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Shellie
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Joined: 18 Feb 2009
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Post Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:45 pm      Post subject: Should I come to Poland to collect my family information?
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Should I travel to Poland to collect my family information?

Well, that's definitely a question I asked myself. I was not far along with my family research, but I knew that I could only get so far because my ancestral village church records were not available online or on microfilm. I could not speak one word of Polish and was not even sure of the location of my ancestral homeland. I wanted to find relatives in Poland and visit the homeland of my ancestors. I wanted see where my family lived and maybe stand in the church where they worshiped and maybe find thier graves in the cemetery.

Planning a Poland ancestor trip can seem very tough in the beginning. I was very cautious and checked out several tour companies that specialize in trips to discover Polish ancestors. For various reasons, I just didn't feel comfortable - but I learned alot about what I didn't want in a tour company before I finally contacted Zenon and booked a Forefathers Traces Tour with PolishOrigins.

Over a period of several months, we planned a thorough Poland family tour. My ancestral village was quite small, but there was a guest house right near the church. This served as our "home base" while we explored the surrounding areas and began to research my ancestors in Poland - their homeland. We did get some great records of my ancestors and imagine my joy when we found a living relative that I never knew I had Very Happy

A trip to Poland to research family may not always be successful - there is no guarantee that you will find the information that you are looking for. Sometimes the church won't cooperate with you or grant you access to records. Or sometimes your family information is not available. However, if you do your homework before planning your trip, you will greatly increase your chances of success and you will be more likely to find family in Poland. Having a good Polish guide is probably the most important part of your trip once you arrive in Poland. A personal tour guide who has experience visiting small villages and viewing records is worth every penny!

If you would like information about Forefathers Traces Tours - guided trips to your homeland - click here:
http://polishorigins.com/document/ftt_offer#tour_service_offer

If you have taken a trip to Poland to discover your Polish roots, I would like to hear from you. How did you like your trip? Did you find what you were looking for? What would you do different now that you've returned? I can't wait to go back, how about you?

-Shellie



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Last edited by Shellie on Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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sheep17
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Joined: 30 Jan 2009
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Post Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:18 pm      Post subject: Touring Poland to find your roots
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Hi Shellie,
Read your post about going to Poland for research to find roots.
I went, knowing I had no relatives there, (my mother said so!), so in September it
was a trip not to find people, but for the experience of being in my ancestors
villages and churches, of really seeing where they had lived.
Well, it was that experience - and it was awesome!

But -- it was really much more. I learned that I have distant relatives - 3rd cousins -
in the same area where one grandfather lived over 140 years ago. I learned that
Aunt G's handwritten note about where her parents lived was totally wrong! And
despite family myths to the contrary, from the photographs of church records
taken one Sunday afternoon, I learned that I may have other distant
relatives in another town.

The Forefather's Traces tour was exactly right for what I wanted and needed.
I'm continuing my research, and making a list, because I plan on doing it again.
Leonore
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Shellie
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Post Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:57 pm      Post subject:
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Leonore,
I think it was wonderful that your trip to Poland led you to discover Polish ancestors! I also went on my ancestry trip to see where my family came from and did not have much hope to find a living relative. But I was surprised too and like you, I found a cousin! It is hard to describe the feeling when you first realize that there is someone who shares your bloodline and your heritage still living in your ancestral village.

Message to PolishOrigins Readers: Leonore's trip took her to many locations in Poland such as:
Gniezno . Broniszewice . Tereszewo . Sadłowo . Gdansk . Szafarnia . Smogulec

Check out the beautiful photos and blog of her tour of Poland with Zenon: http://blog.polishorigins.com/category/leonores-tour/
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Lisa



Joined: 20 Jun 2009
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Post Posted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:00 pm      Post subject:
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Though I've never been to Poland (and probably won't be going anytime soon with one daughter in college and the other due to start in 2011!), I'm in total agreement with you Shellie about the importance of seeing that wonderful country first hand. My grandmother was a small child when she first came to America in the early part of the 20th century. Her family, the Osieckis/Novaks/Zaguras, were from the Krakow area. They first lived in Luslawice and then Konczyska. All their Church records - which I was SO blessed to receive copies of - were from the Church in Zakliczyn.

My grandmother did not really speak of her life in Poland, and so I've had to do much research. That said, piecing together her story through the Church records has been an extremely rewarding (and sometimes surprising) experience. I was very lucky that her former parish was open to sharing information regarding births, marriages and deaths of former parishioners. How else would I have learned that my great-great-great grandmother, who was from Luslawice, was born Marianna Kokosza and was subsequently married to Martin Drazek(spelling?), Blasius Kurczab, and finally my great-great-great grandfather Franciscus Osiecki? Or that the house Marianna resided in would be where her daughter, grandson and great-grandchildren (my great-great grandmother, great grandfather and grandmother) would be born? That little house in Luslawice was in the family for more than 100 years!!

I've seen photographs of this area of Poland and it's beautiful. It's not at all as I envisioned it - it's so much more! The book of pictures of Zakliczyn depicts forests and fields and country lanes and bright blue sky with mountains as a backdrop - truly a wonderful place!

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Shellie. If anyone else has been to Poland and reads these posts I do hope that they, too, will share their story.

Lisa : )
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James
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Joined: 06 Jul 2007
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Location: WEST VIRGINIA , USA

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:05 pm      Post subject: visiting Poland
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Wow , to visit Poland or not ??

Like so many other things , once you try it, you then realize what you would have missed by not trying it.

In 2006, my brother Joe and I visited Poland . It was in early September, and we spent 10 days.
Everything surpassed our expectations; the people, food, weather, scenery, national pride, and the feelings we experienced when walking the same streets that our ancestors had walked.

Our trip was not a search for our ancestors, but as tourists. Our expenses were probably half of what it would cost to visit western European countries, and unlike some other European countries I won't mention, the Polish people we met liked Americans, and not just our money. We had several wonderful conversations with the local people, and were treated very well overall.
English was spoken by many people in the major cities, but not so much in the smaller cities or towns, but between Joe and I, we had learned enough Polish words and phrases, that we did fine communicating with the local people. ( kawa, piwo, toaleta, etc... ) That was a great feeling of accomplishment for both of us. Wink

I enjoyed myself so much in 2006, that I returned in May of 2009, and spent another 10 days .
This time my visit was for family research, and a little site seeing.
I had continued my research for family while at home , and had uncovered quite a bit of new information; names, towns, cities, occupations, etc... I was also very fortunate that a distant cousin Jozef , in Poland, had contacted me (via e-mail.) So my visit in 2009 had a lot of research built into it.
I spent 5 days with my friend Zenon, researching in two different archives ,( Wloclawek and Torun) and visiting churches where my family may have worshiped, and many of the local sites. ( visit my blog here at polishorigins.com )
A big thrill for me was meeting my cousin Jozef and spending most of a day with him and Zenon. Jozef spoke no English, but Zenon was a gracious translator ( dziekuje moi przyjaciel ). Jozef showed us all around the city of Wloclawek, taking me to the church where our ancestors had been baptized and married, and showing me the street and location of the house where my gg grandparents lived and where my great grandfather was born. Jozef was born in Wloclawek and still lived there, so he knew a great deal about the history of the city.

These were two great experiences for me, that I'll cherish forever.

I can't emphasize enough, to anyone considering a trip to Poland, how it will excite and change you. Just beware that once you go, you may want to return many, many more times. My third visit is already planned out. Zenon told me that I'll be back in 5 years. I hope he's right. Wink

James
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Shellie
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:49 pm      Post subject:
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Lisa - When you finally get that tour of Poland and have a chance to find Polish ancestors, I'm sure the others will agree that it will be the trip of a lifetime for you.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa online when I began to search for traces of my ancestors in Luslawice and found a query that Lisa posted. That was the beginning of a great friendship. It was such a joy to share with her the information that I found about her family while I was searching for clues about my polish family. The best part was suprising her with photos of her ancestral villages and earrings that I made from the Amber that I brought home from my Poland Tour with PolishOrigins.

Lisa describes her search to discover Polish ancestors here: http://forum.polishorigins.com/viewtopic.php?t=390

I've attached a photo of the church in Zakliczyn parish where Lisa's ancestors and my grandfather were baptized.

James, you are really hooked, aren't you! I'm like you - my first trip to Poland to find ancestors was fantastic, but I collected so much information that it has opened new leads for me to chase! I definitely have to go back on another Poland ancestral tour and see what else I can find in the village of my ancestors and the surrounding villages too.

As James mentioned earlier, while he was on his Forefathers Traces Tour with Zenon, he was able to blog his experiences. Check out his blog entires to read about his trip and see some great photos: http://blog.polishorigins.com/category/james-tour/


No matter what you call it: Forefathers Traces Tour with Zenon . Polish Heritage Tour . Ancestral Tour of Poland . Polish Genealogy Tour . Polish Family History Trip - it's all about finding Polish roots and learning more about your heritage.
If you have taken a trip to Poland to discover your Polish roots, I would like to hear from you. How did you like your trip? Did you find what you were looking for? What would you do different now that you've returned? I can't wait to go back, how about you?



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Jakrysi
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Post Posted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:03 am      Post subject: Should I come to Poland /Lisa
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Lisa,

I hope you do decide to go to Poland!

In the winter of 2007, I made my first trip to Poland, traveling solo (my wife couldn’t join me) from the west coast. Like Shellie and James, I had no working knowledge of the language—just a handful of basic tourist phrases and the desire & willingness to try & communicate as best I could and to not be afraid to ask for help and “when in doubt, pantomime and point ” Laughs!

My prior genealogical/family research was focused on my grandfather’s brother, a catholic priest that our family only knew that “he disappeared during the war (WWII)”. There were a few other vague anecdotes. Our family had but one photograph of this priest, ks. Andrzej, and we knew he last wrote my grandfather from the small town of Chorzele, about 100 km north of Warsaw. Around 2003, I confirmed this basic information on a Lomza Diocesean website—and discovered that our family member ks. Andrzej was pastor at the sw. Mikolaja (St. Nicholas) church in Chorzele during the years 1918-1938.

All my adult life, I felt deep in my heart , I would someday go to Poland.

Suddenly--a life change/job layoff occurred --I had a brief window of time that allowed me to try & make it happen., My purpose was to visit the homeland, experience the cities of Warsaw and Cracow , do some train /bus travel and to visit & walk in the village near the small city of Plock that my late father’s family originated from. And, of course---go to the town and church where my Grampa’s brother spent twenty years of his life long ago.

The trip was fantastic/ beyond my wildest expectations and one of the best experiences I’ve had. .Being a city kid, (born and raised in Chicago) , I walked, took cabs & trams within Warsaw and Cracow and visited many sites, and met very many kind and accommodating people. I did accomplish briefly visiting the family/genealogical related places I mentioned above. (Another posting for another time Wink )

I spent 22 days in Poland in that winter of 2007—14 days in and around the two major cities mentioned. I also visited Plock, Zawiercie, and Wieliczka. My last day in country I spent at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was truly almost beyond comprehension in its magnitude and emotional power.

All told, for the short period of time I had to put together a plan, and the normal and frequently amusing challenges of winter travel in a foreign country---it all went very well. I plan to return to Poland later this year—in better weather (!) / and hopefully, with Zenon’s expertise for part of the journey.

Shellie, James and Leonore described so well their experiences and I echo their sentiments. The fact that your family roots search is part of your mindset to travel to Poland will bring to bear many special memories if you decide to plan & make a trip. Something magic—or spiritual comes into play that makes it unlike other journeys.

Jim
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Lisa



Joined: 20 Jun 2009
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Post Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:22 am      Post subject:
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Jim,

Thanks for your response. Poland sounds like a lovely country!

Once my grandmother, who was born in Luslawice, came to this country, she never returned to Poland. She was young when she came to America and her recollections of her birthplace were of hardship and poverty. Sadly, she never returned to the land of her birth, passing away in 1999.

Although I knew my grandmother and her family came from the Krakow area, I was amazed to learn that not only was she born in Luslawice, but so was her father and her father's mother. As a matter of fact, they all were born in the same house!!! My grandmother's paternal great-grandmother originally lived (and died) in this house. I'm uncertain whether the generations prior to my grandmother's paternal great-grandmother lived in this house as well. My grandmother's family didn't venture far until they made the big move to America in the early part of the last century.

My grandmother's mother, Maria (Nowak) Osiecka, came from nearby Konczyska. I'm not quite sure how long her family lived in this village. Nowak seems to be a common name in Poland, and so it might require a bit of research to track down her roots.

I've always had a strong interest in genealogy, and having the great luck to gain access to my grandmother's family is a wonderful surprise. My family had no idea if records even survived after all these years. I've been given a great gift : )

Although I am in no position at this point to travel to Poland, from all that I've learned on this website I would highly encourage anyone who has the chance to travel to Poland to go for it. It sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime!

Lisa : )

P.S. I am still trying to find information regarding my grandmother's paternal grandfather. My grandmother's father was born illegitimate, and the story within the family is that my grandmother's father's mother was employed on an estate in Luslawice and that is where she met the father of her child. If anyone has any information they'd like to pass along regarding estates in the Luslawice area circa 1868, I'd be very grateful : )
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Jerry



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Post Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:10 pm      Post subject:
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I have no Polish blood in my family, but my wife is 50% Polish. When we got married, she was sort of interested in genealogy, but she really didn’t have a burning need to know who she was until last year. You see, during that year, I was overseas and while I was gone, my wife kept herself out of trouble – well, maybe got herself into trouble -- researching her family. Her grandfather was born in Poland, so she exhausted her US information quickly and was looking for Polish sources of information. The Morman's did not have microfilm of church records for her ancestral village and no one online had any information for her. She was frustrated that she could not access any records from here in the US. She soon started looking for a guided trip to find her Poland village.

I wanted to go to Germany that summer, but my wife really wanted to see where her ancestors lived. I imagined a boring trip and I was hoping for lots of beer! She was searching for her Polish roots. As it turned out, we had a great time. There are no online records from her ancestral village, so we planned a trip with Zenon and went right to the village when we got off the plane. Neither of us spoke Polish, but it was easy because Zenon met us at the airport and served as our Polish interpreter.

I would not say that it is easy to get records, but it is definitely worth a trip if you want the information. Just come prepared and bring your camera, and a voice recorder....... and plan to donate some money to the church. If you have to invest in one thing for your trip, make it a decent camera. The second thing I would invest in is a digital voice recorder and turn it on as much as possible. If you are permitted to take photos of documents, take as many as you can, and take more than one photo of each document in case one comes out blurry. Take photos of everything that you can because you will regret it if you don’t. My wife took photos of as many pages in record books that she could because we just did not have time to read and research every name as we read the books. She ended up with several blurry images, but most came out good. The real work started when she got home and began to really study the records and finding family connections.

Our trip turned out to be very very interesting and Zenon worked with us to combine research with lots of side trips. Although we were American tourists in Poland, the side trips had special meaning for my wife because we visited places where her ancestors lived, worked and played. The best part was watching her excitement when she connected some information that she found in the church records with a grave at the cemetery that then led to a meeting with a living relative. That is when the real fun began. I never saw my wife at a loss for words, but she was speechless when she stood face to face with a direct descendent of her great-grandfather’s brother. And my wife doesn’t drink, so watching her drink Polish vodka with her new cousin was something I won’t forget. Her cousin assured us that Polish vodka doesn’t leave you with a hangover. I had my doubts, but he was right! I thought she would be nursing a massive headache the next day, but to my surprise she was good to go!

It’s not really cheap to travel to Europe, but the exchange rate in Poland is pretty good. We got about 3 zloty for each American dollar while we were there (but the dollar started falling at the end of our trip). The real bargain was for people with Euros. I think the Euro was buying 6 or more zloty. Our room with a private bath was only about 20 zloty a night and each meal only came out to be about 4 American dollars per person. These were not tourist areas, but when we left Zenon and went on to Krakow, it was still relatively inexpensive compared to other European countries that use Euros. We spent 7 days in Krakow on our own and it was no problem that we didn’t speak Polish. Almost everyone there speaks English.

So, yes, if you can’t find what you need from home, plan a trip to Poland. Find a good guide like Zenon who will interpret for you and speak on your behalf to gain access to records. Plan a personalized tour of ancestral Poland - it is easier than you think. And you will have a great time ---- even if you are not Polish.
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Shellie
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Post Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:38 am      Post subject:
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Has anyone else out here traveled to Poland to search for information about family? Did you try it alone or did you have a guide? Did you go to your family church, a city records office, or an archive?

I'd like to hear about your experiences, what you learned, and what you would do different if you could do it all over again.
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James
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Post Posted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:06 pm      Post subject:
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Hi Shellie,

In 2009 I visited Poland again. This time it was to search for family records, etc.
I had utilized Zenon's service from his "Forefathers Traces Tour", so I had someone who spoke the language and could drive us to our locations, and was very familiar with performing research at state archives and local churches.
I already had names, dates, locations, etc.., ( obtained from U.S.Census, Ellis Island records, Polish Archives, family stories, etc... ) so we knew exactly where we were going to perform our search.
We started our search at the state archive located in the city of my family, and then we visited the church that my family had attended, and we also visited the local cemetery.
We performed this same process at a second city.

The only thing that I would do differently, is to try and find out when the church is open and closed, and for having the priest available to search any records. Both churches were closed the day we visited them, and the priests were not available that week.
The archive schedules are posted on their web site.

You can see photos and text from my visit in the Polish Origins "FTT Blog"

James
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GerriKos



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Post Posted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 10:53 am      Post subject:
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My family keeps asking when I'm setting up the trip to Poland. As I would like to do the "tourist" places as well as my family's villages, it is difficult to know what travel agency/tour guide to trust. It sounds like people are happy with Polish Origins but it is also frightening to pick someone over the internet. Any help would be appreciated.
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gdeborski



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Post Posted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:18 am      Post subject:
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My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful tour this past Fall organized through PolishOrigins. We knew which villages we wanted to visit and the tour was planned to let us spend time in each place. Our tour guide, Kasia, took us into more churches than I could count, each with some connection to my Polish ancestors. Standing in the church and seeing the baptismal font where my great grandfather was christened in 1859 was an incredible experience. Seeing manor houses and farm buildings from the era when my ancestors worked the land that are still standing was also memorable. We met people who may be cousins! I wholeheartedly recommend the PolishOrigins team. We also did some tourist/sightseeing along the way and in Warsaw, Gniezno, and Poznan. Message me if you would like more information.

Gary D.
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GerriKos



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Post Posted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:54 am      Post subject:
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Thank you so much for your quick reply. Did you custom-make your trip? It looks like this is the way to go. Here in the states the travel agent just told me to stay additional days after their trip was over. I'm not sure we could find our way around Poland to do it on our own. I really appreciated your input. Thanks.
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dgawell



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Post Posted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 6:53 pm      Post subject: second trip
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We are planning our second trip to Poland after the first in 2014. The first was to visit Krakow and to attempt to see my husband's grandfather's village. It was a fabulous day. We hired a driver who really worked hard on our behalf. We were connected with possible cousins and did get taken to the church and were given records which propelled the family line about three generations!

We worked very hard at finding my grandparents' relatives and will visit them in Poland. Only their 17 year speaks English and while they expressed initial excitement, I haven't had a letter for a few months. We intend to go to their village and hopefully meet them but the language barrier is pretty intense in the villages. I would recommend using the staff at Polish Origins and we hope to do that also as we set our itinerary very soon. They have a great reputation. We will be renting a car but need a translator in the three ancesral villages.

If you are lucky, you might be able to get a copy of the parish microfilms. I have them on permanent loan but they only go to about 1855 so there is a huge gap. I hope the priest is agreeable in letting me see the records. If not, I have the direct descendants lines for three out of the four great grandparents all done! It was a LOT of work- I mean hundreds of hours and I don't speak any Polish.

If you plan a trip, go to a Skansen which is an outdoor folk village. That was one of our favorite days. We did one in Poland and one in Sweden.
Good luck!
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