Świtała, Jan (1827-1913) Starzęcin, the son of Albrecht Świtała (1782-1852) & Maryanna Johanna Dering (1797-1852), married on 15 October 1854 at Church of the Holy Trinity, Lubiszewo-Tczewskie to Jozefina Malichnowska (1834-1860) Małżewo, the daughter of Bartlomiej Malichnowski (1792-1833) & Anna Pallakawska (1800-1840). Family—Małżewo; Maryanna (1855-1861), Lubiszewo-Tczewskie; Jan (1857-1933) & Piwnice; Stanislaw (1860-1860). Jozefina died just two weeks from giving birth to Stanislaw on 23 May. Jan then married Katarzyna Zielińska (1829-1873) Liniewko, on 14 October 1860 at Lubiszewo-Tczewskie, the daughter of Jan Zieliński (1799) & Maryanna Gręca (1802). Family—Piwnice; Michal Nicodem (1861), Franciszek (1863-1863), August (1864-1920), Lunowo; Anna Julianna (1867-1868) & Piwnice; Jakob Marcin (1869-1934). Katarzyna died at Piwnice on 11 April 1873 aged 44. Jan then married on 1 June 1873 at Lubiszewo-Tczewskie to Franciszka Szwocha (1829-1925) Obozin, daughter of Albrecht Szwocha (1799-1880) & Anna Wysocka (1796-1840). Franciszka was the widow of Jozef Waliński (1831-1872) Mirowo, the son of Antoni Waliński & Katarzyna Kochanska, who died on 5 February 1872 aged 40. The family left Małżewo for Hamburg, where they set aboard the Reichstag on 10 May 1874, arriving at Port Nicholson, Wellington on 6 August 1874.
Listed aboard were—Johann Switala 47, Francisca 45, Johann 17, Marianna 15, Michael 13, August 9, Jacob 5 & Anton 3. They travelled south to Greytown where they settled and gave birth to—Joseph (1875-1952) & male (1878-1878), surving three hours. The 82’ Free Holders lists Johan owning one acre to the value of £150 in Greytown. Johann built the family cottage of sod which consisted of two rooms. 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. Emily Sophia Pedofski, granddaughter, recalls doing this task as a young girl. Johan, a labourer, 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 grand daughter, 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.
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 & Francisca are both buried at the Allanton Cemetery.
John Switalla married on 10 November 1881 at Church of the Immaculate Conception, East Taieri, Martha Perniski (1865-1938) Kłodawa. Family—Greytown; Joseph (1882), Francis Patrick (1884-1949), John (1886-1926), Martha (1888-1977), Anthony William (1890-1956), Michael James (1893-1967), Mary Emma (1895-1970), Annie Magdalen (1898-1960), Alice Josephine (1900-1973), Edward Alexander (1903-1958), Charles Millan (1905-1979) & Eileen Veronica (1907-1929). The 82’ Free Holders lists John owning land to the value of £70 in Greytown. John, an engine driver, 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.
Michael Nicodem Świtala may have died aboard the Reichstag as there is no documentation of him in New Zealand.
August Switalla married on 8 August 1889 at St. John’s, Milton to Elizabeth Jane Templeton (1864-1938) Ireland. Family; Harry Walter (1887-1967), Frances Elizabeth (1890-1918), Albert Angus (1892), John (1894), Frank (1897-1982) & Margaret Jane (1900). August worked as a labourer and died at Rakaia Gorge on 22 July 1920 aged 56. Elizabeth died at Hokitika in 1938.
Jacob Martin Switalla never married and resided at Allanton working at times as a butcher. Jacob, a labourer, was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 14 November 1893. He died at Dunedin on 24 November 1934 aged 65 and is buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin.
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.
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.
Compiled by Paul Klemick (2021)