On Saturday morning, August 29, we left Olesnica and started our journey towards Pysznica.
On our way we had scheduled a stop at the Open Air Museum in Tokarnia. (traditional, wooden architecture from the Kielce region.) It had buildings from various time periods, some made with wood, some with straw. It was setup similar to a small colony. It was quite a walk and we didn’t get the opportunity to see the whole thing.
Old Church at the Open Air Museum
Straw roof building at the Open Air Museum
After a short break for a beverage, we started out again towards Pysznica.
Streets of Pysznica
Growing up as a child, I didn’t really know much about my paternal ancestry. My paternal grandfather had passed away five years before I was born, and like most Polish families, not much information was passed down regarding my grandfather’s family. It wasn’t until 2012 with my genealogy work that I finally was able to learn something about my paternal ancestry. I’d been to Pysznica in 2013 on my trip and fell in love with my family from there. I couldn’t wait to go back and see them again!
I had done a little bit of genealogy research while I was in Pysznica last time. However, there were still some documents and information that I needed. This time I knew it would be different because not only could I do research, but I had Zbigniew with me.
The research time paid off thanks to Zbigniew, and I was able to finally trace my paternal grandfather’s, mother’s side quite extensively. At the end of the evening after finishing up our genealogy research and eating dinner, we had to bid farewell to Zbigniew.
Zbigniew, who was our tour guide and driver for the first 10 days of our trip, was absolutely phenomenal. We can’t give him high enough praise. The way he interacted with us, his personality and his demeanor fit us perfectly. His passion and knowledge of genealogical records in Poland amazed me. I had the opportunity numerous times to see him work, and Denise commented, “his eyes lit up when the books were opened.” When he is speaking with people, he has a gift to be able to get them to help with whatever we were inquiring about, and he is obviously explaining the situation so well that they are jumping to try to help. When we needed a translator, for our conversations between my Polish cousins that did not speak English, he was invaluable. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is considering taking a tour with PolishOrigins!
Prior to coming to Poland in 2015 I started a Mierzwa surname project. From DNA testing, I matched and was contacted repeatedly regarding the Mierzwa surname. Many of these people had families that were coming from north and south of Pysznica. While visiting, I was able to go to some of the graveyards and record archives to help determine our family connections.
Church from 1603 in Jezowe
We traveled to Jezowe to visit the parish archives. My paternal grandmother’s father was born in Jezowe. It was here that I experienced the opposite side of the genealogical coin.
There is a priest in Poland who has allowed me to come to his parish registry at any time and allowed me to view the archive books. He’s given me trust and allowed me to view the books unmonitored. I appreciate that trust and he has become a very good friend, one whom when I travel to Poland, I must go see.
Unfortunately, when I visited the parish of Jezowe, my experience was not a pleasant one. I clearly was wasting this priest’s time on what he thought was meaningless. While he did look to the books for me, he required that I sit in front of him at his desk and listen as he read off each birth listing for a three-year time span. If you’ve never had the opportunity to look to these books, that is a long time to sit. It was a frustrating and disappointing experience.
While walking around Jezowe, Gienek spoke to a few of the local residents and discovered that the parish that we had visited was not the original one.
The church had been destroyed during some of the wars, and was moved to its current location. He was given directions and we headed off to a small memorial to tour the actual ground original parish had once stood.
Memorial commemorating the first parish location in Jezowe.
Rudnik nad Sanem and Kopki
We took a day trip to visit the towns and villages of Rudnik nad Sanem, Kopki. Much of my research for the Mierzwa surname project showed that my DNA relatives had come from these locations. My cousin Gienek, Denise, and I, armed with cameras, walked the cemeteries at Kopki and Rudnik, taking photographs of the gravestones for my DNA relatives. Most of the time this would seem like a simple task, but combined with temperatures nearing 90, it was a little more difficult.
Cemetery in Kopki, Poland
On September 1, we took a day trip to Lublin, Poland with my cousin Gienek, who acted as are driver and tour guide. 🙂
We decided to take the tour of The Royal Castle of Lublin. This included a walk into the castle tower which at one time was used as a prison. It gives a stunning view of the city of Lublin below.
Lublin Castle Tower
View from Lublin Castle Tower
While I was in Lublin Poland in 2013, I discovered an artist’s shop near Lublin Square who’s surname is the same as my maternal grandfather’s name. I never had the opportunity to meet the artist since she was not in the shop at the time. Obviously this is a married in connection, but nonetheless, the same surname is my maternal grandfather’s. So I decided this time to see if the shop was open and unfortunately it was not. Maybe next time I’m in Poland I will finally get the opportunity to meet her and her husband. We are leaving it up to fate.
After a morning filled with travel, and sightseeing, we decided to stop at a Czech restaurant, Ceska Pivnica. It was my first experience of authentic Czechoslovakian food. Considering Denise is part Czechoslovakian, we wanted to experience what the food would be like. I had the opportunity here to try my first Czech beer, Opat. The food and the experience was absolutely amazing and I would go back to that restaurant without hesitation.
Up to this point, the entire time we were traveling in Poland the temperature was in the high 90s and extremely humid and muggy. This day in particular was much worse, nearing 98°. In midafternoon we decided to grab some cold drinks and ice cream at Atrium – Ristorante Pizzeria with my cousin Elizabeth, who had come to meet us.
After a few hour visit with my cousin, we bid her farewell and headed back towards Pysznica. On the way back, we decided to take another trip south of Pysznica to see Klyzow, Wólka Tanewska and Ulanow Poland. Here we took more time to see some of the old churches and photographed gravestones in some of the cemeteries for my DNA relatives.
If you’re visiting Poland, and know where your ancestors came from, I would highly suggest visiting those locations. I spent a considerable amount of time walking around Pysznica on foot, shopping in the local stores, talking with the staff and dining in local restaurants.
Small store I visited frequently in Pysznica.
Wherever I’m there, I try to visit the family farm that my ancestors have owned and lived on for the last 400 years. That itself is surreal, knowing that many generations of my paternal family walked that very ground.
Original family farm
Prior to leaving, it became somewhat of a joke between my cousin Gienek and I stating, “Don’t you know who we are? We’re Mierzwa’s, we ruled this town!” We were able joke and say that because at one point in time, our ancestors were actually mayors of the city.