Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

They Came from Będzin!

Sosnowiec PolandWell, maybe not originally. Our Kapuściński and Skrok ancestors’ birthplaces were in Świętokrzyskie near Sandomierz, but much of the area had been destroyed during World War I in the heavy fighting of the Eastern Front. The Skrok, Kiec, and Kwiatek families lived in and near Sosnowiec in the early 1920s after returning to Poland and before re-emigrating to the United States.

This area was a highly industrialized and densely populated region of southern Małopolska (Lesser Poland), with Dąbrowa Górnicza, Sosnowiec and Będzin as the three main cultural and industrial centers.

Bedzin Sosnowiec

Jan Skrok came back to the United States first, leaving his wife Agnieszka, daughter Helena, son Czesław, and Polish-born baby Tadeusz behind in Sosnowiec, powiat Będziu, Poland. (I was told that another baby, named Edward, had been born and died in Poland.) He traveled on the ship S. S. Estonia, leaving Danzig on 18 January 1923 and arriving in New York on 2 February 1923.

1923 Jan Skrok Ellis Island

1923 Jan Skrok Ellis Island 1

Jan Skrok, 1923 Manifest S.S. Estonia, Danzig to New York

After a brief stay in the hospital on Ellis Island, he joined his wife’s cousin’s husband Jozef Szulowski in Buffalo, New York.  Jan declared his intention to become a United States citizen (filed first papers for Naturalization) on March 23, 1923.

1923 John Skrok first papers

Jan Skrok’s Declaration of Intent to become an United States Citizen, 1923

He applied for his wife and children to re-emigrate to the United States on 4-Apr-1923.

1923 John Skrok first papers application

Jan’s Skrok’s Application for his Wife and American-Born Children to Travel to America

I remember seeing my grandmother’s United States passport with her three small children, two of whom had been born in the United States. They sailed from Danzig on the S. S. Lituania on 18 July 1923 and arrived in New York 1 August 1923. Agnieszka listed her mother, Marya Kapuscinska, of Niesowwiec (Gnieszowice), powiat Sandomierz, as her nearest relative in Poland.

1923 Agnieszka Skrok Ellis Island

1923 Agnieszka Skrok Ellis Island 1

Agnieszka, Helena, Czesław, and Tadeusz Skrok, 1923 Manifest, S.S. Lituania, Danzig to New York

Jan’s sister’s husband, Adam Kiec, also returned to the United States in 1923, sailing on the S. S. Estonia leaving Danzig on 27 September 1923 and arriving in New York on 9 October 1923.  His entry on the ship’s manifest listed his wife Stanislawa Kiec of Dabrowicze, powiat Będziu, as his closest relative.

1923 Adam Kiec Ellis Island a

1923 Adam Kiec Ellis Island b

1923 Adam Kiec Ellis Island c

1923 Adam Kiec Ellis Island d

Adam Kiec, 1923 Manifest S.S. Estonia, Danzig to New York

1924 Andrzej Kiec first papers index

Adam Kiec Declared Intent Naturalization Record

Adam declared his intention to become a United States citizen (filed first papers for Naturalization) on 2 January, 1924.

The three oldest Kiec children, Jan, Helena, and Stanisław, had been born in Buffalo, so they obtained United States passports in Warsaw. They traveled on the S. S. Polonia from Danzig on 25 September 1929, and arrived at the port of New York on 9 October 1929. They were 14, 13, and 11 years old, and were going to their father, Adam Kiec, in Buffalo, New York.

1929 Jan Helena Stanislaw Kiec Ellis Island

Jan, Helena, and Stanisław Kiec, 1929 Manifest, S.S. Polonia from Danzig to New York

The two younger Kiec children had been born in Poland. Wacław, age 9, and Stefania, age 6, traveled with their mother Stanisława Kiec on the S. S. Lituania leaving Danzig on 6 December 1929. They arrived in New York on 19 December 1929, with their final destination meeting Adam Kiec in Buffalo, New York. They left behind Marja Kwiatek, Stanisława’s mother and the children’s grandmother, in Sosnowiec, Poland .

1929 Stanislawa Kiec Ellis Island 1

1929 Stanislawa Kiec Ellis Island 2

Stanisława,Wacław, and Stefania Kiec, 1929 Manifest, S.S. Lituania, Danzig to New York

This back and forth travel was not unusual for the time. Polish immigration to the United States reached its highest point in 1912-1913, but many Poles intended to work in the United States and then return to the land of their birth in improved financial circumstances. After the first World War, many ex-patriots returned to the newly formed Second Polish Republic. But the countryside, and they, had been changed by the experience.

Comments on: "They Came from Będzin!" (14)

  1. […] Skrok and Stanislawa Skrok Kiec–did return to Poland with their spouses and children and re-emigrated to America a few years later. But it is not at all clear what happened to the Kwiatek […]


  2. […] There were a few inconsistencies in my mother’s parents’ families’ Skrok, Kwiatek, Kapuscinski, and Witon church and civil records, but enough information to track their origins and movement back to Poland and their return to the US. […]


  3. […] to Poland, she married a man called Jankowski. My grandmother had a letter Aniela wrote from Będzin in 1947, after the end of World War […]


  4. […] cousins, and other relations.  They married in Buffalo, returned to Poland about 1920, and then came back to America later that decade. Although her grandmother had lived in Buffalo for almost ten years, my mother […]


  5. […] Marianna Kasprzyk Skrok Kwiatek returned to Poland with their families after the war, they lived in Sosnowiec. That is where several Skrok and Kiec children were born before the families returned to the United […]


  6. […] Maryanna’s children, Jan Skrok and Stanisława Skrok Kiec and their families. Although the Kiec, Skrok, and Rzepka families returned to the United States with their American and Polish born children, […]


  7. […] Jan Skrok and Stanisława Skrok Kiec also went back to Poland with their families, they returned to America later that decade. The American siblings died in the 1930s and the remaining families grew out of […]


  8. […] 1917. The couples had children in Buffalo, moved back to Poland where they had more children, then returned to Buffalo, where they completed their […]


  9. […] Adam Kiec was born on 8 Nov 1892 in Dobrocice, and baptized at Kościół Matki Bożej Wniebowziętej in Malice Kościelne. He came to the United States in 1913 and returned to Poland about 1920. He left 9 Oct 1923 on the ship Estonia from Gdansk, which was then called Danzig, and returned to Buffalo, where his wife and children joined him in 1929. […]


  10. […] arrived on 20 Sep 1920 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on the ship Kaiserin Auguste Victoria. His father returned to the United States 2 February 1923. His mother, with three small children (Tadeusz was born 11 February 1923 in Sosnowiec, Poland) […]


  11. […] uncle Tadeusz Skrok and his cousins Wacław and Stefania Kiec were born in Sosnowiec in the Kielce P… in the 1920s. After World War II, Sosnowiec was part of Katowice Voivodeship, and since 1999, the […]


  12. […] where it was, because my grandparents had gone back to Poland and lived in a different place before returning to the United States. My second cousin Neil and I had tried to make sense of what I later learned was the interwar […]


  13. […] western edge of the Kielce Voivodeship. That was where my uncle and his cousins were born, before my grandparents and the Kiec families returned to Buffalo, Erie, New York in the 1920s. My great-grandmother’s Kwiatek family remained in Będzin, Poland. American […]


  14. […] had written “They Came from Będzin,” about my maternal grandparents and their family, who left Buffalo to go back to Poland in […]


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