Another Day at the Genealogy Office

Today, I corresponded with 3 women I’ve never met:

1) One was a 23andMe match to my mother who is searching for her birth parents.

2) One was a 23andMe match to my mother whose father emigrated from Pultusk, Poland, after WWII. Pultusk, of course, is where my mother’s father was born.

3) One was someone I’d corresponded with before, whom I first encountered on She is not related to me, but she is a 3rd cousin of 1st cousins of mine.

Villages of Pułtusk

My mother’s father’s family was from Pultusk, Poland, a little bit north of Warsaw. In Polish, it’s spelled Pułtusk, with that special “L” in the middle. I have been examining original birth, marriage, and death records from that area, and I kept encountering references to village names, which I didn’t understand, since they were also referencing Pułtusk. I have finally made some sense out of it.

It turns out that Pułtusk is also the name of a county. Pułtusk County has its county seat in the city of Pułtusk. In Poland, counties (districts) are divided into administrative divisions (subdistricts) called gminas. There are 7 gminas in Pułtusk. The gmina of interest to me is Gmina Gzy.

Gmina Gzy is a rural district to the west of Pultusk city. Its population is only around 4000, but it contains about 50 villages, average population 80 per village. At least 3 of those villages are featured in the records related to my family. Zalesie-Grzymały was the home village of Isaac Joskowicz (my great grandfather) when he got married in 1884. I have seen a couple other names from that gmina in other records, and I expect to see more as I examine additional records more closely.

So what does this mean, apart from getting the right town names? For one, it means that my family was not from the “big city” of Pultusk, as I previously had believed, but from tiny rural shtetls to the west. I don’t have historical population information about those villages at the times they lived there, but for now I am assuming that they were similar, that my ancestors worked on farms or other rural tasks. It’s a little more insight into my family history.

May 10

In 1887, Dora Joseph was born in Romania. She was the sister of my father’s mother. She came to America in the early 1900s where she married another Romanian emigrant, Jacob Goldberg. Dora and Jacob had no children.

In 1923, my father was born as Louis Sepersky. When Aunt Dora came to see her new nephew, she told her sister, “He doesn’t look like a Louis. He’s a Leonard.” From that time forth, my father was Leonard.

May 7

In 1940, Marya Jacobs nee Zarywacz passed away at the age of 75. She was my great grandmother, my maternal grandfather’s mother. She was born in Poland, but came to America with my grandfather and another son in 1920, joining her husband and all of their living children. At the time of her death, she was living in my grandparents’ house, and died suddenly in the dentist’s chair. Mary and Isaac had 12 children, 9 of whom came to America.

April 30

In 1892, Dora Finegold was born in Poland, In 1911 she married my maternal grandfather’s brother, Julius Jacobs. Jules and Dora went on to have 9 children, 2 of whom are still living. She lived in Philadelphia after immigrating, living to the age of 86.

April 24

In 1994, Abraham Wagner, known as Al Wagner, passed away at the age of 78. He was the only son of 5 children of Freday Wagner nee Jacobs, a sister of my maternal grandfather, David Jacobs. He and his wife, Rose nee Janofsky, had 3 children, about whom I know very little. I know of spouses for each and one granddaughter and one great granddaughter.