The Wenglikowskis: Family Pride
Vanessa Grumbley

As I started digging into my family's past, I discovered things I never knew. My family located a book about our family history, entitled Wenglikowski-Filcek: Family History 1729 to 2000. I have learned so much from this book, which I will always value. I treasure the book because of the knowledge it has about my family history. Eventually, I plan on passing it down to my children, and they will pass it down from generation to generation. I have famous family members who have done several things for the family to be proud of. An artifact that is still a part of my family's heritage today shows where we originated. I found out that many of my ancestors had to leave their homeland and travel to a new place, not knowing what hardships they would experience or what people they would encounter. I am very proud of where my family came from and my family's legacy will continue to live on.

The Wenglikowski name, which is my Grandma Rose's maiden name, originated from Poland. The country of Poland was established in 966 A.D. "Poland is 312,683 square kilometers; it is about the size of New Mexico" (“Background Note: Poland”). Poland is located in Central Europe, to the east of Germany. "Poland use to be called Prussia because it was once under German rule" (Wenglikowski).

"According to the Institute of Polish Language, the surname "Wenglikowski" is not well known in Poland. The name appears mainly in northern Poland. There is a village, "Wenglikowice" near Pelphin. The ending "Ski" means "one who comes from Weglikowice..." (qtd. in Wenglikowski).

The Wenglikowskis in Poland

The Wenglikowski story begins in 1810 in Poland (Prussia) with the birth of Joseph Wenglikowski. During this time period, many of the women and children worked in the fields. The elderly women did the household chores and took care of the children. "In 1834, Joseph Wenglikowski married Franciska Laskowska". Joseph and Franciska had two children and they died in their infant years because of the plague. Franciska ended up dying from the plague in 1837. "In 1838, Joseph married again, to Anna Lukowska". Joseph and Anna had five children and only two survived the plague, which took many lives during this period (Wenglikowski).

John Wenglikowski is one of the children of Joseph and Anna's that survived the plague. John is my Great-Great Grandfather. "John Wenglikowski served in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870". He returned home safely from the war. Upon his return, he got a job working in the fields. "In 1872, John married Franciska Kasper". John and Franciska had two daughters and they died during a flu epidemic. Five years later (1877), Franciska died, also from the flu epidemic. Two months after Franciska died, John married Marianna Filcek. Marianna is my Great-Great Grandmother. In 1880, John and Marianna's first child was born, Rosalia (Wenglikowski).

Journey to America

In 1881, John and Marianna decided to leave Poland to travel the long road to the United States. They packed up their things in a trunk, in search of a better life. They took a train and went to Germany. From Germany, they took a ferry to Liverpool, England. From England, they boarded a ship, "City of New York," for America. John, Marianna, and Rosalia arrived in Ellis Island, New York City. After arriving in the United States, Marianna changed to Mary Ann and Rosalia changed to Rose. From New York, they took a train to Bay City, Michigan. It is not known why their names changed (Wenglikowski).

The wooden trunk that John and Mary Ann carried their belongings in to the United States is still in existence today. The truck is dark wood with leather straps. Gerald and Norma DeShano, who currently live in Beaver Township in Bay City, are in possession of the trunk. Gerald DeShano is my third cousin (DeShano). I have not personally seen the trunk, but someday I would like to see this antique that my ancestors had.

In Bay City, John worked at a saw mill and a railroad. In 1891, John bought eighty acres of land on Flajole Road, Beaver Township in Bay City for $600.00. "Given that a peasant in Prussia was unable to own land, the purchase of this land must have fulfilled the dream of a lifetime." After purchasing the land, John worked on it during the summer. In the winter, he worked in Bay City. "On Beaver Road he built a house of wood from trees cut down on the farm. The house had a kitchen, pantry, two bedrooms, and a living room." Eventually the house was moved to the farm on Flajole Road. The family of John and Mary Ann worked on the farm (Wenglikowski).

John and Mary Ann had a large family and they had eight children. Rose was the oldest and she married Michael Bragiel and they had seven children. Rose Wenglikowski is my Great-Great Aunt. Frank Wenglikowski was born in 1883; he is my Great-Great Uncle. He married Hilda Wilcox and they had only one child. Felix Wenglikowski was born in 1886 and he is also my Great-Great Uncle. Felix married Theodora Chlebowski and they had twelve children. Leo Wenglikowski, born in 1888, married Victoria Wrzesinski. Leo is my Great-Great Uncle and he had fourteen children. Born in 1892, Edward Wenglikowski, is my Great-Great Uncle. He married Mary Wazbinski and they had ten children. Cecelia Wenglikowski, born in 1895, married Vernard DeShano. She had five children and she is my Great-Great Aunt. Born in 1899, Emelia Wenglikowski is my Great-Great Aunt and she married Edward Primeau and they had two children. Ambrose Wenglikowski was born in 1902 and he married Laura Pacholki. They had three children (Wenglikowski). I could not find any physical descriptions of my Great-Great Aunts and Uncles, except that they were tall and had brown hair.

John Wenglikowski sold the farm to his son Edward in 1936. In 1938, John died at the age of ninety-one. Eventually, Edward sold the farm to his oldest son. The original farm house was torn down and a new house was built on the site. Mary Ann Wenglikowski died in 1953; she lived to be ninety-five (Wenglikowski). I really wish that I could have had a chance to see the original house of John and Mary Ann. I would have liked to see the old ruins of the house and what they lived their everyday life in. I have seen pictures of the old house, so this is my only reminiscence.

Ambrose and Laura Wenglikowski were my Great-Grandparents. Their oldest son Lorraine (Lefty) was born in 1925. Lorraine was my Great-Uncle. Sadly, he died of a heart attack in 1985, so I never got the chance to meet him. From what my family has told me about him, he truly seemed like a loving, caring man. "Uncle Lefty was into sports and he tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals" (DeShano). "Alvin Wenglikowski was born in 1926" (Wenglikowski). He was my Great-Uncle. Uncle Al was one of the nicest people I have ever met and one of my favorite family members. He was a character because of his great personality and the fascinating stories he told. He had a heart of gold and was liked by everybody. Sadly, he died of a heart attack in 2001 and is greatly missed. Uncle Al and Uncle Lefty were very tall. In their younger years, Uncle Lefty had brown hair and Uncle Al had blond hair.

"Rosalyn Wenglikowski was born in 1929." Rosalyn is my Grandma, and she married Henry (Hank) DeShano, my Grandpa, in 1951. My Grandpa Hank resembled Elvis Presley in his youth. My Grandparents had four children. In her younger years, Carolyn DeShano resembled Uma Thurman, the famous actress. Carolyn was born in 1952 and she is my Mom. She married Edward Walraven, and my sister Tiffany Walraven was born in 1977. My Mom married William Grumbley in 1985. I was born on April 24, 1986. Michelle DeShano resembled Cher in her younger years because of her long black hair; she is my Aunt and was born in 1957. She married Tim Masud in 1984. Khan Masud was born in 1988 and Tara Masud was born in 1993. Khan and Tara are my cousins. Beverly DeShano (my Aunt) was born in 1960. "She married James Dombrowski in 1999". James Dombrowski is my Uncle. Beverly and James have no children. John DeShano was born in 1964, and he is my uncle (Wenglikowski).

My Grandpa Hank died on January 22, 2004. My Grandpa is truly missed and he can be most remembered by his funny personality. He liked to play jokes and pranks on my family. One of his most favorite things to do was telephone pranks. He used to call my house very early in the morning and wake everybody up. My Grandpa's favorite hobbies were hunting and fishing. My Grandma Rose is still living today and is settled in Kawkawlin. "She was Miss Chevrolet Queen in 1948" (DeShano). My Grandma likes to play bingo and do crossword puzzles. Uncle John also lives in Kawkawlin. Aunt Michelle and my Uncle Tim are currently living in Concord, North Carolina, with my two cousins. My Aunt Bev and Uncle Jim are presently living in Bay City.

Notable Family Members

Many of my family members served in the Armed Forces. Hank DeShano was in the Army during World War II and was stationed in the Caribbean. Al Wenglikowski, my Great-Uncle, was also in the Army during World War II and was stationed in Japan. Uncle Lefty Wenglikowski was in the Army and was stationed in Italy. William Grumbley, my Dad, was in the Coast Guard during Vietnam; he was stationed in Michigan and Florida (DeShano).

Besides our proud military link in the family, we also have a political connection. I had a family member who served in the Michigan House of Representatives. "William DeShano was my Grandpa Hank's Grandpa, so he would be my Great-Great Grandfather" (DeShano). "William DeShano was born in Montreal, Canada, September 10, 1867" (Official Directory 600). "When he was a child, his parents moved to Michigan" (601). William moved to Bay County, where he lived in the township of Beaver. In his early life he worked in the lumbering field. He also did river driving and mill work. "He was married in July, 1894, and settled on a farm . . ." (601). William DeShano was a Republican and he was Treasurer in Bay County for four years. He was also Supervisor in Bay County for eight years. William was elected to the Legislature in 1922, and he served in the House of Representatives until 1930. William died on January 9, 1939; he was seventy-two (DeShano).

I really wish that I could have met William DeShano. He seemed so interesting and I think we would have gotten along, because I am very interested in politics. I give him credit for doing so much in his life and being a part of Bay County and the community. The best thing about William is him being a part of the House of Representatives and having a role in government. I wish that I could sit down with him and discuss the political issues that face our world today. I would like to hear our differences and the things that we agree on.

Through research, I found out so much about my ancestors that I never knew. I learned about the many different things that my family did and were a part of. Many of my family members were dedicated by serving in the military and the government. Before, my family history was a mystery to me, but now I have educated myself and would like to continue to do more research on my family to pass on to my family members. Someday I can pass the information to my children. I salute my family for their courage and perseverance for making their dreams come true and accomplishing their goals. The Wenglikowski family history is very important to me, and I take pride in it.

Works Cited

  • "Background Note: Poland." Nov. 2005. U.S. Department of State. 4 Dec. 2005
  • DeShano, Rose. Telephone interview. 4 Dec. 2005.
  • State of Michigan. Michigan Official Directory and Legislative Manual. 1930.
  • Wenglikowski, David, and Genevieve Wenglikowski Burton. Wenglikowski-Filcek: Family History 1729 to 2000. n.d.
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