Tuesday, June 1, 2010

That's How I Roll

Both sides of my mom's family came to the United States from Kaszubia, in what is now Poland. In the mid nineteenth century, Kaszubia was part of the Prussian province of Pomerania. The Prussians were doing their damnedest (which was very damned indeed) to Germanize my ancestors, so my ancestors got out. The Bambeneks - that is, my maternal grandfather's family - settled in the budding metropolis of Winona while the Pellowskis - my mother's mother's family - farmed across the river in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin.

I recently stumbled across a partially digitized version of Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge's 1917 History of Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. Thank you very much, WiGenWeb! The section on Dodge Township closes with this intriguing paragraph:

Above Dodge one of the first settlers was John Latsch, afterward a prominent wholesale grocer of Winona. He came here in 1856 and settled near a creek at the mouth of the valley that now bears his name. In 1865 Frank Pellowski settled in the same valley, and in the next five years there arrived so many settlers from Hungary that the valley came to be called Hungary Valley. The name of Latsch Valley is being gradually resumed, especially for that part of the valley near its mouth.
Frank Pelowski (1829-1910) was my great-great grandfather. He lies buried alongside my great-great grandmother, Anna Kicrer Pelowska (1837-1895) at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Pine Creek, WI.

I am reasonably sure that Frank and Anna were not Hungarians at all, but Kaszubian Poles. Family tradition has it that they spent their first winter in the Valley in a dugout Frank carved, literally, out of the valley. If, in fact, the Pelowski family did this in 1865, they must have wandered about the States for a while; my great-grandfather Jacob Pellowski (1859-1937) was born on the boat to America. Thanks to Larry Reski at Poland to Pine Creek, I have learned that the boat in question was the Donau, which arrived in New York on August 25, 1859.

More about that later. Much more. Before I go, though, I'd like to share another interesting tidbit I found in the History of Trempealeau County. Emphasis mine.
Although they, the early settlers, mostly all came from the German Empire, they came from different provinces. Those living near Pine Creek came mostly from the Province of Posen and Pomerania, and those near Arcadia and Burnside came from the Province of Silesia. They all speak the Polish language, but the dialect is decidedly different. The great majority of them are of the Catholic faith. One of the strong characteristics of the race is they are cheerful givers to churches. Another is that they are hard losers and do not readily forget when some harm has been done them, and they frequently carry their animosities to their death bed.
Recognize anyone you know?

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I have been researching the Pellowski's and Reszka's who came over on the ship Donau together.

    Please contact me Larry Reski see my Blog and contact information at http://polandpinecreek.blogspot.com/