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rsowa
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:56 pm      Post subject:
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Another interesting twist to the baptism of children with "unknown" fathers happened when I was researching my wife's Hungarian ancestors (they lived just over the Carpathian mountains from Poland). It turned out that one of her ancestors served as Godfather to at least five children born to women where the father was unknown. We have talked about it a lot and wonder what circumstances would result in him being Godfather to so many children. He had a wife and six children of his own as well.

Richard
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EANWhitson
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:56 pm      Post subject:
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rsowa wrote:
Another interesting twist to the baptism of children with "unknown" fathers happened when I was researching my wife's Hungarian ancestors (they lived just over the Carpathian mountains from Poland). It turned out that one of her ancestors served as Godfather to at least five children born to women where the father was unknown. We have talked about it a lot and wonder what circumstances would result in him being Godfather to so many children. He had a wife and six children of his own as well.

Richard


It could be he happened to be available to be the Godfather. (I am indexing an orphanage in Warsaw and there is a man there who is the Godfather of hundreds of children.) Which means he may have just been at the church and they needed a Godfather for these children or perhaps a neighbor of the church grounds.

It could be he was a kind man and known not to judge the women who needed a Godfather for their child.

Sometimes we will never know.
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JGwizdowski
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Joined: 26 Feb 2016
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:43 am      Post subject:
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rsowa wrote:
Another interesting twist to the baptism of children with "unknown" fathers happened when I was researching my wife's Hungarian ancestors (they lived just over the Carpathian mountains from Poland). It turned out that one of her ancestors served as Godfather to at least five children born to women where the father was unknown. We have talked about it a lot and wonder what circumstances would result in him being Godfather to so many children. He had a wife and six children of his own as well.

Richard


Another example...my grandmother's paternal line consisted of four consecutive generations of church organists. It appears they also served as sextons for the church as their names show up frequently as godparents for births, and as witnesses for marriages and for deaths. As someone else mentioned, just being available made them obvious choices!

Cheers!

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Post Posted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:11 pm      Post subject: [Illegitimate births in selected poviats of Poland
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I was looking for something else and came across this abstract from 2007. It was originally written in Polish.

Illegitimate births in selected poviats of Northern Mazowsze in the period of the second Republic of Poland.
It has various descriptions of how births were reported, status of mothers and father involvement in the reporting based on religion.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19244737
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Edu



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Post Posted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:39 am      Post subject: Puzzling birth record
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Hi All
I am curious to know why a Polish birth record from a small village in Galicia would not indicate a father's name (which would normally indicate an illegitimate birth), yet clearly mark the word "legit" in the column under "legitimate"? Were there ever "exceptions" given under horrible situations (such as rape) where mother and child were considered not "at fault"? How else could this be interpreted? Many thanks for your thoughts on this.
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starshadow
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Post Posted: Thu Oct 17, 2019 3:27 am      Post subject: Re: Puzzling birth record
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Edu wrote:
Hi All
I am curious to know why a Polish birth record from a small village in Galicia would not indicate a father's name (which would normally indicate an illegitimate birth), yet clearly mark the word "legit" in the column under "legitimate"? Were there ever "exceptions" given under horrible situations (such as rape) where mother and child were considered not "at fault"? How else could this be interpreted? Many thanks for your thoughts on this.


Hi Edu. I've seen this also once or twice. But I believed it was probably an error. I've also seen other cases where those boxes seem to get checked wrongly. You might want to check the other entries on the page for related errors. One rare circumstance I can imagine is if the father died before he could marry the mother.
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Edu



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Post Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:39 pm      Post subject: Re: Puzzling birth record
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Many thanks for your feedback and ideas, Starshadow - I greatly appreciate it!

This particular situation could certainly be a mistake. However, I still find it curious that the recorder (likely a Church official) wrote the word ¨legit¨ in the legitimate column (not a tick mark in the legitimate column), which appears next to the blank column under Patris, or Father. The Polish archive which copied and send me this record removed all references to others on that same page for privacy reasons - so unfortunately I cannot check for potential errors unless I make a trip to the archives myself. One may wonder if ambiguity some times might be intentional - leaving interpretation open to other explanations given the situation - but this is ultimately unknowable unless other evidence can be found. Many thanks again!
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nick3371



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Post Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:27 pm      Post subject:
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Hello,

I found this post from a while ago.

I found a record where a person is listed with first his mother's last name and then is father's last name. I don't read Polish, but between these two last names it says "czyli" which I translated as "or". Does this mean he was born out of wedlock or is his mother's maiden name just his middle name?

It is written as "Ignacy Fornalik czyli Ligocki".

Thank you!



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dnowicki
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Post Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2020 7:19 am      Post subject:
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nick3371 wrote:
Hello,

I found this post from a while ago.

I found a record where a person is listed with first his mother's last name and then is father's last name. I don't read Polish, but between these two last names it says "czyli" which I translated as "or". Does this mean he was born out of wedlock or is his mother's maiden name just his middle name?

It is written as "Ignacy Fornalik czyli Ligocki".

Thank you!


Nick,

Nothing in the marriage record indicates that he was illegitimate. Yes, “czyli” does mean “or”. However, to understand what is going on in the record three things are really helpful—the ability to read Polish, knowledge of the history of Poland together with an understanding of the history of the region where the marriage took place, and an understanding of surname usage among Polish peasants during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

In this case the ability to read Polish is connected to history. The record was composed while the area was part of the Duchy of Warsaw, a state created by Napoleon in 1808 and which ended in 1815. Napoleon set the form in which civil vital records were to be kept in the Duchy. The form is known as the Napoleonic long paragraph style and, in my opinion, the genealogically significant data is buried in the verbosity of the style. Here is what I deem significant in the record: 1.The groom was born & baptized in the parish of Myślibórz and he is 24 years old (These facts were demonstrated by the baptismal certificate from the parish); 2. His father was not present because he died & was buried in the parish of Myślibórz in May of 1800 (Again, the facts were demonstrated by his death certificate); 3. His mother was present at the wedding, her maiden name was Fornalik and she was residing on the family farmstead in Myślibórz. Next follows the part dealing with the bride and is followed by the section which deals with the marriage. There is no indication that he was illegitimate and, in fact, the presumption is that he was born of the legitimate marital union of his parents.

Regarding the history of the region...Prior to 1793 (including the year of his birth) the area was part of the Province of Kalisz (woj. kaliskie) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the Second Partition the region was seized by Prussia and was part of South Prussia until Napoleon took control and formed the Duchy of Warsaw. After Napoleon’s defeat the Congress of Vienna in 1815 redrew the boundaries and gave control of the area around Myślibórz to Russia where it became part of the Congress Kingdom of Poland. The historical background is important because it sheds light on what was going on in the lives of the people of the region. Granted that the peasants were less influenced by the political events than the szlachta (nobles), but those events did have at least an indirect impact on the peasantry.

Regarding surname usage among the Polish peasantry during the late 18th and early 19th centuries...Even during the late 18th Century not all Polish peasants had or used a surname and those surnames could be quite fluid well into the 19th Century. Here are some examples from my ancestors (all of whom lived in what today are Wielkopolskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie in contemporary Poland). One family used the variations Lichman, Lichmana, and Lichmaniak; another family was sometimes known as Piasek and sometimes as Piasecki. A third family, which probably has more in common with the surname situation in the record eventually became known as Kajetaniak. The paterfamilias had the given name of Kajetan and he was a cart-wright (Polish: stelmach) during his lifetime. During the late 18th & early 19th centuries his family was known both as Stelmach and as Stelmaszek. After his death in 1804 his widow and children continued to be known as Stelmaszek but before the end of th second decade of the 19th Century they came to use the surname Kajetaniak, which is obviously a patronymic surname.

Without the enlightenment of further research it can be proposed as a working hypothesis that the maiden name of Ignacy’s mother, Fornalik, is a name derived from an occupation. Fornal in Polish means a groom or stable hand. It is a distinct possibility that her father or an earlier ancestor was a fornal, but nothing is certain without further research. Again, the reason he was known by both Fornalik and Ligocki would require additional research. Perhaps questions about the surnames can be resolved by locating his birth/baptism record and the marriage record of his parents.. Any lingering doubt regarding his legitimacy can be put to rest by locating the record of his birth/baptism. The 1812 marriage record points out where to look.

Records from the late 18th & very early 19th Centuries are available on Family Search but must be viewed at a Family History Center or affiliated library. The film notes in the Family Search Catalog provide important info regarding the type of records to be researched with the statement “Mikrofilm zrobiony z rękopisów w Archiwum Diecezjalne we Włocławku.” These are ecclesiastical rather than civil records. However, in the region which was under Prussian control and then became part of the Duchy of Warsaw the civil authorities played catch up by using those ecclesiastical records as civil transcripts for events prior to 1808.

I hope this explanation provides some answers to your questions.

Dave
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nick3371



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Post Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2020 8:28 am      Post subject:
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Wow Dave! As always, your answer went above and beyond-I learn so much from your responses! Thank you! I will look at a Familysearch library next for some answers.

Best,

Nick
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hajdasz



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Post Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:53 pm      Post subject:
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Hello,

I'm glad I came across this thread!

I have a situation that is causing some confusion in my research. My 2X great-grandfather was born in 1855 in the Podkarpackie region. Catholic. His mother was married, but widowed at the time of his birth. The "father" died in 1854, although I don't know the month. My great-grandfather was given this father's surname. During this marriage, she had 3 prior children, but all died in childhood. My great-grandfather was her only child that made it to adulthood.

The birth record indicates her as widowed, BUT the father as "unknown", and states child as illegitimate, I believe. Is it possible that since this "father" was passed at the time of birth, and he therefore was not able to legally acknowledge a son, therefore, the church notes him as illegitimate? What do you think is going on?

Also, I have DNA matches to others of this family surname, where the connection is prior to 1855. They are 4th to distant cousins. So, I am convinced that I am biologically connected to the "father" in some way.

I have theorized that the father is "unknown" somehow because of her being widowed. Since I have DNA connections to this family, maybe a relation of the "father" is the actual father. Maybe she knew he was dying, had no children, so wanted to keep the family name going. All sorts of thought are running in my head Smile If the church thought it was a scandalous birth, would they have allowed her husband's name to pass down? The surname has nobility attached to it. Although, at this time in Polish history, there really wasn't nobility, so who cares.

I am confused. Please help me figure this out!

Thanks,
H
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dnowicki
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:12 pm      Post subject:
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hajdasz wrote:
Hello,

I'm glad I came across this thread!

I have a situation that is causing some confusion in my research. My 2X great-grandfather was born in 1855 in the Podkarpackie region. Catholic. His mother was married, but widowed at the time of his birth. The "father" died in 1854, although I don't know the month. My great-grandfather was given this father's surname. During this marriage, she had 3 prior children, but all died in childhood. My great-grandfather was her only child that made it to adulthood.

The birth record indicates her as widowed, BUT the father as "unknown", and states child as illegitimate, I believe. Is it possible that since this "father" was passed at the time of birth, and he therefore was not able to legally acknowledge a son, therefore, the church notes him as illegitimate? What do you think is going on?

Also, I have DNA matches to others of this family surname, where the connection is prior to 1855. They are 4th to distant cousins. So, I am convinced that I am biologically connected to the "father" in some way.

I have theorized that the father is "unknown" somehow because of her being widowed. Since I have DNA connections to this family, maybe a relation of the "father" is the actual father. Maybe she knew he was dying, had no children, so wanted to keep the family name going. All sorts of thought are running in my head Smile If the church thought it was a scandalous birth, would they have allowed her husband's name to pass down? The surname has nobility attached to it. Although, at this time in Polish history, there really wasn't nobility, so who cares.

I am confused. Please help me figure this out!

Thanks,
H


Hi H,

The date of birth of your 2X great-grandfather and the date of death of his father (your 3X great-grandfather) are the keys to unlocking the answer to your question/questions. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church and in civil law going back to the Pre-Christian Roman Republic the question of the legitimacy of a child born after the death of the father was handled as follows.

The presumption of legitimacy and paternity favored a child born within the usual nine months of the death of the father. Anything longer than that amount of time pushed the birth into illegitimate status. The presumption was that any child born of a widow of a legitimate marriage within 9 months of the death of the husband/father was the child of that legitimate marital union. Once beyond the biological time frame for human gestation the presumption goes in the opposite direction. Obviously the farther along in the pregnancy the death of the husband took place the husband did not need to formally acknowledge paternity. The presumption was that if the couple was still living together the husband implicitly acknowledged the child as his. The only two ways in which the child could be considered illegitimate if born within the 9 month time frame would be for the father to state before his death that the unborn child was not his or for the mother, either before or after the death of the husband, to state that the child was not conceived of her legal husband. Neither scenario would be very likely. What benefit would come to a husband by telling the world that the child his wife was carrying was not his and what benefit would come to a widow to admit that she was messing around while her husband was alive?

As far as the record naming the child with the surname of the father keep in mind that widows continued to use the surname of their late husband until they married again. They didn’t revert to using their birth name just because their husband had died.

As I mentioned at the beginning, when you know the date of the husband’s death and the date of the child’s birth the math should answer your questions. The questions about scandals and keeping a family name alive have absolutely no impact on what was entered in a birth and baptism record.

I hope this helps somewhat.

Dave
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hajdasz



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Post Posted: Tue Feb 09, 2021 3:49 pm      Post subject:
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dnowicki wrote:
hajdasz wrote:
Hello,

I'm glad I came across this thread!

I have a situation that is causing some confusion in my research. My 2X great-grandfather was born in 1855 in the Podkarpackie region. Catholic. His mother was married, but widowed at the time of his birth. The "father" died in 1854, although I don't know the month. My great-grandfather was given this father's surname. During this marriage, she had 3 prior children, but all died in childhood. My great-grandfather was her only child that made it to adulthood.

The birth record indicates her as widowed, BUT the father as "unknown", and states child as illegitimate, I believe. Is it possible that since this "father" was passed at the time of birth, and he therefore was not able to legally acknowledge a son, therefore, the church notes him as illegitimate? What do you think is going on?

Also, I have DNA matches to others of this family surname, where the connection is prior to 1855. They are 4th to distant cousins. So, I am convinced that I am biologically connected to the "father" in some way.

I have theorized that the father is "unknown" somehow because of her being widowed. Since I have DNA connections to this family, maybe a relation of the "father" is the actual father. Maybe she knew he was dying, had no children, so wanted to keep the family name going. All sorts of thought are running in my head Smile If the church thought it was a scandalous birth, would they have allowed her husband's name to pass down? The surname has nobility attached to it. Although, at this time in Polish history, there really wasn't nobility, so who cares.

I am confused. Please help me figure this out!

Thanks,
H


Hi H,

The date of birth of your 2X great-grandfather and the date of death of his father (your 3X great-grandfather) are the keys to unlocking the answer to your question/questions. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church and in civil law going back to the Pre-Christian Roman Republic the question of the legitimacy of a child born after the death of the father was handled as follows.

The presumption of legitimacy and paternity favored a child born within the usual nine months of the death of the father. Anything longer than that amount of time pushed the birth into illegitimate status. The presumption was that any child born of a widow of a legitimate marriage within 9 months of the death of the husband/father was the child of that legitimate marital union. Once beyond the biological time frame for human gestation the presumption goes in the opposite direction. Obviously the farther along in the pregnancy the death of the husband took place the husband did not need to formally acknowledge paternity. The presumption was that if the couple was still living together the husband implicitly acknowledged the child as his. The only two ways in which the child could be considered illegitimate if born within the 9 month time frame would be for the father to state before his death that the unborn child was not his or for the mother, either before or after the death of the husband, to state that the child was not conceived of her legal husband. Neither scenario would be very likely. What benefit would come to a husband by telling the world that the child his wife was carrying was not his and what benefit would come to a widow to admit that she was messing around while her husband was alive?

As far as the record naming the child with the surname of the father keep in mind that widows continued to use the surname of their late husband until they married again. They didn’t revert to using their birth name just because their husband had died.

As I mentioned at the beginning, when you know the date of the husband’s death and the date of the child’s birth the math should answer your questions. The questions about scandals and keeping a family name alive have absolutely no impact on what was entered in a birth and baptism record.

I hope this helps somewhat.

Dave


Thank you, Dave! Yes, this makes sense. It's been difficult to find any records, so not sure if I'll ever find the death month.

Do you know if priests took it upon themselves to assign legitimacy themselves, i.e. by being judgmental? Just wondering if this priest made assumptions. A birth can actually go past nine months. Back then, I doubt anyone got exact gestation time right. I was born a few weeks after my mom's due date. The father could have died the day after conception for all we know.

In any case, since I have DNA connections to others of this father's surname, from the same large family, if the husband was not the father, perhaps a brother or cousin was.
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