My Trip to Poland with Zen: Day 7 – September 1, 2015.

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.


Zmiaca, Poland where the Rosiek family is from.


Fortunately, I had my Cousin Donna’s notes about visiting Zmiaca and also had befriended the mayor of Zmiaca’s son, Kazimierz Bukowiec on Facebook after I joined the Zmiaca home page.  I let him know we were coming and he invited us up to his father’s home which stands in the hills above the parish church.  The house was nice and surrounded by orchards of various fruit trees.  Kazimierz was very interested in my thoughts on Poland and Zmiaca and I of course told him truthfully that I loved it and never wanted to leave.

As seems to be custom when a Pole has visitors, I was induced to share a drink with Kazimierz.  This was homemade flavored vodka that was infused with plums grown on the property mixed with way stronger than standard vodka.  He assured me that while it tastes good, the way to drink the large shot was up and down in one gulp.  It was really tasty but good Lord…very strong.

After talking for a bit we decided to call on the Parish priest taking a short cut through the plum orchard and grabbed plums right off the tree along the way.  After getting no answer at the Parish door, Kazimierz gave us directions to the Rosiek homestead.  We got lost and stopped at a small grocery/convenience store where a woman in the store overheard our query. She knew exactly where we needed to go and jumped in the car with us.


Church in Ujanowice,near Zmiaca, where Agnes Rosiek was baptized.

We drove up the mountain to this guy’s house at which point the woman jumped out and visited with his wife while the head of the household took us up the hill even further.  The hill was pretty steep and lined with a deep narrow gorge with a fast moving but small stream running down it.  It was so beautiful and rustic the way the water rushed over the rock and created short waterfalls.  The sound was wonderful.

The climb was slow as the owner of the property was a bit overweight and you could tell he strategically stopped to tell stories when he was getting winded.  Finally we reached the spot where the Rosiek home had been but there was little evidence that a house once had stood there.  The owner noted that the house was pulled down in the 1950s and all I could find was some rocks that appeared to be part of the foundation.  What was cool, however, was the fact that a large tangle of blackberry bushes stood where the house once was and they had ripe berries to sample.  What wasn’t as cool, is that those bushes had sharp little thorns that cut my finger leaving a trickle of blood dripping off my hand.  So I was able to taste the blackberries from the old Rosiek homestead and leave a little of that Rosiek blood behind as payment.


Rosiek Blackberries.



The view from the site was spectacular.  My photos don’t do it justice at all.



View from the Rosiek homestead


Later we caught up with the Parish priest who was friendly enough but very old and would only allow us to look at records he found so the usefulness of this visit was somewhat limited.  We did learn that the Rosiek family seems to have pretty much disintegrated. Three of the siblings went to America (Agnes, Marianna and Stanislaw the latter of which lived on Military St. in Detroit). I don’t know what happened to Marianna so that will be something to research.

Two other siblings settled in France, one went to Austria and two others settled in western Poland, leaving just one sibling, Malgorzata, living in the area.  We weren’t able to locate her descendants but that will be something to research for next time. Since the Parish priest wasn’t too helpful, we will perform further research at the Catholic Archdiocese in Tarnow later in the week.

With time to burn before we met with the parish priest in Rozdziele (the birthplace of Jan Paruch) we decided to check out Poland’s oldest salt mine in Bochnia, Poland which was established in 1248.  It was fascinating to see the passages, a chapel, and rooms entirely made of salt.  And we were a bit lucky too.

The mine closed in the 1990s when it was no longer economically feasible to continue to mine the salt, and thus the site was redeveloped into a tourist attraction.  Despite the mine having closed 25 years ago, we were lucky in that the operators were expanding one of the chambers and therefore had miners active in the mine while we were there.  And we were even luckier that one was on a break as we entered the mine and pulled a few chunks of salt from the mine for us to keep as souvenirs.


The Bochnia Salt Mine chapel.



Three pieces of salt form the mine.

After a couple of hours in the mine, we headed to Regozina where the Parish records for Rozdziele are kept, to research the Paruch family.  Unfortunately, we could tell right away that the priest was not going to be helpful and he was the only one I didn’t offer a donation to.  We did learn some basics about the Paruch family but the priest made it pretty clear that we were not welcome and he wouldn’t even let us photograph the records we did find.

Still, we learned that Jan Paruch was the son of Jakub Paruch and Zofia Dembska (or Dembski in the masculine).  Dembska means “one of the oaks” and probably refers to someone who lived in a grove or forest of oak trees.   Jakub Paruch, in turn, was the son of Marcin Paruch and Katarzyna Bebenek (Bebenek means “little drum” in Polish).  Zofia Dembska, was the daughter of Marcin Dembski and Marianna Hojda (Hojda, from Hojd, to swing or rock).

After leaving the parish offices we searched the parish cemetery but were not able to locate Jakub and Zofia.  After a busy day running around, we returned to the hotel while the sun set in the prettiest part of Poland I had seen yet.


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