Today I spent a great deal of the morning searching for a great gift for my niece Olivia. I had in mind a necklace made of amber for which Poland is so famous.
After shopping a bit in the Cloth Hall (see below), I went up to the Sukiennice Museum on the 2nd floor of the Cloth Hall which features great 18th Century Polish artists. A couple of my favorites are below although the images were difficult to take because flashes are not allowed.
Today was getaway day as we left Nowy Sacz for Krakow. Before we checked into our hotel, however, we stopped by a museum I found online dedicated to the Polish AK in WWII. AK stands for Armia Krajowa and it was the primary Polish armed resistance movement during World War II and the largest from any country in the entire war numbering approximately 400,000 members.
As my trip to Poland begins to wind down, the remaining days are devoted to sightseeing mostly. Today, we went to the famous pilgrimage site of the Jasna Gora monastery in Czestochowa, Poland. It was here in 1655 that a small contingent of friars, Polish nobles and volunteers fought off the numerically superior Swedish force of German mercenaries for a month inspiring the Poles to rise up and sweep the Swedes out of Poland. Legend has it that the inspiration for this valiant defense was a famous religious icon known as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa which has been housed in the Monastery since at least the 1300s.
Today was an extremely productive day in a number of ways and one of my best in Poland. I saw beauty, met relatives, and learned some very painful stories. Of all my days in Poland, today had a bit of every type of thing I hoped to see and learn – and all in a single day. If you only read one of my updates all the way through, this is day to read it all. The stories our cousin told me are heartbreaking.
After another ridiculously large breakfast, we set off to Tarnow where the Catholic archdioceses is located for this region and therefore where we could research the repository for copies of all the records one would find in the local parish. The only down side is that it is very unlikely one can learn anything about current relatives as no one there is likely to know anything about your family.
But there was a way around this problem. Without getting to deep into the records, I found a lot regarding both the Rosiek and Paruch lines and much of the bare details are shown below in my ancestry.com tree (to which anyone interested is invited to examine…just let me know).
My family tree chart for Genevieve Paruch’s ancestors.
We’re staying in another sort of open air museum in Nowy Sacz but it appears that the houses and shops are only open during the day when we’re gone so the novelty of the place is sort of lost on me. The good part is that there is a restaurant in the compound and they make good zurek. It’s a little touristy and anytime a guest stops into the restaurant, they turn off the radio and put in a polish folk song CD. Zen is pretty amazing as he can just listen to the song for a few seconds and tell you what region it’s from. The Rzeszow region, for example, has a lot of violin and whistling.
We begin our day with exploring the Zmiaca area from which the Rosiek family came. Zmiaca is pronounced very differently than how it appears it would be pronounced in English. The ‘Zm’ beginning is sort of buzzy swishy sound….try make the shhh sound (as in “shhh, be quiet”) and then hum at the same time…that’s sort of the sound. Or if you’ve ever heard the French pronounce the “G” in Georges. I’ll use the “ZH” to mimic this sound… so it would be pronounced zhmee ONT suh. The word Zmiaca gets translated to “wrinkle” in English which I can only assume comes from the wrinkled contour of the valleys and gorges in the land.
Today started very slowly and painfully due to full and enthusiastic participation in vodka bottle passing tradition at the harvest festival. Thankfully, we had the good sense to have cousin Danuta’s daughter, Paulina, drive us to our hotel last night and she picked us back up in the morning so we could retrieve our car. Before we left I explained to Danuta that I wanted to walk down to the river and grab some rocks for Dad’s rock polishing machine from the river bed – and I’m glad I did.
Today is Sunday so it was obviously a good day day to visit the church in Debowiec where Wojciech Michnal and generations before and after him were baptized, attended mass, etc. We went to the 9am mass which was well attended. In fact, it was so crowded that we had to stand in back while dozens of others stood outside the church where audio of the mass is amplified over speakers outside. The Church is called St. Bartholomew’s and it was built relatively recently (1838-1848). The outside is plainer than most in this region but the inside is beautiful.
Exterior of St. Bartholomew in Debowiec (where Michnal family would have worshipped).
Today was much more low-key than the excitement that was an explosion of new knowledge regarding the Michnal side of my family from yesterday. While we compile the info (read: while Zen compiles the information) that we learned yesterday, we decided to do a little sight-seeing.
Podkarpackie, the region in which Zarzecze exists, is probably the most rural area of Poland. It is known for only a few things other than its natural beauty. First, the area was the center of the Polish petroleum industry as it is (or was) rich in oil and natural gas. Second, it is the area where Eastern Culture and the Eastern Orthodoxy meet Western Culture and Catholicism. Third, its border with Slovakia along the length of the Carpathian Mountains has its lowest pass in this entire mountain range meaning it has a long history as a trade route between Hungary and Poland (the good part) and a long history of raiders and major battles over this strategic position (the bad part).
My sleep timing is out of sorts and I woke up at 4am. I watched the sun rise from my hotel room while I did battle with a bee. There is no AC in the hotel and it is dreadfully hot in Poland now. It was near 90 degrees today and there is no relief in sight. Eventually I met Zen for breakfast. The meal consisted of cold cuts, coffee, fruit, scrambled eggs and a lemon coffee cake. This is more than I usually eat before 8pm at home.
We set off before nine to meet out local genealogist, Marek, at the parish administration office in Debowiec. The parishioners of Zarzecze, where Wojciech Michnal is from, belonged to this parish and any records regarding births, deaths, marriages, etc. would have been recorded here.
The good news is that the Catholic Church in Poland was very good at recording such things. The bad news is that the Germans, Russians, Swedes, Cassocks, Tartars, Turks, Ukrainians, Romanians, etc. have had an annoying habit of invading Poland and destroying everything in their paths. Thankfully, the parish priests in Debowiec are friendly toward those in my situation and are more than willing to share what has survived with us.
>On the way to the offices, we pass through the village of Zarzecze which is little more than an extension of Debowiec across the Wisloka River. We stopped for the obligatory picture with the Zarzecze sign:
Me as I enter the birthplace of my great grandfather Wojciech Michnal for the first time.