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Wełnowski Family

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ANDRYKOWSKI (Pol) Andrzej (Andrew). Meaning: man.

FRYDA/FRIEDA both diminutives of Fryderyk/Friedrich.

WEŁNOWSKI (Pol) wełna. Meaning: wool.

WROŃSKI (Pol) wrona. Meaning: crow.


Jozef Welna/Wełnowski, a labourer, (b. 1837–d. 1910) was born at Barłożno on 01 March 1837, the son of Jan Wełna (b. abt. 1794–d. 1842) and Maryanna Wrońska (b. 1792). Jozef married on 8 November 1863 at St. Katarzyna in Klonówka to Franciszka Anna Andrykowska (b. 12 January 1827 at Klonówka–d. 1906), the daughter of Stanislaw Andrykowski (b. 1798) and Katarzyna Fryda (b. abt. 1803–d. 1863). The family born at Klonówka were: Jan (b. 1860–d. 1901), Jozef (b. 1864–d. 1935), Tomasz (b. 1866–d. 1951) and Barbara (b. 1870–d. 1943). They left the village of Klonówka for Hamburg where they set sail aboard the Palmerston on 29 July 1872, arriving at Port Chalmers near Dunedin on 6 December 1872.


Listed aboard were: Joseph Welna age 35, Francisca 34, Johann 9, Joseph 8, Thomas 4 and Barbara 1. They were sent south to Scroggs Creek on contract work with Brogden and Sons to lay the southern railway through the Taieri. They soon moved to Waihola where they had their youngest, Anna (b. 1874–d. 1965).

“The following was the only business of local interest transacted at Wednesday’s meeting of the Land Board :— Mr J. Welknowski’s application to purchase sections 12 and 13, block XXII, Waihola district (lately occupied by him), was granted; price, £3 per acre. — The Board classified the land in the Clutha Trust runs into rural and pastoral deferred-payment sections.” Bruce Herald, 13 April 1883, p 3

Joseph built the family cottage of sod on the corner of Nore and Beacon Street, where they both lived out their lives. Joseph and Francisca apparently never learned to speak English but spoke only in their native tongue. Joseph was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 April 1900 residing at Waihola.

“Milton Magistrates Court. Monday, 19th February. (Before Mr H. A. Stratford, S.M.). OLD AGE PENSIONS. Two other applications from Lemora Barra and Franciso Welnoski, of Waihola, were also dealt with and refused. The first mentioned not being sufficiently long enough naturalised, and the second was not naturalised at all.” Bruce Herald, 20 March 1900, p 5

Francisca died at Waihola on 6 July 1906 aged 79 years.

“FUNERAL NOTICE. The Friends of Mr JOSEPH WELNOSKI (and Family) are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of his late WIFE, which will leave his Residence, Waihola, for the place of interment, Waihola Cemetery, TO-MORROW (SUNDAY), the 8th inst., at 2 o’clock p.m.” Otago Daily Times, 7 July 1906, p 9

Joseph died at Milton on 14 April 1910 aged 73 and is buried with his wife at the Waihola Cemetery, in Block 7.


Joseph Welnoski with the family dog outside his cottage at Waihola. The cottage is protected from the southerly by a row of conifers and enclosed with a fence of tree limbs and gorse. Photo courtesy of “History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand”


John Welnoski was born at Klonówka on 25 May 1860.  He had a musical talent and used to play the piano accordion at dances and parties. Apparently, he had a 50/50 share in the instrument, which caused a lot of strife, because every time John picked it up to play, his partner wanted it also. For as long as John left it alone his partner never touched it. Finally John’s patience gave out and he said to his partner “If you really want your B….Y half here it is” and so saying, he picked up an axe and rendered the accordion useless, but equally shared. While residing at Waihola John was employed as a labourer and was naturalised on 13 June 1887.

“LAND BOARD. The weekly meeting, held today, was attended by the Commissioner of Crown Lands (Mr J. P. Maitland) and Commissioners Clark, Dallas, Duncan, and McKerrow. Mr John Welnoski requested time in which to pay valuation for improvements upon section 27, blocks, Clarendon,—Unless the valuation was paid the application would lapse, and the deposit would be forfeited.” Evening Star, 24 July 1895, p 2

He died a single man at Milton on 18 December 1901 aged 41 and is buried at the Fairfax Cemetery near Milton.


Joseph Martin Welnoski was born at Klonówka on 10 June 1864.  After working for a time at Waihola he became a construction worker on the railway line in the Catlins, Clyde and on the Wingatui-Alexandra line. Joseph married in 1905 to Ivy Francis Batchelor. The family born at Taihape were: Reginald Joseph Thomas (b. 1906–d. 1995) and Ellen Augusta (b. 1909–d. 1910). Joseph died while working at Arapuni, South Waikato on 18 February 1935 aged 70 and is buried at the Tirau St Cemetery at Putaruru.

“OBITUARY. MR. JOSEPH WILNOSKI. Well-known Arapuni Resident. When working on construction of the additions to the Arapuni hydro-electric scheme on Monday morning Mr. Joseph Martin Wilnoski, aged 65, a well-known resident of Arapuni, died from heart failure. Mr. Wilnoski was born in Dunedin and had spent all his life in the service of the Public Works Department, being connected with the construction of the Auckland-Wellington Main Trunk railway. His work took him to North Auckland, Central Otago, Southland and Gisborne. In 1931 he was transferred from Gisborne to Arapuni and had been engaged there, ever since. He is survived by his widow and one son, Mr. R. Wilnoski, of Arapuni. The interment took place at Putaruru yesterday.” Matamata Record, 21 February 1935, p 5

“CASE WITHDRAWN. CLAIM AGAINST CROWN. DEATH OF A LABOURER [FROM OUR. OWN correspondent] HAMILTON, Thursday A widow, Frances Ivy Welnoski, whose husband died at work at Arapuni, claimed £674 from the Crown before the Arbitration Court in Hamilton today. Mr. Justice Page presided, and associated with him on the Bench were Messrs. A. L. Monteith and W. Cecil Prime. Plaintiff was represented by Mr. P. J. O’Regan, of Wellington, and Mr. H. T. Gillies appeared for the Crown. The statement of claim showed that Joseph Martin Welnoski was employed as a labourer by the Public Works Department at Arapuni, and on February 18 last, he dropped dead at work. It was claimed that the exertion incidental to using a heavy implement had aggravated a weak heart condition and caused his death. Thomas Brown gave evidence that he was Welnoski’s workmate on the day of his death. In reply to Mr. Gillies he stated that for the first two hours they were engaged in clearing loose earth. They were then to work at laying rails, and while he was away for 15 minutes Welnoski had nothing to do. When he returned they prepared to recommence work and deceased leaned forward as if he were going to lift a crowbar. However, he collapsed and died without touching the implement. At this stage, Mr. O’Regan asked for leave to withdraw the case. He said he was told that Welnoski was engaged in lifting heavy rails and other strenuous work, but in view of the evidence he had decided to withdraw. Mr. Justice Page said he felt sure counsel was taking the proper course. Mr. Gillies stated that deceased had been an old employee of the Public Works Department and that was the only reason they employed him. The department was sympathetic toward the widow and he did not think it would press the question of costs. The case was then struck out, His Honor reserving Mr. Gillies the right to apply for coats if necessary.” New Zealand Herald, 26 July 1935, p 11

“CASE WITHDRAWN. COMPENSATION CLAIM. ARAPUNI LABOURER’S DEATH. DIFFERENCE IN STORIES. “The story as told to me was much different from the evidence that has been given so far and I ask leave to withdraw my case,” commented Mr P. J. O’Regan, of Wellington, in a case before the Arbitration Court, in Hamilton today. Mr O’Regan was representing Frances Ivy Welnoski, widow, of Arapuni who was claiming £674 4s from the Grown as a result of the death of her husband while at work at Arapuni. Mr Justice Page presided and associated with him on the bench were Messrs A. L. Montieth and Cecil Prime. Mr H. T. Gillies appeared for the defence. The statement of claim showed that Joseph Martin Welnoski was employed as a labourer by the Public Works Department at Arapuni and on Monday, February I8, 1935, he dropped dead at his work. At the time he was assisted in the work of straightening steel rails for which purpose he was handling an instrument known as a “Jim crow.” It was claimed that the exertion incidental to his work. aggravated his weak heart and that caused his death.

Former Heart Strain. The claimant in evidence stated that her husband suffered a weak heart about 15 years ago when working for the Public Works Department in the Buller Gorge. He was off work one month though he was ordered three months’ rest. About 18 months prior to his death her husband received an electric shock at the Arapuni works. His companion was killed but he did not have a day off work as a result of the accident. Thomas Brown, who was Welnoski’s workmate on the day he died detailed to the Court the work that they were engaged in on that day.

Cross-examined closely by Mr Gillies, he said that for the first two hours they were engaged in clearing the edge of a “tip pit” of the loose earth that gathered on the top when the trucks were overturned. It was not hard work. They were then to be engaged on laying rails and while he was away for fifteen minutes Welnoski had nothing to do. On his return he placed the “jim crow” In position and Welnoski then bent slightly forward, as witness thought, lo lift the. “jim crow” for witness to place a block of wood under it. However, Welnoski collapsed and died without touching the “jim crow.”

Thought Doing Strenuous Work. At this stage My O’Regan asked for leave to withdraw his ease. He said that he was told while Welnoski was engaged in lifting heavy rails and other strenuous work but in view of the evidence he had decided to withdraw from the ease. His Honour said he felt sure Mr O’Regan was taking the proper course.

Mr Gillies stated that Welnoski was an old servant of the Public Works Department and that was the only reason they employed him. They only placed him on light work. He had not been instructed regarding costs but the Department was sympathetic towards the widow and he did not think that, they would press the question. The case was then struck out, His Honour reserving Mr Gillies the right lo.apply’ for costs if necessary.” Waikato Times, 25 July 1935, p 8


Thomas Welnoski was born at Klonówka on 16 December 1866.  At the age of 12 he started work on the farm of Mr. Todd of Waihola. He married on 10 October 1906 at St. Mary’s in Milton to Irish girl, Annie Bell Dysart (b. 1877–d. 1965), the daughter of William Dysart and Margaret McDevitt.

“WAIHOLA. On Saturday at 9.15 a.m. ihe Waihola Rifle Club, under Captain Scott, paraded at the station, and alter singing a verse of the National Anthem proceeded to the Rifle Range, where a shooting competition took place. Seventeen members were present at the parade out of 23 members, which is a very fair attendance, considering the attractions elsewhere. The day turned out anything but suitable for shooting, as it was cold arid wet, but as the members decline to be considered fine-weather soldiers, they went on with the competition in spite of all the elements and difficulties they had to contend with. I enclose a list of the 10 highest scores. The winner, T. Walnoski, firing last at 300 yds, had to make 20 points out of seven shots to win, and he accomplished this with another point to spare, showing good nerve and pluck. Waihola Rifle Club Competition for Prizes Presented by Mr James Allen, M.H.R.–The conditions were: seven shots and two optional sighters at 300 yds, 500yds, 600 yds. The day proved very stormy, cold sleet showers and rain, the wind very unsteady, blowing sometimes a gale. Under the circumstances very poor scoring was the order of the day, but perhaps the experience gained may be useful.” Otago Witness, 13 August 1902, p 31

“Waihola Notes. Mr John Tomkinson has resigned his position as manager for Mr C. R. Chapman, to take up farming on his own account near Middlemarch. His place has been filled by Mr Tom Wilnoski.” Bruce Herald, 27 August 1906, p 5

“A pretty little wedding was solemnised at St. Mary’s Church on Wednesday when the Very Rev. Father Lynch united in the holy bonds of matrimony Miss Annie Dysart, daughter of Mr W. Dysart of Milton, to Mr Thos. Welnoski, manager of Mr C. R. Chapman’s Estate at Waihola. The bride was attended by her sister, while Mr Pat. Carroll supported the bridegroom through the ceremony. The breakfast at the residence of the bride’s parents was the occasion of a large muster of friends of both families, and as the day was beautifully fine it was a happy augury tor the future of the happy couple.” Bruce Herald, 11 October 1906, p 4

“Waihola Notes. Mr and Mrs Thomas Welnoski, who were united in matrimony during the week, have returned from their honeymoon, and will reside on Mr C R. Chapman’s estate, of which Mr Welnoski is manager.” Bruce Herald, 18 October 1906, p 6

In October of 1908 they moved to Riversdale where Thomas worked on the Waikaia railway line arranged by Martin Klimeck. His wife at the time thought Riversdale a miserable place, and thought they would move as soon as the line was finished. However, they ended up spending the rest of their lives there. After the line was completed, Tom, a conscientious worker, spent his time in rabbit trapping during the winter, assisting farmers at lambing time in the spring, in the shearing shed and harvesting or fencing at other times. The family born at Clarendon were: John Francis (b. 1907–d. 1907), Mary Veronica (b. 1908–d. 1982), Margaret Frances (b. 1909–d. 1997), at Riversdale; Annie Imelda (b. 1911–d. 1992), Thomas Joseph (b. 1913–d. 1982) and William Patrick (b. 1915–d. 2004). Thomas was naturalised a New Zealand citizen on 30 November 1922 while residing at Riversdale.  Thomas died at Riversdale on 12 February 1951 aged 84 and Annabella died on 10 June 1965.  Both are buried at the Riversdale Cemetery.


Barbara Hand (nee Welnowska)

Barbara Welnoski was born at Klonówka on 03 December 1870.  She married on 25 May 1891 at St. Mary’s in Milton to Harry Hand (b. 1854 at London–d. 1943), the son of James Hand and Mary Ann Sheen. The family born at Milton were: Agnes (b. 1892), Barbara (b. 1893–d. 1967), Henry (b. 1894), Thomas (b. 1896), Frances (b. 1897–d. 1897), Gertrude Constance (b. 1898–d. 1992), Veronica Rosalie (b. 1901–d. 1985), Edward (b. 1904), Ellen Imelda (b. 1905–d. 1983), Annie (b. 1907–d. 1907), Teresa Eugene (b. 1911–d. 1995), Joseph James (b. 1915) and Ronald Alexander (b. 1922–d. 2010). It is clear that Barbara’s descendants, who keep alive her Christian name right down to great-grand daughter, had a great respect for her. Both Henry and Barbara died on 15 July 1943 at Milton and are buried at the Fairfax Cemetery near Milton. Barbara was aged 72.

“SOUTH OTAGO NOTES. Obituary.—The unusual occurrence of husband and wife dying within a few hours of each other happened at Milton last week, when Mrs Hand, aged 72, died about 5 p.m. on Thursday, and Mr Hand died about midnight the same day, at the age of 88. Mr Hand was born in London, joined the merchant navy as an engineer, and arrived in Dunedin in the ship Hindustan when he was 18. He drove the first locomotive engaged on constructing the main railway on the Taieri Plain. He took a keen interest in public affairs in his early days, was a foundation member of the Milton Volunteer Fire Brigade and Toko. Football Club, and was associated with the Bruce Volunteers. He was twice married, his first wife being Miss Margaret Gee, who died in 1888. In 1891 he married Miss Barbara Wilnoski, who came to New Zealand when she was two years of age with her parents and family with a Polish expedition. The family walked to Waihola, where they settled. Mr Hand had resided in New Zealand for 70 years. Mrs Hand was born in Cracow, Poland, in 1872, and after her marriage lived in the same house for 52 years They celebrated their golden wedding in 1941. A large family is scattered over the Dominion, eldest son, Lance corporal James Hand, was killed on Gallipoli in 1915 and another son, Corporal J. J. Hand, recently returned from service in the Pacific.” Evening Star, 22 July 1943, p 6



John Wilnoski, Block 10 Plot 148 at Fairfax Cemetery, courtesy of Paul Klemick

Josef Welnoski & Franciszka Anna (nee Andrykowska), Block 7, Plots 21 & 22 at Waihola Cemetery, courtesy of Paul Klemick


Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, pages 23, 36, 37, 172, 196 & 197.

Slocombe Stanley, The Riversdalians, Centenary Story of Riversdale District 1873-1973

Research Sources

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

Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, St Mary’s Church, Milton; Baptism Register.



Henry & Barbara Hand (nee Welnowska), Block 10 Plot 160/163 at Fairfax Cemetery, courtesy of Paul Klemick

Thomas & Annie Welnoski, Block 16 Plot 50/51 at Riversdale Cemetery

Fairfax Cemetery – Barbara Hand (1870-1943) – Find a Grave Memorial

Fairfax Cemetery – John Welnoski (1860-1901) – Find a Grave Memorial

Riversdale Cemetery – Thomas Welnoski (1866-1951) – Find A Grave Memorial

Tirau St Cemetery – Joseph Martin Welnoski (1864-1935) – South Waikato District Council

Waihola Cemetery – Francisca Anna Andrykowski Welnowski (1827-1906) – Find a Grave Memorial

Waihola Cemetery – Joseph Welnowski (1837-1910) – Find a Grave Memorial



Compiled by Paul Klemick (2022)



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