Kazimierz Wisniewski or Gottfried Kirsch

Before we return to the usual Kelm programming, this blog will stay a Kirsch blog for a while longer. Over the last week I have been searching for digitized records to do with the Kirsch family in the village of Florentynow, Radomsko, which is in Lodzkie, Poland.

According to Deutsche Familien aus dem Kreis Radomsko [German Families from Kreis Radomosko], the colony of Florentynow was founded in 1809 and settled by German settlers. We can surmise that the Kirsch family or families were among these first settlers as Krzysztof Kirsch, grandfather of Martha Kirsch, was born there in 1813. In 1835, there were twelve colonists living there with family members, which totaled around 100.

After looking at translations of two records–the 1813 birth record of Krzysztof Kirsch from the previous blog post and the 1847 death record of his mother, Maria Elzbieta Pfeiffer–in more depth, I want to solve two “mysteries”: 1. Why does Kazimierz, Krzysztof’s father, seem to also be recorded as “Gottfried” (were there two Elzbieta Pfeiffers, one married to Kazimierz and the other married to Gottfried Kirsch)? and 2. Where did the Kirsch family emigrate from?

[“Krzysztof Wisniewski birth record, 1813”] from “Poland, Częstochowa Roman Catholic Church Books, 1226-1950,” Archiwum Archidiecezji Częstochowskiej (Czestochowa Archdiocese Archives), accessed through FamilySearch on 18 Oct 2020.

Lidia Opaczewska from the Genealogical Translations Facebook group graciously translated the Krzysztof Kirsch birth record (above) from my last post.

In the year one thousand eight hundred and thirteenth, on the twenty-fifth of July at two o’clock in the afternoon. Before us, the Law Officer of the Town of Radomsko, doing the Civil Registry Officer duties of the Radomsko Commune and Radomsko County in the Kalisz Department, Kazimierz Wisniowski appeared, settled on the farm, thirty-two years old, living in Kolonia Florentyn, and he showed us a male child, born in his house under number sixteen on the twenty-second day of the current month and the current year, expressed above, at five o’clock in the morning, and declaring that he was begotten of him and Elzbieta (Fayfer), twenty-eight years old, his wife, and that his wish is to give him the name Krzysztof. After making the above statement and presenting the child, in the consciousness of Wojciech Hekierkunst, settled on the farm, thirty-eight years old living in Kolonia Konradow and Bogumil Lutka, also settled on the farm, aged thirty nine, living in Kolonia Florentyn. This birth certificate, after reading it, was signed by us and by mentioned Bogumil Lutka, because the father of the child and the second witness cannot write. Maciej Szymanski, Lawyer of the Town of Radomsko, acting as a Registry Officer.

The record provides ages for Krzysztof’s parents (Kazimierz was born in around 1781 and Elzbieta in around 1785) and lists his father’s occupation as farmer. The record also provides a specific date of birth: July 22, 1813.

Searching Geneteka birth records (see above), I was able to find the following children born to Kazimierz Wisniewski and Elzbieta Fayfer or Fajfer: Krzysztof, Karolina, Krystyan, and Krystyna. An 1830 marriage record of Gottlieb Wisniewski and Ewa Roszyna Bot (Eva Rosina Both or Boot) also names Kazimierz Wisniewski and Elzbieta Fayfer as parents, as does the 1833 marriage record of Krzysztof Wisniewski and Karolina Kubsch (see last post). It might be important that, for all of these records, the Polish “Wisniewski” or “Wisniowski” is used instead of the German “Kirsch.”

[“Elzbieta Pfeifer Kirsch death record, 1846”], Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed through Geneteka on 20 Oct 2020. 

According to the above death record, Maria Elzbieta Pfeiffer died November 15, 1846. Monika Kucal and Herb Hensen from the Genealogical Translations Facebook group provided a translation of the document (thank you!):

Declarants: Gottlieb Kupsch, age 39, Gottlieb Kirsch, age 43, both farmers from Florentynow. Yesterday at 12 o’clock in the afternoon in Florentynow, Elzbieta Kirsch (born Pfeifer) died, widow to farmer, age 65, born in Wola in the Grand Duchy of Posen, daughter of both late Gottlieb and Anna Marianna (born Pelsz), married couple, farmers, leaving behind her four children: Gottlieb, Gottfried, Karolina Kubsch, Krystyna Rosenau. The first witness is a son-in-law of the deceased and the second one is her son.

It should be noted that Krzysztof is not listed in the record because he died earlier in 1846. Gottfried Kirsch is the only child a record has not been found for elsewhere. Maria Elzbieta’s husband is also not mentioned by name. Finally, the record mentions her birthplace, Wola in the Grand Duchy of Posen (Prussia), and her parents: Gottlieb Pfeiffer and Anna Marianna Pelsz. We have more information to help us answer that second question: Where did the Kirsch family emigrate from?

[“Chrysztof Kirsch death record, 1846”], Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed through Geneteka on 21 Oct 2020. 

I have not asked for help translating the above death record for Krzysztof Kirsch. I can make out the name “Karolina Kubsch,” his wife, and his children: Samuel, Chrystyna, Dorota, and Julianna. This lines up with the children I have recorded–save for Gottlieb Kirsch, who also died in 1846 and would not be mentioned here. The record names his parents as Gottfried–not Kazimierz–Kirsch and Elzbieta Pfeiffer. It is also Gottfried in the 1839 marriage record for Karolina Kirsch and Jan Erdmann Rosenau.

For me, the records that reference both Kazimierz and Gottfried line up too well for them to refer to different people. The records with “Kazimierz Wisniewski” were created when Florentynow was located within the Kingdom of Poland, before Russia took more control (this blog post explains the incessantly changing borders well). While the Germanification of the area (hence the colonization) was already occurring, anti-Polish sentiments and policies increased after 1830. I am still researching this time period (so forgive my vague attempts at explaining historical context), but my theory for now is that Kazimierz Wisniewski began using the German version of his surname, Kirsch (kirsche is cherry in German; wiśnia is cherry in Polish), and adopted a more German first name, Gottfried (there does not seem to be a German equivalent of Kazimierz or Kasimir like there is for, say, Gottlieb=Bogumil or Gottfried=Boguslaw). It may have also been the choice of the recordkeepers.

What are your thoughts?

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