The following day we returned to Kumelsk to visit Jadwiga. We hit a genealogy jackpot! We begin talking, through Zenon’s rapid translations, and immediately learned we are both former school teachers! Before long, Jadwiga was sharing photo albums and seemed more like a sister than a distant cousin!
Though this may sound convoluted, my grandfather, Rajmund Wierzbicki and Jadwiga’s grandmother, Jadwiga Sadowska, were second cousins. That would make us 4th cousins! How amazing!
As she was sharing pictures, names from New York I had connected to my grandfather (Wladyslawa Sadowska, Walerya Sadowska, Wiktoria Sadowska, the Calak family, and the Krajewski family) began to appear on her pictures! To have made a connection after 100 years of separate lives was beyond my wildest expectations. Yes, I expected to visit churches and cemeteries connected to the family but never someone that knew about my grandfather’s second cousins in America.
As Jadwiga was showing me pictures, I noticed the back of this one was in English. Then I recognized the name and immediately knew the relationships. This was a photo of Wiktoria Sadowska, my grandfather’s second cousin.
On the 1920 Brooklyn Census, my grandfather is with two people:
1. John Sadowski, his second cousin, witnessed Grandpa’s wedding a few months later.
2. Ignacy Calak married John Sadowski’s sister, Wiktoria shown above . After she died, this photo was sent to her relatives still in Poland.
Jadwiga even had a photo sent to Poland from a photography studio in Brooklyn, NY only a few blocks from where my grandfather lived.
Closer inspection of the writing on the back revealed two surnames connected to my grandfather’s family in New York!
The area shown above was a small part of a huge Polish area of Brooklyn.
The flip side of the postcard is the picture shown below. The young girl, identified as Aleksandra Krajewska, was the daughter of Aleksander Krajewski. Looking at Rajmund’s family baptismal certificates revealed that her father, Aleksander, was the godfather of Rajmund’s daughter, Regina Wierzbicki shown below. Wow! How cool is that!
The young man standing with Alexandra was identified as Stanislaw Calak. He was the son of Ignacy Calak. Again, I checked birth records. Amazingly, Stanislaw Calak’s uncle, also named Stanislaw Calak was the godfather of Rajmund’s son, Raymond.
Not only did Jadwiga have pictures connecting Poland to America but I had pictures originally belonging to my mother connecting my family back to Jadwiga’s in Poland! On the back of a picture of two women, my mother made the following note: ‘Somehow they were related to Poppa thru his mother, Barbara Dąbrowska . Daughters of Barbara’s cousin. Aunt Reggie’s godfather’s wife on left. She looks a lot like Poppa.’
After working with NY marriage records, census reports, and Ellis Island immigration lists, I have been able to determine the following:
1. The woman on the left is Walerya Sadowska, wife of Aleksander Krajewski.
2. The woman on the right is Wladyslawa Sadowska, wife of Stanislaw Calak.
3. Together they immigrated to the US in 1913 and said they were the children of Mateusz Sadowski of Kumelsk.
Here is a photo of Rajmund and he and Walerya do look a lot alike!