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Iskirka/Malgraff
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Tina



Joined: 21 Apr 2012
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Post Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:46 am      Post subject: Iskirka/Malgraff
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My great-grandfather, who emigrated from the Tatra Mountain area to New Zealand in 1876 (via Hamburg) married a woman from Prussian-occupied Poland. His name was Jan Ignatz Iskirka; hers was Clara Malgraff.
I've found a few traces of the Iskirka name, but nothing of Malgraff.
Does anyone have any information on either of these surnames?
As you would imagine, Clara spoke fluent German and worked as a court interpreter for other Polish and German immigrants in the 1870s-1890s.
Thanks for any ideas or information! Very Happy
Tina
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Ute
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:38 am      Post subject: Re: Iskirka/Malgraff
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Tina wrote:
My great-grandfather, who emigrated from the Tatra Mountain area to New Zealand in 1876 (via Hamburg) married a woman from Prussian-occupied Poland. His name was Jan Ignatz Iskirka; hers was Clara Malgraff.
I've found a few traces of the Iskirka name, but nothing of Malgraff.
Does anyone have any information on either of these surnames?
As you would imagine, Clara spoke fluent German and worked as a court interpreter for other Polish and German immigrants in the 1870s-1890s.
Thanks for any ideas or information! Very Happy
Tina

Tina,
Welcome to PolishOrigins! The surname Iskirka is indeed an unusual one. I assume your great-grandfather is the Johann Iskirka who emigrated to New Zealand on 15 Nov 1875 on board of the ship "Terpsichore". You are saying he emigrated via Hamburg. The record I found indicates that the port of arrival was Wellington, but it doesn't say which port he departed from, how long he had been at sea, and when exactly he arrived in Wellington. Johann Iskirka was 25 years old at the time, thus born abt. 1851, and single. His origin is indexed as Prussia.
See https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FSYV-G3B
You'll find the original passenger record there too.

Source: "New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1855-1973," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FSYV-G3B : accessed 23 April 2012), Johann Iskirka (1876).

His name appears again in the "Wanganui Chronicle" on Wednesday, May 2, 1877 under "Unclaimed letters" that have been received at the Wanganui post office during the month of February 1877 and not been claimed by 30 Apr 1877. He apparently had moved on to another place.
See: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=WC18770502.2.6&l=mi&e=-------10--1----2--
(Unclaimed Letters).

You are saying that your great-grandfather Jan Ignatz Iskirka emigrated from the Tatra Mountain area to New Zealand. Where do you have this information from? Do you have a place name maybe? I'm asking because I've never heard of the name Iskirka, at least not in the Polish Tatra Mountains area between Zakopane and Nowy Targ, the area I'm doing research in. I'm not an expert in Polish surnames and I may be wrong, but I don't think Iskirka is a Polish surname (however, there is an ISKIERKA Foundation in Warszawa taking care of children with cancer). Since Johann Iskirka's 1875 passenger record indicates that his place of origin was "Prussia", it may be a German name (although it doesn't occur frequently in Germany either).
Ute
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Tina



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:27 am      Post subject:
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Hello Ute!
Delighted to hear from you. I already have almost all of the information that you sent; however I am intrigued by my great-grandfather's surname. As you say, it doesn't seem like a regular Polish name. Someone once told me they thought it was Slovak.

Unfortunately I don't have any idea of his town, city or village of origin -- my great-grandfather's birthplace is not in any public records, even his New Zealand naturalisation (citizenship) records.

Jan (Janusz?) kept a pretty low profile all his life, so maybe he didn't want this known (just a guess!)

As you will see from his Terpsichore listing, he is down as being from Denmark, but this was not true. At the time, the New Zealand government was offering free ship's passage for any families or single men who would settle in this country and carve farms, roads and towns out of the bush. There was a huge wave of Scandinavian immigrants who took up this offer.

Somehow Jan got to hear about this free fare, and I think he just "jumped on the bandwagon" so to speak, to maybe get out of conscription into the army (?) or just to get out of Poland.

To answer your question, all my information about him has come from my elderly aunt. As a child, she remembers him telling stories about the old country, and she told me he was definitely from Poland -- "the highlands" which I took to mean the Tatras.

Also, his wife had an unusual name : Malgraff. Could this be a German surname? I know at that time, Polish people spoke both Polish and German, and their surnames were often translated into German.
What do you think?
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Tina



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:47 am      Post subject:
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Ute:
I forgot to add the shipping information you asked for in your message: the Terpsichore, with Captain Frank Kohler, departed Hamburg on November 15, 1875, and arrived in Wellington March 18, 1876.

Jan (he was mostly called Johann in public records) then travelled to the small port town of Foxton, where
he lived and worked for a while, and later in 1876 was married to 16-year-old Clara Malgraff by the local Justice of the Peace.
Later they moved to Palmerston North, a timber town (now a provincial city, pop. 80,000) where he worked as a bushman felling trees.
He and Clara had 8 children, but they were divorced in 1910 and he moved further north to Te Kuiti, where I believe he may have bought his own farm. Clara earned her own living as a teacher and court interpeter.

He died in Palmerston North in 1933.

I would love to find even a clue to the town he was from: then I could visit there in person!

Thanks,
Tina
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Ute
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:41 am      Post subject:
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Tina,
Since your great-grandfather kept such a low profile after immigration, you may be right and he may have had a reason to do so, and sometimes we have to respect that. On the other hand, I understand so well that you want to find out more about him, because it's part of your roots, part of who you are, and the lack of knowledge about him and the reason why he was so reluctant to share information about himself has an impact on your life also. I wished I could help you, but with this little information it is very difficult.

It is well possible that your great-grandfather lived somewhere in the Tatra Mountain region, many Germans settled there, and that this is "the highlands" your aunt remembers him telling stories about. However, in the ship manifest I was referring to in my earlier post his country of origin is indexed as "Prussia". I'm attaching a copy of it for you. Again, I may be wrong, but the name Jan Ignatz resp. Johann Iskirka sounds more German than Polish to me, and so does the name Clara Malgraff.
Ute



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Tina



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:38 am      Post subject:
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Hi again Ute -- thank you so much for your replies and information. It's much appreciated.

I think the spelling of Iskirka should more properly be "Iskierka," which means "Little Spark" in Polish.
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Tina



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:52 am      Post subject:
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Sorry, Ute, another "afterthought" !
You are quite right that my great-grandfather was Prussian, in that he lived in the Prussian-occupied part of Poland in 1876.
(The other parts of course being the Austrian and Russian areas.)
This meant that the Poles had to speak German, and their names were often changed into the German equivalent of their Polish surnames.
So they actually had dual identities.
It's interesting that in the World War One era, New Zealand had a "register of aliens" which Jan would have been added to, which meant that all foreigners were lumped in together with "the enemy" and anyone who had a German-type accent or background was kept under scrutiny.
Although by then Jan was a New Zealand citizen, this would have been another reason for him to keep to himself. It was quite a cruel thing to do to the immigrants, as even the Scandinavian ones were added to the register.
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Cheri Vanden Berg
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:11 am      Post subject:
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While I don't know the origin of the name Iskirka, I have no doubt that Jan/Johann/John considered himself Polish, because that is what is known about from his
history. I did wonder if Iskirka was a version of the surname Iskierka. That seems like it would be a Polish name, since the google translation of iskierka is "sparkle". I think it's interesting that one of the current "hot spots" of the Iskierka surname is Bielsko-Biała:
http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/iskierka.html
At a point in time, I'm afraid that I didn't check the years, the river between Bielsko-Biała was the border between Austria and Prussia. It seems that Jan would have lived on the Prussia side because of the manifest that Ute posted said he was Prussian. In later years, like when my grandmother immigrated in 1913, it was written that she was from Austria, but that she was Polish. I noticed that in the earlier years of immigration through Ellis Island, the emigrants from her area were simply called Austrian or Galician because of where they lived. I think this is the case with Jan/Johann/John when he emigrated. It would have said he was Prussian because of the geography of where he lived. Also, and I don't know this, but maybe Johann was his legal name in Prussia, because it seems that he used Jan at some point in New Zealand.

At Ellis Island I only found 7 with the Iskierka surname. Of course that doesn't mean that there were more, and they were indexed incorrectly. Of those 7, two were from Russia, two were from Porąbka (16.8 km from Bielsko-Biała), one was from Paraska, one from Povabko, I didn't find those two towns, so they may also be Porąbka. One was from Międzybrodzie. There is a Międzybrodzie Żywieckie and a Międzybrodzie Bialskie both are about 20 km from
Bielsko-Biała. I don't necessarily think these towns were were Jan was from since I think that they were on the Austrian partition. As you know, I think this at least might narrow down the area of the Tatra mountains he was from

I am curious about the man next to him on the manifest. Is the surname Michrelet? That seems to be a very unique name also. He was 24 - close to your great grandfather's age, and I did wonder if they were friends, or even related. Have you found any relations that also immigrated to New Zealand? Have you looked closely at neighbors to see where they were from? I know it's a long shot, but maybe someone from the same town as your great grandfather left more information about the town that they were from than he did.

My grandmother was the only one of her 9 siblings to immigrate to the U.S. Two of her brothers immigrated to France, the rest stayed in Poland. She had said she came over with a friend. I always thought that she was so alone until I found out where she was from. Now I know that a rather large number of people from Zaluczne went to Chicago like she did. It's my understanding that many people went to places where they knew people. Of course your great grandfather emigrated in the early years, so he might not have known anyone in New Zealand, but I wonder if there was anyone that he knew that followed his lead, and maybe you can find where he was from by those associations.
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Tina



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:25 am      Post subject:
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Hi Cheri,
You've given me a lot of food for thought! Yes, I do think Iskirka was probably a misspelling of Iskierka, since my aunt told me it meant "Little Spark."
And those towns you mention give me a starting point for maybe finding where Jan was from, which I never had before.
The thing about his name "Johann" was that in the Prussian zone where Jan lived in the 1870s, Poles would have had to change their names to the German equivalents, and speak German instead of Polish.
Talking of people emigrating with friends, I noticed that on the ship (Terpsichore) that Jan sailed on, there was a man named Josef Kriewan. In our local public library there's a photo of Jan and some other tree fallers from the 1870s, and right beside my great grandfather is "Joseph Krivan" -- surely the same man. I'm sure they either met on the ship or became friends during the voyage.
It's all a bit like detective work, isn't it, trying to follow the trail our ancestors left!
I don't know about Michelret, but I'll try to look him up. You are right that some peope emigrated in groups with their friends or neighbours.
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Cheri Vanden Berg
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:29 pm      Post subject:
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Tina,
Yes, it is detective work.
I wonder if this could be the same Anton that is on the ship:
Anton Michalek
Linda Monks (View posts) Posted: 11 Jun 1999 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Michalek

How to look for birth registration of Anton MICHALEK from Gelsenkirchen Westphalia. Emigrated 'Terpishcore' from Hamburg 15.11.1875 arriving New Zealand 16 March 1876. Need help how to find information Birth.

Linda Monks
New Zealand

That was from a post on the RootsWeb mailing list. Linda seems to think that her Anton was born in Germany. I wonder if she ever found his birth record. It seems that Michalek is a Polish surname (of course people moved to find work):

Michalek Name Meaning (from Ancestry.com)
Czech and Slovak (Michálek) and Polish (Michalek): from a pet form of the personal name Michal (Czech) or Michal (Polish) (see Michael).

Well, I know that you're not researching this family. I just wondered if he might have known your great grandfather. I see two dates for Naturalisations for Anton Michalek 6 Sep 1890, and 8 Sep 1890. They might be the same. On the 6 Sep 1890 it said he was born about 1842, so that doesn't fit with the Anton that was 24 in 1875, if it's correct. It said his former nationality was German. I see that on Johann Iskira's naturalisation of 16 Dec 1890 that his former nationality was German also. I imagine that could be based on the fact that where he lived in Poland was considered Prussia at the time. In 1890 they both were living in Palmerston North.
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Cheri Vanden Berg
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:18 pm      Post subject:
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Tina,
Was your great grandmother born in 1861? I found a Clara Malgraf born that year, I believe Starogard Gd. might mean Starogard Gdanski, and that town was once called Preussich Stargard which translates as Prussian Stargard according to the Prussian message board at RootsWeb.

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pl&u=http://www.geneteka.genealodzy.pl/index.php%3Frid%3DB%26from_date%3D%26to_date%3D%26search_lastname%3Dmal%26rpp2%3D50%26rpp1%3D600%26bdm%3D50%26url1%3D%26w%3D11pm%26op%3Dgt&ei=kqeVT-iUKdHgggeIuMT9Ag&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CD0Q7gEwBA&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522clara%2Bmalgraff%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us%26prmd%3Dimvns

[13] - Geneteka baza Polskiego Towarzystwa Genealogicznego
www.geneteka.genealodzy.pl/index.php?...Cached - Translate this page
You +1'd this publicly. Undo
627, 1861, 1716, Clara Cathar. Malgraf, 3, Starogard Gd. 628, 1862, 1922, Anton Johann, Malgraff, 59, Starogard Gd. 629, 1698, 4806, Catharina, Malick, 0, Gd.
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Tina



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:55 pm      Post subject:
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Cheri, thank you so much!
For you to have found a possible town for Clara, and even her second name, is a real breakthrough for me!
Also I had looked for her father Johann Malgraff, but if his real first name was Anton, that explains why nothing was
coming up for me. I'm not a member of Rootsweb or Ancestry (yet).
It was so kind of you to look that up.
I will now try to find what I can about Anton Michalek.
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Tina



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:06 pm      Post subject:
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OOps, I'm so dense. If Johann Anton Malgraff was born in 1861, he was Clara's brother, not her father. Wonder what happened to him?
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Cheri Vanden Berg
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:36 pm      Post subject:
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Tina,
RootsWeb is free: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

Family Search is free: https://familysearch.org/

If you are talking about the U.S. version of Ancestry, I don't think there is enough there for you.

I found that Clara Malgraf record by simply searching for her name. That is at a free Polish site, I guess. I was very suprised to run across it. It seems like I didn't find much of anything on Malgraff when I took a look yesterday. Did she emigrate with her family, is that the record you have of her father and brother's names?
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Tina



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Post Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:42 pm      Post subject:
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Thanks for that info about Rootsweb etc Cheri.
I feel like this is my lucky day. I had no idea where Clara was born -- now I've been looking up Starogard Gdanski and enjoying the views of the modern-day town!

Clara emigrated to New Zealand with her father Johann Malgraff, mother Johanna and sister Auguste in the same year as Jan, but on a different ship, I think it was the Gutenberg. ... but according to the record you found, there must have been a son, Anton Johann, too. I wonder what happened to him? He would have been one year younger than Clara. Perhaps he died young.

Now if that Polish site turns up the birth place of Jan Ignatz Iskirka (or Iskierka) in 1851 or 1852, I'll be in Polish heaven LOL!

I have to wonder a bit why they chose New Zealand to emigrate to. It would have been the ends of the earth to them.
I would have thought everyone would want to go to America.
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