Olesnica and Pacanow, Swietokrzyskie Poland

(follow along with a map of our trip: http://bit.ly/1U552Gcg)

Meeting my family in Olesnica.

To say I was nervous and excited was an understatement. I’ve heard stories about my family in Poland since I was a child, and I had a vast collection of old photographs that I believed were of my grandfather’s family. When we arrived, Kazmierz was waiting outside for us. I couldn’t believe my eyes as Kazmierz looked identical to my mom’s late brother Pete. After a brief greeting, Kazmierz looked somewhat confused as we headed inside.

Denise, Mike, Cecelia, Kazmierz

Denise, Mike, Cecelia, Kazmierz

We sat down at the kitchen table and Zbigniew proceeded to explain who we were. Kazmierz didn’t realize there was anyone else coming other than Zbigniew to talk about Stanislaw Glowniak. Somehow that got lost in the communication. As they spoke, I politely opened a folder and pulled out a photo of what I believed was Kazmierz’s mother and father. I’d been waiting all my life for confirmation of what I’d been told. As Kazmierz took the photo, his face lit up and he smiled as he and said in Polish, “to jest moja matka i ojciec! i siostry krok!” Suddenly he realized that I was a direct blood relative. He couldn’t believe I had come all that way to find and meet him! He knew there was family in America, but when my grandfather passed in 1961, communication was lost and the family had no idea how to locate us. Now, fifty-four years later, here I was. We spent a better part of the afternoon getting to know one another, exchanging family stories and history and dining on some amazing Polish food.

Later in the afternoon, we took a visit to Edward Glowniak and his family. Edward’s father was Tomasz Glowniak, my grandfather’s other brother that remained in Poland. I was overwhelmed and still have difficulty explaining the feelings that I had while meeting my family. Many of the stories that I heard about my family in Poland were coming to life. Kazmierz and Edward were recanting stories of old days in Poland, giving me some information on my grandfather that I never knew.

Mike, Edward, Kazmierz

Mike, Edward, Kazmierz

As it got towards nightfall, we were going to be heading back to our hotel but were requested to come stay at Kazmierz’s home for the remaining days of our visit in Olesnica. I headed back to the hotel and packed up. It was a day that I will absolutely never forget.

The following morning, we drove to Olesnica to Kazmierz home. We took a trip during the day to the cemetery to pay respects to my ancestors. A unmarked grave that I had found in 2013, was indeed that of my great-grandfather Michael Glownaik.  As I stood there I realized I was the first descendant of the American family to have visited the grave.

Grave of my great grandfather, Michal Glowniak

Grave of my great grandfather, Michal Glowniak

We then went to the town hall to look into some genealogy records I’ve been wanting to find. I was finally able to confirm a story that my mom’s older sister Julia, was indeed named after my grandfather’s mother Julianna Glowniak (nee Strzelecka). Apparently he had gotten word that his mother was sick, and when his daughter was born on July 7, 1920 he named her after his mother. I was able to validate the story with the death record. Julianna had passed on July 9, 1920, two days after the birth of her granddaughter.

In the afternoon, after dining with Kazmierz, we took a trip to Pacanow, home of the fabled character Koziołek Matołek. Every where you look there is a goat!
Pacanow
Our next stop was the church in Olesnica. A family story that had been passed down from my grandfather was that his father Michael was doing masonry work atop the church, slipped, and fell to his death back in 1901. My grandfather was working with him and was only seven years old. Unfortunately, we were never able to verify that story. That very story is what prompted me to find my polish family at the request of my mother and aunt. It started my genealogy passion.

As we were walking away from the church, the church bells started ringing. I made everyone stop as I quickly realized that I was the first American descendent to hear those church bells since my grandfather. I recorded them so my mom and my family could hear them.

Parish Olesnica

Parish Olesnica

Kazmierz then took me for a ride through Olesnica and showed me where his family had lived, and the birth home of my own grandfather.

Birth home of my grandfather.

Birth home of my grandfather.

After that we headed to Edward’s house for an evening of festivities. The food and the vodka flowed freely. Later in the evening I made a Skype call to my mom and her sister in the United States, so they could meet their Polish cousins. My mom and aunt both immediately started crying. They couldn’t believe that I had found my grandfather’s family.

Glowniak family relations reunite!

Glowniak family relations reunite!

After the Skype call we went back to celebrating. It was a late, amazing and wonderful night. In the morning after numerous photos and goodbyes, we headed out on the road to our next destination, Pysznica.

Mike, Kazmierz and our amazing guide, Zbigniew!

Mike, Kazmierz and our amazing guide, Zbigniew!

Kotuszow, Poland

(follow along with a map of our trip: http://bit.ly/1U552Gcg)

On Thursday morning August 27th, we had breakfast and headed towards Olesnica, the hometown of my maternal grandfather. Prior to coming to Poland in 2013, I had done extensive genealogical research on my family from that area and found that my great grandfather Michal Glowniak was born in the town of Kotuszow, Poland.  His father, Szymon Glownak was listed as the organist of the church of Kotuszow, where Michal and his siblings were born.

Kotuszow

Zbignew suggested that we stop in Kotuszow prior to going to Olesnica. Kotuszow was only two miles south of our hotel, so it was a perfect location to explore the area. When we arrived in the middle of Kotuszow, we spotted the church and pulled off to see if we could look inside. As we were walking towards the front of the church there were two couples standing out front. Three of them had started to walk away, but one elderly gentleman stopped and spoke with Zbignew. After a brief conversation he literally almost ran across the street. I asked Zbignew where he was going and he commented that this gentleman was the caretaker of the church. When he learned my family had lived in the area he offered to show us inside.

It’s a surreal feeling being in a church that was built in 1661. As we walked inside, the caretaker pointed out certain areas of the church to us and gave us a full tour. You could tell he was proud of the church and of the area. Zbignew asked him about my family, and while he did not recognize the name from the area, he did know that there were some Glowniaks in Pacanow and Olesnica. We spent almost an hour getting a tour of the church and its surroundings. One thing he pointed out to us as we were standing outside, was a machine gun that had been attached to the church tower during World War II. It was left there as a reminder of what had happened. We thanked the caretaker and I was so touched that what he had done I asked if I could take a picture with him. He was shocked and graciously accepted. We thanked him again and headed out towards Olesnica.

Mystery Photo 1- Detroit Polish Wedding

LAST UPDATE: 4/22/2018
I’m back to sharing photos from the early 1910-1920s. This particular photo came from my cousin Wes Baltyn. This photo hung in his mother’s home up until her passing a few years ago. When I visited Poland, the photo was passed down to me as a gift, because my maternal grandparents are present in it.

Using photos from other weddings I have combined with photo forensics and utilizing some online tools I’ve been able to identify a few people listed below.

If someone in this photo is part of your family, please let me know.

Row 1: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Bride Unknown, Piotr Poniewierski, Waleria Glowniak (Nee Ratusznik), Unknown, Jozef Glowniak
Row 2: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Rozalia Zelias, Eva Glowniak (nee Zawisza)
Row 3: Unknown, Unknown, Stanislaw Glowniak (Mich), Jan Strzelecki, Stanislaw Glowniak (NY) Jan Dzidowski, Unknown, Pawel Dzidowski, Andrzej Batlyn

2014-Poniewierski