Karol Bielawski (b. 1845–d. 1925) was born at Kienheide, just north of Brynsk, the son of Szymon Bielawski and Anna Laellman (b. 1818–d. 1898). Karol married on 22 July 1870 at the Evangelist church in Brodnica to Justine (Augusta) Sztuzke (b. 1845–d. 1888). The family born at Kuligi were Anna Marie (b. 1869–d. 1938), at Nieżywięć; Juliusz (b. 1873–d. 1947), Infant (b. 1874–d. 1874), and Wladysław (b. 1874–d. 1951). The family left the village of Nieżywięć for Hamburg where they set aboard the Terpischore on 15 November 1875, arriving at Port Nicholson in Wellington on 18 March 1876.
Listed aboard was—Carl, age 31, Auguste 31, Anna 6, Julian 2 and Wladislaw 1. The family found themselves sent to the settlement of Jackson Bay which was not the greatest introduction to New Zealand for the newcomers. Here they had a son born at Smoothwater on 5 January 1878 naming him Clement and it appears he was baptised in New Plymouth.
The settlement at Jackson Bay had been quoted as nothing more than a “miserable, unfortunate and very sad fiasco”. Some 26,000 hectares of land was set aside for a special settlement in Jackson Bay where the first party of settlers from Hokitika landed on 19 Jan 1875. Eventually about 120 Poles resided in Jackson Bay at various times during the life of the settlement. Hindered by the wet climate and lack of drainage accounting to crop failure, the isolation and a growing shortage of remunerative work provoked the general abandonment of the Special Settlement. An exodus to other more promising districts was inevitable. One such incident occurred at the Beach, the only place of entry or exit to the settlement. A school squabble between children blew up into an outrage when returning home and tales being blown to all proportions got mothers embroiled in the quarrel. Italian mothers, screeching-pulling hair, pushing, belabouring, and punching their opponents, raucously able German or Polish Women. The Men after work came running to support their wives of an afternoon of no abating in the free-for-all. It was quoted
“All combatants were supplementing their blows with scurrilous shouts in their own language, ignoring the hopeful pacifiers who spoke only in English”.
“Do not come to JACKSON BAY-more especially if you are a sober, steady striving men, losing your time and working entirely upon your own resources, without any aid from Government whatsoever. If you should get stone-broke and on the shelf in this jungle, any settler will give you a few meals or a shake-down. Though poor, there is benevolence, generosity, and hospitality existing amongst them to as great an extent as I have ever seen existing in any colonial community. They are mostly the true grit. But the case is quite the reverse with Mr. D. MacFarlane, the Resident Agent, or any of his satellites that revolve around him in their own circle. Mr. Editor, this place is dead and a total failure, and never can be a success.” JACKSON BAY, 8th March 1876. A ROAR from the Jungle-Prospector, letter to Editor of the Evening Star-HOKITIKA
The settlement soon ceased to exist around 1878.
The family decided to move to the North Island and settled at Inglewood where Carl worked as a farmer. The family born at Inglewood were Bertha (b. 1876–d. 1947, Ludowika (b. 1880–d. 1959), Frank (b. 1883–d. 1979), Monica (b. 1885–1951), Mary (b. 1886–d. 1971) and Michael (b. 1888–d. 1934). According to the 1882’ Return of Freeholders, Carl owned 78 acres to the value of £129 at Waipuku. Augusta died on 1 July 1888 at Inglewood aged 43 and a couple of years later Carl was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 26 November 1890. Carl died on 16 August 1925 at New Plymouth and is buried at the Te Henui Cemetery.
Annie Bielawski married in 1925 at New Plymouth to widower, Frederick Nichols (b. 1863–d. 1941) and settled there. Here Frederick worked as a laundryman but it appears they had no children together. Annie died on 24 June 1938 at New Plymouth aged 69 and is buried at the Te Henui Cemetery. Frederick died on 25 January 1941 at New Plymouth and is buried with his first wife, Sarah Woodman, at the Te Henui Cemetery.
Julius Bielawski married on 2 Jun 1895 at Inglewood to Annie Antonia Jackush (b. 1873 at Zaskoczyn–d. 1911), the daughter of Jan Jakusz (b. 1841–d. 1920) and Maryanna Krol (b. 1837–d. 1906). The family were Theophilus (b. 1896), Frank Stanilaus (b. 1899–d. 1982), Mary Magdalane (b. 1901), Bernard (b. 1903–d. 1983), Annie (b. 1905–d. 1981), Julia Minnie Rose (b. 1909–d. 1965), Grace Ludricka (b. 1911–d. 1965) and Adam (d. 1897). The family were known to have resided at Inglewood, Christchurch, Campbelltown and Green hills in Southland. Here Julius worked as a labourer and Annie was granted with an application for section 34 of Block four at Campbelltown in September of 1900.. From Greenhills, Annie was sent up to the Seacliff Mental Hospital near Dunedin and was admitted on 21 August 1911. Annie died there on 29 September 1911 aged 42 and was buried at the Bluff Cemetery. Julius died at Invercargill on 25 October 1947 and is buried at the Eastern Cemetery in Invercargill.
Wladyslaw Bielawski, otherwise known in New Zealand as Walter, never married. Walter worked as a labourer in Whatatutu in the Bay of Plenty and after the first world war moved to Mossburn then Papatotara in Southland. Walter died on 22 October 1951 at Riverton aged 77 and is buried at the Eastern Cemetery in Invercargill.
Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, pages 61, 153, 155, 166, 191 & 194.
Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973, FamilySearch.
New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Naturalisations, Births, Deaths and Marriages.
New Zealand Government Property Tax Department, from the rates assessment rolls, Return of Freeholders of NZ 1882, published 1884.
Compiled by Paul Klemick (2021)