The Rise and Growth of The Polish National Alliance in Detroit
by Benjamin Stanczyk
(From Poles in Michigan, Vol. 1 Detroit, Michigan 1953) Part 1 of 2
The Polish immigrants in America grouped themselves around Catholic Churches holding on to their religious belief which intensity led to a creation of 2 major paternal organizations: The Polish R-C-Union established in 1873 in Detroit and the Polish National Alliance established in 1888 in Chicago, Ill.
Today, the Polish Roman-Catholic Union numbers over 200,000 members and the Polish National Alliance has over 325,000 members.
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The beginnings of the Polish National Alliance in Detroit date from 1885. Peter Leszczynski, the biggest Polish merchant of his time - son of the insurrectionist, Anthony Leszczynski, the third
Polish settler in Detroit - along with Walter Melin, Stanisis Jozefiak, and John Dembinski called a meeting of the "old timers" on the 13th of August, 1885. Of this was born a "Group" which received the serial number 28 (as the 28th to affiliate with the P. N. A.) and the name "Sons of Poland." In 1907, according to W. Smolczynski, Group 28 of the P. N. A. had 126 members.
A year after the birth of the "Sons of Poland" another group was formed under the name, "Sons of the Polish Crown," with K. Nowakowskj and J. Tomalczyk as its founders. By this time the number assigned to the group happened to be 53.
And so, every year or two a new organization was formed in Detroit. "The Fredro Dramatic Society", "Society of Fraternal Aid of Polish Artisans", "The Society of Nicholas Copernicus", "Society of the Polish Eagle", "Society of the Hearth," and so on.
At the 9th Diet of the Alliance, which took place in Detroit from the 21st to the 26th of August, 1891, the delegates excited 615 Detroit members with the idea of centralizing the organizational life of the Polish National Alliance on the local level. peter Leszczynski was authorized to establish the first organizational "Section."
After much preparation, Mr. Leszczynski called a meeting of Detroit members on August 26, 1894, which was held in Sikora Hall at 807 St. Aubin.
Seven of the eight existing groups sent their authorized delegates, Group 28 (Michael Leszczynski, father of the future congressman and grandfather of the present one. John Welsand, W. Koterski, Leopold Terski, Francis Melin, J. Dembinski, Dr. William Pasternacki, Constantine Kaminski, and W. Theda.) Group 53 (J. Przybylawski, the insurrectionist K. Mosakowski, and J. Tuchocki); Group 90 (John Wesolowski, Casimir Nowicki, and John Hoppe); Group 155 (Ladislaus Major, R. Kalinowski, and Stanislaus Rzeszotarski); Group 162 (A. Szymanski, Anthony Sikora, and A. Treppa); Group 212 (J. Baranski, Charles Kulka, and Stanislaus Krzak) and Group 220 (Peter Leszczynski, Joseph Nowakowski, Edward Leszczynski, Joseph Lange, and Robert Dobrzelewski). Only Group 203, jealous of its independence, and greatly underestimating the need for coordination on the local level, did not send its representatives.
Peter Leszczynski, who was authorized by the Diet to carry out the task of uniting the Detroit groups presided at the deliberations of these 29 delegates.
Every delegate unanimously accepted the resolution to organize the Detroit Section as the center of organizational and patriotic work in Detroit. This Section, as the 15th organized, received its number from the central administration.
In 1918 Council 15 numbered over 5,000 members. Its first president was its founder, Peter Leszczynski.
For Part 2, check back next Friday.