The oldest ancestor whose identity we were able to establish is Marcin Bernatowicz. He was born around 1734 probably in the village of Kunicha (formerly Kunica). In addition to Marcin, Zofia Bernatowicz, born around 1727, also lived in Kunicha. Searching for the oldest inhabitants of these regions is extremely difficult. In the Krasnybór parish, the oldest preserved records come from 1760. It was a period of shaping the parish identity of the inhabitants of this area. In 1755 a wooden church was built in nearby Jaminach. From Kunicha to Jaminy is much closer than to Krasnybór, so we are convinced that the oldest Bernatowiczs sometimes attended a closer church, as evidenced by some records written in Jaminy, although Kunicha belonged to the Krasnybór parish. The oldest records from the Jaminy parish come from 1759 and are baptism registers. It is not excluded that at the same time or earlier the inhabitants of these areas also attended the church in Dolistowo, which was the oldest parish in this area. However, we were unable to access the books from the Dolistowo parish from the 18th century.
So it is in vain to look for the birth or marriage records of the aforementioned Zofia Bernatowicz. The first traces of this person appear in 1761, when on January 22 twins in the Krasnobór church were baptized with the names of Piotr and Paweł born in the village of Janówek not far from Kunicha. Mateusz Zagórski was the father and Zofia Bernatowicz was the mother. The wedding had to be earlier. No wonder you can't find any mention of it. There is also no information about the fate of the twins. They probably died in early infancy. Zofia Zagórska does not appear again in the record books until 1807, when her death certificate was written. Five years later, Mateusz Zagórski, widower of Zofia, dies. Interestingly, the informants were his sons Maciej and Michał.
We will not continue to tell stories about the Zagórski families here. In the same period, there were much more of them than Bernatowiczs, and establishing relationships between them on the basis of scanty documentary material is much more difficult.
Let's return to Marcin Barnatowicz. He was a serf in the lands belonging to the Chreptowiczs. At that time, the estate belonged to Antoni Chreptowicz and his brothers who were known for their adventurous lifestyle. It was the period of the greatest fall and debt of these lands, from which it was only slightly raised by Joachim Chreptowicz in 1764.
Marcin married Dorota Zagórska, a twenty-five-year-old girl, in 1763. The wedding took place in Krasnybór. Witnesses were Józef Zagórski, Andrzej Zagórski and Andrzej Puciłowski, but it is not known who they were for the bride and groom. Usually it was the closest family: young couple's siblings, cousins or trusted neighbors and friends.
The couple lived in Kunicha in the house number 1 belonging to the Bernatowicz family. Their first (documented) child was Krystyna born in 1770. She married Mateusz Mróz and they lived in Sztabin. All their children were also born there. It was not until nine years after the marriage that Bernatowicz's son was born, who got the name after his father. Two years later, in 1774, they had a daughter Marianna, who married Gotlib Mróz, brother of Mateusz. This couple also lived in Sztabin and all their children were also born there.
Marcin Barnatowicz and Dorota Zagórska probably had a daughter Jadwiga. Most likely, because Jadwiga's birth certificate is missing, and in her marriage certificate her parents are not mentioned. However, given Jadwiga's approximate age, based on the date of marriage, and the fact that Marcin was the only male representative of the Bernatowicz family in this area, it should be assumed that Jadwiga was his daughter. Jadwiga Bernatowicz got married to Maciej Chodorowski. Initially they lived in Jaziewo in the Jaminy parish, where their first child Franciszek (1797) was born. However another child Tomasz (1808) was baptized in the Dolistowo church. In 1809, the son Kazimierz was born again in Jaziewo, but all the next children were baptized in Dolistowo and the family probably settled there permanently.
In the following chapters we will follow in more detail the fate of Marcin and Maciej, two sons of Marcin Bernatowicz - the family's senior.