Friday, September 30, 2016

Będargowo - Part I: A different story of Adam and Eve

By Michael Pionke

We all know the story of Adam and Eve. But do you already know the story of Adam and Eve Pionk from Będargowo in Poland? If not, please follow me on an exciting journey into the past. The time machine is already waiting. Are you ready for departure? Then let’s start. Our target area is the Kashubian region in North Poland in the early 18th century.

According to my first article, it is very likely that all Pionkes come from only three places of origin in the Kashubian area, namely the small village of Będargowo in Strzepcz parish, 25 miles west of Gdańsk (Danzig) in the countryside; the area around town Puck, 35 miles north of Gdańsk on the Baltic Sea; and the villages of Słupsk and Łupawa, about 70 miles west of Gdańsk.

Furthermore, Mary’s and my research point out that the majority of all Pionkes worldwide seem to come from the first location, namely the Roman Catholic parish of Strzepcz. In the 18th and 19th centuries that parish comprised up to one hundred very small villages and hamlets within a radius of only ten miles. Therefore, the destination of our today’s journey into the past is St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Strzepcz. The GMS coordinates for our time machine are 54°27'20.9"N 18°01'27.9"E. The display of the onboard computer shows us following map:

But what is the target date of our journey through time?

When we search for the traces of our ancestors, church books are the most valuable source of information. With regard to the parish of Strzepcz, only one early baptism book from the 18th century has been preserved, which covers the years from 1712 - 1745. Scans of this baptism book can be accessed on:

Registration on this public genealogical website is free of charge. The baptism book can be found in folder GenBaza/AP_Gdansk/_Parafie katolickie/1254_24_Strzepcz/.

After having studied the old church book, we now also know the time coordinate for the first stop of our today’s time travel. In the onboard computer we type in the target date: 4 November 1725.

Our time machine runs perfectly. After a short and comfortable flight we directly stop in front of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Strzepcz (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Old photograph of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church
in Strzepcz (presumably 19th or early 20th century).

It is Sunday morning and the church bells ring. A young couple hurries into the church. They come from the small village of Będargowo six miles southeast of Strzepcz, and had a strenuous two-hour march through the hilly landscape. The woman carries a newborn boy on her arms, who was born just three days before. The name of the young man is Adam Pionk and his young wife is called Eva (Eve). They have married about one year before and the young boy on Eva’s arms is their first child. Adam and Eva wear the traditional Kashubian costumes on this special day (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: Traditional Kashubian costumes.

The church is full of Kashubian people from the adjacent villages. The young family takes a seat in front of the altar (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: In front of the altar at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church
in Strzepcz (presumably early 20th century).

Pastor Michael Stanislaus Trzęskowski celebrates the Sunday mass. The atmosphere is devout and the people listen to the sermon. Highlight of the mass is the baptism of Adam and Eve’s newborn son. Pastor Trzęskowski asks the young parents and the godparents to come with the baby to the baptismal font. The godparents are Thomas and Catharina Złoch, a befriended couple of Adam and Eva from Będargowo. The pastor starts with the naming ceremony which is held in Latin language. The boy is given the first name Martin. Adam and Eva are very proud of their son and heir. It is the only baptism on this Sunday morning. After the mass pastor Trzęskowski notes down in the church book (Fig 4):


4 November Idem (qui supra) baptisavi infantem nomine Martinum natum 1 November parentibus Adami Piąk et Eva legitimorum conjugum. Patrini erant Thomas Zwloch et Catharina Zwlochowna.

English: I have baptized a child named Martin, born on 1 November to the legitimate parents Adam Pionk and Eva. Godparents are Thomas Zwloch and Catharina Zwlochowna.

Fig. 4: Baptism of Martin Pionk on 4 November 1725,
son of Adam and Eva Pionk.

Please note that pastor Michael Stanislaus Trzęskowski writes the name Pionk in Polish special characters “Piąk“ which is explained in more detail in my first article regarding the origin of our surname. The pastor closes the book and we return to our time machine to continue our travel.

On our following journey, we have six further stops in Strzepcz every 2-3 years. It is always the same scenery. The church bells ring and Adam and Eva, who get older with every stop, hurry into the church. Eva carries a newborn baby on her arms and the proud parents are looking forward to the baptism of their newborn child. They are followed by the older children, and the row becomes longer with every new event. In total four sons and three daughters are born to Adam and Eva Pionk. Our logbook shows following entries:

  • Martin, born on 1 November 1725
  • Johann, born on 17 June 1727
  • Catharina, born on 1 April 1729
  • Anna, born on 19 March 1731
  • Marianna, born on 18 March 1733
  • Jacob, born on 25 July 1735
  • Peter, born on 24 May 1738

After our last stop we decide to travel home for today. We are tired and our time machine needs new fuel. Although our journey was very exciting, we don’t want to stay there forever. The life of the ordinary people was very hard in the poor Kashubian region.

We don’t know very much about Adam and Eva Pionk. They lived in the small village of Będargowo which belonged to the manor farm of landlord Michael Donimierski. The village population consisted only of a dozen of families, in total about sixty people.

According to the old baptism book, we know that Adam and Eve were the only Pionke couple in Strzepcz parish over decades. It is not clear where Adam came from. Maybe he came from one of the two other known home locations in the Kashubian area as described above.

Sometimes church books tell us interesting stories and thus much more than pure facts only. From the book we know that Adam must have been a charming man who liked the women very much. Before his marriage with Eva, Adam had fathered two illegitimate children with other women from Strzepcz parish (Marianna, born on 6 April 1724; and Johann, born on 8 June 1725).

Therefore it is likely that Eva was born in Strzepcz parish and did not come along with Adam to Będargowo from abroad. It seems that Adam became a faithful husband after his marriage with Eva because we did not find any further compromising records in the later church records.

We must be aware that Adam and Eva Pionk were our very first grandparents. All Pionkes with roots in that area very likely descend from that only one couple.

The next article will lead us again to the village of Będargowo. Our second journey in time will have the target date 1773. Now we will visit the families of the adult children of Adam and Eva. A unique historical document, the so-called West Prussian Land Register, will give us a spectacular insight into the village population and life in Będargowo at that time. More on this later…


I would like to thank Michael Pionke for contributing another informative and entertaining article. I very much look forward to future collaborations. Thank you, Michael.

—MaryWS of TreeQuest


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1 comment:

  1. Michael,

    What an entertaining and unique approach to presenting this story. I really enjoyed reading it. It brought the people and the time to life to me. Thank you so much for sharing your research and finding such a fun way to present it. I look forward to Part II.




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