Sunday, February 14, 2016

Notes from Judi

If this is your first visit to our family web site ... WITAMY! If you haven't been here in awhile, please browse through all chapters for new additions and solved mysteries.

Please note that in order for each chapter of our family history to appear in the order it occurred, "post" dates have been adjusted chronologically.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bronislaw J. Grala

"Eo sum genre gnatus." -- Platus*

Bronislaw Jozef Grala was born on October 12, 1891. At the time of his birth his parents, Jozef Grala and Antonina Gorecki, may have resided in Baba, Ostroleka, Mazowiecki, Poland. He died in New Britain, CT on October 10, 1984. In between is a history that spanned two continents and produced the wonderful family of which I am very proud.


While we know little of Jozef and Antonina aside from stories shared by their grandson Frank, Jr., we believe other children included: Jozef Jr., Maryanna, Helena, Bronislawa, Elinora and Franciszek.

When Bronislaw first arrived in America in 1909, he gave his last permanent address as Baba. He moved his family back there in 1921. In 1928, he returned to New Britain, CT ahead of them and took a job with Stanley Works where where he never missed a day of work in 30 years! These events alone paint a picture of a tenacious, adventurous man. Imagine the strength and determination it must have taken to pack up and move a family from one contingent to another ... not once, but twice!

Cousin Cynthia found this photograph of a woman who is most probably one of Bronislaw's sisters! We were fortunate that the father of Cousin Cookie's student was able to translate it for us: The inscription on the back reads, "To ja, siosta, kochany bracie i wnuczka moja, to jest starszezego tosyna corka." The way to say it in English would be, "It is I, your sister, my lovely brother, and my grand daughter from my older son. It is my son's daughter."

*Such is the stock I spring from.

Franciszek J. Grala

Throughout our family's history it is clear there was a strong bond between Bronislaw and his brother Franciszek. So I am happy to share what little I know of him and hope to find some of his descendants as our tree grows!

Franciszek J. Grala was born on December 1, 1898. It is interesting to note that, on the U.S. Census for 1920, he indicated that he was born in Galicja* (Galicia in English). However, it is more likely he was born in Baba, Ostroleka, Mazowiecki, Poland. The youngest child of Jozef and Antonina, it's been said that he was the one to most resemble his mother.

Franciszek immigrated to the United States in 1912 and was headed to Lorain, OH where he planned to join Bronislaw [actual record not yet found]. But he had difficulty adjusting to that environment [his son Frank, Jr. didn't know if it was the steel mills or coal mines, but he did know it was hard labor] and got in touch with Joseph Gorecki who told him that the factories in the Hardware City were hiring ... especially new arrivals.

In New Britain he met Rose Swider and married her in 1915. They lived at 44 Orange Street where Franciszek (Frank) J. Grala, Jr. was born on November 30, 1916. Helena (Helen) was born in New Britain as was Genowfa (Jean) in October 1921. Rosalia died on January 12, 1938 in New Britain. Franciszek died there in 1952.

Bronislaw joined Franciszek in New Britain after the death of Teofilia in 1918. Rose cared for the children while her brother-in-law worked. Frank Jr. wrote that his father and Uncle Bronislaw was church collectors and on Easter and Christmas they wore bright red military-type uniforms as security guards at the tomb and manger.

In 1921 Franciszek's wife and children joined Bronislaw and his family in Baba for a period of one year. Franciszek stayed behind as he was attending night school to become a U.S. citizen. (At the time, the U.S. Government was very anxious to have new arrivals become naturalized and threw in a bonus ... if you became a citizen, your spouse automatically became one also.)

Sadly, Frank Jr. passed away on 27 Feb 1996. I am so thankful to have been the recipient of his colorful gleanings about the Grala family (see "Letter from Frankie")! God bless you Frankie.

*When genealogists use the term "Galicia" they are usually referring to a region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, stretching from roughly Krakow in the west to Tarnopol in the east. Today, this area would be south-Eastern Poland and Western Ukraine. It is highly unlikely it is the place of Franciszek's birth.

Maryanna Grala

Maryanna Grala was born about 1888, likely in Baba, Ostroleka, Mazowiecki, Poland. She arrived in New York on April 13, 1905 aboard the Rhein and was going to her brother Josef Grala in Pittsfield, MA.

On January 25, 1906, Maryanna Grala of Great Barrington, MA married Stanislaw "Stanley" Krzynowek of Lorain, OH. He was the son of Jacob Krzynowek and Sophie Simczyk. Joseph was born about 1882 and died in Hampshire Co., MA in May 1966. The ceremony took place at Corpus Christi Church in Housatonic, MA and was officiated by Rev. J. H. Fagan.

Grala-Krzynowek Notes:
  • When Bronislaw arrived in New York in 1909 he indicated he was going to his brother-in-law, Josef Krsynowski in Housatonic, MA. Josef was actually Stanley's brother.
  • Josef "Joseph" Krzynowek married Stanislawa Krzynowek, the daughter of Ignacy Krzynowek and Marianna Barsoy, on January 30, 1912. The following month, on February 19, 1912, Bronislaw married Teofilia. Sometime later both couples relocated to Lorain, OH.
  • Joseph died in Lorain on November 19, 1918. At the time of his death he was employed by the Clipper Steel Plant and lived at 813 E. 33rd St. Teofilia died in Lorain on the 30th.
  • After Joseph's death, Stanislawa married Stanislaw Papinski (or Lapinski) and made a trip to Poland with her four children (3 from 1st marriage and 1 from 2nd). They returned to the U.S. on August 18, 1922 aboard the Aquitania and were going to her husband Stanlislaw Papinski at E32nd St., Lorain, OH.

Puzzling Pieces

Thinking of you this first day of Autumn with a lovely card I received years ago from Aunt Hedy!

As the leaves begin to change, it's the perfect time to climb back up our family tree in search of clues to some unsolved mysteries. I did find some puzzle pieces up there, but I need your help in fitting them together:

28 April 1902
Adam Lalensky* (28) of Baba, Poland arrived in NY aboard the Ryndam. The manifest indicated he was going to his brother-in-law, F. Pieloscik (sp?), in Housatonic, MA. (*Actually Adam Zalensky on the manifest.)

17 May 1903
Joseph Grala (17) of Baba, Poland arrived in NY aboard the Arcadia. The manifest indicated he was going to his uncle, Adam Zalesky, in Pittsfield, MA.

13 April 1905
When Maryanna Grala (17) of Baba, Poland arrived in NY aboard the Rhein she was going to her brother Josef Grala in Pittsfield, MA. We've determined she was Bronislaw's sister.

20 November 1906
Dorotea Zalinska (38) of Baba, Poland arrived in NY aboard the Oldenburg. The manifest indicated she was going to her husband, Adam Zalenski, in Pittsfield, MA. [This is Dorotea Pielosick.]

19 February 1912
Branislauf Grala (20) of 86 Turner Avenue, Pittsfield, MA married Theophila Rogowska (18) in Housatonic, MA. (86 Turner Avenue was the home of none other than Adam Zalinsky!)

Based on these clues, Aunt Joan and I feel certain that Josef Grala and Adam Zalinsky are related to us in some way ... that perhaps we have more relatives waiting to be found. Afterall, Baba isn't that big a place for so many Gralas to be unrelated! But who is Adam Zalesky and how is he connected to our family history?

If anyone can help us solve this mystery, we'd appreciate hearing from you!

What's in a name?

While surfing genealogical web sites I came across the Gen Dobry Newsletter and wrote to it's editor, Fred Hoffman, to compliment him on the newsletter and get myself on his mailing list. Fred is the author of Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings.

In my email, I asked if he'd ever come across the Grala surname. I never expected him to reply and was amazed at the following response. I hope you find it as fascinating as I did!

Dear Judi:

Back in 2000, a lady named Karen Main ( wrote to ask me about this name. I doubt that email address is still good, but most of the answer I gave her is worth repeating. So I'll repeat it below, modified with some additional info I've picked up since 2000. Karen said of an ancestor (her grandfather, I think):

"The name he took or used or was given in the U.S. was "Grala". My mother says that he hailed from the Carpathian mountain region. She discovered an article in National Georgraphic that described a Polish clan that went by the name of "Gorale" (hyphen over the "o")."

The Gōrale are not really a clan, but rather a kind of sub-culture of Polish mountainmen in southern and eastern Poland, especially the Carpathian region. Because of their geographic isolation they developed a rather insular community with their own customs and such, kind of like the mountain men in the U.S., except they have persisted for centuries.

It's possible a name like Gōral (the singular of Gōrale) could be modified into Grala. Poles pronounce Gōral "GOOR-all," and from that to Grala, "GRAH-lah," is not too big a jump. I've certainly seen names distorted a lot more than that.

I should point out, however, that GRALA is a legitimate Polish name in its own right, seen in records from as far back as 1385. As of 1990, according to the database at (which covered about 94% of the population of Poland), there were 2,739 Polish citizens named GRALA. The largest numbers lived in the following provinces: Kalisz 234, Katowice 212, Lodz 327, Ostroleka 308, Poznan 187 and Sieradz 119.

For more recent data (and more accurate) from 2002, see here: It gives the number as 2,940 and shows the name is found all over, with the largest number (267) in Ostroleka, in northeastern Poland. Still, there is not really enough to give you a reliable notion where a specific Grala family came from. Only research into the family history might uncover that. In your case, it's great to know he came from Baba -- but which Baba? There are 8 places in modern Poland named Baba or with Baba as part of their name. I note, however, that the largest, a village of 330 persons, in Ostroleka county -- the same county with the largest number of Gralas. It's not wise to jump to conclusions, but you have to wonder if this is telling us something?

As for the linguistic origin of the name, Polish name expert Prof. Kazimierz Rymut mantions GRALA in his book Nazwiska Polakow (The Surnames of Poles). He says it can come from the German name Grall, or it can also come sometimes from the root "gra" meaning "to play". GRAŁA, with a slash through the L giving it the sound of our W, is a name meaning "player, one who plays an instrument". It's pretty rare, however, since only 24 Poles bore that name as of 1990 (35 as of 2002). Sometimes names with GRAŁA also have forms with plain L, so GRALA and GRAŁA could sometimes be variants of the same basic name.

By the same token, there were 8,439 Poles named Gōral in 2002, living all over Poland, expecially in the south.

I checked for info on the German name GRALL, but found nothing on it. The Duden Familiennamen, a good book on German names, does mention GRAHL, which is prnounced essentially the same. It says that name can come from an old Germanic term meanin "angry", or from an old Germanic term meaning "noise, upror, boisterousness", or from the Middle High German word for "grail", or from a place name such as Graal in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region.

So, we have a real variety of possible origns to choose from, all of the plausible. Over the centuries, lots of Germans settled all over Poland, and it's not at all rare to find German names borne by Polish citizens. So GRALA could very well have started our as "(son/kin) of Gral", referring to a German named Grall or Grahl. Perhaps he was an angry sort, maybe he was noisy and boisterous, maybe he came from Graal. Then again, he could have been a native Pole who was a "player" in some sense. There's really no way to say for sure.

I doubt the connection with "Gōral" would prove relevant, unless research into the family history proves that the family originally came from the mountainous regions of southern Poland. I'd go with eithr "son of Gral" or "the player". Rymut seemed to think "son of Gral" was the more likely explanation. But as always, a lot depends on what your research turns up.

That's about all I can tell you. I hope it's some help, and wish you the best of luck with your research.

Fred Hoffman
Author, Polish Surnames: Origins & Meanings

The Baba Homestead

Baba is located in Ostroleka, a region in the province of Mazowiecki in Northeast Poland. It was a historically significant source of immigrants to the United States, especially to the Polish communities on the East Coast, as well as large Midwestern industrial cities such as Cleveland and Detroit.
During a visit with Aunt Bernice and Uncle Frank, I was shown an oil painting done by their grandson, Eddie, from stories Frank told him about the farm in Baba. We are so fortunate to have this unique glimpse into our family's past!
Bronislaw liked to tell the story of going to the Polish-American Club in New Britain where members would ask each other where they came from ... the hope was to find somebody who had lived in their area of Poland. Evidently, there were not many members from Baba. When Bronislaw would tell where he was from, it never failed that someone would respond, "I know that! But where did you reside?" "BABA," he'd say. Again, "Damn it! But that was only for nine months!"

Letter from "Frankie"

At a Cousins Reunion, Val suggested we expand our reunion to other branches of the Grala tree. A few days later I sent a note off to Frank Grala, Jr. (Francizek's son) explaining what we'd been up to over the preceeding years, with a copy of our newsletter.

Imagine my surprise when I received his reply. It was of special interest to me for two reasons: I'd found another member of the Grala clan who seemed to love writing as much as I do and discovered where I got that head of red hair I was born with!

Frank's 8-page letter was printed clearly and neatly in fountain pen ... at one point, where the color of ink changes, he writes, "Gee, I ran out of peacock green ink and must continue with blue black." However, there are places where I've added missing words (in parentheses) to make reading go a little easier:

Dear Judi,

Family Tree: This is not a memo but an odyssey. Thus the reply delay. (I) first had to find the lost key to the locked closet door, rattle the skeleton bones, insert a catheter into my brain and put my thoughts of the past together (into) a judicial, memorable presentation.

Gee: What a wonderful surprise to receive a message from a member branch! In my age it was only a small budding tree. Today a large and tall, solid oak tree. I must be living on the second or third floor limbs and do recognize the clan on the tenth floor limbs. But from there to the twelfth floor is a blur.

Observe: New Zealand is where you had experienced one of your happiest moments of your life. (He is making reference to Ralf & I getting married there.) Marvelous! In the early 40s this land was named as (a) rest & rehabilitation center for some U.S. troops returning from a journey visiting an island. The young men dreamed of basking in the sun and exploring the new outer environment. After three days of leisure and free from duties, the atomic bomb strikes again. The order of the day is the usual training, again preparing for another vacation island. The kiwi fruit is delicious. Your chronology of vital events has a GI flavor. Damn good job ... carry on!

Gatherings: The last time I spoke to your parents and the clan was at mother's wake. A year or so later, I received an invitation to attend a party for clan members only at the Crystal Ball Room in New Britain. At the same time, I was accepted as an armed security guard on probation with FBI involvement. Since the Wells Fargo grand robbery in West Hartford (involving a security guard), the FBI came into the picture. My situation (was explained) to Hedy who was to relay the message to the clan (as to) why I was unable to attend.

Grandparents: To emotionalism and stubborn, I think you should add these adjectives: industrious, strong-willed and disciplined. These have been (proven) by the generations as a roll-over from (my) grandparents.

(My grandfather) was sturdy-built with somewhat broad shoulders. The height (was about) 5'7" as (was) Uncle Bronislaw, my father and myself. He had a striking black mustache -- Hitler type. Anybody looking at him would focus on his eyes and mustache first. His looks? Look at Uncle B and you're looking at Grandfather Grala sans mustache. To me, when he was on the horse, the image was as a dignitary which the neighbors did not fail to notice.

Grandmother was to a Mona Lisa type. I don't remember too much of her because I spent most of my time with him (in activities such as) eating homemade cheese in the field. That cheese was damn good and tasty!

During the visit at Baba I had some exploring events, but the one I liked best is named "horse and master." One day, grandfather took Benny and me (around), explaining what we can and cannot do in the area. The last stop was at the barn with a horse. It was also "don't do." I explained my liking the horse because of the color (of its red coat). I once had red hair. At that age, one is only interested in the "cannot do." A few days later, with grandfather in the field, we went to the barn and the horse followed us to an empty wagon. We climbed aboard the wagon with the horse on the side. Benny got on first and I followed with a minor problem. Benny (gave the horse) a sharp slap and we went galloping. Your guess is right ... the horse stopped where the master was working. The next few days both of us had a difficult time sitting down.

I was told by a family member that my father was the youngest of the family and the only one to resemble his mother. It was a puzzle to me why I never met a red hair in the Grala clan until Joseph Gorecki came into the picture. He was a redhead. My parents had some problems with friends (and when) the conversation involved hair, the Gorecki name emerged. Thus, if you know it or not, the red gene is somewhere out there in that tree. At my stage of life I still have not run across a Grala redhead.

My parents:
Frank Grala
Born: December 8, 1898
Place: Same as Uncle B
Married: 1915 New Britain
Died: 1952 New Britain

Rose Swider
Born: 1900 Poland
Died: 1936 New Britain

Oldies but goodies: My father was also a teenager when he first saw Ellis Island in 1913. He was on his way to Lorain, Ohio which proves Uncle B arrived alone. There was a Joseph Gorecki living in New Britain (who) later (became) my godfather, but he was only two years older than my father.

Apparently my father had difficulty adopting to the environment. I don't know if it was the steel mills or coal mines, but I do know it was hard labor. Father got in touch with Gorecki and learned the Hardware City factories were hiring ... especially new arrivals. One item I wish to bring to your attention is (that) a strong bond existed between the two brothers.

44 Orange Street: I was born there on November 30, 1916. Across the street was the Sacred Heart Rectory and on the church property north was the church on Broad Street facing Horace Street facing where Uncle B lived ... about the fourth home.

Years later, when Benny married Pauline, their first living quarters were across the street (from) where Uncle lived. More years later Benny owned a grill and restaurant. I was with Armour & Co. and he was one of my customers.

The next street west was Gold Street where their home was located. Across the street was the church property. On my visits (to see them) I was always treated as a son. Both (brothers) were married here. A Christian mass and burial (was held) for the four of them (and they were buried at the) same cemetery. Both (my father and Uncle B) were church collectors. On Easter and Christmas they wore bright red military-type uniforms as security guards at the tomb and manger.

67 Grove Street: We lived on the third floor facing Orange Street. This is where (we lived when) Uncle B arrived with the children.

Remembering: From the bits of conversations overheard between the brothers, my consensus is that the American dollar was worth a bushel of Poland's zbtys and a better, comfortable living for them (could be found in Poland). We left shortly after (Uncle B and his family) did -- my mother was to lay the ground work. I never learned why father did not come with us. I do know he was attending night school to become a U.S. citizen at the Polish Club. At the same time, the U.S. government was very anxious to have the new arrivals become U.S. citizens. The bonus was if one became a U.S citizen, the spouse became a U.S. citizen also. Thus, my mother became one while in Poland.

Later, I learned the higher-ups at the club convinced my father (that) the future on the horizon would be (an) onerous (one) -- political and economic conditions there were not only (cloudy), but (there was) also a storm (coming). We were ordered to return to the U.S.

Stanley Works: Although I did not graduate with a higher education I had some experience in that field. This will reveal the management's respect for Bronislaw Grala. I graduated high school in 1936 and was seeking a means to continue. (During) the time of the Great Depression, even the dictionary deleted its description of "unemployed" and inserted the word "normal." Yes, Uncle B made arrangements for me to be hired at the plant (in order for me) to continue my education.

Baba: Translation -- female, women, she, etc. They had much difficulty with this word. At that time, the new arrivals in their own conclave environment would meet on weekends, in groups, including all sections. The idea was to find somebody who lived in your (area) of Poland.

The first question would be, "Where are you from?" Answer (father or uncle, "Baba." Again, "Hell, I know that. But where did you reside?" The answer, "Baba." Again, "Damn it! But that was only for nine months."

S.S. Batori: During the recall home, we also boarded it. size? Take your pick (from any) one of Columbus' ships.

Uncle's Travels 1929-1933: Perhaps, but while living with us, the answer is no.

Grala: If you do some research (you) will discover the name is unusual. But the name also has unexplained answers as (is with) the name Smith. Two unmarried brothers named Grala lived in New Britain at that time. Joseph sang in the church choir and Steve worked in the same factory as my father. Steve was a frequent visitor to our home. I never did learn (what) part of Poland they lived (nor did I) learn (of their) family ties (to us). Here is one to ponder before the next chess move.

Gee -- I ran out of peacock green ink and must continue with blue black.

I transferred from the parochial to public school systems. About a week later, one of the teachers called me after a classroom session. She explained (that) because of my name she wanted to know how my cousin was doing in Europe? My answer was positive. She went on (to explain what) maturity (he had) at that age and (that he was) an honor student before the family left the U.S. for Byelo-russia. My only answer was, "Yes ma'am," (before I) walked out confused. It is your move.

In closing: My humble words of dziekuje and bogudzienka plus my own design garden of roses to my uncle and aunt. It is a long list of good deeds, but I must mention some: The night they arrived for my son's wake in 1975 -- he was disabled then -- (they commiserated) with us until closing time. The same at my wife's wake in 1981. Also, since the death of my father in 1952, (they) never missed sending me a Christmas card -- always with positive, handwritten words (of) encouragement. The last time we met in person was at Tony's wife's wake.

Since they would never want to listen to my thank-you after a good deed, I now can speak: Lord, please grant my Uncle Bronislaw and two aunts eternal life, peace and happiness. I pray to thee.

Well: My journey is over and (I'm) back to port. Hope (this) may help in your research.

A family branch,

Frank J. Grala, Jr.

P.S. Your letter and its content are concise, short, understandable and to the point -- wonderful!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Bronislaw Grala & Teofilia Rogowska

Teofilia Rogowska was born ca. 1894. At the time of her birth her parents, Josef Rogowski and Maryanna Zakryewska [sp?], resided in Lyse, Poland. The only record of siblings found so far is that of Josef Rogowski, age 26 of Lyse, who immigrated to the United States on July 28, 1913 aboard the S.S. Berlin. The manifest shows he was on his way to his brother-in-law, Bronislaw Grala, in Lorain, OH.

A death certificate for a man named Joseph John (Rogowski) Rogus may well belong to Teofilia's brother. The record shows he was a retired steel worker living in Wheeling, Ohio, West Virginia. He was born in Poland on 17 Mar 1888 to Mary and Joseph (Rogus) and died 16 Feb 1954. I'll follow up on this lead to see where it brings us!

Bronislaw Grala was living at 86 Turner Ave. in Pittsfield when he met Teofilia. Coincidentally, around the corner from him lived a Leonora Grala and, possibly, her parents Adam and Mary. To date, I have not found if or how they are related to us.

He once told his daughter Bernice that he met Teofilia at a dance, "Teofilia was a tiny woman with long, dark hair and the first time I danced with her I knew she would be my wife."

They married at Corpus Christi Church in Housatonic MA on February 19, 1912 before moving to Lorain, OH where three of their children were born at 2848 Oakwood Ave.: Bronislaw (Benny) Jozef Grala, Jr. on January 20, 1913, Helena (Helen) C. Grala on March 2, 1914 and Bronislawa (Bernice) F. Grala on September 29, 1916. Sometime after Bernice's birth, they moved to 602 E. 32nd Street.

Between 1917-1918 the great Spanish flu pandemic killed more people than did the war. Teofilia became one of Lorain's 200 epidemic victims on November 30, 1918. A snapshot in Bernice's memory brings us to a moment when Teofilia, weak from the birth of her fourth child, and gravely ill with the flu, asks Bronislaw to bring the children into her room. "Sensing he was losing her my father thought he'd go crazy waiting for the doctor to arrive. So many people were sick and there were not enough doctors to tend to them!"

The image of Teofilia with her long, dark hair spread over the stark whiteness of her pillow remained with Bronislaw always. Before he died, he gave Bernice a container filled with dirt he had saved from Teofilia's burial site and asked her to throw some of it into his own grave. The rest, he said, was to be saved for herself.

I shared this poignant story with Benny's daughter, Betty, and appreciated her response: "Grandma Teofilia? Now that's an interesting name! My father used to weep whenever he played a Polish record of a ballad of a mother's love. He said one could only understand the song if one had lost a mother. But he had been so young, how could he remember? Still, it was the one and only thing I knew that brought tears to his eyes."

Gene's daughter, Cynthia, and I concluded that emotionalism - sometimes stubborn - is a reoccuring characteristic of the Grala clan.

After her death, Bronislaw was persuaded by his brother Francizek to relocate to New Britain, CT. Concerned about the burden three children would place on his sister-in-law, he made arrangements for Bernice to stay behind with a family who agreed to raise her. But at the last minute, he decided to visit his daughter to say goodbye. "I am sitting there playing with my toys when I see my father and run to him," Bernice recalls. "He started to cry when I threw my arms around his neck and decided he must keep the children together."

"To emotional and stubborn," commented Frank, Jr. (Francizek's son), "you should add these adjectives: industrous, strong-willed and disciplined. These have been proven by the generations as a rollover from our grandparents."

Imagine the strength and determination it must have taken to pack up and move three small children under such sad circumstances!

A death certificate was found today for Stanislaw Grala, the son of Bronislaw Grala and Teofilia (Rogowski), who was born November 25, 1918 and died May 18, 1919. Case of death was "milk infection", a very common cause of infant deaths at that time ... especially if the birth mother was ill with an infectious disease as was the Spanish flu.

The informant indicated on baby Stanislaw's death certificate was Domonik Rutkowski who, with his wife Michaeline (Krajewski), lived around the corner from Bronislaw and Teofilia at 3115 Elyria Ave. with their 6 children ranging in age from 4-15. Mr. Rutkowski is shown on the 1920 U.S. Census as being employed at the steel plant ... perhaps where Bronislaw also was employed.

Domonik & Michaeline
Understandably, Bernice's recollection of that sad time in our family history was through a child's eyes. However, we now know it was baby Stanislaw who was left behind to be raised by another family. While none of their descendants knew about baby Stanislaw, they now know he was a part of their family's history. Whether or not they are related to us remains another mystery to be solved!

Teofilia's story has been added to the Pandemic Influenza Storybook where you'll find personal recollections from survivors, families and friends. Go to

3115 Elyria Ave. Today

Postcards From the Past

After their marriage on February 19, 1912 Bronislaw and Teofilia left Pittsfield, MA and headed to Lorain, OH. Benny, Helen and Bernice were born there at 2848 Oakwood Avenue. Sometime later they moved to 602 E. 32nd Street where Stanley was born. After Teofilia's death on November 30, 1918 Bronislaw and his older children went to New Britain, CT where he met and married Maryanna on January 28, 1919.

Baby Stanley was left in the care of Domonik Rutkowski who, with his wife Michaeline (Krajewski), lived around the corner from Bronislaw and Teofilia at 3115 Elyria Ave. Stanley died there on May 18, 1919. Mr. Rutkowski is shown on the 1920 U.S. Census as being employed at the steel plant ... perhaps where Bronislaw also was employed.


We've learned that Bronislaw's sister Maryanna Grala (of Great Barrington, MA) married Stanley Krzynowek (of Lorain, OH) on January 25, 1906. His brother Joseph married Marianna Barsoy on January 30, 1912. This was the month preceding Bronislaw's marriage to Teofilia, so it appears both couples knew each other and may have returned to Lorain together. Joseph died on November 19, 1918. At the time of his death, Joseph was employed by the Clipper Steel Plant and lived at 813 E. 33rd St.

These old postcards from Lorain show us it was a bustling port with industries that would have supported shipbuilding ... like steel mills. With Lake Erie a few blocks away, there were also waterfront parks where Teofilia may have brought her children to play.

Bronislaw Grala & Maryanna Boguslawska

Maryanna A. Boguslawska was born November 8, 1894. At the time of her birth her parents, Anton Boguslawski and Valeria Grosinska, resided in Grzebsk, Mazowieckie, Poland. While little else is known about Anton and Valeria at this time, it is believed other children included Michael, Wladyslawa and Tadeusz. Maryanna died in New Britain, CT on April 13, 1987.

There are a number of variations on how she and Bronislaw Grala met. One is that he knew her from Poland and another is that they met through a mutual acquaintance in New Britain, CT. When queried about her decision to marry a man who already had a family, she'd say that she loved his children and felt sorry for them because they had no mother. From other stories told by Maryanna, her decision may also have been motivated by the fact that people were already referring to her as an 'old maid.'

They married at Sacred Heart Church in New Britain on January 28, 1919 and lived at 111 North Street where Antonium (Tony) C. Grala was born.
Jadwiga (Hedy) R. Grala was born on February 3, 1921. At the time of her birth the family was living at 104 Gold Street. About 3 months later, the family migrated to Baba, Ostroleka, Mazowiecki, Poland. From the bits of conversation Frank, Jr. (Franciszek's son) overheard between the two brothers, his consensus was that the American dollar was worth a bushel of Polish zloty and that a more comfortable living could be made back in their homeland.
It seems Bronislaw and his family stayed in Baba only long enough to plan their move to Pomorze (where Bronislaw found work as a miner) and make arrangements for their youngest daughter to live with Maryanna's parents in Mlawa. [Go to for some interesting history about Mlawa.] For the next 5-6 years, Hedy's visits with her parents were far and few between. During that time the family moved back to Baba where the family farm was split between Bronislaw and his oldest brother Josef and where Stanislaw (Stanley) E. Grala was born on July 11, 1923.

Meanwhile, Hedy came to know and love Antoni and Valeria as her parents. When the day came that she was to leave them to rejoin her real family and begin school she was not happy. But she soon discovered she had a wonderful new house made of logs with a center fireplace [see THE BABA HOMESTEAD]. Just outside the window to her parents bedroom there were cherry trees and a waterfall flowed nearby. Best of all, she realized she now had many brothers and sisters to play with!

It seems Maryanna was not content to stay in Poland and may have been the one to persuade Bronislaw to return to America. He came back to New Britain in April 1928 took a job with Stanley Works until money was saved to bring his family over. Back home in Baba his son, Eugenjusz (Eugene) S. Grala born.
Benny and Helen were the first to be reunited with their father and are listed with him in the 1934 New Britain City directory at 23 Horace Street. With the exception of Bernice, who stayed behind at the family homestead to marry Frank, the rest of his family returned to America in May 1934. They are shown in the 1935 directory as living at 44 Gold Street where Joanna (Joan) A. Grala was born. Bronislaw and Maryanna purchased their home at 40 Gold Street in 1937.





Friday, January 5, 2007

The Grala Children


Bronislaw "Benny" Jozef Grala, Jr. was born on January 20, 1913 in Lorain, OH and died July 21, 1975 in Newington, CT. He married first to Boleslawa "Pauline" M. Gadomski, daughter of Karol Gadomski and Marjanna "Mary" Ceberek on June 18, 1935. Pauline was born April 14, 1914 in New Haven, CT and died July 16, 1987. He married second to Lucille "Lucy" A. Rudnick in June 1954. Lucy was borm September 25, 1919 in New Britain, CT and died December 28, 2007 in Lebanon, CT. Children (1): Dorothy J., Elaine & Bronislaw "Broni" E. Grala; Children (2): Elizabeth A. Grala & David B. Grala.

Helena "Helen" C. Grala was born Mar 2, 1914 in Lorain, OH and died 26 August 1964 in New Britain, CT. She married Stanley T. Cisz, son of Frank Cisz and Helen (Unknown) on  Sepember 1, 1937. Stanley was born December 28, 1914 in CT and died January 29, 2001 in New Britain, CT. Children: Carol T. & Stanley T. Cisz Jr.

Bronislawa "Bernice" Francesca Grala was born September 29, 1916 in Lorain, OH and died January 27, 1998 in New Britain, CT. At the time she married Franciszek "Frank" Niedbala in 1935, they were both living in Baba, Poland. Child: Eugenia "Jean" A. Niedbala.

Stanislaw Grala was born November 21, 1918 in Lorain, OH and died there on May 18, 1919.


Antonium "Tony" Czeslaus Grala was born 25 Oct 1919 in New Britain, CT and died there May 25, 2010. He married first to Pauline A. Olszowy on February 23, 1946. Pauline was born October 28, 1919 in New Britain, CT and died June 24, 1981 in Wethersfield, CT. He married second to Virginia Gawek on February 14, 1983. No children.

Jadwiga "Hedy" Rose Grala was born February 3, 1921 in New Britain, CT and died November 15, 1999 in Naugatuck, CT. She married Stanley M. Rozycki, son of Samuel William Rozycki/Ruzzy and Stanislawa "Stella" Karwacki, on November 22, 1941. Stanley was born November 1920 in Bridgeport, CT and died April 14, 2008 in Titusville, FL. Child: Joseph J. Rozycki.

Stanislaw "Stanley" Edward Grala was born July 11, 1923 in Baba, Poland and died November 1, 1991 in Port Charlotte, FL. He married Claudia Florence Morin, daughter of Claude Morin and Bertha Marcinczyk, on May 12, 1945. Children: Judith A., Diane L. & Stanley E. Grala Jr. [See also]

Eugenjusz "Eugene" Stanislaw Grala was born in Baba, Poland and died April 16, 2016 in New Britain, CT. He married Catherine "Kitty" Gregory Asvestas, daughter of Gregory Asvestas and Mary Kirigis, on January 16, 1949. Kitty was born March 17, 1929 in Boston, MA and died Jun 16, 2007 in New Britain, CT. Children: Kathleen A., Cynthia J. and Eugene S. Grala Jr.

Joanna "Joan" Ann Grala was born in New Britain, CT. She married Erwin John Cepek Jr., son of Erwin J. Cepek and Mary R. Horanzy, on June 15, 1956. Erwin was born July 8, 1934 in New Britain, CT and died October 12, 2001 in Kittery, ME. Children: Valarie M., Pamela J., Lorraine H. and Erwin J. Cepek III.

Grand Central Gathering

"I have ever had pleasure in obtaining any little anecdotes of my ancestors." --Benjamin Franklin

3rd Row: Elaine, Carol, Pauline (Gadomski), Stanley (Rozycki),
Thadeus Boguslawski (Maryanna's brother), Frank (Niedbala), Tony,
Bronislaw Sr., Eugene, Bronislaw Jr., Stanley (Cisz) & Stanley
2nd Row: Pauline (Olszowy), Hedy, Lucy (Boguslawski), Bernice,
Stanley Jr., Maryanna, Mrs. & Helen Asvestas
(Kitty's mother & sister) & Kitty with daughter Kathy
1st Row: Dorothy, Claudia, unknown, Joan, Broni, Helen & Jean

Bronislaw (Benny) Jozef Grala Jr.

Helena (Helen) C. Grala

Bronislawa (Bernice) Francesca Grala

Antonium (Tony) Czeslaus Grala

Jadwiga (Hedy) Rose Grala

Stanislaw (Stanley) Edward Grala

Eugenjusz (Eugene" Stanislaw Grala

Joanna (Joan) Ann Grala














D=Divorced; (living)=Dates unpublished for security purposes. Unless otherwise indicated all events took place in Connecticut