I'll warn, this will be a long post, as I'm trying to include as much (hopefully) relevant info as possible. I may also cross post this on another board....I'm not really sure whether to categorize it as research in Poland, the USA, or immigration/emigration, since I'm looking for ANY records from either country. My apologies in advance if I post it somewhere not relevant!
I've been researching a maternal great grandmother, Helen Gronska Bergman, and her family.
What I know is that she was born sometime between 1888-1895 in Brzyna or Stary Saçz, Austria-Poland (though one other location, listed on her ship manifest, was Branic, Russia). She is generally listed as Austrian or Polish on census records, and one census reports her language spoken in her household of origin to be German. She came to the USA in 1913 on the Frankfurt, landing in Philadelphia on Nov. 30. She was joining a sister, Julia Gronska, who lived at 768 S. Front St in Philadelphia. I know the record on the ship manifest is definitely her, because it's stamped with the info from when she applied for naturalization in the 1940s, and I have the naturalization documents listing her husband and children, including my grandmother.
She married Karl/Charles Bergman, a Swedish immigrant, in Philadelphia on 5 Jan, 1919 at St. Stanislaus, a Polish Catholic church in Philadelphia. Her parents are listed in the church marriage record as Stephen and Maria. No witnesses were noted. Of the 8 children they had together, 1 died at birth (the only boy), one was baptized at St. Stanislaus in 1920, and two were baptized at St. Phillip Neri in 1924 and 1932 (St. Philip Neri holds the records for both churches at this time, since St. Stanislaus closed in 2006). There are no records from either of those churches for the remainder of the children, who were born between '23 and '38 and all lived to adulthood. Helen died of cancer in 1949.
I found a record for a Julia Gronska (b. 1892) from Brzyna who came to the USA in 1909 on the Lapland, arriving in New York on 12 Jul. She was joining a sister, Agata Gronska, at 742 S. Front St, Philadelphia. Her relative in her home country is listed as her father, Jozef Gronska, Brzyna. I have not been able to find any definitive info on Julia, other than this, which I suppose isn't even definitive since the fathers name doesn't match what I had for Helen. Per an ancestry tree, I have a possible match with a Julia Gronski in Michigan, with Stephen Gronski and Marianna Kiklica as parents, but so far I can't pin it down...I've been working with the tree owner and another family member...currently waiting on some documents they may have, though they have said they are doubtful it's a match. The supporting info would be that her birth year and parents names seem to match.
I found a record for an Agata Gronska (b. 1884) from Brzyna who came to the USA 24 Sep 1906 on the Finland, arriving in NYC and headed to Philadelphia to join a cousin, Jan Gołebiowski, at 2327 Canton St, Philadelphia (no luck tracking him either). I also have two Philadelphia marriage records for Agata Gronska.
The first is for Agata Gronska (b. 17 Jun 1886 in Aust Poland) to a Jozef Bielecki (b. 19 Mar 1886 in Aust Poland) in 1909. The license application states they reside together at 742 S. Front St, which is the same address where Julia, above, was joining her sister Agata. There was unfortunately no marriage license return, so I have no idea who married them or even if the marriage ever took place. For what it's worth, they applied for the license 26 Jul 1909. I can find NOTHING further about this couple....census records, death records, etc., nor about Jozef Bielecki alone (immigration, draft, etc).
The second marriage license for an Agata Gronska (b. 25 Sep 1888 in Aust Poland) was with Jan Tarasiewicz (b. 20 Aug 1888 in Russ Poland). Agata resided at 125 Lombard St, and Jan at 777 S 3rd; same neighborhood as all the other addresses listed in this post). This license application did have a return accompanying it, showing they were married by Rev. Joseph Guzik on 22 Oct 1910. A bit of research on Rev. Guzik shows he was at St. Stanislaus at the time, the same church where my great grandparents married in 1919. Agata appears to have subsequently started going by the name Agnes; in 1912 their child Maria died in a fire and the death certificate lists the parents as Jan Tarasziewicz and Agnes Gronska, 115 Catherine St, Philadelphia (again, same neighborhood...Helen's husband Karl had in fact lived on Catherine St when he first got here). Sometime in the 1930s, they appear to have shortened the name and the family now uses Taras.
I've searched Ancestry and FamilySearch till their servers must be burning up. I've searched the Philly Inquirer records online (thru 1922 only, unfortunately). I've been to the Philly archives to get marriage records. I've written to churches asking about their records. I've tried (often unsuccessfully) to find addresses in the census records to see who was living at the addresses these people reported. I've pored over ship manifests, and spent 2 months with of Wednesday evenings at my local Family History Center straining my eyes over a microfiche of Brzyna church records (after some valuable assistance from a FB genealogy board, I did find a Stephanus Gronski and Marianna Kiklica in Brzyna, who had at least 11 children, 3 of whom were daughters Agata, Julianna, and Helena....in the right birth order, although not the same birth years as my other records....the person who helped found baptismal records on FamilySearch, and the dates on the baptisms were a couple years prior to the birthdates I have)
Are there resources I'm overlooking? Connections I've missed, or am placing too much importance on? Is there a reason I'm having so much trouble tracking down immigration info or any other records for Jozef Bielecki? What's the likelihood that the Agata Gronska's in the marriage records are two separate people? If they are, why am I unable to find a second immigration record for the other Agata? Was there any record kept of Poles who emigrated? What should I be looking for in the Polish parish records - if I have a death record for Stephanus Gronski, which lists only his wife, how do I find his parents?
I am about to bang my head bloody on this Gronska sisters brick wall. If anyone has any advice, information, hints, or a recipe for a good strong drink, I'd be most grateful.