Kirsch Family Origins

My apologies for the pause in updates. I am planning a wedding (and other major life events) and have had little time outside of work to enjoy the quietness of genealogy research. My updates may be scant for a few months, but I am try to work on my book when I can. I will also try to share excerpts of that work in progress here when I can, such as this post about Kirsch family origins. This section took almost a year to write. There is a lot of persistence that goes into digging for information that you can only suspect is there. Sometimes luck is what ultimately helps you. I need to say a big thank you to the volunteer translators at the Genealogical Translations Facebook group. Without their dedication, I would not have been able to decipher and translate any of the records I find. I am eternally thankful for help, not only with translating, but with helping me understand the structure of certain records so that I know where in the record to find a specific piece of information.

If you need a very general guide about who certain mentioned individuals are, the Direct Ancestors page (scroll down to Kirsch Ancestors and then to the earliest ancestors at the end) might be helpful.

Kirsch Family Origins

The arrival of German Lutherans in the area around the city of Radomsko (approximately ninety kilometers south of Lodz) in central Poland resulted in the founding of many German colonies, including those relevant to the Kirsch family; Florentynow, Elzbietow, and Konradow were founded in 1809.[1] In 1835, there were twelve colonists living in Florentynow with their families, which numbered ninety in total. [2] In Elzbietow, there were five colonists with forty-five in their families. [3] In Konradow, eleven colonists and sixty-six in their families.[4]

Modern map showing city of Radomsko, Poland, with nearby German colonies of Florentynow, Elzbietow, and Konradow indicated. Created 22 Aug 2021 with Google Maps. For scale, the distance between Elzbietow and Konradow is approximately 3.4 kilometers

The Kirsch families, as well as related families (Wurfel, Kubsch, and Hansch), were among the first settlers in the Radomsko area. Martha’s grandfather, Krzysztof Kirsch, was the first of his siblings born in Florentynow in 1813. Anna Rozyna Kirsch, the daughter of Krystyan Kirsch (unconfirmed but likely relation to Krzysztof) and Anna Dorota Kluske, was born in Florentynow in 1812. Martha’s maternal grandfather, Jerzy Wurfel, was born in Konradow in early 1810 and the family appears to have lived in Elzbietow from 1814. The 1935 Breyer Map by historian Albert Breyer, from an article titled “Deutsche Gaue in Mittelpolen [German Districts in Central Poland]” shows German colonization of central Poland by origin. Florentynow, Elzbietow, and Konradow fall within a region of colonies founded predominantly by those from the province of Silesia.[5] However, the families that settled in these colonies in particular (and eventually intermarried) were from German colonies near the city of Posen, which is in the province of Posen and north of Silesia.

When Krzysztof’s mother, Maria Elzbieta Pfeiffer (also Fayfer), died in Florentynow in 1847, her death record (click here for record and translation) recorded that she was from “Wola, Grand Duchy of Posen, Kingdom of Prussia.” Marcin Kirsch, likely a relation to Krzysztof’s father, Kazimierz Kirsch, died in Florentynow in 1846. His death record names Krystyan Kirsch and Maryanna Elzbieta Has as his parents and his birthplace as Wola, Grand Duchy of Posen, Kingdom of Prussia. “Wola,” which on its own denotes a type of settlement and is not specific enough to confirm which settlement, also appears in other records. According to Meyers Gazeteer (based on an 1871-1912 map of Germany), there were several locations containing “Wola” in Posen, including Wola Lagiewnik, Wola Skorzencin, and Wola Wapowska.

“[Gotlib Wisnieski and Ewa Rozyna Bot marriage record, 1830]” from Akta stanu cywilnego Parafii Rzymskokatolickiej w Kodrąbiu, accessed 22 Aug 2021 through Geneteka; “Wola Wysokotowska” highlighted

One record specifies a specific “Wola”; the 1830 marriage record of Gottlieb Kirsch, the oldest child of Kazimierz Kirsch and Maria Elzbieta Pfeiffer, and Eva Rozyna Both states that Gottlieb was born in Wola Wysokotowska in around 1808 and that his parents were also from there. Meyers Gazeteer (map, not searchable database) includes “Wyssogottowo Hauland,” Posen, Prussia (now Wysogotowo, Poland). Between Gotlieb’s birth in Wola Wysokotowska and his brother Krzysztof’s birth in Florentynow in 1813, the family migrated approximately 225 kilometers west from just outside the city of Posen.

Map from Meyers Gazetteer showing Wyssogottow Hauland

During the eighteenth century, the ancestors of the Kirsch family would have settled in Wola Wysokotowska or Wyssogottowo Hauland as Haulanders (also Hollanders or Oleders, depending on the language), free farmers (not serfs) who were collectively responsible for rent paid to their landlords.[6] The term “wola,” possibly from the Polish “wolni,” meaning “free,” has a similar definition in that it refers to a settlement or colony “established at the will of the local gentry or aristocracy” and populated by farmers not bound to the land by serfdom, but by the agreement to improve it in exchange for certain privileges.[7] The Wurfel and Kubsch families, though also from Posen and not Silesia, were from Chrzastowo, Schrimm, approximately thirty-seven kilometers south of Posen (city). It is still unknown where the Hansch (Julianna Hansch is Martha Kirsch’s maternal grandmother) family originated, but Julianna’s parents, and Martha’s great-grandparents, Andrzej Hansch and Anna Fryderyka Wolf, lived in Konradow from around 1815.

The Kirsch, Wurfel, and Kubsch families lived in what was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which lasted approximately from 1569 to 1795, until the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, when Posen became part of Prussia.[8] After Prussia snatched their share of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Prussia imposed several Germanification policies in the newly-acquired corners of their empire. German colonists were encouraged to migrate further east, which may be why the families helped found colonies around Radomsko. However, these borders kept changing. In 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte, during his Napoleonic Wars, created the Duchy of Warsaw (also known as Napoleonic Poland), which included both the colonies of origin near Posen and the forthcoming colonies near Radomsko. In 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, the Duchy of Warsaw was divided into the Grand Duchy of Posen (Prussia) and Congress Poland (Russia). The Polish people were granted some autonomy, which was why many records were in Polish. By the 1860s, as Polish uprisings caused Russia to restrict Polish freedom, there is a shift to Russian.[9] The Florentynow Population book, for example, was created in around 1866 and so contains records in both Polish and Russian.

Modern map showing migrations of Kirsch generations from the eighteenth-century up until Martha Kirsch migrated to Winnipeg, Canada, in 1908. Created 22 Aug 2021 with Google Maps

[1] Eduard Kneifel, “Geschichte der Evangelisch=Augsburgischen Kirsche in Polen,” from Homepage of Dr. theol. Eduard Kneifel, 1964, accessed 23 Oct 2020 through http://www.eduardkneifel.eu/data/Geschichte_der_Evangelisch-Augsburgischen_Kirche_in_Polen.pdf; Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe, “Radomsko Parish History,” from Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe, 01 Aug 2009 [last updated], accessed 23 Oct 2020 through https://www.sggee.org/research/parishes/parish_histories/PiotrkowDiocese/RadomskoParish/RadomskoHistory.html

[2] Marcus König, “Lage und Orte [Location and Places]“ from Deutsche Familien aus dem Kreis Radomsko,” undated, accessed 23 Oct 2020 through http://www.radomsko.de/14401.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Jutta Dennerlein, “The Breyer Map,” from Upstream Vistula, 2005, accessed 23 Oct 2020 through http://www.upstreamvistula.org/History/Breyer_Map.htm

[6] Zbigniew Chodyła, “The Oldest History of Oleder Settlements in the Nekla District, 1749-1793” from Committee for Renovation of Oleder Cemeteries, 2005, accessed 13 Aug 2021 through http://oledry.nekla.pl/images/download/The_Oldest_History_of_Hollander_settlement_in_Nekla.pdf

[7] “Place Name Guide” from Lubelskie Genealogy Web, undated, accessed 14 Nov 2020 through http://sites.rootsweb.com/~pollubel/lubelname.html

[8] Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz, “Those Infamous Border Changes: A Crash Course in Polish History” from From Shepherds and Shoemakers [blog], 15 Jan 2017, accessed 22 Aug 2021, through https://fromshepherdsandshoemakers.com/2017/01/15/those-infamous-border-changes-a-crash-course-in-polish-history/

[9] Ibid.