Click on any part of the record above for
a description and to go to that explanation. Or you can scroll down the
page on your own.
The parish priest kept a record of all marriages
conducted in the parish. Before 1784 the records for all of the villages in the
parish were kept together. After 1784, the priest kept all the villages
separately. They may have been bound in the same book, but a separate listing
for each village was organized alphabetically by village, year by year.
When searching for ancestors, never concentrate solely on
one village, or even one parish for that matter. Although itís commonly thought
that people never moved great distances outside their birth village, you will
find people often marrying into families in neighboring villages and/or
Explanation of each column
The priest numbered each marriage record sequentially (1,
2, 3, etc.). Each year the priest started over with number one. This
was done to show that no oneís marriage could have been added or removed at a
This simple information can be used by the genealogist to
help cite information for your own family history. This extra citation will
ensure your proper record keeping. Of course, it is not essential. However, if
you would like this extra "protection", especially if the birth record contains
names in a foreign language, in particular a foreign alphabet, you may do this.
Furthermore, by tracking the sequential numbering of the marriages, one can
determine any missing pages or pages out of order (which sometimes happens when
researching microfilmed copies that may have been microfilmed out of order).
On some forms, this information is not found.
On this example above, this marriage was the 2nd in the
You should note both of these dates and not just the
birth. Many genealogists concern themselves only with the actual birth date.
However, one should keep both. Sometimes you may find ripped pages or pages not
properly microfilmed where youíll only find one of the dates. Make sure that you
mark it correctly as either the birth or the baptism, depending on which one of
the two is present.
Be careful when noting the month and year. Often the
month and year is not written for each and every personís listing, only the
date. Carefully backtrack to the last month and year listed. Do so carefully so
as to not skip a month or year and mark the wrong one down. Be careful of this
especially when researching at an archive where photocopying is not available.
Unlike using microfilm at a local Family History Center, you may not easily have
a chance to return to the originals to verify your note-taking.
The months will usually be in Latin. This should not be a
problem if the month is written out as the Latin resembles the English. In older
Greek Catholic records, you may find the month in Church Slavic. Again, this
will be easy IF you can read the Cyrillic alphabet since the Church Slavic terms
also resemble the English. For a list of months in different languages,
visit my page on
Note the confusion over the written number of the month,
in the case of 7-bris, 8-bris, 9-bris, and 10-bris (or
7ber, 8ber, 9ber, 10ber). These are NOT the numbers correlated to the way
we count months today! They are based on the old calendar where the first month
of the year wasnít January, but March. This makes sense if you look at the Latin
meaning behind these four months. Study the roots of these months:
"Sept" stands for Seven (7) in Latin.
7-bris is September, not July
"Octo" stands for Eight (8) in Latin.
Think of the word "octagon"
"Novem" stands for Nine (9) in Latin.
"Decem" stands for Ten (10) in Latin.
Think "decade" or "decagram"
8-bris is October, not August
9-bris is November, not September
10-bris is December, not October
Poland adopted the Gregorian Calendar (the one we use
today) in 1582. The Greek Catholic church records were kept in the Gregorian
Calendar. This is different than record keeping in neighboring Russian Empire,
which kept the Julian Calendar until 1918. Depending on the year, there is about
a two week difference between the two calendars.
After the tsarís government ended, the newly formed USSR
adopted the Gregorian Calendar. So, the day after January 31, 1918 was February
13, 1918. (In the mid 1800ís, the difference was usually 12 days.) As a side
note, some branches of the Orthodox church today still officially use the Julian
Calendar. As you can see, this makes for easier research in Halychyna/Eastern
Galicia than it does for our genealogical colleagues researching ancestors in
the Russian Empire.
Click here to see a
detailed description, important usage, and often misunderstood column
Under each of these two main columns are the following
Coelebes/Viduus or Vidua/Aetas (Unmarried/Widower or Widow/Age)
Here is each of the categories listed for both the groom
The amount of information that can be found in this
column varies from year to year, parish to parish and priest to priest. The
potential for a great wealth of information from one marriage record is great.
Of course, earlier years will include less information as a general rule.
Some of the early records of the beginning of the 19th
Century list only the groomís and brideís name. As the years went on, the priest
in the parish of Biały Kamień/Bilyi Kamin (both Roman
Catholic and Greek Catholic) began to include more information, such as the
parents of the newlyweds.
Look for these Latin terms:
filius "son of..."
filia "daughter of..."
sometimes abbreviated for both "fil."
filius leg. legitimate son
filia leg. legitimate daughter
fil. leg. abbreviation for both
These Latin terms would then require the genitive case of
the following name, so you must be careful about noting the correct name.
See more detail as to grammar and its effect on the language, in particular on
proper names, in my section on languages.
Sometimes, you may find the priest noted the maiden name
of both the groomís and brideís mother.
For showing maiden names, you may find these various
Anna de Majewska
Anna de domo Majewska or Majewskich
de domo "of the house of"
Anna ex Majewski
Anna nata Majewska
nata "born (with the maiden name)"
Pay particular attention to the names of the spouses.
Remarriage was very popular in the event of a spouseís death. Reasons based on
financial, social and religious well being vary for the individual. The surname
listed for the woman may be her maiden name, the surname of her first husband,
or the surname of her current husband. In turn, you must be careful of
these names in the future. A woman may be referred to in future records of her
childrenís and grandchildrenís births, marriages, and death records with her own
maiden name, the first husbandís surname or current surname. A thorough study of
all of the womanís ancestors, even of the entire village, is necessary in order
to track this properly. Of course, as always, you must be aware of the
possibility of priest error, or copy error when looking at the Bishopís Copies.
Other information the priest might include, if youíre
lucky, pertains to birthplace, current residence, and occupation.
Look for these Latin terms for such information:
habit. in + place name residing in/resident
in... (habitat =he/she resides. habitans = resident)
de + place name from...
nat. in + place name born in...
natus = (he was) born; nata = (she was) born
oriundus (man) / oriunda (woman) originating
Other Latin terms you may find in this column that may be
p.d. (post delicta) deceased
Kłodziński, fil. leg. p.d. Adalberti et p.d. Barbara Puzyniak
Michal Kłodziński, legitimate son of
the deceased Wojciech and deceased Barbara Puzyniak
Examples illustrating the above points:
Ignatius (Ihnat in Ukr.) Hrycay, son of Cyrillius (Kyrylo) and
Anna (Hanna) Makarowska the farmers. Greek Catholic from
Czeremosznia, born, baptized and residing in this parish.
Parascevia (Paraskeva in Ukr.) Gulka, daughter of Joannes (Ivan)
and Maria Mastowyk the farmers. Greek Catholic from
Cheremoshnya/Czeremosznia, born, baptized and residing in
Catholica/Ant Alia (Catholic/Non Catholic)
This is self explanatory. Sometimes, you may find the
abbreviation "r.l." or "r.g." in this column or next to the personís name. This
stands for Latin Rite (or Roman Catholic) for the first, and Greek Rite (or
Greek Catholic/Ukrainian Catholic) for the second. In the example above,
in the column just to the right of the groom Joannes Swiderski
(Ivan in Ukr.) is the abbreviation "r.g.", which stands for Greek
Catholic. In the column just to the right of the bride Sophia Marmulewicz
(Zofia in Pol.) in the abbreviation "r.l.", which stands for Roman
Sometimes, the religion is written out:
The groom on the left is listed as graeco cath.
(Greek Catholic) while the bride on the right is listed as rom. cath.
(Roman Catholic). The names read:
Stephanus Makarowski, agricola de
Czeremosznia oriundus, fil. leg. Erasmi et Antoninae Grabowska
de Czeremosznia oriunda fil. leg. Leonis et Clarae Lechowska agricolarum
|Stefan Makarowski, farmer originating
from <the village> Czeremosznia, legitimate son of Herasym and Antonina
nee <maiden name> Grabowska, the farmers
originating from <the village> Czeremosznia, legitimate daughter of Leon
and Klara nee <maiden name> Lechowska, the farmers
Coelebs / Viduus (for the Groom) (Unmarried / Widower)
Coelebs / Vidua (for the bride) (Unmarried / Widow)
The priest will check one of these appropriate columns.
Pay particular attention to the newlyweds who are widowed. Look carefully at the
information found in the Nomen (Name) column to determine any information on the
In the example above, the column just to the right of the
groom's age (25 yrs.) is checked, which on this document means he was a widower.
However, the column just to the right of the bride's age (17 yrs.) is checked,
which on this document means she was never married before. Here is the
translation of the text in the name columns for both:
Joannes Drabczak agricola, viduus post
Łabuńska, filius p.d.
Francisci et Agnetis natae Łopuch agricolarum
Oleynik filia Joannis et Catharinae natae Kłak
|Jan Drabczak the farmer, widower of
the deceased Anna nee <maiden name>
Łabuńska, son of the
deceased Franciszek and Agnieszka nee <maiden name> Łopuch,
farmers from <village> Usznia
Olejnik, daughter of Jan and Katarzyna, nee <maiden name> Kłak,
farmers from <village> Usznia
This is self explanatory. Sometimes, I have even seen the
priest write the specific date of birth for both the groom and bride. (What a
bargain!). Of course, be very careful about taking the priest for his word. The
priest may have been a few years off when recording this information. As always,
there could even have been a copying error by the priest, especially when
studying the Bishopís Copy.
5. Testes (Witnesses)
Testes et Conditio (Witnesses and Occupations)
The priest indicated the name of the witnesses of the
marriage, often along with their occupation. Sometimes the priest indicated if
the witness was from a different village or parish.
This information can lead to further clues and research.
The names may be close friends or relatives of either the groom and/or the
bride. They can be used to determine that the person was still living at the
time of the marriage.
Be careful when studying the witnesses since only their
names are listed. Usually there are several people in the village with the same
exact name, so determining the specific person may be difficult if not
In this example, the names of the witnesses
are not written in Latin, but in Polish. They are Andrzej Swiderski and
Tadeusz Kłak, both farmers.
The priest usually included the occupations of the
Often the priest or author of the record drew a "+" or
Sign of the Cross next to the names of the witnesses. This "+" or Sign of
the Cross does NOT mean "deceased" as it does when it appears in the
birth/baptismal records next to the name of the birth child. Roman
Kałużniacki shared some important information to me and
members of the
Galicia_Poland_Ukraine listserv regarding this notation. He states
that the priest was instructed to have the godparents sign the register.
In the event the godparents were illiterate, they were to draw a "+" or Sign of
the Cross. Understand that in the case of the Bishop's Copies,
obviously the priest or scribe would simply write out the name or draw the "+".
Finally, I should note that one does not frequently come across actual
signatures in the original records.
Roman Kałużniacki translates some
instructions found in the beginning of a marriage register: "Notwithstanding the
pastors themselves will pay close attention, that the witnesses themselves are
to enter their name, surname and occupation, should they not be able to write,
and a schoolteacher or other person enter their data, that the witnesses should
certify this other person's entry with the Sign of the Cross or other sign, as
is customary in other documents.
Sometimes a priest wrote a formal statement at the bottom
of the marriage record about the marriage agreement. Sometimes, this was not
done. Sometimes, the priest simply signed his own name. This statement can be
found in Latin, Polish, Ukrainian or even a mix of languages. The priest
sometimes included some information here that may not be in the above columns.
This statement often proclaimed that the parents of the
newlyweds agree to the marriage. In one case, the name of the father of a groom
is not listed in the columns, but appears in the handwritten statement by the
The statement may contain the banns of marriage, or the
three dates where the marriage was announced in the church, usually the three
Sundays before the event of the marriage. Sometimes, there will be a place where
the parents of the newlyweds sign the document to prove their agreement. At
other times, the priest may write an "X" where the parent was to sign to show
that the parent agrees to the legal marriage but is not literate and canít write
It may take considerably more time to read the marriage
records than the baptismal/birth or death records, but yield is often much
This paragraph comes from the bottom of the record that is pictured at the very
top of this webpage. It is roughly translated as "For our own young
children Jozef and Karolina in the presence of the two above mentioned
witnesses, as well as to the permitting fathers contract the marriage, to which
we make sign the marks of the cross. Jan Mikoda, father, and Jacku
Drabczak, father. Signed by the priest Ignacy Dunajewski.