Magnuski Family Genealogical Society
When I saw the sentence "MAGNUSCY, shield of ABDANK, from Magnus or Magnuszów, in Szadkow region." for the first time, my heart almost stopped. In one sentence I was transformed from being just another Polish-American, to being part of an extended family that had a history of many generations, a family shield, and even a village or town carrying the family name.
The search was on! I had found my roots, but didn't know where they were. The Abdank part was easy. It is a well known and well documented crest. But where was "Magnus or Magnuszów" and where was "Szadek"? No one in my family had ever told me of these places.
The search proved to be frustratingly hard. None of the contemporary maps I had listed any such place. I bought a map of Łódź to get a better look. No luck. We have here in Palo Alto a wonderful Eastern European bookstore (Szwede Slavic Books) which had a book containing a collection of old Polish maps. I bought it. No luck. I was stuck.
A few months later business would take me to the Washington, DC area, and I used that occasion to visit the Map Room of the Library of Congress. I knew I would find Magnus there. After all, this was probably the largest collection of maps in the world.
Entering the study area, you can request to look at any of the maps they have, and I soon found myself directly viewing European maps of the 15th and 16th centuries. Not reproductions, the real thing. It was thrilling to be in touch with these original documents, but there was no Magnus, and I was discouraged.
I only had a little time left, and I noticed on one of the shelves a U.S. Department of Defense "Gazetteer" that listed the coordinates of every city in the world. After all, if you've got missiles you've got to know where to aim them. I pulled out the one covering Poland, and copied the page covering "Mag..." (see the Resources page for a scan of this and other documents). I also found a copy of Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego, an incredible compendium of Polish geographical lore, and copied the sections covering "Mag..." and Szadek. I had to leave Washington roots-less, and my search would continue.
Back home I went through the listings in the Gazetteer, coordinate by coordinate, and finally hit gold. The village of "Magnusy" was right outside of Szadek, and was the only "Mag.." anywhere in that region. "Magnusy" was also listed in Słownik.
Fortunately, nearby Stanford University allows guests to research their stacks for a limited time, and I went there on my good neighbor pass hoping to find something on Magnusy. Armed with my Department of Defense coordinates (51o45'N,19o04'E) I asked for any highly detailed maps covering that spot. They were extremely helpful, and soon I had a short stack of papers to look through. And there, on a 1930's German map covering Łask I found it!
In 1991 I was able to visit Poland, and with the interpretive help of my cousin Krystyn Plewko we rented a car and drove to Magnusy. The pictures below are from the village, which hasn't changed much over the centuries.
There are no Magnuski's living in Magnusy today, and the local residents do not know any details of its history. In a neighboring town we did find a farming family named "Magnuski" who are probably descendents of the original line. We visited and were served wonderful bread and cheeses and heard a lot about local conditions and life in Poland in 1991. There is another Magnuski family which they knew about in another town not too far away.
I have visited Magnusy once again in 1997 with my family, and some of the residents remembered me from my first tour. I hope it won't be the last time.
Henry S. Magnuski
P. S. Now on the Internet you can enter "Magnusy, Poland" as your map request at the Interactive Atlas of Mapquest and find Magnusy much faster than I did.
The village Magnusy in 2006 (photos courtesy of Marek Jacek Magnuski).
Click on any of the small images to get a larger image.
Copyright © 1998-2014 H. S. Magnuski