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Gręca Family

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ANYS/ANIS possibly from (Ger) Hans or equivalent Jan or from the son of Annis (Eng), the popular pronunciation of Agnes Meaning: Pure/chaste.

DEMER/DEMMER a variant from Dempster (Eng,Scot). Meaning: Occupational name for a judge or arbiter of minor disputes.

GRȨCA/GRENZ (Ger) grens. Meaning: Dweller near the boundary or frontier.

ZURAWSKI (Pol) zuraw, zoraw. Meaning: crane (bird), also numerous toponyms.

Marcin Gręca (b. 1825–d. 1896) was born at Małe Turze on 10 November 1825, the son of Jozef Gręca (b. 1790–d. 1852) and Florentyna Zurawska (b. 1795–d. 1834). Marcin married on 16 November 1851 at St. Jan Nepomuncen in Godziszewo to Maryanna Anis (b. 01 December 1826 at Sobowidz–d. 1880), the daughter of Szymon Anis (b. 1798–d. 1865) and Regina Demmer (b. 1804–d. 1890). No children of their own were located in Poland, however, it appears they may have brought up a child from Martin’s side of the family.  She was Anna Gręca (b. 1864–d. 1921), the daughter of Paweł Gręca and Rozalia Stolc. They left the village of Turze Wielkie for Hamburg where they set sail aboard the Reichstag on 10 May 1874, arriving at Port Nicholson in Wellington on 6 August 1874. The family had been nominated by family and friends in Waihola to settle there in New Zealand.


Old cottage on section 16 of block 19 at Waihola, courtesy of Paul Klemick

Listed aboard were: Martin Grenz age 44, Marianna 44, and Anna 9.  They were sent to Soames Island for isolation before being sent to Dunedin where they were sent to the western compartment of the Caversham Immigration Barracks. From here they travelled south to Waihola to join with family there where Martin purchased section 16 of Block 19 at Waihola on 21 Nov 1876.

“Resident Magistrate’s Court. MILTON. (Before E. H. Carew, Esq., KM.) Tuesday, August 27th, 1878. MACKAY V. BAUMGARDT AND OTHERS. These were claims of 5s damages for trespass. Mr Walter Taylor for the defence. The plaintiff, who conducted his own case, failed to prove that the defendants Baumgard, Grenz, and Aulaskl, were the owners of the cattle, which trespassed on his land. The other two defendants were fined 5s each and costs.” Bruce Herald, 30 August 1878, p 5

Marianna died at Waihola on 15 August 1880 aged 53 and is buried at the Waihola Cemetery.

Martin moved to Greytown (Allanton) where he purchased sections one and two of Block 11 on 1 March 1881. Martin then remarried on 27 March 1881 at the Church of Immaculate Conception in East Taieri to Mary Frawley (b. 1839 at Ireland–d. 1919), the daughter of Patrick Frawley and Bridget Hayes. He was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 November 1893 while working as a gardener, a resident of Allanton. Martin died on 9 December 1896 at Allanton aged 71.  Both Martin and Mary are buried at the Allanton Cemetery.


Anna Grenz (b. 1864–d. 1921) was born at Godziszewo on 16 September 1864. While residing in Dunedin, Anna gave birth to a son, James Frederick (b. 1881–d. 1881).  However, he died one month later and is buried at the Southern Cemetery in Dunedin. Anna married on 25 December 1889 at Knox Church in Dunedin to William Robertson MacDonald (b. 1859 at Glasgow–d. 1939), the son of James MacDonald and Jane Robertson. The family born at Port Chalmers were: Agnes Robertson (b. 1890–d. 1954) and James Martin (b. 1893). Anna died at Blackball on the West Coast on 27 January 1921 and is buried at the Blackball Cemetery.  William later died at Christchurch on 7 August 1939 and is buried at the Bromley Cemetery.


On the left is Grenz Cottage and in the foreground is Roxburgh’s Store near the main south road at Allanton


Research Sources

Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973, FamilySearch.

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara O Te Kawanatanga; Land Records.

Godziszewo & Trąbki Wielkie Parish Records, Pelplin Diocese, Poland.

New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Naturalisations, Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Waihola Cemetery Records, Clutha District Council, Balclutha.


Allanton Cemetery – Martin Grants (1825-1896) – Dunedin City Council

Blackball Cemetery – Anne MacDonald (1864-1921) – Find A Grave Memorial


Compiled by Paul Klemick (2022)



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