Solving the Confusion of Two Parisville Surnames: The Ciechanowski vs Smielewski Puzzle. Part 1.

By Charles Ciechanowski-Chinoski-Chase


My great grandfather was Ambrose Ciechanowski (often mis-spelled as Cichanowski, Chucknowski, Chickenowskie, etc.).  He was one of the founders/pioneers of Parisville, located in Paris Township, Huron County, in the “Thumb” region of Michigan.

During my early research, I reviewed the June 24, 1880 Census for Paris Twp., Huron Co, Michigan.  The primary part of the listing (along with its mis-spellings) for the residence of Ambrose is shown below:


Cichanowski Ambrose 47 Head
Francis 37 Wife
Peter (1) 16 Son
Victoria 14 Daughter
Ludwig 12 Son
Simon 10 Son
Mary 7 Daughter
Frank 4 Son
August 3 Son
Julanna 13 days Daughter
Smielewski Casper 80 Father
Francis 82 Mother

(1) Peter was my grandfather


Everything was fine until I saw Casper (used interchangeably with Casimir) and Francis Smielewski being shown as father and mother. It certainly seemed very strange that a “Smielewski” should be the parent of a “Ciechanowski”. I had never previously heard of the name Smielewski, and thus was quite confused. Here was a major question that required extensive detective work to sort out the details.


Ciechanowski Family Data

Gr-grandfather Ambrose (Ambrozy) Ciechanowski, was born Sliwice, powiat Tuchola, in the province of Bydgoszcz, Poland. The small church town of Sliwice, German name Groß Schliewitz, is located on the river Sliwiczka and is 25 km. northeast of Tuchola and 80 km south-southwest of Gdansk.

Map Showing Location of Sliwice (Groß Schliewitz), Powiat Tuchola, in the Province of Bydgoszcz, Poland and its Proximity to Gdansk.

Smielewski Family Data
Ambrose was one of five children born to Thomas (Tomasz) Ciechanowski (?-?) and Francisca Dobecka (1799-1894).

My initial challenge was to become familiar with the family with a surname—Smielewski. My research primarily centered around data found on LDS Film—714384. The head of the household was Casimir (Casper) Smielewski (1804-1880), also from the hamlet of Sliwice. His first wife was Catharine Gliniecka (?—Abt 1840). The data for their children are shown below:


Apolonia 2/8/1825 Sliwice
Maryanna 3/5/1826 Sliwice
Thomas 12/8/1827 Sliwice
Hedwig 10/6/1829 Sliwice
Elisabeth 11/18/1831 Sliwice
Catharina 9/24/1833 Sliwice
Rosalia 9/12/1836 Sliwice



The only death date I have is for Thomas Smielewski, who died May 25, 1909 in Paris Twp, Huron Co, MI.

After much pondering, I came up with the theory that Francisca Dobecka-Ciechanowski’s husband Thomas, and Casimir Smielewski’s wife, Catharine Gliniecka-Smielewski, must have died some time after their last child was born. Then, at some point, this widow and widower decided to join families. I could not find the death records to support this theory, but I was fortunate enough to find the marriage record to confirm the marriage of Casimir Smielewski and Francisca Dobecka on May 1, 1842 in Sliwice. The record for this marriage is shown below:

Copulatorum Records Title Page for the Village of Sliwice, 1842.


Marriage Record of Casimir Smielewski and Francisca Dobecka-Ciechanowski, Dated 4 May 1842, in Sliwice, Poland.


Close-up of Names Smielewski and Ciechanowski.


So, this matrimonial union provided motherly support for the Smielewski children and both fatherly and financial support for the Ciechanowski children.


Author: Charles Chase

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