Note: This is the first letter Anna Grabiec sent to Larry Bender. It demonstrates the questions someone might feel when they receive a letter from a stranger in America. Also, I attempted to not make any corrections except occasional punctuation.
Niwiska, July 20, 1998
Several days ago, I was at our parish church with our pastor and what did he tell me? He told me that a certain gentleman from the States wrote to him and asked for a record of the family tree of the Michael Grabiec family. And Father told me that he wrote to you about Michael Grabiec from the end of the village being married three times and from each of these marriages there were about six children.
Father made the connection that I am the daughter of one of the sons of the second marriage who name was Walter, and he mentioned that to me. He even gave me a copy of what he sent to you.
It please me very much that you have turned up and that you want to learn the genealogy of the Michael Grabiec family, so I sure that you must be related in some way through marriage, maybe in a very distant way, but you want to get to know the family tree and after all, if you weren’t related, why would you care about all of this, if weren’t one of us? If you would like to know a lot about the village, the church, the parish, where all the family was baptized, where we have lived and worked and where our caskets are covered in earth, our parish has as its patron St Nicholas, who has been taking care f our church for many years and his image is found above the main altar. I know about this from what my father has told me and from what older people have told me, from the history of the parish and the history of Poland because I’ve long been interested in these things.
And so I recall my father who was born of the second marriage when Grandpa was married with Frances Kolis.
From that marriage, there were born…Valentine, Walter, Louise, Ignatius, Anna, Joseph, Casimir or Stanley.
My father was Walter. I am his oldest daughter. My name is Anna. I didn’t change my last name, since I married a Grabiec. The life of Grandpa falls under the time when Poland was partitioned to the post-war period. Poles at that time emigrated way beyond the ocean looking for bread because there was little of it in Poland or none at all. And so from Grandpa’s first marriage, there were around six children and all of them went across the ocean to America. They traveled with a little basket on their arm and a small piece of bread and sometimes they had only ___ they went and went months on end in a boat from bread, for bread. When they found themselves in the American dreamland, and they got to be living and working pretty well, but their families waited for a letter, and the letter never came because many boys and girls did not know how to write. When Poland was under the partitions, the governing powers did not take care of schooling, and for that reason, people came to the conclusion that Poles did not know how to read or write. Sometimes someone knew how, but that was a rarity.
When the children of the first marriage found themselves in America, I never heard that any of them corresponded at all, and my Father never recalled anything of this sort either. The only one that the family knew anything about was one of the daughters of Grandpa from his first marriage (i.e. Karoline). Since you want to learn of any documents or identification of members of the Michael Grabiec family, you apparently belong to our family, related in some way by marriage and it shows that you have a good or very good relationship with the family. From the second marriage with Anna Lipowska, there is Clementine and her sister Bernice who live in Cleveland. I have a sister Stasia in America where the fortunes of war threw her after the upheaval in Germany and the winds of war blew her to Sweden and to America.
I conclude these few words, and I send my sincere greetings.