2. An American’s Discoveries in Galicia.

The next day, we went to the church at Wysoka Strzyzowska.


The priest was amiable, ribbing me about my lack of Polish skills. He let us look at the original parish records of births, deaths and marriages, which went back to the early 1800s. The aged books were in remarkably good condition, given that they were over 100 years old and had survived two world wars. After a bit of searching, we hit paydirt. We found the birth record of my great-grandfather Wladyslaw, his siblings, his parents and forefathers. All told, I was able to trace ancestry back to the late 1700s, discovering three earlier generations about which I had known nothing.

Church in Wysoka seen from the parish cemetery.
Me at the cemetery.

But an even better surprise awaited us. With a more extensive family tree under our belts, we called in at the shop in Wysoka about living Wlodykas. The good news was that many Wlodykas in Poland were living in the surrounding area. The challenge was that there were many Wlodyka families to sort out. A series of housecalls followed — a Wlodyka family down the road, then another, then another — all to no avail. One family showed us their elaborate genealogy, but we had no connection. The fifth house brought us to the village leader (soltis), a thoughtful Wlodyka woman with a twinkle in her eye. As Zenon went through the liturgy of Wlodyka names and marriages, I could see her considering and thinking about the information. Yes, some names resonated with her. She then spoke of some people that we found in the church records. We hadn’t told her about these, and, upon further discussion, it became clear that she and I were indeed related. We both descend from a farmer named Stanislaw Wlodyka, born c. 1820 in Wysoka. She even phoned a removed cousin in Rzeszow, who is the first cousin of my grandmother. As a nice bonus, it turned out that Zenon and her husband were related as well.

Such a great discovery! My Wlodyka kin lives where my great-grandfather Wladyslaw was born (1884), as was his father Antoni in 1852. A cottage still stands, the home of the Wlodykas, dating to at least 1850.

The old Wlodyka’s house.

I never thought that I would find my Polish relatives, let alone relatives still living on family lands. I took a while to soak in the soothing rural atmosphere before retiring for the day. Zenon and I stopped by the house on the following day, where some more family members gathered to meet and greet us. I showed them the genealogy that I had put together, and exchanged email addresses. We now stay in contact, and I have sent them a large diagram that shows the Polish and American branches, updated to include the findings from my trip.

My newly found family.

Zenon and I then followed up with the Niemiec research. We went to the nearby church in Dobrzechow, and searched through the records. Again, remarkably preserved books. Success here as well — records for my great-grandmother, her siblings, parents and ancestors. As with the Wlodyka side, I was able to extend my Niemiec records back to the late 1700s. Time did not permit me to return to Kozlowek to look for relatives again. I had to press on, returning to Krakow, a side trip to Auschwitz, and then on to Slovakia and Hungary.

Beautiful interior of parish church in Dobrzechow.

Obviously, a wonderful trip. Zenon provided great service, and I couldn’t have done this without him.



  1. Hi
    yes,it’s not common that this village have 90 percent of population with a same surname
    i know Wysoka,my surname is also Wlodyka,and my father was born in this village,
    and my grandfather sister,Sofia Wlodyka, immigated to USA,year 1899,she’s also was born in Wysoka,year 1879,
    to day,i would like also found ,his life in USA,if shewas married and if it had children
    you too,have a same surname?
    did you find some things on them,in Wysoka,,?
    best regards
    André Wlodyka

  2. Hello Andre,

    I will check my records for Sofia Wlodyka. I will check for your father if you provide his first name. I think it will be best to send this information via email. You can contact me at: mmaxwell AT nu DOT edu.

    A quick search on immigrant arrival records to the USA on http://www.ellisisland.org shows:
    Wlodyka, Sofia
    Arrived: 1899
    Last residence: Wysoka
    Ship: Palatia

    You can see this record in more detail if you set up an account, which looks to be free. The website used to have the information freely available, but now an account is needed.

    Mike Maxwell

  3. Andre —

    I do not find Sofia (Zofia) Wlodyka in my records. I will be happy to look for other family members if you provide their names.


  4. Hello Mike

    it’ so strange,no!!that ‘s impossible to found its track,,,if she ‘s married afterward,,,
    no file exists for that?
    my father,i know,he was born in Wysoka year 1924 /august,,,,,his name,,
    Stanislas Wlodyka

    and you,,your name is also Wlodyka ?have you found some things ?


  5. My Krol family was from Wysoka. Ludwika Krol married Adam Wlodyka. They lived in Massachusetts, USA. Ludwikas sister Zofia married a Walascek. My great grandfather Edward, Ludwikas brother married Carolina Walas. All siblings lived in Massachusetts for some time. Parents of Edward, ludwika, and zofia krol were kaspar (spelling?) KROL and Marya Grocka. I will have to write to the parish for copies of records. Family was Catholic. Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  6. My Mother’s family (Podsiadlo) were from Wysoka, the Dobrzechow parish and I’ve been trying to find out how to contact the church regarding copies of records. Your story was so touching and the pictures were beautiful. I still remember my mom’s father telling me about how beautiful his home land was. thank you so much for posting all this information. I plan on reaching out through email or letter to the church. Was the church named St Stanislaus?
    Thank you again,
    Bob Napier

  7. SI am really interested in the two parishes Dobrzechow, and Wysoka Strzyzowska as our grandmother came from there. Do you happen to know the names of the churches and when each was built? I had heard that Dobrzechow was the church they went to until the church in Wysoka Strzyzowska was built. I am wondering how they had parish records so early or if perhaps they were transferred there once the church was built. Surnames are; Dziadosz, Jachym, Paluch

    1. Diane,
      The construction of church in Wysoka Strzyżowska was completed in 1917 and it was consecrated under the invocation of St. Joseph in 1923.

      Yes, before that people from Wysoka Strzyżowska had their parish in Dobrzechów.

      I was personally in both parishes a few times and I know that the books which survived for Wysoka Strzyzowska were transferred to the new parish from Dobrzechów.

      The surnames you listed, especially Dziadosz, are well-known in this region.

      If you were interested in our assistance in visiting and experiencing the places with one of our genealogists please fill out the tour request form: https://polishorigins.com/genealogy-tour-request

    2. Hello Diane,
      My grandfather came from Wysoka Strzyzowska in 1920. His last name was Jachym and his grandfather was Dziadosz! I would love to speak to you!

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