about the project
oral history archive
collections
contact
about emigration museum in gdynia
search
A A contrast version
+add your story
Rodzina Józwików

Julianna and Teofil Józwik with children
 

Teofil Józwik, a son of Marianna and Franciszek Majewski, was born in 1886 in the village of Łaziska, in the commune of Iłów near Płock. He was a blacksmith. Since the time of his grandfather Mateusz, born in 1831 in Życk near Płock, all men in the Józwik family were blacksmiths. Teofil Józwik died in 1976 in the village of Sarnów and was buried in a cemetery in Giżyce. He lived to be 90 years old.

Teofil could read and write. His father Franciszek during the winter hosted in his house teachers from a school in Sochaczew, because during the time of frost the school was closed. Thanks to the courtesy of Franciszek children from more progressive families in the village could acquire education also in the cold months. The teacher had room and board, and he received payment mostly in kind, in the form of rural products.

Teofil Józwik served in the tsarist army in Odessa in the years 1906-1911. In the family there is repeated a story how he came to the home country for a leave of absence. When he reached Warsaw, he changed immediately in civilian clothes. During the further travel by carriage he was stopped by the police (flat foot as he said) and immediately they brought him back to the unit in Odessa. That was the end of his short visit to the home country.

Wedding and departure

February 2, 1912 Teofil married Julianna Krysztowiak, a daughter of Feliksa Jażdżyk and Józef Krysztowiak. Julianna was born in 1891 in the village of Stegna, in the commune of Iłów, died in 1978 in Sarnów. She was buried as Teofil in a cemetery in Giżyce. She lived to be 87 years old.

In the same year as their wedding, Teofil Józwik was escorted to the Vistula river. It was probably in the summer. Apparently, he traveled to Germany by waterway. After reaching Hamburg, he emigrated to the United States. There is also information that there was a plague in Hamburg and there died Józef Józwik, an elder brother of Teofil, also emigrating to America. There is in the family a document in the Russian language sent from Hamburg, informing about his death. Maybe I will manage to get the document back. Then we will know the year when it happened.

Julianna Józwik in December 1912 gave birth to a son Kazimierz. In 1913, with one year old child, she emigrated to her husband to the United States. Teofil worked there at a roller blinds factory. He also had a second job in a factory producing steam engine wheels.

The Józwik family settled in Chicago. At their home they rented a room for single emigrants. There were then beer-houses, where single emigrants spent a lot of time. Promotions were popular in America at that time, food products - mainly cakes and pies - in the evening were cheaper.

Julianna Józwik sang often a many-verse song composed by emigrants. Maybe someone who knows the rest of it will turn up - I remembered only: "and when we stand in the harbor, brothers, we will stand, poor orphans, and once again I will bow in front of Poland, I will get on a wide ship".

During the stay of the Józwik family in the US, around 1919, an economic crisis took place. According to Teofil’s accounts, the US government turned to citizens and emigrants for a loan. The document ("paper" as Teofil said) certified that the loan given to the state was cancelled. Teofil never accepted often proposed to him US citizenship.

Teofil and Julianna’s children

In the United States the Józwik family had three children. The first was a daughter - Anna, born June 26, 1914 in Chicago. She died on February 12, 1992 in Wrocław as Anna Piątkowska.

The second was a son Michał, who was born September 27, 1915 in Chicago. During World War II, he participated in the US-Japanese battles in Hawaii and the Philippines. He was a war veteran. After returning from the front, he married Stanisława Walczak, born in 1920 daughter of Polish immigrants. Stanisława and Michał have two sons, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

>>> read more

After World War II, the pace of work in the US was huge. Michał was then 30 years old. He had no profession and education. He worked a lot, making up for the time of the war. Stanisława and Michał had sporadic contacts with the Polish diaspora, their sons do not speak Polish. Michał Józwik with his wife visited Poland in 1978. His parents, Teofil and Julianna, were already dead. Michał Józwik left again to America in 1996 with a visa obtained from his uncle Bronisław Józwik. Michał still lives in the US. Today he is 99 years old.

A grandson of Michał and Stanisława Józwik along with his wife visited Poland in 2010. They visited Krakow, Warsaw, Żelazowa Wola and Sarnów – the place of residence of the great-grandparents as well as cemeteries where are their family graves. In Warsaw, they visited the Old Town and the Warsaw Uprising Museum.

The third son of Teofil and Julianna, Józef, was born on March 9, 1918 in Chicago. After World War II he lived in Poland. He received help from UNRRA and tried to go to the United States. Asked by the communist authorities why he wanted to leave, he complained that in Poland he couldn’t vote. He was given Polish citizenship under a decree. This is how the trip ended up.

Return

Teofil and Julianna Józwik returned with four children to Poland in 1921. For the earned dollars they bought eight morgens, i.e. approximately 4.5 hectares of land along with buildings. The farm was many years later painted by their son-in-law, an engineer Henryk Durawa. In 1978, their son Michał, being in Poland, took the picture to the United States, and sent us the photo which I enclose.

Józwik’s farm does not exist any longer. For the money paid to the Bank of Poland Teofil was able to acquire 60 morgens of land. Unfortunately, the inflation and currency conversion meant that the money lost the purchasing power. Hard work abroad did not give results in Poland. Teofil always said that you should not trust banks. He wanted to go to the US again, but his wife did not agree.

In Poland, Teofil and Julianna had six more children. Their farm was not able to maintain such a large family, so the older children took different jobs. All of them, however, completed primary schools, and the youngest daughter - high school, but it was after the Second World War. Teofil Józwik always fought in Poland for the construction of seven-year school. He had in the genes, taken after his father Franciszek a strong belief that children should learn.
I also enclose, cut out from a Polish newspaper, an obituary of Teofil’s brother - Bronisław Józwik. You can see that a large group of immigrants came from Iłowa - they founded Iłowiak’s Club. On the back of the cutting, there is a lot of information about how the immigrants lived. In the obituary is mentioned priest Jasiński, a cousin of the late Bronisław Józwik. The father of the priest had a plumbing plant in Chicago. It once happened that an employee of the plant went to a friend to install radiators (in Poland we say that he was moonlighting). There, neighbors of the friend warned that it should have been informed to the tax office - you can see that already at that time in the United States the civil society was being formed. In Poland even today we would say that it is informing on a neighbor.

No lasting souvenirs survived after Teofil and Julianna – there was a great trunk, and inside a book with red binding entitled "Bible Students". Children were not allowed to read it. I only know that Teofil always said that he wanted the mass at the church to be said in the native language. Unfortunately, he did not live to the time when it occurred.

This is information remembered from the stories of Teofil and Julianna Józwik. It was written down by the youngest daughter of the family, Henryka Durawa, nee Józwik, born December 2, 1933.