My Trip to Poland with Zen: Day 4 – August 29, 2015.


Today was about two things primarily:  (1) A return to the Debowiec Parish office to further explore my Lesniak origin theory and (2) the Jaslo Wine Festival

Both were worthwhile pursuits.


We got to the parish offices first thing in the morning and I immediately went to work on my Lesniak theory.  So first a little background.


I knew before I left for Poland that Wojciech’s Michnal’s first wife, my great grandmother, was Anna Lesniak.  Through her marriage record with Wojciech in Detroit, I knew her parents were Jozef and Zofia Lesniak.  Further research indicated that Zofia’s maiden name was Pieta…the “e” having that little tail on it so that it is pronounced like Pienta (which means heel or bottom of foot in Polish).

Now from the Census Records of 1910, we know that Jozef Lesniak came to the US about 1899.


1910 Federal Census for Detroit, Hammond St.

We also know from Jozef and Zofia’s marriage record that Jozef’s father’s name is Franciszek Lesniak but his mother’s name wasn’t listed.

The problem with being absolutely sure identifying his records is that Lesniak is a fairly common name (Lesniak means someone who lives/works in the forest).

Now, if Jozef immigrated to the US in 1899, he should have been included in the 1900 Federal Census as well.  The only Jozef Lesniak I could find in Detroit in 1900 who immigrated in 1899 was this one who shows up with a Michal Lesnick (often the alternative spellings – Lesniak and Lesnick show up, as we have seen in our own family).  The problem with this being the right guy is that the birthday is a little off but birth dates in censuses are particularly unreliable as they are only as good as the memory/knowledge of the informant.  Since he is a day laborer, it is likely he didn’t answer the door and the landlord just guessed.

1900 Federal Census, Detroit, MI.

So, if we have the right guy, and I think we do, we need to find a Jozef Lesniak that immigrated in 1899 to Detroit from Poland who was born about 1871-73.  The one such record I could find was this one:

Ship manifest from SS Lahn, March 7, 1899.


He lists his home residence as Zarzecze, Poland, the same town where his future son in law is from, and is traveling with a number from his home town including a Jakub Michnal.  It is unclear what relationship this Jakub Michnal is with our family.

The ship manifest indicates that he was born about 1871.  So if we have the right guy, we need to find a Jozef Lesniak living in Zarzecze, Poland who was born in the early 1870s and has a brother named Michal (assumption from census record showing him living with a Michal Lesniak) and a father named Franciszek.  This connection to the same town as the Michnal family is somewhat bolstered by the fact that Wojciech Michnal was boarding at the Lesniak household well before marrying Anna Lesniak – implying a possible connection from the old world.

So with this information in hand, I looked through the records in Zarzecze hoping to find a Jozef Lesniak who was the son of a Franciszek Lesniak and a brother a couple years younger named Michal….and voila:


Status Anniarum for Zarzecze, Poland.

Here we see a Jozef Lesniak with a brother named Michal who was born in the early 1870s and with a father named Franciszek Lesniak.  This record indicates that he and Michal were the children of Franciszek’s first marriage.

So is this my great-great grandfather?  I think the evidence suggests it is very likely.  That said, I’m not 100% sure and will continue to look for further proof.  If it is correct, then the record below indicates the name of Jozef’s mother.  The problem reading this is that I only know English, their real names were in Polish, and these records are recorded in Latin.  That said, I believe this says that his mother’s name is Jadwiga (Hedwig) Macuga(?), (a variation on ‘maczuga, an ancient weapon/club.? the daughter of Mateusz Macuga and Marianna, daughter of Jedrzej Konopka(?). Interestingly, according to Polish Surnames by Fred Hoffman, Konopka means ‘hemp, cannabis’ in Polish’so there’s that.

Marriage record of Franciszek Lesniak and Jadwiga Macuga.


More work needs to be done and I will continue research next year.

As for the fun part of the day, we then went to the Jaslo Wine Festival which is in the city of Jaslo, the county seat that is about five miles north of Zarzecze.  We had a lot of fun trying out the wines, bargaining with the craftsmen on some souvenirs, and watching the traditional dance groups perform.  Here are some pictures:

The band, dressed in the traditional style of the Rzeszow region (where the Michnal family is from).


Dancers dressed in the Nowy Sacz region’s style (the region from which the Rosiek family is from).


Wood carvings I purchased at the Festival of Polish national hero, Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, created by a local artist from Jaslo.


Interestingly, the artist had another carving of a fireman saving a bare bottomed girl from a fire (firemen are held in high esteem in the land of wooden buildings and forests)…I told the artist that I would buy that one too but I have a preference for smaller butts to which he replied with a wink and smile “send me some pictures of the perfect ass and I will carve it for you.”  He was quite a character.



  1. Hi: I found your entry by searching for information about Debowiec.

    I just connected with a distant relative who lives there. He is 79 years old and lives by himself.

    I am thinking about sending him some money via MoneyGram at WalMart. I’m not certain if this is a good idea — are there shops and stores within the city of Debowiec?

    Would $100 US be of great value to him? Or is it not worth the effort and time it would take to do this? If it would help him, I would be happy to do so.

    Any information or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

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