Today was a whirlwind day! First we made an appointment to see the curator of the local museum to see the history of the town of Nowy Zmigrod.
Then Zenon started knocking on doors to find us relatives to meet. Sure enough he found them. They in turn called another relative who had accumulated my grandmother’s family history back years and years and published it in a book. We were taken to the grave of our great grandparents, where we left a token of our visit.
Next we were off to the parish where my grandfather’s records were, while my two sisters went to the house of our grandfather’s great grandniece. Again, we had to play the game with the priest until Zenon politely asked him to please check one more time and he ‘found’ the records we needed.
We then met up with the grandniece at her home for coffee and tea and the most delicious cookies I’ve ever eaten. She had them specially made for our visit. We filled them in with the history of the people who came to America and showed them pictures of what they looked like.
We then strolled down the road to the river that my grandfather and his brothers would have played and fished in, and dipped our feet in the water. Off to dinner and back to our rooms.
Kasia and Marcin Hałat, a couple that hosted Gerre, Carol and Virginia in Załęże, published an article and photos from their meeting on their website:
On 24-25 July 2013 three sisters from the United States. Mrs Virginia, Gerry and Carrol come from the Bal family and came to Poland in search of their roots. They were born and were brought up in New York but their predecessors come from Poland. Their grandfather, Bartłomiej Bal and two of his brothers Mikołaj and Maciej emigrated to the U.S for the purposes of seeking employment at the turn of the 20th century. They settled down, worked and raised their own families there. The Bal sisters have been gathering information about their predecessors for twenty years as well as they have planned a common trip to Poland and visiting their grandfather’s homeland for many years. They wanted to confront information they had already found with new facts.
Before they reached Załęże, they spent two weeks travelling in south Poland . They were accompanied by a guide Mr Zenon Znamirowski, who organizes sightseeing in former Galicia via the website www.polishorigins.com and offers his knowledge and help with reconstruction of the chronology of the family. The route of the trip included: heritage park in Sanok, Łańcut Castle, Zakopane, Dunajec river tour, Kraków, Wieliczka, Carpathian Troy Open-Air Museum, Bardziejow in Slovakia. The last two days of the two-week trip spent in Nowy Żmigród and Załęże were equally intense and surprised with new fact-findings.
Thanks to Mr Zenon’s help they managed to get to the parish records in Samokleski and old records in Nowy Żmigród where their great-grandparents came from, e.g. from the Myczkowski family. The sisters’ great-grandparents lived in Markuszka. This branch is an important part of the family’s history. It appears that ancestors of Bartłomiej’s sister, Petronela Bal, live in Załęże nowadays. Załęże parish records, which were kindly facilitated by the parson father Józef Pańczuk, appeared helpful with establishing this data. The guests met him on Wednesday, 24 July 2013. Father Józef showed the sisters records concerning Petronela and her brothers. It was a very moving moment for them. They had visited the old parish church, where there is a font in which their grandfather was undoubtedly baptized. They listened to stories related to our old, beautiful church, legends about old Załęże and they visited the new church where they devoted some time for a short prayer. Father Darek Misiołek, who was on holiday in Załęże at the time, accompanied us in this nice meeting and helped us as an interpreter. The Bal sisters gave the parson an offering for the renovation of the old church. The next day, 25 July, the sisters met the living relatives in Załęże: Mrs Maria Bubniak, Maria Mastej from Markuszka and Mr Stanisław Mastej. The Bal sisters told them about their grandfather, brought copies of pictures and old documents. They were courious about the life in old Załęże, about how their relatives experience living in contemporary Poland and what their families’ and children’s vicissitudes were. Next elements of the genealogical tree of the Bal family were this way completed with dates, names and surnames.
After this pleasant meeting, the sisters wanted to see our river and the bench which they had known from the pictures viewed on www.zaleze.com website (Mrs Virginia Bal Minardi contacted us via the website). On the way back to Nowy Żmigród they stopped in Markuszka for a while, at a place where Petronela’s -their grandfather’s sister’s – family house used to stand many years before. The visit answered many questions concerning the Bal family’s lot but brought new tracks to explore as well.
We are happy that we could accompany the Bal sisters together with Mr Zenon Znamirowski in the last stage of the trip to their grandfather’s homeland, show them contemporary Załęże and try to tell them about Załęże and surrounding villages from the time when their great-grandparents lived.
Translation: Paulina Zygmunt
See the pictures gallery from this visit here.
We want to thank Kasia and Marcin for their warm welcome, for the interesting material and for maintaining a great website about Załęże.