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:
|Mastyga||53||Go:5, Ka:8, Ks:3, Op:20, Sz:4, Wr:13|
|Mastyj||63||BB:2, Cz:5, Ka:17, Kr:4, Ks:9, Rz:16, Ta:10|
|Mastyk||21||Ka:1, Ks:4, Pr:1, Tb:2, Wb:3, Wr:10|
|Mastyka||42||Wa:6, Cz:1, Gd:4, JG:5, Kr:2, Ks:17, Pr:1, Ta:1, Wr:5|
|Mastykarz||56||BB:1, By:1, Gd:17, Ka:6, Kr:4, Ol:1, Op:2, Pl:5, Su:10, Sz:7, Wb:1, Za:1|
|Mastyła||48||Ko:42, Ks:4, Sł:2|
|Mastyło||37||Ko:15, Ol:9, Po:2, Sz:4, Tb:3, Za:4|
|Mastyna||107||Wa:4, Bs:13, Ka:8, Ki:66, Kr:5, Ol:11|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
George and Mary Masstacz were in the New York State census on 529 Ingham Avenue in Lackawanna, Erie, New York, in June 1915.
Their American born daughter Mary, one year old, was with them.
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.
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.
This 1925 census record from their farm in Evans, Erie, New York, was a bit mixed up:
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.
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.
On Tuesday, October 28th 1941 at 7:45 in the morning, he departed this earth.
In holy remembrance of
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.
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 https://nekropole.info 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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3154253
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Playmates Silent as Parents search for Boy Who Drowned, Buffalo Courier Express, Buffalo, New York, 21 June 1926, page 1.
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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.
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