Friday, May 17, 2013

Leokadia Weronika Pellowska 1892-1946

My maternal grandmother, Leokadia Weronika Pellowska was born on 16 November 1892 on the family farm in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. She was the fifth of eleven children born to Jakub (1859-1937) and Franciszka nee Zabinska (1862-1938) Pellowski. By the time Leokadia was five, the Pellowski family had moved across the river to Winona, where her father Jake operated a saloon at 769 East Fifth Street. The saloon was evidently a family business: Jake's brother Anton Pellowski and his brother-in-law Joseph Olszewski also lived and worked there. Joe was the husband of Anna Pellowska Olszewski (1871-1844), who is the main character in Anne Pellowski's First Farm in the Valley.

But life in the big city must not have suited the Pellowski family, because Jake and Franciszka were back in Trempealeau County in time for the 1905 Wisconsin Census. By 1913 or so, Jake Pellowski was still farming, but he also operated a sawmill in Dodge. When he purchased a piece of woodworking equipment from a factory in Winona, the factory sent one Karol Bambenek (1864-1937) to accompany the equipment on the train to Dodge, and teach its new user how to operate it. For company, "Charlie" Bambenek brought along his son Jan Karol Bambenek (1891-1966); as luck had it, Leokadia Pellowska was hanging around with her dad at the sawmill. On November 17, 1914 they were married at Sacred Heart-Saint Wenceslaus Parish in Pine Creek.

My second cousin Becky Kaldunski was kind enough to share with me the beautiful picture of the Pellowski women at left, which dates back to the early 1910s. Leokadia is at upper right, standing beside her sister Wiktoria Pellowska Hermann (1888-1921). In front, from left to right, are Marianna Pellowska Kaldunski (1886-1963), Sophia Pellowska Dorava (1907-1970), Emeline Pellowska Lilla (1904-1993) and the materfamilias Franciszka herself. About the turn of the century, Polish women started to be called (at least in the English-speaking general public) by their "English" names - so this could also be called a picture of Laura, Victoria, Mary, Sophie, Emaline, and Frances.

I know only a few stories about Grandmother Bambenek; she died of a heart attack in 1946, when my  Mom (who was named after her) was only thirteen. As long as I can remember, we had these two pictures in our living room; looking back on it, it was weird that our only pictures of Grandmother Bambenek were taken while she was in her coffin. But that just means I have Mom to thank for my Wisconsin Death Trip streak.Just before Mom passed away in 2003, I took the time to scan some of the family photo collection and discovered this missing gem. It was taken in the Bambenek family home at 578 East Fifth Street, and I was able to date it to February 1942 from the calendar in the background. Grandma actually looks in very nice shape for a fifty year old woman with six children ranging in age from five to twenty-seven. Grandpa looks, well, hirsute for a fifty-one year old man from whom (I am told) I inherited my own distinctively receding hairline. I could also swear that he is photobombing Grandma.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Franciszek Eichmann

Franciszek Eichmann (1800 Lipusz - 1891 Burnside)
Katarzyna Maszk (1808 Lipusz? - bef. 1880 Burnside?)

The senior branch of the Eichmann family reached the United States first, but turned out to be rather less prolific. The 1860 US Census has "Frederic and Catherine Ashman" living in Dubuque, Iowa: a tip of the hat to Larry Reski at Poland to Pine Creek for making a connection I don't think anyone else would have caught. Assigning Franciszek to Lipusz seems a pretty safe bet, but Katarzyna earns a question mark. Although the PGSA's list of Kashubian surnames associates her surname with Lipusz, I have no hard proof as of yet.

The 1870 US Census finds Franciszek and Katarzyna living and operating a saloon in the town of Trempealeau. The 1880 Census finds Franciszek living in the town of Burnside with the family of his daughter Anna Katarzyna Kistowska and her husband Jakub Kistowski. Since Katarzyna is not listed in the 1880 census, I have to assume she was deceased by then, but the records are lacking.

The Franciszek and Katarzyna Eichmann family interests me because its members tended to settle not in the Dodge-Pine Creek area but in Trempealeau, or in the Burnside Township hamlet of New City. Founded in 1869 alongside Traverse Creek, New City's growth was cut short in 1876 when the Green Bay and Western Railroad built a depot one mile to the northwest, creating what became the city of Independence. As was the case with Arcadia Township, the majority of Burnside Township's Polish settlers had immigrated from Silesia, a region of Germany to the southwest of Kashubia. These Silesian Polish settlers included the Bautch, Gierok, and Sura familes.

The only one of Franciszek and Katarzyna's children I have able to trace is Peter P. Eichman, (1847 Lipusz - ? Burnside) in Lipusz. The 1870 US Census lists both Franciszek and Peter as "Saloon Keeper" in Trempealeau; Katarzyna is listed as "Keeping House" and one Lewis Sekoski (a boarder, perhaps?) is listed as "Works in Grain Warehouse." The grain warehouse reference strongly suggests that the Eichmann saloon was located in the town of Trempealeau, and that the saloon Peter established in New City was a later venture.

On 5 February 1872, Peter was married at Pine Creek to Susanna Sura, daughter of Silesian immigrants Peter and Tekla nee Kachel Sura. Sadly, Susanna passed away on 10 February 1873, perhaps from complications of giving birth to her son Paul P. Eichman (1873-?).  On 18 January 1874 Peter married Marianna Moga (1852-1942) at Saint Stanislaus Kostka in Winona.

Peter must certainly have been living in New City by this time, because Merle Curti lists him on page 102 of The Making of An American Community as a leader of the local Poles. When an 1873 fracas broke out between English speakers and Silesian Poles at Fugina's tavern in New City, it escalated into a near race riot. Although he was a Kashubian living in a settlement of Silesians (and not yet thirty years old, at that), Peter stepped forth as spokesman for the Poles of New City. He accomplished his goal so well that S.S. Luce, editor of the Galesville Journal and Record, commented positively both on Peter and on the Poles of New City in a followup article. Unfortunately, Peter drops out of the US Census records after 1880. In the 1900 US Census, Marianna Moga Eichmann is listed as both "head of the family" and "married." No sign of Peter... yet.

Alphonse Roman "A.R." Eichman (1879-1954), the son of Peter and Marianna, married Susanna Skroch (1879-1938) at Independence in 1901. He later operated a butcher shop in Trempealeau, and served as the town's postmaster from 1912 to 1935.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wawrzyniec Eichmann

Wawrzyniec Eichmann (1807 Lipusz - 1880 Pine Creek)
Marianna Lipinska (1814 Lipusz - 1892 Pine Creek)

As the old tradition goes, Winona's first two Kashubian Polish families were the Bronks and the Eichmanns, both of which are said to have come from Wiele. The Jozef Bronk family of Wiele did indeed arrive in Winona in time for the 1860 US Census. The Eichmanns did not. Moreover, the Eichmanns who arrived after the 1860 US Census were from Lipusz. Wawrzyniec and Marianna nee Lipinska Eichmann were the second Eichmann family to reach the United States, after that of Franciszek and Katarzyna nee Maszk Eichmann. A sister, Marcianna Eichman Wera, also emigrated with her husband Maciej Wera to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1877.

Emigration and census data for Wawrzyniec and Marianna has not been found to date. The only material data is a headstone at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Pine Creek, inscribed "Maryana Eichman 1804-1892." That date would have made Marianna 56 when she gave birth to youngest of their twelve children, Franciszka Eichmann Spychala (1860-1937). Fortunately, two users list a range of birthdates for Marianna. I prefer the later end of the range, which is 1814, making her 46 at the birth of her last child.

The same two sources list Marianna's parents as Count Franciszek Ksawery Lubienski (1784-1826) and Paulina nee Potocka Lubienska (1793-1856). Neither surname is particularly Kashubian; rather, the Lubienskis and especially the Potockis were pillars of the Polish nobility. It's hard enough to imagine why such a storied couple would settle down in Lipusz, much less their marrying off their teenaged daughter to a humble son of the Kashubian soil. Maryanna was far, far more likely to be the daughter of plebeian Lipinskis.

The parents of twelve children, Wawrzyniec and Marianna headed the by far most prolific branch of the Eichmann family. I have come across some interesting stories about two of them: Anton Eichmann (1849-1908) and Zuzanna Marianna Eichman Betker (1851-1921).