Maciej (Mathew) Klimek, a coachman, (b. 1819–d. 1899) was born at Bielsk on 12 September 1819, the son of Jan Klimek (b. 1794–d. 1854) and Maryanna Łukowska (b. 1798–d. 1832). Prior to marriage it is believed that Maciej had to leave the region for a period of time.
During this period, it has been said that Anna Smolińska worked as a maid for an estate. It is while working for this estate that Anna gave birth to a son, Jan Smoliński (b. 1844–d. 1922), at Stanisławie. Mona Todd, a granddaughter, recalls;
“When I was much younger, I recall hearing that grandfather was the son of either a guest at the German manor, (at a time when guests were often entertained and fraternising with staff was common), or the landlord himself.”
Less than a week after the birth of Jan, Anna Smolińska lost her mother Dorota after giving birth to twins in the same village, aged 44. One twin was stillborn while the other, a little girl, survived. Her father Szymon Smoliński then remarried on 11 October 1845 at Church of the Holy Trinity in Lubiszewo-Tczewskie to Anna Sztella (b. 1793 at Stanisławie–d. 1863), the daughter of Jakob Sztella (b. 1769–d. 1819) and Anna Maryanna Meglus (b. 1763).
While residing at Turze, Maciej married on 25 April 1847 at St. Jan Nepomuk in Godziszewo to Anna Smolińska (b. 1820 at Brzuśce–d. 1882), the daughter of Szymon Smoliński (b. 1791–d. 1867) and Dorota Rybicka (b. 1798–d. 1844). The family born at Kamierowo were: Matilda Julianna (b. 1848–d. 1921), at Pawłowo; Karol Maciej (b. 1849–d. 1855), at Damaszka; Teodor Adolf (b. 1852–d. 1855) and Franciszek (b. 1855–d. 1919), at Mirakowo (15 km north-east of Toruń); Michal (b. 1857–d. 1870), Teodor (b. 1860-–d. 1860) and Feliks (b. 1861-–d. 1922), at Małżewo; Marcin (b. 1863–d. 1932) and August Robert (b. 1866–d. 1869). It has been said that after a train trip, some German soldiers came looking for one of the male family members, believed to be an uncle. Feliks remembers blood in the snow and doorway after his uncle was shot. He was round about seven years old, which would place the time during the winter of the late 1860s, the family residing in the village of Małżewo. The family believe that it may have something to do with matters with the Prussian Army. This coincides with the death of their uncle, Marcin Smolinski, who died at Tczew on Boxing Day, 26 December 1869. He was 38 years of age and died as a result of gangrene. Sometime during 1869-1870, the family moved east to the village of Rokitki close to the Vistula River. Maciej worked as a labourer and coachman in Poland and it is said he worked for a time for an aristocratic family. It is recalled by the granddaughter of Felix Klimeck, Marie Banister (nee Waltanen), that in 1874, the family fled Rokitki so the boys could escape from German military service. A Jewish family or sailors smuggled the family into the bow of a boat and were sent up the Vistula for Gdańsk. From here they sailed to Hamburg where they set sail aboard the Gutenburg on 4 July 1874, arriving at Port Lyttleton in Akaroa on 25 October 1874
Listed aboard were: Mathias Klimeck age 55, Anna 54, Franz 17, Theodor (Felix) 13 and Martin 9. They travelled south to Waihola where daughter Mathilda and family were residing. According to the 1882’ Return of Freeholders, Mathias owned three acres of land at Waihola valued at £200. The family home, a sod cottage dug into the hillside, was previously built by Paul Baumgardt and was situated near the top of Nore Street, overlooking a spectacular view of Lake Waihola. This site was later used for the church of St. Hyacinth in 1899. Mathias is said to have worked as a labourer during his working years in New Zealand after the railways were completed. Anna Klimeck died at Fairfield on 30 October 1882 at the residence of her daughter Mathilda Tikey, aged 62, and was buried at the Southern Cemetery in Dunedin. In the 1880’s, during the 1879-1896 depression, sons, Frank, Felix and Martin left Waihola for Melbourne in Australia where they worked on the Railways. At separate times, Martin and Frank returned to New Zealand while only Felix remained. According to the 1887′ Stone’s Directory for Otago and Southland, Mathias Klemick was residing at Waihola, employed as a labourer. It appears that Mathias may have been sent to live at Fairfield after the family property at Waihola was sold in 1891. During the years 1896 to 1898, Mathias resided at Shag Point with his son-in-law, Frederick Tikey (Teike), who was working in the coalmines there. Here Mathias received outdoor relief for an illness, through the Otago Benevolent Institute until his condition worsened. While residing at Macandrew Road in South Dunedin, Mathias was institutionalised at the Otago Benevolent Institute at Caversham on 11 September 1897. He was suffering from the results of past work and old age. After 16 months in the Institute, Mathias passed away on 8 February 1899 aged 79 and is buried at the Southern Cemetery in Dunedin.
Johan Smoleński was born at Stanisławie on 28 February 1844. He married on 17 October 1869 at the Church of the Holy Trinity at Lubiszewo-Tzcewskie to Franciszka (Fanny) Malinowska (b. 1850 at Kolincz–d. 1913), the daughter of Tomasz Malinowski (b. 1807–d. in America) and Katarzyna Rekowska (b. 1815–d. in America). The family born at Małźewo were: Jakob (b. 1870–d. 1870) and Maryanna Rozalia (b. 1871–d. 1879), at Rukosin; Jan (b. 1874–d. 1905), Jozef (b. 1876–d. 1878) and at Małźewo; Franciszek (b. 1878–d. 1940). The family set sail aboard the Marlborough on 23 October 1879, arriving at Port Chalmers near Dunedin on 7 January 1880. The family travelled south to Waihola where the Klimeck family were residing. It is said that John and fanny lived in a tent close to the lake side where they gave birth to Martha (b. 1881–d. 1951). In November of 1883, the family moved north and settled at Allanton where John worked as a farm labourer. The family born at Allanton were: August (b. 1883–d. 1967), Minnie (b. 1885–d. 1887), Rosie (b. 1888–d. 1972), James (b. 1890–d. 1969), Annie (b. 1892–d. 1898), and William (b. 1895–d. 1980). John was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 November 1893. He died at the residence of his daughter in Dunedin on 3 October 1922 aged 78. He is buried with his wife at the Allanton Cemetery.
Matilda Julianna Klimek was born at Kamierowo on 23 January 1848. She married on 25 October 1868 at Church of the Holy Trinity in Lubiszewo-Tczewskie to Friedrich Wilhelm Teike (b. 1846 at Lineiwko–d. 1937), the son of (Prussian) Frantz Ludwig Teike (b. 1813) and (Polish) Maryanna Parobkiewicz (b. 1812–d. 1885). The family born at Liniewko were: Franciszka (Mary) (b. 1869–d. 1956) and Franciszek (b. 1871–d. 1919). The family then moved to the village of Rokitki where the Klimek family were residing. From here the family left for Hamburg and set sail aboard the Palmerston on 29 July 1872, arriving at Port Chalmers near Dunedin on 6 December 1872.
Listed aboard were: Fried. W. Teike age 26, Mathilda 25, Francisca 3 and Franz 9 months. They were sent south to Scroggs Creek on contract work with Brogden and Sons to lay the southern railway through the Taieri. The family born at Allanton were: John (b. 1874–d. 1874) and Anna (b. 1876–d. 1876), at Waihola; Joseph (b. 1878–d. 1954), who was fostered out to the Annis family of Waihola, and Martha (b. 1880–d. 1911), at Fairfield; Janet (b. 1882–d. 1980), at East Taieri; Martin (b. 1884–d. 1970), Louis (b. 1886–d. 1887) and Catherina (b. 1887–d. 1888), at Fairfield; Harriet Matilda (b. 1889), Albert Felix (b. 1892–d. 1931) and Thomas Eric (b. 1893–d. 1970). Frederick worked either at the brick works at Fairfield or for the Walton Park Coal company as a miner. Frederick worked at various mines such as at Shag Point in North Otago, so he worked away from home from time to time. It appears that Mathilda nursed her mother at her home in Fairfield until her passing in 1882. Matilda died on 20 February 1921 at her residence in Fairfield aged 70 years and is buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.
Frank Klimeck was born at Damaszka on 14 January 1855. He married on 22 April 1882 at the House of Franz Annis in Waihola to Francisca (Fanny) Apollonia Cherkowska (Chiłkowska), the daughter of Albrecht Chiłkowski and Katarzyna Stolc. Frank Klimeck purchased 12 sections of land above the township of Waihola on 23 May 1884, previously owned by Paul Baumgardt. The family born at Waihola were: Felix (b. 1884–d. 1961) and Annie (b. 1885–d. 1968). After the railway work came to a close Frank worked as a farm labourer for Thomas Adam on the other side of Lake Waihola.
“R. M. COURT, MILTON. Tuesday, 14th April, 1885. (Before W. H. Revell, Esq., R.M.) Cattle Straying. Information’s laid by the police against persons allowing their cattle to stray on public roads were dealt with and the defendants fined… his Worship remarked that so far, he had inflicted only nominal penalties for cattle straying, but that in future he would inflict far heavier, more especially if accused parties did not put in an appearance and confess; — Baum. 1 cow, fined 1s and costs 7s. Frank Clemmick, 4 head, fined 1s a head, costs 7s, and cautioned that if again charged with a similar offence he would be liable to a penalty of £1 a head. Jas. Borthwick was charged with permitting 2 horses to stray on the public highway at Waihola. Mr Reid appeared for the accused, and the information was dismissed. O. Wiesknie was fined 7s for permitting 7 cows to stray, with 7s costs.” Bruce Herald, 17 April 1885, p 3
Fanny died suddenly on 2 October 1886 at Waihola of apoplexy, aged 29 and was buried at the Waihola cemetery behind the Annis family plot. After the death of Fanny, Felix and Annie were sent off to live with their uncle and aunt, Fred and Mathilda Tikey at Riccarton (East Taieri) for which Frank paid 5s per week and the use of a horse for their care.
Around early 1887, Frank decided to leave New Zealand and join up with his brother Felix who was working on the southern railway in Australia at the time. In 1891, the family property and adjoining land at Waihola was sold to fellow Pole, Johan Philiposki and Mathias is most likely sent to live with his daughter at Fairfield. Frank worked a number of years with his brother Felix in Southern Australia working on the railway and was godfather to his niece, Helen Mary Klimeck, who was born at Menindee in 1894. On finding Australia no longer to his liking Frank returned to New Zealand.
Frank is first located on the Bruce Electoral Roll for 1905 as a labourer residing at Berwick near Lake Waipori in Otago. By 1908, Frank is employed as a platelayer at Riversdale, working under the management of his younger brother Martin on the Waikaia railway line. According to the 1911′ Stone’s Directory for Otago and Southland, Frank was residing at Nightcaps employed as a labourer. Here he lived out his years in a small hut at the back of his son’s property. On one occasion Frank was at the pub in Nightcaps with a few of the locals. He had his head in the newspaper gazing concerningly at a photo of a ship. He could speak a little English but was unable to read. and was suddenly alerted to what looked like the sinking of a ship in an almighty storm. The concerned locals flocked to have a look, only to find Frank with the newspaper facing upside down. As you can imagine, the place fell into absolute hysterics and so I guess you can say his eyesight was failing him. Frank died at Riverton on 2 June 1919 aged 64 and is buried at Wrey’s Bush Cemetery.
“It is with regret that the death of Mr Klemick, senr., is recorded. Mr Klemick died in the Riverton Hospital on Monday at the age of 66 years, after a very short illness. He was of a genial disposition, and well liked, and his cheery face will be missed by many.” Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, 03 June 1919
According to Marty Klemick of Nightcaps, his father Felix accidentally put the i and the e in the wrong place whilst signing the marriage register at Invercargill in 1908, thus cementing the surname for this branch of the family. I wonder what Frank would be thinking of having one of his great grandsons, Patrick Klemick, driving trains over the very tracks he laid a hundred years later.
Felix (Phil) Klimeck was born at Mirakowo on 06 February 1861.
“A wrestling match (Cumberland style) came off on Saturday, at Fairfield, between F. Clemack and T. Manderson. The stakes were £5 a side; best of five falls to win. It was won by F. Clemack, who secured the first three falls. Some money changed hands over the match, and there is a likelihood of a second one between the same men being arranged.” Otago Daily Times, 30 January 1883, p 2
While at Fairfield, an outer-suburb of Dunedin, Felix had met up with a young girl in the neighbourhood by the name of Jane McEwan (b. 1868–d. 1935). Jane was born at Dalserf in Scotland, the eldest child to John McEwan and Mary Robertson. The family had migrated to New Zealand aboard the Nelson in 1875 and settled at Fairfield. By the late 1870s, Jane’s parents had gone their separate ways. Her mother had remarried and had migrated first to Australia, then America. This left Jane, who was around twelve years of age, to fend for the family. Her father worked as a miner for the coal mining company at Walton Park with Felix’s brother-in-law, Fred Tikey. After Felix had left for Melbourne, Jane gave birth to William (b. 1884–d.1960), who was born at Shag Point on 19 June 1884. It is unsure whether Felix or the family in New Zealand knew about William.
Felix married on 9 June 1885 at St. Patrick’s in Latrobe in Tasmania to Harriet Catherine Milbourne (b. 1865 at Ulverston–d. 1953), the daughter of George Seymour Milbourne and Sarah Jane Devlin. It is said that while Felix was standing on a corner outside a hotel in Latrobe with a friend, two girls passed in a horse and gig. Felix asked his friend the name of the girl driving. “That’s Harriet Milbourne, why?” “Because I am going to marry her”, was Felix’s reply. Seems they finally met through a mutual friend as was done in those days and the rest is history. It is not clear when Feliks arrived in Australia but it is possible that he came with the Jankowski family of Waihola around 1883, when the cable tram lines where being laid in the city of Melbourne. The Clifton Hill Tramway was opened for service on 10 August 1887. Dandenong railway station is located on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines and serves the south-eastern Melbourne suburb of Dandenong opening on 8 October 1887. The South Gippsland Railway Line opened in 1892 from Dandenong. The family born at Clifton Hills were: Frank Mathias (b. 1886–d. 1938), at Dandenong; Henry Theodor (b. 1888–d. 1968) and Alice Matilda (b. 1890–d. 1982), at Ulverstone in Tasmania; Elsie Annie (b. 1893–d. 1972), at Menindee; Helen Mary (b. 1894–d. 1895), at Coolgardie; Felix Walter (b. 1896–d. 1897), at Devenport, Tasmania; Joseph Stanislaus (b. 1900–d. 1965), Mary Magdalen (b. 1903–d. 1923), Felix Paul (b. 1906–d. 1980) and Monica Catherine (b. 1909–d. 1996). Felix travelled around Australia with his growing family from Latrobe in Tasmania to Dandenong in Melbourne. He worked on the railways in New South Wales living in Menindee, south of Broken Hill, as well as South Australia and Western Australia laying tracks for T.C. Rail. Later they moved back to Tasmania where Felix worked in the mines.
Martin Klimeck was born at Małżewo on 12 November 1863. He worked in Melbourne laying the tram lines with his brother Felix. He married on 22 February 1887 at St. Mary’s in Milton to Wilhelmina Augusta (Minnie) Barra. Martin and Minnie returned briefly to Melbourne a few days after their wedding day, where they set aboard the Waihora at Dunedin on 25 February, arriving at Melbourne on 4 March 1887. Also on board was Mr Halba, future brother in-law to Minnie. Martin purchased property at Waihola on the corner of Chatham and Greenhithe Streets on 20 June 1888 and later sold it on 3 October 1900. The family born at Waihola were: Mary Louise (b. 1888–d. 1972), Wilhelmina Augusta (b. 1889–d. 1993), William Patrick (b. 1892–d. 1977) and Eleanor Annie (b. 1893–d. 1991), at Tokomairiro; Martin Joseph (b. 1895–d. 1983) and Rosalie Theresa (b. 1899–d. 2003), at Akatore; Peter John (b. 1902–d. 1960). Martin, of Waihola, was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 April 1894. Martin’s railway work was broken at times by his attempts at farming, first at Chrystalls Beach, Glenledi, then called Bull Creek, 12 miles east of Milton, from Feb 1896 – 1900. On the farm at Bull Creek the children would collect the water from the well for the day to be heated on the open fire. They would then round up the cows to be milked by hand, all this before a two-mile hike up the hill to school which usually took them half an hour. At night there was only one lamp used to light the whole house. Also, on their farm they had four horses that they greatly cherished. Between 1897-1899 Mary, Wilhelmina and William attended Glenledi Public School. Wilhelmina recalls sitting at a desk, which sat three others and studied subjects such as reading, writing, history and geography. At home they apparently didn’t have much time to play games because of their daily chores and were given one new outfit a year. At the age of 12, Wilhelmina recalls getting a horse by the name of Jess. Near Chrystalls Beach, Glenledi, there is a track where the logs were dragged out by bullock after felling and was named Klimeck’s Track. Today only some cuttings remain where the track existed and has been now covered with native bush. Still involved in farming, they moved to Loudens Gully around May 1900 and remained until 1907. Here the children went to Akatore Public School from 1900 to 1905 before attending St. Joseph’s in Milton. On 11 June 1901 the farming partnership of Martin Klimeck and Bernard Barra at Akatore was mutually dissolved. The family moved to Johnson Street, Milton where Martin worked as a Platelayer from 18 January 1907 until 29 September 1911. Martin managed the Waikaia branch of the railway in Southland which covered 22 kilometres and was opened on 1 October 1909.
“MILTON ITEMS. [From Our Own Correspondent.] April 22. A young man named James Paul met with an unfortunate accident this morning, by which he lost his left arm. He was one of the hands on Mr H. Hamilton’s chaffcutter, which was working at Mr Martin Klimeck’s farm at Glenledi, about four miles from here, and while feeding the machine his arm was drawn in and taken off by one of the knives. He was driven to Milton, where he was attended to by Dr Menzies, after which he was taken to his father’s place at Helensbrook. He is now progressing as well as can be expected. The unfortunate young man, who is about twenty-two years of age, is the second son of Mr William Paul.” Evening Star, 23 April 1904, p 5
On 24 April 1911, Martin sold his property at Loudens Gully to Richard Pearce, New Zealand’s first aviator. The property is now part of the Barra farm and is used as a storage shed.
Recollections of the farm at Louden’s Gully after Martin handed the farm over to Richard Pearce; “With the road as its bottom boundary the farm took in a section to the creek and a dozen or so acres of flattish land at the bottom of the gully. It then rose up the western side of the valley taking in a long ridge which was his boundary with James Wood on the Milton side, a shallow gully (at right angles to the main valley) dotted with scrub, and another long ridge which was his boundary with Frank Barra, the next farmer up Louden’s Gully. The lower boundary of Pearse’s property was at an elevation of 100 feet and the farm rose to about 400 ft at its back boundary.
The cottage he moved into was a much more primitive abode than Trewarlet. It must have been one of the earliest wooden homes in the valley, it was walled with roughly-hewn weatherboards and originally had a shingle roof. Downstairs the cottage was divided in two with a kitchen-cum-living room to the left and a bedroom to the right. There was a small stove in the kitchen but no water was laid on. This had to be fetched by bucket from a rain tank out by the barn. A leanto at the rear was used as a pantry and storeroom, and there was an outdoor privy. Up a narrow ladder you climbed eleven steps to extra bedroom space in the low-peaked attic, which was also divided in two. Pearse later stored grass seed up there.
The interior walls of both attic and downstairs rooms were lined with newspaper, and in the attic especially there is still some good reading to be had if you do not mind a kink in your neck. The favourite literature of successive occupants during the 1880s and 90s seems to have been the Bruce Herald, the Otago Witness, the New Zealand Tablet, Queen, the Illustrated London News, and the Black and White. The earliest decipherable issue is a Bruce Herald from 1878. On top of this journalistic backing, traces of faded floral wallpaper may yet be seen. Dim light reached the attic rooms through small square windows at each end of the cottage and downstairs there were five assorted windows of “unbreakable” gauze glass.
There was a front door opening on to a view across the bottom fields to the creek and far side of Louden’s Gully; and there were two back doors. The flooring was of unevenly laid totara and there were no floor coverings. A bed, one or two cupboards, a table and some wooden chairs were the remaining fittings, and a kerosene lamp provided light in the evening.
The only other facilities were a barn (Bert Paul’s “stable”), a shed, a few looseboxes sited east or up-valley from the cottage, and a sheep yard behind. A rough path led down to the creek, across a small bridge and up to the road on the other flank of the gully. Some old apple trees and an elderberry grew by the west end of the house, but there was little or no garden. A wire fence marked out the bottom boundary, and gorse hedges did the same service at the sides and rear of his property. The farm was not subdivided into paddocks by any further fencing. A willow or two grew by the creek and there was some stunted scrub, a gorse shelterbelt and some bracken in the middle gully. Close-cropped grass surrounded the cottage and most of the high land was clothed in tussock.” South to Milton, Richard Pearce, pp 114 & 115
Martin also worked as a plate layer with other Polish settlers on the construction of the Railway line between Wingatui and Alexandra, a distance of about 225 km. He also worked on the Catlins, Owaka, Otago Central, (via Middlemarch) and the Riversdale railway line. Here Martin managed a working gang on the Waikaia railway in 1908 including Thomas Welnoski and his brother Frank being among them. Martin moved to 61 Clyde Street, Dunedin, around 1911 where he did a variety of labouring work. He then decided taking on Hotel Keeping first at the Empire Hotel at Naseby, Central Otago, where he was owner and publican on 4 June 1912 until 25 February 1914. He then moved to Aberdeen Street, Georgetown near Oamaru, as a publican on 25 July 1914 until 11 September 1915. The family then returned to Dunedin where Martin worked firstly as a Quarry Manager while residing at Cumberland Street. They moved to 12 Queensburry Street, North East Valley, before taking over the Normanby Hotel on 7 June 1920 until 1922 when Martin retired. At one time, Martin owned the land where the Law Courts Hotel (Cobb & Co) stands today. During his retirement he sold this property and invested the money with his lawyer, but his lawyer had made some bad investments and Martin lost most of it. They purchased land at 20 Market Street, St. Kilda, Dunedin and built their retirement home. Martin died at his residence in Dunedin on 8 July 1932, aged 68. A Requiem Mass was held for Martin at the St. Patrick’s Basilica in South Dunedin.. Minnie died on 25 February 1946 aged 78 and is buried with husband at the Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.
Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, pages 37, 43, 51 & 155.
Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973, FamilySearch.
Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara O Te Kawanatanga; Land Records.
Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, St Mary’s Church, Milton; Baptism Register.
Caversham Tall Boys, Patient Records, Dunedin Hocken Library.
Clement E. J. (nee Klimeck), supplied family information (1972) for History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand.
Godziszewo, Kiełbasin, Lubiszewo Tczewskie, Piaseczno, Skarszewy, Subkowy & Tczew Parish Records, Pelplin Diocese, Poland.
Klemick Martin, Nightcaps, supplied information on Frank Klimeck & family (1983).
Lee Pauline, provided photos of Martin Klimeck and family.
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 New Zealand 1882, published 1884.
School APW’s, Dunedin Hocken Library.
Taylor Mary, supplied photos & information on early family history and the Klimeck’s in Australia & Tasmania.
Waihola Cemetery Records, Clutha District Council, Balclutha
Walsh Lynette, Dunedin, supplied McEwan family history & photos.
Compiled by Paul Klemick (2022)