In Marcella’s Words

Witkowski, Mary Photo2(2)
Marcella (Mintkiewicz) Witkowski & daughter, Agnes (Witkowski) Tarnowski

Marcella (Mintkiewicz) Witkowski is my great-great-great-grandmother, and we’re related solely on my maternal line; if you trace back from my mother to my grandmother to Grandma Hattie to Grandma Mary, you’ll find Marcella at the top. She was born on January 2, 1855 in Poland, the daughter of Joseph and Maryanna (Mielcarski) Mintkiewicz. Marcella married Nicholas Witkowski, the son of Adam and Catharine (Lakomy) Witkowski, on May 16, 1880 in Koscielec, Poland, and the couple had five children: Casimir (b. 1882), Mary (b. 1884), Joseph (b. 1886), Agnes (b. 1893) and an unknown, mystery brother.

A few weeks ago, my grandmother’s cousin–the original Marczynski genealogist–provided me with a copy of two letters she found among her mother’s belongings. I shared the contents of one of the letters last month: the letter was addressed to my great-great-grandmother, Mary, from a brother we had never heard of. In it, he wrote about the downturn of his community’s economy during the Great Depression in Poland, and he expressed concern for the coming winter. The second letter is less of a mystery, but even more of a treasure: it was sent to my great-great-grandmother and her children by her own mother. Marcella wrote, on October 1, 1938 from Jaksice, Poland:

Dear Children:

Writing to you again a few words to let you know how I am. Received your letter which made me very happy and found me in pretty good health, also letting you know I received the two dollars that were in the letter which really made me very very happy and thank you very much.

I also gave for mass to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Dear children I’m sending three pictures as a remembrance from grandma. In case I should die some strangers could take them, so it’s better that my grandchildren will have them as a remembrance from their grandmother.

You see my dear children come January 2 I will be 83 years old, as you see it’s a nice age. On our altar is the same picture of Our Blessed Mother, as is on one of the pictures I’m sending you.

Dear granddaughter, you’re asking me if I wear eyeglasses. Thank God so far I do not need glasses to see or read, I can see and read very well without them.

Now I’m asking you, does Joseph write to you? He doesn’t write to anyone here, so no one knows his whereabouts for he gives no news of himself.

Our weather is also nice until now. Now I’m ending these few words and sending my deepest regards to you my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Hug and kisses and everything good so God may keep you all in his care Amen.

As Ever

Maryanna [Marcella] Witkowski

Please answer

In the end thank you all for your goodness and for remembering me.

More than anything, I wish I could have known her. It’s not very often that a genealogist–or anyone, really–can say that they have a copy of a letter from 1938; it’s even more unlikely to come across a letter written by your great-great-great-grandmother (sent all the way from Poland, no less). Here’s Marcella in her own words; this is how I know her, and now you know a part of her, too. To have this letter is a gift, and I am very lucky to be able to add this small token to my growing family tree. In the end thank you all for your goodness and for remembering me; she’s left a wonderful remembrance for all of us descendants–for many years to come. 

17 thoughts on “In Marcella’s Words

    1. Thank you–I agree! What amazes me is that Marcella never took a trip to the United States to visit her children, and her children never made it back to Poland to see her. I wish there were more letters that survived! I’d imagine there were many–their only way to keep up with each other.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Wow, that letter is great! Such a special treasure, and a true look into the life of your great-great-grandmother. I always think about which ancestors I would choose to meet, if I had the chance – and I can see why Marcella would be your pick. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for stopping by! It’s not every day you find ANYTHING written in your ancestors’ own words, and I’m very lucky to have a copy of this letter. I hope my translation did her words justice, too–my Polish is a little rusty!

      Liked by 1 person

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