Sunday, September 9, 2012

Settling in America

     Today I am a part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the founding of Saint Joseph Polish Roman Catholic Church in Everson, Upper Tyrone Township, Fayette County Pennsylvania, a parish of the Diocese of Greensburg.  Father John Sedlak is the current pastor and a good and holy man.  I am attending the celebration because I have roots in the community going back to my great grandparents.  Here is a part of their story that I have gathered.

    Andrew Stachowiak was the eldest of three children of John and (?) who lived in the village of Wilkowyja, Poznan Province, Poland (then under German rule).  Andrew's father died when he was about eight.  Andrew was born December 2, 1854.  He met and married Frances Janiak who was born on December 27, 1858.  At the age of thirty, after serving in the German army, he and his wife and their three month old son, Stephen, departed from Bremen on the ship the Weser with 109 other passengers headed for America.
The Weser docked first in New York where most debarked, and then to Baltimore where my great grandparents set foot in the United States on April 20, 1884.  They headed for Upper Tyrone Township and the borough of Everson to work in the mines and the coke ovens of H. C. Frick, and to establish their new home.  The house they settled in is about two blocks from the church.

     They had travelled to Everson with the Joseph Martynowski family, whose son, John and daughter in law, Michalina (great grandmother's sister) were already here.  John Martynowski sponsored my great grandfather for citizenship in 1891.

     They built their family: children Stephen (Anastasia Szymanski), Mary (Joseph Cieslewicz), Thomas (Helen Banashak), Anna Eliza (Dr. Vincent Pisula), John Stanley(Bessie Kaminsky) [my grandparents], Constance (Julius Helinski), Walter (Cecelia Suchocki), and Peter (Stella Wottczak).  My grandfather, John was baptized in Saint Joseph, as was my dad's eldest brother and sister before they moved to near Uniontown.  And I am not the only priest in the family ... Mary and Joe Cieslewicz's grandson, Father Vince Cieslewicz, is a priest in the Erie Diocese.  These eight children of Andrew and Frances had a host of children and grandchildren for many generations now.  But Everson saw the beginning of the family's development in the United States.  I am very proud of my heritage, and honored to be a part of the celebration at Saint Joseph Parish today.  After the Mass I will pray at the graves of Andrew and Frances and thank them for the gift of life and of faith.

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