[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Genealogy trip to Poland

PnSWork at aol.com PnSWork at aol.com
Mon Dec 10 11:48:35 PST 2001

Hello all,

    Last month, I spent five days in Poland, trying to research the origins 
of some of my German ancestors.  As a background, my grandmother's parents 
emigrated to Ohio (Cleveland area) around 1900, and they both came from the 
village of Powsin (near Plock).  My mother and I had traced their 
predecessors back to around 1800 when the Prussians tried to colonize the 
area with German settlers.  We had successfully traced four of the families 
back to Germany proper, but we were stuck on the others.  

    In preparation, I wrote to the Prussian archives in Berlin (Geheimes 
Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz) requesting information on the 
founding of these colonies, and asking if they had any records which might 
list the original settlers and their origins.  In reply, the Prussian 
archives stated that the original documents regarding the founding of the 
colonies in question (Schroettersdorf, Bulkowo, and Boguszyn) had been turned 
over to the main Polish archive in Warsaw (Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych) some 
years ago, but they did give me the exact names and reference numbers for the 
documents.  Each colony had at least one volume of documents associated with 
it.  Schroettersdorf (later divided into Powsin, Chelpowo, Biala, and 
Maszewo) had three volumes, while Bulkowo and Boguszyn had one volume each.

    I spent two days at the Polish archives in Warsaw, looking over the 
documents.  At first, I was a little disappointed, because they couldn't find 
the third volume for Schroettersdorf (1803-1806), but they did have the first 
two (1796-1801, and 1801-1803).  The index they made available also didn't 
list the volumes for Bulkowo and Boguszyn.  However, I was successful in 
ordering those volumes using the reference numbers given in the letter from 
the Prussian archives.  The Schroettersdorf volumes were quite large, with 
each volume containing over 200 pages.  The Bulkowo volume was quite small, 
less than 20 pages, and the Boguszyn volume contained about 100 pages.

    These documents were all written in German using the old German 
handwriting, and none of the librarians could read it.  I found several hints 
as to the origins of several of the settlers, including documents authorizing 
the payment of travel money to individual colonists according to how far they 
had traveled.  I ordered about 60 pages worth of copies (relatively expensive 
at $1 per page), and plan to study them thoroughly when they arrive (takes 
about one to two months to process a request for copies).  One such document 
gave the place of origin of the settler and how far he had traveled to get 

    I have yet to receive the copies I ordered, but I have no doubt that they 
will be invaluable in tracing some of my German ancestors back to their 
hometowns.  Of particular interest was one document which listed four 
brothers by the name of Lehmann, who then settled in the Schroettersdorf 
colony.  The document is rather long, and I only noted that they were listed, 
but I did include it in the list of documents ordered.  I am anxious to see 
what it says.

    To my knowledge, none of these documents have been micofilmed, and are 
thus only available at the Polish archive in Warsaw.  Presumably this archive 
also has the corresponding volumes for all the Prussian colonies that were 
founded around 1800 in present-day Poland.  If anyone wants to visit the 
archive, be warned that the librarians do not speak English or German.  You 
will need to request permission ahead of time by writing to them.  They do 
have a web site (www.agad.hg.pl), but everything is in Polish.  For my visit, 
I engaged the services of a student at the University of Warsaw who spoke 
German.  He was instrumental in getting questions answered in a timely 
fashion.  If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.  Good luck in your 


Paul R Work
pnswork at aol.com
Researching Erbacher, Wolf, Haefke, Lehmann, Burgstahler, Schmidt, Dreher, 
Kretke, Fetzner, Weber, Herrmann in the area around Plock and Plonsk, Poland

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