Czerwona Wola, Poland is the village where my great-grandmother Eva was born and presumably raised in. In Polish, Czerwona means “red” and wola means “will” so her village’s name is essentially translated as “red will.” Wikipedia (yes, not the most legitimate source, I know) lists its population today as being just under 500 people. It also mentions about the village having a unique micro climate (pine forests).
There isn’t a whole lot of images on Czerwona Wola but I thought this one was particularly lovely especially with the lush trees and verdant greenery. Since my great-grandmother immigrated to America in 1912. I wonder though if it looked that nice when she was living there or if it looks exactly the same.
As you can see from the map below, Czerwona Wola isn’t really close to anything and places that do show up near to it are equally small from a population standpoint.
When I zoomed out, now you can make out bigger cities in Poland like Krakow (almost due west of the red dot) and Lublin which is north and and a tad west of Czerwona Wola. You can also see how extremely near the village is to the Ukrainian border. It’s about a two hour drive to Lviv, the Ukrainian city that many have dubbed the “Florence of the East.” (In comparison, it’s about three hours to Krakow and two hours to Lublin.)
While my great-grandmother’s village today is in Poland, when she lived there it was Galicia (not to be confused with the Spanish region of Galicia). Galicia was once a small kingdom that currently straddles the border between Poland and Ukraine. So while my great-grandmother was an ethnic Ukrainian, she was also Galician.
A little history lesson for you-upon the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, the Kingdom of Galicia became the largest, most populous, and northernmost province of the Austrian Empire where it remained until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I in 1918.
As I’ve mentioned before, I know so little about my great-grandmother so it is my ardent dream to be able to go to Czerwona Wola one day to learn more about her and my ancestors. I know this would be a massive undertaking since first and foremost, I speak neither Polish nor Ukrainian. So my wanting to find out about my great-grandmother’s roots would require the hiring of a genealogist to do research and this is something I know would not be cheap.
When I casually contacted a genealogist before who specialized in Polish/Ukrainian research, she said that non-church records for small villages such as Czerwona Wola are often non-existent which was somewhat disheartening. Compare doing genealogical research in a country like Ireland versus in Poland and they’re total polar opposites (many people have immense success when tracking down their ancestors in a place like Ireland since record keeping there was often meticulous).
My great-grandmother came to America when she was 17. Although at that age I had already flown to Mexico alone, in 1912, the status and place of women, especially young, unmarried girls was totally different. I have no way of knowing who she came to America with since she was neither married nor had children (at least that I know of). The writing on her ship’s passenger record list which asks the immigrant who will they be joining in America is illegible (at least to my eyes). There is someone listed for my great-grandmother but I just can’t make it out. She didn’t marry my great-grandfather until 1917 so I have no idea where she was, who she was living with for those roughly five years.
While entire families from Europe often immigrated together, many still stayed behind in the Old Country. I wonder if any of my great-grandmother’s siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles did as well. During World War I, the region of Galicia saw heavy fighting between Russian forces and the Central Powers. Was any of her family that stayed behind affected by this?
My dream would be to do this kind of a trip before I am 40 (for the record, I’ll be 29 this year on my great-grandmother’s wedding anniversary no less). I’d love for it to be sooner but it’s one of those things that I think would obviously require a ton of planning and time preparation, significant money most likely, and lastly, the realization that nothing more may be found then what I already know. And yet, even if it’s just to walk on the dirt road in Czerwona Wola, I want to say that I did it.
My great-grandparents on their wedding day-1917