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Mary Barnawich (?) - Is my great-grandmother from Poland?


valeriegayle 1 | 8    
24 Nov 2018  #1
My great-grandmother, Mary Barnawich (?), is a mystery to me. I've been doing some extensive research into her. She was born in 1891 and immigrated in 1893 with her mother and two siblings. Unsure as to her father. She married at the tender age of 17 to my great-grandfather who was from Pennsylvania. I've located their marriage records from the courthouse where they were married. What's strange is that she signed her name as Mary Thomas, which we have no idea where that came from. Her mother was identified as Annie Thomas. This is the first time I've ever seen anything about either of her parents.

She was listed as being from Poland, but we were always told that she was Czechoslovakian. Her last name has been spelled Barnawich, Barnovich, Barnavich, Barnowich, and Barnawitch. My mom always thought there was another syllable to the name, but wasn't positive. If anyone can tell me if it's possibly of Polish descent, I'd greatly appreciate it. Because of the varying spellings of her last name, it's hard for me to look through passenger lists and other lists. Any help at all is also welcome. Thanks!

Valerie
TheOther 5 | 3,589    
24 Nov 2018  #2
Have you tried obtaining their naturalization records from the courts? That should give you a lot more information to work with.
OP valeriegayle 1 | 8    
25 Nov 2018  #3
I've looked all around the website for the county she lived in, but I haven't found anything helpful. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. Can you give me some guidance? I even tried to look through passenger lists from the year she immigrated here, but I'm sure you know there were too many ports they could've gone to. Thanks for any and all advice!
TheOther 5 | 3,589    
26 Nov 2018  #4
Ancestry gives you access to the U.S. Naturalization Records. You might want to try their free trial. In the meantime, can you give us the surname of your great grandfather (or was it Barnawich) ? Maybe one of us can help. Starting with the Social Security Death Index might also be an option to get at her exact birth place.

search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1193
OP valeriegayle 1 | 8    
26 Nov 2018  #5
Yes, I have looked through the Ancestry Naturalization Records and have had no luck. I've tried everything I could think of to get some kind of hit that could lead me to her. Yes Barnawich (not sure on exact spelling) was her last name. In a previous post, I listed the other spellings I've discovered. Thanks for the help!
Atch 16 | 2,647    
27 Nov 2018  #6
Valerie, are you saying that your great-grandmother's maiden name was Barnawich but that she signed herself Thomas when she got married?

What's strange is that she signed her name as Mary Thomas

Is it possible that Annie Thomas, her mother, after arriving in the USA, remarried a man with the surname Thomas and Mary adopted it?
OP valeriegayle 1 | 8    
30 Nov 2018  #7
I suppose that IS possible. I didn't even think about that. I've been double checking all of her kids documents that I have and some of them have her maiden name as Thomas and some others have Barnawich (including other spellings). It's just so confusing. I've been trying to locate her only living daughter to get some answers, but she's holding a 35 year old grudge against my mom (no clue as to why...Irish Catholic, go figure), and refuses to talk to her or me! I appreciate your assistance in this. I may never be able to solve this mystery if I have no luck with her daughter. Although, I am not giving up!
Atch 16 | 2,647    
30 Nov 2018  #8
Irish Catholic, go figure

I'm an Irish Catholic actually :)) a real one, as in I was actually born in Ireland to Irish parents. I don't see how your half-Polish, American born granny can be Irish! I think it's an American thing, that. Anyway, I would try searching American records for marriages between bride Barnawich and groom Thomas for the first few years after your great-granny arrived in America with her mother. That might help you to establish if her mother remarried. Good luck :) Btw does your mother not know what the grudge is about? I'm a typical woman so I'm interested in the grudge too, it is part of your family history after all, even if it's recent history! I think you'll find Valerie, that your mother has some idea what it might be about but doesn't want to talk about it either.
OP valeriegayle 1 | 8    
30 Nov 2018  #9
My half-Polish granny married an Irish man, William O'Bryan. I know, totally confusing. I've done lots of work on the O'Bryan side. I managed to get far enough back to get to the grandparent that was born in Ireland. It was a lot of fun researching that side of the family. Now it's the Barnawich (Thomas?) side that's throwing me for a loop. I'm starting to think I should call the courthouse that sent me her marriage records to see if they can dig up anything more about her. They could at least steer me in the right direction. My mom and I are extremely close, so if she knew, she'd tell me. The only thing we know is that her aunts stopped all communication with her when my mom's adoptive mother (the aunts' sister) died. I wonder if it's because she wasn't sent to Pennsylvania to be buried....hmmm. That's where the O'Bryans and Barnowiches immigrated to. I even found a cousin that lives in Pittsburgh about a week ago. She's messaged me back already, too. I'm just amazed at all the family I've communicated with this year! I've talked to most of my mom's brothers and sisters (she hasn't even met them!) and found a couple cousins, too!

I'm so jealous that you were born in Ireland! I'd give anything to go there...preferably live there! Do you have the common red hair, blue eyes, and freckles? My mom got the dark hair from her Italian (yes another ethnicity!) dad, but got the Irish complexion and freckles. I always wanted freckles! Weird, I know.

I'll be sure to update you if I find anything on my great-grandmother!
Ziemowit 12 | 3,109    
1 Dec 2018  #10
My mom always thought there was another syllable to the name, but wasn't positive.

"Baranowicz" could be the Polish spelling of the name.
Atch 16 | 2,647    
1 Dec 2018  #11
I wonder if it's because she wasn't sent to Pennsylvania to be buried....hmmm.

Or it could be about a legacy. It's incredible the way families can fall out about something like a teapot that one of them expected to get and didn't! You know the "I always admired that teapot and Ellie said it would come to me when she was gone and then Ellie's daughter never mentioned it - and of course I didn't say anything. I mean everybody knew that Ellie's rose trellis teapot was to come to me. I was so disgusted - I made up my mind that I'd never speak to her again and I never have!"

O'Bryan

The surname is normally spelled O'Brien, so the O'Bryan spelling must have been a help in your research as it narrows the field down a bit. Whereabouts did he come from in Ireland?? Which county? You know it's derived from King Brian Boru from whom about half the men in Ireland are descended, I'm not joking, it's true. I'm descended from his brother, through my maternal grandmother, so that makes you and me very distant cousins of a sort :))

Do you have the common red hair, blue eyes, and freckles?

Red hair is not actually that common in Ireland, the commonest colour is plain old brown, but I have the blue eyes. Also the freckles aren't quite as common as you might imagine, but Irish people do tend to be very pale.
OP valeriegayle 1 | 8    
3 Dec 2018  #12
"Baranowicz" could be the Polish spelling of the name.

I've seen that spelling on Ancestry's immigration lists and wondered about it. I'll definitely keep that name written down to refer to. That's very helpful!

Interesting about the O'Bryan reference. I had no idea. Yes, extremely distant, but I'll still say we're family...lol. I'm pretty certain that he was from Cork. I've found some documents on his grandfather that suggest he was originally from Cork. Not sure which part, though.

Yeah, I do have the Irish complexion. My cheeks get so red whenever I feel an extreme amount of any emotion. All of the O'Bryans in my mom's family have had that problem. And along with the nice rosy cheeks is a lot of mental illness. Very common in our family. And it just keeps descending from generation to generation including mine.

Your teapot story sounds very similar to some of my grandpa's belongings when he died. For some odd reason, it all went to my brother Joe, except for his guitar, which I luckily got. What's really cool about the guitar is it tends to play with nothing near it and low humidity. I still think it's my grandfather. I never saw him play it (if he even could), but I LOVE it!
Atch 16 | 2,647    
4 Dec 2018  #13
is a lot of mental illness. Very common in our family.

Maybe it's not mental illness, maybe you're just a bit "Irish". Freud actually said that the Irish were the one people for whom pscyho-analysis would be of no use whatsoever.

I've found some documents on his grandfather that suggest he was originally from Cork.

You have documents for your great-great grandad? That's very good, hard to come by in Ireland because the recording of births, deaths, marriages was quite random until the mid-nineteenth century and then in 1922 during the Irish Civil War there was a huge fire at the Customs House in Dublin and many records were destroyed so there was a whole generation of Irish people with no birth certs because they went up in smoke.

The name O'Bryan with that particular spelling, is found in Cork as early as 1659 in Pender's Census which was one of the first records the British made after Cromwell came over. It originates in Co Clare though.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,717    
5 Dec 2018  #14
I'm so jealous that you were born in Ireland! I'd give anything to go there...preferably live there! Do you have the common red hair, blue eyes, and freckles?

l love American stereotypes. why would you want to live there? it's a desperate place. that is why everyone leaves.
if you want to go there, it does have airports.
OP valeriegayle 1 | 8    
6 Dec 2018  #15
Well, I think I have the right documents for him, let's put it that way. Dates and places match up to what I do know at least. I haven't been able to work much on my genealogy project these past few days. I fell back in October and my knee has been killing me. A recent MRI shows that I have a high-grade meniscus tear. So, now I'm having surgery on Tuesday to fix it.

Why IS Ireland a desperate place? I've read a little bit about how Ireland hurts a lot when it comes to their economy. I like a quiet life and Ireland just seems like a good place for it. My mom's alleged dad (not sure if he's really her dad) is supposedly Italian, so of course, I'd be all too happy to live in Italy.
Atch 16 | 2,647    
6 Dec 2018  #16
You sound like a very nice lady Valerie, but maybe a bit naive. Having Italian blood doesn't mean you'd be happy living in Italy. You should read a bit about the country, not as a tourist destination but about the politics and the social problems. It's an insane place.

Ireland is a lovely country but outside Dublin, Cork and Galway it's quite hard to find a job and if you lose it, hard to get another. Also the cost of living is very, very high.

Good luck with the surgery!
OP valeriegayle 1 | 8    
6 Dec 2018  #17
Yeah, I'll admit that I'm naïve. I'm just ambitious. There's places I want to go and things I want to do, but whether they come true or not, for now they're just dreams. It's such a shame that other countries are suffering when the US is thriving on monster truck rallies, and Nascar. God forbid we lend a hand to other countries. Oh wait, our President is an imbecile and thinks other countries are below us.

I'm hoping while I'm laid up after surgery, I can get more research done on my great-grandmother, the biggest mystery in my family...lol. One of my aunts that I just connected with is very interested in the background of Mary Barnawich. So, now I got a little more incentive to keep looking.
Atch 16 | 2,647    
7 Dec 2018  #18
God forbid we lend a hand to other countries.

Well, Western European countries are not really that poor and they don't actually need aid :)) Ireland is a very rich country despite the lack of employment opportunities and if you do manage of find a job we pay some of the highest salaries in the European Union. Also we have free college education, comprehensive public health care etc. a lot of things that you don't have in the USA. It's weird isn't it?

I'm glad you've connected with your aunt and hopefully you'll find out a bit more about Mary B. Don't forget to use the Polish spelling of the name when searching as you won't find any information in Polish records with the 'wich' spelling.
mafketis 16 | 6,322    
7 Dec 2018  #19
She was listed as being from Poland, but we were always told that she was Czechoslovakian. Her last name has been spelled Barnawich,

If she was Czech I'd expect her last name to end in -ova, Barnova, Barnovicova, something like that (I'm leaving off the accents). Polish spelling would be Barnawicz, but it's not a common name, maybe it was Branowicz or Bronawicz? or maybe Baraniewicz?
Lyzko 18 | 5,325    
7 Dec 2018  #20
Polish though does almost the same, "Nowak"/"Nowakowa"/"Nowakowna", "Millerowa" etc.
mafketis 16 | 6,322    
7 Dec 2018  #21
Not really, that's very old-fashioned and hardly used (and would never appear in official contexts unlike the Czech -ova which still is used officially).
Lyzko 18 | 5,325    
7 Dec 2018  #22
I do though know plenty of married Polish women who still continue this practice, albeit their numbers are surely dwindling, you're right there:-)
mafketis 16 | 6,322    
7 Dec 2018  #23
Even if a Polish woman might refer to herself as "Nowakowa" the name on her documents will still be Nowak (unlike Czech where Novakova would be found on her id, passport etc).
Ziemowit 12 | 3,109    
8 Dec 2018  #24
At this point, the famous "case" of Jedliga - Jedligowa - Jedligówna (jedli-gówna) comes to mind.
Or the "case" is incorrect as the correct forms would have been: Jedliga - Jedliżyna - Jedliżanka.
https://polishforums.com/language/owna-owa-name-suffix-72939/

Polish spelling would be Barnawicz, but it's not a common name, maybe it was Branowicz or Bronawicz? or maybe Baraniewicz?

Branowicz is possible, but Barnawicz is pretty unlikely as a Polish surname (the "br" group is OK, but the group "barn" followed be the "a" seems not; thus I would exclude "Barnawicz" as a Polish name or spelling; Barnawa is a name of Aramaic origin and Barnawski is a surname from Lwów, so the Aramaic origin seems pretty likely here as well).
OP valeriegayle 1 | 8    
10 Dec 2018  #25
Well, I'm still not positive that she's Polish. That's what she put down on her marriage documents, but the family was always told that she was from Czechoslovakia. My mom said she always referred to herself as Slovak. I'm just totally confused. If I could just get ahold of her only living daughter (my great-aunt), she could clear all of this up. I'll definitely take all of your advice and see what I can come up with. Thank you so much for the opinions and advice! Keep 'em comin!
jon357 65 | 13,654    
10 Dec 2018  #26
Baranowicz?
mafketis 16 | 6,322    
10 Dec 2018  #27
My mom said she always referred to herself as Slovak

You might want to find a Slovak forum then.

googling a second or two I found the name: Baranovičová (and Branovičová ) in slovak


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