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Family Tree | Farm house in Poland | Whitney Point, New York
"Farm House in Poland"
We begin our story with this home. This Farm house belonged to Stefan Gonciasz, and his first wife and two daughters. I have recently received information from one of our family members in Poland. And again, special thanks goes to Alicja Gonciarz/ Gutierrez and her cousin Slawek Gonciarz, for without them, we could not have possibly gotten this far in comunicating with the other half of our family. They have been instrumental in compiling and translateing family data for us that is coming directly from Stefan's grand daughter, Jadwiga (whom this family dearly loves, but has had difficulty communicating with her due to the language differences). She now still owns and lives in this home, handed down through the years from her mother, Natalia, who was Stefan's first born daughter.
This photo was taken in 1992 and is located in Kielce, Poland. Stefan Gonciarz/Gonciasz, and his first wife, Leokadia Wojna and they had two daughters, that we know of. His first born, Natalia Gonciarz, , and a second daughter, "Celina Gonciarz". She was killed, when she was kicked in the head by a horse.
It was here, that Stefan lived with his wife and two daughters, when tragedy and caos struck their peaceful existance as a family, and would change all of their lives forever! Poland's extremely unstable existance as a country, and unstablished for hundred's of years previously throughout history, was about to experience the most horrific, and unspeakable acts that man-kind could ever imagine, let alone commit, or live through.
Throughout my research, since I began my genealogical quest about 8 years ago, I have learned a great deal about the country of Poland. I was having a difficult time locating the name of "Gonicasz/Gonciarz" and researching by surname and location. It was then, that I realized, I had to learn about the country itself. As with most people who undertake such a quest in another country, my suggestion is to actually do the same. I have included links in "Favorite Links" that you will be able to discover a country that actually disappeared off the map of Europe for "Over 100 Years!" and didn't reappear until after WW1. Poland!
The actual history of the town of "Kielce" is rich in history that is over 900 years long. At first I was confused by what some family "Elders" had said on the place of origin in which Stefan Gonciasz had been born. I was first told Krakow, and others had said Warsaw, and so-on. And although this was known to my elders as Fact, I began to wonder, how could there be this many inconsistancies in family information? And certainly, these particular names had come to my ancestors, by way of information supplied by Stefan and Bertha. It was then, and only then, that I realized that they were probably all confident in what they knew to be true, but like myself, were confused. This is when I began to learn of all the unscrupulous take-overs of this country. And even discovered that at one point in history, the whole country had been literly shifted West. Futhermore, this would explain why at certain times in history, the area in which Kielce was situated, the Radom gubernias (providences) had been broken up and renamed several different times throughout their severely unstable history. Thus, now making some sense of why at certain points, I really don't think my ancestors really knew what to say, once they became American Citizens!
I must also encourage anyone who is just the least bit interested, to follow up on some of the absolutely fascinating information that I have discovered about what had actually led to Stefan's departure from his native land of Poland. And why he painstakingly had to ultimately abandon his family, everything he knew and loved, and to embark on an uncertain future in a Foreign country "The USA" whereas he would not be able to communicate with any of the natives, (American's). Stefan Gonciasz only spoke Polish....
Truly, even by learning the history of a country, you still must follow up with some substantial proof of your suspitions. Which I did. This is when I actually saw (now Americanized) Stefan's application (now Steve Gonciasz) for a Social Security number to allow him to be employed in this country. That document was obtained through Phyllis Finn, who had previously sent for it. He states that he was born in Kielce Village, Poland. And this is where I also learned that, although some family members had told me his father's name was Jan Gonciarz/Gonciasz, and that his mother's name was Pauline Hanch, some insisted Hanz., I discovered that Stefan had written, Jon Gonciasz and Paulina Hano, signed and dated by him Dec. 4, 1936. With this slight amount of differnce in spellings, I was actually able to find that Paulina Francoise Hano was born Dec. 21, 1857 in Dunkerque, Nord, France. Furthermore, I found information that (whoever it was that supplied that information, has her listed as marrying a "Lucjan Gonciarz", and he was born somewhere around 1900 in Poland. Certainly, I will follow up again on trying to locate the supplier of that information, last attempts have proved to be unsuccessfull. This information was found on LDS site, the Mormans.
At this point, it is actually difficult to track and narrow down an actual year that Stefan came to America for the last time. He has a fascinating history of cunningness, and had an incredible abilty to push fate for survival. However, staying in Kielce, Poland, meant certain death. So escaping to "ANY" non- violent and non- communistic country would have been a Godsend, weather you spoke the language or not.
I finally managed to get through on "www.ellisislandrecords.org" and this is where I found Stefan on "The Pennsylvania". His name is spelled "Stepan Gonciars". When I recieved the newfound information that Jadwiga supplied, this is when I learned that Stefan's true name was actually "Szczepan Gonciarz" thus, now making sense of why he was listed as Stepan. Jadwiga told us that no one could pronounce his true name, so at that point it was Stepan, then later Americanized to Stefan, Stephen and Steve, on various documents. Our family has always known that Stefan had actually come across 2 or 3 different times. I have been told that one time was through Siberia, but I have yet to find that information. Futhermore, this substaniates my earlier statement that it is difficult to pin-point an actual date yet that he came for the last time. However, due to the fact that he was on the-run for his life, we have been told that he would sometimes go by alias names, which furthers the difficulty in finding which ship he could have been on.
I also found several other Gonciarz's that came to this country, but one that is particularly interesting. I found a passenger that went by the name of "Walenty Gonciasz" (and spelled just like that), that was aboard the "SS Bulgaria" which left the same port in Hamburg, Germany, that the ship "The Pennsylvania" did, that Stefan was on. The fact that the last name is spelled "Gonciasz" is of great interest, but I do not believe this was Stefan.(even if this was one of his alias's, because of the dates and the ages of the two men) However, this could in fact, have been the lost/missing brother to Stefan, that we have been searching for.
This is the information on both men:
Name- Gonciars, Stepan
Ethnicity- Russia, Polish
Place of Residence- Brooklyn, NY
Date of Arrival- 8 Mar 1913
Age of Arrival- 33 yr
Marital Status- M
Ship of Travel- Pennsylvania
Port of Departure- Hamburg, Germany
Name- Gonciasz, Walenty
Ethnicity- Russian, Polish
Place of Residence- Lychow
Date of Arrival- 11 Apr 1903
Age of Arrival- 33 yr
Marital Status- M
Ship of Travel- SS Bulgaria
Port of Departure- Hamburg, Germany
Notice the age of both men at the time of arrival into the New York port. There is 10 years difference between the two men. And I did find out that "Lychow" is Poland, not far from the areas in which Stefan came from.
If there is anyone out there that knows anything about Walenty Gonciasz, I would very much like to hear from you. Please email our family.