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.

Linking the Netzbruch and Borki Kelms

As much as I am thankful for the family tree work of other family historians, I am often wary of copying without checking sources. One of my fears, for example, is that I will record incorrect information and have that replicated in other Ancestry family trees. I’m not implying that others’ work is usually incorrect; I’m just a proponent of verifying information with records.

In my search of where the Kelms of Borki originated, I’ve taken information from public family trees and user-contributed information in databases like GEDBAS and FamilySearch (Family Tree) that indicate that their forefathers lived in Netzbruch (Przynotecko), Friedeberg, Brandenburg, Prussia. However, I can’t find records that confirm this information. Because of this, my Direct Ancestors page separates Andreas Kelm and Anna Krystyna Jess, my known great-great-great-great-grandparents–the Borki patriarch and matriarch–from the Kelms of Netzbruch. The Netzbruch Kelms’ genealogies are well-documented from 1645, but, as far as I know, there is no link… yet. If Kelm genealogists have discovered this link, I would be very excited to see it.

I am revisiting what information I have collected about the first generation of Kelms in Borki (the children of Andreas Kelm and Anna Krystyna Jess) and reviewing databases like Geneteka and Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe to both verify relationships and double-check for the overlooked details, or the details that don’t usually make it into searchable indexes. An indexed marriage record, for example, usually includes names, parents’ names, place names, and dates. But what else can we find in the record itself?

Searching for indexed “Kelm” records in SGGEE; results with Andreas Kelm and Anna Christine Jesse or Gesse as parents

Searching for indexed “Kielma” records in Geneteka (Grabow parish); results with Andreas Kelm and Anna Krystyna Jesse (or Polish variants of surname) as parents

According to the above results, as well as additional marriage records, Andreas and Anna Krystyna had eight known children1:

  1. Anna Luisa (Ludwika) Kelm (b. 1797 in Wrzesnia, Posen, Prussia; d. 25 Aug 1854 in Borki, Lodzkie, Poland)
  2. Andreas Kelm (b. 21 Aug 1801 in Borki, Lodzkie, Poland)
  3. Anna Rosina Kelm (b. 19 Mar 1803 in Borki, Lodzkie, Poland)
  4. Christoph Kelm (b. 28 Mar 1805 in Borki, Lodzkie, Poland; d. 08 Dec 1874 in Pokrzywnica, Lodzkie, Poland)
  5. Anna Marianna Kelm (b. 12 Jan 1807 in Borki, Lodzkie, Poland)
  6. Daniel Kelm (b. 1808 in Dabie, Wielkopolskie, Poland; d. 29 Jan 1858 in Kadzidlowa, Lodzkie, Poland)
  7. Bogumil (Gottlieb) Kelm (b. 24 Dec 1810 in Borki, Lodzkie, Poland)
  8. Deogratus Kelm (b. 24 Dec 1810 in Borki, Lodzkie, Poland)

1 Some family trees list Peter Kelm, but I have been unable to confirm

Daniel Kelm, my direct ancestor, appears to have been born just over the border from Lodzkie in Wielkopolskie. I have his 1833 marriage record and, having not asked for help translating it, can only see Sobotka (Kolo County), the place of marriage, and Borki Colony, the place where he lives and where his parents lived.

The marriage record of Daniel’s oldest sibling, Anna Luisa Kelm (also spelled Anna Lowisa or Ludwika) provides an interesting clue.

[“Ludwika Kielm and Bogumil Krygier marriage record, 1815”] from Akta stanu cywilnego Parafii Rzymskokatolickiej w Grabowie, accessed through Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne (Polish Genealogical Society) on 31 Oct 2020.

Monica Kucal helped me extract the following information:

The bride name is written Ludowika, Lovis in brackets, and then Ludwika. She was a daughter of late Andrzej Kielm2 and still alive Krystyna Jessowna [may come from Jess surname], age 18, based on the birth certificate from Wrzesnia church [that means that she was born there], living with her mother in Borki.

2 According to this record, Andreas Kelm died before 1815. His youngest sons, Bogumil (Gottlieb) and Deogratus, were born December 1810, which gives us a narrower death date estimate of between 1810 and 1815.

Is it possible Andreas, Anna Krystyna, and little Anna Luisa (she was four years old when her brother, Andreas, was born in Borki) came to Borki from Wresnia (around 130 km west of Borki)? We are equipped with another clue in figuring out the gap between the Borki Kelms and, if the speculation proves correct, the Netzbruch Kelms.

From west to east: Netzbruch > Wresnia > Borki

Finally, having done the Ancestry DNA test and checking their ThruLines feature (which, I should note, relies on users’ family trees being accurate), I can say that I may have found a link (see below) to Christian Kelm and Louise Kuehl of Netzbruch, the speculated parents of Andreas Kelm. Their son, Michael Kelm, was born in Exin, West Prussia, which is Kcynia, Wielkopolskie, Poland, today. Kcynia is around 80 km north of Wresnia. Our search continues.

Samuel’s Sisters

This is a continuation of my previous “Residents of Kolonia Florentynow, 1866” post, but about another page in the population book (this section lists Samuel Kirsch’s direct ancestors and descendants). This page (see below) shows Samuel’s mother, Anna Karolina Kubsch, and stepfather, Jan Daniel Semper, living with his three sisters (Samuel had one brother, Gottlieb, who was four years old when he died in 1846) and niece in around 1866 in Florentynow (central Poland). They lived close. I don’t know how the households were enumerated, but Samuel lived at home 15 and his mother and sisters lived at home 14.

“Księga ludności stałej wsi: Gertrudów, Koniecbór, Florentynów, Konradów (Book of the Population of the Villages: Gertrudów, Koniecbór, Florentynów, Konradów)” from Archiwum Państwowe w Piotrkowie Trybunalskim (Piotrkowie Trybunalskim State Archives), accessed through Archiwa Państwowe on 25 Oct 2020.

The page contains the following information:

  1. Jan Daniel Semper (b. 14 Jun 1816 n Wies i Gmina Sm…y… [illegible])
  2. Karolina Semper (born Kubsch, previously Wisniewski) (b. 23 Jan 1817 in Florentynow)
  3. Anna Krystyna Wisniewski or Kirsch (b. 07 Feb 1838 in Belchatow)
  4. Anna Dorota Wisniewski or Kirsch (b. 16 Feb 1840 in Belchatow)
  5. Julianna Wisniewski or Kirsch (b. 30 May 1844 in Florentynow)
  6. Julianna Wisniewski or Kirsch (b. 09 Apr 1865 in Florentynow) [daughter of Anna Krystyna]

Unlike the page with Samuel’s family, each name has been crossed out. As the book was supposed to have been kept between 1866 and 1884, I’m not sure if this means all family members died before 1884. I have recorded three deaths before 1884: Anna Krystyna Kirsch (1866), Jan Daniel Semper (1871), and Anna Karolina Kubsch (1876).

Because many Kirsch family members left Florentynow for Volhynia, Russia, in the late 1860s, I wanted to find out what happened to this particular household.

Jan Daniel Semper and Anna Karolina Kubsch remained in Florentynow as that was where they both died.

Anna Krystyna Kirsch is recorded in the population book as unmarried with a one-year-old daughter, Julianna Kirsch, whose father is “unknown.” Julianna’s birth record (see below) also doesn’t reveal the identity of Julianna’s father.

[“Julianna Kirsch birth record, 1865”], Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed through Geneteka on 28 Oct 2020. 

Dorothy Woloszczuk kindly translated this record:

Julianna Kirsch was born in Florentyow on 2nd April 1865 at 11 o’clock in the morning. Mother – Krystyna Kirsch, unmarried, labourer, age 29. Father – unknown. Birth registered and baptized on 2nd April 1865 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Informant – Bogumil Kirsch, farmer, age 34. Witnesses – Daniel Semper, 48, and Marcin Kirsch, 41, both farmers. Godparents – Bogumil Kirsch and Krystyna Kirsch.

Anna Krystyna died October 2, 1866, in Florentynow, at the age of twenty-eight. Tyler Versluis translated the following record:

[“Krystyna Kirsch death record, 1866”], Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed through Geneteka on 28 Oct 2020. 

It happened in Dziepolc on the 3rd of October, 1866, at 7AM: 31 year old Samuel Kirsch and 35 year old Bogumil Kirsch presented themselves, both farmers in Florentynow, and told us that last evening at 2AM in Florentynow, Krystyna Kirsch died, 28 year old unmarried maidservant, daughter of the deceased Krysztof formerly of Florentynow, and Karolina nee Kubsch, currently married to Semper, married couple. After confirming the death of Krystyna Kirsch, this act was presented to the witnesses who have declared they are illiterate [note: or unable to read or write Polish].

I am trying to find out what happened to Anna Krystyna’s little daughter, Julianna. Did the godparents adopt her? Which Bogumil (Gottlieb) Kirsch and Krystyna Kirsch are mentioned in the record?

Anna Dorothea Kirsch married Krystyan Kamchen in nearby Dziepolc (I believe this was where the church was) on July 15, 1866. By the spring of 1867, Anna Dorothea and Krystyan were in Konstantynow, Lutsk, Volhynia. Her brother, Samuel, would also live in the same colony, so perhaps he was there around this time. Anna Dorothea’s first child, a daughter named Julianna, was one year old when she died in February of 1869. She and Krystyan had two other known children: Carl Ludwig (b. 1870) and Anna Louise (b. 1874).

I haven’t found any information yet about the third sister, Julianna Kirsch. Hopefully I will be able to return to this chapter and add more details.

Kirsch Ancestors

I am having fun this weekend adding new names to my Kirsch family tree. The records referenced here are how I got the following Kirsch genealogy: Kazimierz Kirsch m. Elzbieta Pfeiffer > Krzysztof Kirsch m. Anna Karolina Kubsch > Samuel Kirsch m. Karolina Wurfel > Martha Kirsch m. Julius Kelm

Samuel Kirsch was born in around 1839. I don’t have a birth record, but two of his known siblings, Gottlieb (Bogumil) Kirsch and Julianna Kirsch, were born in Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland, in 1842 and 1844. I should note that there appear to be three different villages named Florentynow in Lodzkie, Poland, and the village where the records originate is in the county of Radomsko.

[“Samuel Kirsch vel Wisniewski and Karolina Wurfel marriage record”], Akta stanu cywilnego Filiału Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepółci, accessed through Geneteka on 17 Oct 2020. [Note: “vel” means “or,” so “Kirsch or Wisniewski,” which is the Polish version of the surname]

Samuel Kirsch and Karolina Wurfel were married in Florentynow on October 2, 1859. Samuel’s parents are recorded as Krzysztof (Christoph) Wisniewski and Anna Karolina Kubsch (also sometimes spelled as Kupka or Kupsz). Karolina Wurfel’s parents are Wojciech or Jerzy (Georg in German or George in English) Wurfel and Julianna Hansch.

[“Krzysztof Wisniewski and Anna Karolina Kubsch marriage record, 1833”] from “Poland, Częstochowa Roman Catholic Church Books, 1226-1950,” Archiwum Archidiecezji Częstochowskiej (Czestochowa Archdiocese Archives, Czestochowa), accessed through FamilySearch on 17 Oct 2020.

Krzysztof Wisniewski and Anna Karolina Kubsch married in Radomsko in 1833. With the help of Jan Textor from the SGGEE Facebook group, I now know that this marriage record for Krzysztof and Anna Karolina names Kazimierz Wisniewski and Elzbieta Fayfer (Pfeiffer) as Krzysztof’s parents. Anna Karolina’s parents are Gottfryd Kubsch and Anna Rozyna Riesmann. The record also says that Krzysztof and Anna Karolina were born and lived in “Florentynow Kolonia.” “Kolonia” was often added to a village name to designate it as a colony village (in this instance, German) and different from Polish villages with the same name.

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

Finally, the above scan is of the birth record for Krzysztof Kirsch or Wisniewski. Krzysztof was born in 1813 in either “Kolonia Florentyn” or Radomsko and I can make out the names of his parents: Kazimierz Wisniewski and Elzbieta Fayfer. I need help extracting more details from this record.