Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

It required a certain degree of impulsivity to leave the land of one’s birth and travel to another country. Our grandfather Jan Skrok did it in 1913. He was followed by his sister Stanisława Skrok and their mother Maryanna Kasprzyk Skrok Kwiatek and her two children from her second marriage, Julianna and Aniela Kwiatek. They were all documented at Ellis Island through the Port of New York. Maryanna’s husband Andrzej Kwiatek arrived in Niagara Falls, New York, from Toronto, Canada, in May 1913.

1913 Andrzej Kwiatek from Canada

1913 United States Border Crossing from Canada to United States

Maryanna and Andrzej’s son, Leon, was born in the United States. The New York State census records for 1915 show the family living at 19 Gibson Street in Buffalo, New York.

1915 Kwiatek NY census cropped

1915 New York State Census, 19 Gibson Street, Buffalo, New York

Like most couples, the Kwiateks did not always see eye to eye. On at least two occasions their disagreements escalated to involve the police and were reported in the newspaper.

1915 Kwiatek assault Buffalo Courier

Buffalo Courier, 6 April 1915

Andrew Kwiatek was taken to the Police station for assaulting his wife with a stove poker, as reported in the Buffalo Courier on 6 April 2015.

In 1917, the Buffalo Courier reported that “Mrs. Mary Kwiatk, forty-six years old, of No. 223 Metcalfe street, was arrested last night by police of the Fillmore avenue station on charge of assault, second degree, on complaint of her husband, Andrew Kwiatk. It is alleged Mrs. Kwiatk hit her husband on the head with a poker.”

1917 Kwiatek assault Buffalo Courier

Buffalo Evening News, 1 May 1917

The judge suspended the sentence the following day, and the newspaper reported that “The couple left the courtroom together.”

They were still together living at their house on 223 Metcalfe Street in the 1920 census.

1920 Kwiatek family Buffalo

1920 Census, 223 Metcalfe Street, Buffalo, New York

Life did not go smoothly for the Kwiatek family. There is evidence that Julia Kwiatek married John Kasprowicz in Pennsylvania. In 1921, the Kwiatek family returned to Poland with a new baby, Zofia.

Although 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 touch. In 1947, Maryanna and Andrzej‘s daughter Aniela Kwiatek Jankowska wrote to Corpus Christi Church asking for information about her half-siblings’ families in Buffalo.


Neighbors Call Police to House, Buffalo Courier, Buffalo, New York, 6 April 1915, page 6, column 3.

SAYS SHE WIELDED POKER, Buffalo Courier, Buffalo, New York, 30 April 1917, page 5, column 1.

Woman Uses Poker on Husband Who Calls Her Names, Buffalo Evening News, Buffalo, New York, 1 May 1917, page 6, column 1.

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