The Bosakowskis take Manhattan: 1910-1915

In an earlier post, I provided an overview of the sixteen Bosakowski cousins – including my grandmother Katarzyna – who immigrated from Zalozce, Austria to the United States in the first two decades of the 20th century. Then, in a follow up post, I recounted the immigration stories of Ignacy, Michal, Jan, Kata, Dominika and Ludwika, the first group of family members to make the trip. By 1910, these six immigrants had settled into life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and one of them, Kata, had married a coal man named Adam Telechowitz.

View of Lower East Side from Manhattan Bridge in 1915. From the vintage photograph website shorpy.com.

Later that year, Jan, Ignacy and Dominika traveled back to Zalozce. There are no surviving records of the outbound trip but we know that two men returned once again to New York while Dominika stayed in Zalozce. Ignacy eventually rejoined her there.

Jan’s second passage through Ellis Island took place on December 20, 1910. He arrived on the S.S. Amerika sailing from Hamburg and sailed through inspection without being detained.

The passenger manifest reveals two interesting details. We learn that Jan’s father is his next of kin back home, so Piotr Bosakowski must have still been living in 1910 (when he would have been 61 years old). We also get a sense of what Jan looked like: he was 5’ 6” tall with fair complexion, fair hair and brown eyes.

Ignacy’s second trip to Ellis Island happened on December 5, 1911. He arrived on the S.S. Kaiserin Auguste Victoria out of Hamburg, traveling with a five year-old girl named Franciszka Lobaj, the daughter of his cousin Feodor Lobaj.

The passenger manifest confirms that Dominika was now living in Zalozce. It also tells us that Ignacy was 5’ 4” tall with fair complexion, fair hair and gray eyes.

Jan and Ignacy both moved back in with their sister Kata and brother-in-law Adam Telechowitz at their apartment at 82 Allen Street.

Meanwhile, between 1910 and 1913, at least nine other family members would make the trip to New York. They all embarked from ports in Germany. And they all traveled in steerage, which meant they were ferried upon arrival to the immigration processing station at Ellis Island.

Pawel Bosakowski

On March 25, 1910, Pawel Bosakowski arrived on the S.S. Pretoria, which embarked from the port of Hamburg two weeks earlier. Pawel was 18 years old and unmarried. It appears that he was traveling alone.

The passenger manifest indicates that he was a farm worker. He said he could read and write. And he gave the name of his mother Katarzyna Bosakowska as next of kin back home. (One would expect him to have identified his father Karol. I suspect Karol died before 1910.)

Pawel paid for the passage himself and declared he had $20 in cash for expenses. An immigration officer corrected this, noting he had only $17. We also know, from the passenger manifest, that Pawel was 5’ 5” tall with fair complexion, light brown hair and gray eyes.

He said he going to stay with his brother Michal Bosakowski, who lived at 122 Essex Street. He was probably admitted on his own recognizance but I can’t say that for certain. His name does not appear on the list of detained aliens but some of the pages are damaged or illegible. Either way, it seems likely that he went to stay with Michal at 122 Essex Street.

Honorata Bosakowska

On February 17, 1911, Honorata Bosakowska arrived on the S.S. President Lincoln sailing from Hamburg. The trip took twelve days.

Honorata was my grandmother’s younger sister. She was the first of three children of Jozef and Maria Bosakowski to move to America. It appears that she made the trip alone.

The passenger manifest shows that Honorata was 18 years old which was her actual age. Her employment is listed as “housemaid.” She said could read and write.

Her next of kin back home was her father Jozef Bosakowski – evidence that my great-grandfather was still alive in 1911 (he would have been 64 or 65 years old then).

Honorata paid for own ticket and declared she had $26 in spending money. She may have been was one of the rare few who made an honest declaration because no one corrected this. We also know from the record that Honorata was 5’ 4” tall with a fair complexion, brown hair and gray eyes.

She said she was going to stay with a cousin named Karolina Jankowska. I wonder why she didn’t rely on one of her Bosakowski relatives as a contact. As it turned out, Karolina Jankowska would marry Pawel Bosakowski in a few years’ time.

Honorata, like all the women processed at Ellis Island, was detained until a relative could come and get her. The Record of Detained Aliens (click to enlarge) shows that Karolina came to retrieve her the next day. So Honorata, like her female cousins, spent her first night in America in an Ellis Island dormitory, where she was provided one dinner and one breakfast.

Katarzyna Bosakowska

The next family member to come over was my grandmother, Katarzyna Bosakowska. On April 16, 1912, she boarded the S.S. Kaiserin Auguste Victoria in Cuxhaven, Germany (near Hamburg) for a ten-day trip to New York with stops in Cherbourg, France and Southampton, England. The ship arrived in New York on April 26 and Katarzyna was processed for immigration at Ellis Island.

The passenger manifest indicates that Katarzyna was 21 years old. But using her professed date of birth (November 25, 1893), she would have only been 18. I noted in an earlier post that I found a birth record for a Katarzyna Bosakowska dated November 8, 1889. If that was my grandmother’s actual date of birth, then she would have been 22 years old.

According to the passenger manifest, Katarzyna worked as a servant and could read and write. Her next of kin in Zalozce was her father Jozef (more evidence that my great-grandfather was still alive).

Katarzyna said her sister Honorata paid her fare. She declared she had $16 in cash for expenses, but this was corrected to indicate she had $13. The record also notes that Katarzyna was 5’ 3” tall with fair complexion, brown hair and gray eyes.

Katarzyna was placed on a list of detained aliens until Honorata could come and get her. She was most likely processed in the afternoon and then assigned a bed in the Ellis Island dormitory. Honorata came the next morning and Katarzyna was released at 9:30 a.m. The Record of Detained Aliens notes that she had one dinner and one breakfast during her detention.

Presumably, my grandmother went to join her sister at 271 East Broadway. Before long, however, she accepted a live-in position as a servant with the family of Joseph Mayers who lived at 101 Essex Street. Mayer, an immigrant from Russia, was making a good living as the proprietor of International Phonograph Co. dealerships on Essex and Houston Streets.

Too good a living. Mayers, it turns out, was also a crook. But a discovery that juicy deserves its own post.

Piotr and Anna Bosakowski

The next two to come over were Michal’s brother Piotr Bosakowski and his wife Anna Stojkiewicz Bosakowska. They arrived on September 17, 1913 on the S.S. Kaiser Wilhelm sailing from Bremen.

The passenger record shows that Piotr was a 27 year-old farm laborer from Zalozce. Anna was a 25 year-old housewife. Both said they could read and write. They both listed Anna’s father, Daniel Stojkiewicz, as next of kin back in Zalozce.

The record indicates that Piotr paid their way across. Together, they had $49 to cover expenses.

Piotr’s nationality is noted as Polish but Anna is listed as Ruthenian, i.e., Ukrainian. Piotr was 5’ 7” tall with fair complexion, blond hair and blue eyes. Anna was 4’ 8” tall and also a fair, blue-eyed blonde.

The couple indicated they were going to stay with a brother-in-law named Pavel Kolaski or Kolewski (it’s hard to make out the name) who lived at 319 East Houston Street. They were detained until a relative could come pick them up. But something must have gone awry. Piotr and Anna were stuck in detention for two days until Michal, who was now living at 415 Grand Street, came for them on September 19. While they waited, Piotr and Anna had four breakfasts, six lunches and four dinners between them.

Wincenty Bosakowski

Traveling on the same ship as Piotr and Anna was their younger cousin (and my grandmother’s younger brother) Wincenty. For some reason, Wincenty didn’t board the boat with his cousins, nor did he go through inspection with them at Ellis Island.

It’s too bad. Wincenty could have used some moral support. He was flagged for “special inquiry” by immigration officials and faced a make-or-break hearing to determine whether he would be allowed to enter the country at all.

According to the passenger manifest, Wincenty was an 18 year-old farm laborer. (He actually celebrated his 18th birthday aboard the Kaiser Wilhelm.) He said he could read and write. And, like his sisters, he named their father Jozef as next of kin back in Zalozce. He was 5’ 11” (much taller than anyone else in the family) with fair complexion, brown hair and brown eyes.

But two details in the passenger manifest stand out. Wincenty declared that he had $2 in cash on him. But the customs official corrected this to indicate he had no money at all. Also, an immigrant inspector wrote “med. cert.” next to his vital statistics, indicating that he must have failed the medical examination in some way.

Wincenty was sent before the Board of Special Inquiry as an L.P.C. – likely public charge. If there was also some kind of medical issue, it is not reflected in the record.

The Board of Special Inquiry would have been made up of three inspectors. Its task was to determine whether Wincenty fell within any of the “excluded classes” barred from immigration under U.S. law. So Wincenty would have had to defend himself in a formal hearing to determine whether he was eligible for admission. It must have been a scary moment for him.

Sixty-one passengers from the Kaiser Wilhelm had to face the Board of Special Inquiry. One in five was deported. Luckily, Wincenty made it through.

The record shows he had a hearing two days after his arrival where he must have satisfied immigration officials that he would be able to support himself. He was released on September 19, probably in the custody of his sister Katarzyna, whom he named as his U.S. contact. The record doesn’t say.

I’m not sure Wincenty would have been able to stay with his sister, since she worked as a live-in servant and didn’t have a place of her own. I suspect he went to live with his cousin Michal. In the 1915 New York census, Wincenty is living with Michal at 117 Henry Street.

Antoni Bosakowski

Antoni Bosakowski was the next family member to arrive, just one week after Piotr, Anna and Wincenty, on September 23, 1913. He came on the S.S. Main sailing out of Bremen. He appears to have been traveling alone.

Antoni was following his three older brothers, Michal, Pawel and Piotr. But why didn’t he travel with Piotr? Why take a different boat one week later? It seems particularly odd when you realize that Antoni was only 17 years old without a cent to his name.

The passenger manifest indicates that Antoni was 18 years old and single. His occupation is listed as sailor, which seems curious given his age and the fact that his hometown of Zalozce was nowhere near the sea. (His older brother Michal also said his occupation was sailor back in 1906.)

Antoni names his mother as next of kin back home. So Pawel, Piotr and Antoni all named someone other than their father as next of kin. It’s probably fair to assume that Karol Bosakowski died before 1910.

Antoni is described as 5’ 4” tall with fair complexion, blond hair and blue eyes. He stated that his brother Michal paid his fare. Interestingly, he didn’t even pretend that he had any funds. He declared he had no money for expenses and the immigration inspector penciled in “none” just to clarify things.

But Antoni didn’t have to face the Board of Special Inquiry. He was simply detained until Michal could come get him. Antoni spent two days and two nights in detention and was finally released on September 25.

Klimintyna Bosakowska

Somewhere along the way, probably in 1912 or 1913, Michal Bosakowski’s wife Klimintyna (or Klimka) came to join him in New York. I have not found any immigration records for Klimintyna, but she does appear in the New York census of 1915 and U.S. census of 1920.

The couple left behind a son, Andrej, who would eventually come over and join them in New York.

Karolina Bosakowska

I have come across Karolina Bosakowska in the New York City vital records. She was the younger sister of Ignacy, Jan, Kata and Ludwika, the first group to come over. I have not found her immigration records either but in 1915 she married a man named Michael Neszta. That’s the one and only piece of documentation I have for her.

Settling in, getting married

By 1915, any thoughts of traveling to or from Austria were dashed by the outbreak of World War I. While the U.S. was officially neutral until 1917, Austria (allied with Germany and the Ottoman Empire) would soon be the enemy. And Zalozce, a town only six miles from the Russian border, would find itself on the front lines. The town was occupied by the Russian Army in the first weeks of the war and later on, after attacks and counterattacks, it would find itself entrenched on the war’s Eastern Front.

It must have been a difficult time for the Bosakowskis who stayed behind. But for those family members in New York, it was a time to settle in and put down roots.

During this period, several of them got married.

In October 1912, Jan Bosakowski married Marya Kozakiewicz, an immigrant from the town of Bialoglowy, a couple of miles south of Zalozce. They were married at St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church on East 7th Street. Witnessing the ceremony were Michal Bosakowski and Adam Telechowitz.

Next to get hitched was Pawel Bosakowski, who now went by the name Paul. He married the aforementioned Karolina Jankowska at St. Stanislaus in November 1914. Karolina came from Zalozce. It was a small town so she and Paul must have known each other since they were children. The witnesses were Michal Bosakowski (he played this role often) and Demetrius Chomicki.

Karolina Bosakowska was next to walk down the aisle, marrying Michael Neszta at St. Stanislaus in May 1915. Michael was a porter who lived on Hester Street. The witnesses, again, were Michal Bosakowski and Adam Telechowitz.

Finally, Honorata Bosakowska married Michael Romaniszyn at St. Stanislaus in November 1915. Michael was a laborer from Galicia, probably from Zalozce or thereabouts.

*  *  *

So, by the end of 1915, there were over a dozen Bosakowski family members living on the Lower East Side of New York. I have found some, but not all of them, in the 1915 New York census:

  • Kata and her husband Adam Telechowitz continued to live at 82 Allen Street with Jan, his wife Marya and their infant daughter Nellie.
  • Michal and his wife Klimka moved to an apartment at 117 Henry Street, which they shared with Antoni and Wincenty.
  • Katarzyna was living at 101 Essex Street as a live-in servant with the Mayer family.

It is not clear where some of the others are in 1915. Most of them re-emerge later, in later censuses or in other records. Some, like Ludwika and Karolina, seem to have left no trail at all.

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This entry was posted in Family Line - Bosakowski, New York City, Zalozce/Zaliztsi and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Bosakowskis take Manhattan: 1910-1915

  1. Pingback: The phonograph swindler | John Kowal's Family History Blog

  2. Pingback: The Lower East Side or the Eastern Front: the Bosakowski family during World War I | John Kowal's Family History Blog

  3. Pingback: Christmas cards from behind the Iron Curtain | John Kowal's Family History Blog

  4. Pingback: The final chapter in the Bosakowski immigration story | John Kowal's Family History Blog

  5. Lisa Bosakowski Downey says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks so much for doing all this work. It’s been fascinating to have the gaps filled in on relatives’ lives, especially since I know so little of this part of the family history, and all of them are gone now. My great-grandfather was Pawel (Paul) Bosakowski, and my grandfather was Frank, both of whom appear in your blog.

  6. Pingback: Sailing in the Titanic’s wake | John Kowal's Family History Blog

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