Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

In Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, author William “Fred” Hoffman lists the variations of the Polish Klajn surname. It comes from the German word klein meaning small or young, and the German form Klein is found most often in Poland.

Klein name

Klajn entry from Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, 2001

In the late 1800s, Michał, Józef, Jan, Roman, and Benedykt Klein lived in Buffalo, Erie, New York. Church and other records indicated that they were related. They were witnesses at each other’s weddings. They were godparents at Klein children’s christenings. They even named their children after one another. They had come from Prussia, the part of Poland that was occupied by Germany at that time. They were likely to have spoken both Polish and some German. From about 1878 to 1888, they had each immigrated to Buffalo, New York, from Kościelna Jania, which was called Kirchenjahn, in the Prussian province of Marienwerder, West Prussia. [1]

Today, the village of Kościelna Jania is not very large, with only 220 people. Wikipedia saysKoscielna Jania

Kościelna Jania (German: Kirchenjahn) is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Smętowo Graniczne, within Starogard County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately 6 kilometres (4 mi) west of Smętowo Graniczne, 25 km (16 mi) south of Starogard Gdański, and 69 km (43 mi) south of the regional capital Gdańsk.

Michał and Jan‘s marriage records at the Polish St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo, Erie, New York, listed their parents as Jan Klein and Barbara Kotowska. The Klein babies’ baptismal records at St. Stanislaus Church said that their fathers had been born in Kościelna Jania, in Borussia, the Latin name for Prussia. The old records are available on FamilySearch for the Roman Catholic parish register of baptisms, marriages and deaths for Kirchenjahn (Kr. Marienwerder), West Prussia, Germany; now Kościelna Jania (Starogard Gdańsk), Gdańsk, Poland. Text in Latin, Polish and German.

1200px-SM_Kościelna_Jania_Kościół_Świętej_Trójcy_(1)_ID_637746

Kościół Świętej Trójcy w Koscielnej Jani

Kościół is the Polish word for church, while Kirche is the German word. It is not surprising that the Jania/Jahn village with the Roman Catholic church was called Kościelna Jania in Polish and Kirchenjahn in German.

I was able to find the marriage of Jan Klein and Barbara Kotowska at Kościół Trójcy Świętej w Kościelnej Jani, Church of the Holy Trinity in Kościelna Jania, on 4 Nov 1845.

1845 Klein Kotowska marriage marked

1845 Marriage, Johan Klein and Barbara Kotowska, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

Jan Klein was born about 1819. Barbara Kotowska was born to Antoni Kotowski and Julianna G. in Kościelna Jania in 27 May 1827. She was baptized 29 May 1827.

1827 Barbara Kotowska birth marked

1827 Baptism Record, Barbara Kotowska, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

 Johann Klein and Barbara Kotowska‘s son Michael Klein was born in Kirchen Jahn on 12 Sep 1846 and baptized at Kościół Trójcy Świętej w Kościelnej Jani on 14 Sep 1846.

1846 Michael Klein birth marked

1846 Baptism Record, Michael Klein, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

Joseph Klein was born to Johann Klein and Barbara Kotowska in Kirchen Jahn on 2 Dec 1848 and baptized 5 Dec 1848.

1848 Joseph Klein Birth marked

1848 Baptism Record, Joseph Klein, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

Johann Klein was born to Johann Klein and Barbara Kotowska in Kirchen Jahn on 9 Sep 1851 and baptized 10 Sep 1851.

1851 Johann Klein marked

1851 Baptism Record, Johann Klein, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

Roman Klein was born to Johann Klein and Barbara Kotowska in Kirchen Jahn on 2 Aug 1857 and baptized 10 Aug 1857.

1857 Roman Klein marked

1857 Baptism Record, Roman Klein, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

Benedykt Klein was born to Johann Klein and Barbara Kotowska in Kirchen Jahn on 5 Jul 1861 and baptized 5 Jul 1861.

1861 Benedict Klein marked

1861 Baptism Record, Benedict Klein, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

In each of these baptism records, Johann Klein was identified as “Schneider,” the German word for “tailor.” It literally means “someone who cuts,” from the German verb schneiden “to cut”. He was identified as Catholisch, not Evangelisch, indicating that he was Roman Catholic. In general, the Polish people in this region were Roman Catholic, and the Germans were Protestant, but there were exceptions. A few people with Polish names were German, while others with German names were Polish.

While Michał and Jan Klein were each married at St. Stanislaus RC Church in Buffalo in 1874 and 1884, Józef Klein (of Kirchenjahn) married Elizabeth Ośmiła in early 1877 in Barloschno, Marienwerder, West Prussia, about 2 miles from Kościelna Jania. It is now Barłożno, Skórcz, Starogard, Pomorskie, in Poland. The Roman Catholic Church in Barłożno is Kościół św. Marcina, St. Martin. The records were found  at Family Search as Roman Catholic parish register and transcripts of births, marriages and deaths for Barloschno, Westpreußen, Germany; now Barłożno (Starogard Gdański), Gdańsk, Poland. Text in Latin, Polish and German.

1877 Klein Osmila marriage marked

1877 Marriage, Józef Klein and Elizabeth Ośmiła, Barloschno, West Prussia (Barłożno, Poland)

Unfortunately, Elisabeth Ośmiła Klein must have died, because widower Józef Klein (age 38) married again in 16 Feb 1885 to Maryanna Chrzanowska (age 23) at Kościół Trójcy Świętej in Kirchen Jahn. This family immigrated to the United States in 1888.

1885 Klein Chrzanowska marriage marked

1885 Marriage, Józef Klein and Maryanna Chrzanowska, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

In Buffalo, Józef‘ and Marya became the parents of Feliks Maryan Klein. In Feliks‘ 1890 baptism record from St. Stanislaus  Church in Buffalo, New York, Józef‘s place of birth was identified as Kościelna Jania and Marya‘s was listed as Leśna Jania.

Leśna is the Polish word for Forestry. The village of Leśna Jania is approximately 3 kilometers (<2 miles) south of Kościelna Jania.

Maryanna Chrzanowska was born to Peter Chrzanowski and Antonia Laskowska in Lesnijahn in 24 Oct 1862. She was baptized at Kościół Trójcy Świętej w Kościelnej Jani, Church of the Holy Trinity in Kościelna Jania on 28 Oct 1862.

1862 Marianna Chrzanowska birth marked

1862 Baptism Record, Maryanna Chrzanowska, Kirchen Jahn, West Prussia (Kościelna Jania, Poland)

Piotr/Peter Chrzanowski and Antonia Laskowska were married in Barłożno on 15 Nov 1858. Piotr Chrzanowski had been baptized in Kościelna Jania in 1832. Antonia Laskowska, the daughter of Jakub Laskowski and Wiktoria Guz, was baptized in Barłożno in 1840.

1858 Chrzanowski Laskowska marriage marked

1858 Marriage, Peter Chrzanowski and Antonia Laskowska, Barloschno, West Prussia (Barłożno, Poland)

The 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. In 1913, Felix Klein married Marta Szczepańska, Martin and Anna‘s daughter, in Bennington, Wyoming, New York. These were their ancestors.

Feliks & Marta chart

Ancestors of Feliks Klein and Marta Szczepanska

[1] There may have been other Klein children, even other children who immigrated to Buffalo or elsewhere. I started looking for Feliks Klein’s ancestors, and could not help but find other Klein relatives in Buffalo, New York.

Update June 2020: Yes there were! The births at Kościelna Jania were indexed at Geneteka, and Michał, Józef, Jan, Joanna (1854, #30), Roman, Benedykt, and Helena (1867, #25) were the children of Jan Klein and Barbara Kotowska.

Sources

Hoffman, William F. Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings. Chicago, Illinois : Polish Genealogical Society of America. 1993, Second Edition, Revised 2001.

“Kościelna Jania.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Jul. 2017. Web. 10 Oct. 2018.

By Sławomir Milejski – Praca własna, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48604836

Parafia pod wezwaniem Trójcy Świętej w Kościelnej Jani, Holy Trinity, Kościelna Jania, http://www.koscielnajaniaparafia.pl/

“Leśna Jania.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Jul. 2017. Web. 10 Oct. 2018.

“Barłożno.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Jul. 2017. Web. 11 Nov. 2018.

Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne, “Geneteka, Metryki,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Genealodzy (genealodzy.pl: accessed November 2018); citing church records or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Jan Klein and Barbara Kotowska, marriage 1845/16; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9FK-7?i=328&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Barłożno (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Piotr Chrzanowski and Antonia Laskowska, marriage 1858/16; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Barloschno – Church records; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS2Y-8SXB-T?i=500&cat=244497

LDS Family History Library, “Barłożno (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Josef Klein and Elizabeth Ośmiła, marriage 1877/2; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Barloschno – Church records; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS2Y-8S6R-1?i=27&cat=244497

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Joseph Klein and               Marianna Chrzanowska, marriage 1858/16; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records;  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9FK-D?i=390&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Barbara Kotowska, birth 1827; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSZY-4W6H?i=282&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Piotr Chrzanowski, birth 1832; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSZY-4WZQ?i=291&cat=369158

Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne, “Geneteka, Metryki,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Genealodzy (genealodzy.pl: accessed November 2018), Antonia Laskowska, 1840; citing church records or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Michał Klein, birth 1846/43; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9NS-K?i=183&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Józef Klein, birth 1848/51; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9N9-7?i=194&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Jan Klein, birth 1851/58; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records; https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9F1-Z?i=209&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Roman Klein, birth 1857/46; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records;  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9NM-W?i=237&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Benedykt Klein, birth 1861/50; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records;  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9FB-R?i=259&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Marianna Chrzanowska, birth 1862/64; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records;  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9FR-T?i=267&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Bronisława Klein, birth 1878/4; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records;  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9FH-C?i=58&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Benedykt Klein, birth 1879/30; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records;  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9F4-4?i=65&cat=369158

LDS Family History Library, “Kościelna Jania (Starogard),” database, Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja, Family Search (familysearch.com: accessed November 2018), Teodosia Klein, birth 1880/52; citing Germany, Preußen, Westpreußen, Kirchenjahn – Church records;  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVW-H9F9-R?i=74&cat=369158

Comments on: "Klein Family Came from West Prussia" (1)

  1. […] Michał, Jan, Roman, and Benedykt were Józef Klein‘s brothers. […]

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