John J. Grabowski




Polish immigration to, and settlement in, Cleveland resulted from several factors. These factors, common to all immigration, were need in the receiving country, reason for and ease of exit in the home country and ease of access to the new country. Prior to the 1870's only one of these factors was favorable to Polish immigration to Cleveland; hence Polish settlement in the city during this period was minimal.

Cleveland needed immigrant laborers in the years following 1836 when the Ohio-Erie Canal was completed. The canal, which linked the Great Lakes port of Cleveland with the Ohio River, transformed the city into a thriving mercantile center with great potential for manufacturing. Immigrants came to the city in large numbers to fill the rapidly growing job market. Only a few Poles, however, were among those who came to the city. The Prussian, Russian and Austro-Hungarian governments that controlled the Polish lands allowed for little free movement within and out of the country. Transit to European ports was difficult to obtain and transport across the ocean was still slow and dangerous.

This is not to say, however, that no Poles settled in Cleveland in the years prior to 1870. The unsuccessful revolts of the 1830's, '40's and '60's forced many of the Polish intelligentsia and middle class into exile, with some of the exiles traveling to the United States. While it is conjectural whether any of these political


emigres settled in Cleveland, by 1848 the city had acquired a population of four Poles.1 It might also be assumed that some of the mid-nineteenth century political emigres visited or passed through Cleveland on journeys to the western parts of the United States because of the city's position on major east-west rail, road, and water transport routes.

The Poles who had arrived by 1848, and the small number that followed them in the years prior to 1870, chose to settle in the Czech settlement about Croton Street.2 The Czechs, subject to slightly looser emigration laws and severely disrupted by the revolts of 1848, formed the only sizable Slavic community in Cleveland in the years prior to the Civil War. It was natural for the Poles to seek out the company of fellow Slavs by settling on Croton Street. Like the Czechs, Poles were usually self-employed in various trades or businesses, or worked for wages in some of the small manufacturing plants situated in the Kingsbury Run to the immediate west of the community.

In 1856 the first iron mill was established in Cleveland. The opening of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal in that year had made possible the shipment of iron ore to Cleveland and hence the establishment of the mill. The Cleveland Rolling Mill was located in Newburgh, a separate town approximately three miles to the southeast of the Croton Street settlement. Its position on the Cleveland-Pittsburgh railroad line made the shipment of southern coal and ore from the lakeside docks easy, and the skilled Scotch and Welsh inhabitants of the town made Newburgh a natural site for the mill.


The Czechs, and presumably the Poles of Croton Street, sought jobs at the mills. Until the demands of the Civil War overwhelmed the mills, the Scotch, Welsh, and growing Irish population of Newburgh provided the primary labor force. It was the demands of the war years that first brought the Czechs and Poles to the mills. It was also during the Civil War that the main Czech settlement shifted closer to the mills. The settlement relocated at Willson Avenue (E. 55th Street) and Broadway Avenue, across Kingsbury Run from Croton Street and only a mile distant from the rolling mill. Accounts of strikes in the 1880's indicate that Czechs and Poles living in this new area had been employed at the mills since the early 1870's.3

Though evidence points to Poles working in the rolling mills around 1870, their presence could not have been large. The 1870 census lists only 70 Poles in the city, comprising a mere .08 percent of the total population. This figure may be slightly low since many Poles were listed as Austrians, Germans or Russians, according to the sector of Poland from which they emigrated, until 1920.

However, a fairly large, cohesive group of Poles lived just to the southwest of Cleveland during this period in the town of Berea. Poles had been employed in the sandstone quarries that provided Berea with its economic base since 1865.4 In 1872, the Berea Polish community was substantial enough to warrant the establishment of a Roman Catholic parish to serve it.


This print of the Cleveland Rolling Mills was prepared in the late 1880's. The mills, which eventually became part of United States Steel American Steel and Wire Division attracted thousands of Poles to Cleveland, and were the basis for the formation of the "Warszawa" Polish community.


the Czechs and were beginning their own settlement near Tod Street (E. 65th Street) and Fleet Avenue. This region was still farm land and was situated about a mile to the south of the Czech settlement and a half mile to the north of the Irish and Welsh settlements around Broadway and Harvard Avenues.

The Polish settlement grew quite rapidly in the early 1870's. By 1873 enough Poles lived near the mills, and in the Cuyahoga Valley to the west (where they may have worked as ore unloaders), to occasion the establishment of a Polish Catholic parish in Cleveland. The parish, St. Stanislaus, first held church services in St. Mary's on the Flats, a wooden church building that the diocese loaned to Catholic immigrant groups until they could build a church of their own. Mass was celebrated and sacraments were performed by Fr. Victor Zarezny, the recently appointed pastor of St. Adalbert's in Berea. Fr. Zarezny journeyed to Cleveland whenever possible. In his four years of service to the parish he made the trip 60 times, baptizing 98 children and marrying 21 couples. In 1879, a German Franciscan priest, Fr. Wolfgang Janietz took charge of the parish, moving its services to a side chapel of St. Joseph's German Catholic Church on Woodland Avenue.

Though much of the area north of the rolling mills was still undeveloped in 1881, enough Poles lived in the vicinity to force the location of the first permanent St. Stanislaus church building at Tod Street (E. 65th Street) and Forman Avenue. Initially the parishioners had sought to purchase land at McBride and Broadway Avenues near a convent in the Czech community. However, residential



In the early 1870's Cleveland became one of the leading manufacturing cities of the Midwest. Spurred on by the needs of the Civil War, the city's iron and steel industry had burgeoned and given rise to many subsidiary industries. The rapidly growing industries created an enormous labor market that could not be satisfied by the Anglo-German immigration that had predominated in earlier years.

This condition, along with the appearance of new push factors in Eastern Europe--the Kulturkampf and universal conscription in German Poland, and the easing of Austro-Hungarian restrictions on travel--opened the way for many more Poles to come to Cleveland in the post-1870 period. They were, of course, but a portion of the massive Eastern and Southern European immigration to America that began to gather momentum in this period.

Poles who landed at Castle Garden in New York City often heard of job opportunities in cities to the west, such as Cleveland. Theodore Dluzynski, a young Polish immigrant, was in New York when he heard of a large bridge building project in Cleveland. He arrived in the city in the early 1870's to help construct the Superior Viaduct. When work on the bridge was completed, he drifted to the Newburgh district where he found work in the rolling mills.5 By this time the town of Newburgh and its prosperous mills had been annexed to Cleveland. About 70 to 80 other Poles were working at the mills when Dluzynski arrived.6 These Poles had moved away from


proximity of the parishioners and the offer of free land by a local farmer-real estate salesman, Ashbel Morgan, resulted in the choice of the Forman Avenue location. Morgan offered a free lot to any parishioner who bought a lot for the church. In this manner thirteen lots were purchased, the church location agreed upon, and Polish settlement in the parish area given an added impetus. The first church building, a two-story frame structure, was erected by the parishioners in 1881.7

With the church established, the community around it, known as Warszawa to its inhabitants, grew at an increasing rate. In the last four years that Fr. Janietz served the parish, 1879-1883, he baptized 455 children and married 84 couples.8 The greatest impetus to the growth of the community came in 1882 when a large number of Poles were imported to break a strike at the rolling mills.

After a change in the mills' ownership in 1882, the wages of the workers were substantially reduced. This action resulted in a strike that involved the entire Irish, Welsh, Bohemian and Polish workforce of the mills. It was marked with violence--usually directed at the strikebreakers whom management tried to recruit locally. When local recruitment failed, the management looked abroad. Though reports on the methods used vary, the mill eventually contracted to import 500 or 1500 Poles to Cleveland to break the strike. The Polish strikebreakers were, in large part, experienced iron workers from Polish mills.9 Their reception in Cleveland was


not the least bit hospitable. The reaction of their striking countrymen has not been recorded; however, their appearance planted the seeds of a lasting enmity between the Irish and the Poles of Newburgh.

As the Polish workers established themselves in the community following the failure of the strike, they sent for families and relatives from Poland, accelerating the growth of the Warszawa section. In a sense, they served as advance agents for further Polish migration to Cleveland by sending news of job opportunities to relatives and friends in Poland.

The 1890 census lists 2,848 Poles resident in Cleveland, or 1.09 percent of the city's population. Again this figure must be considered inaccurate because of the German, Austrian or Russian census entries for people of Polish birth. Police Department records, however, give another indication of the volume of Polish immigration to Cleveland during the decade, 1880-1890. A police inspector at the lakefront railway terminal counted all immigrants entering the city through that station. During the years from 1885 to 1890, the inspector listed the following numbers of Poles arriving each year: 232 (1885), 221 (1886), 418 (1887), 694 (1888), 545 (1889), 794 (1890).10

The continued influx of new immigrants caused the Warszawa community to expand outward from its nucleus around St. Stanislaus Church. By 1890, the settlement had expanded to the following approximate boundaries: the Morgana Ravine and Heisley Street on


the north (these were also the southern boundaries of the Czech settlement), Willson Avenue (E. 55th Street) on the west, Broadway Avenue on the east, and the area presently crossed by Gertrude and Fullerton Avenues on the south. Though the area within these boundaries was not totally taken up by residences, its inhabitants were almost all Polish.

The growing number of immigrants also lead to the founding of other Polish settlements in Cleveland. As early as 1878, Poles were reportedly living in the area near E. 79th Street and Superior Avenue.11 This community didn't begin to grow, however, until the late 1880's. Because the residents were primarily Prussian Poles, they named the settlement Poznan after the region in Poland from which they emigrated. They chose to settle in the area because of the industry that was being established in it. It is also possible that the existing German population in this area may have proved attractive to the immigrants from Prussian Poland since the Poles would have had a knowledge of German, and this would facilitate dealing with the German shopkeepers and factory foremen. It was a German, Joseph Hoffman, who donated the land for the Polish parish, St. Casimir, established to serve the area in 1893.

Little is known of the early history of the Poznan community. It eventually developed into a compact, totally Polish region clustered about the church on Sowinski Avenue. The community reportedly had all the attributes of a small European village in which each resident knew his neighbors, and where everyone was aware of local news and gossip.12


In the late 1870's Poles also began settling on the west slope of the Cuyahoga River Valley near Columbus and Fairfield Streets.13 These early settlers were most likely dockworkers, or laborers in the lumberyards and light industry of the Flats immediately below this area. It was not until the 1890's and expansion of the steel industry in this region that more Poles settled in the area. Attracted by the jobs in the mills, Poles settled in the Lincoln Heights region directly above the valley. Before the influx of immigrant laborers in the 1890's, this area had been one of the more exclusive residential districts in the city.

By 1897 enough Poles had settled in Lincoln Heights to require the creation of a Polish Catholic parish, St. John Cantius. The Poles named their community Kantowa, after the parish. The community was not, however, totally Polish. Initially it was shared with Russians, Ukrainians and Germans, and eventually with Syrians and Greeks as well. The Poles, however, were the largest group in the area. They arrived in such numbers that in two years after its establishment, St. John Cantius Parish had to move to larger quarters in old street railway carbarns to gain additional space for teaching and church services.

Another west side Polish enclave founded prior to 1900 was again the result of job opportunities. Job openings at the National Carbon Company in Lakewood prompted many Poles to move there in 1892,14 settling near Madison Avenue and W. 117th Street. It was


not until 1906, however, that enough Poles had moved into the area to require the establishment of a mission Catholic parish, St. Hedwig. Because the population of the area fluctuated, the parish became inactive for several years after 1900. It was reestablished as a formal parish in 1914.

During the period, 1880-1890, the main Polish settlement, Warszawa, acquired what can be considered two satellite communities. A small settlement was established to the south of Warszawa, across the ravines at Harvard and Ottawa Roads, in the late 1870's. The settlement was located at the city limits, Marcelline Avenue (E. 71st Street) and Grant Avenue. By 1885 the community was large enough to support a Polish-owned grocery store.15 The residents of the area, which became known as Krakowa, either farmed small plots of land, or worked in the industries in Warszawa, or in the Cuyahoga River Valley to the west.16 Because many residents engaged in farming and kept poultry, the settlement acquired the nickname, Goosetown. The large number of geese that were raised roamed at will, often hissing at or chasing passers-by.

Early settlers in Krakowa belonged to St. Stanislaus parish and walked more than a mile to church each Sunday. In response to the community's request for a more convenient parish of its own, Sacred Heart of Jesus was created in 1889. The first permanent parish building was erected the following year.

The second satellite community of Warszawa was situated to its northeast, near Tod (E. 65th) Street and Francis Avenue. The Poles


who settled in this district in the 1880's were most likely employed at the nearby Empire Plow Company, or in the industries that lined the edges of Kingsbury Run to the north of the community. At first, this community, like Krakowa, relied on St. Stanislaus Church for its religious needs. However, by 1907, the 200 families in the region (known as Jackowa) requested and received their own parish, St. Hyacinth.17 Though distance, as in the case of Krakowa, was a factor in the establishment of the new parish, the major reason for its creation was the overcrowded condition of St. Stanislaus at the time.

Though inaccurate, the 1900 census listed 8,592 Poles resident in Cleveland, comprising 2.25 percent of the total population. The influx of Poles reached such proportions in the 1890's that in 1895 they became the most numerous immigrant group entering the city. Prior to this time the Germans had been the largest immigrating group. According to the reports of the Police Department's immigrant officer, 8,597 Poles entered Cleveland by rail during the 1890's.18

At the turn of the century most of Cleveland's Polish population lived in the Warszawa section which had been, and was to remain, the primary area of Polish settlement in Cleveland. Only the Kantowa and Poznan sections came close to rivaling it as large, cohesive Polish communities. Warszawa's main thoroughfare, Fleet Avenue, was lined with Polish-owned businesses catering to every need of the community. It was, in essence, a Polish town situated in the corporate limits of Cleveland. Single and multi-family dwellings, along with business houses, extended along Fleet Avenue to Broadway on the east


and E. 55th Street on the west. To the south, dwellings now virtually filled the area up to Fremont (Lansing) Avenue. On the north, homes solidly extended to the southern limit of Czech settlement at Heisley Avenue. To the south of Warszawa, the Krakowa community was steadily expanding northward on either side of Marcelline Avenue toward Warszawa.

At the very center of Warszawa stood the new St. Stanislaus Church. Constructed during 1889-1891 at a cost of $150,000, it was the largest church in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese 19 reflecting the needs and interests of the city's burgeoning Polish population.


From 1900-1914, the Poles were the second most numerous immigrant group arriving in America; the Italians were first. This relative position was retained in the measuring of arrivals in Cleveland.20 Cheaper transportation, ease of emigration, oppression and a shortage of farm land in Europe were responsible for pushing millions of Poles to America during this period. The expanding industrial plant of Cleveland and the good news from relatives already resident in the city drew many of these immigrants to it.

Most of the new arrivals settled in the existing Polish settlements in Cleveland. Kantowa gained an extraordinarily large number of new settlers in the post-1900 period. Soon it, like Warszawa, had a number of Polish-owned businesses, including a


newspaper. Unlike Warszawa, where most of the residents came from Prussian Poland, Kantowa attracted Poles from the Austrian and Russian sectors. The reason for this difference in settlement patterns is unknown.

Kantowa, however, could not keep pace with the growth of the Warszawa section. New arrivals and the coming of age of the American-born children of the first settlers greatly increased the size of the community. Housing was continually being constructed for the expanding community. Many new homes were built to the south of the community in the area crossed by Worley, Ottawa and Indiana Avenues where construction was difficult since the region was crisscrossed with gullies. The type of homes built changed from single-family to two-family frame houses. The purchase of the latter enabled the owner to rent part of the house, thus easing the payment of the mortgage.21

In about 1914 the southward expansion of Warszawa finally met the northward expansion of Krakowa near Harvard Avenue. These two communities now became, physically and geographically, one. Despite this physical merger, the sections retained their individual identities. To this day, the section of Kantowa south of the Newburgh and South Shore Railroad tracks at Irma Avenue is known as Goosetown.

While the Warszawa community could still expand to the south, movement toward the southeast was blocked by the Irish and Welsh settlements beginning at Broadway Avenue and Jones Road. Some Irish and Welsh


still lived to the north of this border, and by 1914 found themselves surrounded by Poles. This frontier and area of overlap added to the bad relations between the Poles and Irish. Rock fights between children of the two nationalities occurred in this area until the 1940's.

Despite this impediment, the Polish population managed to move to the southeast. It simply leapfrogged the Irish enclave. The growth of streetcar lines along Broadway and Miles Avenue in the early 1900's made this move possible. Streetcars allowed Polish workers the luxury of living away from their jobs. One line ran along Broadway Avenue into Garfield Heights. Around 1910, Poles from Warszawa began moving into Garfield Heights, settling along the side streets lining Turney from just above Warner Road to immediately above Garfield Heights Boulevard. Others followed Harvard Avenue to the area near its intersection with E. 131st Street where they were close to the Miles Avenue streetcar line that ran to Warszawa.

Though the Garfield Heights area did not expand rapidly until the 1920's, the Harvard-E. 131st Street area grew quite rapidly in the pre-World War I period. In 1914, sixty families lived in the area and a parish, St. Mary of Czestochowa, was established at E. 142nd Street and Harvard to serve them.22 Homes in the neighborhood were mostly the two-family style common to south Warszawa. Reasons for the rapid growth of this area, rather than Garfield Heights, can only be surmised. The


presence of a Czech population along E. 131st Street may again have proved an attraction to Polish settlers and thus hastened the growth of the area.

During the pre-World War I years, two new Polish communities were begun also. One community, Josephatowa, is unique in that it was located near the central city. Shortly before 1900 Poles began settling in the area near E. 33rd Street and St. Clair Avenue, a section which was also the home of many South Slavic immigrants who were beginning to arrive in Cleveland. The area contained much light industry which probably attracted the immigrants. Though the South Slavs, mainly Slovenians, soon moved east along St. Clair Avenue, the Poles remained and the community grew. In 1908, 100 families lived in the area, enough to warrant the establishment of a new Polish Parish, St. Josephat (after which the community was named).23 Josephatowa was also unique in that it, unlike other areas of Polish settlement in Cleveland, was a section that had been built up by previous inhabitants. Whereas the settlers in Warszawa and Poznan erected new houses for themselves, many of the residents of Josephatowa inherited homes built by others.

A second large community, Barbarowa, like Josephatowa had meager beginnings in the 1890's but attained no appreciable size until after 1900. Barbarowa began when Poles settled on the western edge of the Cuyahoga River Valley at Denison Avenue in the late 1890's. These Poles worked either in the steel mills or the Grasselli Chemical Plant in the valley below. The area of settlement was quite extensive; some of the early settlers lived as far southwest of Dension Avenue as the Brookside Valley.


By 1905, 750 Poles lived in the Barbarowa section--on either side of the Brookside Valley.24 In that year a parish was established on the south side of the Brookside Valley to serve the rapidly growing Polish population. The church building for St. Barbara's Parish (after which the community was named) was completed in 1906. When this building burned in 1913, the parish decided to relocate on the north side of the Brookside Valley. A new building was erected in 1926 on Denison Avenue at the edge of the Cuyahoga Valley, a more convenient location since most parishioners lived on the north side of the Brookside Valley.

With the beginning of World War I, Polish immigration to the United States and Cleveland came to a virtual halt. At the war's end in 1918 large scale immigration began again; however, the literacy law of 1917 helped to reduce the number of immigrants eligible to enter the United States. In 1921 the institution of the quota system of admittance again cut the Polish immigration to a trickle. The National Origins Act in 1924 added only a few more Poles to the entry lists. Thus, in the years between 1914 and the end of World War II, large scale Polish immigration to Cleveland was halted.

These years, however, saw a continued expansion and maturation of established Polish communities in Cleveland as well as a continued movement of Poles to suburban areas. This was due largely to the birth and coming of age of many second generation Poles.



The years from 1920 to 1940 can be considered the peak years of Polish settlement in Cleveland. By 1920 an estimated 50,000-80,000 first and second generation Poles lived in the city, comprising approximately 10 percent of the total population.25 Warszawa reached its maximum geographic limits during this period, reaching Harvard Avenue on the south and E. 49th Street on the west. The section from E. 49th to E. 55th Street, however, was shared with many Czech settlers, as was the suburb of Newburgh Heights immediately to the west of E. 49th Street. Newburgh Heights had developed in the 1920's as a suburban ethnic community quite similar to Garfield Heights. On the north the area was bounded by Heisley Street, with little expansion having occurred in this area since the early 1900's. Similarly, the southeast boundary with the Irish remained much the same.

To the south of Warszawa, the Krakowa community now occupied almost all of the area south of Harvard Avenue. Its southern boundary was Grant Avenue. On the east the community followed, the Mill Creek Valley and on the west reached nearly to E. 56th Street.

The second largest community, Kantowa, was bounded by the Cuyahoga River Valley on the east, north and south sides. The west limit was near W. 25th Street. Though this perimeter encompasses a fairly large geographical area, it must be remembered that this was a polyglot ethnic community.


The third major Polish area, Poznan, was a compact twenty-five block area bounded by Liberty Boulevard on the east, E. 79th Street on the west, Superior Avenue on the south and St. Clair Avenue on the north.

Following World War I the minor enclaves also filled out. The Jackowa community around St. Hyacinth parish stretched along either side of Francis Avenue from E. 55th Street to E. 69th Street. The area about St. Hedwig's church in Lakewood was now stable and encompassed the region along Madison Avenue from W. 117th Street to W. 130th Street. Approximately ten blocks surrounding the St. Josephat Church on E. 33rd Street had become largely Polish. St. Barbara's area, as before, remained rather large and amorphous. However, a fairly solid Polish section did surround the church at about W. 15th Street and Denison Avenue.

Older suburban areas also matured in the post-World War I period. The community of St. Mary of Czestochowa stretched along either side of Harvard Avenue from approximately E. 116th Street to E. 148th Street. Garfield Heights which entered its major, period of growth at this time, received in 1925 its own Polish parish, SS. Peter and Paul, at Turney Road and Garfield Heights Boulevard. The population was centered in the area to the north of Garfield Heights Boulevard, along either side of Turney Road. The area to the west of Turney Road, enclosed by it, the Boulevard and Warner Road formed the major area of residential settlement. The Garfield Heights settlement was important because it became the residential


region for the wealthier Poles. During the 1920's Polish bankers and businessmen from Warszawa built substantial brick homes along Garfield Heights Boulevard where many older Polish businessmen still live.

During the 1920's most of Cleveland's Poles and their American-born children continued to be employed as laborers in steel and iron related industries. This was particularly true of the residents of the Warszawa, Krakowa, Kantowa and Barbarowa sections. In 1919 Poles comprised more than 50 percent of the workforce of United States Steel Company's American Steel and Wire Division (formerly the rolling mills).26 The workforces of Superior Foundry, Crucible Company, Co-Operative Stove Foundry, Union Rolling Mills, and Foster Nut and Bolt Company were primarily Polish.27 Both first and second generation women, particularly from the Warszawa area, began to take jobs during and after World War I. Many worked at Kaynee Blouse Factory, Cleveland Worsted Mills, Buckeye Electrical Company and Foster Nut and Bolt Company.28

Polish settlements in Cleveland expanded little in the 1930's mainly because of the Depression which hit the Poles hard since many of them worked in the basic iron and steel industries. Because of this and their intense desire to own property, many Poles held mortgages when the economic collapse began. The years of prosperity preceding 1929 gave impetus to a surge of buying and building. In order to prevent foreclosures, entire families went job hunting during the 1930's, each contributing his earnings to retain the family property. In this way most Polish families survived the Depression with their property holdings intact.


The only settlement expansion that occurred in the 1930's involved the Barbarowa and Kantowa areas. A number of west-side Poles moved southwestwardly along Broadview and Pearl (W. 25 Street) Roads. In 1936 Corpus Christi Parish was established at Biddulph and Pearl Roads to serve about ninety families residing in the area.29 By 1940 the parish had grown to 350 families as the southwestward movement continued.30


The beginning of World War II and the letting of massive war contracts in 1939 brought renewed prosperity of Cleveland's Polish communities. Even the old American Steel and Wire Works in Newburgh, partially closed by the Depression, came alive again. There were more than enough jobs for the Poles and any draft-exempt descendants. Overtime earnings swelled savings accounts and provided the basis for a great post-war mobility for many of Cleveland's Poles.

Even during the war many Poles moved whenever possible. The southwestward trend, evident in the establishment of Corpus Christi Parish, continued as war industries such as the Chrysler Tank Plant chose to locate in southwestern suburbs such as Parma and Brook Park.

By the end of World War II, many of Cleveland's first generation Poles had died. While there were 35,024 Polish-born individuals in Cleveland in 1920, only 24,771 remained in 1940.31 Most of these were pre-quota immigrants advancing in age. Most of the city's


Polish population consisted of the sons and daughters of the original immigrants. Post-war chaos in Europe, however, helped to replenish the city's foreign-born Polish stock. The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 provided special provisions to allow non-quota entry of thousands of Poles evicted from their homeland by the war and the subsequent communist takeover. Unlike the previous waves of Polish immigration that consisted of peasants or artisans, post-war immigration was limited to individuals with skills that would allow their immediate placement in the American job market.

This new influx of Polish immigrants was not strong enough, however, to prevent the decline of the original Polish settlements within Cleveland. Many second and third generation Poles used their wartime savings or the newly approved GI benefits to purchase new homes in the suburbs, diminishing the population of the older areas. Many of the new Polish immigrants also chose to live in the suburbs. But if the entire post-war immigration had decided to locate in the older Polish neighborhoods, it is doubtful that they could have made up for the continuing population loss.32

The late 1940's and the 1950's witnessed a tremendous growth in Garfield Heights, Parma, Cuyahoga Heights and a newer area, Maple Heights, which was situated just beyond Garfield Heights along Broadway Avenue. This new suburban movement was facilitated by the automobile which freed many Polish families from the necessity of settling on established public transportation routes. By 1970 only 6,234 individuals of Polish birth and 16,585 people of Polish background


resided in Cleveland proper.33 In contrast, the four suburbs of Lakewood, Parma, Cleveland Heights and Euclid contained 7,071 Polish-born individuals and 31,595 people of Polish background in 1970.34

This tremendous population movement created vacuums in many of the areas. By the early 1970's, most of the older Polish settlements had lost, or were losing, their Polish character. Poznan became a largely Black residential area, as did the relatively newer area of St. Mary's of Czestochowa. The population vacuum in Kantowa was filled by Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Appalachians. Warszawa, alone, retained a strongly Polish character; yet it, too, is changing.35 Many Appalachians settled in the community's Broadway and Harvard Avenue fringe areas. Only the central district about Fleet Avenue remains strongly Polish.

In 1970 Greater Cleveland had 61,485 people of Polish birth or background,36 approximately two-thirds living outside of the city proper in suburbs such as Parma and Maple Heights. The majority of people represented by this figure were also American-born. As indicated in Appendix A, the number of first generation Poles in the Greater Cleveland area has dropped steadily since the 1920's. What these figures portend for the survival of the Polish enclaves in Cleveland can only be surmised. Today it is sufficient to contrast the new suburban settlements and their inhabitants with the communities started by the Poles over a century ago. The first communities provided a language cushion, job proximity, and a common culture; the new suburban areas place the Polish-American in contact with the sons and


daughters of other Slavic or Catholic immigrant groups. In the new communities, the English language, middle class background, and often religion, are the common denominators. Though some of the older communities persist, their functions as protective enclaves have disappeared and their future is uncertain. Their survival will be guaranteed only by a willingness on the part of newly-arrived Polish immigrants, and Americans of Polish background, to settle in them and rehabilitate their rapidly aging structures.



When the Poles began to arrive in Cleveland in substantial numbers during the 1870's, they found themselves very much alone in a strange world. The communities they founded were islands of safety in an unknown and frequently hostile environment. Within the boundaries of the communities, life was carried on in a familiar language and through familiar institutions. These institutions, religious, fraternal, cultural and business, preserved a bit of what the immigrant once knew in Poland. At the same time, they helped introduce him to the American environment and enabled him to cope with it.


The first, and ultimately the most important, institution to be established in any of Cleveland's Polish enclaves was the Roman Catholic Church. As indicated in the previous section, the establishment of the church occurred very shortly after the first settlement in an area. It soon became the center of immigrant society, often giving its name to the community. The primary responsibility of the Polish parish was the religious needs of the Poles, most of whom were devout Catholics with a ritual common to that which they had known in Poland. Though other Catholic churches existed near some of the settlements, such as Holy Name in Warszawa, they could not offer the sacraments and gospel in a language or manner familiar to the Poles.


However, in Cleveland, and in America generally, the church became more than a religious institution. It fostered the creation of social and fraternal-insurance clubs and provided the foreign born with a place to meet and conduct business. It provided schools that taught, and taught in, the Polish language, hence helping to keep the language and culture of Poland alive for the American-born generations. Most important, its pastor served as a community leader, acting as an intermediary with the general community, a translator of letters, and at times, a one-man welfare bureau.

The history of Cleveland's Polish mother-parish, St. Stanislaus, is indicative of the multifaceted nature of the neighborhood parish. When the first church building was constructed in 1881, its design included room for a school, and classes, conducted entirely in Polish, began immediately.37 At the same time the church provided meeting facilities for a number of Polish insurance and social groups. In 1881, these included: The Knights of St. Casimir, the Polish Guard of Kosciuszko, The Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, The Society of St. Stanislaus Kostka, and The Society of St. Vincent de Paul.38 The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in 1873, was the first Polish mutual aid society in Cleveland.39 It played an important role in the growth of St. Stanislaus Parish, and its members had helped to select the site for the first church building in 1881.

In 1883, Fr. Francis Kolaszewski was assigned the pastorate of St. Stanislaus. The newly-ordained priest spent eight years at the parish. Under his guidance, the church was transformed both


St. Stanislaus Church, Forman and East 65th Street. This rendering was prepared prior to the structure's completion in 1891. The two spires were destroyed by a windstorm in 1909.


physically and socially. Because of his work at St. Stanislaus, Fr. Kolaszewski was perhaps the most important figure in the nineteenth century history of Cleveland's Polish community. Fr. Kolaszewski was quick to realize that the Warszawa community would soon experience tremendous population growth because of fresh immigration, and that his church facilities would prove inadequate. He set himself the task of procuring plans, funds and permission to construct a new church on the grandest of scales. His parishioners, who were among the poorest in the diocese, contributed unstintingly in the fund raising and eventually dug the foundation for the new church by themselves. While immersed in the problems of expanding the parish, Fr. Kolaszewski had to contend with economic problems and periods of labor unrest at the rolling mills that employed almost all of his parishioners. When many people were out of work, he ordered groceries and other supplies for them at the local stores, paying for the items with his own money.40

In 1885 a massive and violent strike occurred in the rolling mills. The violence lead the city's press to brand the Poles as socialists and troublemakers. Fr. Kolaszewski stood as a spokesman for the community and refuted the newspapers' charges. In a lengthy interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the priest conceded that violence had occurred, but noted that the Poles had little part in it. He asked the paper to tell its readers that "THE POLES HAVE BEEN MISREPRESENTED."41


As Fr. Kolaszewski tried to interpret his parishioners to the community at large, he helped interpret the new world to many of his flock. Translating official documents into Polish and even reading Polish to those who were illiterate, he was a bridge between the immigrants and American society. Kolaszewski's tremendous influence and respect in Warszawa were noted, albeit in an offhand manner, by a city official present at the dedication of St. Stanislaus church in 1891. During a speech in the rectory, the official noted that the priest's presence was worth that of fifty policemen in the Polish wards.42

Fr. Kolaszewski was also the force behind the establishment of two other Polish parishes in Cleveland. When, in 1889, the Krakowa community required the establishment of a parish of its own, he was instrumental in the founding of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish. Though he knew that such an action would rob St. Stanislaus of parishioners, he also realized that the distance of Krakowa from St. Stanislaus was inhibiting the school and church attendance of those in the district.

In 1894, under rather unusual circumstances, Fr. Kolaszewski founded Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish on Lansing (Fremont) Avenue, some six blocks from St. Stanislaus. Despite the priest's good work at St. Stanislaus, certain factions in the parish moved for his removal shortly after the completion of the new church building in 1891. The Bishop was also at odds with Fr. Kolaszewski because of his independent stand on certain church issues--including his advocacy



Pastor of St. Stanislaus' Parish 1883-1892


of parishioner ownership of church property--and because of the large debt he had incurred in the erection of the new church. The debt may also have been responsible for the anti-Kolaszewski faction at the church.43 Fr. Kolaszewski resigned under pressure in 1892 and was ordered to a Syracuse, New York parish.

Despite specific orders from the Bishop not to return to Cleveland without diocesan permission, Dr. Kolaszewski left Syracuse and came back to the city in 1894 largely in response to the request of the pro-Kolaszewski faction at St. Stanislaus. Almost immediately upon his return, and in direct defiance of another set of diocesan orders, he founded the Immaculate Heart Parish. His action was met with ready support by his admirers and excommunication by the church.44 This action caused a deep rift in the Warszawa community which lasted into the 1920's. During these years the people loyal to St. Stanislaus would often greet the Immaculate Heart parishioners with the Polish word, Barabaszy (traitors). The Immaculate Heart faction would retort with the taunt, Rzymiany (Romans).45 This name calling often took place in public; even funeral processions from Immaculate Heart of Mary were greeted with the cry of Barbaszy.46 Though the internal division in the community continued afterward, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish was accepted into the Diocese when Fr. Kolaszewski resigned his pastorate in 1908 (at which time he was also accepted back into the church).

All of the churches founded by Fr. Kolaszewski, as well as every other Polish parish in Cleveland, had a school. Most of these


schools included grades one through eight; however, St. Stanislaus also eventually developed a high school. Like St. Stanislaus', many of the nineteenth century parish schools gave all, or most of their instruction in Polish. In some communities this was a dire necessity; for example, only about twenty of the pupils attending St. John Cantius school in 1900 could speak English with any fluency.47 This total reliance on the Polish language also insured its perpetuation in the community. The heavy reliance on Polish as a teaching medium in the years prior to World War I, however, had detrimental effects for students transferring from Polish schools and entering public high schools. These students often found themselves two or three grades behind those pupils educated totally in the public system. Similar problems were encountered by students transferring to the public schools while still in the elementary grades. A study of this problem by the Cleveland Foundation in 1914, and the cry for 100 percent Americanism during World War I, led to a state law requiring all elementary curriculum to be taught in English.48 Despite this restriction, the Polish schools continued to teach the Polish language as an academic subject and some still do., In the 1920's over fifty percent of the children in the Polish communities attended parochial schools. St. Stanislaus had an enrollment of over 2000 pupils at this time.49 Today the schools in the older communities have changed. Many non-Polish students attend classes and the total enrollment has shrunk. However, the renewed interest in ethnicity has caused many of the schools to keep once floundering Polish language classes alive.


Although the majority of Cleveland's Poles were Roman Catholic, a small number belonged to non-Catholic denominations. The main non-Catholic group was, and is, the Polish National Catholic Church, a group begun in 1906 by Rev. Francis Hodur of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Its creation was partially a result of the conflict between some of the Polish Roman Catholic clergy and the predominantly Irish hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America. The church differed from the Roman rite in that the mass was said in Polish, rather than Latin; the church property was held by the congregation; and in 1921 they abrogated the rules of celibacy.

Cleveland's first National Catholic Church, Sacred Heart of Jesus, was established in 1913 on W. 14th Street. Its congregation numbered 200 families in the Kantowa district.50 A second church, Our Lady of Czestochowa (now St. Mary's), was established in Barbarowa the following year.

The National Church grew slowly in Cleveland. It was not until 1931 that another parish, the Church of the Good Shepherd, was established on St. Clair Avenue in the Poznan district. A fourth parish, Holy Trinity, was established in 1940 on Broadway Avenue to serve the National Catholics in Warszawa.

The settled, stabilized nature of the various communities at the time of the establishment of the National Catholic parishes did not allow their pastors to assume the same type of pathfinder, philanthropic role performed by Fr. Kolaszewski, but the church still served as a community center and educational institution.


Though none of the churches built school buildings, some of the first parishes, such as Sacred Heart, sponsored evening classes in the Polish language.51

At present, five Polish National Catholic Churches serve the Greater Cleveland area. They include the aforementioned churches and All Saints Church on E. 59th Street. In 1970 the membership of these parishes totaled 4,000.52 Because of recent changes in the Roman Catholic Liturgy, some Roman Catholic Poles are switching allegiance to the National Church where the old liturgy, albeit in Polish, is retained.

The overwhelming adherence to Catholicism by Cleveland's Poles made the need for a Protestant Polish church negligible. Protestant Poles, primarily Baptists, were served by several small churches and missions in Warszawa. Trinity Baptist Church at E. 71st Street and Lansing Avenue began holding mission services for Protestant Poles around 1910. These Poles then built their own chapel at E. 71 Street and Gertrude Avenue where services were begun in 1918 for a congregation of about sixty.53 Eventually services were moved to a new Trinity Church at Broadway and Fullerton Avenues in the 1930's. At this time mission services were also held in a church on Rosewood Avenue just outside of Garfield Heights. In 1943 Trinity Baptist Church was sold to the Cleveland Catholic Diocese and converted to Transfiguration Church, the third Polish Catholic parish to serve the Warszawa area. Like their Catholic counterparts, and despite the minor status and small membership of the Polish Baptist churches,


they also served as social and educational centers. The Polish Baptist Church at E. 71st Street and Gertrude Avenue held suppers, picnics and gave classes in sewing and the Polish language.54

Fraternal-Insurance Organizations

Though the churches in Polish communities offered social and educational services, they could not provide financial security in times of economic trouble. Even the resources of a man such as Fr. Kolaszewski could not meet the needs occasioned by the frequent strikes, depressions and accidents of the industrial communities in which Cleveland's Poles lived. Nor could the immigrants turn to the non-Polish insurance companies operating in the city to protect themselves against such calamities. Their rates were high, and they were linguistically incapable of dealing with the Poles or reluctant to help. To solve this problem the Poles in Cleveland, and throughout the United States, created their own mutual aid, or fraternal-insurance organizations.

These organizations were a unique immigrant response to the American environment. For about twenty-five cents a week, the immigrant Pole could obtain insurance against layoffs and accidents, provide funds for family burials, and have a source for low-interest loans. The regular meetings of these organizations also provided a social setting for discussion and camaraderie.


Cleveland's first mutual benefit society, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, was organized in 1873 by two early Polish immigrants, Anton Dzieweczynski and Andrew Skonieczny. During the next three decades dozens of small, local organizations were formed. Like the St. Vincent's Society, most were allied with a Polish Catholic parish. By 1920, over fifty societies were affiliated with St. Stanislaus Church alone.55 These societies functioned well until confronted with a major calamity. The depression of 1893 caused many to default, as did the influenza epidemic during World War I.56 The smaller societies either failed or merged with larger organizations.

The first large fraternal-insurance society to gain clientele in Cleveland was the Polish Roman Catholic Union founded on a national basis in Chicago in 1873. Its purposes were to promote Polish culture and provide insurance and loan benefits to Catholic Poles. It maintained strong ties with the Catholic Church, each of its local lodges being affiliated with a Polish parish. The first lodge of the P.R.C.U. in Cleveland was affiliated with St. Stanislaus and was founded in 1880. Over the years additional lodges were founded throughout the city. They were organized into groups, which, in turn, comprised a regional council. Each hierarchical level had its own officers and held meetings. In 1940, fifteen groups with a total of 2,950 members were active in Cleveland, comprising the Cleveland area council.57


A second major national organization also began operating in Cleveland during the 1880's. The Polish National Alliance, like the P.R.C.U., sought to foster Polish culture and provide benefits for its members. However, it did not have strong church ties (though membership was initially limited to Catholic Poles) and worked strongly for the reconstitution of the Polish state. The national P.N.A. was founded in 1879, and its first Cleveland chapter was established in 1886. Like the P.R.C.U., the P.N.A. was built upon a lodge-group-council hierarchy. Unlike the P.R.C.U., however, the P.N.A. established a council to serve each of the three major Polish communities; Poznan, Kantowa and Warszawa. Later a fourth council was established to serve the Parma area. Because it lacked the strong church ties of the P.R.C.U., the P.N.A. could not use church facilities for its meetings. Instead, the Alliance built, or secured, a hall for each of its council areas. The White Eagle Hall on Kosciuszko Street served the Poznan section; the Polish Library Home on Kenilworth Avenue served the Kantowa area; and the Polish National Home on Fullerton Avenue served, and continues to serve, the Warszawa district. These halls provided rooms for meetings, social events, and in the case of Kantowa, an excellent Polish library. Their rental to outside groups provided additional revenue for the councils. In 1940, the three existing Cleveland councils had sixty groups totaling 10,000 members.58

In 1895, the P.N.A. held its first national convention in Cleveland. A primary issue at the convention was the extension of


membership to non-Catholic Poles. When a motion to do so was passed, a number of Cleveland Poles from Group 143 resigned from the Alliance in protest59 and formed their own fraternal-insurance organization, the Alliance of Poles of Ohio. With the secession of additional Cleveland P.N.A. members, the group grew and prospered. In 1917 an influx of out-of-state members caused the group to change its name to the Alliance of Poles of America. Like the P.N.A. councils, it opened its own hall on Broadway Avenue in 1926. The hall had an auditorium, offices, meeting rooms and provisions for a library which was soon established. Presently, the Alliance of Poles operates in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.60

A second major fraternal-insurance organization headquartered in Cleveland, but operating only in Ohio, was founded in 1894. The Union of Poles in America began as the Polish Roman Catholic Union of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin. It was affiliated with the schismatic parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and apparently offered benefits to those who chose to belong to this parish--an act which alienated them from the larger St. Stanislaus community and its societies. Despite its local parish affiliation, the Union attracted members from other churches and towns. In 1915, it obtained a state charter as a formal insuring agency. In 1939, it merged with another local organization, the Polish Roman Catholic Union of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and assumed its present name.


The fact that many of the fraternal-insurance organizations were operated by men only, though benefits and insurance were available to women, fostered the creation of several women's organizations. A major local group, the Association of Polish Women in the United States, began as an offshoot of the national Polish Women's Alliance. The Association was established in 1911 to provide insurance benefits for members and their families and to uplift the Polish woman in America. A description of this second aspect of the organization's purposes provides insight into the important position of the group in Cleveland Polish history:

The main issue [for the Association] has always been the one already suggested…meeting the pace set by the men's organizations and demonstrating the fact that the Polish women can be as good citizens as their husbands, equally active in community life and able to think out their share of solutions for their common problems.61
To accomplish its purposes, the Association conducted a number of charitable activities in and outside of the Polish community during its existence. For example, it performed much Polish relief work during and after World War II. Like its male counter-parts, it also constructed a large hall, on Broadway Avenue, in 1951, for meeting and rental purposes.

All of the major fraternal-insurance organizations described above function today. Some have continued to grow, such as the P.N.A. which had to open a new Parma council; yet, to do so, they have had to alter their services and principles. Because of the lack of any significant new immigration since the 1920's, it has become important for these agencies to sell their services to second and third generation Poles. However, these English


speaking Polish-Americans have also been a major market for non-Polish insurance agencies. The increased benefits and types of insurance offered by non-Polish agencies lured many Poles away from the fraternals. To keep pace, Polish societies increased and diversified their benefit programs.

Though not important to the business operation of the various societies, their halls and clubrooms most graphically show the changes in their operation. English is now the common language at the clubroom tap, as well as in the official minutebooks, and the halls are often rented to non-Polish groups.

Cultural Groups

Many of the fraternals, because of their policy of perpetuating Polish tradition, conducted social activities of a cultural nature. Foremost among these were singing and dramatic performances given by groups such as the Halka Singing Society of the Association of Polish Women and the Polish National Choir of the P.N.A. An especially large number of singing groups were associated with the P.N.A. because of that organization's emphasis on preserving Polish culture.

In the 1920's more than a dozen Polish choral groups were active in Cleveland--a number indicative of the importance of song to the Polish people.62 Six groups and an auxiliary remain active today.63 For the most part, these groups entertained only in Polish


circles during their history, but with the revival of interest in ethnicity, many are now being asked to perform outside of the community.

An exception to this general rule has been the Harmonia Chopin Society, founded in 1902 as the Harmonia by a group of young Warszawa Poles interested in perpetuating their heritage. The society grew quickly, attracting many prominent businessmen of the district to its ranks. The group soon attained a professional quality and took on a broad scope of activities. Rather than remain a cultural and entertainment medium for the Polish community alone, the Harmonia took its music to the people of Cleveland.64 This was done to introduce native Clevelanders to Polish culture, and to the Polish people living among them.

Some groups, such as the Halka, both sang and carried on dramatic productions. The churches, particularly St. Stanislaus, sponsored various dramatic groups. During the 1920's, Sunday afternoons and evenings at St. Stanislaus were often given over to plays concerning the lives of saints or Polish history. The most vital development in Cleveland Polish drama was the Polish Theater on Broadway in Warszawa. During the 1920's and 1930's, this commercial enterprise imported acts and plays from Poland and produced locally written Polish drama.

Several other Polish organizations, though having no artists of their own, have tried to promote Polish culture in the non-Polish community. One such group, the Cleveland Society of Poles, was


formed in 1923 from P.N.A. Branch Number 2265. From its beginning, the Society's membership consisted of the major Polish businessmen and professionals in Cleveland. The group sponsored Polish cultural events throughout the city, while fostering American ideals among its members. For the past two decades, for example, the Society has sponsored a presentation ball where the daughters of members make their social debut. The funds from this event, patterned after that held by the city's old family elite, are turned over to various agencies interested in promoting Polish culture.

The American Polish Women's Club, founded in 1923, is almost a ladies' auxiliary to the Cleveland Society. Over the years the membership of this club has consisted of the wives of men who would have been, or were, included in the Cleveland Society. At the time of its founding, the Club engaged in efforts to teach English to the foreign-born, while also trying to promote Polish culture in the general community. To this end it sponsored luncheons and meetings with various visiting Polish, or Polish-American actresses and artists. In recent years the club has become involved in charity and social service work.65

Both of these clubs originated in the 1920's, a period when sociologists and Americanizers were trying to make good American citizens of immigrants, while attempting to preserve foreign culture and teach others about them. It is most likely that the founding and resultant nature of these clubs was due to this trend, and especially to the fact that their prominent members


Recruitment Committee for the Polish Volunteer Army, 1917, posed in front of the Polish Falcons Hall on Broadway Avenue.


would be the Poles most conscious of this trend because of their many business and social contacts in the general community.

Similar in nature to these elite groups was another 1920's enterprise, the Polish Educational Society. Founded in 1920 by a prominent Polish attorney, S. Titus, and editor, Professor Thomas Siemradzki, the organization taught English and mathematics to the working-class Poles. It also offered lectures on political and historical topics. The club had no affiliation with the church; indeed, its founders wished to remove their students from the atmosphere of the church which they felt stifled assimilation. For this reason, the club was often accused of being free-thinking and socialistic. Again, the 1920's origin of the club, its prominent leadership, and its emphasis on teaching English indicate that it tried to serve as a bridge to the general community.66

Military and Athletic Groups

Prior to World War I, several paramilitary, and athletic groups, were active in the Polish community. Most of these groups satisfied a desire of some immigrants to dress in uniform and to parade. Most notable among the early groups was the Knights of St. Casimir, an organization affiliated with St. Stanislaus Church. The group was established in the 1880's, and shortly after the turn of the century became part of the Alliance of Poles.67 It was often in the vanguard of most Polish parades in the city. Other


uniformed groups included the Polish Cadets of St. Stanislaus Church and the Polish National Sharpshooters of Thadeus Kosciuszko, affiliated with St. John Cantius Parish.68

Though the Polish National Alliance sponsored athletic teams and events in the nineteenth century, the desire for Polish athletic organizations led to the creation of a national athletic group, the Polish Falcons (Sokol Polski), in Chicago in 1896. Like the Sokols common to the Czech and Slovak communities, the purposes of the Polish group transcended exercise. The organization existed primarily to foster Polish nationalism through athletic activity. A branch of the organization, Nest 141, was established in 1911 on Broadway Avenue in Warszawa. With the advent of World War I, the Falcons, including the Cleveland branch, recruited an all-Polish volunteer army to fight with the Allies in France. Recruits were sent to Canada for training and eventually saw service in Europe in late 1917. (See also the section "Politics and Personalities.")

The conclusion of the war and the establishment of a Polish state diminished much of the Falcons' purpose, and for a short period after the war the Cleveland branch languished. Its revival later in the 1920's was due to its social functions and athletic programs in baseball and basketball.69 It should be noted that many other Polish businesses, churches and organizations, such as the Alliance of Poles and the Polish National Alliance, also fielded or sponsored teams in these sports, creating something akin to a Polish sports league in Cleveland. During this time the Falcons competed in track and field events with other Falcon branches throughout the country and continue to do so.


A Polish Falcon uniformed troop. ca 1914. The Falcons fostered Polish nationalism and eventually fought with the Allies in World War I for the cause of Polish independence.



Just as the social clubs and insurance organizations satisfied unique needs within the Polish community, the Polish-owned business filled other more mundane needs. A major problem facing the early Polish immigrant to Cleveland was finding stores where he could make himself understood to buy the basic necessities of life. The first immigrants, as noted earlier, solved this problem by settling near the Czechs or Germans whose languages they understood. After accumulating enough capital, some of the early settlers opened stores that would cater to later arrivals. The first businesses were grocery stores and saloons, one providing necessities and the other, conviviality. The first Polish-owned grocery store in Cleveland was established in the Warszawa district in 1878. The rapid growth of the community and the beginnings of other areas of settlement created more business opportunities, and by 1900, thirty-two stores were operating in Cleveland.70

As the Polish population increased and capital was accumulated, more stores were opened in the first two decades of this century. Prior to the Depression, a grocery store could be found on almost every block of the main streets in Polish sections. In 1926 Polish grocers of Cleveland formed the Polish Progressive Grocers Association, or P.G.A., which built a modern warehouse where members received substantial discounts on goods through cooperative, bulk buying. The P.G.A. also sponsored training sessions on the better management of stores, held contests for effective window displays,


This composite photograph of 100 Polish businessmen was prepared in honor of the Cleveland centennial in 1896. The strong republican leanings of the business community are evidenced by the "good luck" photograph of the newly elected president, William McKinley.


and assisted in upgrading the appearance and quality of Polish-owned stores.71 The P.G.A. lasted until the 1960's when it, like many of the neighborhood grocers, succumbed to the competition of the large chain supermarkets.

The establishment of the city's first Polish-owned saloon in 1876 preceded the first grocery store by two years. Though not dispensing life-sustaining supplies, the saloon provided a gathering place where the issues of the day could be discussed. The early saloons were second only to the church in fulfilling this social need. Saloon ownership grew more rapidly than that of groceries since less initial capital was involved. At times, the front rooms of residences were converted into saloons. By 1890, twenty-three Polish saloons were operating in Cleveland; ten years later the figure had more than doubled with sixty-seven in operation.72 The advent of prohibition nearly destroyed the saloons, but after repeal, they were reinstated serving the same social function as before.

Other Polish businesses came into existence as soon as capital could be accumulated and a sufficient market presented itself. The first Polish dry goods store opened in Warszawa in 1887.73 Three years later the first furniture store opened in the same community.74 The Wanda Furniture store, established in 1911 on Broadway Avenue, was one of the largest businesses in the area, and it endured for many years.


Though the church performed the funeral services for Cleveland's Poles, the community still needed an embalmer. During the 1870's, a Czech named Wolf performed this function for the citizens of Warszawa.75 Later, a Pole, William Slezak, married Wolf's daughter and inherited the business. Again, as the population grew, the funeral business expanded to meet the increased need. At one time, more than a half dozen undertakers served the Warszawa-Krakowa area alone.

A business unique to the Polish, and other immigrant communities, was the foreign exchange-travel broker shop. Immigrants often needed the services of an agent to purchase tickets for relatives coming to join them, and to exchange American currency for foreign drafts to be sent to relatives in the old country. Also the broker would often be called upon to read, write, or translate correspondence between immigrants and their Old World families. Because of his dealings with Poles, Americans, American banks and foreign steamship companies, the broker often was one of the best educated, and financially adept, men in the Polish community.

Cleveland's first Polish travel broker was Michael Kniola. Kniola arrived in Cleveland in 1880 and obtained a job in the rolling mills. He learned English in night school and soon became a foreman in the mills. He quit his job in 1886 to open a grocery store on Tod (E. 65th) Street in Warszawa. In 1890 he began to offer travel and foreign exchange services at his store. By 1900 this new aspect of his business had become large enough to allow


him to drop his grocery business. Kniola's contacts with many of the residents of Warszawa, and familiarity with personalities in the city's banking and exchange circles, made him a respected leader in the Polish community until his death in the 1940's.76 The other major Polish enclaves, Kantowa and Poznan, had similar agencies. Those of S. Lewandowski in Poznan and of Joseph Tetlak in Kantowa made their owners as respected and important in these communities as Kniola was in Warszawa.

Kniola's experience in money matters qualified him to be one of the founders of a major Polish savings and loan institution in Cleveland. Banks, and savings and loan associations, are the most prominent and important business enterprises in the history of Cleveland's Polish communities. The Poles who settled in Cleveland had an extraordinarily strong desire to save money and acquire property. Property was a mark of stability and importance in Poland, a mark that most of Cleveland's Poles had been denied in their native land. In America, all unnecessary pleasures and frivolities were bypassed in order to save money for a home. Charles Coulter, in his 1919 work on Cleveland's Poles, noted, "To his family, if they are reared in America, his [the Pole's] thrift assumes almost the proportions of a vice."77 The Polish financial institution provided a safe agency in which to accumulate this money and from which to obtain a mortgage for a home.

The first Polish financial institution in the city, St. Hyacinth Savings and Loan, was established in the Jackowa neighborhood in 1913.


That same year, the city's first Polish bank, the Bank of Cleveland, was begun in Warszawa by Stanley Klonowski (a former employee of Michael Kniola). In 1915, the Lincoln Heights Savings and Loan Company was organized to serve the growing Kantowa community. The following year, the Warsaw Savings and Loan opened its doors in Warszawa. Kniola was one of the founders of this institution which, for many years, was the major Polish savings and loan in the city.78 Most of these institutions weathered the Depression. However, the Warsaw Savings and Loan had much difficulty. To insure the safety of its deposits, it placed them in a large Cleveland bank, the Guardian Trust, in the belief that the large institution had a better chance to survive the hard times. Much to the shock of the Warsaw Savings and Loan officers, the bank failed, dragging their institution down with it. The Warsaw Savings and Loan was subsequently reorganized, eventually rebuilding its business and stature.79 It continues in business today as the United Savings Association.

In the wanning years of the Depression, yet another Polish savings and loan was established: Third Federal Savings and Loan was founded in 1938 to deal specifically in home mortgages.80 Since that time it has become the major Polish Savings and Loan in Cleveland, and one of the largest in the state. It has absorbed many of the smaller Polish savings and loans, including the St. Hyacinth and Lincoln Heights institutions.

The Polish banks and savings and loans have thrived. Unlike the small grocers and furniture stores, they have not been driven out


of business by competition. They have wisely established branches in the new suburban areas of Polish settlement. United Savings, and especially Third Federal, have endeavored to build in areas such as Parma, Independence and Garfield Heights. Though the boards and the majority of depositors in these institutions are of Polish background, the savings and loans now also solicit the deposits of non-Poles, thus insuring their survival in the older, changing Polish neighborhoods. It is interesting to note that the Polish mortuary has insured its survival through a similar pattern of suburban expansion.

Through the years, few Polish businesses have been established to overtly attract non-Polish clientele. In more recent years, however, this limitation has softened as people of Polish background settle in mixed residential regions and open businesses catering to their entire neighborhoods. Some businesses in the older residential regions however, have grown to a point where they advertise and sell to a large variety of customers. Most notable here is the Grabski Company which operates a chain of auto dealerships along Broadway Avenue.

Most of the businesses, at least, had the opportunity to survive the dispersal of the Polish neighborhood, but an important business, the Polish language newspaper, did not. Cleveland's Polish press grew when there was a need to disseminate news in a foreign tongue and withered when the Polish-only speaking population died. Cleveland's first Polish paper, Polonia w Amerce (Poland in America), was founded in 1892.81 Its establishment was the result


of increasing literacy among Poles and the increasing geographical size of the Warszawa community which hindered the passing of news by mouth. The paper was also important to the growing number of businessmen in the community who needed a medium in which to advertise their goods and services. A number of businessmen, including Michael Kniola, Telesfor Olstynski (carriage maker), Matt Dluzynski (grocer) and Joseph Sledz (saloon owner and politician), were among those who organized the paper.82 Begun as a weekly, Polania w Ameryce retained this format until 1918 when it merged with another weekly, the Jutrzenka (Morning Star), and began daily publication. In 1922 the Polonia was purchased by a Detroit firm that renamed it the Polish Monitor. A Cleveland group repurchased the paper in 1925 and again changed its title to the Monitor Daily.83

During the late 1920's and the 1930's, the Monitor was the unofficial organ of Cleveland's Polish Catholic parishes.84 It assumed a strong clerical stand and was opposed to socialism both in the United States and the new Polish state. In opposition to this editorial viewpoint stood the Wiadomosci Codzienne (The Daily News), Cleveland's first Polish daily newspaper.

The Wiadomosci was established in 1914, growing from the weekly Narodowiec (Nationalist) which was founded in 1909. Both were published in the Kantowa section.85 Though not rapidly anticlerical, the Wiadomosci espoused a free-thinking viewpoint, backing the socialist inclined ruler of Poland, Joseph Pilsudski. This


political stance was typical in the paper during the years 1918-1937 when it was edited by Professor Thomas Siemradzki, the well-known Polish intellectual who was co-founder of the Polish Educational Society.86

The differing views of the two Polish dailies provided the basis for a continuing exchange of editorial barbs during the 1920's and 1930's. The competition and argument was ended in 1938 when the Wiadomosci purchased the Monitor. The Wiadomosci continued to publish daily editions until it ceased publication altogether in 1966.

While these two dailies were active, Cleveland's Poles also had a number of weekly papers serving them. Most of these papers were, and are, affiliated with local fraternal organizations. The Zwiazkowiec (Alliancer) is the organ of the Alliance of Poles of America. Founded in 1926, it is still published today. Jednosc Polek (Unity of Polish Women) was founded in 1924 and still serves the Association of Polish Women. The Kuryer (Courier), which serves the Union of Poles, was founded in 1923 to serve a parent, body of that organization, the Polish Roman Catholic Union of St. Mary of Czestochowa. When this organization merged with the Polish Roman Catholic Union of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1939 to form the Union of Poles, the Kuryer absorbed the Immaculate Heart publication, Zjednoczenia (The Uniter), which had been founded in 1898.87 At present these three papers have assumed a bi-monthly format and are the only Polish papers published in Cleveland.


Through the years a number of other Cleveland published papers have served the Polish communities (see Appendix C for a complete listing). The communities were also served by a number of out-of town papers including: the Strasz, organ of the Polish National Catholic Church; Dziennik Zwiazkowy, organ of the Polish National Alliance; and Narod Polski, organ of the Polish Roman Catholic Union.

In the 1930's the Polish newspapers of Cleveland experienced serious problems. Some of these were linked to the financial depression; others, however, resulted from the changing nature of the Polish community. First generation Poles were being replaced by their bilingual sons and daughters. While their parents could usually read only the Polish press, the sons and daughters preferred to read the American press. In an effort to regain their readership, many Polish papers instituted English language sections. They could not, however, match the features, size and utility of the English language press, and the Polish papers were confronted with an ever dwindling readership. The additional burden of increases in printing and labor costs in the 1950's and 1960's forced an end to the independent Polish daily in Cleveland.

Today, only the fraternal organs survive. Their publication costs are underwritten by the organizations. People desiring a Polish daily paper have to purchase Chicago or New York titles. These out-of-town papers continue to survive only because they cater to a national audience. Polish readership in Cleveland is not large enough to support a locally published paper, a far cry from the halcyon days of the 1920's and 1930's when the city supported two Polish dailies.



International Political Concerns

Since the Poles first arrived in Cleveland, they have been interested and active in politics. Much time, energy and rhetoric have been expended in both local, Cleveland politics and the politics of their former homeland.

The politics of Poland, particularly concerning the reconstitution of the partitioned Polish state, were primary in the minds of the city's Poles. Repression and imprisonment awaited those Poles who worked for independence while in Poland and the movement was forced underground. However, the freedom of the United States allowed the full and open statement of hopes and theories of reconstitution. In the vanguard of those working for reconstitution were the national fraternal organizations, particularly the Polish National Alliance. P.N.A. members in Cleveland and throughout the nation spoke and lobbied for Polish independence. They often hosted personalities, such as Ignace Paderewski, who were well-known for their advocacy of a free Poland.

Not until the outbreak of World War I did any real hope exist for a new Polish state. The need for Polish support caused the Central Powers, and eventually the Allies, to make promises for the rebuilding of the state. In the United States and in Cleveland, Polish opinion was divided as to which offer to trust, or accept. The Prussian Poles, who constituted fifty-seven percent of the


city's Polish population88 and lived in the Warszawa and Poznan districts, wanted a completely independent Polish state, and they looked to the Allied Powers for its creation. On the other hand, the Austrian and Russian Poles, who comprised forty-three percent of the Polish population89 and were centered in Kantowa, felt that complete independence was impossible. They believed the best that could be achieved was the creation of a satellite state under Austrian or German dominance. This idea was an anathema to the Prussian Poles who had already suffered the consequences of the Kulturkampf and German military conscription.90

During the early stages of the war, the faction favoring a German governed Poland allied themselves with the Central Powers and with General Joseph Pilsudski, a Polish officer leading Polish brigades for the Germans. Many Cleveland Poles joined the Committee of National Defense, a Chicago-based organization that backed Pilsudski and espoused the German solution.91 The Prussian Poles stuck to their demand for an independent Poland during this early period, allowing the P.N.A. to champion their cause. As the war, stalemated in 1916-1917, the Germans proposed a semi-autonomous Polish monarchy with a Hapsburg or Hollenzollen prince on the throne to gain Polish support. When Russia withdrew from the Allies in 1917, the remaining powers were quick to offer a totally independent Poland, comprised in part of Russian territory, in return for aid in defeating the Central Powers.


With America's entry into the war in April 1917, most of the city's Poles fell behind the plan to create an independent Polish state. Aiding in this change of opinion were expediency, intimations on the part of Woodrow Wilson about an independent Poland, and a switch in allegiance on the part of Pilsudski. (Pilsudski turned against the Germans in 1917 and was jailed by them.) With the formal Allied promises of an independent Poland in late 1917, and the subsequent publication of Wilson's Fourteen Points, Cleveland's Poles wholeheartedly supported the Allied cause. Thousands of Poles from Cleveland and other American cities formed a Polish Volunteer Army to fight with the Allies.

The successful completion of the war, and the creation of the Polish state, relieved the city's Poles of an issue that had dominated their lives for many years. Even the P.N.A. felt somewhat lost, noting that its major purpose had been accomplished.92 However, interest in the affairs of the new Polish state again soon occupied many Cleveland Poles. Indeed, the stormy beginnings of the new state caused divisions among the Poles as serious as those occasioned by the independence question.

Conditions in Poland after independence were chaotic. A standard monetary system had to be created, a viable government formed, and a war against the Bolshevik Russians concluded. Again, the central figure in Poland and Cleveland was General Pilsudski. After deafeating the Russians at the Vistula River in 1920, Pilsudski


became dissatisfied with the democratic government under Paderewski. A series of assassinations and coups left Pilsudski in virtual dictatorial control of the state after 1925.93

Many of the people in Kantowa, and their newspaper, the Wiadomosci Codzienne, championed the cause of Pilsudski again. They believed his genius and leadership had stopped the Bolsheviks at the Vistula and that his rule was creating order in Poland.94 The people of Warszawa believed otherwise. They felt that Pilsudski was a socialist dictator and that the victory at the Vistula was a miracle and not the result of his genius.95

As Pilsudski and his party retained power throughout the late 1920's and 1930's, this rift in Cleveland's Polish community continued, becoming at times quite dramatic. One notable instance concerned the visit of one of Pilsudski's generals to Cleveland in 1930 to take part in a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Vistula battle. A field mass was to be offered in which 40,000 people were expected to participate. The Warszawa faction, however, wanted the mass to publicly honor the "Miracle of the Vistula." The Kantowa faction felt this to be an insult to the honor of General Pilsudski. A long period of bickering ensued that involved the two Polish daily newspapers, various Polish veterans groups and even the Catholic Diocese. Because of this, the great field mass was cancelled, but finally rescheduled.96

Shortly after this argument, an effort was made to bring all of the factions in the community together. A union of the city's


Polish organizations was subsequently formed in 1931. This League of Polish Organizations, however, soon fell victim to the problem it had hoped to cure.97

The split in Cleveland's Polish community was mended, however, by the German invasion of Poland in 1939. The city's Poles immediately rallied to the Allied cause, with some Poles going to Canada to join the free Polish forces fighting the Germans. During the war, and after the liberation of Poland in 1944, tons of food and clothing were gathered by the city's Poles and sent to their homeland.

Before the Poles could take sides again over a new post-war Polish government, they were startled into virtual unanimity by the communist takeover of the state. This was especially harsh news to those who had fled Poland in the early stages of the war. The communist takeover of Poland became, and remains, the single major Polish political question that confronts Cleveland's Poles.

The issue has been most effectively kept before the people by the Polish American Congress, a union of Polish organizations existing on national, state, and local levels. Since its inception in 1944, the P.A.C. has attempted to use unified Polish public opinion to force either the United States or the United Nations to act on behalf of the cause of a free Poland.98 The organization, staffed largely by post-war political emigres, enjoyed a great deal of power and success in the 1950's and 1960's. However, the new move toward detente has hurt its cause. Through its fostering


of Polish cultural activities in the city and its influence on member organizations, the P.A.C. still endeavors to keep the cause of a free Poland before the public.

Local Political Involvement

The beginnings of activity in local politics by Cleveland's Poles came after their activities on behalf of Polish independence had begun. This lag probably was due to the insular nature of the major community, Warszawa, from its founding until the 1890's. The settlement was five miles from the city and physically isolated from it by a series of ravines. In these years the Poles seemed quite happy to use their own institutions to solve community problems and left all political activity to the Irish in the southeastern portion of Newburgh. Even as late as 1905, there were only 493 naturalized Polish voters in Cleveland.99

Most of these voters were probably businessmen. Because of their dealings outside of the Polish community, they had a special interest in the political affairs of the country and the city. Many were Republicans and joined the Polish Republican Club started by Michael Kniola in 1893. Since their prosperity was dependent upon that of the nation, they probably blamed the Democrats for the great depression of 1893 and cast their lot with the GOP. One hundred of these businessmen appear on a composite photograph issued by the Polish Businessman's Club in 1896. Conspicuous in the center of the photograph is a portrait of William McKinley.


Michael Kniola was the driving force behind the organization of the Polish businessmen and their Republican political stance. He performed many duties for the Republican Party, speaking to various Polish groups at the behest of Theodore Burton, senator from Ohio and an intimate of President McKinley. His work on behalf of the party did not go unrecognized. In 1898 Kniola was invited to dinner at the McKinley house in Canton, Ohio. While at this dinner, he requested and received an officer's commission for a Cleveland Pole serving in the army.100

In the 1900 presidential election, another prominent Polish businessman, Telesfor Olstynski, took up the Republican cause. At the request of Cleveland party leaders, Olstynski spoke on behalf of McKinley before Polish groups throughout the country. Like Kniola, he was rewarded for his efforts by a dinner with the President. At that dinner he was offered, but refused, a high position in the Cleveland custom house.101

Shortly after 1900, the Poles became involved in local city politics. Joseph Sledz, a Polish saloon owner, was elected to city council in 1902 from Ward 17 (now Ward 14) which encompassed the Warszawa district.102 His election, and Polish interest in local affairs, were probably due to two factors: since the city had grown out to meet Warszawa, its inhabitants were thus forced to deal with it; and the Poles now realized the various rewards that local political activity could bring. One of the first rewards brought about by Polish activity was the construction of a bridge on Tod (E. 65th) Street that facilitated access to Broadway Avenue


over the Morgana Ravine. This bridge provided a better, quicker connection with downtown Cleveland, greatly aiding Polish business enterprises dependent on wholesale supplies from the city.103 A second reward for which Sledz may have been responsible was the paving of Warszawa's streets--the contract for which was awarded to a Pole, Frank Orlikowski.104

Since Sledz's election in 1902, Warszawa has almost always been represented by a councilman of Polish background. (See Appendix D for a listing of councilmen.) A notable exception occurred in 1927 when the animosities between the St. Stanislaus and Immaculate Heart factions flared up again and split the Polish vote between two Polish candidates, allowing the victory of the third candidate, an Irishman, John P. McGreal.105

Successors to Joseph Sledz continued to work for improvements in the Warszawa section. More streets were paved, gullies filled, and by the 1920's, electric street lights had been installed. Through their work the Warszawa area was physically integrated into the city by the 1930's.

The guaranteed election of a Polish councilman from Warszawa provided that area's Poles with a lever to obtain patronage positions. The American Polish Chamber of Industry, founded in 1908, the Krakow Political Club (1923), and the Warsaw Political Club (1926) were groups established to lobby for jobs and improvements by putting pressure on local representatives.106


The coming of age in the 1920's of the first large American-born generation of Poles greatly increased the number of Polish voters in the city. Their voting power helped make city-wide elective officials more amenable to the demands and favors asked by the Poles and their councilmen. More political jobs were obtained by Poles, and some councilmen, such as Edmund P. Lewandowski, were given upper level city positions. Lewandowski, for example, was made head of the city's Cooley Farm (the Workhouse) in the 1930's.107

Because of its heavy Polish concentration, Warszawa consistently elected Polish representatives to city council. Though Kantowa has periodically elected representatives to council, its polyglot nature has prevented it from doing this with the consistency of Warszawa.

The highest elective office that a Cleveland Pole attained on the basis of a local community vote, alone, was state representative. The first Pole elected to this office was Joseph Sawicki, in 1906.108 Because of the limited Polish vote at this time, it can be assumed that Sawicki gathered enough Irish votes in his district to secure his victory. This was a remarkable achievement considering the ongoing Polish-Irish animosities in the old Newburgh area. Sawicki was eventually elected to the municipal bench in the 1920's and 1930's. He was, perhaps, the major figure in Cleveland's Polish community in this century, maintaining a myriad of activities and offices both in the Polish, and general communities. After Sawicki's


election, the growing Polish vote and favorable redistricting insured this seat to a succession of Poles, including Sawicki's son, Edwin.

Until the 1920's the local and national voting patterns of Cleveland's Poles could be either Republican or Democratic. There was no extraordinary allegiance to either party. However, the actions of Woodrow Wilson on behalf of an independent Poland, the candidacy of the Catholic, Al Smith, in 1928, and the Depression reforms of Franklin Roosevelt wedded the city's Poles to the Democratic Party. Only in the recent local campaigns of Ralph Perk, and the Nixon-McGovern presidential campaign, has this bond weakened.

With the dispersal of the Polish population, the impact of the Polish vote in ward politics in Cleveland has wanned and will continue to do so. As even Warszawa becomes less Polish, the chances for the election of a non-Polish councilman increase. The dispersal of the population, and its multiplication by new generations, however, provides a Polish vote with clout in city-wide, county-wide, state-wide, and independent suburban elections. Suburban mayors of Polish background, such as Raymond Grabow of Warrensville Heights, have recently been elected, as well as an increasing number of judges such as Eugene Sawicki (another son of Joseph).

In recognition of this new power, many politically active Poles, such as the members of a relatively new patronage-pressure group, Polish Americans Incorporated, have been demanding patronage at higher levels of government. Polish political activity, which


began in the 1890's in an effort to secure jobs and improve conditions has changed little over time and functions much the same today, although on a broader scale.



This is an Official City of Cleveland Photograph.




The immigration of tens of thousands of Poles to Cleveland, particularly in the years before 1920, was an event that produced many changes in the city. This influx demographically altered the city, injected new social organizations into its life, and eventually modified the political structure of Cleveland. This final section will explore the Poles' effects on the city in a more comprehensive manner, looking both at the changes in the city occasioned by their settlement and at the city's reaction to its new inhabitants.

Besides the obvious geographical and statistical effects of Polish immigration on the city's structure, size, and demographic makeup, the major effect of the Poles on Cleveland has been economic. Without the mass immigration of Poles, and other Eastern and Southern European groups, the city could not have experienced the massive industrial growth of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The steel mills of Newburgh and the Cuyahoga Valley were particularly dependent upon Polish labor. The price and quality of the labor was the bargain that allowed the industry to function cheaply and grow rapidly. In the 1880's, the Poles at the Newburgh Rolling Mills worked fourteen hours a day, six days a week for a gross pay of $7.25.109 The enthusiasm and drive of the Polish worker were well-described by Charles Coulter in 1919:

The Polish people are workers. It has been said that the Pole does not care for an 8 hour day: he would rather work a 6 hour day with 6 hours overtime. This is remarkable in view of the exhausting physical labor in which more than 90 percent of these people are engaged.110


Though many second and third generation Poles continue to work in heavy industry today, it should not be assumed that the total Polish population is engaged in such work. Many early Poles saved their steel mill wages and became small entrepreneurs. A considerable number of first and second generation Poles had also entered into various professions by the 1890's. In 1900 there were four doctors, one lawyer and two notaries of Polish descent in Cleveland. By 1920, the numbers engaged in these and other professions had increased to eighteen doctors, fourteen lawyers and four dentists.111 After World War II, with more time, money and opportunities for continued education available, the number of such professionals with Polish background increased markedly. Today, professionals of Polish descent can be found throughout Cleveland. Unlike their pre-1940 predecessors, they serve a broader clientele than just the Polish community.

Polish ownership of heavy industry in Cleveland has been limited. The Smolensky Valve Company, founded in 1914, is the major example of an early Polish industry that has thrived to the present.112 Another early industry, the Olstyn Carriage Company, was founded by Telesfor Olstynski in 1891. Olstynski sold the business in 1917 and invested his money in real estate and banking.113 Many Poles capable of raising capital, like Olstynski, preferred to invest it in real estate and banking enterprises rather than industry. The major Polish-owned industry in Cleveland today is the Freeway Corporation. Established in 1944 by Walter Sutowski, this company has grown into a multi-million dollar manufacturer of washers, bearing assemblies and fasteners.


Much of the money earned by Cleveland's Poles since their initial settlement in the city has been invested in housing and land. So enormous was the Polish drive to acquire property that by 1920, only fifty years after their initial settlement in the region, the Poles of Newburgh had over $20,000,000 worth of property listed on the city tax duplicate.114 This investment has had, and continues to have, a tremendous effect on the city's tax revenue and the building and home supplies industries in Cleveland. The Pole's interest in land was best described by Charles Coulter:

It might be said that every Pole is measurably engaged in the real estate business and that he never loses his hunger for the land…The Pole is a keen and careful buyer, and is to be found most largely in the pioneer work of breaking ground and building on the edges of the city, sometimes just across the city line where values are low, but potential.115

Since this passage was written, thousands of second and third generation Poles have continued to invest in real estate. The growth of Parma, Garfield Heights, Independence and Brecksville is, in large part, due to the investments of people of Polish background.

Intercommunity Relations

Despite the demographic, and growing economic impact of the Poles, it took Clevelanders many years to understand, or even learn of their new neighbors. Because the major Polish settlement was located at the southeastern limits of the city, few people came in contact with its inhabitants. The insular, self-sufficient nature


of the settlement, in turn, inhibited Polish intercourse with the outside community. In the years before 1900, when the city grew out to meet the Poles, the Irish and Czechs were the only outside groups to have extensive contact with them. As fellow Slavs, the Czechs seemed to get along quite well with the Poles. Indeed, from 1848 on, Czech businessmen often dealt with the Poles prior to the establishment of Polish-owned businesses.

On the other hand, the Irish had bad relations with the Poles since their first encounter. The Polish strike-breakers of 1882 were the chief source of misunderstanding. More difficulty was occasioned by the language barrier and through the differences in Irish and Polish Catholicism. The use of Polish in sermons and schools, and the festival-like celebration of certain saints days and church holidays were particularly strange and troubling to the Irish. The Polish challenge to Irish political hegemony in Newburgh in the early part of this century added more distrust to the relations between the two groups.

If the city of Cleveland, as a whole, gained any impression of the Poles in the years before World War I, it was an unflattering one. Three years after the great strike of 1882 (during which the Poles were first mentioned in the city's press) a second, more severe strike took place at the rolling mills. This strike was lead by Polish and Bohemian workers and was characterized by frequent violence. Groups of Poles and Czechs marched through the city and forcibly closed down industries related to the mills. At times, the marchers carried the red flag of anarchy--an event that gained much


coverage in the local newspapers and left an indelible impression on the city's populace.116 Although "native" (Irish) workers were involved in the strike, the papers noted that they pleaded for moderation, while the foreign workers called for violence. Other newspaper articles went out of their way to portray the Polish strikers as drunkards and cowards.117 It was this bad publicity that caused Fr. Kolaszewski to rise to the defense of his people, stating that they had been misrepresented by the city's press. The impression gained by the city remained.

Few efforts were made by "outsiders" to enter and work with the people of Warszawa. One of the only nineteenth century native forays into the community was made by the Schauffler Missionary Training School. Founded in 1883 by Reverend Henry A. Schauffler, the School attempted to convert Roman Catholic Slavic immigrants into Congregationalists. Schauffler began his work in Cleveland's Czech community in the early 1880's and encountered considerable success because of the Hussite traditions of this group.118 In the late 1880's the School began extensive work among the Poles of Warszawa, establishing the Mizpah Mission Church for Poles and Bohemians on Ackley (E. 59th) Street. Schauffler had a special desire in converting the Poles as he wanted to save them from the "tyranny of the priests":

The work among the Poles is of even greater importance than that for the Bohemians, as there are more than three times as many of the former in this country as of the latter. The spiritual bondage of the Poles is greater than that of the Bohemians.119
Despite his hopes, Schauffler's work among the Poles was a failure. Poles remained devoutly attached to the Catholic Church.120


During the late 1890's the city of Cleveland gave its first official recognition of the Poles by assigning Polish names, such as Kosciuszko, Pulaski, Kazimier and St. Stanislaus, to streets in the Warszawa and Poznan communities.

By 1900, the stigma of the 1885 strike was beginning to be forgotten by the general community. However, an incident in 1901 further damaged the reputation of the city's Polish people. In September, a young, mentally-unbalanced Pole, Leon Czolgosz, from Warszawa assassinated President McKinley at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Though never proved, Czolgosz claimed he was an anarchist and that he had committed the deed because of his belief in the more violent tenets of that doctrine. Cleveland's Poles were stunned by his act and vociferously denounced him. Many of those who knew Czolgosz when he lived in Warszawa had believed him to be crazy.121 Despite the Poles' protests against the act, the general community again came to feel that the Polish sector was a hotbed of troublemakers.

History and Culture

Most of the fear of Polish radicalism was based on ignorance. Few native Clevelanders had visited or knew much about communities such as Warszawa. Even at the time of the assassination, the city's newspapers had to hire interpreters to guide them through Warszawa. This pall of ignorance was soon to be lifted. The growing list of Polish men active in city government helped to dispel it. The


greatest aid came through community spokesmen, such as Joseph Sawicki and Michael Kniola, and organizations such as the Harmonia Chopin, all of which reached out to the general community in an effort to gain understanding of the Poles.

The twin, and interconnected events of World War I and the Americanization movement, begun before the war, grew quite rapidly during the conflict because of a fear of foreign elements in the American body politic. During these years it was harsh: Polish was abolished in schools, and Polish newspapers censured. Yet it also brought English and citizenship classes to the Polish areas, along with a genuine concern for the Poles' welfare. After the war, the movement mellowed, realizing the mistake of forcing American culture on the Poles while robbing them of their own language and traditions. It was in this later period that the Cleveland Americanization Committee published the first, and only, English language history of the city's Poles. The forward of the book notes that

It is hoped that many Americans may read this description of the Poles of Cleveland and recognize that though their culture is different, it is most worthy.122

World War I did much to dispel previous negative images projected about Cleveland's Poles, usually at the expense of the Germans. The issue of an independent Poland, raised by President Wilson during the latter stages of the war, made many Americans conscious of things Polish. The fact that the Poles had been suppressed by the Germans, now a hated enemy, aroused public sympathy for their cause and a renewed interest in their history and culture. The


story of Polish troops being recruited in Cleveland to fight the Kaiser, for example, got wide news coverage and did much to instill a general public admiration of the city's Poles.

Eight years after the war, interest in the welfare, history and culture of the city's Poles was manifested in the establishment of the University Social Settlement House in the Warszawa community. The settlement not only tried to aid the physical well-being of the Poles, but also made efforts to study the community and its culture.123 From its beginning, the Settlement established liason with organizations such as the Alliance of Poles, and with several area churches. It tried not to usurp or conflict with their purposes but to work with them in teaching the Polish language and history to second and third generation Poles.124

Since the 1920's Cleveland has become increasingly aware of its Polish population. The work begun by the Americanization Committee and the University Settlement has been carried on by the W.P.A. and the Cultural Gardens Federation. Recent events, such as the All Nation's Festivals, have given the Poles and other ethnic groups a popular, commercial exposure.




by Father Nelson Callahan

Let me say at the beginning of this paper that I wish to speak about the backgroud of the Polish community in Cleveland specifically, since I know Cleveland's ethnic history in a way which is far more precise than any knowledge I have of any other American city.

In 1876, the year of the first centennial of the founding of our republic, there were about five hundred families of Polish descent living in the Cleveland area. They had settled in three locations. The first was in Berea where immigrant men without particular skills were attracted by the opportunities for work in the quarries mining the sandstone we see so frequently in Cleveland's buildings erected in the last third of the nineteenth century.

The second area of settlement for the Poles was in the Ansel Road neighborhood (west of Liberty Blvd. between Superior and St. Clair), a place which was in 1876 farmland out in the country.

The third area of settlement was the neighborhood with which this paper will be chiefly concerned, Newburgh. In 1876, it too, was mostly open country, bounded by Broadway on the north, the Cuyahoga River Valley on the south, East 55th Street on the west and East 116th Street on the east. Until 1872 Newburgh had been a city of its own, separate from Cleveland, and at one time, at the beginning of the last century, a larger city than Cleveland. Early settlers had been drawn there to escape the swamp fever that so terribly struck those people who chose to live in the flat lands at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

By 1876, Newburgh was the site of Cleveland's first great steel mill, the Newburgh Rolling Mill. Today it is a part of United States Steel and has been moved to the bank of the Cuyahoga River, at East 34th Street. (But the foundations of the old mill can still be found along the tracks of the Newburgh and South Shore Railroad.) The Mill was owned by a wealthy Cleveland citizen, Amasa Stone. The labor force was, at least in the unskilled jobs, almost all of Irish descent. It numbered about 1700 men who worked fourteen hours a day, six days a week for a pay of $11.75 a week. In 1877 the first major steel strike in the United States took place in Homestead, Pennsylvania. It was broken up by hired Pinkerton agents under the direction of Henry Clay Frick and achieved nothing for the strikers. The Irish at the Newburgh Rolling Mill decided that they, too, should have a strike which took place in 1880. They informed management that they would cease work on a specific day in that year and that they were seeking a $.25 cent a week raise. Management, however, was one person, Amasa Stone, and he felt affronted by the whole thing and surely would ignore such intimidation. Instead of negotiating


with the would-be strikers, he simply declared the Mill closed and said it would stay closed while he took a trip around the world in his private yacht. He further told the would-be strikers that if they wished to seek reemployment at the Mill at the end of that year they might do so, but they would be rehired at $11.25 a week to compensate him for the trouble they had caused by forcing him to close the Mill for so long a time.

So the Mill did close and Amasa Stone did go around the world that year and in fact, very few of the Newburgh Irish were ever rehired at the Mill when it reopened. The men simply sought, and generally found, other employment, mostly with the developing Fire and Police forces of the City of Cleveland.

But Amasa Stone anticipated this and while abroad he stopped at Danzig, then a Polish seaport on the Baltic Sea, and there he advertised extensively for Polish labor to man his Mill. His offer was quite seductive to the Polish peasants from Silesia and Galatia: free passage (in cattleboats hired by Amasa Stone for the journey), to New York and to Cleveland where all who accepted the offer had guaranteed jobs in the Newburgh Rolling Mill at $7.25 per week. This was an offer that many younger men could not resist in Poland and they began to come to Cleveland by the thousands. They settled in Newburgh (where Amasa Stone also owned large tracts of undeveloped land) and began to work in the Mill which actually reopened in 1882.

Of course the Newburgh Irish were not very happy about this turn of events and they resented the presence of the newly arrived Polish people in their midst, but from Amasa Stone's point of view, this was a far more benevolent way of breaking a strike than the way Mr. Frick had handled his strike. Moreover, Mr. Stone could truly say this was not strike breaking; he simply had closed the Mill. There really was no strike at all; there was no picketing, nothing. Locally the breach of trust between capital and labor was to begin here. Labor had many lessons to learn about bargaining.

With his newly acquired cheap labor, Amasa Stone was able to underbid, and eventually wipe out, all other steel mills in the area. His was an empire built with the sweat of newly emigrated Polish labor.

This, then, is the background to the massive influx of the Polish people to Newburgh. But what, one is forced to inquire, were these people like? Most importantly they were poor, hard working, illiterate and Roman Catholic. A Catholic Mission for the Poles in the area had been established as early as 1872 but it never really grew until Amasa Stone's labor force arrived in 1882. In 1883, the man who would organize the Catholics in this community and who would influence their whole future to the present day was ordained at the Cleveland Seminary by Cleveland's second Bishop, Richard Gilmour. This man's name was Anton Kolaszewski. He was immediately sent to the Newburgh area to be pastor to the Polish


people there. His success at St. Stanislaus Parish (for so had the Polish parish been named) was phenomenal. It is best traced in a letter he wrote to Bishop Gilmour in November 1890 wherein he describes his work, not to boast, but peculiarly enough, to avoid taking an examination the Bishop ordered for all the younger clergy of the Diocese. This letter is to be found in the Archives of the Cleveland Diocese, a truly remarkable document, and I will now share it with you, adding some of my own comments, which will, I hope, put a clear focus on the work of Fr. Kolaszewski.

The letter is dated November 5, 1890 and is postmarked St. Stanislaus, Ohio. This latter fact says a great deal, I suspect, about Father Kolaszewski's identity with his people and with his parish. I now quote:

Rt. Rev. and Dear Bishop;
How is it possible that you have put my name again on the list for examinations? I cannot understand this. Tell me dear Bishop, what do you want from me? Do I not work hard enough? Do I not study enough? I mean really practical study. Let us consider my case for a few moments. Please have the kindness to read these few lines.
1) Am I spending my time in idleness? Have I nothing to do that you intend to make for me something to do? I am right now doing the work of four priests, not one. You live down there at the Cathedral whre they have four priests. I have many more people to take care of than has the pastor of the Cathedral and I am for the greater part, alone. And I have a far more difficult class of people to deal with than does the pastor of the Cathedral.
2) Has the pastor of the Cathedral with his three assistants or any other priest in this Diocese done what I have done in such a short time? No. I found nothing when I came out to this parish but fields. Now I have built two most beautiful churches, one which is the grandest and most beautiful in the Diocese.
Here I would remark that if you would visit St. Stanislaus Church at East 65th and Forman Avenue you will find that Father Kolaszewski is not exaggerating. The second church about which he is speaking was (and is) the largest Gothic church ever built by Catholics in Ohio and indeed, was second in size only to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York among the Gothic churches built by Catholics in America. It was begun in 1886 and was in 1890 as this letter was being written, on the verge of completion. It is an extraordinary phenomenon, truly a symbol of a people who paid for it from money earned at the Newburgh Rolling Mills which, as we recall, was $7.25 per week. One is prompted to wonder what vision Fr. Kolaszewski was able to communicate to his people to cause them to finance such an immense undertaking. The fact is that it was built. Father Kolaszewski continues:


I have also procured property, I have built schools and a house for myself, all of this with the poorest class of people in the City, all newly immigrated to this country. What more do you want from me?
3) At present I am finishing this great, grand, glorious church which takes all my attention and all my time. There are now working here painters, plasterers, stucco plasterers, fresco painters, oil painters, glass makers, carpenters, marble workers, altar builders and I personally oversee all the work. What more do you want from me? Am I idle?
4) At present am I to let everything as it were, go as it pleases and sit down to study a few definitions by heart?
5) I have already put $80,000 of the poor peoples' hard earned money and of my own money, $12,000 into this church. Shall I let all this money, all the work and all the labor and time go as it pleases, to the Devil, I might almost say, and shut myself up in my room and study a few definitions by heart? Where is prudence? Where is common sense?
Here I would interpose again to ask you to recall that an 1890 dollar was worth ten 1972 dollars and with this in mind, one is staggered at the depth of personal sacrifice for all, priest and people, this church required. And again one marvels at the drive that put up this church which still, today, towers over the neighborhood that built it. The letter goes on:
6) At present I need only a few thousand dollars more yet to complete this grand, glorious, beautiful temple. The good people give, that is true, most willingly, but I must call on them in their houses. I have to collect from house to house. Saturday was pay day at the Mill. This morning (Monday), I started a new house collection. We need the money to pay the workers and the collection will take over a month, every day from dawn to dark. Shall I give up the collection, sit down locked in my room to study a few definitions?
7) You, Rev. Bishop, published a few weeks ago in the Catholic newspaper, the Universe that there was going to be a special collection for the orphans. You need money for the orphans. With my house collection for the church, I will also collect for the orphans; so I have done every year. Do you want me to give up the orphan's collection to study a few definitions by heart?
8) Dear Bishop, I study more than any of your priests. I study practically and not theoretically.
9) Dear Bishop, I have proved the fruit of my study and my ability everywhere. Be it at the altar, I know my rubrics in the Mass and I am, thanks to God a fair singer. Be it in the pulpit, I am, thanks to God, a good speaker and preacher. I know my theology and I write out all my sermons. Be it in building, I have great experience in that work and in architecture, I know that very well. I am well posted in


finances and money affairs, especially in money collecting. Be it in ruling my congregation and in schools, I am well educated in that. Be it in dealing with my people, I am well founded in that. Be it in economics, I think no priest in the Diocese can beat me in economics and orderliness. What more do you want from me? To learn a few definitions by heart?
10) Dear Bishop, no priest in this Diocese has done in such a short time as much as I have done and am doing now.
I interupt the letter here to ask you to note the priorities which Fr. Kolaszewski is about to enumerate. They are most revealing of the man and of the role in which he cast himself. His main concern is for the poor, but like all pastors of newly arrived immigrants, he considers his own people to be the poorest people in the Diocese and so his poor Poles are his first concern. But he is also concerned and far more importantly, he asks his very poor people to be concerned, as he is, for the needy of the whole Diocese. He wishes to belong to the whole Diocesan Community but in order to do so, he wishes his people to begin the development of stability and he will turn to education as a way out of the ghetto for his people. So enumerating his priorities he continues:
I work for the good of the poor, for the good of the Church, for the good of Religion, for the good of the Diocese and for the good of my people. I have heard seventy thousand confessions since I was ordained seven years ago. I support at the present time, five students for the priesthood in the Seminary so that we may have Polish priests in America and not wanderers from Europe. I have already sent twenty-three Polish girls to the Convent so that we might have Polish sisters for our schools. These girls are poor, all of them, so I must dress them from top to foot and pay their traveling expenses to the Motherhouse in Indiana so we may have sisters here. But we are not concerned for our parish only. When you, Rt. Rev. Bishop had a fair for the new hospital on the West Side where our people never go, this parish did more for that hospital than any other parish in the City. Ask the Sisters and they will tell you what we have done and are doing every year since that hospital began. Also we have supplied three other Catholic institutions every winter with winter supplies, these are St. Alexis Hospital, The Poor Clare Convent and The Little Sisters of the Poor. Again, ask the Sisters if any other parish has done and is doing what we do, and if you do not put me down with this new burden, I will help you enlarge the Seminary. What more do you want from me?
11) All my time is occupied in my duties toward the good people of this parish. You know well that the people here have the greatest difficulty when they come to America.
Here, Fr. Kolaszewski begins a rather vivid description of the role of an ethnic pastor who is far more than a spiritual leader


for his struggling newly arrived parishioners. He is also their temporal leader, a role few priests occupy today. Hear him describe this role as he goes on:
They do not speak or write the English language. So with everything, the first thing they do is come to me to seek my advice. If a man has no work, he comes to me and I write him a letter to the boss at the Mill to get him a job. I write thousands of such letters every year. If they want to buy a lot, they come to me and I make the bargain and I make out the papers and explain them for the people. If one intends to build a house, he comes to me and I make a plan for him for his house and make a contract with the carpenter to build the house. I can look out my window and see thousands of houses I have designed. If a man has a lawsuit, he comes to me for instruction. If husbands and wives argue, they come to me in order that justice and peace might be preserved. If children disobey or parents are cruel, the issue comes to me and I resolve it. With everything they come to me. What more do you want me to do?
I would ask here, is this not a great man who is fully conscious of his role in an immigrant community? Others will come later, but in 1890, Anton Kolaszewski is the main person with the Polish people in Newburgh. He knows this and more, he wants his Bishop to know it and to support him. As he says:
I am their advisor, their contractor, their friend, their brother and very often their judge. With everything they come to me. So you see how my time is occupied. I rise at five o'clock in the morning and go to bed at eleven at night and many times at twelve. I work eighteen hours a day, day after day; I never take a vacation. I am never at rest. I also take many sick calls in the night when I should have five or six hours of sleep. What else do you want from me? Do I not work enough; should I go to my room and study a few definitions by heart?
12) Last year I was sick and the doctor told me I must not work so hard or I will die from a stroke. Do you intend to give me the stroke that will put me down for the last time?
And now Father Kolaszewski says something about his own maturity and what he considers to be the foolishness of the Junior Clergy Exam. He also says something about his own image of his maturity which is, of course, right, as the following point says so well in this way:
13) Dear Bishop, you count me among the Junior Clergy. I think I have put my children's shoes and my boy's pantaloons aside long ago. I am today a man of more than forty years and I wish to be treated as a man.
14) Dear Bishop, you say you want learned priests. But


who is it that fights with you? With whom do you have all your trouble? Is it with your humble, hard working, self-sacrificing priests, or with your so-called learned priests? You may answer this question yourself.
15) Dear Bishop, I know just as much as your so-called learned priests. I know more than they, because besides all my other knowledge, I know how to respect authority. I know how to love and honor my Bishop. I also know how to obey my Bishop. What more do you want from me?
Here I might note, is a very significant point, one which marked nearly all the ethnic groups in the United States, especially during their first years in this country, a respect for law and order of every kind. It is well to recall that St. Stanislaus Parish produced the highest number of volunteers into the Armed Forces, (and the highest number of men who died), of any parish in the Diocese of Cleveland in the First World War. It may be surmised that Father Kolaszewski did not require any more of his Bishop in regards to respect for law and order, than he taught his people to require of him. Even to this day, law and order are part and parcel of the community that continues to worship at St. Stanislaus Church. The priest continues with a general summing up of his position:
16) When I was in the Seminary it was my duty to study theoretically and this I did. I stand on my record there since it is not a bad record. But now, as Pastor of this, the largest congregation in your Diocese, it is my duty to study the practical and apply in practice what I learned in the Seminary and here stands my record of seven years and four months as a most successful man in all that I have undertaken in this congregation. The societies, the schools, everything is flourishing. What more do you want from me?
Finally, Fr. Kolaszewski swears loyalty to his Bishop for life as it were, to clinch his argument and at the same time, to dispell any ideas the Bishop may have that he is disorderly or unresponsive to authority. He simply stays with his main theme that, since he is alone, he is simply too busy with the work of his parish to stop his work to prepare for Junior Clergy Exams. He says:
17) I have, Dear Bishop fulfilled all my duties conscientiously and will continue to so fulfill them as long as I live. All my life I have worked very hard. I worked very hard as a boy in Poland and in America. I have worked very hard as a priest since I was ordained and will so continue to work hard until the day I die for the good of the poor, for the good of the congregation, for the good of religion and for the good of the Diocese, for the salvation of souls, and I will even help you build a new Seminary yet if you do not put me down and kill me before my time. In the name of God, in the name of justice do not put this new burden on me. I have enough to do.


18) Please excuse the fact that this is such a long letter or the handwriting is poor, but I have written it by coal oil lamp and am tired after a whole day's collection and cannot write any more.

I am in Christ,

Anton Kolaszewski

Is this not a letter of a great man? It is typical of countless ethnic pastors across the country. They preserved and passed on the faith of their people and kept these people together, even to this day.

* A paper presented at The National Conference on Ethnicity at The Cleveland State University on May 12, 1972.



1U.S. Works Progress Administration, "The Poles of Cleveland" (unpublished manuscript, Columbus, Ohio, 1941?), p. 100.

2Ibid., p. 101.

3Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 27, 1882, p. 1.

4U.S.W.P.A., "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 119.

5Dan W. Gallagher, "Different Nationalities in Cleveland," (Cleveland: A series of articles from the Cleveland News, bound in book form, 1927-1928), p. 55.

6U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 106.

7Jean Jagelewski, ed., A People 100 Years. (Cleveland: St. Stanislaus Church, 1973), p. 182.

8Ibid., p. 187.

9Gallagher, "Different Nationalities in Cleveland" p. 55.

10City of Cleveland, Annual Reports (Cleveland: City of Cleveland, 1885-1890).

11U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 118.

12Ibid., p. 220.

13A check of Polish business locations (by distinctive last name) in the Cleveland City Directory in the late 1870's shows several saloons owned by Poles to be located in this area.

14U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 141

15Cleveland Directory Publishing Company, Cleveland City Directory (Cleveland: Directory Publishing Co., 1885).

16Celia Francis Beck, "From Grist Mill to Steel Mill, the Story of Newburgh, now part of Cleveland" (unpublished masters thesis, School of Applied Social Sciences, Western Reserve University, 1929), p. 36.

17U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 138.

18City of Cleveland, Annual Reports, 1890-1900.

19U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 125.


20The Annual Reports of the City of Cleveland show the Poles as the largest incoming group after 1895 (superseding the Germans). However, the reports available for the early twentieth century show the Italians rapidly overtaking the Poles.

21Data on home types typical of various time periods was gathered from interviews with Richard Karberg, an architectural history expert from Cleveland.

22U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 140.

23Ibid., p. 139.

24Ibid., p. 136.

25Charles W. Coulter, The Poles of Cleveland (Cleveland: Cleveland Americanization Committee, 1919), p. 9.

26Ibid., p. 10.



29U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 144.


31U.S. Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1942).

32This statement is based largely on conversations with people still living in the older Polish communities. Many feel that the communities are shrinking because of the failure of many new immigrants to take up residence in them.

33U.S. Bureau of the Census, Nineteenth Census, General Social and Economic Characteristics (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1972).


35U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 115.

36U.S. Bureau of the Census, Nineteenth Census.

37U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 126.

38Jagelewski, ed., A People 100 Years. p. 189.

39U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 231.


40Joseph Paul Anuskiewicz, "A Study of the Polish Parish of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Cleveland and its Local Community Groups" (unpublished masters thesis, School of Applied Social Sciences, Western Reserve University, 1932), p. 8.

41Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 13, 1885, p. 8.

42Ibid., November 16, 1891, p. 2.

43Anuskiewicz, "A Study of the Polish Parish of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary" p. 9.

44Ibid., pp. 10-12.

45Ibid., p. 14.


47Coulter, The Poles of Cleveland, p. 20.

48Herbert Adolphus Miller. The School and the Immigrant (Cleveland: The Cleveland Foundation, 1916). This volume presents a careful examination of the Cleveland Public Schools and the impact of foreign parochial transfers upon the public schools.

49Coulter, The Poles of Cleveland, p. 24.

50U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 150.


52Michael S. Pap, ed., Ethnic Communities of Cleveland (Cleveland: John Carroll University, 1973), p. 239.

53Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland, p. 29.


55Ibid., p. 24.


57U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 239.

58Ibid., p. 234.

59Ibid., p. 240.

60Ibid., pp. 240-244.

61James Hubert Weikart, "Organizations in a Polish Community; Their Description and Analysis" (unpublished masters thesis, School of Applied Social Sciences, Western Reserve University, 1929), pp. 13-14.


62Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 35.

63Greater Cleveland Nationalities Directory, 1974. (Cleveland: Sun Newspapers, 1974), p. 115.

64Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 35.

65History of the American Polish Women's Club. (Cleveland: By the Club, 1972).

66Weikart, "Organizations in a Polish Community" p. 24.

67U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 111.

68Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 26.

69Weikart. "Organizations in a Polish Community" p. 26.

70Cleveland Directory Publishing Company. Cleveland City Directory, 1900.

71U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 117.

72Cleveland Directory Publishing Company. Cleveland City Directory, 1900.

73U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 247.

74Ibid., p. 114.


76Ibid., pp. 110-112.

77Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 11

78U.W.S.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 225.

79Ibid., pp. 227-228.

80Ibid., p. 228.

81Ibid., p. 170.


83Ibid., p. 171

84Anuskiewicz, "A Study of the Polish Parish of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary" p. 45.

85U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 171.

86Ibid., pp. 173-174.


87Ibid., p. 172.

88Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 4.


90Anuskiewicz. "A Study of the Polish Parish of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary" pp. 30-33.

91Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 31

92Weikart, "Organizations in a Polish Community" Appendix V.

93U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" pp. 46-47.

94Anuskiewicz, "A Study of the Polish Parish of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary" p. 50.


96Ibid., pp. 52-64.

97Ibid., pp. 64-69.

98Pap. Ethnic Communities of Cleveland. p. 243.

99David E. Green. The Invasion of Cleveland by Europeans (Cleveland: The Mission Survey Committee of the Cleveland Pastors' Union and Young Peoples Organizations, 1906), n.p.

100U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" p. 112.

101Stanley J. Olstyn, private interview held at the Olstyn Realty Company, Pepper Pike, Ohio, October 1971.

102U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" pp. 183-184.

103Ibid., p. 184.

104Ibid., p. 186.

105Anuskiewicz. "A Study of the Polish Parish of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary" pp. 41-42.

106Weikart. "Organizations in a Polish Community" pp. 34-38.

107U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" pp. 185-186.

108Ibid., p. 180.

109Jagelewski. A People 100 Years. p. 184.


110Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 10.

111Ibid., pp. 14-17.

112U.S.W.P.A. "The Poles of Cleveland" pp. 214-216.

113Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 11.


115Ibid., pp. 11-12.

116Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 3-16, 1885.

117Ibid., July 11, 1885, p. 8.

118Henry Martyn Tenny, The Schauffler Missionary Training School (Cleveland: Garden Printing Co., 1915), p. 87.

119Rev. Henry A. Schauffler, Work Among the Slavs, an Address Delivered at the Anniversary of the American Home Mission Society. (New York: The Christian Union Co., 1889), p. 8.

120Tenny. The Schauffler Missionary Training School. p. 131.

121The question of Czolgosz's sanity was first, and best, explored by Dr. L. Vernon Briggs in his book, The Manner of Man that Kills (Boston: The Gorham Press, 1921).

122Coulter. The Poles of Cleveland. p. 3.

123University Settlement Records, The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio.




Books and Pamphlets

Coulter, Charles W. The Poles of Cleveland. Cleveland: Cleveland Americanization Committee, 1919.

Greater Cleveland Nationalities Directory. Cleveland: Sun Newspapers, 1974.

Green, David E. The Invasion of Cleveland by Europeans. Cleveland: The Mission Study Committee of the Cleveland Pastors' Union and Young Peoples' Organizations, 1906.

History of the American Polish Women's Club. Cleveland: By the Club, 1972.

Jagelewski, Jean (ed.). A People 100 Years. Cleveland: St. Stanislaus Church, 1973.

Miller, Herbert Adolphus. The School and the Immigrant. Cleveland: The Cleveland Foundation, 1916.

Pap, Michael S. (ed.). Ethnic Communities of Cleveland. Cleveland: John Carroll University, 1973.

Pendry, William R. A History of the Cleveland District of the American Steel and Wire Company. Cleveland: American Steel and Wire Company, 1937.

Schauffler, Rev. H.A. Work Among the Slavs - An Address Delivered at the Anniversary of the American Home Missionary Society. New York: The Christian Union Co., 1889.

75th Diamond Jubilee, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 1894-1969. Cleveland: By the Church, 1969.

Tenny, Henry Martyn. The Schauffler Missionary Training School, 1886-1914. Cleveland: Gardner Printing Co., 1915.

Wytrwal, Joseph A. America's Polish Heritage. Detroit: Endurance Press, 1961.

Zielecki, Konstanty J. (ed.). 1000 Years History, Culture, Christianity of Poland. Cleveland, 1965.


Fordyce, Wellington G. "Attempts to Preserve National Cultures in Cleveland." Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, XLIX (1940), pp. 128-149.


Fordyce, Wellington G. "Immigrant Colonies in Cleveland," Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, XLV (1936), pp. 320-340.

-----. "Immigrant Institutions in Cleveland," Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, XLVII (1938), pp. 87-103.

-----. "Nationality Groups in Cleveland Politics," Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, XLVI (1937), pp. 109-127.

Kucera, Magdalena. "The Slavic Races in Cleveland," Charities, XIII (1905), pp. 377-378.

Governmental Publications

City of Cleveland. Annual Reports. Cleveland: By the City, 1870 through 1900.

U.S. Bureau of the Census: Ninth through Nineteenth Census'. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872-1972 (various dates).


Cleveland Directory Publishing Company. Cleveland Directory. Cleveland: Directory Publishing Co., 1870 through 1900.


Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1875-1880; May, 1882 to August, 1882; May, 1885 to September, 1885; November, 1891; September, 1901.

Manuscripts and Unpublished Materials

Anuskiewicz, Joseph Paul. "A Study of the Polish Parish of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Cleveland and its Local Community Groups." Unpublished masters thesis, School of Applied Social Sciences, Western Reserve University, 1932.

Beck, Celia Francis. "From Grist Mill to Steel Mill, the Story of Newburgh, now Part of Cleveland." Unpublished masters thesis, School of Applied Social Sciences, Western Reserve University, 1929.


U.S. Works Projects Administration. "The Poles of Cleveland." Unpublished book manuscript, Columbus, Ohio, 1941.

Weikart, James Hubert. "Organizations in a Polish Community; Their Description and Analysis." Unpublished masters thesis, School of Applied Social Sciences, Western Reserve University, 1929.



The following maps depict the locations of the six largest Polish neighborhoods in existence in 1930 as they are discussed in Part Three of this monograph, "The Polish Community of Cleveland."


Location of six Polish neighborhoods in 1930's Cleveland.

4.Our Lady of Czestochowa









Circles represent the areas of the Polish neighborhoods
in existence in 1930. Since then, some disappeared
while others were formed as shown by existing
population density.
Courtesy of the Real Property Inventory
Cleveland, Ohio



Polish-Born Population of Cleveland, 1870-1970

Year Total City Pop. Polish-Born % Polish of Total Pop.

1870   92,829       77  .08
1880 160,146     532  .33
1890 261,353 2,848 1.09
1900 381,768 8,592 2.25
1910 560,663 not available
1920 796,841 35,024 4.39
1930 900,429 36,668 4.07
1940 878,336 24,771 2.82
1950 914,808 23,054 2.52
1960 876,050 19,437 2.18
1970 750,932   6,234   .83



Polish Churches in Cleveland

Roman Catholic

Name Date Established

St. Stanislaus 1873
Sacred Heart of Jesus 1888
St. Casimir 1891
Immaculate Heart of Mary 1894
St. John Cantius 1898
St. Barbara 1905
St. Hedwig 1905
St. Hyacinth 1906
St. Josaphat 1908
Our Lady of Czestochowa 1914
SS. Peter and Paul 1927
Corpus Christi 1935
Transfiguration 1944

Polish National Catholic

Name Date Established

Sacred Heart of Jesus 1913
St. Mary of Czestochowa 1914
Church of the Good Shepherd 1930
Holy Trinity 1940
All Saints 1954



Polish Newspapers Published in Cleveland*

Title Publication Dates
Jednosc Polak 1924  -  present
Jutrzenka 1893  -  1918   
Kuryer 1923  -  present
Monitor 1922  -  1938   
Narodowiec 1909  -  1914   
Ojczyzne 1893  -  1895   
Polonia Tygodnik 1938  -  ?         
Polonia w Ameryce 1892  -  1922   
Wiadomosci Codzienne 1914  -  1966   
Zjednoczenia 1898  -  1939? 
Zwiazkowiec 1926  -  present

* * * * *

*Note:    Many of the publication dates given are uncertain because of conflicting primary sources. The end date for any publication is either the date it ceased operations, or the date it merged to form a differently titled publication. A number of minor Polish titles of either newspaper or serial format, that are listed in various newspaper guides are omitted from this list because of insufficient information about their nature or history.



Polish City Councilmen in Cleveland

Ward 7
Joseph Trinastic 1930 - 1933
Leon A. Kujawski 1936 - 1937
Paul T. Betley 1938 - 1939, 1942 - 1951
John T. Bilinski 1952 - 1968

Ward 13
Stanley Szymanski 1950 - 1953

Ward 14*
Joseph Sledz 1905 - 1914 - 1917
Joseph Pelcinski 1908 - 1913
Stanley F. Dembowski 1918 - 1919
Bernard E. Orlikowski 1920 - 1927
Stanley F. Szczuka 1930 - 1931
Edmund P. Lewandowski 1934 - 1939
John M. Lewandowski 1940 - 1943
Leonard P. Franks 1944 - 1947, 1960 - 1963
Bronis Klementowicz 1950 - 1959
Henry Matt 1964 - 1969
Joseph Kowalski 1970 - present

Ward 15
Henry Sienkiewicz 1961 - 1968

Ward 30
Anthony P. Lysowski 1953 - 1956
Leo Dombrowski 1957 - 1961

* * * * *

*Ward 14 was earlier designated as Ward 17. Despite the numbering changes, however, the area of the ward remained much the same, encompassing the Warszawa community.