By far the most valuable purpose of the Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923 is the validity it has given to numerous family stories.
• One –at ancestor had five wives.
• Another had four wives.
“The tendency to marriage…is strongest among widowers: they frequently
• One –at ancestor did not read or write.
• Another, a tischler, or cabinetmaker, taught his daughter to read as he
• One woman kept programs and church bulletins from Essen, Germany, and German
newspapers in America. She also kept the books on the farms in Michigan, and
sent letters to her sister, who lived nearby. Her daughters helped their
mother answer them.
“Over 50 % of the inhabitants of the government of Suwalki were illiterate.” 2
• One immigrant could speak six languages.
• Another woman could speak five languages: Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, German,
Suwalki was peopled by six ethnic groups: Poles, Lithuanians, Germans,
Jews, Ruthenians, and Byleo Russians. 3
• Adult children of the immigrants recalled that their parents knew and could
speak Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian. The Lithuanians and Poles were
inhabitants of Suwalki in much larger numbers than the Germans. Note: Being
a minority in their district, they most likely would have had to speak more
than one language in their daily lives.
• One immigrant helped four Jewish girls escape from Russian soldiers.
Suwalki Province was located in the Pale of Settlement where Jews had been
forced to relocate during this time period.
• During WWI one daughter who never immigrated, wrote to her sister that when
they went to school one day, they were not sure which country they would be
in when they came home. She also remembered that they could hear the roar of
the cannons in World War I close to their home.
Two possibilities: (1) The Russians had promised the French that they would
invade East Prussia. An army of ten divisions advanced into East Prussia from
the East, but they were driven back. Before the campaign season was over, the
Russian army made a second drive into East Prussia. (2) Suwalki province
was also the scene of several battles during World War I from February to July
1915, especially February 7 to 14, 1915. 4
1 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 230.
2 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 230.
3 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 622.
4 Colin McEvedy, The Penguin Atlas of Recent History: Europe Since 1815 (London,
England: Penguin Group, 1982), 51.