Our maternal grandmother, Agnieszka Kapuscinska Skrok Kiec, was the only grandparent my younger sisters and I ever knew. Our grandfathers Jan Skrok and Antoni Maciejewski had both died in 1936, when our parents were only five and eight years old. Our father’s mother Marya Szczepańska Maciejewska died in 1951, four years before I was born.
I was curious about my grandmother’s origins, and the land of my ancestors. In 2004, I joined a group tour of Poland, then rented a car to visit Gnieszowice, the small village near Koprzywnica, Sandomierz, where documents indicated my maternal grandmother had been born in 1895. Although I was able to verify my grandmother’s birth in the former synagogue that had become the Archives in Sandomierz, I did not think I would be able to do much research in the Polish records.
That changed in March 2015, when I attended the Polish Genealogical Society of Massachusetts presentation by Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz at the Chicopee Public Library on Locating Vital Records in Poland Using Online Resources, or, I Found My Village! Now What? She answered questions I did not know I had, and her detailed examples clearly illustrated her points. I was inspired.
Following her example, I used the Geneteka database of the Polish Genealogical Society (in Poland!) to find the birth records of my mother’s parents, their siblings, and their parents’ marriage records, indexed with their parents’ names. I learned how I was related to people I knew were cousins, but I was not sure how. Our ancestors came to Buffalo in the early part of the twentieth century from an area near Sandomierz, in the Russian occupied area of Poland, in what is now the Świętokrzyskie (Holy Cross) province. To the family names I knew from western New York–Kapuściński, Kasprzyk, Kiec, Kwiatek, Rzepka, Skrok, Szczepański, and Witoń–I was able to add my great-great grandparents and the names Kołek, Bartkiewicz, Zybała, and Kaczmarz to my family tree. Needless to say, I was pleased to make a donation to contribute to the volunteer site.
When I learned that Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz was to give a presentation on Polish Genealogy Research to the Polish Genealogical Society of New York State at their April 2016 meeting in Buffalo, I encouraged PGSNYS members to attend. I also reached out to several of my DNA matches in western New York and nearby Canada.
Although one of my DNA matches from southern Ontario was unable to attend the presentation, we exchanged information. She had been adopted, but she knew the names of her birth parents. Her birth father had even given her a tangible piece of her heritage, one of the coins that had been sewn into the interior hem of her ancestor’s dress when she left the country telling her that it was ‘not allowed’ to take monies out and that they ‘escaped’.
My DNA match had found the ship manifests from her father’s parents’ arrivals in Canada, but she was not sure from where they had come. But I did! I had been down this road and I knew some of the signposts. And we’re family!
Suchowola, Osiek, and Świniary, Łoniów, near Gnieszowice, Koprzywnica; Google map
Her grandfather Józef Drach‘s ship record said he was born in Świniary, Sandomierz. There are 2 very small villages named Stare Świniary and Nowe Świniary approximately 3 kilometers south of Łoniów. In Polish, Stare means old, Nowe means new. Both villages are in the administrative district of Gmina Łoniów, within Sandomierz County, Świętokrzyskie, about seven kilometers from Gnieszowice, where my grandmother Agnieszka was born.
Józef Drach, ship Lituania from Danzig to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1930
Józef‘s parents were identified as Jan and Katarzyna Drach. Jan is the Polish version of the English name John. Katarzyna is the Polish name for Katherine.
Geneteka had an indexed record that indicated that Jan Drach and Katarzyna Borycka married in Łoniów in 1895 (entry #23), as well as listing the baptism of Józef Drach in Łoniów in 1905 (entry #27). The church in Łoniów is Kościół św. Mikołaja, St. Nicholas. While the record indices have been posted online, I did not find the original records.
My DNA match’s grandmother was Aniela Wieczorek. Her ship record said she was born in Suchowola, and her sister Katarzyna lived in Suchowola, Sandomierz. Today, Suchowola is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Osiek, within Staszów County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. It is not far from Sandomierz.
The nearest church is Kościół św. Stanisława Biskupa i Męczennika, St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr, in Osiek. Since ship and Canadian records said that Aniela Wieczorek was born in 1900 or 1901, the most likely record is in 1900, entry 143.
Aniela Wieczorek birth record, 1900, Osiek, Urząd Stanu Cywilnego, Św. Stanisława
Aniela‘s nearest relative was listed as her sister Katarzyna Janoś (sp?).
Aniela Wieczorek, ship Melita from Warsaw, Poland, to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, 1924
Katarzyna Wieczorek was a popular name, with baptisms of girls with that name occurring regularly in Osiek.
Although these records were available online, they were written in the Napoleonic format in Cyrillic, because this area was occupied by Russia in the 19th and early 20th century. I was not able to read the records myself, but my DNA match was able to use this information to extend her family tree to Michał Wieczorek and Franciszka Czech and beyond.
GEDmatch estimated the number of generations to our most recent common ancestor (MRCA) is 4.8, since we share a 19.1 centiMorgan DNA segment on chromosome 3. While we have not found our common ancestors, we found the common location where our ancestors lived.
Zamek Krzyżtopór, Baranów Sandomierski, and Sandomierz, Świętokrzyskie, Poland, Google map
When traveling in Poland, I stayed at the hotel at Baranów Sandomierski Castle, across the Wisła (Vistula) River from our grandparents’ birth places. I also visited the towns of Sandomierz and Opatów, and Krzyżtopór Castle in Ujazd, Iwaniska, Opatów, about 22 kilometers from Łoniów. I had read about these places in James Michener’s novel, Poland, and I was glad to make the connection to our family history in what is now Świętokrzyskie province.
“Ancestry,” database, Ancestry (ancestry.com: accessed 12 December 2018), Jozef Drach; citing Passenger Lists. Jozef Drach, Male, 25, abt 1905, Poland, Departure Port: Danzig, Poland, Arrival date: 8 Apr 1930, Arrival Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Vessel: Lituania; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Series: RG 76-C; Roll: T-14825; Ancestry.com. Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Library and Archives Canada, n.d. RG 76-C. Department of Employment and Immigration fonds. Library and Archives Canada Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne, “Geneteka, Metryki,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Genealodzy (genealodzy.pl: accessed 2016), Józef Drach; citing church records or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office). 1905 27 Józef Drach Łoniów Łoniów [Indeks dodał: Wojciech_Liśkiewicz] .
Genealogiczne, Genealodzy, Jan Drach, Katarzyna Borycka. 1895 23 Jan Drach Katarzyna Borycka Łoniów [ Miejscowość: Łoniów] [Indeks dodał: Wojciech_Liśkiewicz] .
“Ancestry,” database, Ancestry, Aniela Wieczorek, Female, abt 1900, Birth Place: Suchowola, Age: 24, Date of Arrival: 12 Apr 1924, Port of Arrival: Saint John, New Brunswick, Port of Departure: Warsaw, Poland, Ship Name: Melita, Library and Archives Canada; Form 30A Ocean Arrivals (Individual Manifests), 1919-1924; Rolls: T-14939 – T-15248; Ancestry.com. Canada, Ocean Arrivals (Form 30A), 1919-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Library and Archives Canada. Form 30A, 1919-1924 (Ocean Arrivals). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, n.d.. RG 76. Department of Employment and Immigration .
Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski, Birth, Aniela Wieczorek; digital images, Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski (http://metryki.genealodzy.pl : accessed December 2018). 1900 143 Aniela Wieczorek Osiek Osiek [Indeks dodał: Jabłoński_Edward]
Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski, Marriage, Jan Czosnek, Franciszka Cech; digital images, Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski (http://metryki.genealodzy.pl : accessed December 2018). 1880 3 Jan Czosnek Franciszka Cech Osiek [ Miejscowość: Osiek] [Indeks dodał: Jabłoński_Edward]
Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski, Marriage, 1890 4, Michał Wieczorek Franciszka Czosnek; digital images, Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski (http://metryki.genealodzy.pl : accessed December 2018). 1890 4 Michał Wieczorek, Franciszka Czosnek Osiek [ Miejscowość: Osiek] [Indeks dodał: Jabłoński_Edward]
My maternal grandmother’s sister Maryanna Kapuścińska married Grzegorz Mastykarz in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, in 1915. Their children were my mother’s first cousins, and we all saw each other most often at weddings and funerals.
In researching this family, I encountered the Mastykarz name spelled various ways: Masteka, Mastyka, Mastykas, Mastykaj, etc., which made me wonder about the actual spelling of the name, and from where the family had come. American records indicated they were from Galicia, or the Austria-Hungary occupied part of Poland before the first World War. Galicia was the poorest province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and because people from here often had little formal education, their names were often recorded phonetically.
Mastykarz looks like the Polish spelling used most often. While Mastykarz was found in many places in Poland, in 1990 it was found more often in these former provinces:
Gd: Gdańsk: 17
Ka: Katowice: 6
Pł: Płock: 5
Su: Suwałki: 10
Sz: Szczecin: 7
Both Michał and Grzegorz lived in Lackawanna, Erie, New York. Grzegorz‘ descendants shared these pictures of the Mastykarz brothers, reporting that Grzegorz is on the left and Michał is on the right in each picture. The third man may be Józef Solowski, who married Maryanna Kapuścińska Mastykarz‘s cousin Maryanna Witoń in Buffalo in 1915.
Photographs of Grzegorz and Michał Mastykarz (possibly Józef Solowski), circa 1915
Records indicate that Michał Mastykarz traveled between Europe and the United States several times. I was able to find ship manifests for travel to America in 1908 and 1911 as a “non immigrant alien.” He did not intend to stay in the United States, but came for a limited time as a visitor (tourist) or a temporary worker.
Michał Mastykas came to the United States on 4 Nov 1908 to New York, New York, United States on the ship Blücher from Hamburg, Germany. The record said that Michał had been in the United States before, in 1902 1906, in Buffalo, New York, but I did not find the records.
1908 Ship Blücher from Hamburg, Germany 23 October
1908 Ship Blücher arrived in New York 4 November
His entry in the ship manifest was stamped as a “non immigrant alien” traveling to Buffalo with Adolf Niedziela to his father Jan Niedziela, who was described as an acquaintance of Michał. The US ship manifest listed Michał‘s wife Victoria, and show Michał came from Skidziń and Adolf Niedziela from Przecieszyn in Austria.
1908 Hamburg, Germany, ship manifest
Skidziń and Przecieszyn correlate with the Hamburg record that said they were from Oświęcim (Auschwitz in German). From the First Partition of Poland in 1772 to after World War I, this area was in the Austrian Kingdom of Galicia. From 1975 to 1998, this area was administratively part of the Katowice province. Today both villages are in the administrative district of Gmina Brzeszcze, within Oświęcim County, województwo małopolskie (Lesser Poland Voivodeship) in southern Poland.
Michał appeared in the census in 1910 as a boarder at 431 Center Street in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, United States. He was 35 years old, married for 8 years, from Austrian Poland. The record said he was an alien who had arrived in the United States in 1902. He spoke Polish, and was a furnace helper, probably in a foundry, a factory that produces metal castings. It was reported he could neither read nor write.
1910 census, Lackawanna, New York
In 1911, Michał was a “non immigrant alien” going to Buffalo on the ship Main, which sailed from Bremen, Germany on 31 August and arrived in New York on 12 Sep 1911. He left behind his wife, Wiktorya Mastykarz, in Skidziń, which was also listed as his place of birth. He had been in the United States 1909 1911, and was going to meet a friend, John Bier***a in Buffalo, New York.
1911 Ship Main from Bremen, Germany 31 August
1911 Ship Main arrived in New York 12 September
Although Michał was with Gregory and Mary Mateka in the January 1920 census, it appears that he returned to the old country. His name was found on a manifest of the ship Cedric of the White Star Dominion Line, traveling from New York, New York, arriving 6 Feb 1920 in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom.
1920 Ship Cedric from New York, arriving 6 Feb 1920 in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom.
While the Polish name Michał is Michael in other languages, Grzegosz often used the name George in America, although there was much variation in spelling of both of his names in many records. First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins & Meanings, by George W. Helon and William “Fred” Hoffman, had this entry for Grzegorz.
Grzegorz Mastykarz came to United States on the ship Hannover, which set sail from Bremen, Germany, on on 25 July and arrived 7 Aug 1912 at the port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ship manifest said he was a farm laborer who had come from Germany, and was going to his brother Michał at 110 Lee Street in Buffalo. His ticket had been paid for by his brother.
1912 Ship Hannover from Bremen, Germany, 25 July
1912 Ship Hannover arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 7 August
Wikipedia says that Landwehr, or Landeswehr, is “a German language term used in referring to certain national armies, or militias found in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. In different context it refers to large-scale, low-strength fortifications.”
Although Grzegorz‘ last residence was Germany, his nationality was listed as Ruthenian. His place of birth in the ship manifest looks something like Borswa Hora (?) in Galicia. Some of his descendants think that his place of birth may have been Cieszanów, Galicia (Austria Poland), or somewhere in what is now the Ukraine. It is more likely Borowa Góra, which in Ukrainian is pronounced Borova Hora, a village in the administrative district of Gmina Lubaczów, near the Ukrainian border. Borowa Góra is approximately 11 kilometers southeast of Cieszanów, which was the county seat. Both are currently in the Podkarpackie Voivodeship (województwo podkarpackie) of Poland.
Grzegorz married Marya Kapuscinska in Lackawanna, New York, on 3 February 1915. I found the record in the Erie County Courthouse, in Buffalo, New York, in the 1990s. Allowing for possible errors in transcription, the marriage record for Gzegor Mastyka and Mary Kapuscinska listed his mother as “Hajia Oguodnit.” I believe he may have said something like “Helcia Ogrodnik.” Helcia is the Polish diminutive for Helena, Ogrodnik means gardener in Polish.
His father’s name looked like “Bascel” on their marriage certificate, which could be Bazyli or Bazyl in Polish, the equivalent of the English name Basil or Basel. Hoffman and Helon had this entry for Bazyli in First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins & Meanings.
Bazyli. First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins & Meanings, by George W. Helon and William “Fred” Hoffman (1998)
George and Mary Masstacz were in the New York State census on 529 Ingham Avenue in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, in June 1915.
1915 New York State census, George and Mary Masstacz, Lackawanna, New York (full page)
Their American born daughter Mary, one year old, was with them.
1915 New York State census, George and Mary Masstacz, Lackawanna, New York
In 1918, Grzegorz registered for the World War I draft as George Mustek, making his mark with an X. His date of birth was listed only as 1880. He was living with his wife Mary at 116 Rich St. in Lackawanna, was medium height and build, and he had blue eyes and brown hair.
George Mustek World War I draft registration, 1918
In the 1920 census, Gregory and Mary Mateka were at 116 Rich Street in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, with their children Mary, Joseph, and Stanley. Michael was listed as a 46 year old boarder, an alien who had arrived in 1914.
1920 census record, Gregory and Mary Mateka, Lackawanna, New York
This 1925 census record from their farm in Evans, Erie, New York, was a bit mixed up:
1925 New York State census record, Mastykarz and Mary Grzegorz [sic], Evans, Erie, New York
Grzegorz Mastykarz and Maryanna Kapuścińska had the following children:
Maryanna, born 1914, New York, United States; married Bronisław Harzynski; died 8 Nov 1968.
Józef was born on 16 Feb 1916 in New York, United States. Józef died in an accidental drowning after falling from a raft on 18 Jun 1926 at the age of 10 at Blackwell Canal on Tifft Farm in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, United States. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, United States.
Stanisław Józef, born 5 Nov 1918, New York, United States; married Justina Covino, 21 Nov 1940; died 3 Jan 2004, Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware, United States. This couple changed their name to Masters in the 1940s.
Jan Edward, born 11 Aug 1922, New York, United States; married Josephine Marie Bosco, 22 Jun 1946; died 16 Nov 2000, Lake View, Erie, New York, United States.
Mary Ann Mastykarz [Mary Ann Kapusczynski] Birth Date: 5 Dec 1890 Birth Place: Poland Father: Wincenty Kapusczynski Mother: Mary Witan SSN: 086383718 May 1963
Mary Mastykarz SSN: 067-42-6618 Last Residence: 14218 Buffalo, Erie, New York BORN: 8 Dec 1891 Died: Aug 1976 SSN issued: New York (1966)
On 29 October 1941, Grzegorz Mastykarz‘ death notice was published in Dziennik dla Wszystkich,“Everybody’s Daily,” the Buffalo, New York, Polish daily newspaper from 1911 to 1957.
On Tuesday, October 28th 1941 at 7:45 in the morning, he departed this earth.
In holy remembrance of Grzegorz Mastykarz.
The late Grzegorz was born in Poland. He lived at 161 Ingham Avenue in Lackawanna, New York.
Funeral services will be on Thursday, October 30th, 1941, at 9:00 a.m. at the chapel of Piotr Pasiecznik, at 303 Ridge Road at the corner of Ingham Avenue, Lackawanna, New York, to St. Hyacinth Church at 9:30 a.m. and then on to Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna, New York.
For this sad ritual family and friends are invited in mourning.
Marja (born Kapuścińska), wife; Stanisław and Jan sons; Marjanna, daughter; Bronisław Harzynski, son-in-law; Justina (Covina) daughter-in-law, grandson and granddaughter.
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Citing Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.
“Ancestry,” database, Ancestry (ancestry.com: accessed 24 October 2018), Michael Mostykas; citing Passenger Lists. Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008. Citing Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Bestand: 373-7 I, VIII (Auswanderungsamt I). Mikrofilmrollen K 1701 – K 2008, S 17363 – S 17383, 13116 – 13183.
1910 Federal Census, New York State, population schedule, Lackawanna Ward 2, Erie, New York, Michael Mostyksz; digital images, Heritage Quest Online (www.heritagequestonline.com : accessed August 2016). Year: 1910; Census Place: Lackawanna Ward 2, Erie, New York; Roll: T624_939; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0280; FHL microfilm: 1374952
Ancestry, Michal Mastyharz. Year: 1911; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1737; Line: 29; Page Number: 211. Citing: Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
“UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 28 November 2018), Michael Mostykan. The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 668
Pennsylvania Philadelphia, “Passenger Lists,” database, FamilySearch, National Archives and Records Administration (familysearch.org: accessed August 2016), Gregorz Mastykarz, 1912; citing ship manifests.
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger List Index Cards, 1883-1948,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KFDX-JHW : 12 December 2014), Gregorz Mastykarz, 1912; citing Immigration, NARA microfilm publication T526 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,380,289.
New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967. Gzeyner Masztyka, Mary Kapuscienska, Certificate Number: 1951, New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA.
New York State Vital Records Index, Cert. No. 1951, Mastyka-Kapuscinska. Gzegor Masztyka, Mary Kapuscinska, (3 February 1915), Marriage Record: ; Erie County Courthouse, Buffalo, New York.
1915 New York State Census, New York State, population schedule, Lackawanna Ward 01, A.D. 07, E.D. 01, Erie, New York, United States, , George Mastykarz; FHL microfilm “New York State Census, 1915,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9NB-PHZ : 8 November 2014), Mary Miasstacz, Lackawanna Ward 01, A.D. 07, E.D. 01, Erie, New York, United States; from “New York, State Census, 1915,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2012); citing p. 51, line 45, state population census schedules, 1915, New York State Archives, Albany.
“World War I Draft Registration Cards,” database, Ancestry.com (: accessed November 2018), George Mustek; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.
1920 Federal Census, New York, population schedule, Lackawanna Ward 2, Erie, New York, Gregory Mateka; digital images, HeritageQuest (heritagequestonline.com : accessed November 2018).
1925 New York State Census, New York, population schedule, Evans, Erie, , Mastykoz Grzegorsz; FHL microfilm. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 02; Assembly District: 08; City: Evans; County: Erie; Page: 28 Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Playmates Silent as Parents search for Boy Who Drowned, Buffalo Courier Express, Buffalo, New York, 21 June 1926, page 1.
New York State Vital Records Index, Death Cert. No. 38660, Joseph Mastykaz.
Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski, 158/D- Akta stanu cywilnego parafii rzymskokatolickiej w Koprzywnicy, 1888 #239, Maryanna Kapuscinska birth record; digital images, Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski (http://metryki.genealodzy.pl : accessed 22 March 2015).
Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Social Security Applications and Claims (: accessed 7 August 2015), Mary Ann Mastykarz, , 1963. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Death Master File (: accessed 2 October 2018), Mary Mastykarz, 067-42-6618, 1966. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2014.
Mary Mastykarz, , U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York; 1907-1966; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D. C. “New York, Western District, Naturalization Index, 1907-1966,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XPH2-ZPK : 6 December 2014), Mary Mastykarz, 1932; from “Alphabetical Index to Petitions for Naturalizations of the US District Court for the Western District of New York, 1907-1966,” database, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : n.d.); citing U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, NARA microfilm publication M1677 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 11.
MASTYKARZ-Mary [nee Kapuscienski], Front Page, Hamburg, New York, 19 August 1976.
MASTYKARZ RITES HELD THURSDAY, Lackawanna Leader, Lackawanna, New York, 6 November 1941, page 1, column 8.
DEATHS Oct 28 George Mastykarz, 58, 161 Ingham. Grzegorz Mastykarz, Dziennik dla Wszystkich [Everybody’s Daily], Buffalo, New York, 29 October 1941.
Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 November 2018), memorial page for Gezegus Mastykarz (unknown–28 Oct 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 124803867, citing Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna, Erie County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8).
I find genetic connections fascinating. They are clues, like anything else, and need research and documentation. I recently reached out to a DNA match on Ancestry.com. Although we were only distantly related, with 9.6 centimorgans shared across 1 DNA segment, we both had the Kapuscinski name in our family trees and ties to Buffalo, New York. I wanted to learn if we shared common ancestors, or could identify a place where our common ancestors had been.
His ancestors were also identified as Kapusta. Although I knew that Kapusta and Kapuściński had the same root word, this was the first family I had seen using both versions of the name.
Entry from William F. “Fred” Hoffman’s Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, 2001
It was not surprising that there could be different versions of the same Polish name. The Polish language changes words to indicate gender, number, and case. For example,
the -ski ending indicates an adjective, for possession or affiliation
My grandmother Agnieszka Kapuścińska was born in February 1895 in Gnieszowice, Koprzywnica, near Sandomierz in Russian Poland. Now it is in the Świętokrzyskie province of Poland. Her sister Maryanna had come to the United States in 1912, and paid for her sister’s ticket the following year. Maryanna married Grzegosz Mastykarz in 1915, and Agnieszka married Jan Skrok in 1917. While I had previously identified my grandmother’s ancestors, and had been able to trace the sisters, I did not know of any other relatives named Kapuściński in Buffalo, New York.
However, I found Casimir and Mary Kapuszcinski in Buffalo, New York, in the 1930 United States Federal Census, at 73 Gibson Street.
1930 census record, Casimir and Mary Kapuszcinski, Buffalo, New York
In 1940, Casimir and Mary Kapusta were at 37 Lombard Street, in Buffalo, New York.
1940 census record, Casimer and Mary Kapusta, Buffalo, New York
The older children had been born in Ohio, which made me look for information there. I found the 15 Oct 1928 marriage record for Kazimir Kapusta and Mary Staron, born Obora. Both had been previously married, and had been divorced, in Cleveland, Ohio.
1928 Marriage Record, Kazimir Kapusta and Mary Staron, Warrensville, Ohio
In the 1920 census record, Casimer Kapusta was a lodger in the home of Walenty and Mary Starol [sic] at 3472 East 76th Street in Cleveland, Ohio.
1920 census, Walenty and Mary Starol and Casimer Kapusta, Cleveland, Ohio
Walenty Staron married Victoria Falkowska in Shaker Heights, Ohio, on 23 Oct 1928. His naturalization record in 1944 identified his children and previous residence in Sandomierz, Poland.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Maryanna Obora‘s children with Walenty Staron were
The children of Kazimierz Kapusta and Maryanna Obora born in Buffalo, New York, were
Edward Jerome (1927-2007)
Richard J. (1931- )
Genevieve/Jean‘s grandson was my DNA match, so I wanted to see if we could find where in Poland his great-grandparents had been born, and if there were any links to my identified ancestors. We exchanged information on his other grandparents, but I was most interested in his Kapusta and Obora lines from Russian Poland.
WWI Draft Registration Form, Kazimierz Kapusta, Cleveland, Ohio
Kazimierz‘ 1918 draft registration identified him as a “frendley alien” born in 1894 in “Bialobozie, Kelecska, Russia.” (Already, spelling is suspect.) Because I knew where my Kapuściński ancestors were from in the former Kielce province, it helped me to find Białoborze.
Wikipedia says “Białoborze is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Stopnica, within Busko County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, in south-central Poland. It lies approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) north-east of Stopnica, 18 km (11 mi) east of Busko-Zdrój, and 55 km (34 mi) south-east of the regional capital Kielce.”
A search on the Geneteka database for Kazimierz Kapusta in the Świętokrzyskie province showed that Kazimierz Kapusta was born in 1894 in Białoborze to Jan Kapusta and Katarzyna Sikora, which matched the information on his marriage record. He was baptized (entry #66, according to the Geneteka index) at Kościół św. Apostołów Piotra i Pawła in Stopnica, not far from the area near Sandomierz where my Kapuściński ancestors were found. The Polish records were indexed, but I did not find the records themselves online.
From Geneteka, I could see Jan Kapusta and Katarzyna Sikora had these children in Białoborze. Unfortunately, the first boy, named Jan, died in 1891.
1891 41 Jan Kapusta
1892 53 Apolonia Kapusta
1894 66 Kazimierz Kapusta
1896 121 Jan Kapusta
Further research on Geneteka showed that
Jan Kapusta and Katarzyna Sikora were married in Stopnica (Skrobaczów) 1889.08.14.
Jan Kapusta was the son of Walenty Kapusta and Apolonia Lech.
Katarzyna Sikora was the daughter of Wojciech Sikora and Agnieszka Pawłowska.
Jan Kapusta, son of Walenty Kapusta and Apolonia Lech, died in 1897 (Stopnica entry 63) in Białoborze. On 1899.08.24, Katarzyna Kapusta (born Sikora) married Andrzej Jaros (Jarosz), the son of Ignacy Jaros and Antonina Włoch.
1913 Manifest for the ship Campania from Liverpool, England, to New York, New York
Maryanna Obora immigrated on 17 Feb 1913 to New York, New York, United States, on the ship Campania from Liverpool, England, with a final destination of Cleveland, Ohio. Her place of birth was listed as Dzieslawice in Russian Poland.
Wikipedia says “Dziesławice is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Stopnica, within Busko County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, in south-central Poland.” Often immigrants who were married in the new country had previously known each other or each other’s families in the old country, as was the case here. Again, Geneteka was useful.
Marianna Obora was born in 1896 in Dziesławice to Wojciech Obora and Marianna Pyrz. Again, this was very close to the information on her marriage record. She was baptized (entry #256, according to the Geneteka index) at Kościół św. Apostołów Piotra i Pawła in Stopnica. As before, the Polish records were indexed, but I did not find the records themselves online.
From Geneteka, I could see Wojciech Obora and Marianna Pyrz had these children in Dziesławice. Sadly, the records say that Stanisław [sic] died in 1900 and Antoni in 1905.
1896 256 Marianna
1899 121 Stanisława
1904 11 Antoni
1906 102 Stanisława
1908 60 Józefa
Further research on Geneteka showed that
Wojciech Obora and Marianna Pyrz were married in Stopnica (Falęcin – Dziesławice) 1895.05.15.
Wojciech Obora was the son of Jan Obora and Marianna Wróbel.
Marianna Pyrz was the daughter of Kacper Pyrz and Franciszka Kania.
Ancestors of Genevieve/Jean Kapuscinski
Our DNA connection is very small, and we do not have any common matches, so I was not surprised my DNA match and I did not find common ancestors in a few generations. But our forebears came from the same region, and I was able to put my prior experience with Geneteka to good use in identifying the ancestors of one of the grandmothers of my DNA match. Even genetically distant cousins can collaborate and share information to help one another find out more about their ancestors!
Hoffman, William F. Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings. Chicago, Illinois : Polish Genealogical Society of America. 1993, Second Edition, Revised 2001.
“Polish name.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Aug. 2018. Web. 16 Aug. 2018.
1930 Federal Census, New York, population schedule, Buffalo, Erie, New York, USA, Casimir Kapuszcinski; digital images, HeritageQuest (heritagequestonline.com : accessed 13 August 2018).
1940 Federal Census, New York, population schedule, Buffalo, Erie, New York, Casimir Kapusta; digital images, HeritageQuest (heritagequestonline.com : accessed 13 August 2018).
Ancestry.com. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
1920 Federal Census, Ohio, population schedule, Cleveland Ward 14, Cuyahoga, Ohio, Casimer Kapusta; digital images, HeritageQuest (heritagequestonline.com : accessed 13 August 2018).
Ohio, State Marriage Registers, Marriage, Walenty Staron, Victoria Falkowska, 23 October 1928.
Ancestry.com. Ohio, Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
“World War I Draft Registration Cards,” database, Ancestry.com (: accessed 13 August 2018), Kazimirz Kapusta; citing Ohio; Registration County: Cuyahoga; Roll: 1831773.
“Passenger Lists,” database, The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Ellis Island (www.libertyellisfoundation.org: accessed 13 August 2018), Kazimierz Kapusta; citing ship manifests.
Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne, “Geneteka, Metryki,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Genealodzy (genealodzy.pl: accessed 13 August 2018); citing church records or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).
Since my grandparents had been married in the United States, I had thought that they had met here and that their families had not known one another back in Poland. Instead, as I discovered more about my specific ancestors, I learned that often descendants of families who had been known to each other in the old country would later marry and continue on family traditions in the new country. Their story of immigration and allied families is a tradition that continues today.
Family history researchers refer to this tendency of people from a place to travel together and to bring their families with them as chain migration.
My father’s grandparents had immigrated to Buffalo in the 1880s, when my grandfather Antoni Maciejewski was just a baby. My grandmother Marya Szczepańska was born in Buffalo. I was surprised to learn that their parents had been born half a world away in Nieżywięć and Szembruczek, small villages in West Prussia that were just twenty miles apart. Although I thought I had solved a puzzle when I learned that my great-grandfather Marcin Szczepański‘s mother was born to the Kaniecki family, I subsequently learned that Jan Kaniecki‘s mother had been born Kalinowska, and he was probably first cousin to my great-grandmother, Anna Kalinowska Szczepanska. My father and his siblings called him “Uncle.” There are undoubtedly other family ties that have been lost in the intervening years.
My mother’s parents, Agnieszka Kapuscińska and Jan Skrok, moved to the United States in the 1910s with their siblings, cousins, and other relations. They married in Buffalo, returned to Poland about 1920, and then came back to America later that decade. Although her grandmother had lived in Buffalo for almost ten years, my mother never met her or other family members who later remained in Poland. Because my aunt and uncle had been born in the United States, they were “anchor babies” who allowed my Polish-born grandmother to travel back to America with an United States passport that included an infant who had been born in Poland. My grandparents subsequently had several more children in America, including my mother.
The final resting place for many of our relatives is St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Cemetery, Cheektowaga, just outside of Buffalo, Erie, New York, United States.
Our parents John and Estelle Skrok Maciejewski are buried there, as is our sister who was stillborn. All four of our grandparents are buried there: Antoni and Marya Szczepanski Maciejewski and Jan Skrok and Agnes Kapuscinski Skrok Kiec. Originally buried separately, our grandmother’s second husband Adam Kiec is now interred with his first wife, Stella Skrok Kiec. Our great grandparents, Jan Maciejewski and Veronica Lewandowski Maciejewski are also buried there, as are many aunts and uncles and cousins and other family.
This list is not complete, but if you want to pay your respects to those who came before us, please check the names and cemetery maps below.
2 May 1896
14 Nov 1907
18 Jul 1929
Sect A, Line 22, Grave 14 (9)
Section I, Line 30, Grave 39
18 May 1936
28 Nov 1936
Antoni G. Maciejewski
Section FF, Line 7, Grave 38
22 Nov 1938
daughter Helena moved her parents’ remains together to Mausoleum
Franciszek W. Szczepański
7 Apr 1941
Section FF, Line 22, Grave 70
24 Nov 1942
Stefania Ryta Szczepański
Circle 3, Line 30, Grave 6
Circle 3, Line 30, with her mother
Weronika E. Lewandowska
Section BB, Lot 171, Grave 1
18 Mar 1947
Anna Stephania Szczepański
22 May 1947
daughter Helena moved her parents’ remains together to Mausoleum
Wiktorya Dorota Maciejewska
Section BB, Lot 171, Grave 2
Nowa II Plot
10 Apr 1951
Section FF, Line 7, Grave 38
10 Nov 1952
Telesfor Teodor Malinowski
Sect II, Line 329, Grave 2
26 Nov 1957
Stanisław Józef Szczepański
13 Mar 1958
Section K, Line 143, Grave 6
14 Nov 1959
9 May 1964
Józef Edward Wnęk
Circle 3, Line 30, Grave 4
4 Sep 1968
Baby Girl Maciejewski
Section W, Line 3, Grave 62
9 Apr 1969
1 Oct 1970
Marya Magdalena Maciejewska
Section BB, Lot 171, Grave 3
26 Apr 1971
17 Dec 1973
Michael Bernard Maciejewski
Crucifixion, No. 1, Lot 10, Line 7, Grave 2
Anna Bonaventura Maciejewska
John J. Feduski
23 Jul 1977
Helena Agnieszka Skrok
15 Oct 1977
3 Apr 1978
Stanisław J. Kiec
13 Oct 1981
Jan H. Szalkiewicz
6 May 1985
Antoni Jan Maciejewski
St. Casimir, Lot 1312, Grave 1
17 Oct 1985
Bernard Jan Maciejewski
Crucifixion No. 1, Lot 10, Line 7, Grave 4
4 Nov 1988
Sect. Mt Kolbe, Lot 315, Grave 4
26 Jan 1991
Agnieszka D. Szczepański
Circle 3, Line 30, Grave 5
Szczepan Wilhelm Kiec
28 Nov 1992
Czesław Jan Skrok
Tadeusz Wincenty Skrok
1 Sep 1995
Jan Marcin Maciejewski
St. Casimer, Lot 1159, Grave 4
4 Feb 1997
Łucja J. Szczepański
Marian Mausoleum, Crypt #68E
26 May 1999
Władysława A. Łuczak
Crucifixion, No. 1, Lot 10, Grave 3
26 Feb 2000
8 Feb 2001
Helena E. Kiec
20 Jul 2002
Cecylia Anna Maciejewski
Sect II, Line 329, Grave
26 Sep 2002
Joyce Carol Manka
24 Oct 2003
Helena Elżbieta Malczewski
St. Casimir, Lot 1312, Grave 2
6 Dec 2005
Imelda Teresa Maciejewski
Sect II, Line 329, Grave
20 Apr 2006
Stanisława Zuzanna Skrok
St. Casimir, Lot 1159, Grave 3
24 Apr 2006
Józef A. Goń
8 Nov 2008
Józefa M. Solowska
6 Feb 2016
Adele A. Winiarczyk
Arthur J. Feduski
The “old” cemetery was east of Pine Ridge Road, while the new sections of the cemetery and the cemetery office are west of Pine Ridge Road.
“New” St. Stanislaus RC Cemetery, Cheektowaga, New York
“Old” St. Stanislaus RC Cemetery, Cheektowaga, New York
I never thought I would ever be able to find our ancestors born in the 18th century, but here is an ancestor chart for our grandmother Agnieszka Kapuścińska that shows the Kapuściński and Witoń families going back to the late 1700s.
The 1820 Marriage of Tomasz Witoń and Regina Sadowa identified the grandparents of Kacper Witoń. Although both Tomasz and Regina resided in “the village of Zarzece Wiejskie in the parish of Koprzywnica in the county of Staszów in the Province of Sandomierz” when they married, Tomasz Witoń was baptized in the parish of Miechocin and born in the village of Chmielów in the Austrian Galicia in the Rzeszów province while Regina Sadowa and her parents formerly resided in the village of Zarzece Błonie małe.
This happened in the city of Koprzywnica on the twentieth of February in the year one thousand eight hundred thirty two at ten o’clock before noon. We announce that, in the presence of witnesses Paweł Sulicki from Zarzece and Marcin Grądziel from Sośniczany, peasants who are of age; on this day a religious marriage was contracted between Florian Kapuściński, a widower, a son of Stanisław and Gertruda nèe Wilga, twenty eight years old, residing in the village of Zarzece with his father on a farm; and between Franciszka Bokwa, a maiden, a daughter of Michał and Katarzyna nèe Sulicka, eighteen years old, residing in Sośniczany with her parents. This marriage was preceded by three readings of the banns on the fifth, the twelfth, and the nineteenth of February in the current year in the parish of Koprzywnica, as well as oral consent of parents of both newlyweds present at the ceremony was given. No impediment to the marriage arose. The newlyweds announced that they have made no prenuptial agreement. This record was read to the declarants, it was signed by us, none of the newlyweds or witnesses is able to write. [signature]