PIECHOWIAKS COME TO AMERICA
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PIECHOWIAK...is pronounced "p'yeah-HOVE-yock" in Polish. As of 1990 there were 3,745 Polish Citizens by this name living in the provinces of: Bydgoszcz 281, Gorzow 204, Kalisz 124, Pila 470, Poznan 1581 and Zielona Gora 174...basically found in western Poland. The name is thought to come from PIECH meaning PIOTR (peter) thus means "kin of Pete" or "one from Pete's place."
Jan PIECHOWIAK, my great maternal grandfather was born June 12, 1850 in Lokowo Poznan Poland, died August 13, 1933 in Bay City Michigan. Jan emigrated to the USA in 1880 with friends of his family (CHMIEL). He departed Antwerp, Belgium on the vessel MONTPELIER arriving at SAULT STE MARIE via ST JOHNS on the Canadian Pacific Railroad in the fall of 1880. He settled for a few years in EAST TAWAS, Michigan. The story that has been passed down is that Jan was born of wealthy parents who were large landowners in Poland. He did not follow the wishes of his parents thus they gave him money to come to America with their friends the CHMIELS. Lived for a time on Michigan Avenue when first moving to Bay City around 1884 then bought a homestead in 1888 at 1215 33rd Street where he remained for over 40 year until his death. He worked as a woodcutter, foundry worker and engineer. A description of him given by a surviving great aunt is: about 5'7" tall, dark eyes, mustache, very active, participant in PULASKI Hall, grand marshal riding white horse in many parades in Bay City, presented himself as very dignified. After years of attending St Stanislaus Church he joined St Hyacinth's in 1906. Jan had one sister who remained in Poland. Jan's father's name was Laurentis, mother's name is unknown.
A friend recently found the marriage record of my great grandparents on LDS Church films. It indicates Jan Piechowiak and Franciszka Luczak were married on August 30, 1874, in Kostrzyn. Jan was 24 and Franciszka was 17. The witnesses were Wojciech Luczak of Czerlejno and Tomasz Cieslinski of Kleszczewo.
Franciszka LUCZAK PIECHOWIAK, my great maternal grandmother was born March 9, 1857, in KLESZCZEWO, POLAND. Her parents John Luczak and Katarzyna WAWRZYNIAK. She was the seventh of eleven children. John and Katrarzyna were married in 1842 at ages 27 and 23 respectively. Her siblings were; Marianna 1843, Walenty 1845, Wojciech 1848, Marianna 1850,Walenty 1853, Marcin 1855, Tomasz 1857, Josef 1863, Ignacy 1864 and Wojciech 1865. Franciszka was baptized on March 27, 1857 at the local parish church. Her sponsors were Wawrzyniec Luczak and Karolina Szyminski. She bore 14 children. Franciszka died February 3, 1930. She has been described as quiet, about 5'2" tall, grandmotherly, heavyset, homemaker. Jan and she had three children while still in Poland. Only one son, WALENTY (VALENTINE),born in 1878 survived to make the voyage to America. Jan and Franciszka are buried side by side at St Stanislaus Cemetery in Bay City, Michigan.
SS Montpelier: over 8000 tons, traveled between Antwerp & St John, held roughly 1600 passengers of which most were steerage class, passengers then took CPR from Montreal to final destinations.
Local Catholic Parish in Klewszczewo, Poland where Frances was batized as it appears today
Church was built in 1790.
While in Bay City on a trip I found the contract Jan entered into to obtain the property at 1215 33rd St. I found it while researching records at the Registrar of Deeds. After renting the property he purchased it from a George Seaman in 1889 for $200 to be paid over four years at $50 per year. It was a two lot property known as lot 3&4 at the time of purchase. It is upon this land he built the family homestead. Upon the death of Frances he signed the property over to John Jr. for the sum of $1.00 and that he would be cared for by John for his natural life. After Jan's death John Jr. sold the property and it was later divided into teo separate lots. Where my great grandmother's garden once stood, along with the family chicken coops and place for other animals which provided much of the family food in the early 1900's stands another house.
I used the Polk City Directories from 1900 through 1930 to verify my great grandparents lived throughout this time at the above address. I was able to track several other members of the immediate family as well as relatives in the same manner.
I shared in the previous section of this web site my visit to the old homestead and being priviledged to be able to walk through the house and invision times long past.
my great grandfather in 1920
My great grandmother in 1920.
1215 33rd Street...the Piechowiak Homestead for over 40 years as it appears today
My cousin Dorothy has these memories of the home. " It was a large house with lots of land, grandma maintained a garden over half of the land. It had one room which I thought was neat....you would open a door and stairs would raise up and you would descend into the fruit cellar.....pull the rope again and the stairs would comeback to normal position....you then walked up to a closet where grandma had a locked cupboard where she had shawls, beaded bags, vases and other goodies her sons sent as souvenirs from their travels."
Jan's Declaration of Intent to become an American citizen
Since I knew when Jan immagrated to America and had become familiar with the laws at the timne for obtaining citizenship, I decided to write the National Archives in Chicago, Illinois to see if they had a record for him as a census did indicate he had become a citizen.
I received Jan's Declaration of Intent for Citizenship filed in 1882. He was naturalized in 1890. I have been unable to obtain the final records thus far as the Archives or the state of Michigan can not locate them.
Getting Jan's Declaration of Intent provided far more than his intent to become an American citizen. It provided much of the information about how he came to America, who came with hi, when he came and so much more.
I strongly suggest peole requests their ancestors Declarations if you find out they immagrated to the USA> This is especially true for those immagrating after 1906 as much of this information was required to be provided after that date whereas is was optional beofre then and many coming to America did not provide it.
Jan/Franciszka Piechowiak Tombstone
St Hyacinth Church of which John/Frances were members after 1906 until their deaths
During my research I knew Frances came with a brother and sister....I, however, now know they came with her brother and also her sister and brother in law (THOMAS LUCZAK and ANTHONY/MARY PAGRYZINSKI).
THOMAS LUCZAK, an uncle was born in Poland on December 2, 1863 and died on April 5, 1944 in Williams township about 10 miles from Bay City. There is a family plot in Williams where many of his children are buried and I was able to visit the cemetery. ANASTASIA RATHKOWSKI LUCZAK,an aunt, and her family came to the US in 1890. Anastasia and Thomas married around 1889 and she bore nine children; Barney, Blanche, Emil, Wallace, Marie, Victoria, Emma, Morris and Oliver. Emma married IRA KALINOWSKI and it was through their son JERRY on my last visit that I am able to provide this information, stories and pictures.Thomas decided around 1902 to move his wife and begin family to Williams Township and create a homestead. Since Thomas is part of my great grandmother's immediate family I devote a later chapter of this genealogy section just to them.
The LUCZAK Family plot at Williams
MARY LUCZAK PAGRYZINSKI, an aunt, was born in November 1843 and died November 16, 1936. Her exact birth date was never known by her family. She and her husband Anthony are buried in single grave at St Stan's in Bay City which I happened to locate on a trip to Bay City....only four plots from her sister. By chance on that trip I also called a Pagryzinski in the Bay City phone book and reached Mary's grandson's home...his wife (Walter had passed away) passed me on to his grandson. I spoke with Mike and Sharon at length while there, though Sharon is into genealogy she has not done much research at this point and was unable to provide much information that I did not already have. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers and hope to assist each other in the future. On recent trip I was able to meet Sharon for lunch. We exchanged what information might be of interest to each other and pledged to keep in contact.
Anthony/Mary Pagryzinski Gravesite
Walter/Rose Pagryzinski Gravesite, son of Anthony/Mary and his wife
These seven along with Jan/Frances's one surviving child WALENTY made the trek across the ocean to settle in America.