Wysogotowo, [before] 1782-1813

This post is a continuation of (or addition to) Kirsch Family Origins. I am currently writing a section for my History of Martha project (tracing the ancestry of my great-grandmother, Martha Kirsch), so much of the text in this post may be copied from that first post about the earliest information I have about the Kirsch family. I realized recently that I tend to write “backwards in time” as I solve genealogical “mysteries” for blog posts, or I start with what I know and then follow clues backwards. In the attempt to rearrange (and add more) information to be more chronological, I may repeat parts of previous posts.

I have a question for those knowledgeable about Polish sources: Do Polish book titles capitalize every word like in English? Thank you. Again, please excuse the inconsistent citations as I try to finalize a (customized) style that works for me.

Finally, a quick note that Wysogotowo will be spelled numerous ways, depending on the original source. Variants will be in quotations to make it less confusing.

Wysogotowo, [before] 1782-1813

The Kirsch family’s paper trail begins with Martha’s great-grandparents in Wysogotowo in the late eighteenth century. Wysogotowo, located eleven kilometers west of Posen (city), was a German colony in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[1] At the start of the eighteenth century, various Kirsch family members, including our ancestors, Kazimierz and Elzbieta (Pfeiffer) Kirsch (and little son, Gottlieb), traveled 225 kilometers from Wysogotowo (now in Wielkopolskie, Poland) to Florentynow, Lodzkie, Poland. The paper trail begins with marriage and death records created in the Kirsch family’s new jurisdiction, which sometimes mentioned birthplaces.

Ignacy Wyssogota Zakrzewski; photo courtesy of Mazovian Digital Library

The 1830 marriage record of Gottlieb Kirsch, the oldest child of Kazimierz and Elzbieta Kirsch, and Eva Rozyna Both states that Gottlieb was born in “Wola Wysokotowska” in around 1808 and that his parents were also from there. According to Stanislaw Kozierowski, “Wyssogotowo Oledry” was named for the noble Polish family that founded it, the Wyskotow Zakrzewskich family.[2] The family also founded Zakrzewo Oledry, which is five kilometers from Wysogotowo, “before 1745,” and it is possible the two colonies were founded around the same time.[3] One member of the Wyskotow Zakrzewskich family was Ignacy Wyssogota Zakrzewski, the mayor of Warsaw in 1792 and 1794. In a 1788 Magazin für die neue Historie und Geographie [Magazine of New History and Geography] (volume twenty-two), “Oledry Wysogotowo” had twenty-one “chimneys.”[4] In 1841, the population was 181.[5] Fifteen years later, Wysogotowo, “a village of Prussia, in the regency and [kreis] of Posen” had 200 people.”[6] Meyers Gazetteer (1893 map, not searchable database) includes “Wyssogottowo Hauland.”[7]

Some records mention only “Wola, Grand Duchy of Posen” (the Grand Duchy of Posen existed at the time of the records’ creation, from 1815 to 1848). When Elzbieta Kirsch died in 1847, “Wola” was recorded as her birthplace. She was born in around 1782 to Gottlieb Pfeiffer and Mariana Pelsz.[8] Ten years before her birth, in 1772, the First Partition of Poland shrunk the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the fringes going to Europe’s three most powerful kingdoms of that time: Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Posen (region), however, remained in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. By the time Elzbieta’s first son, Gottlieb, was born in Wola in 1808, the Second Partition of Poland (1793) had granted Prussia possession of Posen (region).

“Wola” appears in other records. Marcin Kirsch, whose precise relation to known Kirsch ancestors is unknown (though likely a close relative), died in Florentynow in 1846 at the age of seventy-eight. His death record names Krystyan Kirsch and Maryanna Elzbieta Has as his parents and “Kolonia Wola in the Kingdom of Prussia” as his birthplace. “Wola” on its own does not indicate a specific location because it refers to a type of settlement. The word “wola” is possibly from the Polish “wolni,” which means “free” and refers to a colony “established at the will of the local gentry or aristocracy” and populated by farmers not bound to the land by serfdom (abolished in Prussia in 1807), but by the agreement to improve it in exchange for certain privileges.[9] The term “wola” has a similar meaning to “hauland,” which is interchangeable with the Polish “holendry” or “oledry.” “Hauland,” which refers to the initial Dutch settlers who arrived in Poland during the sixteenth century, indicated “lease of land, with only cash rent payable to the landowner.”[10] The colonists were also collectively responsible for rent owed to the landowner.

Radomsko, May 11, 1846, 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Declarants: Chrystjan Kirsch, age 63, the brother of the deceased, Gottlib Weber, age 33, both farmers residing in Kolonia Florentynow. Deceased: Yesterday at 10 o’clock in the morning in Florentynow, Marcin Kirsch, residing in Kolonia Wlodzimierz in Parzniewice Commune, renter, died, age 78, born in Kolonia Wola in the Kingdom of Prussia, son of Chrystjan Kirsch and Marjanna Elzbieta Has, married, farmers who died there. Left behind his widowed wife Rozyna Lotka (Lotek) and children: Gottfryd, Marcin, Jakob.

“[Marcin Kirsch death record, 1846]” from Akta stanu cywilnego Filialu Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Dziepolci (Dziepolc Civil Records, Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession), Archiwum Panstwowe w Lodzi (Lodz State Archives), digitized by Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne (Polish Genealogical Society), accessed 21 Nov 2020 through Geneteka. Translated by Monika Kucal.

Map from Meyers Gazetteer showing Wyssogottow Hauland

The Kirsch family likely migrated to Wysogotowo during the first half of the eighteenth century. According to historian Walther Maas, many Germans migrated to Posen (region) during the eighteenth century as a result of the devastation following the Great Northern War, a conflict fought mainly between Russia and Sweden and lasting from 1700 to 1721.[11] Plague also claimed the lives of more than half of the inhabitants of Posen (city) in 1708-1709, perhaps killing more people in the region than war.[12] As a result of this population and economic loss–due to war, plague, as well as famine–in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Polish nobility recruited Germans to take their place.[13] These landowners needed cash and benefited from the switch from labour to cash rent.[14] According to Maas, the new German settlements were built on land that had not yet been farmed; the new German settlers had to clear the forests, the incentive being that they were allowed to keep surplus crops.[15] The 1893 map shows Wysogotowo with the typical “hauland” layout: a row of houses along one or both sides of a road with narrow fields behind the houses.[16] The timeline of events and the nature of Wysogotowo’s founding by Polish nobility provides a plausible explanation as to why Kirsch ancestors migrated there, though more information is needed.

“The landscape of Poznan during the siege in 1704”; Stragona, or the capital city of Poznan, and tabula accuratissima there per totam Poloniam, quam ertra regnum; How many miles to count for foreign cities, published in 1707; copied from “The impact of the Great Northern War on Poznan and the lives of its inhabitants” by Karol Koscielniak

[1] Note: Posen is now Poznan, Wielkopolskie (Greater Poland), Poland

[2] Stowarzyszenie Konserwatorow Zabytkow [Association of Monument Conservators], “Names of Oleder Settlements in Wielkopolska: Origins and Changes” from Catalogue of Monuments of Dutch [Oleder] Colonization in Poland, 2005, accessed 18 Nov 2022 through http://holland.org.pl/art.php?kat=art&dzial=konf_2001&id=6&lang=en; Note: Variants of surname are Wyssogota, Wyskota, Wyszogota, and Wyszkota; information from Badania nazw topograficznych na obszarze dawnej wschodniej Wielpolski [Research on Topographic Names in the Area of Former Eastern Wielkopolskie] by Stanislaw Kozierowski, published 1928

[3] Ibid.

[4] Curt [publisher], Magazin für die neue Historie und Geographie [Magazine of New History and Geography] v22, p37, published 1788, accessed 13 Nov 2022 through Google Books

[5] De l’Echaude [publisher], Opisanie geograficzno-historyczno-statystyczne wojewodztwa poznanskiego [Geographical, Historical and Statistical Description of the Poznan Voivodship], p116, published 1841, accessed 13 Nov 2022 through Google Books

[6] A. Fullarton [publisher], A Gazetteer of the World v7, p566, published 1856, accessed 13 Nov 2022 through Google Books

[7] Note: Map is Karte des Deutschen Reiches [Map of the German Empire], published 1893, accessed 22 Nov 2022 through https://www.meyersgaz.org; Digitized map from David Rumsey Map Collection, accessed 22 Nov 2022 through https://www.davidrumsey.com/blog/2011/4/10/karte-des-deutschen-reiches-1893

[8] Note: German Pfeiffer appears as Fayfer in Polish records

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

[10] Stowarzyszenie Konserwatorow Zabytkow [Association of Monument Conservators]

[11] Joel Streich, “HAULAND – its meaning?” [response to Google Group post] from soc.genealogy.german [Google Group], accessed 20 Nov 2022 through https://groups.google.com/g/soc.genealogy.german/c/RCTbhqpwaeU?pli=1; Note: Google Group post references information from Siedlungen an Obra, Bartsch, Prosna und Oberer Warthe, im Leslauer und Tschenstochauer Lande sowie in den Kreisen Bromberg und Wirsitz: Historische und sozialgeographische Studien [Settlements on Obra, Bartsch, Prosna and Oberer Warthe, in Leslauer and Tschenstochauer Land and in the districts of Bromberg and Wirsitz: Historical and Socio-geographical Studies] by Walther Maas, published 1978

[12] Publication of the Archaeological Institute of America [copyright], “18th-Century Plague Victims Unearthed in Medieval Cemetery” from Archaeology Magazine, 24 Jul 2017, accessed 13 Mar 2023 through https://www.archaeology.org/news/5757-170724-poland-plague-victims; Karol Koscielniak, “The impact of the Great Northern War on Poznań and the lives of its inhabitants” from Open Military Studies, 31 Dec 2021, accessed 13 Mar 2023 through https://doi.org/10.1515/openms-2020-0115

[13] William Remus, “Your Ancestors in Volhynia and Poland from 1700 to 1900: How They Got There and How They Lived” [PowerPoint presentation] from Foundation for East European Family History Studies, undated, accessed 20 Nov 2022 through https://feefhs.org/sites/default/files/past_conferences/ancestors-in-volhynia-poland.pdf

[14] Ibid.

[15] Joel Streich.

[16] Karte des Deutschen Reiches [Map of the German Empire]; Joel Streich.

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.