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Wiśniewski Family



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Wiśniewski, Michal (1836-1911) Mała Słońca, the son of Jan Wiśniewski & Maryanna Wiski, m. (13 Nov 1859) St. Jan Nepomuncen, Godziszewo, Anna Maria Orłowska (1837-1910) Pszczołki, the daughter of Jozef Orłowski & Bridgitta Parobkiewicz. 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” 10 May 1874, arriving at Port Nicholson, Wellington, 6 Aug 1874.

Listed aboard were—Michael Wischniewski 37, Anna 37, August 12, Anton 3 & Bernard 11 mths. They travelled south to Waihola where members of Anna’s family were residing. Here Michael built a sod cottage, later replacing it with a wooden one where the rest of the family were born—Martha (1875), Francis (1877), Anna (1878-1955) & James (1880). The 82’ Freeholders lists Michael owning 5 acres to the value of £100 at Waihola. Michael, a labourer, was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen 13 Jun 1887. A leader in the Waihola Community, he would ring the church- bell on occasions such as funerals, etc. Visiting priests had breakfast at their home where all meetings were held. On Sundays, Anna allowed no physical work and this was very strictly observed. Michael read extracts from the bible, being able to read only in Polish. When they needed a letter written in German or English they asked Mr. Hilgendorf, a businessman of Waihola for help. Grandson, Hyacinth, remembers two such occasions. Daughter, Anna, was the organist and washed the altar linen and cleaned the church. She was very 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. “The Taieri Advocate”, 10th February 1900. It is believed at the age of 70 Michael worked on the Mosgiel-Middlemarch railway to make ends meet with the raising of their grandchild. Michael died at Waihola 24 Dec 1911 aged 75 & Annie died at Waihola 25 Dec 1910 aged 73. Both are buried at the Waihola Cemetery.

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 m. (22 Jan 1884) Knox Church, 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—August, Bernard, Eva Lily, Victor, Alex & Gladys. August died at Dunedin 14 May 1942 aged 80. Wilhelmina died at Dunedin 16 May 1945. Both are buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery, Dunedin.

Antoni James Wisnesky Labourer m. (15 Aug 1900) St. Hyacinth, Waihola, Margaret Tarbet (1875-1964). Family—Waihola; Jean, Moira Valeria, Jacobus (James Walter), George Lambert, Anne Margaret, Michael & Ida Veronica. Antoni died at Oamaru 10 Jun 1950 aged 79 and Margaret died at Oamaru 18 Nov 1964. Both are buried at the Oamaru Cemetery.

Bernard Wisnesky m. (7 Dec 1898) Wisnesky Home, Waihola, Henrietta Kay (1875-1905). Family—Waihola; Hyacinth Francis, Cecilia Elvina, Ada Katarzyna. 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 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. Bernard died at Auckland 15 Jun 1947 aged 74.


Catholic Baptism Records, St. Joseph’s, Catholic Archives, Dunedin

Cemeteries search – Dunedin City Council

Cemetery search – Waitaki District Council

Hamburg Passenger Lists

New Zealand Freeholders

New Zealand Naturalisations

Pobόg-Jaworowski J. W., History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, Warsaw, 1990, pages 42, 45, 46, 47, 155, 172 & 196

Polish BDM, Pelplin Archives

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand, Dunedin

Waihola Cemetery Records, Dunedin Public Library