Friday, August 16, 2013

Piotr Konopacki

Piotr Konopacki (1827 Gdansk - 1880 Sharon)
Szarlota Weronika Toczek (1839 ? - 1906 Sharon)

The Konopacki family is regularly counted among Portage County, Wisconsin's earliest Kashubian settlers. In her 1996 article "The Kaszuby Region," Adeline Sopa tosses out the tempting hint that "Peter Kronopeski was identified as also coming in 1859, or the next year, from Winona, Minnesota;" she also mentions that "a Peter Konopecky filed an intent in Winona County, MN, on March 4, 1859." She also mentions that Stanislaw (1788-ca. 1880) and Malgorzata nee Piechowska (1795-1880) Konopacki sailed from Hamburg on June 15, 1859 for Quebec aboard the "Amelia." My interest was piqued. Kashubian extended families generally settled down in Portage County or in Winona, not both, with the Milanowski (and possibly Libera) families being rare exceptions.

It looks like there is another rare exception. The precise date on which Walerya Barbara nee Konopacka Molski (1859/1860-1946) was born to Piotr and Szarlota is open to question, as is the precise date of her birth. But the evidence points strongly to 1859 and Winona, Minnesota. James Keck has preserved her obituary from the Stevens Point newspaper, which gives her birthdate as November 1, 1860 in Winona, Minnesota. On the other hand, the 1860 US Census, enumerated on July 24, 1860, places the Peter Konopasky family, including two-year old Walleria, in the Portage County township of Sharon. I think it far more likely that Walerya was born on November 1, but not in 1860. The census sometimes misleads, but it doesn't lie. Somewhere along the line, as sometimes happens, Walerya got a year younger. On subsequent censuses, Waleria (also listed as Valerie and as Laura) is listed as being born in Minnesota. At worst, this is just a very likely guess. But now I want to know why Piotr and Szarlota tried their luck in Winona first, and only then rejoined their extended family in Sharon.

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