LIGNOWSKI’s in the United States

Origins of the Lignowski Surname

Nobody really knows for sure how the Lignowski surname came about, but several theories have been put forth by members of the Lignowski families, and discovered through research. Mieczyslaw Lignowski, parish priest of Hermanowa parish in Rzeszow, Poland has suggested that the name is based on the Latin word "Lignum", which means "wood", and was originally part of the Drewnowski surname. "Drewno" is the Polish word for "wood". Father Mieczyslaw's ancestors were woodcutters, and indeed, some of his distant relatives came to America and settled in Washington state, there to work in the lumber trade. A second possible origin is a small village south of Gdansk called Lignowy Szlacheckie. The village was founded in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights, or the Krzyzaków, and there is still a small gothic church located there, which was constructed in the 14th century. The first mention of the village was in 1301. The first mention of the Lignowski surname that has been found to date is in the birth record of Marcin Lignowski, born in Poland in 1580.

Bonawentura Lignoski

Bonawentura Rudolf Lignoski was born 14-July-1808, in Lachowicze, Slutsk Uezd, Minsk Gubernja, Poland; which is in present-day Belarus. His parents were nobles; his father was Antonij Lignowski, an organist, and his mother was Petronilla Lypczynska. He had at least six siblings, Franciszek, Jan, Casimir, Elisabetha, Joseph, and Vincenta. Bonawentura was born into a time where Poland as a nation did not exist. It had been partitioned and occupied by Austria, Prussia and Russia in the late 18th century. Russia's oppression of the Polish people under Czar Nicholas I, who ascended the throne in 1825, was particularly brutal. In the year 1830, a family story holds that Bonawentura was a cadet at the Warsaw Military College, when the Czar decided to use Polish troops to suppress a democratic movement which was beginning in Belgium. Instead, in November, 1830, the cadets and the rest of the Polish military staged an insurrection. The Poles captured Warsaw and the area around Wilno, and victory lay nearly within their grasp, but indecision on the part of their leaders led to a defeat for Poland in September, 1831. Russia came down hard on the Polish patriots. Nearly 25,000 were sent to Siberia. Many others were exiled, or by their own choice left Poland to escape Russian retribution. Bonawentura appears to have been one of the latter. In 1836, he left from Trieste aboard the Brig Commanquid, bound for New York City, never to return to his homeland or to have any further contact with his family. It would have been too dangerous for those left behind, to attempt it. Bonawentura arrived in New York on 12-December-1836, at the age of 27 years, 5 months. One month later, on 17-January-1837, he enlisted in the United States Army, describing himself as "a musician from Wilno." Bonawentura was 5' 3" tall, and had brown hair and hazel eyes. He was stationed at Governor's Island, in New York Harbor, until April, when he was transferred to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and assigned to Captain Erasmus Bullock's Troop E, Second US Dragoons, under Colonel David E. Twigg, in preparation for the Second Seminole War in Florida. Bonawentura became the bugler for the Second Dragoons. After fierce fighting, and slogging through the swamps of the Everglades from October 1837 through August 1838, Bonawentura was "attached to the Regimental Band at Headquarters," where he remained until he was discharged on 17-January-1840, after a term of exactly three years. A little over a year later, Bonawentura married Caroline Matilda Fitts. The pair lived a good life, moving around the American south, living in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana, before finally settling in Tyler, Texas. Between 1842 and 1868, Bonawentura and Caroline would have a total of ten children: Rudolph Burgoyue in 1842, born in Florida; Elizabeth "Bettee" in 1845, also born in Florida; Ada Amelia 1846-1847 (died in infancy) and Charles in 1849, both born in Alabama; Julia in 1852 and Franklin in 1854, both born in Georgia; Caroline "Carrie" in 1857, born in Florida; Maria, born between 1858-1861; Ella in 1862, born in Texas; and finally, Almeria in 1868, born in Texas.

In 1861, when the Civil War touched the lives of everyone in America, Bonawentura's first son Rudolf enlisted in the Confederate Army, first serving in Douglas' Artillery, and then in Company K, of the 3rd Texas Cavalry, where he would serve out the remainder of the War. The night before his regiment surrendered, Rudolph and approximately two hundred of his comrades deserted. About 60 of these, including Rudolph, continued the fight for another year, according to Rudolph's Confederate pension application. Bonawentura enlisted in 1862, as a Private in Company G, Robert's Regiment, of the 11th Texas Infantry. At 54 years of age, Bonawentura's body was unable to endure the hard life of a Confederate foot soldier, and he was medically discharged 11-April-1863, suffering from Chronic Rheumatism, what we would today call Rheumatoid Arthritis. He lived in Texas until he died on 18-October-1878. A family story related by Bonawentura’s great-grand-daughter, Gloria Lignoski tells that before his death, Bonawentura suffered a stroke and was unable to speak. A letter from Poland was received, however, unable to read Polish, his wife, Caroline, destroyed the letter. Gloria passed away 7-August-2003.

Bonawentura, in addition to being a brave soldier, was an accomplished musician and composer. He taught at several private schools in the south, about such diverse subjects as "piano, guitar, harp, drawing, oil painting, and French, as well as the basic courses." The last such place was the Eastern Texas Female College, later called the Charnwood Academy (picture) in Tyler, TX.

Bonawentura's musical credits include: College Hill Quick Step, Colonel Twigg's Grand March Quickstep, Eufaula Waltz, Talahassee Waltz, My Star Waltz, Lagrange Waltz, President Pierce's March and Quick Step, The Shooting Star Waltz, Southern Rights March, the Battle of Palo Alto March and Quickstep and Georgia Quadrilles. These were published during the period 1839-1859. Bonawentura's epitaph is quite fitting, "His hands have played their last sweet chord, his lips their parting words expressed the weary exile is at rest."

Listen to B.R. Lignoski's music Last updated 02-Oct-2006

Fellow researchers of this line include John Biskupski.

Jack Lignosky

After the Civil War, the Freedman's Bureau, an agency of the Federal Government set up to aid former slaves in adjusting to their new freedom, was established in the former Confederacy. Bonawentura worked for a brief time with the local Freedman's Bureau office in Tyler, but was dismissed because he was a civilian. It was often the custom of freed slaves to adopt the name of a person who helped them in some way. This is what appears to have happened in the cases of Fannie Lignosky, age 55 at the end of the war, and Jack Lignosky, age 20 in 1865. Jack's grandson, L. Jay Lignosky, who died on September 11, 2001, related the story of an "old guy and his restaurant" who had helped Jack out with the odd meal here and there when he was unable to find work. In gratitude for this, Jack took the old man's last name as his own. There is a listing in the Ft. Worth City Directory for 1877 for a man named Chas. Lignoski who owned a restaurant. It is possibly this man who helped Jack. L.J. was the last African-American Lignosky.

Franz Lignowsky/Lichnovsky

During the mid to late 1870's, Franz Lignowsky, born in 1852, and his wife Mary would emigrate from Moravia, Austria, the present day Czech Republic, to the United States. Franz, a farmer, and Mary would have two children, Anton, born in 1877, and Franz, Jr., in 1879, both born in Texas. Franz’ last name may have been Lichnovsky.

Fellow researchers of this line include Jim Gallman and Charles Koberg.

Thomas Lignowski

In April of 1873, thirty-three year old Thomas, son of Joseph and Mary Lignowski, and his wife, Anna, set out with their two children from the port of Bremen in German Poland on the Bark Gutenberg. Anna's older brother, Franz Barkowski was traveling with them, along with his wife and two children. The Gutenberg would land in Baltimore, Maryland on 16-MAY-1873, but Thomas and Anna would disembark without their baby son, Franz, who died during the long voyage on April 17th, and was likely buried at sea.

The two made their home in Maryland, and would have at least five other children; Michael Joseph, 1874; George, 1880; Anna, 1882; Wojciech, 1884; and Helen, 1887.

Thomas worked as a berry picker, for at least the years between 1900 and 1904. He died on 6-JUN-1904 of heart failure at the age of 64. Anna would live for another twenty years, when she died on 13-JUL-1922.

Michael, who worked as a laborer, seems to have remained single throughout his life, as did George, who worked in a sawmill.

Anna married Peter Borowski, who predeceased her. She died 1-MAY-1947 of a heart attack. She had no known children.

Helen married Matthew George Hammer, who worked as a receiving clerk at a meat packing plant. The two had at least one daughter, Lillian, who was born about 1907. Matthew died in 1950, and Helen died two years later in 1952.

It is unknown what happened to Catharina and Wojciech. It is likely Catharina married or died before 1900.

Fellow researchers of this line include Eric Haas.


There are two main lines of Lingnowski's, both of which settled in the area around Menasha, Wisconsin: Franz Lingnovski, who came over with his wife Mary, sometime before 1876; and Dominick Lingnowski, who sailed aboard the SS Mosel and landed in New York on 20-October-1873, with his wife Catharine and son Franz.

Fellow researchers of these lines include Todd Ritter.

In addition to these two lines, there is one other for this family name.

Barbara Hinzmann, who was born in Danzig (present day Gdansk) in 1836, married Franz Lignowski, and they had three children: Johannes, born in 1862; Leonore, born in 1864; and Friedrich, born in September of 1878. On the sixteenth day of August, 1879, aboard the SS Herder, Barbara and her three children, Johannes, age 17, daughter Leonore, age 15, and baby Friedrich, 11 months old, arrived in New York, from the port of Hamburg, Germany. On the Herder’s passenger list, her name was recorded as Lingnowski. The four travelled with Barbara's older sister Anna, and her husband Johann Buchholtz, and their children. In 1880, Barbara and her three children were living with her younger brother, Andrew Hinzmann, and his family in Bon Homme Co., South Dakota. Barbara later remarried, to a man named Martin Giedd. Barbara's son, Johann, changed his last name to his stepfather's, and later married twice, siring twelve children altogether.

Marian Lignowski

Marian Lignowski was born in the year 1866, in Krakow, Poland, and emigrated to the United States sometime in the 1880's. At some point, either before or after emigrating, he married Kathi Dullen, also born in 1866. The two settled in Williamsbridge, located in the Bronx, New York City. They had at least eight children: Bertha in 1892, Victoria in 1893, John in 1896 (he died a year and a half later), Sophie in 1898, Teodor in 1900, Marion John in 1903, Marie in 1906, and Stanley in 1910. Sometime before 1914, Bertha was married to Frank Kosik. Kathi died October 1, 1912, followed five years later by Marian, who died January 15, 1917. The two were buried in St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx. In 1920, Bertha and Frank had three children of their own, and were also supporting three of Bertha's siblings, Marie, Sophie, and Marion John. Stanley, who was about nine years old at this time, had been placed in the New York Catholic Protectory in 1913, according to Stanley Lignowski, Jr., probably just after his mother died. In 1918, when Teodor was 18, the first World War was in its fourth year. Seizing his opportunity to fight for the independence of his father's native country, Teodor enlisted in Haller's Army, named after its commander, also known as the Polish Army in France, or the Blue Army. He listed his closest living relative as an aunt (Stanislawa Markowska). It seems unlikely that Teador actually made it overseas, since according to his papers he enlisted on 31-July-1918, and was sworn in a few days later on 5-August-1918, and World War I ended in November of that same year, a mere three months after Teador joined the army. After his service, however brief, he became a cook, and later died on August 29, 1926, by drowning in the East River. Marian, Kathi and Teodor are all buried in the same plot in St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx. Upon reaching the age of eighteen, Stanley left the orphanage, and joined the NY National Guard, which became a second family to him. Stan eventually married Rosalie DiBlasi in 1934. Some years later, when Rose was pregnant, his unit was called into service. Rose, suffered from a heart condition, and was in a precarious condition. Private Lignowski was given permission to stay by his wife's side until the situation was resolved, and rejoin his unit, the NY 258th Field Artillery, 8th regiment, E battery, at a later date. He never got the chance. On D-day, his unit landed on a beachhead in France and came under heavy machine gun and mortar fire, and was completely wiped out. Years later when he told his son, Stanley Jr., the story, tears of sorrow ran down his cheeks that he was not with his buddies when they made their heroic sacrifice.

Jan Lignowski

Sometime during the 1870's, Jan Lignowski met Anna Matuszewska, and they were married. While they lived in Gradzanowo-Zbeskie, Poland, Anna gave birth to at least three children: Joseph, on 14-November-1879; Frank, who was born on 15-October-1884; and John, who was born on 10-March-1886. At some point, either with their parents or on their own, the three sons emigrated to the United States. John would eventually settle in Michigan, and Joseph and Frank lived in Pennsylvania. Joseph was a baker, and John was a cook.

Woiciech Lignowski

Woiciech Lignowski and Magda Galy, from (Punknain) Pukinin, had five sons, Franciszek, Michal, Wladislaw, Stanley born 24-April-1882, and Jan Lignoski born 26-June-1899. Stanley and Jan emigrated to the United States, and eventually settled in Washington state.

Mieczyslaw Lignowski, parish priest of Hermanowa parish in Rzeszow, Poland, is the grandson of Wladislaw, and the great-grandson of Wojciech Lignowski and Magda Galy.

Walenty/Zygmunt Lignowski

In Wolny, Plock, Poland, on 30-October-1886, Zygmunt Lignowski was born to Walenty and Eva Lignowski. Zygmunt met his wife, Apolonia Wawrzenska, and the two were married. Zygmunt travelled to the United States in June 1909, leaving Apolonia, who was four months pregnant, behind. Zygmunt sailed aboard the SS Rijndam, landing in New York on 29-June-1909. While still in Poland, Apolonia gave birth to their first son, John T. Lignowski on 12-November-1909. Apolonia and Jan would follow Zygmunt across the Atlantic aboard the same ship, the Ryndam, which would land in New York on 18-April-1911. The family settled in Blissville, Queens, New York, where their next child, Mary, was born on 17-June-1912. Some time before January 1914, they moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where they had three more sons, Joseph, Zygmunt Jr. and Stanley. Zygmunt Sr. died during the 1920's. As the story goes, he was lifting a heavy sack of flour or other material down from a high shelf, when the sack fell on him. After a prolonged illness, during which time he lost his sight, he died from a "brain tumor," possibly a cerebral hemorrhage, or severe concussion which caused brain damage. The family eventually moved back to New York, settling in Maspeth, Queens, a short distance away from their first home in Blissville.

Frank Lignowski

Franciszek Lignowski was born in Szembruch, Poland in 1861. His mother’s name was Katharina Pawska, but his father’s name is unknown. He had one sister, Dorota (Dorothy). He married Rozalyja Klugiewicz sometime around 1883. While still living in Poland, three of their daughters were born: Veronika in October, 1884; Johanna in July, 1887; and Marta (Mary) in December, 1890. Franciszek came to the USA in 1890, settling in Chicago, Illinois. Rozalyja joined him with their daughters in 1892. It was a common practice among immigrants that the man would go first, preparing a home for his family, and the wife and children would follow some time later. Their remaining children were: Franciszek Jan (Frank John) in Chicago, 8-July-1894; Jan Franciszek (John Frank) on 25-December-1896; Anastazja in August, 1898; Zofia in January 1901; and Jozef (Joseph) Lignowski, who was born 6-July-1903.

Veronika married John Pilarski in Chicago in 1904. She died of Pneumonia and Influenza on 11 October 1918. She and John had three children, Helen, Casimir, and Eleanor.

Johanna, entered the convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame, becoming Sister Mary Rodericia, and served as a teacher in several parochial schools, the last of which was St. Hyacinth’s School in Chicago. She died in West Allis, Wisconsin on 5 January 1965.

Marta married Antoni Sikorski in 1912.

Franciszek Jan became a truck driver, and married Maria Nowacka 28-January-1914. They had one son, Lester. Franciszek Jan died in July-1967.

Jan Franciszek was a furniture upholsterer, and married Marta Czaplewska. They had six children, Loreta, Robert, Dorothy, John Anthony, Rita, and Marie. Rita and Marie died within a week of their birth. After Jan’s wife, Marta, died in 1938, he remarried a woman named Frances Lobodzinska. Jan Franciszek died in October-1986. Many of Jan’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren are still living in the Illinois area.

Anastazja married Kazimierz Kaplanski, and worked as a packer in a soap factory. She died 5-April-1967 in Chicago.

Zofia died 29-July-1914, at the age of 13 years.

Jozef never married and became a machinist. He died of heat exhaustion 14-July-1936 at the age of 33 years.

Fellow researchers of this line include Rita Mathis.

Anthony Lignowski

Henryk Lignowski, a farm laborer, son of Antoni Lignowski, was born in Bozymie-Mlawa, Plock, Poland on 11-February-1899. At the age of fourteen, with about $20 in his pockets, he emigrated to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island on 21-October-1913, aboard the SS Friedriche-der-Grosse. On the passenger manifest he is listed as being 17, possibly to allow him to travel by himself. A cousin, Wladislaw Wludarski, who lived in Pittsburgh paid his passage. Henryk was 5' 3" tall, with fair skin. He had brown hair and blue eyes. He settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and married his wife Jennie, also from Poland, in 1928. The two had a pair of sons, Henry James Lignoski in 1929, and Joseph, who died in infancy in 1932. Henryk himself died four years later in 1936. Henry James went on to marry and have five sons and three daughters. Henry died in January, 1999.

Franz Lignowski

Franz Lignowski was born in Danzig, Poland. In 1763, Czarina Katherine II (Catherine the Great, a German princess by birth) sent out an edict to settle people out of overcrowded Western Europe, intending to move people into the sparsely populated areas in the Ukraine, around the Black Sea and the Volga, to develop and cultivate the land she had acquired there. It was the prospect of plentiful farmland that impelled the Lignowski emigration to Russia. Wilhelm Lignowski, son of Jakob (grandson of Franz) and Adelkunde, was born in the village of Neufeld, Nikolaev Gubernja, Odessa. After the Russian Revolution came in the late teens, early 1920's, Wilhelm, a "kulak" or prosperous farmer, was forcibly moved by Stalin to the Urals, far to the east, and re-settled in Orenburg, a frontier town near the city of Uralsk. The Second World War also brought misery for the Lignowski family in Russia. Being ethnic Germans, they were opppressed for many years. Since they were German expatriates, they were treated as Germans. Besides the cultural, economic and political pressures, was the overpowering wish, "as Germans, to live in Germany." Wilhelm's son, Peter, was branded as an "enemy of the people" and imprisoned for seven years, just for being German. Franz's descendants resided in Russia until the early 1990's when almost the entire Russian Lignowski clan emigrated to Germany.

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Online Lignowski Family Tree Last updated 14-SEP-2007
Information Compiled by Stephen Lignowski
Last modified 12-APR-2016