"Everyone knows the more you wear pearls, little by little they become real....And isn't it the same with memories?" - The Madwoman of Chaillot

Monday, October 3, 2011

Digging up the ancestors

The morning started with a wonderful buffet breakfast at the Granary,

and then a small wild goose chase trying to locate a Polish SIMM chip (more 3M research), we thought we knew where the t-mobil store was but did a little backtracking

Bill searching for the store

and finally found it in a mall called Arkady, which revealed a world totally different from the one outside.

Picked up our rental car and made sure we knew where to go....turned out helpful to have the cell phone card later too...

I have such a wonderful experience of getting to know not only towns in Germany where great grandparents were born but also people, cousins and other residents of these towns who are happy and proud to have me interested in their towns.

With these experiences in my mind, I traveled from Wroclaw in our rented car to find the towns where some of my Prussian/German great great grandparents had lived. The first hurdle in this is figuring out the current name of a town. It was fairly easy with Schnellewalde as the wedding record of their marriage said not only the German town, Schnellewalde, but also the Polish town Szybowice. So we drove there first, a small town about 90 min south from Wroclaw, near the Czech border.

The town has a pretty church which appears old and I assume is the parish church where my great great grandparents were married. We took some pictures, noting that almost every name in the graveyard was now Polish. No old or German stones remain. People looked at us curiously but did not try to talk to us. We took some pictures of mostly older buildings to get a flavor of what it must have been like when they lived there.

The beautifully maintained church - parish ladies were mopping floors and cleaning

Already, I felt a kind of sadness, that even if any of the current inhabitants were interested to speak to us, (or we could speak each other's languages), they might not be delighted that my ancestors had come from this area due to my heritage being German as all Germans were moved out and Poles from the east of Poland were moved in after 1945.

So, the marriage record of my great great grandparents, Johann George Pohl and Maria Metzner, stated that Maria was from Schnellewalde (Szybowice) and Johann George was from Greisau. There are several towns that are possibly linked with that German name but the only one that made sense is quite close to Szybowice and it is called Gryzow.

One more town - Weza, formerly Prockendorf was very nearby where at least one of my great great grandparents' children was born.

The towns did not appear to have any restaurants or even a bar, other than one building with the word "bar" on it that was mostly rubble... So we drove on back to the larger town nearby, Nysa (formerly Neisse).

We spent several hours in Nysa and took a lot of pictures so I will let it be it's own entry...So, coming up is Nysa, and then our day in Wroclaw's old town and my thoughts on Poland so far.

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