Case Studies

Experiences and Case Studies

Meet Ed Kolenda

Case Study by Paul A. Schmidt

AncestryProGenealogists engages resources from around the world to solve an Eastern European puzzle.

The old saying goes, you can’t win if you don’t enter – and Ed Kolenda can surely attest to that! Ed submitted a compelling video entry for our “Star Of Your Family contest” and subsequently, won!

Ed was born 28 June 1936 in Poland, the son of Piotr “Peter” Doszyń and Joanna Jara. According to family information, both Peter Doszyń and his wife died when they were living in Steinau, Germany. Upon the death of their parents, the three Doszyń children were sent to a German orphanage supervised by the American Army. In 1946, at the end of WWII, they were sent to America and adopted by the Kolenda family. Note: Ed is the middle child in the photo here. 

Our AncestryProGenealogists team began with various documents provided by  the Kolendas, these included:

  • Peter Doszyń’s work papers, which stated that he was born 9 July 1908 in Ruscheltschytschi, Ukraine and resided in Steinau, Odenwald, Germany. (He came to Germany in May 1940).

  • The christening record for Ed’s mother, Johanna Jara, showing a birth date of 6 November 1910 in Huta Drohobycka, the daughter of Joseph Jara (son of Andre Jara and Agnetta Matniej) and Rosalie Spindor (daughter of Jacob Spindor and Catharina Mocker). This record also included a note regarding her later marriage to Peter Doszyń, which took place on 29 September 1935 in Przemyśl, Poland.

To see these actual documents, please visit the Kolenda page on

The AncestryProGenealogists identified the passenger list for Tadeusz Edek [Edward] Doszyń and his two siblings [Jean and Hank], who arrived on the Marine Flasher in New York on 6 June 1946, and also found:

  • The christening of Piotr [Peter] Doszyń, who was born 9 June 1908 in House #31, the son of Jan Doszyń (son of Andrzej Doszyń and Katarzyna Solarczyk) and Józefa Fedusiew (daughter of Paweł Fedusiew and Katarzyna Wajda).  Neither his parents’ nor grandparents’ names were previously known.

  • In addition to Piotr, Jan Doszyń and Józefa Fedusiew were the parents of at least the following children: Mikołaj Fedoszyn (born 21 December 1894) and Teodor Doszyń (born 28 May 1905).  Jan Doszyń married secondly 21 May 1912 to Eudokia Polnyk and they were the parents of Józef Doszyń (born 30 September 1913) and Paulina Doszyń (born 19 August 1916). None of this information was previously known.

  • Research in the Roman Catholic parish of Drohobyczka, Poland uncovered the christenings of two of Johanna Jara’s siblings: Paweł (born 29 June 1895) and Katarzyna (born 11 November 1898). These siblings appear in the letters provided by the family, but nothing else was known about them.

  • Johanna Jara’s father had a previous family by another wife, and we also identified information on some of Johanna’s half siblings.

A Polish AncestryProGenealogists researcher made a trip to Ruszelczyce, and was able to find out that a Theodor Doszyń had lived in nearby Przemyśl with his two sons, one a lawyer [Henryk] and the other a doctor [Kazimierz]. Theodor Doszyń was Peter’s brother, born in 1905, so the sons mentioned would be Ed’s first cousins. The researcher made contact with Theodor Doszyń’s sons, Kasimierz and Henryk, who remembered that one of their uncles was a forced laborer in Germany during World War II, and this was Peter, Edward’s father. They searched their family documents and found the following papers:

  • Piotr Doszyń died in 1942. They had a death certificate issued for him on 11 June 1949 from the archives in Bad Arolsen.

  • A document issued by the Red Cross on 25 January 1962 showed that Anna Doszyń (born 10 March 1910) may have died 29 July 1945 in Steinau, Dieburg, Germany.

  • A photograph with a note, “brother Piotr, killed in Germany in 1942.” They remember their father saying that he had died in an accident—they were digging and suddenly there was a landslide and he was buried underground.

The Kolenda family was in possession of several letters written in Polish, pertaining to the Jara family [their mother's side]. These were translated and provided additional insight into their daily lives during this period of time.

Locating these two new connections on the Doszyń side was a great find for Ed, and we made the decision to take him to Poland to meet them. But first, we had to meet Ed in his native habitat (Michigan) to get a better sense of the man formerly known as Tadeusz Edek Doszyń. Oh, and learn about a record we found that caught all of us off guard.

- See more at:

Research Manager on Project:

Paul A. Schmidt

Project Hours:

109 Hours

Paul became interested in genealogy when he started asking questions of relatives and made a trip to the New York Public Library to see what he could find. In one afternoon, he discovered Mayflower ancestry, and he has been hooked for the 40 years since.

Paul received a B.A. in history from the University of Bridgeport in 1972 and attended graduate school at the University of Maryland, working towards a double major (history and library science). He worked as an archivist at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., for 11 years, mostly in the Office of Presidential Libraries. He worked with the Nixon Presidential Materials Project and helped process the “secret” White House tapes. His areas of research expertise include Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Denmark, Poland, immigration, and 19th and 20th century cases.