Friday, July 18, 2014

Landmines and Dead Ends: John and Michalina Nyznyk's Story.

King Jan Sobieski's Castle in Pororyany, Ukraine



When a person begins to research their family tree, all the information found is like finding a treasure. But, what if that treasure is a little bit tarnished?  What is it is not a treasure at all?

Studying the Nyznyk/Noznick family has been a treasure hunt, but sometimes it is like exploring a minefield.  First of all, it was fairly easy to find information about John Nyznyk, my paternal grandfather. Using Ancestry.com, I found quite a bit about him.  When I added that to what I already had, I thought that I had a fairly good idea of his life.  Then, I started to step on the landmines.
John Nyznyk in 1914.  Two wedding pictures are the only pictures I have of him.


Unlike my mother’s family, there were not many family stories about John.   From what I was told, he and my grandmother split up shortly after my father was born.  When this happened is unknown.  According to the information I had from my mother, he was an alcoholic who wasn’t interested in working, as well as a wife-beater.  My mother said that my grandmother left him when my father, Peter Noznick was about two years old.  He never had any contact with his father again.  My mother told me that my father heard so many horrible things about John from his mother, that he never had any interest in meeting him.  I don’t recall ever hearing my father speaking about his father very much,  almost everything I know was second hand information, told to me by my mother.  I don't remember asking my grandmother much about her past, probably because her English was poor.  I did enjoy looking at her box of old pictures, but didn't asked her any questions about them.  There were some old wedding pictures, but I don’t think that I saw them until after my grandmother passed away in 1969.


Marya Klak, my paternal grandmother sometime between 1911and 1914.  She married John Nyznyk in 1914.


A few years earlier, my father was planning a trip overseas, actually, a trip around the world, and he needed a passport.  It was then that he found most of the information I had about his father, which came from his parent’s marriage license and  his birth certificate.  This is when I stepped on the first landmine, Noznick wasn’t his surname, it was Nyznyk.The name on the marriage licsence was Nyznyk, on the birth certificate it was Nausneck.  My father had had to get an affidavit to prove that he had been using Noznick since he was in school. I have no idea how Nyznyk became Noznick.



The second land-mine was finding out that my father had a half-brother and a half-sister.  I found this  information searching on Ancestry.com when I came across John Nyznyk’s naturalization information. On his  Petition for Citizenship, filed in 1930, he listed two children, Paul and Michalina, living in Pomoryany, Poland (today it is in Ukraine).  He did not list my father.   
The third landmine was the information about my grandmother that John gave during the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. He listed my grandmother, Mary as his wife and said that he had not seen her since 1915, the year my father was born. This contradicted the information he gave when he filed the  Declaration of Intent, (a document stating his desire to become a naturalized citizen) in 1926, when he stated that he was living with my grandmother. I do not think that my father and mother knew about his half-siblings, my brothers and my brothers and I had no idea of their existence. 
 
The fourth landmine, also found when I was searching on Ancestry.com, was the immigration of  John's daughter, Michalina to the United States in 1931.  According to the ship’s manifest, Michalina sailed from Gydnia, Poland, on April 15, 1931 and arrived in New York on April 27.  Her birthplace was Pomoryany, the village where her father was born. Her brother, Paul Nyznyk, was listed as her relative living in her native country.  Her home was listed as Nisczuki, Zborow, Poland. She had less than $50.00 with her, and was planning to become a permanent resident of the United States. She was able to read and write Polish, her occupation was listed as farmer.  She was 5 feet, 4 inches tall, with a fair complexion, brown hair and gray eyes.  Her final destination was 52 Columbia Ave, Belleville, New Jersey.  She was planning to join her father, John Nyznyk at that address.  This is all the information I have about her.  It is interesting, that on the 1940  United States Census, Michalina’s father, John Nyznyk, was living in New York City, and there is no mention of her.
 

I have run into a dead end.  The only information I have found about Michalina is what I have from the Ship’s Manifest.  Did she stay in the United States, did she marry and have children? I have no idea.  I have also reached a dead end on John Nyznyk as well, the 1940 Census is the last information I found about him.  I heard from family stories that he died, probably sometime in the 1950’s or early 1960’s, but after searching several genealogy databases, I found no more information about either John or Michalina.