Posts Tagged ‘Mazowieckie Province’

A Poland Family Adventure. Day 3. Museum of the Polish Devil.

Thursday, November 26th, 2015


After breakfast  this day, Slav took us for a nearby walk to the tomb of the unknown soldier. It is guarded around the clock each day of the year, with a scheduled change of the guard. The tomb sits under a stone  arcade, the only remaining part of a palace that once existed on the site that is now an open square. Behind the tomb is a massive decorative fountain and a landscaped park that was once part of the palace gardens. Old Town Warsaw is like the Phoenix…risen from the ashes of its former destruction.

I planned an unusual itinerary for our stay in Warsaw and Slav helped us schedule a special stop. One of our requests was to see the Museum of the Polish Devil. In Poland the devil is known as Boruta. He shows up in many disguises, sometimes as a nobleman, a farmer, a friend, a soldier, etc. Sometimes he is even a patriot. But you can recognize him by horns and a tail. The museum is private, kept by an elderly man in his own home, who has been collecting folk art depictions of Boruta for 40 years. After his death, the collection (already owned by the government) will be housed in a public museum.


A Poland Family Adventure. Day 2. Discovering Warsaw.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015


Slav met us bright and early the next day and after breakfast we hit the street wearing our walking shoes.  It was cool and crisp outside but the sun warmed us as the day progressed. Across from the hotel stood buildings that were once part of a palace compound. Now a huge iron gate topped with a family crest closed off the few of the remaining buildings.

Old Town Warsaw buildings are new since the 1950s. Slav explained that Hitler ordered the city be destroyed near the end of World War II, even as the Nazis were losing the war. Poles who fought in the underground resistance movement had dared to stand up to the Nazi invaders with street fighting and sabotage and Hitler retaliated by destroying their city. Centuries old buildings and palaces were turned to rubble. The inhabitants were given a week’s  notice to evacuate before the bombings took place. The medieval looking Old Town buildings we see today were re-constructed after World War II.

Zdjęcie 4



A Poland Family Adventure. Day 1. Arrival in Warsaw and exploring the city.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015


My husband, Conrad and I left Michigan on a Monday night, flying to Frankfurt, Germany on Lufthansa airlines. That meant a short layover in Frankfurt, the next morning, where there was time to explore the airport and sample the large pretzels for sale from kiosks. We re-boarded and arrived in Warsaw before noon on Tuesday. Arif met us at the airport with a hotel driver. It was misty and cool but the driver said that with luck we would soon see a “golden Polish autumn”. We were to experience many golden memories as well.

Slav met us at the hotel within a few hours and we shared a light lunch and made updated plans for the next two days in Warsaw. He had arranged for reservation and delivery of concert tickets for a performance held that evening. Slav delivered us by cab to the venue where Brit Floyd (a Pink Floyd tribute band) played. We felt perfectly comfortable being on our own once we arrived at the right location. Waiting for the concert to begin, we took advantage of the coffee and Red Bull concession stands.  Those drinks helped offset the jet lag we began to experience.

When we left the arena, the weather had changed. A heavy downpour caused the rainout of an international football/soccer match that was held  nearby that evening. The roof of the stadium could not be closed and the field was underwater. Most cabs were directed to the stadium area to pick up the hundreds of fans who were in town from England. While it drizzled, we searched for a cab. That was our first adventure… but we did it with humor and managed to get back to the Old Town area, only a bit damp.

Zdjęcie 2



A Poland Family Adventure. Travel arrangements.

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

My family’s first immigrant ancestors arrived in America in the mid-1860s from a village in the northwest part of Poland in the Tuchola Forest.  Another branch arrived in 1881 from the Poznan district.  Finally  in 1906-1907 my husband’s ancestors left from villages in Galicia and in the Kujawy area of north central Poland. Oral family history told that any relatives that remained in Poland relocated after World War II.

Our son-in-law suggested that my husband and I make this trip in 2012.  He was to attend a business conference in Warsaw for a few days  in October and  invited us to join him there.  He dedicated vacation time to stay longer and explore family villages together on a drive tour.  It would be a whirlwind trip with overnight stays in different cities each night over eleven days.  After day nine, our daughter and grandchildren would interrupt school schedules and meet us in Krakow.  We would drive one day through part of northern Slovakia to see even more ancestral villages; then return to southern  Galicia the same night.  Finally, we would enjoy one more visit to Krakow before leaving Poland.

Zdjęcie 1

Here Conrad and Denise pose with son-in-law, Arif in Warsaw


Tracing the Obiala and Samelko families. Day 7. Samelko Family in Romany.

Monday, November 16th, 2015

We returned to Romany and met with the priest.  The priest opened the church for us to go inside and take pictures.

Zdjęcie 34 Samełko



Tracing the Obiala and Samelko families. Day 6. Heading to Romany to research the Samełko side

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Checking out of the hotel, we bid goodbye to the Obiala side of the family and headed to the Romany area to start a new chapter and research the Samelko’s.  It was about a five hour drive thru the Polish countryside, including the outskirts of Warsaw.  Upon arriving in the small town of Romany, the birthplace of our grandfather, Jan, and Theodore’s father, we went to the church.  Zenon met with the priest and set up an appointment for the next day. He then proceeded to ask around and located a family whose parents cared for Balbina (a sister to Jan) in her later years when she was ill.  They could not answer as how they were related, but felt they were in some way because you do not care for someone that is ill unless they are family.

After some discussion with Zenon and using our family tree, they were able to give us more leads as well as additional names of family members.

Note: This part of Poland is home to storks.  Their nests are everywhere, on roof top chimneys and on utility poles.  They spend the summer and around the middle of August migrate back to Africa.

Zdjęcie 35 Samełko



Tracing the Obiala and Samelko families. Day 4. Zaduszniki. The birthplace of our grandmother.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

As usual we started the day with a hearty breakfast. Afterwards we met with Pawel who was going to assist Zenon with directions and take us to places of interest of the Obiala family.  The first stop was at the cemetery where Wladyslawa and Zofia, sisters of our grandmother, are interred with their husbands.  It was a very moving experience as Jim and I placed lit candles at the graves of the deceased.  We purchased them as we entered the cemetery for the streets are lined with vendors selling items to show respect when you visit a relative’s grave.  Also, all the gravesites were very elaborate as to monuments with the flowers and such.

From there we drove to Zaduszniki, the birthplace of our grandmother, and Theodore’s mother, Helena, as well as her brothers and sisters.  We visited the church where the children were baptized and the family attended services.  Unfortunately, the Priest was not available and we could not get inside.

Zdjęcie 14 Samełko



Tracing the Obiala and Samelko families. First Days – Arrival in Warsaw and visit in Płock.

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Arrived safely in Warsaw and preceded to the Residence at St. Andrews for the remainder of the day and evening.  Accommodations were outstanding and exceeded our expectations. It was an apartment that easily accommodated the three of us.  We received a call from Zenon to assure our arrival and set a time to start our journey.  After a brief rest, we roamed the streets around the hotel, Warsaw Old Town, which were filled with shops and restaurants.  We enjoyed our first meal in Poland which consisted of pierogis, pork and duck.  It was an enjoyable evening.

Zdjęcie 1 Samelko



Looking for Great-Grandpa Ludwik

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

This is a fragment of a story published by Abraham Mahshie who we had the privilege to assist on his Genealogy Tour last year. This year, Abraham returns to Poland and Lithuania with his Polish-American mother to introduce her to the family he rediscovered after 67 years.

Ojcze Nasz. Our Father prayer with newly-found cousin.

Ojcze Nasz. The “Our Father prayer” with newly-found cousin by our common great great grandparents’ grave. Click on the picture to listen to the prayer.

The village was so small; I could almost count the wooden houses on one hand. An old man with bushy grey eyebrows stepped out of one of them and greeted us: ‘Yes,’ he said, in Polish, ‘ I remember a man named Boleslaw Jadczuk.’ The old man walked barefooted into the quiet road and pointed us toward another house. In front of it was a small vegetable garden with a single sunflower. Zenon turned to me, ‘It is never this easy.’

We knocked and an old woman answered the door. ‘Is this where Boleslaw Jadczuk lived’ Zenon asked.

‘Yes,’ answered the woman.

Did he have a brother named Ludwik who immigrated to America?


On a Sunday in August I drove to a farming village in Eastern Poland where I believed my ancestors lived more than 100 years ago. I was led there by the elegantly inked words in a 67-year-old Polish letter that belonged to my great-grandfather, Ludwik Jadczuk, who had immigrated to America in 1913.

The only clues to my family’s whereabouts were in the letter written by Ludwik’s brother. It began, Village of Kamianka, 3 August 1947.

(…)My Polish-American mother was perhaps the happiest of all. She called her cousins in Syracuse, New York, where Ludwik had first settled and where she had grown up, to relay the joy. This summer, I will take my Mom to Poland to meet the family. We’re both taking Rosetta Stone Polish classes to prepare. And Mom did something else to bridge the gap: She rallied a representative from each family to send a box to Poland with photos and mementos from America ? five in all ? to replace the parcels lost three generations ago.”

Read the rest of the story by Abraham published on .

Bonus (not available with the original article). Listen to the audio recordings made by Abraham of some of the conversations we had and stories told by his newly found family!

01 Village was life

02 Bravery

03 Starvation

04 No stories

05 Letters

06 He was excited

07 Please come in

08 He is family

09 This is my mother

10 We have family in the US

11 We can’t communicate

12 Battle waged in village

13 Escape from Soviets

14 Prayer



Abraham Mahshie


Update: In 2015 Abraham returns to Poland and Lithuania with his mom and they together discover even more family! You can read about it and watch many pictures here:

PolishOrigins Adventure. Part 8: It is hard to say goodbye.

Friday, December 5th, 2014

In Płock we visited the Church diocese archives.