Anton Slawik—Polish Pioneer in Michigan’s Huron County

By: Charles Ciechanowski-Chinoski-Chase & Evelyn Osentoski-Clor

Anton Slawik (1824-1899) was the 3rd child born to Johann Slawik and Francisca Wiatrek. He was born in Boronow, which is an old historic town dating back to the 13th century. Boronow is located in south-central Poland about 20 miles southwest of Częstochowa (home of The Black Madonna) and about 70 miles northwest of Krakow. Boronow is a village (today’s population about 2,500) in Lubliniec County in Śląsk Voivodship on the Liswarta River in Silesia, Poland.

It is believed that Anton’s father, Johann, was the brother of Valek Slawik who was the son of Bartholemew (Bartek) Slawik and Marianna Warczokin. Valek (Valentin) married Francisca Borón and together they had several children, one of whom was Josephine (Josefa) Slawik who was born in Dembowa Gora, Lubliniec, Poland in 1819. Josephine, a 1st cousin of Anton, later married Francis Polk who was also an important pioneer in the founding of the town of Parisville in Paris Township, Huron County, in the “Thumb” of Michigan.

Anton married Joanna Wallentek (born in Boronow in 1828) in Boronow in 1848. While in Boronow, they had three children: Johann in June 1850, Franz in August 1852 and Anton in April 1855. Presumably, little Anton died at an early age since he does not appear, with the other members of the Slawik family, in the 1860 and 1870 U.S. census reports. The church record showing his birth date is shown below. Also shown is the year at the top of the page. At first glance, the year looks like it says 1853, but closer examination clearly shows it reads 1855. This was further verified by examining the dates atop the previous and following pages. These record book pages clearly confirm the 1855 date.

The year 1855 is very important because it clearly shows that Anton Slawik was with his family in the spring of 1855, not in Michigan as some records claim.

Many of the Polish emigrants, who came to Michigan, were poor farmers besieged with the tyranny of the Polish leaders.  Anton, on the other hand, was a fairly wealthy gentleman with a good income coming from his sawmill.  Additionally, his wife Joanna had a comfortable income from her family inheritance.  Besides the problem of political strife in the mid-19th century, Anton and Joanna both developed a drinking problem which was creating a chaotic condition in their lives.  To hopefully escape both problems, they decided they had to leave their that environment and try to live somewhere else where new and exciting possibilities might exist.

Probably in mid-to-late 1855, they sailed to Quebec, Canada with their travels likely starting in Hamburg, Germany.  Like other Poles who became friends and fellow Michigan pioneers, their family was supported by performing work building some of Canada’s railway systems.  By early 1856, Anton and his family migrated to Michigan.  On 16 September 1856, Anton went to Detroit’s U.S. Land Office where he purchased 160 acres in Section 22, T15-N, R14-E, now known as Paris Township.  Certificate #32513 was issued to Anton for 50 cents per acre, or a total cost of $80, in gold.  On July 1, 1857 Anton Slawik, of Richmond County, Canada West was granted the official Land Patent for #32513 from the U.S. Government in Washington City.  Note the Canadian address on the document, indicating that Anton was still a resident of Canada when the actual sale took place in 1856.

On 5 March 1859, Anton and Joanna sold a small section of land in the NE corner of Section 22 for $19.00.  These 21 acres were used to contain the first Catholic Church in the area—St. Mary’s.  Until the actual church was built, the first masses in Paris Twp. were said in the log cabin home of Anton and Joanna Slawik.

The Slawiks were key to the formation of the village of Parisville, located in Paris Twp.  This early polish community provided excellent farm lands for these new residents of the U.S.  Anton and Joanna had six children in Michigan in addition to the three who were born in Poland.  These Michigan births included: Johanna in 1857, Francis in 1858, Elizabeth in 1861, Amelia in 1865 and Mary and Paul in 1867.

Anton Slawik died 24 June 1899 in Paris Twp, Huron Co, MI.  Joanna Wallentek-Slawik died 14 January, 1915, also in Paris Twp, Huron Co, MI.  Anton and Joanna are both buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Parisville, Huron County, MI.

Author: Charles Chase

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