Solving the Confusion of Two Parisville Surnames: The Ciechanowski vs Smielewski Puzzle. Part 2.

By Charles Ciechanowski-Chinoski-Chase


Coming to North America

The following is a translation of a Polish document of which I have a copy. This document was obtained by Francisca Dobecka in April of 1854 as a precursor for obtaining the necessary documents for passage to North America—the ship’s destination was most likely Quebec.



 According to the records of this church it is officially certified that to Thomas Ciechanowski in Sliwice of his wife Francisca nee Dobecka, the following children were born, all of whom were baptized according to rite:

  • Thomas, born the 20th of December of the year 1830, and on the 22nd of the same month was baptized.
  • Ambrosius (Ambrose), born the 8th of December of the year 1833, and on the 16th of the same month was baptized.
  • Johann (John), born the 5th of May of the year 1835, and on the 16th of the same month was baptized.

Signed: in Gross Schliwietz, April 8, 1854

Pastor, Luczny.


Notice that this document only covers the three Ciechanowski sons. Theodora died in 1841 and Josephine was probably either married or deceased by 1854. I assume a similar document exists for the Smielewski offspring, but I have not been able to locate it. Although no ship’s list has been found for the travel of the combined Ciechanowski-Smielewski families, it is fairly evident they traveled in 1854. One known exception is Thomas Ciechanowski who sailed with his wife and children in late 1866. The record for the travel of Thomas Ciechanowski and his family travel is shown below:


Ship’s Log header showing the name of the ship—Hyram, with a destination of Quebec.


Portion of Hyram’s passenger list showing Thomas Chichanowsky (Ciechanowski), his wife Hedwig; and children Rosalie, Johann and Ignatz.


Record of Ship Hiram (Hyram) Arriving in Quebec in 1866.


After the marriage of Casimir and Francisca in 1842, the Ciechanowski children assumed the surname-Smielewski. The Ciechanowski children were quite young at the time of this marriage, and were probably adopted by Casimir Smielewski. Ambrose used the name Smielewski all the way through his initial time in Michigan. This use of Smielewski includes 16 September, 1856 when Ambrose made his first purchase of land in Paris Twp, Huron Co., MI. Later land purchases were made under the name Ambrose Ciechanowski.

As can be seen above, Ambrose’s blood brother, Thomas, re-assumed the Ciechanowski surname by the time of his travels in 1866. I do not have the maiden name for Hedwig, the wife of Thomas. I wonder if he married his half sister, Hedwig Smielewski.

In 1854 the Smielewski/Ciechanowski clan most likely traveled through Quebec and Ontario Canada and probably settled there for a short time with other Poles in the area who were working on the Grand Trunk Railway for the Canadian Government. At some point the Poles decided to explore the rich lands of Michigan.

Below is an overview of the Ciechanowski & Smielewski families’ timeline:



Life in Michigan

Thus far we do not know exactly when the Smielewski’s/Ciechanowski’s came to Michigan, but it was probably some time in 1855 or early 1856. They, along with other Poles, were attracted to the rich loam of the lowlands in the “Thumb” region of Michigan. Much of this land contained swamps, but the experiences gained on building the railroads in Canada provided them with the necessary knowledge with which to successfully drain the wetlands.

In late 1856, Ambrose Ciechanowski, still using the surname Smielewski, went with his half-brother Thomas Smielewski, to Detroit to make their initial purchases of land in Paris Twp. The land was purchased, in gold, for 50¢ per acre. They were among the first five Polish purchasers of land in this township. As shown in the following chart, these five purchases were granted their official Land Patents (from Washington City) on July 1, 1857.

















Francis Susalla  





15 N


14 E












15 N


14 E





Anthony Slawik  





15 N


14 E





Thomas Smielewski  





15 N


14 E





Ambrose Smielewski (1)  





15 N


14 E



First Five Land Purchases, by Poles, in Paris Township, Huron County
NOTE: (1) Ambrose Smielewski is ½-brother of Thomas Smielewski. Ambrose was son of Tomaz Ciechanowski and Francisca Dobecka, while Thomas was the stepson of Francisca Dobecka-Smielewski

The locations of the land purchased by the two half brothers–Ambrose and Thomas, within Section 34 of Paris Twp–Huron Co are shown below:


In 1860 Ambrose purchased 120 acres in Section 27 (immediately north of Section 34). To this he added 40 acres in 1865 to complete the purchase of the SE corner (full quarter-section) of Section 27. It is within this quarter section that the Centennial Home of the Ciechanowski’s (changed to Chinoski around 1900) still stands. A photo of this home, taken in 1990, is shown below:


Centennial Home of the Ciechanowski (Chinoski) family located in the SE Quarter-Section of Section 27 in Paris Twp, Huron County.


A simplified Family Tree connecting the author with Ciechanowski and Smielewski ancestors of this article is shown below:

Source references for this article

  1. Latter Day Saints microfilms: 2199522, 2199523 and 714384
  2. Huron MI General Land Records: 1807-1907
  3. census records
  4. ships records
  5. Bureau of Land Management, Land Patent Details
  6. Immigrants to Canada, Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1997-2007, Last updated: February 15, 2007
  7., Polish map website


Author: Charles Chase

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  1. My mother-in-law was Genevieve Wrubel Wyrick. The Wrubels were early settlers in Parisville, Michigan. They immigrated from Sliwice, Tuchola County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. Some of the children were baptized in the Catholic church in Sliwice, Poland.

    Thank you for the research on this part of Poland…..this is new information for me….I had not seen pictures of the Catholic church before your article. I had not seen pictures of the town before your article. Have you been to Poland and are you planning a trip there any time soon?

  2. Hi Bridget. Thank you for your comment. I did not know of your comment until today, 16 July 2019.
    1) I have many Wrobel/Wroble/Wrubel family members in my family tree. I am a cousin to many of them.
    2) I have three Genevieve Wrobels in my tree.
    3) My email address is: [email protected]
    4) Please send me your email address so that we can compare notes
    5) With your email address, I will email you the two substantial documents which I have created.

    I look forward to hearing from you…….charles chase

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