Our latest Branch Out winner, Cheryle Warnberg, already had a fantastic online family tree, but she wanted our team at ProGenealogists to find out more about the Kloskowski and Czayka families, including exactly where in Eastern Europe they originated.
Start With What You Know
Cheryle knew the names of her maternal grandparents, even though both of them had passed away before she was born. Her grandfather, Frank Paul Kloskowski (born 1884), was a native of Germany or Poland, and Cheryle knew that his parents were John Kloskowski and Veronica Czayka.
In order to access most records in Europe, one must already know the name of the town where the ancestor was born, or last resided, before immigrating. Cheryle had located the ship passenger list for when John Koslowski and his family arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1887. Unfortunately, their last place of residence was simply given as “Germany.” Along with Joh[ann], Veronica, and their son, Franz (Cheryle’s grandfather, age 3), three other young sons sailed with the family: Johann (age 4), Josef (age 2), and Anton (age 6 months).
The 1900 U.S. Federal Census entry for the family of “John Kloskowsky” showed that he, his wife, and their four oldest sons had been born in “Poland Ger[many].” It was evident from this that the family had come from that area of the old German Empire that later became the modern country of Poland. When Frank Kloskowski was born, much of the German Empire was composed of the Kingdom of Prussia, which extended from western and northern Germany, through northern Poland, and even to northwestern Russia. Prussia, in turn, was made up of fourteen provinces. Not even knowing which of the Prussian provinces the family came from, meant that research needed to continue in U.S. sources.
The Direct Line is Not Always the “Direct Route”
None of the records Cheryle had already found on her direct line had indicated from where in Germany (or Poland) they had originated. She made the effort to “branch out” in her research efforts, however, not only to learn about her direct ancestors, but also their immediate families. She found records for the siblings of her grandfather, Frank, including the World War I draft registrations for John, Joseph and Anthony, Frank’s other brothers, who also had been born overseas.
Men who registered for the draft during World War I filled out one of several forms, depending on the date they registered. Three of the Kloskowski boys filled out a form that only asked if the man was native born, or a naturalized U.S. citizen. It did not require entering an exact place of birth. When Anthony registered in June 1917, however, his World War I draft registration card asked that he list his place of birth. Anthony said that he was born in Lalkau, Germany.
Find the Record Collection
There is a village called Lalkau in what used to be the Prussian Province of Westpreussen (or West Prussia in English). Lalkau is now known as Lalkowy, Poland. We soon ascertained that Lalkau had its own Roman Catholic Church, and that the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, had microfilmed records for that parish beginning in 1762. They were searched for the Kloskowski family, and it turned out that they had indeed come from a village in this parish called Fronza (or Frąca in Polish). Johann Kloskowski and his wife, Veronica Czajka (the correct Polish spelling of the name) had married here, and all four of their sons were baptized in this church.
It was Cheryle’s attention to detail that allowed for this discovery to be made. In fact, Anthony’s draft registration may be one of the few places in which the family’s place of origin may be recorded. It is so important to “branch out” in your research when the desired information is not found in your direct line. It can mean the difference between failure and success.
About Paul Schmidt
Paul A. Schmidt, BA (History) has been hooked on family history for the last 40 years. His research specialties include Germany, France, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Denmark, and other areas where German was historically spoken. He was the lead researcher for another Ancestry.com contest winner Ed Kolenda, whose project culminated in Ed finding long lost relatives in Poland. Read more at https://www.progenealogists.com/pschmidt.htm