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Lost Soldiers in Poland

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Written by Juliette Eames

Paul had some information about his grandparents, and desired to know more about his ancestors. Through Valentyna’s research he learned not only about the marriage he initially inquired about but additionally he learned the meaning of his last name, and learned about the soldier that was within him.

His paternal grandparents, Andrew Zomnir/Zolnir and Anna Solska Zomnir, both came from Stara Ropa, which is in the Galicia region of Poland that later became Ukraine. Andrew, his grandfather arrived in the United States on 20 February 1908. Anna came to the United States on 7 November 1911. This was information he was certain about. However, Paul wanted to learn about the parents and siblings of both Andrew and Anna.

Because of the difficulties of the 20th century in eastern Europe, including world wars, ethnic cleansing, occupations, and border changes, there are often significant records that have gone missing. Thankfully, many records that Paul needed were available. Thanks to Valentyna’s knowledge and skill, and also a bit of luck that the records were available, Valentyna was able to find a lot of information about Paul’s family.

Valentyna, a helper in the Ukraine submitted a proposal. Through her access to archives, she was able to find several pieces of information about Paul’s family. She found even more than Paul had anticipated he would find. She looked at Greek Catholic metric documents, and found even more than Paul had hoped for.

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Valentyna found that there was only Zolnir family in the village. This allowed her to positively determine the parents and birth of Andrew Zolnir. Valentyna was also able to locate 1 sister of Andrew Zolnir, born during the time period in which the records were available.

The church books that were available to her were available only for a limited time period, from 1837 to 1878. The original birth that Paul had for his grandmother, Anna Solska, was in 1879. However, thankfully, that year was incorrect, and she was actually born in 1877. Because of that, Valentyna was able to find the birth record for Paul’s grandmother, Anna, and therefore the names of her parents, as well as three siblings.

Valentyna found much more on the Solska family. Perhaps the most interesting is this. 

Last name meanings: Your grandfather’s original last name was Zolnier/Zolnierz which means “soldier” in Polish. Your grandmother’s last name is common in the region and apparently comes from the Polish word “sol” meaning “salt”, as this was a salt mining and production area (hence, the name of the village itself).

  • She found the marriage of Anna Solska’s parents, and well as birth records for several of her paternal aunts and uncles.
  • She researched why people emigrated from Germany and why they left Galicia and helped him to learn, it was typically not for persecution, but rather seeking a better living.
  • In addition, Valentyna found a marriage record for Anna Solska’s maternal grandparents.

The most unusual thing found in this project research was the birth record of Paul’s grandmother Anna Solska’s paternal aunt, also Anna Solska (born in 1840). The document listed three generations of the newly born child’ ancestors, that is her parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. Normally it would be only two generations: parents and grandparents. This allowed us to reach as far back as Paul’s 6th generation of ancestors.

Valentyna was able to cover much of Paul’s paternal line using the limited records available to her.


Want to find other expert researchers just like Valentyna for your brick walls? Post a request to our community today!

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