Our great-grandparents Jan and Weronika Lewandowska Maciejewski came to America in December 1883 with their baby Antoni. American records said Antoni was born in Germany-Poland, or Prussia.
Using the record of Jan’s death in 1896 and the baptism records of Antoni’s siblings at St. Stanislaus RC Church in Buffalo, New York, I was able to find Jan and Weronika’s 1869 marriage record in the parish registers of Kościół św. Jana Chrzciciela (Church of St. John the Baptist) in Niezywienc, Strasburg, Westpreußen, Preußen, which is now Nieżywięć, Bobrowo, Brodnica County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. However, Antoni‘s birth in 1883 was not listed in the Nieżywięć church records!
After more research, I finally found Antoni Maciejewski‘s birth record in the Toruń archives. He was born 17 Feb 1883 in the little village of Zgniłobłoty (Zgnilloblott, Zgniłebłoto, Faulenbruch, Königsmoor) near Wądzyn, in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. His birth name was listed as Anton Marzejewski in the German record. His birthdate, his parents’ names, and the general area match what we know about him.
Once I found Antoni’s birth in the Toruń Archives, I went to Kartenmeister.com to learn more about Wonsin and Zgnilloblott.
Both entries identify the Catholic Parish as Bobrau. A search at the LDS Church Family History Center for Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Bobrau – Church records lists Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja Bobrowo (Brodnica) and more research identified the church as Kościół pw. św. Jakuba, Parish Church of Saint James the Apostle.
As expected, the column headings are Latin. Antoni’s father’s and grandfather’s names are Maciejewski, but the middle letters “ci” look something like”rz” so it looks a bit like Marzejewski. The baptism record says he was born on February 15th and baptized on February 18th, but Antoni consistently claimed the birthdate of 17 February 1883 in American records. Antoni‘s father Jan Maciejewski was born in Tillitz, and his father was Tomasz, so Antoni’s godfather may have been his grandfather, his uncle, or one of their cousins.
In 2010, the Bobrowo Parish celebrated its 750th anniversary. Over the course of hundreds of years, this area has been alternately German and Polish, with names that changed accordingly. The German Genealogical GenWiki website offers this graphic of the modern and older German history of the place called Zgniłobłoty, Zgnilloblott, Zgniłebłoto, Faulenbruch, and Königsmoor:
I like historical fiction, and a Google search for “Zgnilloblott” brought me to page 96 from Levin’s Mill by Johannes Bobrowski, translated by Janet Cropper (New York : New Directions, ©1996). It is described as “A comic tale from a German writer on a miller’s efforts to ruin the Jewish migrant who built a mill downstream. The time is 1874, the setting a West Prussian village of Jews, Poles, Germans and Gypsies.”
I bought the book.
Update April 2020 My grandfather Antoni Maciejewski‘s godmother was Marianna Waleńska. Marianna Waleńska was also the name of the wife of Stanisław Winialski and the documented mother of Zygmunt, Bolesława, Walenty, and Teodor Winialski, who were baptized in Ruże, Zbójno, in Russian occupied Poland between 1878 and 1888. I am a DNA match to two of the great-grandsons of Stanisław Winialski and Marianna Waleńska from Connecticut.
“Archiwum Państwowe w Toruniu,” database, Genealogia w Archiwach (www.genealogiawarchiwach.pl: accessed January 2018), Anton Marzewski; citing Urząd Stanu Cywilnego.
Church photo was taken by Przemysław Jahr / Wikimedia Commons – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3962127