Sunday, February 6, 2022

The Czachorowskys | From Prussia to Chicago: Fortune Smiled


The Czachorowskys are a conundrum. They seem to simply 'appear' in Chicago around 1868. Claiming to be from Prussia I have yet to determine their actual origins. Or their point of entry into the United States. Or why they chose Chicago. As I set out to research one family I discovered others. Curiosity getting the best of me, this turned into the study of five Czachorowsky families living in Chicago c. 1870.  It is my hope with this series to make some discoveries to either link these families together, or prove they are not related. This is a real-time research project, I have not worked on this cluster before. I plan to share my discoveries and my frustrations in hopes that more eyes on the evidence will result in some sound conclusions. Join me as I explore these families, maybe we'll make some discoveries together!

It was January 26, 2020 and I had a date with destiny but I didn't know it quite yet. I opened my email to find a subject line titled "DNA test common ancestors". OK. I'll bite. These type of inquiries almost never pan out, but I always follow up, one never knows. It read: 

 "Hello, my name is (redacted) Ciachorowski. I have just carried out (redacted) DNA tests and the results showed that we had common ancestors relatively recently.  My family comes from the north of Poland, which was under German occupation in the 19th century. The same blood flows within us. Regards."

Chills ran through me as I read the message. 

Of course I logged into the DNA test site the author was referring to - immediately, looked up matches to my Czachorowsky and ... THERE. IT. WAS.

Genetic Distance: EXACT MATCH

Exact match?! That NEVER happens! Not like this! Not from half way around the world. So may questions; so, so many questions. I wrote back to my new best friend begging for any scraps that might be thrown my way. Starving for the common knowledge so long lost as the generations migrated far from their homeland. A homeland I might soon discover!

The wait was long. I checked my email every day, sometimes every hour.

Finally, May 20th 2020 I got a response. And an introduction to a professor who does Czachorowsky research at a University in Poland. He did some digging for me, didn't turn up much, but I received an extensive history on the origins of the surname Czachorowsky. Very interesting! (A separate post at a later date, perhaps) My new friend and actual blood relative was however very, very helpful. I shared what I had, and where my trail went cold back in 1867 when my original immigrant (and now DNA match) L. F. Czachorowsky had showed up in Chicago Illinois. Didn't take long for my friend to uncover some gold. Within a week I had a full given name, a place of birth, a homeland, parents, grandparents - and, oh my gosh, they were all related! Leo, Bernhard, Anton and Pauline! Siblings! And there were more! I was also enlightened as to the long held confusion in the family on the town and country of origin. So much to process! Where to begin?

`Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely,
 `and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

Well. Okay. How about first things first? How did our man Leo supposedly come from Germany (Nurnburg by family lore) but the direct DNA match has deep roots in Poland? Simple answer. Smack your forehead answer. The town today is known as Nowe. But in the 1850's it had a different name - Neuenburg! (Did you smack your forehead?) 
Here is the wiki article:
In 1772, after the First Partition of Poland, the town, as Neuenburg, was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia and was subject to Germanisation policies, however, in the late 19th century it was still mainly populated by Poles.

Okay, now just wait a minute here. That looks real similar to the map of where Anton said he lived before emigrating. Real similar. (Hiding in plain sight, man oh man) I have said on more than one occasion that I really, really need one of those giant boards you see on detective shows. You know the ones. Where all the facts are pasted up and there is string running here and there. ...And a time machine. Always a time machine. Well ....

Things just might be coming together! Fortune is indeed smiling on this!

Now, about those parents. Yes indeed. My friend found a document listing the underage children in the death record of the father. They were all there - Bernhard, Anton, Pauline, Leo. How did he know he had the correct family? Remember he was working his end to put the DNA match together too. He had everyone accounted for in his line except for one man. Yep. The man in the death record! I'm sure he was as excited as I was to link it all together. 

This is what he wrote: I promised that I would translate the document which is a death certificate of Jan (German: Johann, Eng. John ) Ciachorowski who died on April 3 and was buried on April 7, 1845. He lived in Nowe on the Vistula River (German: Neuenburg). The profession was probably written under the name, but it is unreadable. It is known that he died at 2 hours, but I can not read whether at night or during the day. At the time of death he was 46 years old. The cause of death is illegible to me as well. The deceased left his wife Julianna Pioro and 5 children: Bernhard 12 years old, Anton 10 years old, Pauline 7 years old, Caroline 6 years old and Felix Leo (age is not given). That's all I could read from this document.

First. OMG! Second .... FELIX Leo?! Third .... Aloysius. Comparing the written number after Aloysius to others on the page it appears to be a 2. Could Felix Leo and Aloysius be the same boy? The age is right. Digging in the database of the Polish Genealogy Society (link thanks to my new bff) I was able to find an indexed entry for a child born to Johann and Julianna in 1843 with no first name given. Bernhard, Anton and Paulina were all there, as well as other siblings, but this child had no name. Curious.

Leo's (and Bernhard and Anton and Paulina's) father had died when they were very young. Their mother had remarried the following year to a boy from Neuenburg several years younger than herself named Jacob Saremba. Most of the children, sadly, appear to have died young, but the four that came to Chicago came as soon as they were old enough to leave home. 

Now this is where I thought the trail had run cold. I had been butting heads with the Polish records looking for clues to no avail. Then, for some unexplained reason I decided to do my very favorite thing - - sideways research! I decided to try to look for Julianna.  

WARNING!! Rabbit Hole Approaching!

I jumped over to FamilySearch and entered "Julianna Pior, Neuenburg, Prussia" into the search box. The Heavens opened up and I heard Angels sing .... well maybe not, but I did find the puzzle piece I was searching for. Thank you FamilySearch! I can't tell you exactly how it happened, it seems it was fast and frenzied. The second entry that popped up was a death listing for a child named Theodor Zaremba. "Z" not "S". Promising to return to FamilySearch to look at the rest of the gold I had uncovered, I headed over to Ancestry, changed the spelling of Jacob's surname and just guess what happened? Guess! A hint! And not any old hint, mind you. A will! Guess where it was? Chicago! Guess who the executor was? Anton! That lead me to the Hamburg Passenger Lists -
it listed Jacob, Julianna, Caroline (I wondered what had happened to her) A Franz, Johann and ..... Anton???? Where's Leo? (see, fast and frenzied)

More questions! 

Anton married in Prussia the following year and didn't emigrate until 1868 with his family and sister Pauline. I suppose he could have come and gone, but I feel like this might be Leo. What do you think?

I have yet to find the corresponding New York port record, it's got to exist - somewhere! Maybe?

Anyway, back to the will. Julianna and Jacob made their way to Chicago, Jacob established a grocery on 18th street, they must have been involved in their children's lives. And this is what tied the whole thing together - Jacob leaves money to his step granddaughter Lena Ballmann (daughter of Pauline), he names Anton his executor, but curiously he also leaves all his real estate to grandsons Leon and John Zaremba! Who?

Back to FamilySearch. Jacob and Julianna had at least three children, Theodor, Johann, and Franz. Theodor died at one year of age, but Johann and Franz came to America with their parents. I could find Franz, going by Frank, who married and had one son by 1880. Frank, his wife and son all died prior to Jacob. I could find no trace of Johann in Chicago. The grandsons remain a mystery, for now.

Turns out, none of the Czachorowskys were alone in a new world. All came to Chicago within a decade of one another. Bernard in 1856, Their mother and her new family (and Caroline and maybe Leo) in 1858, Anton and Pauline in 1868. Still so much to learn. Still so much to discover!

Jacob and Julianna are buried in St Boniface cemetery (of course) where most of the family lay at rest.


Andrzej Ciachorowski b. abt 1757 Poland
                                  d. 1 Jul 1813 Wlosienica, Pomerania, West Prussia
                                        m. 3 Feb 1783 Lalkowy, Pomerania, West Prussia to
Franciszka Szermaszewska b. abt 1759 Poland
                                          d. 3 Aug 1807 Wlosienica, Pomerania, West Prussia

Children include: (all born Wlosienica)
  • Thomas b. 15 Mar 1784 d. UNK
  • Marjanna b. 10 Dec 1785 d. UNK
  • Michal b. 21 Sep 1787 d. 25 Jan 1847
  • Franciscus b. 2 Apr 1790 d. 13 May 1851
  • Anna b. 15 Jul 1793 d. UNK
  • Johannes (see below)

Johann Ciachorowski b. 6 Jun 1796 Wlosienica, Pomerania, West Prussia
                                    d. 3 Apr 1845 Neuenburg, Pomerania, West Prussia
                               m. Julianna Pior say 1826 West Prussia

children include: (all born/died Neuenburg, West Prussia unless specified)
  • Augustina Theresia b. 26 Dec 1826  d. 1833
  • Lidovica b. 1828  d. 1828
  • Barbara b. 1832 d. bef 1845
  • Bernhard d. Aug 1832 d. 16 Dec 1915 Oak Forest IL
  • Anton b. 1835 d. 9 Mar 1908 Chicago IL
  • Paulina b. 7 Sep 1837 d. 7 Aug 1921 Chicago IL
  • Carolina b. 1838 d. UNK
  • Agnes b. 1840 d. bef 1845
  • Felix Leo b. 14 Nov 1843 d. 28 Mar 1898 Chicago IL
  • Liberta Barbara b. 22 Aug 1845 d. 25 Aug 1845

More to follow ......

until next time .............

catch up with all the posts here: 

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