Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

My maternal grandmother’s sister Maryanna Kapuścińska married Grzegorz Mastykarz in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, in 1915. Their children were my mother’s first cousins, and we all saw each other most often at weddings and funerals.

In researching this family, I encountered the Mastykarz name spelled various ways: Masteka, Mastyka, Mastykas, Mastykaj, Mustek, etc., which made me wonder about the actual spelling of the name, and from where the family had come. American records indicated they were from Galicia, the Austria-Hungary occupied part of Poland before the first World War. Galicia was the poorest province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and because people from here often had little formal education, their names were often recorded phonetically.

The Słownik nazwisk współcześnie w Polsce używanych, or Dictionary of Surnames Currently Used in Poland, by Professor Kazimierz Rymut, shows these names starting with Masty-  that were listed in Poland in 1990:

NazwiskoOgólna liczbaRozmieszczenie
Mastyga53Go:5, Ka:8, Ks:3, Op:20, Sz:4, Wr:13
Mastyj63BB:2, Cz:5, Ka:17, Kr:4, Ks:9, Rz:16, Ta:10
Mastyk21Ka:1, Ks:4, Pr:1, Tb:2, Wb:3, Wr:10
Mastyka42Wa:6, Cz:1, Gd:4, JG:5, Kr:2, Ks:17, Pr:1, Ta:1, Wr:5
Mastykarz56BB:1, By:1, Gd:17, Ka:6, Kr:4, Ol:1, Op:2, Pl:5, Su:10, Sz:7, Wb:1, Za:1
Mastylak24Ol:14, Sz:10
Mastyła48Ko:42, Ks:4, Sł:2
Mastyło37Ko:15, Ol:9, Po:2, Sz:4, Tb:3, Za:4
Mastyna107Wa:4, Bs:13, Ka:8, Ki:66, Kr:5, Ol:11
Mastyński3Po:2, Wr:1



Polish Provinces, 1975-1999

Mastykarz looks like the Polish spelling used most often. While Mastykarz was found in many places in Poland, in 1990 it was found more often in these former provinces:

  • Gd: Gdańsk: 17
  • Ka: Katowice: 6
  • Pł: Płock: 5
  • Su: Suwałki: 10
  • Sz: Szczecin: 7

Both Michał and Grzegorz Mastykarz lived in Lackawanna, Erie, New York. Grzegorz‘ descendants shared these pictures of the Mastykarz brothers, reporting that Grzegorz is on the left and Michał is on the right in each picture. The third man may be Józef Solowski, who married Maryanna Kapuścińska Mastykarz‘s cousin Maryanna Witoń in Buffalo 26 Jan 1915 or Jan Skrok, who married Maryanna Kapuścińska Mastykarz‘s sister Agnieszka Kapuścińska in Buffalo 17 Jan 1917.

Mastykarz men

Photographs of Grzegorz and Michał Mastykarz  (possibly Józef Solowski or Jan Skrok), circa 1915

Records indicate that Michał Mastykarz traveled between Europe and the United States several times. I was able to find ship manifests for travel to America in 1908 and 1911 as a “non immigrant alien.”  He did not intend to stay in the United States, but came for a  limited time as a visitor (tourist) or a temporary worker.

Michał Mastykas came to the United States on 4 Nov 1908 to New York, New York, United States on the ship Blücher from Hamburg, Germany. The record said that Michał had been in the United States before, in 1902 1906, in Buffalo, New York, but I did not find the records.

1908 Michael Mostykas marked

1908 Ship Blücher from Hamburg, Germany 23 October


1908 Michael Mostykas 2 marked

1908 Ship Blücher arrived in New York 4 November

His entry in the ship manifest was stamped as a “non immigrant alien” traveling to Buffalo with Adolf Niedziela to his father Jan Niedziela, who was described as an acquaintance of Michał. The US ship manifest listed Michał‘s wife Victoria, and show Michał came from Skidziń and Adolf Niedziela from Przecieszyn in Austria.

1908 Michal Mastykas Hamburg marked

1908 Hamburg, Germany, ship manifest

Skidziń and Przecieszyn correlate with the Hamburg record that said they were from Oświęcim (Auschwitz in German). From the First Partition of Poland in 1772 to after World War I, this area was in the Austrian Kingdom of Galicia. From 1975 to 1998, this area was administratively part of the Katowice province. Today both villages are in the administrative district of Gmina Brzeszcze, within Oświęcim County, województwo małopolskie (Lesser Poland Voivodeship) in southern Poland.

Michał appeared in the census in 1910 as a boarder at 431 Center Street in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, United States. He was 35 years old, married for 8 years, from Austrian Poland. The record said he was an alien who had arrived in the United States in 1902. He spoke Polish, and was a furnace helper, probably in a foundry, a factory that produces metal castings. It was reported he could neither read nor write.

1910 Michael Mastyksz cropped

1910 census, Lackawanna, New York

In 1911, Michał was a “non immigrant alien” going to Buffalo on the ship Main, which sailed from Bremen, Germany on 31 August and arrived in New York on 12 Sep 1911. He left behind his wife, Wiktorya Mastykarz, in Skidziń, which was also listed as his place of birth. He had been in the United States 1909 1911, and was going to meet a friend, John Bier***a in Buffalo, New York.

1911 Michal Mastyharz ship1

1911 Ship Main from Bremen, Germany 31 August


1911 Michal Mastyharz ship2

1911 Ship Main arrived in New York 12 September

Although Michał was with Gregory and Mary Mateka in the January 1920 census, it appears that he returned to the old country. His name was found on a manifest of the ship Cedric of the White Star Dominion Line, traveling from New York, New York, arriving 6 Feb 1920 in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom.

1920 Michal Mastykan marked

1920 Ship Cedric from New York, arriving 6 Feb 1920 in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom.

While the Polish name Michał is Michael in other languages, Grzegosz often used the name George in America, although there was much variation in spelling of both of his names in many records. First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins & Meanings, by George W. Helon and William “Fred” Hoffman, had this entry for Grzegorz.

Grzegorz. First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins & Meanings,
by George W. Helon and William “Fred” Hoffman (1998)

Grzegorz Mastykarz came to United States on the ship Hannover, which set sail from Bremen, Germany, on 25 July and arrived 7 Aug 1912 at the port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ship manifest said he was a farm laborer who had come from Germany, and was going to his brother Michał at 110 Lee Street in Buffalo. His ticket had been paid for by his brother.


1912 Ship Hannover from Bremen, Germany, 25 July


1912 Gregorz Mastykarz ship manifest marked2

1912 Ship Hannover arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 7 August

Wikipedia says that Landwehr, or Landeswehr, is “a German language term used in referring to certain national armies, or militias found in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. In different context it refers to large-scale, low-strength fortifications.”

Although Grzegorz‘ last residence was Germany, his nationality was listed as Ruthenian. His place of birth in the ship manifest looks something like Borswa Hora (?) in Galicia. Some of his descendants think that his place of birth may have been Cieszanów, Galicia (Austria Poland), or somewhere in what is now the Ukraine. It is more likely Borowa Góra, which in Ukrainian is pronounced Borova Hora, a village in the administrative district of Gmina Lubaczów, near the Ukrainian border. Borowa Góra is approximately 11 kilometers southeast of Cieszanów, which was the county seat. Both are currently in the Podkarpackie Voivodeship (województwo podkarpackie) of Poland.

Grzegorz married Marya Kapuścińska in Lackawanna, New York, on 3 February 1915. I found the record in the Erie County Courthouse, in Buffalo, New York, in the 1990s. Allowing for possible errors in transcription, the marriage record for Gzegor Mastyka and Mary Kapuscinska listed his mother as “Hajia Oguodnit.” I believe he may have said something like “Helcia Ogrodnik.” Helcia is the Polish diminutive for Helena, Ogrodnik means gardener in Polish.

His father’s name looked like “Bascel” on their marriage certificate, which could be Bazyli or Bazyl in Polish, the equivalent of the English name Basil or Basel. Hoffman and Helon had this entry for Bazyli in First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins & Meanings.


Bazyli. First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins & Meanings, by George W. Helon and William “Fred” Hoffman (1998)

George and Mary Masstacz were in the New York State census on 529 Ingham Avenue in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, in June 1915.

1915 Masstacz marked

1915 New York State census, George and Mary Masstacz, Lackawanna, New York (full page)

Their American born daughter Mary, one year old, was with them.

1915 Masstacz cropped

1915 New York State census, George and Mary Masstacz, Lackawanna, New York

In 1918, Grzegorz registered for the World War I draft as George Mustek, making his mark with an X. His date of birth was listed only as 1880. He was living with his wife Mary at 116 Rich St. in Lackawanna, was medium height and build, and he had blue eyes and brown hair.

1918 George Mustek 005262607_04461

George Mustek World War I draft registration, 1918

In the 1920 census, Gregory and Mary Mateka were at 116 Rich Street in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, with their children Mary, Joseph, and Stanley. Michael was listed as a 46 year old boarder, an alien who had arrived in 1914.

1920 Gregory and Mary Mateka census.jpg

1920 census record, Gregory and Mary Mateka, Lackawanna, New York

This 1925 census record from their farm in Evans, Erie, New York, was a bit mixed up:

1925 Mastykarz census cropped

1925 New York State census record, Mastykarz and Mary Grzegorz [sic], Evans, Erie, New York

Grzegorz Mastykarz and Maryanna Kapuścińska had the following children:

  • Maryanna, born 1914, New York, United States; married Bronisław Harzynski; died 8 Nov 1968.
  • Józef was born on 16 Feb 1916 in New York, United States. Józef died in an accidental drowning after falling from a raft on 18 Jun 1926 at the age of 10 at Blackwell Canal on Tifft Farm in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, United States. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, United States.
  • Stanisław Józef, born 5 Nov 1918, New York, United States; married Justina Covino, 21 Nov 1940; died 3 Jan 2004, Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware, United States. This couple changed their name to Masters in the 1940s.
  • Jan Edward, born 11 Aug 1922, New York, United States; married Josephine Marie Bosco, 22 Jun 1946; died 16 Nov 2000, Lake View, Erie, New York, United States.

Maryanna Kapuścińska had arrived in the United States on 27 Jan 1912. She filed first papers (declared her intention to become a citizen) in 1928, and was naturalized as an American citizen in Buffalo, Erie, New York, on 12 Sep 1932.

1932 Mary Mastykarz naturalization cropped

Mary Mastykarz Naturalization Card, Buffalo, New York

1976 mary mastykarz obit

Front Page, Hamburg, New York, 19 August 1976

Maryanna‘s actual birth date is uncertain. A December 1888 birth record from Gnieszowice, Koprzywnica is likely hers, since her sister Józefa was born August 2, 1890. Her age was listed as twenty-two on the ship manifest in January 1912. She filed for Social Security in 1963 and 1966 with different birth dates.

  • Mary Ann Mastykarz [Mary Ann Kapusczynski] Birth Date: 5 Dec 1890 Birth Place: Poland Father: Wincenty Kapusczynski Mother: Mary Witan SSN: 086383718 May 1963
  • Mary Mastykarz SSN: 067-42-6618 Last Residence: 14218 Buffalo, Erie, New York  BORN: 8 Dec 1891 Died: Aug 1976 SSN issued: New York (1966)

On 29 October 1941, Grzegorz Mastykarz‘ death notice was published in Dziennik dla Wszystkich, “Everybody’s Daily,” the Buffalo, New York, Polish daily newspaper from 1911 to 1957.

1941 Grzegorz Mastykarz 29 Oct Dniennik

Dziennik dla Wszystkich, 29 Oct 1941

  On Tuesday, October 28th 1941 at 7:45 in the morning, he departed this earth.

In holy remembrance of
Grzegorz Mastykarz.

  The late Grzegorz was born in Poland. He lived at 161 Ingham Avenue in Lackawanna, New York.

  Funeral services will be on Thursday, October 30th, 1941, at 9:00 a.m. at the chapel of Piotr Pasiecznik, at 303 Ridge Road at the corner of Ingham Avenue, Lackawanna, New York, to St. Hyacinth Church at 9:30 a.m. and then on to Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna, New York.

  For this sad ritual family and friends are invited in mourning.

Marja (born Kapuścińska), wife; Stanisław and Jan sons; Marjanna, daughter; Bronisław Harzynski, son-in-law; Justina (Covina) daughter-in-law, grandson and granddaughter.

Mastykarz gravestone, Holy Cross Cemetery, FindaGrave photograph

Update June, 2019: Our genetic connection was verified with Ancestry DNA evidence, when two descendants of Maryanna Kapuścińska Mastykarz matched three descendants of Agnieszka Kapuścińska Skrok Kiec, as well as a woman in Poland who had tested her DNA about 2016.

Update December, 2019: Online records from Time Note at list the grave markers for Michał Mastykarz (17 Nov 1872-11 Jan 1946) and Wiktorya Mastykarz (26 Mar 1869-24 Oct 1940) in the Municipal Cemetery in Brzeszcze, Oświęcim, Małopolska, Poland.


By Halibutt, CC BY-SA 3.0, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Citing Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

“Ancestry,” database, Ancestry ( accessed 24 October 2018), Michael Mostykas; citing Passenger Lists. Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2008. Citing Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Bestand: 373-7 I, VIII (Auswanderungsamt I). Mikrofilmrollen K 1701 – K 2008, S 17363 – S 17383, 13116 – 13183.

1910 Federal Census, New York State, population schedule, Lackawanna Ward 2, Erie, New York, Michael Mostyksz; digital images, Heritage Quest Online ( : accessed August 2016). Year: 1910; Census Place: Lackawanna Ward 2, Erie, New York; Roll: T624_939; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0280; FHL microfilm: 1374952

Ancestry, Michal Mastyharz. Year: 1911; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1737; Line: 29; Page Number: 211. Citing: New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

 “UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960,” digital images, ( : accessed 28 November 2018), Michael Mostykan. The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Board of Trade: Commercial and Statistical Department and successors: Inwards Passenger Lists.; Class: BT26; Piece: 668

Pennsylvania Philadelphia, “Passenger Lists,” database, FamilySearch, National Archives and Records Administration ( accessed August 2016), Gregorz Mastykarz, 1912; citing ship manifests.

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger List Index Cards, 1883-1948,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 December 2014), Gregorz Mastykarz, 1912; citing Immigration, NARA microfilm publication T526 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,380,289.

New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967. Gzeyner Masztyka, Mary Kapuscienska, Certificate Number: 1951, New York State Department of Health; Albany, NY, USA.

New York State Vital Records Index, Cert. No. 1951, Mastyka-Kapuscinska.  Gzegor Masztyka, Mary Kapuscinska, (3 February 1915), Marriage Record: ; Erie County Courthouse, Buffalo, New York.

1915 New York State Census, New York State, population schedule, Lackawanna Ward 01, A.D. 07, E.D. 01, Erie, New York, United States, , George Mastykarz; FHL microfilm “New York State Census, 1915,” database, FamilySearch  ( : 8 November 2014), Mary Miasstacz, Lackawanna Ward 01, A.D. 07, E.D. 01, Erie, New York, United States; from “New York, State Census, 1915,” database and images, Ancestry ( : 2012); citing p. 51, line 45, state population census schedules, 1915, New York State Archives, Albany.

“World War I Draft Registration Cards,” database, (: accessed November 2018), George Mustek; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

1920 Federal Census, New York, population schedule, Lackawanna Ward 2, Erie, New York, Gregory Mateka; digital images, HeritageQuest ( : accessed November 2018).

1925 New York State Census, New York, population schedule, Evans, Erie, , Mastykoz Grzegorsz; FHL microfilm. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 02; Assembly District: 08; City: Evans; County: Erie; Page: 28 New York, State Census, 1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

Playmates Silent as Parents search for Boy Who Drowned, Buffalo Courier Express, Buffalo, New York, 21 June 1926, page 1.

New York State Vital Records Index, Death Cert. No. 38660, Joseph Mastykaz.

Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski, 158/D- Akta stanu cywilnego parafii rzymskokatolickiej w Koprzywnicy, 1888 #239, Maryanna Kapuscinska birth record; digital images, Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski ( : accessed 22 March 2015).

Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Social Security Applications and Claims (: accessed 7 August 2015), Mary Ann Mastykarz, , 1963. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Death Master File (: accessed 2 October 2018), Mary Mastykarz, 067-42-6618, 1966. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2014.

Mary Mastykarz, , U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York; 1907-1966; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D. C. “New York, Western District, Naturalization Index, 1907-1966,” database, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014), Mary Mastykarz, 1932; from “Alphabetical Index to Petitions for Naturalizations of the US District Court for the Western District of New York, 1907-1966,” database, ( : n.d.); citing U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, NARA microfilm publication M1677 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 11.

MASTYKARZ-Mary [nee Kapuscienski], Front Page, Hamburg, New York, 19 August 1976.

MASTYKARZ RITES HELD THURSDAY, Lackawanna Leader, Lackawanna, New York, 6 November 1941, page 1, column 8.

DEATHS Oct 28 George Mastykarz, 58, 161 Ingham.  Grzegorz Mastykarz, Dziennik dla Wszystkich [Everybody’s Daily], Buffalo, New York, 29 October 1941.

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 26 November 2018), memorial page for Gezegus Mastykarz (unknown–28 Oct 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 124803867, citing Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna, Erie County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8).

Ancestry DNA autosomal DNA results, accessed 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

“Nekropole,” database, Time Note ( accessed 7 October 2019), Michał Mastykarz, Wiktoria Masykarz; citing cemetery records.

Comments on: "Mastykarz Family in Lackawanna, New York" (10)

  1. You put such an amazing amount of work into these reports!


    • Thanks. Over decades, I have gathered a lot of information. The challenge is remembering what I found, where I found it, and putting it together for a post to tell a story without getting redundant and too boring. Sometimes I go over that line, but I get to share the information. Then I get to turn to another research question, at least for a while.

      When my grandmother Agnieszka returned to Poland in 1921 with her family and her husband’ sister and their mother’s families, they did not return to their birth places near Sandomierz, but moved to the Katowice area about twenty miles north of Skidziń. My Uncle Ted was born in Sosnowiec before the families returned to the United States. There may be an intersection with the Mastykarz family in Poland.

      When I toured Poland in 2004, I visited Wrocław, Oświęcim, Częstochowa, Kraków and Wieliczka, but did not know about the family history in this area of the country. My grandkids’ other grandmother, Oma, spent her childhood in German Breslau, now Polish Wrocław. She immigrated to the United States after World War II.


  2. […] Kapuściński in Koprzywnica 15 Feb 1887. Two of their daughters immigrated to Buffalo, New York. Maryanna Kapuścińska married Grzegorz Mastykarz in 1915. Agnieszka Kapuścińska married Jan Skrok in […]


  3. […] birth name was Maryanna Witoń, and that she was the daughter of Michał Witoń and Jadwiga Duma. Mary Mastykarz and my grandmother Agnieszka were the daughters of Maryanna Witoń and Wincenty […]


  4. Hello,

    My name is Michal Mastykarz (i know, that sounds weird!) but I am grandson of Michal Mastykarz.

    I found this site, looking for information about my grandfather’s trips to USA.

    I live in Brzeszcze (near Oświęcim, Przecieszyn and Skidziń).


    • Hello Michal Mastykarz! I am glad you found my site. It is good to hear from you. I would love to learn more, and answer your questions about the Mastykarz family in America. I sent you email to connect you with Mastykarz cousins in the United States.


  5. […] When my grandfather, his sister, his mother, and their families returned to Poland in 1920 and 1921, they lived in Sosnowiec and Dąbrowa (Górnicza) near the industrialized region near Będzin and Katowice. This was not far from the Oświęcim district where Michał Mastykarz lived with his family. […]


  6. […] I went to the documents. I ordered copies of my grandmother, her sister, and their cousin’s Social Security applications, and found they had been born in […]


  7. […] two of RD and my “Relatives in Common”–JH and TM–as descendants of my grandmother’s sister Marianna Kapuścińska Mastykarz. Another of our relatives in common–CK–was a descendant of my grandmother’s […]


  8. […] to the United States named Wojciech, Grzegorz, or others sometimes Americanized their names to what they considered to be a quintessential […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

The DNA Geek

Mixing science and genealogy.

From Shepherds and Shoemakers

Sharing musings, insights, resources and strategies as I discover my family history.

Steve's Genealogy Blog

Documenting My Family History

 Stanczyk - Internet Muse™

... A Muse — ing                                                

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Discovering Your Ancestors - One Gene at a Time


incorporating DNA in genealogy research

%d bloggers like this: