4. Shellie’s Family History and Tour to Ancestral Places. My Great-Grandfather – Stanislaw Kulawiak

Dutchie had a portrait of her father, done when he was a young soldier serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He was probably conscripted at age 18, around 1888. I know no other details and the Austrian war archives had no record for him. Later I plan to check the Warsaw archives. The portrait was in the family as long as anyone could remember. There were all kinds of stories about Stanislaw’s military career that stretched from being a diplomatic courier all the way to being a general in the Kaiser’s Army. By now, no one really knows what he did in the Army. So when Dutchie told me about this portrait, I couldn’t wait to see it. The original was misplaced, but my cousin had a copy and sent an image by email. I think the portrait was probably done around 1890, maybe later if it took several years to reach his rank.

Stanislaw Kulawiak Military Portrait
Stanislaw Kulawiak Military Portrait

I don’t know how long he served, but Dutchie thought he was still in uniform when he decided to marry Aniela. She was reportedly 15 when they got married, so that puts their wedding around 1895. I have not sought out any experts yet for their opinion, but I did spend many hours looking for the significance of the stars and the red pom poms on his chest. The pom poms turned out to be a marksmanship lanyard: http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/badges/lanyard1.htm

And the stars on his collar suggest that my g-grandfather the general was really a senior non-commissioned infantry officer. Although this portrait is generally accepted to be my great-grandfather, I’ve been a little skeptical. It’s a drawing, so it’s difficult to tell, but in my opinion, the eyes just don’t seem to match those of my g-grandfather. What do you think? I hope to come across more portraits of soldiers while I am in Poland – I find them very interesting.

Stanislaw Kulawiak 1920's thru 1940's
Stanislaw Kulawiak 1920’s thru 1940’s

Another interesting feature of my g-grandfather was his handlebar mustache. You can see by his photos that he always had one. At one time it was about 9 inches long! He loved that thing and spent many hours trimming and grooming it. Dutchie told me that one day while he was sleeping, her oldest sister snipped off one side of his mustache. He was so angry! I wonder if he snipped off the other side and started all over again.

Measuring the Handlebars
Measuring the Handlebars


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