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.