Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

Finding Szembruczek

I started researching family history more than twenty years ago. My father’s mother Marya Szczepańska had been born in Buffalo in 1887. Her parents, Martin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska, had immigrated to Buffalo in 1881 and the family grew. By 1997, I was able to identify over three hundred Descendants of Martin and Anna Szczepański, and self-published a book about them. However, I was not sure from where in Germany-Poland Martin and Anna had come.

From American records, we knew a bit about them. Martin and Anna lived in Buffalo until about 1900, when they bought land in Bennington, New York, and began dairy farming. Martin Szczepański was fluent in both German and Polish, and his 1931 obituary in the Attica News said he had come from Germany. It may be the obituary was a misspelling of his name as Martsin, the English phonetic spelling of the Polish name Marcin. Anna‘s obituary in the Attica News in 1938 said she had been born in Poland. Other records said that he was born in 1854 and she was born in 1858.

1938 Anna Szczepanski obit


We knew they were married in 1878, because they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1928, and the occasion was published in the Attica News on November 15, 1928.

1928 Bennington Szczepanski golden wedding

This picture must have been from about that time:

Martin and Anna_0001

Martin and Anna had six children. Five of them—Franciszek (1884), Marya (1887), Bernard (1892), Marta (1895), and Leon (1898)—were baptized at St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, New York. Their children’s baptism records listed the parents’ place of birth as Szombrug, Szömbrug, Szenbruk, Szenburg, Szönbruk, Szymbruczek or a variation.

Szczepanski parents StStan

Borussia is the Latin name for Prussia. Since umlauts are not used in Polish or Latin, it looked like these were versions of a German name, so in German it probably started with SCH and in Polish SZ. In 1997, I thought their place of birth was Schomberg, Prussia, which would have been something like Szomberg in Polish, but that was not correct. More recently, I suspected the German version of the names in Prussia would be Schomberg, Schömberg, or Schoenberg. There were many places with those names, and I wrote about them in a blog post called “Which Szomberg?

In 2017, after talking to some researchers at a conference of the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast in New Britain, Connecticut about patterns of Polish migration, I investigated places that had been in West Prussia, especially those that were Schönberg in German and Szymbark in Polish.

When I did not find their records there, I searched for variations of Szymbruczek and Szymbruk, the names from the children’s birth registers that seemed most Polish, and finally found Szembruczek and Szembruk, in what used to be West Prussia.

The village of Szembruczek is quite small. In German it was called Klein Schönbrück. The nearby larger village was called Groß Schönbrück. In German, Klein means little, and Groß, also written as Gross, means large. In Polish, Małe and Mały mean little. The Polish suffix -ek indicates a diminutive, something little or cute. Marya’s baptism entry actually listed what I now can see was Szembruk Mały, or Little Szembruk.

The database at the website has four entries for Szembruczek:

Kartenmeister Szembruczek

Wikipedia identified:Szembruczek

Szembruczek [ʂɛmˈbrut͡ʂɛk] (German: Klein Schönbrück) is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Rogóźno, within Grudziądz County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, in north-central Poland. It lies approximately 6 kilometres (4 mi) east of Rogóźno, 17 km (11 mi) north-east of Grudziądz, and 63 km (39 mi) north-east of Toruń. The village has a population of 230.

The Polish name Szembruk is an assimilation of the name Schönbrück , derived from the German words “schöne Brücke” (“beautiful bridge”). says Groß Schönbrück was also called Duzy Zembnik [1] and Wielkie Szembruck. Not surprisingly, Duży is the Polish word for big, and Wielkie means great.

Kartenmeister Szembruk

Most importantly, Groß Schönbrück/Szembruk has a Catholic church, Sw. Bartłomieja (St. Bartholomew). The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) filmed the early Parish registers of births, marriages, and deaths for “Groß Schönbruck (Kr. Graudenz), Westpreußen, Germany; now Szembruk (Grudziądz), Bydgoszcz, Poland. Text in Latin, Polish and German.” [2] No longer available on microfilm loan, the records have been digitized, and some are available at the Family Search website.

It had been a puzzle for more than twenty years, but in 2017, I found Martin Szczepański‘s baptism record online!

1854 Martin Szczepanski birth pg11854 Martin Szczepanski birth pg2

He was born 7 November, leg. (legitimate), in Kl. Schoenbruck, and baptized 12 November 1854. Because the records are German, his name is listed as Martin, and not the Polish Marcin.

The second page (here listed below the entry from the first page) shows Martin’s father’s name was Jan Szczepanski. His mother’s name was Franciszka Kaniecka. This information solved an ongoing mystery. In the 1990s, I had asked my father’s older sisters Cele and Imelda, who was called Emily, about their grandparents. Emily thought her grandmother’s maiden name had been Kaniecki, because when Martin and Anna moved to their farm in Bennington, their daughter Marya stayed behind in Buffalo with the Kaniecki family. Emily told me that her mother said that Jan Kaniecki was her only uncle from that side of the family. Cele knew that her grandmother’s maiden name had been Kalinowski, because it rhymed with her married name, Malinowski. But she did not know how the Kaniecki and Szczepański families were related. I wrote about the Kaniecki family in Buffalo on pages 156-157 of the Szczepański book.

1858 Szembruk birth records1858 Anna Kalinowska birth cropped

Anna Kalinowska was born 27 März, and baptized 5 April 1858. Unfortunately, the ink is somewhat faded and her parents’ names are indistinct, but her father’s name is Johannes (German for Jan) Kalynowski and her mother’s name is Marianna Nowakowska. (Marianna’s family name is clearer with her other children.)

1878 Szembrek marriage records1878 Szczepanski-Kalinowska marriage pg1

Martin Szczepanski and Anna Kalynowska were married 12 November 1878. I think he is identified as Jüngling (young unmarried man) 24 years old, and she is Mädfrau, young unmarried woman, of 21. The second page of the record ends with the dates that banns were announced and that the ceremony was performed in Gr. Schoenbruck.


[1] Zębnik is the Polish word for pinion, a round gear.

[2] When the church records were filmed in 1954, Szembruk (Grudziądz) was in the Bydgoszcz province of Poland. During the German Occupation of the 19th century, it was Provinz Westpreußen (West Prussia), or Prusy Zachodnie in Polish. After Poland was reunited in 1920, it was in the Pomeranian Province, and between 1975 and 1998, it was in the Toruń Province. Currently, Szembruk is in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, or in Polish, województwo kujawsko-pomorskie.


  1. Martsin Szczepanski, Attica News, Attica, New York, 29 October 1931.
  2. Mrs. Martin Szczepanski, Attica News, Attica, New York, 13 September 1938.
  4. GOLDEN WEDDING, Attica News, Attica, New York, 15 November 1928.
  5. St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr RC Church (Buffalo, New York), Baptism Register, FHL microfilm . Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  8. Szembruczek. (2017, March 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 3, 2017, from
  9. Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja Szembruk (Grudziądz) (Main Author), Księgi metrykalne, 1795-1917, Manuscript/Manuscript on Film, Salt Lake City, Utah : Mikrofilmowało The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954, 1988.

Comments on: "Finding Szembruczek" (19)

  1. […] Update: I researched the church registers, but was not successful in finding their records in these registers. I was eventually successful, see Finding Szembruczek. […]


  2. […] had been married in Szembruk, West Prussia, in November 1878, and they had immigrated to Buffalo, New York, in 1881. Their oldest son, […]


  3. […] and Weronika Lewandowska were married in 1869, is fewer than thirty miles from Toruń. Szembruczek, the village of Marcin Szczepanski and Anna Kalinowska, is about twenty miles from […]


  4. […] a puzzle when I learned that my great-grandfather Marcin Szczepanski‘s mother was born to the Kaniecki family, I subsequently learned that Jan Kaniecki‘s mother had been born Kalinowska, and he was […]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Schönbrück (in Polish Szembruczek) was in Graudenz Landkreis in the Marienwerder Regierungsbezirk, as is illustrated in this graphic […]


  6. […] West Prussia, now Kujawsko-Pomorskie in north-central Poland, where my father’s grandparents and father were born, […]


  7. […] finding my great grandparents’ ancestral village of Szembruczek, and confused by variations of Szombrug, Szömbrug, Szenbruk, Szenburg, Szönbruk, Szymbruczek, […]


  8. […] and Anna Szczepański had come from Szembruczek, Grudziądz in 1881. In German, it was Klein Schönbruck (Kr. Graudenz), Westpreußen. Now, Szembruczek is in […]


  9. […] villages of Kościelna Jania and Leśna Jania are about 20 miles away from the village of Szembruczek, where Martin and Anna Szczepański had lived in West Prussia before coming to the United States. […]


  10. […] through the siblings Katarzyna and Jan Kalinowski, whose children Franciszek Klugiewicz and Anna Kalinowska Szczepańska immigrated to America in the […]


  11. […] Two of our four shared matches had Kalinowska ancestors going back to Szembruk, West Prussia. Anna‘s birth name was Kalinowska and she and Marcin Szczepański also came from Szembruk, West […]


  12. […] was was a village in Graudenz, Marienwerder, Westpreußen, Preußen, 5 kilometers (3.2 miles) from Klein Schönbrück/Szembruczek, the village where Martin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska […]


  13. […] with her husband Marcin Szczepański in 1881. I wrote about finding the place of their birth in Finding Szembruczek. But we do not yet know how Anna‘s father Jan Kalinowski may have been related to Marianna […]


  14. […] great-grandmother Anna Kalinowska Szczepańska was born 27 Mar 1858 in West Prussia. With her husband Marcin Szczepański, she immigrated to Buffalo, New York in […]


  15. […] Prussia in 1881, and settled in western New York. I wrote about their place of origin in “Finding Szembruczek,” and of their many descendants. I did not see how we were related from our trees, so I sent […]


  16. […] The small segment of the X chromosome RD and I share came from my maternal grandparents, probably from my grandmother Agnieszka Kapuścińska who was born in Gnieszowice near Koprzywnica. My father also passed on an X chromosome to me, but his mother’s family came from Szembruczek in north central Poland. […]


  17. […] recognized the names Franciszek Szczepański and Justyna Kaniecka from my research of my great-grandparents Marcin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska. They were baptized and married in the Roman Catholic church, Kościół św. Bartłomieja (St. […]


  18. […] great-grandparents Marcin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska came from Szembruczek, West Prussia, and their family’s baptisms, marriages, and deaths were recorded in the Roman Catholic church […]


  19. […] This Heinrichsfelde was near Groß Schönwalde, and was not far from Groß Schönbrück, where my paternal great-grandparents, Marcin Szczepański and Anna Kalinowska, were married in 1878. […]


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