Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sto Lat!

It was one hundred years ago this month that my Polish ancestors came to the United States.  Sto lat!

On May 17, 1913, my grandmother, her brothers and sisters, and my great-grandparents left Liverpool, England aboard the "S. S. Carmania."  They arrived at Ellis Island on May 26, 1913, and set off for Massachusetts shortly thereafter.  By the 1920s, they had settled in and around Holyoke and Chicopee in Massachusetts, and my grandmother [after marrying my grandfather] later settled in Enfield, Connecticut (in Scitico) where my mother grew up and I lived when I was a small child.  My brother was born at the nearby hospital in Stafford Springs, at the same hospital where my mother was born, and he was delivered by the son of the doctor who delivered my mother.

Most of my grandmother's brothers and sisters stayed in the Springfield, Massachusetts/Enfield, Connecticut area.  The oldest was Uncle Polek, whose real name was Hipolit. My grandmother and most of her brothers and sisters changed their names to Americanized names from their original names.  I think the only ones who didn't were the two oldest, Hipolet and Kunegunda [Aunt Kunda].  Some of them even changed their birthdays!  Teofila became Theresa, Stefania became Stella and later Connie, my grandmother Wiktoria became Vivian, Anna Josefa became Irine, Władislaw became Eddie and later Walter, and Katarzyna became Katherine (Kitty).

They had three older siblings born in the same area in Poland, Marjanna, Jan and Stanisław.  I have no idea if they died before their family left for Poland or if they decided to stay behind.  I have not found death records for them, but my best guess is that they died during their childhoods.  Maybe, though, they stayed behind and had Polish families.  The three oldest were born in Ubiad [where my great-grandfather Piotr was from], and the rest were born in Słowikowa.  Both of these towns are just a few miles away from each other, a little bit northeast of Nowy Sącz.  I visited these towns when I was in Poland, and did some genealogical research in church archives in Nowy Sącz and Tarnów.  Here is some more information on my Polish genealogy quest.

Here is a picture of my grandmother and her sisters from a Polish-American newspaper dated October 31, 1942.  From the best I can translate, the caption reads: "Photograph of the reunion of six sisters, sent to us by Mrs. Roman Anielisko [actually the correct name is "Amelisko", changed from the original Polish spelling of "Ameliszko"], who lives in Springfield, Mass.  Mrs. Amelisko writes to us submitting this photograph, she is a reader of this newspaper since age 12, and thanks to the newspaper 'Journal For All' managed to find a cousin who she thought was missing in Poland, and found him in the Polish Army in England. All the sisters are married and live in various parts of our country.  In the month of September they left for family fun at a so-called "Family Re-Union" at the home of Mrs. Druzan who lives in Detroit, Mich.  In the photograph, starting in the first row from the left side to the right side:  Mrs. Fred Arthur [Aunt Connie] from Detroit, Michigan, Mrs. John Dubiel from Boston, Mass. [Aunt Kitty], Mrs. Earl Dugas from Scitico, Conn. [my babcia], Mrs. Roman Amelisko from Springfield, Mass. [Aunt Kunda], Mrs. James L. Breese from Santa Fe, New Mexico [Aunt Irine], and Mrs. Joseph Druzan from Detroit, Mich. [Aunt Theresa]."