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Wiśniewski Family



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Wiśniewski, Michal (1836-1911) Mała Słońca, the son of Jan Wiśniewski & Maryanna Łęska (1798-1857), married on 13 November 1859 at St. Jan Nepomuncen, Godziszewo to Anna Maria Orłowska (1837-1910) Pszczołki, the daughter of Jozef Aleksander Orłowski (1813-1895) & Brigitta Parobkiewicz (1814-1906). Family—Trzcińsk; Joseph (1860-1860), August (1861-1942), Franciszek (1863-1863), Gniszewo; Jan (1866-1866), Klein Turze; Franciszka (1867-1867), Waleria (1869-1869), Antoni James (1871-1950) & Bernhard (1873-1947). They left Turze Wielkie for Hamburg where they set aboard the Reichstag on 10 May 1874, arriving at Port Nicholson, Wellington on 6 August 1874.

Micheal Wisniewski, Anna Maria Orlowska and adopted grandson Alexander/Alec

Michael Wisniewski, Anna Maria (nee Orlowska) and adopted grandson Alexander/Alec. Ca. 1908. Provided by Charlotte Olsen, ancestry.com

Listed aboard were—Michael Wischniewski 37, Anna 37, August 12, Anton 3 & Bernard 11 mths. They travelled south to Dunedin and from here they walked the rest of the way to Waihola where members of Annie’s family had settled two years prior.  On a small allottment which was made ready for them, Michael built a clay cottage with his bare hands.  He later built a wooden one and used the original home as a store. Here they had the rest of the family—Martha (1875), Francis (1877), Anna (1878-1955) & James (1880). The 82’ Freeholders lists Michael owning 5 acres to the value of £100 at Waihoa and while working as a labourer, he was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 13 June 1887.  Considered a real leader in the Waihola Community, he was devoted to his faith and took much liberty in ringing the church- bell on special occasions such as funerals, etc. Their home was always open to visiting priests who would be welcomed in for breakfast and where all church meetings were held. Annie who was a midwife for the local area allowed no physical work on Sudays and this was very strictly observed. Michael would read extracts from the bible, being able to read only in Polish. When they needed a letter written in German or English they would ask Mr. Hilgendorf, a businessman at Waihola for help and grandson, Hyacinth, remembered two such occasions. Daughter, Anne, was the church organist and washed all the altar linen and cleaned the church. She was extremely upset when the church was moved to Broad Bay, Dunedin in 1948. She was also the local dressmaker, staying at peoples places sewing their winter & summer wardrobes. She is also remembered with huge scissors in hand being able to cut without a pattern. In 1899 Michael was successful in obtaining land on the Momona Estate later selling it to his son Bernard in 1904.

Fire at Momona. A hard case. On Tuesday night one of the Momona settlers, Mr. Wisnesky, suffered a severe loss through the burning of his house. The fire took place at 9 o’clock, and nothing is known as to the case of it. Mr. Wisneski and his wife were outside at the time, and the first intimation they had of the fire was the sight of the flames. The house was a small one, and was quickly consumed, not even a particle of furniture being saved. Mr. Wisneski’s case is a particularly hard one. He is an industrious settler, who had taken up a section in Momona, and his past savings had been invested in the building of his house and the purchase of cows. Ł5 1s 6d in cash was in the house. There was not a shilling of insurance on his property, and Mr. & Mrs. Wisneski saved nothing but the clothes they were wearing. The loss is estimated at Ł160. From what we know of the people round about Mr. Wisneski’s neighbourhood we feel sure that they will have great sympathy with him in his misfortune and assist him to the best of their ability in making a fresh start.“10 Feb 1900, The Taieri Advocate.

It is believed at the age of 70 Michael worked on the Mosgiel-Middlemarch railway to make ends meet while raising their grandchild. He died at Waihola on 24 December 1911 aged 75 & Annie died at Waihola on 25 December 1910 aged 73. Both are buried at the Waihola Cemetery.

Wisnesky Cottage, Waihola 2015. Taken by Paul Klemick.

August Wisnesky at 14 went to Milton and was apprenticed to a man named Chisolm who taught him carpentry. After completing his apprenticeship it appears that he moved to Dunedin where he married on 22 January 1884 at Knox Church to Wilhelmina Henke (1861-1945). Ousted from the family because his wife was German and of a different faith, they left New Zealand & settled in Melbourne, Australia. Here August worked in a sash and door factory in Northcote. The family returned to New Zealand in 1894 and settled in Dunedin. Here August worked for the New Zealand Railways, eventually being appointed as Superintendent of the Hillside Workshops. Family—Eva Lily (1884-1958), Augustus Henry Francis (1886-1966), Henry Raymond (1886-1912), Victor Daniel (1892-1977), Bernard Anton Frederick (1895-1967), Gladys Nellie Amelia (1901) & Alexander Ross (1905-1981). August died at Dunedin on 14 May 1942 aged 80. Wilhelmina died at Dunedin on 16 May 1945. Both are buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin.

Anne Wisnesky (church organist) lived in this cottage at Waihola and was later sold to Julius Bungard. Taken by Paul Klemick 2015.

Antoni James Wisnesky Labourer married on 15 August 1900 at St. Hyacinth, Waihola to Margaret Tarbet (1875-1964). Family; Jeannie Glady (1896-1991), Myra Valeria (1901-1991), James Walter (1903-1927), George Lambert (1904-1972), Anne Margaret (1905-1982), Michael Francis (1907-1973) & Ida Veronica (1908-1998). Antoni died at Oamaru on 10 June 1950 aged 79 and Margaret died at Oamaru on 18 November 1964. Both are buried at the Oamaru Old Cemetery.


Anthony Wisnesky. Provided by Gordon John Greaney, ancestry.com

Bernard Wisnesky married on 7 December 1898 at the Wisnesky Home, Waihola to Henrietta Kay (1875-1905). Family—Waihola; Cedric William Kay (1898-1944), Hyacinth Francis (1900-1989) Cecilia Evelyn (1901-1996) &, Ada Katarzyna (1905). Hyacinth was the first child to be baptised at the Waihola Church of St Hyacinth and recalls his grandparents, father and Aunt Anna (unmarried), looking after his sister & himself after the death of their mother while she gave birth to Ada Katarzyna on 9 May 1905. The small farm his grandparents owned in Waihola could not keep the family, therefore his grandfather worked for the railways on the line up to Middlemarch. In 1907, when his grandfather was about 70 years of age, Hyacinth stayed at home looking after the 200 chickens and chopping firewood for him. Aged around 7-10 he used to drive a horse-cart or sledge for his grandfather collecting firewood or cutting ripe grass for grass-seeds. Hyacinth also helped August Orlowski by holding the ladder for him when he was doing repairs to the church. While at home in Waihola the old people including his father and Aunt Anna, used the Polish language. Between themselves, they spoke about Poland but never to Hyacinth. Henriette, at the age of 30, died at the home of Annie Wisnesky on 9 May 1905 and is buried at the Waihola Cemetery. Bernard died at Petone, Lower Hutt on 15 June 1947 aged 74 and is buried at the Taita Old Cemetery.


Augustus & Wilhelmina Wisnesky, Block 148 Plot 61, Andersons Bay Cemetery


Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, pages 42, 45, 46, 47, 155, 172 & 196.

Research Sources

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.

Godziszewo, Miłobądz & Subkowy Parish Records, Pelplin Diocese, Poland.

Bernard  Francis Wisnesky full grave

Bernard Wisnesky, Roman Catholic Block 3 Plot 43, Taita Old Cemetery

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.

Waihola Cemetery Records, Dunedin Public Library


Andersons Bay Cemetery – Augustus Wisnesky (1861-1942) – Dunedin City Council

Oamaru Old Cemetery – Anthony James Wisnesky (1869-1950) – Waitaki District Council

Taita Old Cemetery – Bernard Wisnesky (1873-1947) – Find A Grave Memorial

Compiled by Paul Klemick (2021)