PREAMBLE

 

Before relating stories about our forebears, it would be well to consider the background of life of Poland in 1890 and the likely reasons for their wanting to resettle in a new world.

The World Almanac states that Poland was one of the many Slavic tribes of Central Europe. Those living in the area we know as Poland were converted to Latin Christianity in the 10th Century. Poland became a great power from the 14th to the 17th Centuries. However, more powerful neighbors such as Prussia, Russia and Austria humbled Poland and indeed, partitioned the country three different times, 1772, 1793 and 1795 putting parts of Poland under their own control. Overrun by the Austro-German armies during World War I, its new independence, self declared on November 11, 1918, was recognized by the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. Large territories to the East were taken in a war with Russia in 1921.

Nazi Germany and the U.S.S.R. invaded Poland from September 1st to the 27th in 1939 and divided the country roughly in half. During the War, some 6 million Polish citizens were killed by the Nazis, half of them Jews. Poland had become a safe haven for Jews from all over Europe in years gone by. At the time of the outbreak of World War II, Jews accounted for about 20% of the population. Following this War, Russia's Stalin demanded a piece of Polish territory and was allowed to do so by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill during the discussions the three leaders had at Yalta, which is located in the Russian Crimean area. In compensation for the 69,860 square miles ceded to Russia, Poland received about 40,000 square miles of German territory east of the Oder-Neisse line. Whole populations were moved accordingly.

The Map of Poland on the following page reveals the problem any genealogist attempting to trace our family's roots will encounter. "Grodno" is now just inside the western Russian border. This is the town from which the family came. Current population is about 30,000 people.

The Flag of Poland in 1892 looked like the one on the next page. Since the War, however, the Royal Emblem is not found in the upper portion. There is a movement afoot, that with the newly created political environment, it might be appropriate to restore the original flag design.

The reasons why our family emigrated might have been few or extensive. There may have been one good reason, not identified here, but again, some or all of the following might have contributed to their decision.

Local Russian bureaucratic oppression may have been unbearable.

 

The lure of a new life where agrarian oriented people could find a better standard of living derived from farming and its associated activities, could have been strong.

The erection of the Statue of Liberty in 1886 and its attendant publicity must have reached the literate Poles. Anton Nagorski certainly was literate since we have examples of his having been a reader and he wrote well. Perhaps Emma Lazarus' famous poem "The New Colossus" inscribed now at the base of the Statue, and translated in local Polish newspapers had its effect. If a family had a trying existence, could they resist the message...

        Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

This is heady stuff when a growing family's future looks bleak.

The stories of prosperity, the prices of land, the size of the country and the fact that the word had gone all over the world that America welcomed immigrants. To this could be added the stories sent back to Poland from other Poles who had emigrated earlier.

A better climate might have been a reason. Grodno is situated at 53 Degrees North Latitude in what was called Byelorussia or White Russia. This Latitude is roughly the same as the fur trading outpost of Fort George on Hudson Bay, Quebec, Canada. This town is about 900 miles North of Connecticut. That is not to say the climate is the same, but it does indicate the likely seasonal differences between their Poland and our Connecticut. Milford is at about 42 Degrees North Latitude. Eleven Degrees of a more Northerly Latitude can certainly stiffen one's resolve to migrate to a warmer climate. Besides, a lower Latitude does provide for longer summers, shorter winters, and more warm weather to grow a greater variety of crops.

Whenever the decision was made, we'll never likely know, but by the Spring of 1892, land probably had been sold, possessions were packed, last going-away parties were held, and the whole group entrained for the Port that would be their departure point from Europe, probably Hamburg.

Following these introductory thoughts, one will find as best as can be reconstructed, the profiles of the families about whom this story is written.

N.B. Grodno, the family town of origin, is now located in a newly created country named BELARUS.

 


 

 


 

 


 

Our Family Name is located on

Panel 293 of the Wall of Honor at Ellis Island

 


 

Anton & Catharine Nagorski

Early 1900’s

 


 

Michelina & William Chapulis

Early 1900’s

 


 

Albina & Frank Pisarek

July 20, 1908


 

Josephine & Walter Milewski

November 15, 1915

 


 

FELICIA ALEXANDRA & JOHN JOSEPH SUSSMUTH

FELICIA ALEXANDRA NAGORSKI: Born February 12, 1889 in Grodno, Poland, now located in Belarus

Father- Anton Nagorski

Mother- Catharine Pankiewicz-Nagorski

Arrived in U.S. with Parents

Death: June 19, 1955 (Buried St. Mary's Cemetery, Milford, Connecticut)

JOHN JOSEPH SUSSMUTH: Born March 13, 1883 in Trautenau, Bohemia, now Trutnov, Czech Rebublic

Father- August Sussmuth

Mother- Catharine Hellert

Death: April 13, 1951 (Buried St. Mary's Cemetery, Milford, Connecticut)

Arrived in U.S. alone in 1906.

N.B. European spelling would be either Suessmuth or Sussmuth. Name means courage, dauntless, or literally sweet mood.

MARRIED

October 24, 1911 at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church Derby, Connecticut

CHILDREN

Carmen Sylva Sophia Born Aug 1, 1912 Bridgeport, CT.

Norma Catharine Born Aug 16, 1916 Weehawken, N.J.

Mignon Felicia Eugenia Born Dec 11, 1917 Milford, CT.

Homer John Anton Born Sep 21, 1923 Bridgeport, CT

 

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