In 2022, the daughter of Stanisław Szczepański and Józefa Wrońska retrieved a packet of old letters from Poland amongst some of her mother’s things in storage. She was kind enough to share them with her Wronski cousin, who scanned them. He kindly shared them with the family.
Josephine Wronski Szczepanski‘s daughter said that when family members would receive a letter from Poland, they would take it to the Wronski/Szczepański house on Krupp Street to share and to get her mother’s help with translating. And then, telling stories, she explained, “they would all sit around and laugh and laugh.”
While many of the letters were addressed to Josephine‘s brother Edmund Wronski, others were sent to Edmund‘s wife’s mother Maryanna Witoń Solowska and her family.
Several of the letters were from Maryanna‘s sister Aniela Wilk.
Maryanna Witoń was born in 1893, the oldest daughter of Michał Witoń and Jadwiga Duma.
Michał Witoń and Jadwiga Duma had the following children who were baptized in Koprzywnica, Sandomierz, Radom, Congress Poland, Russia:
- Jan was born in 1891. A man named John Witon was recorded as witnessing the marriage of Józef Solowski and Maryanna Witon on 26 Jan 1915 at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, Erie, New York, United States. It is not clear what happened to him after that.
- Maryanna (29 September 1893-22 April 1971)
- Roch born 1896
- Michał born 1899
- Zofia born 1902
- Piotr (1905-1963)
- Józef (1909-1977)
- Walenty (1912-1958)
- Aniela (1915-1999)
Maryanna Witoń immigrated to Buffalo, New York, in 1912, so she did not grow up with her younger sister Aniela Witoń who was born in 1915. Here are some of Aniela‘s letters to Buffalo from 1969, 1970, and 1972.
Maryanna Witoń Solowska died 22 April 1971, so Aniela Wilk‘s letters in 1972 were addressed to the Solowski Family.
The envelope included an Easter card, and she wrote “Dear children I send you now heartfelt greetings, Happy Easter and Easter Eggs.”
Family members exchanged cards and letters at Christmas and Easter.
Other envelopes addressed to Maryanna Solowska from Gnieszowice but without contents were from Stanisław Wilk in 1966 and Józef Witoń in 1967.
Aniela Witoń was born 19 July 1915 in the village of Gnieszowice and baptized the following day in nearby Koprzywnica, Sandomierz, Radom, Congress Poland, Russia.
105 Gnieszowice, Aniela Witoń
Took place in the town of Koprzywnica on 7/20 July 1915 at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Appeared in person Michał Witoń, peasant, 54 years old, residing in the village of Gnieszowice, and in the presence of the witnesses Franciszek Lis, age 54, and Andrzej Kapuściński, age 44, both peasants, residing in Gnieszowice, he presented to Us a female child stating that this child was born in the village of Gnieszowice on 6/19 July of the current year at 8 o’clock in the evening to his lawful wife Jadwiga, née Duma, 45 years old. At the Holy baptism performed on this day by priest Andrzej Wyrzykowski this child was given the name Aniela, and her godparents were Franciszek Lis and Maryanna Cebula. This act was read aloud to the illiterate people present and signed only by Us.1915 Birth, Aniela Witoń, Gnieszowice, Koprzywnica, Sandomierz, Radom, Congress Poland, Russia
The notes in the margins are for Aniela‘s marriage to Stanisław Wilk on 12 June 1935 in Koprzywnica and her death 27 July 1999 in Gnieszowice, Koprzywnica, Sandomierz, Świętokrzyskie, Poland. Aniela‘s husband Stanisław Wilk died 31 December 1968.
Both Stanisław and Aniela Wilk are buried in the parish cemetery in Koprzywnica.
Other Witoń family members are also buried in Cmentarz parafialny w Koprzywnicy, the parish cemetery at Koprzywnica, Sandomierz, Świętokrzyskie, Poland.
I visited the cemetery in Koprzywnica on my 2004 Trip to Poland and My Mother’s Parents’ Villages. While I recognized some family surnames, at that time I did not know who the deceased were or how we might have been related.
Unlike in America, where almost all burials are permanent and cemeteries often promise perpetual care, in many places in Poland, as in other parts of the world, “term” burials are the norm. Unless a person has historical significance in an area, a burial plot is maintained while the family pays for its upkeep. When a family no longer pays, bones are pushed aside or removed to an ossuary, and a grave site may be reused. In many cemeteries in Poland, it is rare to find a grave marker of someone who died more than a hundred years previously.
Polish people visit the cemetery several times a year, usually on anniversaries and before holidays, especially Christmas and Easter. Graves are decorated with candles called znicze, in memory of departed loved ones. On November 1st, All Saints’ Day, and November 2nd, All Souls’ Day, cemeteries are brightly illuminated as entire families light candles as they remember and honor those who have died.
- “Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Geneteka (geneteka.genealodzy.pl: accessed 28 May 2019), 1862 132 Michał Witoń Koprzywnica; citing church records or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).
- Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Polski, Marriage, 1888 37 Koprzywnica, Michał Witoń Jadwiga Duma; digital images, Towarzystwa Genealogicznego Centralnej Polski (http://metryki.genealodzy.pl : accessed 28 May 2019).
- “Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Geneteka (geneteka.genealodzy.pl: accessed 20 December 2020), 1871 162 Jadwiga Duma Koprzywnica; citing church records or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).
- Genbaza, “Genbaza,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Genealodzy (Metryki.GenBaza.pl: accessed 2020), GenBaza / AP_Kielce / AP_Sandomierz / Koprzywnica / 1871 / 030.JPG; citing Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).
- Szolowski-Witon, (26 January 1915), Marriage Record: ; Erie County Courthouse, Buffalo, New York.
- New York State, Department of Health, Vital Records Index, Marriage, Cert No. 1312, Mary Witon, 26 January 1915, Albany, New York.
- Geneteka, 1893 194 Marianna Witoń Koprzywnica.
- Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Death Master File (: accessed July 2016), Mary Solowski, 134-07-8679.
- “Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Geneteka (geneteka.genealodzy.pl: accessed 30 March 2022), 1915 105 Aniela Witoń Koprzywnica; citing church records or Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).
- Genbaza, “Genbaza,” database, Polish Genealogical Society, Genealodzy (Metryki.GenBaza.pl: accessed 30 March 2022), Aniela Witoń – GenBaza / AP_Sandomierz-24 / Koprzywnica / 1915 / _028_ur.JPG; citing Urząd Stanu Cywilnego (Civil Registry Office).
- “Genealogical Translations,” database, private Facebook group, Facebook (facebook.com: accessed 1 April 2022), Aniela Witoń.
- “Grobonet,” database, polskie-cmentarze.com/, Grobonet (grobonet.com: accessed 9 April 2022), Stanisław i Aniela Wilk; citing cemetery records.
- Edytorzy Wikipedii, “Znicz (naczynie),” Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia, //pl.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Znicz_(naczynie)&oldid=64725461 (dostęp kwiecień 9, 2022).
- Wikipedia contributors, “Ossuary,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ossuary&oldid=1080691634 (accessed April 9, 2022).