1: My Polish Ancestry By Allie Manning
2: Great Grandparents | Grandparents | Parents | Lemiesz
3: Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.
4: Frank Lemiesz
5: Chicago, IL 1932-1940
6: Chicago, Illinois is a city with a rich cultural history. One section of that history belongs to those of Polish descent. Sometimes called “Polonia,” Polish Chicago has experienced three large instances of immigration. The first of these took place between the 1850’s and the 1920’s, the second surrounding World War II, and the third in the 1980’s. By the time 1930 arrived, Poles were the largest ethnic group in Chicago. After that first immigration started in 1950, a small community formed and was led by Anthony Smarzewski-Schermann, owner of a small grocery store in the area. The first Polish Society of St. Stanislaus Kostka was organized in the area by another leader, Peter Kiolbassa, in 1864.
8: What Grandpa Says: Frank and Irene Lemiesz, my grandpa's parents, were not avid churchgoers. They were, however, of the Catholic faith and attended a Catholic church on occasion. My grandpa, also named Frank, was standing outside his house one Sunday when he saw the Italian family that lived next-door. The family proceeded to invite him to their church, which was one of the area's Catholic churches. From that time on, he attended with them every Sunday and has carried the Catholic faith into the present.
9: The Polish Society of St. Stanislaus Kostka led to the formation of the first Polish Catholic Church in the area. The church was named St. Stanislaus Kostka and was essential to the development of the area, since many Polish, Irish, and German immigrants were of the Catholic faith. Later, new Polish settlements formed in addition to this first one. These settlements were based around existing or forming Catholic Parishes, such as St. Wenceslaus. By 1900, 23 Polish Catholic Churches existed throughout Chicago. Conflict over culture domination in the different churches eventually resulted in the formation of the Polish National Catholic Church. | Catholicism in Chicago
10: Chicago Schools Attended by Frank Lemiesz: Knickerbocker Prescott Heassig
11: The Polish National Catholic Church, arguably, was the center of the development of Polish community in Chicago along with parochial schools. These parochial schools first taught completely in Polish, but recognized later that children needed to be prepared for life in America and began teaching in both Polish and English. The schools were concerned also about the children of immigrants retaining their Polish heritage. | Polish-Influenced Schools
12: When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers | The younger Frank, in 2009.
13: Poles eventually found their way into the labor movement, taking part in the unionization of the stockyards. Increased leadership and experience resulted in involvement in neighborhood organizations. Eventually, the Polish began to move into the suburbs. This was an area mixed with those of influence as well as those of working class The Lemiesz’s lived in a variety of locations over time. My grandpa was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but lived his boy years in Chicago. The family moved to Chicago after a failed business attempt in Los Angeles, California. The depression was hitting hard, and they considered the opportunities Chicago might offer. The elder Frank worked for the city of Chicago and sold things door-to-door on the side. Irene worked for Marshall Fields. | The Work Force
14: My grandpa lived in a diverse neighborhood. Jews, Italians, Germans, English, Polish, and Irish, among others, were represented. Polish culture could be seen in the number of Polish restaurants around the city as well as due to the Polish Catholic Church. Grandpa and his parents and sister, Gloria, lived on Wilton Street, about a half a mile away from Wrigley field, where he saw his very first ballgame. His mother and father were looking for a place to live and came upon a street called “Best Street.” They rented a house on the street, only later to find out that it was actually called Wilton.
15: The Neighborhood
16: When Grandpa was four years old, in July of 1934, he and the family went to a movie. The nearby movie theater was the first in the area to have air conditioning, so they decided to enjoy it on a hot night. On the way home, they noticed a commotion outside the theater. It happened that John Dillinger, the notorious bank robber, had been in the theater at the same time as Grandpa. Right then and there he was shot in the alleyway. | John Herbert Dillinger Jr. June 22, 1903- July 22, 1934 Shot outside Biograph Theater, Chicago
18: Grandpa’s Uncle George was at one time in search of a job. He went in for an interview at a corporation in Chicago, only to be told that they would not hire him. His last name was Pisarski, obviously Polish, and this particular business was only hiring Germans. Uncle George, rejected, was discussing the matter with a friend later on. His friend asked, “what does Pisarski mean in Polish?” It meant “writer” or “author.” “What’s the word for writer in German?” the friend proceeded to ask. It was Schreiber. Uncle George went in to the same office a few days later, told them his last name was Schreiber, and got the job.
19: Stories | Sources: Grandpa Frank Lemiesz http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/982.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dillinger