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Świtała Family

 

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Jan Świtała, (b. 1827–d. 1913) was born at Starzęcin on 18 September 1827, the son of Albrecht Świtała (b. abt. 1782–d. 1852) and Maryanna Johanna Dering (b. 1797–d. 1852). Jan married on 15 October 1854 at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Lubiszewo-Tczewskie to Jozefina Malichnowska (b. 04 April 1832 at Małżewko–d. 1860), the daughter of Balthazar Malichnowski (b. 1792–d. 1833) and Anna Palaczewska (b. abt. 1800–d. 1840). The family born at Małżewo were: Maryanna (b. 1855–d. 1861), at Lubiszewo-Tczewskie; Jan (b. 1857–d. 1933) and at Piwnice; Stanislaw (b. 1860–d. 1860). Jozefina died just two weeks from giving birth to Stanislaw on 23 May 1860. Jan was then remarried to Katarzyna Zielińska (b. 15 February 1829 at Liniewko–d. 1873), on 14 October 1860 at Lubiszewo-Tczewskie, the daughter of Jan Zieliński (b. abt. 1799) and Maryanna Gręca (b. abt. 1802). The family born at Piwnice were: Michal Nicodem (b. 1861–d. 1874), Franciszek (b. 1863–d. 1863), August (b. 1864–d. 1920), at Suchostrzygi; Anna Julianna (b. 1867–d. 1868) and at Piwnice; Jakob Marcin (b. 1869–d. 1934). Katarzyna died at Piwnice on 11 April 1873 aged 44.

 

Jan was then remarried on 1 June 1873 at Lubiszewo-Tczewskie to Franciszka Szwocha (b. 03 October 1829 at Obozin–d. 1925), the daughter of Albrecht Szwocha (b. 1799–d. 1880) and Anna Wysocka (b. abt. 1796–d. 1840). Franciszka was the widow of Jozef Waliński (b. 16 December 1831 at Mirowo–d. 1872), the son of Antoni Waliński and Katarzyna Kochanska, who died on 5 February 1872 aged 40. The family left Małżewo for Hamburg, where they set sail aboard the Reichstag on 10 May 1874, arriving at Port Nicholson, Wellington on 6 August 1874. The family had been nominated by family and friends to settle in New Zealand.

 

John and Fanny Switalla.

Listed aboard were: Johann Switala age 47, Francisca 45, Johann 17, Marianna 15, Michael 13, August 9, Jacob 5 and Anton 3. They travelled south to Allanton where they settled and gave birth to Joseph (b. 1875–d. 1952) and a baby boy (b. 1878–d. 1878), who survived only three hours. According to the 1882′ Return of Freeholders, John owned one acre to the value of £150 in Allanton. He built the family cottage of sod which consisted of two rooms and was originally thatched. It later adopted a galvanized iron roof which enabled water to be collected. The earth floor was frequently covered with fresh straw to keep the place warm and dry through the winter months and Emily Sophia Pedofski, a granddaughter, recalls doing this task as a young girl. John was employed as a labourer and was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 November 1893.  He died at Allanton on 31 January 1913 aged 86. Mrs. Lomas, a great granddaughter, remembers his death.

‘He was lord on a horsehair style sofa, curtains were drawn and candles lit. All the woman folk (children included) gathered at his home. Once inside the praying started and would continue until the candles burnt out or some other sign was made. In this case the candles were very nearly all burnt out when a mouse appeared under the table, moved around the room once or twice then faded into the darkness. With that the prayers ceased for the day as they had witnessed the lord coming in one of his many guises to take the soul of the departed safely to his kingdom”.

FIVE GENERATIONS OF TAIERI RESIDENTS, COMBINED AGES TOTAL 219 YEARS. Mrs Switalla (93 years), Mrs Pedofsky (63 years), Mrs McCutcheon (42 years), Mrs Kelly (21 years), and Baby Kelly (one year). Mrs Switalla and Mrs Pedofsky arrived in New Zealand in 1873, courtesy of Papers Past | Newspapers | Otago Witness | 19 June 1923 | FIVE GENERATIONS OF TAIERI RESIDENTS, WHOSE… (natlib.govt.nz)

Francisca was a quiet loving lady and known to everyone in Allanton as Granny. She was the midwife for the Allanton district and was required to be out at all times in all types of weather, usually accompanied by someone with a lamp to guide the way. Dressed in black she would wear a plain white collar and cuffs with a sack apron while doing her daily chores. In the afternoon she would then change to a lace collar and cuffs with a white apron for the afternoon. The grandchildren would come to visit granny Switalla after school where she would be sitting patiently in her rocking chair. In the pocket of her apron there would be some sweets for the eager waiting youngsters. Mona Todd, Granddaughter, recalls staying with her grandmother: –

All cooking was done over an open fire which, had iron bars on which a large black kettle was always boiling. It had an oven at the side in which cakes, scones and bread was baked. It was a real treat to turn the churn to make butter. Arms felt like dropping off but I never gave in. Then the best part was making the lump of butter into pats with two wooden pats lined and like two small tennis bats. Butter for the table was rolled into small balls or what they called rolls. There was a large garden where every kind of vegetable was grown. Apples, pears, plums and greengages, red and black currents, gooseberry and raspberries were among the variety of fruit grown. A few hens’ eggs were never in short supply. Parsnip and elderberry wine and apple cider were always made each year. There was a room at the back of the house where stores were kept. It had a stone floor and was always cold. Strings of onions and rolls of bacon were found hanging from the ceiling. Now and again Granny came to Dunedin for a few days and stayed with Mum. I always hoped I would look as elegant as she did in her very best clothes. These were kept in a tin trunk in the bedroom and only worn on a very special occasion. Taffeta petticoats were worn under her frock which made a swishing noise as she walked. A black frock, black boots which were buttoned on the side, black beaded bonnet and beaded purse, black gloves and cape completed the outfit. Granny always wore black. Black apron was worn to do the housework but, in the afternoon, a beautifully embroidered white apron was worn. She was always knitting, sewing, embroidering or doing crochet. I never saw a pattern but she did some beautiful crochet supper cloths.

When Fanny had to go into the Little Sisters of the Poor in Dunedin, the sod cottage remained unlived in from that day. She died in Dunedin on 31 May 1925 aged 95. Johann and Francisca are buried together at the Allanton Cemetery.

John Switalla, Mary Pedofsky (nee Walinska) and Fanny Switalla (nee Szwocha), courtesy of History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand

John Switalla was born at Lubiszewo-Tczewskie on 18 October 1857. He married on 10 November 1881 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at East Taieri to Martha Perniski (b. 22 November 1865 at Kłodawa–d. 1938) . The family born at Allanton were: Joseph (b. 1882), Francis Patrick (b. 1884–d. 1949), John (b. 1886–d. 1926), Martha (b. 1888–d. 1977), Anthony William (b. 1890–d. 1956), Michael James (b. 1893–d. 1967), Mary Emma (b. 1895–d. 1970), Annie Magdalen (b. 1898–d. 1960), Alice Josephine (b. 1900–d. 1973), Edward Alexander (b. 1903–d. 1958), Charles Millan (b. 1905–d. 1979) and Eileen Veronica (b. 1907–d. 1929). According to the 1882’ Return of Freeholders, John owned land to the value of £70 in Allanton. John was employed as an engine driver and was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 November 1893. He died in Dunedin on 18 May 1933 aged 75 and is buried with his wife at the Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.

 

Michael Nicodem Świtala, who was thirteen years old at the time, may have died on the journey out as there is no documentation of him in New Zealand.

 

August Switalla was born at Piwnice on 25 August 1864. He married on 8 August 1889 at the church of St. John’s in Milton to Elizabeth Jane Templeton (b. 1864 at Ireland–d. 1938). The family born in the vicinity were: Harry Walter (b. 1887–d. 1967), Frances Elizabeth (b. 1890–d. 1918), Albert Angus (b. 1892), John (b. 1894), Frank (b. 1897–d. 1982) and Margaret Jane (b. 1900).

MAGISTRATE’S COURT.  CHRISTCHURCH. Mr T. A. B. Bailey, S-M., presided at the Magistrate’s Court yesterday. August Switalli was charged that, being a registered alien, he did fail to give notice of a change of address within fourteen days. The defendant said he did not consider he was an alien, as he had come to the country when he was six years of age, and he had. three sons at the front. ‘The Magistrate said that unfortunately defendant was an alien in the eyes of the law, and must notify changes of address.  Defendant was fined 20s and costs.” Lyttleton Times, 17 October 1918. p 8

“ACCIDENTS AND FATALITIES. SUDDEN DEATH. A man named August Switalli, who has for some time past been in the employ of the Public Works Department at Lake Coleridge, yesterday dropped dead on the Coalgate Railway Station. He had intended coming through to Christchurch. Deceased was removed to the Coalgate Hotel by the police. It is likely that an inquest will be held at Coalgate today.” Sun, 23 July 1920, p 11

August worked as a labourer and died at the Coalgate Railway Station on 22 July 1920 aged 56. Elizabeth died at Hokitika on 14 December 1936.

 

Jacob Martin Switalla was born at Piwnice on 16 November 1869. He never married and resided at Allanton working at times as a butcher. Jacob, employed as a labourer, was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 November 1893. On Christmas Eve of 1921, Jacob became the victim of an attempted murder and suffered serious injuries due to the ordeal.  He became embroiled in an argument with his step-brother, Joseph, which it seems may have had jealous intent.  The event made headlines in all the papers and the NZ Truth, Assault With An Axe.  He died at Dunedin on 24 November 1934 aged 65 and is buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.

John Switalla and Francesca (nee Szwocha), Catholic Block Plot 41 at Allanton Cemetery, courtesy of Paul Klemick

References

Crawford P. E. E. We Were Here Too!, History of the Junge family. (1982), page 103.

Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, pages 25, 26, 27, 42, 44, 155, 171, 172 & 197.

Research Sources

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

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

Godziszewo, Lubiszewo Tczewskie & Subkowy Parish Records, Pelplin Diocese, Poland.

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.

Todd Mona, Dunedin, supplied family information.

Headstone1

Jacob M Switalla, Block 128 Plot 17 at Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin

Headstone1

John Switalla and Martha (nee Piernicka), Block 85 Plot 1 at Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin

Websites

Allanton Cemetery – Francisca Switalla (1829-1925) – Dunedin City Council

Allanton Cemetery – John Switalla (1827-1913) – Dunedin City Council

Andersons Bay Cemetery – Jacob M Switalla (1869-1934) – Dunedin City Council

Andersons Bay Cemetery – John Switalla (1857-1933) – Dunedin City Council

 

 

Compiled by Paul Klemick (2022)