Pysznica, Kopki, Rudnik & Lublin Poland

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

Old Church at the Open Air Museum

Straw roof building 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

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

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 and celebrating the first parish location in Jezowe.

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

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. 🙂

Lublin Castle

Lublin Castle

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

Lublin Castle Tower

View from 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.

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

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.

2015 Poland Trip

In August 2015, my wife Denise and I took a trip to Poland. Read about our custom guided genealogy tour with

Welcome PolishOrigins Newsletter Viewers!
Thank you for your interest in my trip. If you need genealogy assistance in the United States or are considering a trip to Poland and need some advice, please contact me. I would be happy to assist you!
For first time travelers, view my page titled “Traveling to Poland”. This was created based on my own travel experiences. It gives you an idea of what to expect and bring for a better overall experience.


The streets of Tarnow, Poland.

The streets of Tarnow, Poland.

Poland Trip 2015 – the countdown begins.

cześć , that’s hello in Polish!

As of late my main focus has been getting ready for our trip to Poland. It seems surreal that I’m going back again. Much has changed since my last visit in 2013, when I was single. This time, I won’t be traveling alone as my wife will be traveling with me. She will get to witness firsthand the beauty of the land and people I love dearly.

You can only understand that saying if you have stepped upon the motherland yourself. While there in 2013, I felt like I had been transported back in time, to when I was a child. Customs long forgotten here are still alive in present day Poland. While being there itself is surreal and walking on the very ground my forefathers walked upon can be moving, it’s the people, my family and friends that make the trip so amazing. I can’t wait to see as many of them as I can again. To dine on amazing Polish food, drink vodka, “mineral water” and simply enjoy their company. Nazhtrovia!

Initially things were going well with our trip, we had an itinerary and hired a guiding service called PolishOrigins.  I’d done business with them in the past and they have amazing reviews. From having worked with them and knowing how professional they were, I didn’t hesitate when we started our planning months ago to contact them. 

Then three days ago we discovered an error with our airline tickets that pushed us into panic mode. The mistake itself would cause us to stay a “little longer” than what we had initially planned. Altering our tickets would cost a small fortune and canceling was not an option. That’s caused me a few sleepless nights (including tonight) while I became an “expert” on where to go and what to do with our “extra” time. The guiding service has been great in trying to help accommodate us with alterations to our itinerary. That speaks volumes to me. And then out of the blue, my family in Pysznica came to our rescue! Thank you, you are truly wonderful! I should have expected it, knowing how people in Poland are. While you’re there, you are treated like they have known you your whole life. They make you feel so welcome and at home, you really don’t want to leave.


We both believe this all happened for a reason, one we don’t fully understand yet. We adjusted our schedules, recreated our itinerary with the help of my cousin Gienek, and the team from PolishOrigins, and plan to enjoy it to the fullest! Take a negative and turn it into a positive!   

Right out of the gate, I will be off to Torun to embrace its beauty and history from the 13th with the Teutonic Knights and Torun castle. Its also the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus and home to Pierogi Stary Torun a restaurant I dined in during last trip. I also look forward to seeing some of my cousins and dining with them.

The next portion of the trip will focus on trying to locate records on my maternal grandmother’s family in Skulsk. This also includes hopefully meeting some living relatives. Recently a genealogist/friend in Poland traveled to my maternal grandmother’s village and found a great detail of information on my grandmothers sisters who stayed there. This helped heighten my chances of finding living relatives. While I don’t have a vast amount of time in each location we visit, fate has stepped in once again.

I feel truly blessed as our guide who has been assigned to us for first leg of this amazing journey is also a professional genealogist. That in itself will be great as I can talk shop with someone who knows Polish history, genealogy and culture way better than I ever will. A true learning experience that I totally look forward to! Oh it gets better, he has done genealogy research work for the tv show, Finding Your Roots and’s contest winners. What are the chances of that? What luck to be paired with Zbigniew Stettner of! I know my chances of finding my family are the best they ever will be.

The second part of our trip we’ll be traveling to the European fairy-tale capital of Pacanow, Poland. A short drive north and I will be visiting Olesnica, Poland once again! Both of these locations are where my maternal grandfather’s family lived since the early 1800s. My grandfather had two brothers and one sister who remained behind in Poland when he left in 1913. Most of them died in the 1980s, but had extensive families. My last trip to Olesnica wasn’t a positive one. I left there very sad that we couldn’t get anyone to help us locate our living relatives. I refuse to let that happen this time around. I recently made contact on facebook with one member of the family over there and hope to finally get to meet him, shake his hand and explain how we are related. Hopefully when he views the photos I have of his late grandfather it will all make sense.  

The third part of our trip takes me back to my paternal family hometown of Pysznica, Poland. My own genealogical research done over the last five years has my paternal family traced back to my fourth great grandfather, Sebastian Mierzwa born about 1740.

I cant say enough good things about my family from Pysznica. They have come to our rescue in regards to our flight problem and ill be spending a “few” extra days with them. I’m so looking forward to spending time with them and visiting cousins I’d met last time I was there.

I also plan to so some genealogy work while im there. Recently I made contact with a large number of DNA matches that have Mierzwa ancestors that came from south of my paternal hometown of Pysznica. I hope to visit these towns and villages and see if I can find living relatives for them. Remember, you get back what you give out. And I thoroughly enjoy helping people connect with their past!

The fourth and last part of our tour will take us deep into the southern part of Poland, visiting a few cities before spending a well-deserved “break” in Krakow. I fell in love Krakow in 2013 and plan to see everything there is this time around. I won’t go into detail as you’ll have to watch my daily posts from Poland as we travel and post pictures.

Finally, before leaving Poland I’ll be spending a few days in Warsaw, touring the city and hopefully meeting up with friends and family that reside there before coming back home.

This is going to be a trip of a lifetime and I’m excited to share it with all of you. 

Z poważaniem,


Mierzwa Surname Project – Ancestral Lines

  1. Mierzwa Family 001
    About: Ancestral line of Wojciech Mierzwa & Aneila Makowska. Family line has been traced back to 4th great grandfather, Sebastian Mierzwa (1750) and Marianna Blazejowicz.
    Origins: Pysznica, Poland
    Settled in: Villenova, New York
    Contact: Mike Mierzwa
  2. Mierzwa Family 002
    About: Researched back to Michael Mierzwa (1840) & Marianna Blazejowicz. The Ziarnowski family is a direct tie to this family.
    Origins: Pysznica
    Settled in: n/a
    Contact: Mike Mierzwa
  3. Mierzwa Family 003
    About: Traced back to Andrzej Mierzwa (1871) and Marianna Chuchra. They were married in Domostawa. Possibly immigrated to United States in 1913.
    Origins: Domostawa  & Pysznica, Poland.
    Settled in: unknown.
    Contact: Mike Mierzwa
  4. Mierzwa Family 004
    About: Traced back to Andrzej Mierzwa (1871) and Marianna Kutyla. The surnames of Mol, Dziuba & Jochium would be family line connections. Totally separate line from family 003.
    Origins: Domostawa & Jastkowice
    Settled in: n/a
    Contact: Mike Mierzwa
  5. Mierzwa Family 005
    About: Traced back to Viktor Mierzwa (abt 1840) and Petonela Latawiec. This line is a direct tie to the Sudol family surname. Both sons of Victor married sisters who’s surname was Sudol.
    Origins: Pysznica, Poland
    Settled in: n/a
    Contact: Mike Mierzwa
  6. Mierzwa Family 006
    About: Traced to Anrzej Mierzwa & Maria Marciol. They had 4 sons: Sigmund, Andrew, Chester, Matthew and a daughter, Celia. Chester died in WW 2
    Settled in: Utica, New York
    Contact: Kathy Mierzwa Carlozzi
  7. Mierzwa Family 007
    About: Traced back to Karol Mierzwa and Agnieszka Mierzwa. This is a direct bloodline tie to family 001. DNA testing predicts 3-5 cousins. Shared cenitMorgans & longest block suggest, 4th great-5th great grandfather connection to line 001.
    Origins: Kopki, Poland
    Settled in: Canada
    Contact: Mary Strejch
  8. Mierzwa Family 008 
    About: Ancestral line of Tomasz Mierzwa (later changed to Munza) comes from Zaczernie, Rzeszow Poland.
    Origins:Zaczernie, Rzeszow Poland.
    Settled in:West Virginia
  9. Mierzwa Family 009
    About:Wojciech Mierzwa & Franciscz Uleo
    Settled in: Buffalo
    Notes:  I believe this line could be possibly tied to Mierzwa Family 8, based on exchanges of information.
  1. Mierzwa family 010
    About: Ancestral line of Frank Drelich & Mary Mierzwa
    Origins: Kopki, Poland
    Settled in: New York City
    Contact: Don Maleto.
    Notes: DNA testing predicts connection to line 001 as fifth cousin.
  2. Mierzwa family 011 –
    About: Line of Wojciech Mierzwa and Katarzyna Mierzwa (maiden name Dziki)
    Origins: Rudnik nad Sanem
    Settled in:
    Contact: Katreena Passarello



Naturalization records, 1837-1972 – Families from Pysznica, Jastkowice, Klyzow, Kata and more.

Over the last six months, I’ve been ordering and viewing the “Microfilm of original records in the Chautauqua County Courthouse, Mayville, New York, Naturalization records, 1837-1972.”
I’ve been searching for surnames I recognize and people who hailed from Pysznica, Poland and the surrounding areas that I’ve become so familiar with. If I locate a record, I snapshop it for future reference.

Recently I’ve had numerous DNA matches contact me, usually with an email of, “Hello: I see were related, etc, etc, ”  I fully enjoy making DNA connections, and what better way to help extended family than to be prepared!

I decided to make a list of names of the people I have and where they are from. If you see a surname  and you believe the listed person may be related to you, please contact me.

Most immigrants listed Poland or Austria for their home country (in this case anyways). This is because prior to World War I, Pysznica, Jastkowice, Klyzow & Kata were under Austrian ruler-ship.

First Name Last Name Born in 
Philip Bajdo Jastkowice
Jacob Bak Nisko
Mikolaj Bak Pysznica
Jacob Bak (Bock) Nisko
Wicenty Blazejowicz Pysznica
Paul Blazeowicz Pysznica
Frank Bolembach Pysznica
Peter Butryn Pysznica
Nicolaus Byk Jastkowice
Mikolaj Byk Jastkowice
Kojetan Dybka Klyzow
Ludwik Dzioba Jastkowice
Walentyn Kania Katy
Mike Kapuscienski Pysznica
Kazimierz Kata Katy
Martin Koczwara Jastkowice
Loroncz Koziora Jastkowice
Lucas Kuziora Jastkowice
Stanislaw Kuznicki Jastkowice
Mikolaj Kuznicki Jastkowice
Dominic Kuznicki Jastkowice
Vincent Kuznicki Jastkowice
Casimir Lebroda Pysznica
Thomas Lipka Pysznica
martin Lipka Pysznica
John Lopaciuch Pysznica
George Madurski Studzieniec
Grzegor Madurski Studzieniec
Frank Maslach Pysznica
Karol Maslask Klyzow
Louis Palen Jastkowice
George Peliz Pysznica
Frank Phelka Klyzow
Thomas Phelka Nisko
Joseph Pienta Jastkowice
Martin Pilk Pysznica
John Pokoj Jarocin
John Polko Klyzow
Phillip Sek Pysznica
Andrew Siembieda Jastkowice
Jacob Siembieda Jastkowice
Tomasz Sikora Pysznica
John Skrzypek Jastkowice
Thomas Skrzypek Nisko
Tomasz Skrzypek Nisko
Thomas Skrzypek Jastkowice
John Sobilo Nisko
Michael Sobilo Nisko
Paul Stelmach Jastkowice
Albert Stelmach Jastkowice
Stanley Stryczek Jastkowice
Frank Stupcy Jastkowice
Peter Sudol Pysznica
Thomas Swieca Pysznica
Martin Syp Jastkowice
Ludwig Sysol Jastkowice
Frank Sysol Jastkowice
Sebastian Szot Klyzow
John Szwedo Jastkowice
Stanislaw Tofil Klyzow
Louis Wasog Pysznica
Frank Wenglinski Katy
John Wojak Wulka Tanewska
Wojciech Woloszyn Ulanow
Jacob Worosz Rzeszaw
Frank Zwolak Ulanow


Mierzwa Wedding, 1916

This photo is in very rough shape. I didn’t dare take it out of its “protective” wrap.
It is from my paternal grandparents marriage in Feb 1916 in Wheeling West Virginia. Currently we are only able to identify three people in this photo.
If you recognize anyone as part of your family, please contact me.

Row 1: Unknown, Wojciech Mierzwa , Aneila Makowska, Unknown, Unknown
Row 2: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Piotr Gesla, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

mierzwa wedding, 1916


The genealogy bug bit early!

Michael started recording his family history at an early age (10) in honor and memory of his maternal grandmother who started his passion and obsession for genealogy.

He traced his family on and off till 2000, at which time a change in jobs and other issues caused him to stop researching. After a ten year hiatus, fate intervened.

In late 2010, his mother and her sister were having a conversation and made mention of a one-hundred year old story involving his maternal great-grandfather falling to his death some seven stories from a church steeple while his grandfather was present.

This re-sparked the genealogy bug, by March 2012, Michael realized after hiring a very expensive genealogy company, that returned very little results that the only way to do this was by himself. So the adventure began!

In August 2012, after extensive research in the Swiętokrzyskie Voivodeship of Poland, Michael made contact with a relative, a third cousin of his maternal grandfathers family. The last known contact between these families had been back in 1961 before the death of his maternal grandfather. Forty-eight years had passed since the families had spoken.

Wanting to make sure he was following genealogical standards and always wanting to better himself, Michael enrolled in the Boston University Genealogical Research Program. He graduated on 13 April 2013, with a certificate in Genealogical Studies. He is now currently enrolled in the National Institute of Genealogical Studies, working towards a certificate in American Records.

Michael then started researching his paternal family and traced it back to his fourth great grandfather, Sebastian Mierzwa, born in 1740. In March 2013 Michael found and made contact with relatives of his paternal family in Pysznica, Subcarpathian Voivodeship of Poland.

After months of planning, Michael made a trip to Poland in September 2013 to meet the relatives he’d found during his research. He was the first family member from all four sides of his family to travel back to Poland since his grandparents had arrived in America.

Michael continues to trace his family as well as anyone else s family who requests it, and has turned a lifelong obsession into a career.