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 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.

March 31

In 1884, my great grandparents (my mother’s father’s parents) got married in Pultusk, Poland. A translation of the marriage record hand-written in Russian:


It happened in the town of Pultusk on the 19th / 31st day of March, year of 1884 ay 4:00 p,m,, presented himself Zundel Grodzenski*, a Rabbi of the Pultusk District, and in the presence of witnesses Barukh Rozenblum*, a merchant, 53 years old, and Abram Tsynamon*, a scholar, 63 years old, both residing in Pultusk. He stated that yesterday at 9:00 p.m. the religious marriage was contracted between: ITSEK IOSKOVICH* (ICEK JOSKOWICZ**), single, 20 years old, born and residibg in the village of Zalesie Grzimaly, Kozlow Subdistrict, Pultusk District, son of Ioina* (Jojna**) and Rukhla* (Ruchla**) Ioskovich* (Joskowicz**), both living,


MARIA ZARYVACH* (MARYA ZARYWACZ**), an unmarried girl, 18 years old, daughter of David* and Rukhla* (Ruchla**) Davidovich* (Dawidowicz*) both born and residing in Pultuski, along with her parents.

The marriage banns were published on the 11th, 18th and 25th days,of February of the current year, which has been confirmed by a written certificate. The bride’s father’s permission has been given verbally. The newly married couple stated that they did not make any pre-marital agreement between themselves.

This document was read to the witnesses, and signed by them and by the Rabbi. The bride’s father and both newlyweds are illiterate.

NOTES: The two dates given indicates the date in both the Gregorian calendar (used in Russia) and the Julian calendar (used in Poland).
* indicates Library of Congress transliteration
** indicates Polish spelling

Reference to “illiteracy” is made for those who did not read or write Russian, irrespective of knowledge of other languages.

March 29

In 1886, the marriage of Rywka Joskowicz and Benjamin Aronovich was recorded, in Pultusk, Poland. Rywka (Rivka, Rebecca) was the sister of my great grandfather (mother’s father’s father) Icek Joskowicz, Americanized to Isaac Jacobs. She was 23 when she married the 22-year-old Benjamin. He was from the nearby town of Maków Mazowieck, and was the son of Shaya and Krusa nee Eliashevich.

I only recently discovered this great great aunt, and I know nothing else about her yet. I don’t know if they had children, if they came to America, or when they died. I continue to search.