Thursday, November 21, 2013

Developing an Albion Polonia Wedding Photograph Database

Photographs are a peculiar part of family history research, and history research in general. The phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words," best fits the photograph's role in genealogy. For a family historian such as myself, locating an image of a direct line ancestor is probably the most rewarding find I will ever experience. I will spend years searching for the documents to prove my lineage; documents full of words describing who my ancestors were, where they lived, what they looked like, and the communities they lived in. However, nothing will be able to put that research into context better than a photograph.

Photographs are peculiar in the sense that they stand alone when we think of family heirlooms. Some researchers are blessed with family bibles, locks of hair, the family's sterling silverware, fine china, or Grandma's prized glass pieces. Yet there is one shortfall of these artifacts in the overall scheme of family history research; they can't be shared. You can take photographs of the items and share them, put them on display in your house, but undoubtedly, most relatives will simply tell you they have it, and you may never see it again.

Pictures are different. They have the habit of showing up out of nowhere. They have the ability to be thrown in a drawer or a cigar box, only to be discovered fifty years later by an unsuspecting son, daughter, or grandchild. This alone should be enough of a calling to urge families to label their photographs, but that is another point. Unlike 3-D artifacts, photographs can be scanned, they can be copied, they can be placed in a frame and stuck on a shelf, they can be e-mailed to family, posted to Facebook and shared with friends, they can be shrunk or compressed to fit in a collage, they can be blown up and turned into a wall portrait, and they can be manipulated and enhanced by computer software. The most important part of all this is that the photograph can be shared. Although the original is an important piece, it's intrinsic value is, more often than not, less important than the contents of the image itself. This of course is only true for family history researchers, while collectors of photographs would be more inclined to retain the original of, say, a tin-type, or glass-plate negative.

Over the last thirteen years of my own family history research, and over the last three years of researching the history of Albion's Polonia, the biggest shortage of materials on the subject was in the form of photographs. This is not because they do not exist, but because there is no central collection of materials to share on the matter. Making photographs available in a database format, available online, has the potential to help researchers across the country. With the creation of this website, I have received thanks and praise from researchers as close to home as Albion and as far as Alaska, California, Texas, and Wisconsin. Those researchers did not have contact with distant cousins here in Orleans County as I, and many others, do. Therefore, they would not have been able to access the vast wealth of information found locally within print sources without such a resource as Albion Polonia; a resource that continues to grow but sees its greatest growth through the help of others.

It has been my goal to start a photograph database on subjects relating to Albion's Polonia, and the best way to start that is with a Wedding Photograph collection. The sacrament of marriage was of significant importance to Poles, as the Catholic Church played a large role in their daily lives. So, even for families with limited financial resources, having a memento of this all important day was almost a necessity. I have been working on this collection for some time but response has been slow, so I've turned to the web and social media to seek out those who would be willing to contribute to this collection for the benefit of researchers who are not local, who would like to add a visual piece to their family history.

If you would like to contribute, please e-mail me at mballard@rochester.rr.com. I am in the process of creating a marriage record database, which lists others in the wedding party. This will be a way for researchers to put names to those unknown faces found within your ancestors's wedding portraits.

Franciszek Kaniecki & Weronika Sterczynska - 1907

Franciszek Kaniecki & Rozalia Romanska Danielewska - 1919

Joseph Zwiewka & Bronislawa Ugorek

Antoni Rajs & Rozalia Lukaszyk

Wladyslaw Norkowski & Walerya Rajs


Theodore Ludwiczak & Marianna Danielewski

Louis Rytlewski & Weronika Marcinowski

Monday, November 18, 2013

Discovery of Murdered Italian Man Reveals No Killer


When Orleans County is struck with news of the death of a local resident under suspicious circumstances, it is shocking and absolutely disturbing news. One hundred years ago, it was a far more common occurrence to read newspaper accounts of brutal murders within the county limits. From the jealous lover, to the disgruntled farm hand, violent outbursts resulting in the killing of fellow residents was far more common then we'd see today. The headlines of local papers were graced with well known criminal cases; the murder of wealthy farmer Charles Phelps allegedly by his German farm hand, Charlie Stielow, or the case of George Wilson who was later hanged for the brutal slaying of his wife.

With the arrival of new immigrants from Central Europe, Albion saw a new degree of violence erupt, not by the savage nature of untamed men, but by the old world customs of dealing with disagreements. A look into the year 1919 shows us a brutal and heinous crime committed out of revenge or pure hatred against a travelling, out-of-work, Italian gentleman who went weeks without being identified, and a killer who seemingly got off scot-free.

In April of 1919, the body of an unidentified male was found on the farm of J. H. Rodwell in Eagle Harbor, north of the Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Railroad. The body was discovered by Joseph Long of Albion who lived at 143 E. State Street in the village of Albion. The body was discovered laying face down and upon examination by the coroner, it appeared that the man had been shot once through the heart from the back, once through the body on the left side through the chest, one bullet through the center of the forehead, and his throat had been cut from ear to ear, so deep that it nearly severed the head from the neck. Such a gruesome discovery in Albion would be a frightening case today, but at a time where scientific methods for tracking killers were still in their infancy, the fear of a killer who committed such a crime never being arrested was horrific.

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, on May 3, 1919, printed a verbal description of the man, as a male, approximately 35 years old, five feet 1 inch tall, clean shaven except a one week old moustache, weighing approximately 145 pounds, with long curly hair. Found next to the body was a loaded, but badly rusted, .38 caliber pistol. According to the coroner, the murder had occurred nearly 3-4 days prior to the discovery of the body. The only potential piece of identification was the gold ring found on the man's finger with the initials D.B.

As with many ethnic communities, people shied away from speaking to police on criminal matters which could potentially incriminate their fellow brethren. Local police would find the Italian and Polish communities to be rather tight-lip about activities amongst their own population. When questioning local residents, local police found no Italian residents who could identify the body and no one would had heard gunshots in the vicinity. One interesting fact, they noted, was that the man wore clothing that was considerably better than the average Italian of the working class.

The following week, the Rochester D&C ran an update on the investigation into the murder of the unknown Italian whose body was discovered face down near the tracks of the B. L. & R. Railroad in Eagle Harbor. Although the body had been buried the previous Friday (printed Wednesday, May 7, 1919), a private detective out of Rochester by the name of John Doyle was brought in to examine fingerprints from the crime scene. In speaking with police in Rochester, an area hotel proprietor noted that the gold ring worn by the deceased man was similar to one which was stolen from him nearly two years prior. From information gathered, Albion police believed that the man was murdered by someone he met while in Albion; he was robbed of a watch but the motive for the killing was believed to be much deeper.

Again, the newspaper posted the man's description with a few alterations; a man, believed to be 28 years old, five feet one inch tall, weighing 145 pounds, stocky build, with blue eyes and curly hair. The police again drew attention to the clothing which the man wore, a grey ribbed union suit of underwear, a blue silk shirt, a white soft collar, and a black & white checkered cap.

By May 14th, the newspapers began to report more on who the deceased man actually was. In speaking with a local Albion sewer contractor, Charles Piazza, the police learned that the man was visiting Albion in hopes of finding a job. On Tuesday or Wednesday during the week of the murder, Mr. Piazza said that he spoke with the young gentleman about potential employment on Main Street. The unidentified man told Mr. Piazza that he was from Niagara Falls and that he went to Rochester in hopes of finding a job. He was in Albion to look for work on his way back to Buffalo to visit friends.

During the same week of May the 14th, a man who lived within the vicinity of the murder came forward, claiming that he had heard gun shots coming from the area of the murder around 5 o'clock that Wednesday morning, but he believed that railroad workers were blasting rocks. Another area farmer told police that he recognized the man as one who rode with him between Rochester and Niagara Falls in the weeks prior to the murder.

Police received little additional information on the name of the murdered man and had absolutely no clues as to who committed the murder, until the Orleans County Sheriff received an unmarked letter in October of 1919. Western New York newspapers reported the contents of the letters during the week of October 22, 1919. The letter contained the following; "I let you know that man you fount dead in April, his name was Domenico Zarafa, he was live in No. 153 Dante Place, Buffalo, NY." This letter was postmarked October 19, at 12pm in Buffalo, New York, but contained no information as to who wrote the letter nor who mailed it.

Although local police identified the man (who was likely interred in Mt. Albion's paupers field), the papers never reported any news of who killed Domenico Zarafa.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Poznan Project Receives Major Upgrade

Albion's Polish community has very deep roots in the present day regions of Wielkopolska and Kujawsko-Pomorski, two voivodeships in the north-western region of Poland. Over one hundred years ago, the region existed as the Province of Posen, a portion of the ex-Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth which was annexed into the Kingdom of Prussia in the later quarter of the 18th century. As most amateur family historians uncover their German-Polish roots, they'll find the region most commonly referred to as "West Prussia," "Borussia" (in Latin) or "Prusy Zachodnie" in the Polish church records (Polish for West Prussia). The history of Poland is a very convoluted one, full of confusing land divisions created by the 18th century monarchs of Prussia, Austria, and Russia. As mentioned, we know these regions now as Wielkopolska and Kujawsko-Pomorskie, however both of these voivodeships were created in 1999 as an effort to deconstruct the Polish political divisions of the post-Cold War era, returning them to more "historically related" regions.

A region of considerable size and importance to the history of Poland and old Germanic tribes, the Vistula River cuts through portions of this historic region and was most likely a natural border for early land divisions in the 1770s. These land divisions and the harsh and violent political history of the 19th century uncovers an interesting story which all of our ancestors played a vital role in. From the early uprisings led by Napoleon with the establishment of the Duchy of Warsaw to the Congress Kingdom, right up to the Bismarckian wars of the mid-19th century, our ancestors found themselves amidst a vital political struggle, the same struggle which would eventually lead to the World Wars in the early half of the 20th century.

Aside from this history, which would be far too complicated to explain in vague words in a small blog such as this, there is a vital genealogical resource that has been growing over the last decade. In 2000, Lukasz Bielecki sought to resolve a common genealogical problem that most Polish-Americans can admit to having encountered; the vague birthplace of "Posen." Because Posen existed as a historic region and a city, most researchers found themselves wasting money and time chasing ghosts in unrelated places.

Having spent nearly a decade on my own Polish roots before tracing my lineage back to the region of Kujawsko-Pomorskie, the research process was frustrating, full of brick walls and speed bumps. Just as Mr. Bielecki has done, I spend a great deal of time sharing my knowledge with other researchers to prevent them from wasting time the same way I did. Having shared that knowledge, I was able to watch my distant cousin trace his lines into Poland in a matter of several months, a task which took me many years. That revealed that I was doing something right, and therefore I continue to share that knowledge.

Last month I completed a research guide on the use of Bielecki's "Poznan Project" database of Posen Marriages. Since completing that research guide, the website has seen a major upgrade into a database, which I can confirm, is considerably easy to use compared to the older version. So I wanted to highlight some of the basics of using the database to help you, the researcher, start the easy task of locating your Posen ancestors in Poland.


The initial screen provides you with various search boxes for entering information on your Posen ancestors. The "additional search criteria" bar is minimized, but can be expanded by clicking on it, which will reveal the advanced search limiters. 

So, to start, simply enter the surnames (last names) of your ancestors. When you use Catholic Church records, you will often find a listed surname for your female ancestors (especially within Baptismal records), so take advantage of them when you can. Upon entering the surnames, you can select your ancestor's first name from a drop down menu, which will provide you with name variations to account for German, Polish, and Latin forms of the name (e.g. Ludovicus, Ludwik, Ludwig).

After entering that information, you may opt to limit your results by region (I wouldn't suggest), by year, and by record type (e.g. Catholic, Protestant, Civil). Unless you know specifically where your ancestors married, or are sure that they were Catholic or Protestant, it is best to just avoid these limiters. However, the "Year from ____ to ____" option can be valuable, especially with more "common" Polish surnames (i.e. Kwiatkowski, Lewandowski, etc.).

For a test, try this search;
Tomasz Sterczynski
Agnes Kiszka

Both were born in the 1860s, so set the year limiter for abt. 1875 to 1890. Logically, we can assume that at least one of them was 18 at the time of marriage and that since they appear in Albion, NY by 1892 and immigrated prior to 1888 that they were married sometime between those two years.

What results do you get? Do they look something like this?


The search returns one result, which won't always be the case, however we can use other records to verify the date of births based on the ages at the time of marriage. According to this record, we have Thomas Sterczynski, age 24 (born 1862), son of Laurentius and Josepha, who married Agnes Kiszka, age 22 (born 1864), daughter of Adalbertus. This marriage occured in 1886 in the Catholic parish of Pobiedziska (Pudewitz was the German name for the parish). The entry number "5" indicates that the marriage was the 5th marriage for the year 1886. So, we can use this information to either write to Poland for the original record, or we can use this to locate LDS microfilm to research the record ourselves on microfilm.

But, maybe Thomas and Agnes has some siblings who married? How do we find that? Try this search;
Sterczynski for the groom, 1865 to 1890. Do you receive any results that seem to match? Nope, we'd ultimately like to find some results for the surname Sterczynski in the town of Pobiedziska with either a father named Laurentius or a mother named Josepha, but the search returns no likely candidates. Try some other searches; Sterczynska for the bride, 1865 to 1890? Nope, no results either. Perhaps searching Agnes's information could return results? How about Kiszka, for the groom, 1865 to 1890?


Here we see some potential results, one set sticking out for the town of Pobiedziska, for Martinus Kiszka, age 27 years (born 1857), the son of Adalbertus and Marianna, who married Vincentia Karaskiewicz, age 26 (born 1858), the daughter of Michael and Catharina. They were married in 1884 and are entry number 10 for that year. So this provides us with another potential sibling to research while we are looking at information on Thomas and Agnes, and helps to confirm the family's location (as you may already know that Agnes had a brother Martin who lived in Albion with a wife named Vincentia).

We can go one step further and search for information on the parents of Agnes and Martin Kiszka by searching for "Adalbertus Kiszka" and "Marianna." We can assume that they were married prior to 1858/9 based on Martin's age, and can enter 1840 as an early cutoff. What type of results do you get?


We end up with one "exact" match for an Adalbertus Kiszka and Marianna Jankowiak from the parish of Kostrzyn. We can take that name, "Kostrzyn" and plug it into google maps, searching Gmina Kostrzyn, Poland, and by getting directions from that town to Pobiedziska, we see that they are approximately 16km from each other, increasing the likelihood that Adalbertus and Marianna are the parents of Agnes and Martin.

So there is considerable value in utilizing the Poznan Marriage Database in you research. With the ultimate goal of our research being to locate our Polish ancestors in Europe, this database will allow you to focus in on specific town names to continue your search. Once you have located the towns in which your ancestors came from, you can use that information to pinpoint which LDS microfilm will contain the records for your ancestors. That is a process which I will cover in an upcoming post.

For now, try you luck with the database and see which ancestors you can locate in the Poznan Project Database! http://poznan-project.psnc.pl/

Monday, November 11, 2013

T Sgt. Anthony F. Crane

Tech. Sgt. Anthony F. Crane - Brussels, Belgium

On this particular Veterans Day, I wanted to take the time to remember some of my ancestors who made great sacrifices in service with the United States Armed Forces. Since I was a young child, spending time with my Bushia meant hearing stories of her brother, Anthony "Tony" Crane, who was a veteran of World War Two. Although I don't recall those stories specifically, given the frequency of his name within the stories of my Bushia and great aunts, I knew that he was of significant importance to them. The appearance of this war-time photograph in her wedding album signifies the love and admiration she had for him (he died nine months before she married my Grandfather). Ever since the passing of my Bushia, I've taken on the task of trying to find out more about "Uncle Tony" and his service in the U.S. Army, and for the longest time, the extent of his service to my knowledge was just that; the U.S. Army.
 
 
Anthony F(rancis) Crane was born June 11, 1916 in Albion, New York as Antoni Edward Kaniecki. The son of two German-Polish immigrants, Franciszek Kaniecki and Weronika Sterczynska, Tony grew up as the only son in a house with three sisters. At the age of two, his mother passed away on November 9, 1918 from pneumonia and lingering complications from the birth of Tony's youngest sister, Franciszka. The following March, Franciszka would die from an unknown childhood disease at the age of 14 months.
 
On the 12th of May, 1919, Tony's father remarried to Rozalia Romanski, a widow whose husband had met his fate at the hands of tuberculosis, likely contracted from toiling in the stone quaries of Albion. The marriage of Frank and Rose represented a Progressive-era "Brady Bunch" scenario, Rose having four children of her own to bring into the newly molded family. The new household, consisting of 4 boys and 4 girls remained that way for two years until the birth of Irene in 1921 and later the birth of my Bushia in 1926. Family stories suggested a great deal of conflict between the children and suggests that Frank and Rose married out of the need for mutual support in raising their children.
 
 
Tech. Sgt. Anthony Crane - Shooting Horseshoes
According to what available information I do have on Uncle Tony's service, he entlisted with the U.S. Armed Forces on July 19, 1938 at Ft. Niagara in Youngstown, New York at the age of 22. At the time, he was living in Cattaraugus County and was working as a Bartender. A single man with no dependents and one year of a high school education, it's uncertain as to why he enlisted in the service, however his headstone indicates the exact branch and unit of service during the war.

Tony Crane - "Break in the Action"
 
This photograph tagged as "Tony - A Break in the Action," probably by my Bushia, reveals the black MP armband. Further research shows that Uncle Tony was a member of the 14th Armored Division's Military Police Platoon. During the war, MP Platoons were used to keep the peace in newly liberated areas, patrol streets, administer over prisoners of war, and police the soldiers while on duty and on leave.

One of the more interesting bits about Uncle Tony comes from a newspaper article, likely from 1943, shows that he was one of eight men from the 14th Armored to be involved with early testing of GM's newly created M-3 submachine gun. Of the men testing the gun, Tony was one of eight to return a perfect score of 100/100 for accuracy during Tennessee Maneuvers in January of 1943. The M-3 SMG is more commonly known as the "Grease Gun."

Tony would have left with the 14th Armored Division on October 13, 1944 for deployment in France, having boarded four transport ships for the trip across the Atlantic. Although he would not have been actively engaging enemy forces on the front line, the 14th Armored was engaging the enemy within two weeks of having landed in Southern France.

The 14th Armored liberated Oflag 13-B and Stalag 13-C POW camps in April of 1945, but their crowing glory came in late April of 1945 with the liberation of Stalag 7-A, the largest German POW camp in Europe, consisting of over 130,000 allied prisoners of war from Britain, Australia, the Soviet Union, the United States and numerous other allied countries. Several days later, the division found itself liberating several sub-camps of the Dachau Concentration Camp. It is very probably that Tony was actively involved in the processing of these newly liberated POWs.

Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to know Uncle Tony. He died at the age of 33 from a leukemia-like disease. With no family history of similar disorders, it remains a mystery as to if he was exposed to something while in the service which could have led to such an illness. Today, all that is left are the photographs and stories of him. Those stories which were shared by my Bushia have remained with me, and the memory of Uncle Tony remains strong. Hopefully, some more information will come to light to further explain his service overseas; a man who saw much of the death and destruction suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime in Europe.

Tony Crane (R) and sister, Lorraine Crane Ballard (M)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jadwiga Sadowska Kaniecki (addendum)

Over the course of the past week, additional information pertaining to Jadwiga Sadowska and her family has been located. In last week's post, I included information relating to the parents of Jadwiga as well as her siblings. I will correct that information this week.

As previously mention, Jadwiga was born sometime in the late 1820s, possibly in 1827 or 1828. No baptismal record has been located within the records of Wabcz to indicate the name of her parents nor the date of her birth or baptism. However, there is evidence to direct us to her parents available through a death record for one, Joannes Sadowski.

Joannes Sadowski, according to the Wabcz death registers, died on January 13, 1848 at Wabcz. He was later buried on January 16, 1848 in Wabcz. The names of his parents are not revealed, but it is recorded that he was approximately 70 years old at the time of his death. In addition to the vital information, comments regarding living heirs were recorded. It is here that we see references to the names of his wife and Jadwiga's siblings.

The record lists his wife as Elizabeth Sadowska (ur: Szymecka) and 7 children including Bernard, Jadwiga, Marianna, Joannes, Antoni, Tomasz and Anna. It is assumed that the names of the children were listed in order from oldest to youngest, meaning that Joannes would have been approximately 50 years old at the time of Jadwiga's birth, which would also indicate that his wife was considerably younger than he was.

Further proof of the relationships are shown through the death record for Elizabeth Szymecka Sadowski, who died May 16, 1887 at Wabcz, having been buried on May 19, 1887 at the same location. Her death record inidcates one child, Antoni (who married Marianna Kaniecki, possibly sibling or cousin of Matthew). It is believed that the other children had either passed or had immigrated by the time of Elizabeth's death. We know for certain that Jadwiga was living in the United States at the time of her mother's death as she had not returned to Poland with her husband in 1884/5.

The final piece of information that was made available was a baptismal record for Anna Sadowska, sister to Jadwiga. Anna was born on June 6, 1845 at Wabcz, and was baptized two days later on June 8, 1845. This record lists Joannes as her father and Elizabeth Szymecka as her mother. Interestingly, this would mean that Joannes was around the age of 68 when Anna was born; old enough to be her grandfather or great grandfather.

What we can gather from this information is that Joannes was likely married once before his marriage to Elizabeth, probably marrying sometime around 1800 (around the time of Elizabeth's birth). He likely had several children from his first marriage (indicated by the presence of other Sadowskis within the baptismal records of the 1840s), and his later marriage to Elizabeth produced an additional set of children.

In my next post, I will address information relating to the six other children born to Joannes and Elizabeth, including their son Joannes (John) who married Julianna Furmanski (the progenitors of the Sadowski family in Albion).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mateusz Kaniecki & Jadwiga Sadowska

It's been a very long time since I have posted in this blog, but in an effort to continue writing about local history I am going to begin making weekly posts regarding newly discovered family history relating to my Polish genealogy. Hopefully, amongst these weekly posts, I plan to post additional articles on other historical subjects. By posting these articles about my Polish ancestry, I can work towards the completion of a written narrative history about a family that has remained relatively unknown through the last several generations.

 
Mateusz Kaniecki & Jadwiga Sadowska
 
 
Descendants of Mateusz Kaniecki and Jadwiga Sadowska number in the hundreds, which is a remarkable number considering the relatively close connection between them and the living generations. As a direct line descendant of Mateusz and Jadwiga, I am a fifth generation descendant of the couple. We can calculate the potential, maximum number of descendants of this couple based on a few bits of information concerning cultural and religious practices:
  • As Catholics, Polish families sought to maximize the number of children they could raise. This practice was not specific to Polish families, as it was quite common amongst Irish families of the past, and is still common amongst Latin-American Catholic families today.
 
Knowing that piece of information, we can calculate out an idea of the possible number of descendants based on this tradition. If we were to assume that a woman could be married as early as age 15 and possibly give birth to children up until the age of 40, this would allow for a number of children to be born to the couple over the course of 25 years. Based on biological reasons and patterns, for families of this religious background, it would be expected that a woman would give birth to a child every 1.5 to 2 years. So, within that 25 year span, a woman could potentially give birth to a maximum of 12 to 16 children over the span of her childbearing time.
 
In order to be realistic, we have to consider the potential for any number of anomalies to occur which would limit the number of children who would be conceived, born, or survive into adulthood. Those anomalies could range from miscarriages, genetic defects (inability to carry children), death during childbirth, and disease or illness. It should also be noted that in certain cases, a woman could carry a child to term beyond the age of 40 and may not have been uncommon to see a child born to a woman between the age of 45 or 50.
 
Based on records found within the Catholic parish of Wabcz, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland (St. Bartholomew Church) where Mateusz and Hedwig were married, the average age of the bride and groom was somewhere between 20 - 25 for men and 18 - 21 for women. The older age of the groom would have been, in part, due to the requirement of military service amongst young men.
 
If Jadwiga were to marry at the age of 18 and give birth to children up until the age of 45, she could have produced anywhere from 13 - 18 children maximum. However, we have records available which indicate that the number was less than that. Mateusz and Jadwiga's marriage occured on March 5, 1848 in Wabcz, Kujawsko-Pomorskie when Mateusz was 29 years old and Jadwiga 21; rather late for both of them. We know that the last born child to the couple was their daughter Praxeda, who was born on January 13, 1868, when Jadwiga was 41 years old (as was expected). Based on the available records, Jadwiga should have given birth to approximately 10 - 13 children. Again, as available records show, she gave birth to 9 children between 1849 and 1868.
 
If we were to assume that every child lived into adulthood and gave birth to a comparable number of children, Jadwiga and Mateusz would have had 9 children and anywhere from 81 to 117 grandchildren. Had those grandchildren all lived into adulthood and produced half the number of children (5 to 6), Mateusz and Jadwiga would have had  486 to 702 great-grandchildren, and had their great grandchildren all lived into adulthood and produced half the number of children that their parents did (2 to 3), Mateusz and Jadwiga could have had anywhere from 1485 to 2106 great great grandchildren. We could double those numbers to calculate in a potential number for the next generation (my generation), which would add up to astounding numbers over such a short period of time.
 
The fact of the matter is that life was far more difficult for Mateusz and Jadwiga, for their children, cousins, and siblings. It was a hard but accepted truth that many children wouldn't survive past their 3rd birthday, with many records indicating most infant deaths occuring within the first year. As we know for certain, at least two of Jadwiga's children died as young children and only three of the original nine made the journey from Poland to the United States. This shrinks the potential number of descendants down far from the above mentioned numbers. Living descendants numbering in the several hundreds probably serves as a better estimate.
 
LIFE IN POLAND - to 1881
 
The exact date of birth for Mateusz Kaniecki has yet to be located (no baptismal record to indicate this). Based on his marriage record, he was born sometime around 1819 and was living in Wabcz at the time of his marriage in 1848. Based on the lack of surname distribution in the Wabcz parish prior to 1848, it is believe that Mateusz may have migrated to the outlaying villages of Chełmno, along the Vistula River, after having completed required military service under the Prussian government. The older age of Mateusz upon his marriage day would indicate that he had been in military service for a considerable amount of time prior to that time. Based on knowledge of the region in which the Kaniecki family immigrated, the establishment of a Prussian military school in Chełmno suggests that Mateusz may have been sent there upon reaching the age of 16 or 17; remaining their after his service.
 

Map of Poland showing location of Wabcz
 
Jadwiga Sadowski was born sometime in 1827, with no baptismal record to indicate the exact date of birth. Based on available death registers, Jadwiga was the daughter of Joannes Sadowski, who died on 13 Jan 1848 in Wabcz, Kujawsko-Pomorskie. Based on his age at the time of death, it was likely that Jadwiga's mother was considerably younger than he was. The register lists Jadwiga's mother as Elisabeth Symecka and shows six living siblings of Jadwiga; Bernard, Marianna, Joannes, Antoni, Tomasz, and Anna. It is known that Joannes was the husband of Julianna Furmanska, and the progenitor of the Sadowski families of Albion, NY. Marianna was the grandmother of Anna Zielinska Tomaszewski who immigrated to Chicago, IL with her family. Stanley Rice, a grandson of Mateusz and Jadwiga, lived with Anna's family in Chicago for a short time in the early 1900s.
 
As mentioned before, Mateusz and Jadwiga were married on March 5, 1848 at Wabcz, Kujawsko-Pomorskie. The record indicates that Mateusz was 29 and Jadwiga was 21, with this marriage being their first. At the time of their marriage, Mateusz and Jadwiga were living in Wabcz, which was again indicated by the birth of their first child, Alexander Kaniecki. Alexander was born June 7, 1849 at Wabcz and would be the last of the Kaniecki children to be born in Wabcz.
 
Sometime between 1849 and 1851, Mateusz moved his family east to the small hamlet of Obory. Over the course of the next 17 years, Jadwiga would give birth to seven more children; Franz (1851), Sylvester (1852), Marianna (1856), Pawel (1858), Barbara (1860), Antoni (1864), Praxeda (1868). During that time in Obory, Mateusz and Jadwiga buried at least two of their children, Franz on February 21, 1852 at the age of four months and Marianna on June 16, 1857 at the age of 16 months. Based on U.S. records, which indicate that Jadwiga had given birth to nine children, and the spread of births, it is likely that there was another child that was born between Sylvester and Marianna or between Barbara and Antoni.
 
The other children will be discussed more in detail later on, but it appears as though Sylvester, Pawel, Barbara, and Antoni were the only children who survived into adulthood. All married, had children, and three of the four immigrated to the United States (Sylvester died in 1884/5).
 
The earliest known migration from the Wabcz area to the United States occured around 1868 with the emigration of Jozef Danielewski, who came to Albion, NY. He is one of, if not the earliest Polish immigrant to Albion, brought to work in the sandstone quarries. It is likely that the Danielewski's served as a link between Albion and the homeland as a number of Wabcz area families ended up in Albion by the 1890s.
 
 IMMIGRATION TO THE U.S. - 1881 & 1887
 
The exact reason behind the family's immigration to the United States is unknown. However, we can develop a hypothesis based on the political trends occuring within the region of Poland that the Kaniecki family lived in.
 
During the late 18th century, Poland was divided amongst the Prussians, Austro-Hungarians, and the Russians. For centuries before, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a strong and wealthy force in central and eastern Europe, but a series of unfortunate events led to the eventual decline. At the time of the divisions of Poland, Jadwiga's father Joannes would have been a boy of 10 or 15 years old; Jadwiga and Mateusz were all but a thought in the minds of their parents. Joannes Sadowski would have lived during a time of great political unrest in Europe, watching the effects of the French Revolution and the rule of Napoleon through his own eyes.
 
During his conquests of Europe, Napoleon had allowed for the establishment of a Grand Duchy of Warsaw, which slowly developed into a central body known as the Congress Kingdom. During the 1810s and 1820s, the divisions amongst Poland were distinct amongst four political regions; Prussian-Poland, Austrian-Poland, Russian-Poland and the Congress Kingdom. During this time, Mateusz and Jadwiga would have been born and lived their earliest years in a region that was on the border of the Prussian controlled lands and the Congress Kingdom.
 
The records of Wabcz indicate a distinct pattern where records shifted from the traditional Latin language of the Catholic Church to the politically-regulated German language in the 1860s and 1870s. The reign of Otto von Bismarck initiated a very difficult political situation for Poles. More importantly, the heavy wars in which Prussian engaged from the 1860s and into the 1870s. The presence of these wars meant that the need for soldiers was growing and no man would find themselves exempt from service.
 
The records for Jadwiga's brother Joannes indicate that he served as a soldier in Danzig for a period of time in the 1860s. In fact, this is one of the few occasions where the records provide some proof of this. However, other family stories from Kaniecki descendants and the descendants of other families in Albion indicate that the young men were commonly entered into forced service upon reaching a given age. As there is anecdotal and alleged pictoral evidence that Mateusz and Jadwiga's son-in-law, Ignatius Reis, was a soldier with the Prussian Army (and possibly a cavalry officer at that), it is likely that the family would have immigrated to the United States sooner had they not had to complete their service in the military.
 
Ignatius Andrzej Reis (Rice)
 
As Chancellor Otto von Bismarck marched towards his intended unification of a unified state of Germany, he stomped and trampled upon the rights of the Polish people. Although he is praised as the greatest unifying force in German history, his image in the history of Poland is far different. What was most important to the families of Poland was the ability to practice their religion freely. It was a well established fact that those Poles living within Prussian occupied lands were exposed to greater educational and economic conditions than their Austrian and Russian counterparts. However, the people of those regions were not placed under strict regulation when it came to the practice of their religion. In fact, starting in the 1870s, Bismarck enacted laws aimed at imprisoning Catholic priests and removing the Catholic influence from the Polish people all together. Culture was supressed and an overall policy of "Germanization" was put in place.
 
It is likely that this would have been enough of a factor to push the Kaniecki family and other Poles out of the region, but it is likely that the flooding of areas where the greatest population of inhabitants were Polish-Catholics with German-Protestants would have been the final straw. Bismarck stripped the church of their power to perform religious ceremonies, turning the sacrament of marriage into a civil ceremony and forced Catholic priests to record all ceremonies for both Catholics and Protestants alike amongst the registers of the Catholic parish.
 
What we can gather from the available records is that Ignatius and Barbara Kaniecka Reis were the first of the family to initiate the move from Poland to the United States. With Jadwiga and Mateusz being over the age of 50, it would have been rather uncommon for them to have immigrated to the U.S. Regardless of their reason, they left Poland via the port of Hamburg with their daughter Barbara, her husband Ignatius, and their son, Stanislaus, aboard the S.S. Vesta on March 21, 1881.
 
Barbara Kaniecka Reis (Rice)
On this same ship we see other recognizable names, such as the family of Szczepan Danielewski, who departed on the same ship. The families boarded what was known as an indirect voyage from Hamburg to the United States. This meant that a ship, in this case the Vesta, took the passengers from Hamburg to another point, usually London or Glasgow, where they boarded another ship with other passengers for the U.S. The passenger lists indicate that the families aboard the Vesta later boarded the S.S. Elysia at London and traveled across the Atlantic, ariving at the port of New York City on April 14, 1881.
 
After arriving in the U.S., records indicate that the family relocated to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, as Ignatius and Barbara's son Anthony was baptized on April 8, 1882 at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Pittsburg. The records then show that the family came to the Albion area as the first daughter of Ignatius and Barbara, Mary, was baptized at St. Joseph's Church by Rev. John Castaldi in 1884.
 
What we know is that the family returned to Poland sometime between 1884 and 1886; best estimates suggest 1885. Anecdotal evidence suggest that the family initially came to the United States due to hard times, in which they then returned to Poland only to discover that conditions back home had become worse. There is possible truth to this story as it would have been rather uncommon for an entire family to have made the return journey if the goal was to simply bring more immigrants to the U.S., especially considering the cost of tickets.
 
Passenger Lists again show that the family returned to the U.S. on April 4, 1887, 10 days shy of the 6th year anniversary of their first arrival. An interesting point to note was that Jadwiga's name did not appear on the 1887 passenger list with her husband or her daughter's family. This suggests that Jadwiga may have remained in the U.S. with other family members. To further the complexity of the story, this would suggest that perhaps the initial intent of the return journey to Poland was to enlist other men to come to the U.S. for work and would also suggest that the Reis family was a bit wealthier in order to afford the cost of the three trips they made.
 
 
LIFE IN THE UNITED STATES - 1887 to 1905
 
Mateusz and Jadwiga lived a rather simple life after arriving to the United States. The information on their children is far more vast when it comes to describing their lives post-immigration. The census records indicate that Mateusz was a quarry laborer, but it is unknown for how long or how much work he was able to do at such an advanced age. It does appear that they were well connected to their daughter Barbara, likely because she was the only daughter to have survived into adulthood.
 
Jadwiga died July 26, 1903 in Albion, Orleans, New York and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery (now Old St. Joseph). The grave was purchased by Ignatius Rice, with a spot reserved for Mateusz to the left of Jadwiga. When Mateusz died on January 17, 1905, he was buried in a spot located at the foot of Jadwiga. The reason for this arrangement is unknown, however there is a chance that he is buried next to Jadwiga.
 
A wooden cross was erected for Jadwiga in the Old Cemetery.