Friday, March 09, 2007

Poles of Parisville, MI Part 3 of 3

Continued from Poles of Parisville, MI Part 2 of 3:

The Oldest Polish Village in Michigan
Parisville - The Glory of its Pioneers
by Rev. Joseph Szarek from from Poles in Michigan, Vol. 1

And, in all truth, Father Wenceslaus Kruszka erred, as was properly pointed out by Father George W. Pare, but not in the manner claimed by Father Pare, since according to the “Tract Book, Huron County, T. 15 N. of R. 14 E., 12E”, Anthony Slavik purchased land from the government of the United States of North America not in 1857, but in 1856, together with Francis Susalla, Francis Polk, Thomas Smielewski, and Ambrose Smielewski. Obviously, Father Kruszka, first undertaking the writing and then the publishing of his memorable work, was not deprived of his good sense to the extent that he had to call in a non-existent homestead law, of which so many of his critics accused him after his death and attributed to him that which he not only never said or wrote, but in all certainty never even thought. Instead, it must be realized that before the homestead law there was another, promulgated in 1850; no one will deny Father Wenceslaus Kruszka the right to support his conclusions by it. This act was entitled "An Act to Provide for the Settlement and Drainage of the Swamp Lands by Actual Settlers". Paragraph 13.871 is as follows: "SETTLEMENT OF SWAMPLANDS: issuance of certificate to certain settlers or occupants. Section 1. The people of the State of Michigan enact, the commissioner of the land office is hereby required to issue a certificate of purchase to every settler or occupant of swamp lands eighty (80) acres of said land, whenever it shall be made to appear to said commissioner that such settler or occupant has actually resided upon such eighty (80) acres of land for the period of five (5) continuous years, and that he has also drained the same so as to comply with the provisions of the act of Congress, approved September 28th (28), eighteen hundred and fifty (1850), by which said lands were conveyed to this State." (C.L. '48, paragraph 299. 2nd; C.L. '29, paragraph 6025; C.L. '15, paragraph 708; How. Paragraph 5436; C.L. '97, paragraph 1487, C.L. '71 paragraph 3978). (Taken from "Michigan Statues Annotated" - containing the text of all general laws of a permanent character in force in Michigan down to October 3, 1950 - compiled and edited by John F. Rice and the publisher's editorial staff - 1951 revision of Vol. 9 AGRICULTURE - CONVERSATION - Chigaco, Callaghan and Co., 1951 pages 619/620).

For historical accuracy let us not leave this fact here. Before the white men came, Indians lived in the area covered by virgin forests. The Poles who came here had 17 Indian families as neighbors who lived in tepees of animal hides. I myself officiated at the deathbed rites of a Polish woman nearly a hundred years old two years ago. She was born in one of these Indian tepees, since it was winter and her parents had not yet finished building their house. These Indians were greatly attached to the Poles and committed no injuries to them but called them “White Brothers.” One harsh winter during glacial frosts and towering snow drifts these poor Indians were completely cut off from the world. Not able to get any food by hunting, they were practically condemned to death by starvation. In despair they forced their way through to their nearest neighbor, one Kucharczyk, and begged for help. Kucharezyk gave them bread, potatoes, and salt pork; the delighted Indians returned to their tepees. After a time, when the snow and ice melted, the Indians flocked out to the hunt and one morning brought a deer to Kucharczyk in gratitude for his help. Furthermore, they made him gifts of various articles, such as jugs and woven baskets.

The early Polish settlers of Parisville brought the aesthetic beauty and deep spiritual qualities and traditions of their own native country. The Pole typifies the spirit of all men and women through the ages who have dreamed dreams, endured hardships, and faced dangers to find a land such as ours, where freedom of worship can be practiced by all generations and by all people. The other characteristic of the Polish people was their patriotism to the new country which they entered. They took part in the outstanding occurrences in the history of the world when the people have struggled for freedom; they fought courageously, risking not only position and wealth, but also their lives, to promote the causes of justice and freedom. But above all the Poles love the soil, from which their name originates; and this attachment to the soil is almost an inherited trait for it appears in succeeding generations. When other nationalities leave the farms and go to the cities we see the Poles loyal to the family land. This is evidenced by that most beautiful hymn, "We Will Not Abandon the Land Where We Were Born." No force will deprive them of their soil.

Part 1 :: Part 2