Friday, January 26, 2007

The P.N.A. in Detroit, Part 2 of 2

The Rise and Growth of The Polish National Alliance in Detroit
by Benjamin Stanczyk

(From Poles in Michigan, Vol. 1 Detroit, Michigan 1953) Part 2 of 2

You can read Part 1 of 2 here.

Council 15, which at that time was the name of the Detroit Section, included not only all the Alliance groups, but also the Falcon Aeries, the so-called "Veteran's" branches, and even certain parish societies. This obviously could not be satisfactory. This was equivalent to a present day Central Citizens Committee. By its endeavors and under its direction great Polish national celebrations took place in Detroit. Through its initiative new Alliance groups rose in the city and surrounding territory; all sorts of projects embracing cooperative excursions or amusements were carried out by this Section. At last, from within it, was born the idea of erecting a Polish Home in Detroit. Today it is located at Chene and Forest. It was then considered to be centrally located and eventually become a skyscraper.

Council 15 is rightly considered to be the mother of the Alliance in Detroit and in the vicinity. Later it divided itself. From its womb were born Councils 54, 122, 167 and 170.

The story of the other Council is as follows:
During the 20th Convention of the Polish National Alliance, which like the 9th convened in Detroit, the West Side Alliance groups decided to split into a separate Section.

The Central administration, queried at the Convention, assumed a favorable attitude in this case, and agreed to the creation of Council 54 in Detroit. The Convention established the character of the Councils; it removed from them all societies which did not formally belong to the Polish National Alliance. In Section 15 and 54 there remained only the Alliance groups; The Falcons, Veterans, and other organizations left to lead its independent life.

Joseph Tuchocki became the first president of Council 54. Fifteen P. N. A. groups entered the new Section. It had 2,000 members at the beginning.

In 1918, in conformity with the agreement made at the 22nd Convention of the Polish National Alliance, several groups belonging to Council 15, but active within the City of Hamtramck, separated from the parent Council and created a new one which was numbered 122. The first president of Council 122 was Peter Mankowski. A shining achievement of this young Council was the construction of a beautiful, modern building, costing $150,000, at Conant and Belmont. "The Alliance Home," as it was called, shortly became for Hamtramck what the "Polish National Home" was to the old East Side quarter - the site for celebrations, cultural exhibitions, lectures, and study courses.

In 1931, with the approbation of the 26th Convention of the Polish National Alliance, Council 167 arose in a similar manner. The problem was one of separation from Council 15 of a number of groups a trifle distant from the center of Council 15 in order to aid recruitment. Stanislaus Sadowski became the first president of Section 167. Its headquarters was the "People's Home"
near Harper and Joseph Campau; headquarters of Council 54 is the "Allied Societies Home," and that of Council 15 - the Mother - the old "Polish National Home."

Finally, after the 27th Convention of the Polish National Alliance and with the approval of the Alliance authorities, several located in the vicinity of Wyandotte and environs separated Council 54. Six of these groups then created a separate Council of the Polish National Alliance - No. 17.

At the present time the over-all picture in the Polish National Council of Metropolitan Detroit is as follows:

Council 15, P.N.A., 28 groups, over 4,000 members, Jacob Lewandowski, president.

The Detroit Councils of the P. N. A. belong to the Tenth Circuit of the P.N.A.

Thanks to the existence of these Councils hundreds of dollars have been collected by the Detroit members for cultural purposes. Buildings were erected and in their lecture halls there are held numerous courses of study for adults, youth, and children through the efforts of the Sections.

No Polish organization in the Metropolitan Area of Detroit can boast of such achievements.

End of Part 2 of 2.