“Somebody told me.”
When I stated researching family history in the 1990s, I only wanted to capture what my parents knew. I expanded the mandate to include their siblings and cousins, and a few cousins once removed, and perhaps some second cousins. So I asked questions of family members about the people they knew, and I wrote down and shared with them what they said. For the most part, it was accurate.
Years later, I look at some record, and wonder “who told me that?” That happened with Tomasz Wroński. In my records, I had the note that he died in 1969, in Poland. While it seemed unlikely, I had not documented a source for the event. Was it true?
Looking at the facts more closely, I saw that Tomasz immigrated to America in 1910, and brought his family to Buffalo, New York, in 1912. They had more children, and raised their family. Two of his American born children married relatives of my mother’s parents, so I wrote about Wroński Relatives.
But then I found evidence that Tomasz and his wife separated by 1953, and that Julia Wrońska died 11 Nov 1963 in Buffalo, New York. What happened to Tomasz? The last record I found in Buffalo was in 1956, when he was 83 years old. Yet, I did not find a death record for him in Buffalo, in New York, or in the United States! Perhaps he did go to Poland and died in 1969, as I had been told.
Thomas Wronski applied for a Social Security number in February 1937, listing his father’s name as Marcin Wronski and his mother’s name as Maryanna Znojek. His date of birth, 28 Dec 1873, matched those of other American records.
Name: Thomas Wronski1937 Thomas Wronski U. S. Social Security abstract
Birth Date: 28 Dec 1873
Birth Place: Hancien Woje, Poland
Father: Marcin Wronski
Mother: Maryanna Znojek
Notes: Feb 1937: Name listed as THOMAS WRONSKI
On Thomas‘ Social Security application, his birth place was listed as “Hancien Woje, Poland.” When Tomasz immigrated in 1910, his place of birth was listed as Checina. On his brother’s ship manifest, both Władisław Wroński and Karolina Znojek listed Hentschina as their place of birth. I thought it might actually be Chęciny. In Polish, the “Ch” is sounded as h, the “ę” is a nasal en sound, while the “c” sounds like the end of cats. The letter “i” is the long e sound, while “y” sounds more like a short e. It sounds a bit like “hentchina,” actually. From Wikipedia: Chęciny (listen) is a town in Kielce County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland.
Many of the records from Chęciny have been indexed by the Polish Genealogical Society, Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne, in their Geneteka database at Genealodzy, geneteka.genealodzy.pl. When I searched, I found a birth record for Tomasz Wroński that had been indexed by volunteer Edward Jabłoński. Not only was the year right, the number of the birth showed it to be near the end of the year.
1873 232 Tomasz Wroński Chęciny Chęciny
I found a copy of the image on the website GenBaza / AP_Kielce / Kielce / Chęciny / 1873_072 / _k_182503.jpg http://metryki.genbaza.com/genbaza,detail,100194,63.
In 1873, this area was under Russian rule, so the records were required to be written in Russian or the Cyrillic alphabet. While I can pick out some letters and words, I do not read Cyrillic, so another researcher confirmed Tomasz Wroński‘s name, his date of birth, 28 Dec 1873, and his parents’ names and ages–Marcin 27, Marjanna Znojek 24.
The Polish notes in the margin indicate that he married Marianna Wrońska in Chęciny in 11 Feb 1967, and Tomasz Wroński died in Chęciny, Kielce, Poland, on 1 June 1969, at the age of 96.
As I had been told.
Update August 2019: a grandson of Thomas Wronski remembered
It was 1964 or 1965 that my grandfather returned to Poland. I remember getting on the train at the Buffalo terminal to say goodbye. I was told I would never see him again. While in Poland, he married a 46 year old woman with a deformed arm. I believe he was 92 at the time of the marriage. She took care of him. When he died, they sent pictures of him in the casket, presumably to prove he was dead. There were some legal problems trying to settle his estate because it had to be split equally with his children and this woman. If I remember correctly, she signed away her portion.
Update April 2022: Added photographs of Tomasz Wroński and his funeral in Chęciny, Kielce, Polska, generously shared by his grandson.
- Social Security Administration, database, Social Security Applications and Claims (: accessed 28 July 2019), Thomas Wronski, 713056088, February 1937.
- Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne, “Geneteka, Metryki,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Genealodzy (genealodzy.pl: accessed 27 July 2019), 1873 232 Tomasz Wroński Chęciny; citing church records or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).
- GenBaza / AP_Kielce / Kielce / Chęciny / 1873_072 / _k_182503.jpg http://metryki.genbaza.com/genbaza,detail,100194,63.
- How to use Geneteka: https://fromshepherdsandshoemakers.com/2018/04/23/a-step-by-step-guide-to-using-geneteka-part-i/
- How to use Genbaza: https://mikeeliasz.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/guide-poradnik-for-using-metryki-genbaza-pl-polish-archive-guide-poradnik/