Monday, June 10, 2013

Franciszek Rumpca

Franciszek Rumpca (1846 Przetocyno - 1901 Grenville, SD)
Anna Retzlaff (1850 Przetocyno - 1882 Delano, MN)
Kunegunda Hulda Brilla (1865 Germany - 1930 Grenville, SD)

I began researching the Rumpca family by request of a visitor to the Winona Polish Museum website. The surname did not ring a bell - it sounded Polish, certainly. As it turned out, exactly one Rumpca family settled in Winona, that of Felix (1881-1936) and Ida nee Gonsior Rumpca (1886-1961), at some time before the First World War. But the Rumpcas more than make up for their lack of quantity with the interesting variety of the family's experiences after emigrating to the United States.

The first wave of the family was led by Jozef (1820-1882) and Elzbieta Ludwika "Louise" nee Romptz Rumpca (1824-1909) of Przetoczyno, a Kashubian village near Wejherowo, who arrived in New York aboard the Hammonia on March 28, 1872. It is likely that their oldest son Franciszek (1846-1901) and his wife Anna nee Retzlaff Rumpca (1850-1882) arrived in the United States at around the same time.

Franciszek and Anna first settled in Chicago, where their children Franciszek, Jr. (1874-1967), Matilda (1876-1948), and Bertha (1878-1892) were born. By the time of the 1880 US Census, Franciszek and Anna were living on a farm in Delano, Minnesota, next to the family of Jozef and Elzbieta. In 1881, Franciszek and Anna became the parents of their youngest child, Felix Rumpca. Anna died in 1882; in 1884 Franciszek married Kunegunda Hulda Brilla (1865-1930) in Delano. To date, I can find no further information about Kunegunda; my guess, for what it matters (zero) is that she was of German descent. They had eight children together: Joseph (1884-1950) and Mary (1886-1962) were born in Delano; Rose (1888-1967), Jacob (1891-1960), Anton (1892-1982), Leo (1895-1979), Bernard (1896-1965), and Anna (1899-1984) were all born in Grenville, South Dakota, making it possible to date their big move to about 1887.

On February 12, 1907 Felix Rumpca married Ida A. Goncior (1886-1961) in Grenville. The 1910 US Census finds them still in Grenville, but at some point after 1913 (after the birth of their youngest child, Clara) they relocated to Winona. Kashubian Poles from Winona (and occasionally Pine Creek) had begun to move to western Minnesota and the Dakotas. starting in the late 1870s. In the beginning, they moved primarily to obtain inexpensive farmland; sometimes they returned. Once Winona's lumber business started winding down at the turn of the century, the town's economic stagnation added another reason to go west. Felix and Ida, on the other hand, moved east. Felix's job in the Chicago and Northwestern's Winona Shops does not provide a clue; since the C&NW never ran anywhere near Grenville, it is more likely that he did not move due to a job transfer.

Nor is it likely that Felix and Ida moved to Winona to be near other Kashubians. Frank was Kashubian, but from a different part of Kashubia (with a different Kashubian dialect) than that of the Winona Kashubian Polish community. Moreover, the Rumpcas frequently socialized outside of the Kashubian Polish community, to judge from references in the Winona Republican-Herald - the 1910s being a time when Winona's Kashubian Poles still remained rather clannish. By all accounts they seemed very happy in Winona until Felix's untimely death on November 11, 1936, while being treated in Minneapolis for injuries incurred in a taxicab crash. In October 1937, the Rumpca estate obtained a judgement of $1,500 against the cab driver, Robert Hines.

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