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Johnsons of Polish descent *** Polish Dunkirk, NY and Jadwiga's Crossing: a story of the Great Migration
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"There were Polish people in Dunkirk as early as 1848, although the so-called "Polish immigration" from Prussia did not commence until 1850. First Polish families were those of Ambrose Johnson, Anthony Pogorzelski, Joseph Fleming and John Winkler."
p. 71
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Johnsons of Polish descent *** Polish Dunkirk, NY and Jadwiga's Crossing: a story of the Great Migration



   I admit my main interest in reading "Jadwiga's Crossing" was personal. Having recently discovered that my great-grandfather was one of the earliest Polish settlers in Dunkirk New York, my decision to pick up a copy of  "Jadwiga's Crossing" was made in the hope that the book would include information about my family. After all, some of the characters in the book were actual Polish immigrants, so there might have been some mention of my father's father, Ambrose Johnson (Amboży Jasiek), who according to census records had arrived in Dunkirk some twelve or thirteen years before Jadwiga. She would have known him, I bet.

   Although "Jadwiga's Crossing" did not help me  locate anyone related to me or provide any specific information about my family, it was nevertheless enlightening. The main characters of the novel, like my great-grandfather, were from the Prussian part of Poland.  By reading about their experiences,  I was able to imagine what 
Richard J. Lutz
life was like in nineteenth century Poland and to better understand the conditions that he and his family must have endured on the voyage across the Atlantic. I feel the novel is a must for anyone interested in reading about the immigrant experience -- Polish or otherwise, and I am definitely looking forward to reading the sequel, "Jadwiga's America", which I understand is currently in the works. 

When my great-grandfather arrived in Dunkirk in 1857, he did so with his second wife and his two children: my grandfather, Jacob, and Jacob's little sister Ewa. (Ambrose's first wife had died, in Piaseczno, Poland.) According to "Out of the Wilderness",  a book on local history written by Leslie F. Chard... 
Aloysius A. Lutz

With so few Polish compatriots living in Dunkirk at the time, establishing oneself in an American city must have indeed been a daunting challenge. I often wonder if I were in their shoes, would I have had the courage and fortitude to walk the path of the immigrant. How fortunate we all are that our descendants were such rugged survivors. We owe them everything!

UPDATE: I am happy to report that since I wrote the above comments, I have learned more about Ambose Jasiek and his family. If you are interested, you can read more about it HERE.


A Few Photos Relating to Ambrose Johnson and the Dunkirk, New York Polish Community
Home of Ambrose and Mary Johnson  -  36 North Ermine Street in Dunkirk, NY,  just a few blocks from Lake Erie
Many of the Dunkirk Johnsons were buried at St. Hyacinth's Cemetery, 
however, the location of Ambrose Johnson's gravesite is unknown to me.
 St. Hyacinth's Parish, the second oldest Polish parish in Western New York, was established in 1875.

ABOVE: Dom Polski: Polish influence is still strong in Dunkirk

BELOW: Blessed Mary Angela Church 
(formerly St. Hedwig's), Dunkirk, N.Y.
ABOVE: Moniuszko Club 

                    BELOW: Dunkirk's Monument to Tadeusz Kosciusko

Richard Lutz, a native of Dunkirk, discusses his novel
Richard J. Lutz (Author), Aloysius A. Lutz (Contributor) 
Jacob Johnson
My grandfather grew up in Dunkirk-Fredonia, but later moved to Buffalo. He served as the English teacher at St. Stanislaus School for 16 years before deciding to devote himself fulltime to politics and his real estate business. 

Buffalo "Polonia" at the Turn of the Century


St. Hyacinth's Cemetery, Dunkirk, New York (Lake Erie is seen on the horizon.)
Jadwiga's Crossing: a story of the Great Migration
Polonia Music
CLICK HERE to read the history of St. Hyacinth's Parish, the second oldest Polish parish in Western New York.