IMMIGRANTS FROM PRUSSIA (GERMAN POLAND) 1881-1884
Our father’s mother’s parents Marcin and Anna Szczepański came to the United States in 1881, and our father’s father’s parents Jan and Weronika Maciejewski arrived in 1883 with their infant son Antoni Maciejewski (our grandfather). These immigrants, although Polish, arrived from the German occupied part of Poland, called Prussia. One of the reasons many Polish immigrants came to America from Prussia in the 1880s was to escape Germanization. After the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, Germany retaliated with economic, political, and cultural deprivations in the policies of Kulturkampf (culture struggle), particularly against the Poles.
IMMIGRANTS FROM RUSSIAN POLAND 1908-1913
Russia had a similar policy toward Polish people in their occupied lands, mandating the Russian language and education, and conscripting Polish men into the Russian Army. Russia’s economy declined after the Russo-Japanese War and the 1905 Russian Revolution. Many early immigrants to the United States had sent money and letters to their poor families in the old country, and most later immigrants went to join relatives and friends in America. The peak emigration from the Russian occupied part of Poland was in 1912-1913. That’s when our mother’s parents, Agnieszka Kapuściński and Jan Skrok, came to America, along with several of their siblings and cousins. Even our great-grandmother, Maryanna Kaspryk Skrok Kwiatek, came to the United States with her second husband and their children.
IMMIGRANTS FROM GALICIA (AUSTRIAN POLAND) 1902-1913
Galicia was the northernmost province of the Austrian Empire, and one of the poorest provinces in Europe. Many poorly educated Polish Za Chlebem (For Bread) immigrants were primarily peasants facing starvation and poverty in occupied Poland. Grzegosz Mastykarz, as well as Michał Feduski, had immigrated from Galicia. They were hard to research because their names were spelled multiple ways in public records.
Our direct ancestors, their siblings, cousins, and the people that they married are all family. These are the names I am researching. Their records give clues to our families’ origins–where we come from, how we got here. It’s up to us to continue the journey.