Monday, October 22, 2007

Can DNA Testing Solve This Mystery For Me?

If you've read my blog for any time at all, you know that I have Polish ancestry. In fact, all of my ancestors came from Poland so I'm about as Polish as you can get given that I wasn't born there. But there's one surname on my family tree that stands out because it's not a Polish name. I've blogged about it before, the name is Killian. How it got on my tree is certainly a mystery to me.

I actually have two 4th great grandmothers with the surname of Killian. They were born about 1775. I don't have their birth records because records for peasants don't go back that far in their village in Poland. But I have the baptismal records for their children starting about 1800 in Podborze, Poland.

The thing is, Killian is both an Irish surname and a German one. But how can I determine if this Killian surname in my family is Irish or German in origin? I'm wondering if DNA testing could help me out with this. If I could get a DNA sample from my cousin (whose mother's mother's mother's mother's mother was a Killian) and run a mtDNA test on it, could I get the kind of results that would answer my question? Or could I compare the results with others in a German or Irish Killian surname group (if there is such a thing) to see if there is a match? Hmm... sounds like I need some help from the Genetic Genealogist!


  1. I have a lot of Polish ancestry including my paternal line, Zalewski. I can't find anything on this line as soon as it goes back to Poland. Where do you find your Polish records, etc? I haven't found a good source in my searches. Thanks in advance.

  2. Thanks for your question, Brian.

    You won't be able to find any of your ancestors' records in Poland online.

    What you have to do is look up the name of the city or village in Poland where your ancestors are from at the FCH website. (
    FHLC/frameset_fhlc.asp) Official BMD records in Poland were recorded by the priest in local parishes. So you need to find the microfilms for their local parish. If you find church/parish records for their village, print out the list of microfilms available and take it to your local LDS Family History Center. If you don't know where that is you can find out on the FHC web site. The folks at the Family History Center will be able to order the microfilms for you and will notify you when they are available. You will have to view the microfilms on the machines at the Family History Center.

    If you can't find any microfilms for your family's village on the FHC web site, your only choice is to write to the civil office in the village in Poland, the local parish where your family lived, or the national archives in Poland (by snail mail).