Saturday, May 12, 2012

Katarzyna Bambenek 1861-1887

  In 1882 Winona, the wedding of two Kaszubian Poles tended not to be newspaper material. But on April 19 of that year, the Winona Republican Herald noted among its "Local Brevities" the nuptials between Mr. Jacob Bronk and Mrs. Kate Czapiewska. I remember seeing this pop up on the Winona Newspaper Project site and being struck by (for lack of a better word) the dissonance between the Anglo-Saxon diminutive "Kate" and the properly inflected Polish feminine surname "Czapiewska."

As noted, Jacob Bronk (1851-1919) was a city policeman; he had been widowed in the previous year. A son of Winona's first Kaszubian settlers, Jozef and Franciszka Bronk, he was becoming a man of stature in the local Polish community. Kate Czapiewska was born Katarzyna Bambenek on April 15, 1861 in Widno, Poland, daughter of Marcin and Magdalena Stoltman Bambenek. This made her the older sister of my great-grandfather Karol Bambenek (1864-1937).

I was able to learn on my own that Kate was the widow of one Walenty "Valentine" Czapiewski. From Jacob Bronk's 1889 marriage to his third wife Mary, I inferred that Kate did not live to see her twenty-eighth birthday. For quite a while, that was it. But church records show that Walenty Czapiewski died on December 25, 1881 from a stone-working accident. The Winona Republican Herald of December 27, 1881 remarks the accidental of one "Billy Chopla," who must be the same man.  Church records also indicate that Katarzyna Bronk died, aged twenty-six,  on December 16, 1887 from complications of childbirth. She was survived by her husband Jacob Bronk and their two children: John (1883-1966) and Agnes (1884-?).

     Although I seem to have lost track of Agnes, who is last recorded by the 1930 US Census living with her husband Harry Means in San Francisco, CA, I am pleased to report that Katarzyna Bambenek's descendants through her son John are alive and well and thriving to this day. Being able to prove that her stock has not totally vanished from this earth makes me rather less unhappy about her too short life.

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