Thursday, April 5, 2012

Josef Walkusz and Antonie Tryba

My husband's grandmother was Angeline Walkush from Stevens  Point, Wisconsin. Her grandfather was Josef August Walkusz, born in Prussia around 1835. The Walkush family was part of a large Polish population in the American Mid-West. In fact, Portage County, where Josef settled, once had the largest Polish population in the country.   On immigration and census documents the Walkush family indicated that they were from Prussia, and in one case they listed West Prussia as their home. This would make them "German Poles".  Prussia ceased to exist as a country in 1918 at the close of WWI.  It came into being in 1701, it grew in size and eventually encompassed two thirds of the German Empire.  In 1795 Poland ceased to exist, swallowed by Prussia. Just as Prussia disappeared in 1918, Poland emerged in 1919 from the ashes of WWI. 
From the online encyclopedia (www.encyclopdia.com):
Confusion over exact numbers of Polish immigrants again becomes a problem during this period, with large under reporting, especially during the 1890s when immigration was highest. Most agree, however, that between mid-nineteenth century and World War I, some 2.5 million Poles immigrated to the United States. This wave of immigration can be further broken down to two successive movements of Poles from different regions of their partitioned country. The first to come were the German Poles, who tended to be better educated and more skilled craftsmen than the Russian and Austrian Poles. High birthrates, overpopulation, and large-scale farming methods in Prussia, which forced small farmers off the land, all combined to send German Poles into emigration in the second half of the nineteenth century. German policy vis-a-vis restricting the power of the Catholic church also played a part in this exodus. Those arriving in the United States totalled roughly a half million during this period, with numbers dwindling by the end of the century.
A backlash from the more established "Americans" against this large, mostly Catholic, wave of immigrants helped forge a strong Polish identity in the US.  Formation of Polish national, fraternal and religious organization created a support system for immigrants. 

Bestand:Map - PL - powiat kartuski - Stezyca.PNG
Courtesy of Michiel1972 Wikipedia
Josef Walkush was born probably 1830-1835, his parents are unknown. He lived in the province of Pomerania in the village of Stezyca. (Stezyca is the dark pink area on the map, it is in the north of Poland)  He married in 1861 to Marianna Kropidlowska , their first child was born in 1862.  Together they had six children.  It is not known what his occupation or status was in Prussia.  Marianna died in Stezyca in 1879 at the age of 46. Josef married for the second time to Antonie Treba, a much younger woman. Josef was over 45 and Antonie was 21.  
Antonie was born 2 March 1859 to Anton and Josephine Hinz Tryba, also from Stezyca.  The family surname has been spelled Triba, Tryba and Treba and Trebya. Antonie had at least two brothers, Anton and Joseph, who also immigrated to the US, both settled in Wisconsin. 


Antonie traveled from Bremen, Germany on the ship "The Oder" with five of Josef's children: Pauline, Carl, Maria, Josephine and Martha.  Josef was not listed on the manifest,  it is probable that he was already in Wisconsin, preparing for their arrival.  His son August said that he came to America with his father when he was 15.  Also  on the ship manifest is a Joseph Tryba, quite possibly Antonie's brother. They all traveled in Steerage. The Oder left Bremen on September 11, 1881 and arrived in New York City on September 23rd.



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