Jan Smoliński, a farm labourer, (b. 1844–d. 1922) was born at Stanisławie on 28 February 1844, the son of Anna Smolińska (b. 1820–d. 1882). 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.”
Anna went on to marry Maciej Klimek at Godziszewo on 25 April 1847 and Jan eventually became the eldest child of five surviving children. Jan married on 17 October 1869 at the Church of the Holy Trinity at Lubiszewo-Tzcewskie to Franciszka (Fanny) Malinowska (b. 05 October 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).
It is said the family were organized to go to America with Franciszka’s parents and sister Johanna. Prior to leaving, sadly their daughter Marianna Rozalia fell ill and died on 14 July 1879 at Małźewo age 8. The fact that Jan’s mother Anna was suffering from cancer of the face may have persuaded the family to go to New Zealand where she had migrated with extended family in 1874. The family left Małźewo and sailed for Clyde in Scotland, which was said to have been a nerve-racking journey encountering very rough seas. It is said that Franciszka had fallen ill either at Clyde or on-board ship and it was documented that one of the fellow passengers had nursed a German woman through her illness. The family had set sail aboard the Marlborough on 23 October 1879, arriving at Port Chalmers near Dunedin on 7 January 1880. The following year, the Malinowski family migrated to America and settled at Marble Township, Minnesota.
The family travelled south to Waihola where John’s extended family were residing. It is believed 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 Greytown/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 purchased section 20 of Block six on 14 October 1887 where he built a wooden cottage for his family, high enough to avoid the major floods that eventually affected Allanton. He also leased section 48 next door and adjoining section 47. He was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 November 1893. Four of his sons went on to work on the railways and son August decided to work on the trams. John was a dedicated man in all public affairs and was elected onto the Greytown School Committee in June of 1895 and onto the Greytown District Board in the following year. He was said to be a pinnacle of the community who befriended anyone always with a helping hand and a favourite with the youth. Fanny died at Dunedin on 18 March 1913 aged 62 and John died at the residence of his daughter, Martha, at 524 Cumberland street in Dunedin on 3 October 1922 aged 78. Both are buried together at the Allanton Cemetery. According to Patricia Smolenski, John and Fanny had 25 grandchildren, 97 great grandchildren, 257 great, great grandchildren, 292 great, great, great grandchildren and over 1100 entries on their family tree, 135 years after their marriage in 1869.
A family reunion was held at Allanton in memory of Antoni Velenski, Martha Smolenski, Arthur Palmer and deceased relatives and friends, on Sunday 27 October 1991. A celebration mass was held at the Sacred Heart Church followed by a picnic in which 150 family members reunited.
John Junior Smoliński was born at Rukosin on 25 February 1874. He married on 19 July 1899 at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Allanton to Annie Maria Black in a double wedding ceremony. The family born at Dunedin were: John Joseph (b. 1901–d. 1968) and Nellie May (b. 1903–d. 1972). John worked as a labourer and was a member of the Loyal Mosgiel Lodge. He died at Allanton on 30 December 1905 age 31 and is buried at the Allanton Cemetery.
Frank Smoliński was born at Małźewo on 17 September 1878. He worked as a labourer for Kirkland’s at Allanton and was married on 13 February 1901 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Dunedin to Margaret Brennan. The family born at East Taieri were: Francis Joseph (b. 1902–d. 1930), at Dunedin; William (b. 1904–d. 1964), Mary (b. 1907–d. 1992) and John Augustine (b. 1907–d. 2004). Frank died on 4 March 1940 aged 61 at Sawyers Bay and is buried at the Port Chalmers Cemetery.
“OBITUARY. MR FRANK SMOLENSK! Last week the death took place suddenly at Sawyers Bay of Mr Frank Smolensk!. He had resided there for the past 22 years. Born in Finland, Mr Smolensk! migrated with his, parents 60 years ago. and the family settled at Lake Waihola. As a young man, Mr Smolenski joined the Public Works Department on the Central Otago railway construction, and from then he later transferred to the Railway Maintenance Department. Ho retired 18 months ago. His interests lay in the ardent support of the Port Chalmers Catholic church, in bowling, and in local Labour activities. He is survived by his wife, two sons (Mr William and Mr John Smolenski), and a daughter (Mrs W, L. Smith, of Port Chalmers).” Evening Star, 11 March 1940, p 8
During the Second World War, Henry Frank Michalski, a US Marine, happened to call into Dunedin, where he went hunting for extended family. You see his grandmother, Johanna Zitterman, nee Malinowska was the youngest sister to Franciszka Smolenski. Johanna and her husband, Frank Zitterman had migrated to America with her parents, Tomasz aged 75 and Katarzyna aged 65. The extended family sailed from Bremen aboard the Kronprinz Friderich Wilhelm and arrived at Baltimore, Maryland, USA on 16 April 1881 and settled at Marble Township, Lincoln, Minnesota, USA.
Henry had berthed at Lyttleton and boarded a train for Dunedin. While on the train he happened to talk to a gentleman who was also going to Dunedin and told the man who he was looking for. The address being 524 Cumberland Street was not far from the Dunedin Railway Station and the man said he could take him right to their door. While in Dunedin, Henry met up with Martha Velenski including a very young Patricia Todd, a great granddaughter of Franciszka Smolinska (nee Malinowska) who happened to be also born on Henry’s birthday, the 10th of July. Henry gave Patricia a small teddy bear which she called Mikey, Henry’s nickname, and still has it in her possession today. Now in her eighties, she has never forgotten Mikey and his visit. Sadly, he lost his life on 25 June 1944 at the Marshall Islands during the Second World War. Henry was the son of Frank and Anna Michalski (nee Zitterman) and grew up on the family Orangery at San Bernadino, California, USA. Franciszka’s oldest sister, Anna Rosalia Malinowska, married Johann Borowski. The family of Borowski/Brooks migrated to America at various times from about 1891 and settled in Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, pages 25, 26 & 171.
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.
Clark Patricia, Fairfield, supplied family photos and information.
Lauder Reta, Dunedin, supplied family informtion.
Lubiszewo Tczewskie & Starogard Gdański Parish Records, Pelplin Diocese, Poland.
New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Naturalisations, Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Smolenski Patricia (nee Patrick), Timaru, Johann & Francesca Smolenski – The descending family tree.
Todd Mona, Dunedin, supplied family information.
Compiled by Paul Klemick (2022)