When I started out this family history project, I could only name one great-grandparent. Now, with a little sleuthing, I have been able to go back multiple generations in my American, Slovak and Polish family lines. I find I can usually get to my fourth great-grandparents, born in the mid-1700s, before the trail goes cold.
In this way, I was able to trace the Agin family line back to my fourth great-grandfather James Agin (1759-1836), a farmer from central New Jersey who fought in the Revolutionary War. I know a surprising amount about him, thanks to the application he filed to collect a military pension. He also left a last will and testament that you can read online. His wife Ann is more of a mystery. I don’t know her maiden name. A family history written in 1889 said she was Welsh. James was supposedly of Irish extraction.
Similarly, I have followed the Sabol family line back to my fourth great-grandparents Michal Sabol (1775-1833) and Alzbeta Mizik. The Sabols came from the tiny village of Trebejov in what is now eastern Slovakia. From Michal’s death record, I know he was a land owning farmer (colonus). He was also a tailor, which accounted for the family name. I haven’t learned much about Alzbeta but at least I know her maiden name.
But the Bosakowski family line proved more challenging. I was only able to go back to my third great-grandparents Jan Bosakowski (1788-1859) and Anna Baran. They were tenant farmers (laboriosi), possibly born into serfdom, who lived in the town of Milno in the far northeast corner of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I wrote about the Bosakowskis of Milno and their six children (three daughters and three sons) in two recent posts.
I thought I came to the end of the road – until I had a lucky surprise. I learned that the Family History Library had microfilmed records of births from Milno for the years 1826-1870. This seemed odd because Milno’s vital records were supposed to be recorded in the church registry in Założce, the parish seat. Milno did not become a separate parish in its own right until the 20th century.
The records appear to be a second set of birth records, possibly kept at the church in Milno. As I browsed through them, I came across an entry for Antoni Bosakowski, a fourth son of Jan Bosakowski and Anna Baran.
Antoni was born June 4, 1829, the sixth of seven children I have found in the records. He was baptized the next day in the presence of his two godparents, Wojciech Letki, a farmer, and Tekla Ludwikowa, the wife of some kind of official (the handwriting is hard to read).
I’m not sure what happened to Antoni after that. He did not turn up in my review of the church records from Założce. But his birth record provides crucial information not found in any other source – the names of my fourth great-grandparents!
So I now know that Jan Bosakowski’s parents were Jakub and Teresa (no maiden name given). I also know that Anna Baran’s parents were Andrzej and Marianna (again, no maiden name).
That’s pretty much all we know about this quartet of fourth great-grandparents. I can guess that they were all born in the middle of the 18th century. And it’s fair to assume that they made a living as tenant farmers (or possibly serfs) in Milno.
Still, it’s pretty exciting to add one more generation on the Bosakowski family tree. This means I can now name 25 of my 64 fourth great-grandparents.