Anton Grochowski (1858-1941)
Magdalena Kniaszynski (1853-1899)
The Grochowski Family of this discussion comes from Present day western Poland in what was then known as Prussia. Various documents including the 1920 Federal U.S. Census point toward Poznan, Poland as their European city of origin. At the time of their immigration, Poznan was a part of Germany and referred to in common parlance as Posen, Germany. Adolf Hitler was later to establish a death camp in this city, which changed hands several times between Germany and Poland. Because of the changing nationalities of this region, many Poles there referred to themselves as Prussians or Germans. It is likely that the Grochowski's, like many other Prussians, left the region to escape the political and nationalistic pressures which often erupted into violence. Poles were being forced to Germanize their names and culture during this period and many fled in order to maintain their culture.
People from this region began coming to Milwaukee in about 1870 with most arriving between 1885 and 1910. Thousands came and settled Milwaukee's South side where they were usually employed in heavy industry. By 1880 a large Polish community had developed which was quite close knit. Although a very common name in Poland, the name Grochowski was fairly uncommon in Milwaukee in 1890, with perhaps only two other families by that surname living in the city. (Milwaukee County Courthouse birth, marraige and death records)
The immigrant from whom this Grochowski family is descended was Anton or Anthony Grochowski Sr. He was born in June of 1858 (1900 U.S. Census) in a place he identified as Germany. This was likely Poznan or its surrounding area. Anton was the son of Laurentius Grochowski and Rose (Cybuski) Grochowski, both of whom would have been born around 1830. (Marraige record of Anton Grochowski and Josephine Wanta) Anton came to the U.S. in March of 1891 (1900 U.S. Census data and Death certificate of Michal Grochowski) with his wife and five children. They entered the US through the Port of Baltimore, MD. In Poznan, in about 1878, (estimate from 1900 U.S. Census) Anton married Magdalena Knaszynska, who was born May 26, 1853. She was the daughter of Albart and Frances Knaszynski who were born about 1830 in or around Poznan, and never came to the United States (Death Certificate of Magdalena Grochowski). The original Polish spelling of the name Knaszynski was later altered on many of Magdalena's records to Kniasinski. (Death & Marraige recs. of Magdalena Grochowski) Magdalena gave birth in August 1875 to Michal. She was 22 years old at the time and was probably not married. Family legend, according to my father C. R. Baillod, holds that a Polish nobleman or aristocrat (a "Count of no account" according to my Grandmother, Sylvia Grochowski Baillod) got her pregnant and did not marry her. Records seem to bear this out. Anton appears too young to have fathered Michal (17 at the time of his birth.) In addition, Michal was listed as a boarder rather than a son in relation to Anton on the 1900 U.S. Census. It is interesting that Magdalena was five years older than Anton, since it was very uncommon for a much younger man to wed an older woman; especially one with a child. At any rate, it seems that Anton adopted Michal, because Michal lists Anton and Magdalena as his parents on his Marraige and Death certificates. While still in Europe, Anton and Magdalena had three other children; John Grochowski (July 1880), Francisca Grochowski (a daughter in September 1883) and Joseph Grochowski (March 1886)(1900 U.S. Census Data).
The family left for the U.S. in mid February 1891, departing from Hamburg and in late February 1891 Anthony Grochowski Jr. was born at sea. (1920 U.S. Census Data) Upon arrival in Milwaukee, the Grochowski's probably were able to stay with friends and relatives. Based upon where the family lived, it appears that they may have already known two other families that were already here which they later married into, the Czaplewskis and the Sikoras. There were also a few other Grochowskis already here who may have been related, and there was a thriving Polish community on Milwaukee's South side where one did not necessarily need to know the English language to get around or to get work. In October of 1893 the family had another son, Albert Grochowski, in September of 1896 a daughter, Rosie Grochowski. It should be noted that MANY other Grochowski families came to Milwaukee after Anton. Most were from Poznan, but others were from Warsaw, Czwaku and Danzig. By 1920 there were over 20 separate Grochowski families living in Milwaukee. (1920 U.S. Census Data) It should also be noted that there are many Grocholskis and Grohowskis that lived in Milwaukee who are separate families from the Grochowskis. (Milw. County Courthouse - Vital Records)
By 1895, the family was living in a house at 354 Lincoln Ave. on Milwaukee's South side. (1895 City Directory) Anton and Michal were both working as laborers at the time. Anton worked in a foundry; an occupation he would have well into his 60s. Michal worked in the textile industry, first for Phoenix Hosiery and in 1900 for the National Knitting Company where he became a foreman, a job he held until his death. Census records indicate that Anton could not speak English and Magdalena could neither write nor speak English. Michal, however was articulate in English, as were his brothers and sisters who were educated here. In about 1897, the family moved to a house at 945 Greenbush St. (now South 3rd St.) which Anton owned through mortgage. (1900 U.S. Census) At this time, everyone over age 13 in the household worked to support the family, with 9 year old Anton going to school. Just three years after the birth of Rose, Magdalena died from Pleurisy which quickly overcame her at 11 O'clock on January 26, 1899. (funeral notice from Kuryer Polski, January 28, 1899) The funeral was held at St. Josaphat's Basilica which is still an imposing edifice at 6th and Lincoln on Milwaukee's South side. Magdalena was buried at St. Adalbert's Cemetary (almost entirely Polish Catholics) on 13th and Howard Ave. in Milwaukee. She was buried in Section X, Row 6, Grave 15 on a Sunday afternoon at 1:00, January 29, 1899. Unfortunately, this section was plowed over in 1992 and covered to make room for new burials. Anton Grochowski went on to remarry within the year. On August 21, 1900 he married Josephine (Smazdzynski) Wanta, a widow 12 years his senior, who raised Albert, Rosie and her son Walter. (Original Marraige certificate and 1910 U.S. Census) In 1905, the Anton Grochowski family moved to 629 1st Ave. and in 1910 the family lived at 377 Rogers St., all addresses within a few miles of each other. (1910 U.S. Census & Milwaukee City Directories) On June 9, 1913, Anton Grochowski married his third and final wife Domicya Czarnecki apparently shortly after the death of Josephine. Anton Grochowski outlived all three of his wives and died in 1941, well into his 80s. Anton is also buried in St. Adalbert's Cemetery (Sec. 2, Block 19, Row 9, Grave 4.)
turn of the century, Michal Grochowski had been working for Phoenix Hosiery
at which he had met Stanislawa (Stella) Sikora. (Interview with C.R. Baillod) She had emigrated to the U.S. in 1886 from
Poznan, Poland with her parents and older siblings. (see Sikora section) On October 23, 1900 Michal and Stanislawa were
married at St. Josphat's Basilica by the Reverend Grutza, in a Catholic ceremony.
(Milwaukee County Courthouse - Marraige record) Stella Sikora listed her place of birth as
Germany (Prussian Poland) and was born on July 13, 1879. (C.R. Baillod) Michal and Stella first lived at 1013 Grove St. in 1905 and Michal
worked at the National Knitting Company at 889 Clinton St. (now South 2nd
St.) By 1910, Michal and Stella had
moved to 1010 6th Ave. where they rented.
By 1920 the family had bought their home at 3055 South 15th St. (Death
Record of Michal Grochowski & Interview with Christine Yelich )
Michal and Stanislawa had a number of children. Regina Grochowski (1903), Magdalene Grochowski (1905), Sylvia Grochowski (1907), Tadeus Grochowski (1909), Mary Grochowski, Delores Grochowski, Phyllis Grochowski, Joseph Grochowski and other children who died as infants. (These individuals are buried at St. Adalbert's Cemetery in Section 12, Block 7 in unmarked graves.) Mary Grochowski never married and lived with her sister Sylvia's family until her death in 1982. Magdalene Grochowski died in her mi-20s after a brief marraige. She is also buried at St. Adalbert's (Sc 12, Block 7). (Interview with C.R. Baillod)
John Grochowski never married and died in Milwaukee between 1920 and 1928.
Grochowski married John Czaplewski on May 6, 1903. John was already inlawed to her because of Michal's marraige to
Stanislawa Sikora. Stanislawa's brother
John was married to Veronica Czaplewski and her sister Anna was married to
Joseph Czaplewski. John, Joseph and
Veronica Czaplewski were all siblings who married into the Sikora and Grochowski
families. The Czaplewski's had three
Children - Mrythle born 1905, Emelia born 1907 and Louis born 1908.
John Czaplewski came to the U.S. in 1878 and moved with Francisca to
1001 Garden St. where he became a house painter.
Francisca's older brothers John and Joseph Grochowski were batchelors
for quite a while and lived with the Czaplewski's for many years. Francisca
died in Milwaukee in 1928.
Francisca died in Milwaukee in 1928.
Joseph Grochowski married Rose Kolinski. They had children Edward, Frances and Florence. Joseph worked as a plumber and died in 1958. Rose died in 1942. They lived at 1922 S. Amy St. in Milwaukee.
Anton Grochowski Jr. was born at sea en route to the US in 1891. On January 26, 1916 he married Mary Corycza and had children Sylvester, Leonard, Edward, Carl, Dorothy and Anthony. Anton worked as a boilermaker and lived at 341 Lincoln Ave.
Albert Grochowski was born in October of 1893 in Milwaukee and married Agnes Schwichtenberg on April 17, 1913. They had children Joseph, William and Elmer Grochowski. Albert was a fireman at Pfister and Vogel Leather company and lived at 2210 S. Mound.
Rose Grochowski was born August 16, 1896. She married Anthony Cross and moved to Detroit where she had a daughter Louise. After Anthony's death, she moved to Kenosha, WI and married Henry Erhart. Rose died in Kenosha in 1971.
Many Grochowskis have since Americanized their name to Gregg and other shortenings. It is consequently, difficult to trace the descendents of this family, but many descendents remain in the Milwaukee area.
*As of 2003, I have collected significantly more data on this family. If you are descended from Anton and Magdalena Grochowski, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would welcome additional data and especially old photos. I have not been able to trace this family in Poznan because I do not know what town they originated from and Grochowski is a fairly common name in Poznan.