Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pawel Libera

Pawel Libera (1834 Wiele - 1916 Winona)
Antonia Dolna (1846 Lubnia - 1920 Winona)

This article is based primarily on information published by Larry Reski at Poland to Pine Creek.

Pawel Libera and Antonia Dolny were married on 6 June 1857 in Brusy, and emigrated to the United States shortly afterward. The 1860 US census finds "Paul and Caroline Lebence" living in Winona with their one-year-old son Albert, born that year in Winona. All subsequent census data gives Mrs. Libera's name as Antonia, so "Caroline" can be attributed to enumerator error. All extant sources list the Liberas among the Pine Creek, Wisconsin community's first settlers; their eldest daughter Marianna Libera Platta was born there in 1862. In 1864 the Liberas formally deeded to Sacred Heart-Saint Wenceslaus Parish the land upon which the church and cemetery are located.

By the time of the 1880 US census "Paul and Antonia Lubby" had returned to Winona, where they would spend the rest of their lives. The two youngest children, Josephine (age 5) and Joseph (age 1) are listed as born in Wisconsin , implying that the move was recent. Their youngest child, Emma, was born in Winona in 1881. When he was not working, Paul found time to participate in the Polish Dramatic Society, which elected him as its librarian in 1884. So much for the sterotype of illiterate immigrant Polacks, right?

Seven of the Liberas' ten children survived to adulthood. Albert Paul Libera (1860-1920), Mary Libera Platta (1862-1930?), Michael Libera Sr. (1865-1934), Walerya Libera Literski (1866-1917), Mamert Libera (1867-1955), Joseph Libera (1875-1960), and Emma Libera (1881-1962).

In 1905, Michael Libera Sr. founded the Libera and Sons Grocery at 616 (later 682-686_ West Fifth Street, a long-time landmark on Winona's West End. He was also a prominent Republican, somewhat unusual in a city where Kashubian Pole almost always equaled "Democrat."

Emma Libera joined the School Sisters of Saint Francis Assisi, and as Sister Mary Apollonia, taught for many years in local parochial schools, including the one at Sacred Heart-Saint Wenceslaus.

Paul K. Libera (1917-1999), a grandson of Michael Libera Sr., published several works on the early history of Winona's Kashubian Polish community.

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