Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Polish Origins Tour - Day One

Our guide, Ula, picked us up from our hotel. We loaded up all our bags and headed northwest and out of Warsaw. Our first stop was Dulsk, Poland, about 2.5 hours from Warsaw. 

We were driving along a one way partial dirt country road through farmland. I commented if I had attempted this trip with my dad, we probably would have turned around at some point.

In Dulsk, we stopped at the Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. 

This is the church that my grandmother's parents, Julianna Wiśniewska and Antoni Piasecki were married in around 1901! Julianna and Antoni had four children while living in the area; Jessica, Stella, Stanley, and Virginia. Antoni went to the U.S. first (I think he was sponsored by his brother) and in 1914 Antoni sponsored Julianna and the kids to join him the U.S. After they all arrived in the U.S., Julianna and Antoni had three more children, Genevieve, Helen, and Caroline (my grandmother). 

We hopped back in the van and headed to Płonne, where Julianna was born. Her parents were Łukasz Wiśniewska and Marianna Bąkowska.

The date inscribed on the church is 1402, though the building looks a little more modern. This is the Catholic Church of Saint James the Apostle. This would have been the church Julianna was baptized in and attended while growing up.

Next to the church was the bell tower. Clarissa and walked over to explore it. 

Just down the hill from the bell tower was an ivy covered building....we headed over for a little impromptu photo shoot. 

Of course when a cat was spotted, we must go say

We stopped at the cemetery in Płonne. We spotted a grave marker for someone who was born around when Julianna and Anthoni got married, so we were guessing he may have been a nephew or cousin of Julianna.

Our next stop was the Golub Castle in Golub-Dobrzyń County. The castle was built in 1293 by the Teutonic knights. 

It's somewhat interesting in that it was a perfectly square castle with an open courtyard in the middle.

We were able to walk around some exhibits on the history of the middle floor. The ground floor was a restaurant, restrooms, and a little shop. We did not view the top level. The basement was the highlight for Clarissa. It was fun of all kinds of medieval torture devices. These included a nail covered chair, a pillory (for hours of public ridicule), and this strange box that you would lock people in.

The castle is said to have horse stairs, stairs that the knights used to ride the horse up on from the courtyard to to their chambers. I can imagine it smelled lovely in the summers with the horses sleeping upstairs. The stone entryway.

Of course, we found the castle cats.....

There was a lovely view of the city, Golub-Dobrzyń, below and a former moat-like depression to run down and back up in.

We then headed on to Toruń for our first night's stop. After checking into our hotel, we walked around Toruń. Due to being settled around the 8th century, Toruń is one of the oldest cities in Poland. It sits on the on the Vistula River (which we crossed when in sightseeing in Warsaw). During WWII, Toruń was spared during bombing so many of the original buildings still stand. 

The Old Town Hall with Gothic architecture and Szeroka Street.

I love the signage.....227 meters to the pierogi shop and 35 meters to gingerbread shop.

After dinner, we walked down to the water, where we saw the city wall and the Brama Mostowa (the bridge gate) into the town.

Heading back to our hotel we saw the Old Town Hall illuminated and the statue of Nicolaus Copernicus in front of it. Nicolaus Copernicus was born in Toruń in 1473, he was a mathematician and astronomer, and is best known for his model of the universe that placed the Sun, not the Earth, at its center. Toruń is very proud of Copernicus.

Here's a map showing where we drove on our first day. 

Here's a photo of Julia Ann, Anthony, and their only son, Stanley, in the U.S. years later (using the Americanized spelling of their names). Stanley got his U.S. citizenship when he joined the military to fight in WWII. He was killed in Germany in 1945. 

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