 14th century, when Poland and Lithuania formed the most expansive kingdom in Europe, Prince Witold granted the Jurkiewicz family 20 hectares of land to resettle from southern Poland to Lithuania.

The family were peasant farmers but they prospered on the land for hundreds of years in Pakalniszki and other villages in Kiernów parish. By 1895, there were 43 Jurkiewicz family members in four of the seven houses that sat huddled together in a shady area by their farming field. My mother’s grandfather, Michał Jurkiewicz, helped his family farm in the area until he left for America at age 17. Two of his brothers also immigrated, and the remaining family of nine moved to another village, but his Jurkiewicz cousins remained in Pakalniszki, survived the war, avoided repatriation to Poland by the Soviets and became Lithuanian citizens. We know this because my mother and I met the Jurkiewicz family now living in Pakalniszki.

We breathed the fresh air some 30 km from Vilnius, looked out at the land of our ancestors as the sun set and enjoyed an afternoon talking about the family and hearing a 150-year-old dialect of Polish no longer spoken today.

The home of Henryk Jurkiewicz, the village elder at 88 years old, but with a mind so sharp he can recall the Jurkiewicz family tree from his great grandparents until today.

The home of Henryk Jurkiewicz, the village elder at 88 years old, but with a mind so sharp he can recall the Jurkiewicz family tree from his great grandparents until today.

Henryk Jurkiewicz tells us family stories as a neighbor who introduced us looks on.

Henryk Jurkiewicz tells us family stories as a neighbor who introduced us looks on.

Henryk takes us next door to the summer home of his son, Jonas, who proudly flies a Lithuanian flag. The family name, per Lithuanian law, is now spelled Jurkevičius.

Henryk, Jonas, and our genealogist Zbyszek study the Jurkiewicz branch of the family tree belonging to my great grandfather, Michał.

Henryk, Jonas, and our genealogist Zbyszek study the Jurkiewicz branch of the family tree belonging to my great grandfather, Michał.

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We hear stories about the family, learn where they now live and Jonas asks about the Jurkiewicz family in America, enthusiastically offering to host a Jurkiewicz family reunion.

Cuosins

Cuosins

Further online research by our diligent genealogist Zbyszek reveal that Jonas and my Mom are fourth cousins. Church records show our descendants were next door neighbors in Pakalniszki 166 years ago.

Jonas and Henryk took us to the nearby parish seat of Kernave where the new (1914) church stands.

Jonas and Henryk took us to the nearby parish seat of Kernave where the new (1914) church stands.

The new Kernave parish church that the Jurkiewicz family attends.

The new Kernave parish church that the Jurkiewicz family attends.

The outline of the church where Michaeł was baptized and his parents were married. His wooden church was disassembled and transferred to another parish 100km to the south, where it still stands today.

The outline of the church where Michaeł was baptized and his parents were married. His wooden church was disassembled and transferred to another parish 100km to the south, where it still stands today.

Kernave was Lithuania's first capital in the Middle Ages, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, all a stone's throw from our ancestral church.

Kernave was Lithuania’s first capital in the Middle Ages, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, all a stone’s throw from our ancestral church.

The Jurkiewicz family took us to the cemetery where there are literally dozens of Jurkiewicz gravestones.

The Jurkiewicz family took us to the cemetery where there are literally dozens of Jurkiewicz gravestones.

The last Jurkiewicz family still living year-round in Pakalniszki lives here.

The last Jurkiewicz family still living year-round in Pakalniszki lives here.

 

Abraham Mahshie

Abraham Mahshie is a Madrid-based writer. His work has appeared in The Miami Herald, Outside online, and Ozy.com. Abraham continues to explore his maternal family roots in Eastern Poland and Lithuania, the Kresy migration, and he is planning an exploratory trip to interview living World War II era migrants who lived in Poland’s former Eastern borderlands. Abraham can be reached at [email protected] .

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One Response to “Looking for Great-Grandpa Ludwik. Part 2. We return with mom to discover even more!”

  1. Joseph G. V. Maciora says:

    Dear Abraham,

    I have totally enjoyed your blog. My paternal ancestors are from Charubin and
    bandysie Lomza, Poland. My maternal ancestors from Wisniowa and Rozanka in southeastern Poland.
    I started my genealogy research in 1975. I have visited Poland in July, 1980, April early May, 1993 and October, 2006. many changes.
    In April, 1993 I went with a friend to Vinius, Lithuania as he had records there I saw the Cathedral tomb of st. Casimir, shrine of our lady of ostrabrama, gediminas tower, art gallery Russian orthdox church, university of Vilnius and St. John church, old town gorgeous st. Anna church that Napoleon loved. It is great to read your blog. Please continue your research endeavors and writing of your experiences there.

    Joseph

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