Ignatz Sznarbach and Julianna Zielinski

Ignatz Sznarbach and Julianna Zielinski

by Harold C. Amacher and Nancy Amacher McAdams
"Ignatz Sznarbach and Julianna Zielinski were both born in what is now Poland, although the region was under German control at the German, but spoke Polish, reflecting his German education. The teachers would teach in Polish from time to time "to keep the language alive" although it was illegal for them to do so.

"There are a variety of spelling choices available here. His German army papers had him down as Ignatz Schnarbach. Hank Snarbach explains that all of Europe was Germany at the time, and that Germans never did like Poles. The Germans, or Prussians at that time, would confiscate books written in Polish, so the Poles read and spoke Polish in secret. In America, Ignatz or Ignatius Sznarbach, reverting to the Polish spelling. Years later, Hank dropped the "z" and became Snarbach. He says he got tired of people fumbling with the pronunciation of the name. Hank's brother Ted preferred his father's spelling.

Ignatz had a brother and two sisters. Ignatz' brother, Boleslaw, was born in Greenovitch, Russian-Poland on Sept. 27, 1875. The only information I have about Ignatz's sisters is their picture here, supplied by their nephew, Hank Snarbach.

"Military service, compulsory for all Germans of the Second Reich, was for 3 years. Grandfather trained from Oct. 3, 1888 to Sept. 27, 1891. He was then placed in the reserves until April 17, 1896, at which time he was transferred to "Landwehr I" to be on call until he reached the age of 45.

Hank explains that Ignatz was in the Prussian Calvary. The soldiers were expected to groom their horses before they were allowed to eat. An officer would come along with a white glove and run it along the horse's chest. If the glove was dirty, the soldier had to start again.

Hank explains that when the regimental flag got broken, Ignatz, shown here in a picture which supplied by Ignatz' grandson, Tom Amacher, was assigned to go to Berlin for a replacement. In Berlin he saw the Kaiser and his son. According to Hank, "The Kaiser was a misfit and his son was a cripple, and my father decided right then that he wanted to get out of there." Hank is grateful that his father chose to leave when he did. "If he had stayed, we would have all ended up cannon fodder," he speculates.

Ignatz Sznarbach"Family tradition has it that the two brothers exchanged identities while still in Poland. It seems that Ignatz was over age, so he used Boleslaw's papers when he came to America in 1896. Boleslaw, having lost his natural eye as a result of a smallpox infection, had a glass eye, but he followed his older brother to America the next year.

"It is not clear whether the age limitation was for immigrants coming into America, or exit restrictions for people trying to leave Germany. Possibly there were military obligations to be fulfilled because Ignatius left as soon as he could after he got out of the German Army. I often wonder how Boleslaw got his glass eye through the physical examination at Ellis Island. There must be some truth to this story, however, because the two brothers did create some contradictions in the public records.

"On the 1900 census, Ignatius was recorded as Nick. He reported that he had been married 5 years, and that he had arrived in 1896. Boleslaw's 1900 census record shows that he had come over in 1897. So far, everything agrees.

"Later, they both applied for American citizenship. On Oct. 22, 1898, Ignatius made his application and indicated that he had arrived in New York on April 17, 1897. Four years later, Boleslaw made his declaration of intent, and he put his date of arrival as April 18, 1897!

lists, we find that a 28 year old Boleslaw Schnarbach arrived in New York on the steamer Spree on April 18, 1897. He was single, and carried one piece of baggage. On that date, Boleslaw was 21 and single, but Ignatius was 28 and married. So who came over first, Ignatius or Boleslaw? Harold wrote, "If I ever find another Schnarbach on a passenger list, perhaps I will know."

"After he finished his formal military training, which was called "Drill Time" as distinguished from the time in reserve which was called "King Time", Ignatius married Julianna Zielinski, pictured here, in Kurzetnik, Poland on Feb. 10, 1897. This date is found in Julia's Polish Bible in her own handwriting, so I prefer this date rather than that calculated from the five years someone gave to the 1900 census-taker.

Julianna Zelienski Sznarbach "Checking the passenger"Julia had been born in Poznan, Oct. 7, 1870. She had two brothers and a sister. Hank has kept up a correspondence with the descendants of one of her brothers, Wladyslaw Zielinski.

"Two months after his marriage, Ignatius left his bride and came to America to earn enough money to pay for her passage. My estimate is that the passage cost about two month's wages in those days. It was three years before my grandfather could send for Julia.

Hank found out almost by accident that his father couldn't afford the passage and worked his way across by stoking the boiler.

Hank remembers a furnace salesman approaching their house during the Great Depression. The salesman asked about the furnace and Hank replied, "Oh, it's fine," to get rid of him. "We didn't have a furnace," Hank explained. "All we had was a pot-bellied stove." But the salesman persisted and wanted to talk to Hank's father who was working in the back yard. "Does he speak English?" the salesman asked. "Sure, he speaks English," replied Hank and the salesman disappeared.

After a long period of time, Hank began to wonder what happened to the salesman. He went around to the back yard and found that his father had the salesman by the lapels, and the salesman was trying unsuccessfully to escape his father and his father's story. "Now ven you stoke the furnace of a ship," imitates Hank in his best Polish accent, "now DOT iss a furnace!" Ignatius made wonderful wine and "he could really talk" after a glass or two. The furnace salesman finally broke away from Ignatius and was never seen again.

"Julia traveled alone to America," wrote my father. "She sailed from Bremen on a German ship called Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse and arrived March 27, 1900. According to the information she supplied for the passenger list, she had paid her own fare and had more than $30.00 when she landed, and she was on her way to join her husband in Cleveland.

"For their first years in America, Ignatius and Julia boarded with his cousins, John and Teresa Bolanowski. John had come to this country in 1888 and Teresa in 1890. They were married in this country. John worked as a paver for the City of Cleveland.

"Later, as their family grew, the Sznarbachs lived in rented houses, but eventually they had their own house at 5271 Beech Ave. in Maple Heights. Hank explained that everyone wanted their own bedroom, so his father remodeled this house; he added a kitchen, a Snarbach Childrenback porch and indoor plumbing and enlarged the basement. Soon after Ignatius began to work on the house, Ted decided to get married. The girls soon got married, so the second floor of the house was never completed.

According to his army papers, Ignatius' trade was that of a cabinetmaker (Tischler in German), but in this country, he had to take work as a carpenter (Zimmerman). Carpentry work was as seasonal then as now. He would work all summer to pay up the bills he accumulated during the winter, and then start over again. Later, when he worked for Rutherford, he did finishing work on the inside and had a much steadier job. Julia, incidentally, had been trained as a seamstress in Poland.

Ignatius and Julianna had seven children. Tadeusz, or Ted, born on February 20, 1901, Wladyslawa or Wanda born on June 27, 1902, Kazmiera, born on November 27, 1903, Stanislawa or Stella born on July 23, 1906, Anastazysa or Nettie born on February 3, 1908, Zigmund, born on June 12, 1910 and finally Henryak or Hank born on February 20, 1913. This picture shows Hank, Wanda, Stella, and Nettie.

Hank says, "There I am, at the top of the ladder!" He recalls being fifteen or sixteen years old here. Hank recalls scooping Kayro syrup out of a tin can when the can cut the cord at the top of his index finger, leaving the first knuckle dangling at a 45-degree angle. He didn't want to tell his father, because he knew his father wanted him to help him paint the house so he taped a clothes pin to his finger.

Wanda tells of the frugal life style they had. Each Autumn, the iceman, who also delivered coal in the winter, would bring a load of corn husks. That was the signal for grandmother and her daughters to bring out their mattresses and open them up to take out the old corn husks. Doll HouseThese were laundered and spread in the sun to dry, then sorted and added to the new husks to refill the mattresses for the coming winter.

Ignatius did find time, however, to create a variety of gifts for his grandchildren. He made a large doll house for Caroline, so large in fact that it took up most of the room in the small downstairs bedroom in our tiny house on W. 58th St. He also made for her a table and chair set, plus a desk for me, and small cabinets, toys, and weather vanes for the rest of us. Hank inherited a wonderful cedar trellis that his father made, constructed of half-joints, all sawed by hand. After more than sixty years the trellis still shows the care with which it was made.

In November, 1999 Tom Amacher wrote, "I have often thought that I could easily identify with my Grandfather Ignatius Snarbach had I been born early enough to have remembered him. My mother Wanda told stories about him and his work as a carpenter. Since I have worked with my hands most of my life as a plumber I think we would have had many building, and construction stories to share. I have even made my own elderberry wine just like my Grandpa Ignatius used to make."

Harold wrote, "Somehow, I don't have many recollections of my Grandmother. I recall that I was horrified whenever she sliced pumpernickel bread by holding it against her chest with one hand and sawing the slicing knife towards her. I would close my eyes for fear she would cut herself in half."

Hank remembers that his mother spoke "very little" English. His father needed to speak English, however, to be able to work. Although the couple primarily spoke Polish, Hank remembers that his mother's cooking was more German than Polish. "I had to wash my feet once a year so I could stomp out the sauerkraut," said Hank.

Harold wrote, "Julia died of cancer and was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland. It seems to me that she was sick a long time. Once she was bedridden and confined to her bedroom, I seldom saw her again, even though we visited the house often. In her last days, it fell to my Aunt Stella to nurse her and she had to cope with both her dying mother and her bereaved father."

"The highlights of my Summer vacations from school were the one or two week visits I made to stay with my grandfather and Uncle Hank on Beech Ave. To me, this house was absolutely huge. On rainy days, I could explore the unfinished attic to my heart's content. In better weather, there was a large wooded area on the other side of Granger Road to explore." "Grandpa and I had a communication problem. To my young ears, he had a heavy accent, but somehow we got along. Most of our conversations consisted of long monologues from me, punctuated by a few grunts of agreement from him."

Hank Snarbach with his father's trellis"I remember that when Hitler first came to power, my grandfather was highly in favor of him and the promises he might have made for Germany. Before the German Dictator had a chance to break his heart, Grandpa died of pneumonia at the age of seventy and was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland. It was quite a few years before I reversed my early opinions of Adolph Hitler."

Harold wrote, "Boleslaw and the Bojanowski family were the only relatives my mother's family had." Hank doesn't agree with this entirely. He thinks that the Bojanowski family was close to the Sznarbach family, but not really related.

Alice Gillihan, Alice6731@aol.com, is the granddaughter of John and Theresa Bojanowski. She writes,

I found the names of Henry and Kay Snarbach in the guest register book from my father, Casimer's, funeral in 1969.

I remember hearing the name at home. I will look through my records to see if I can find anything else. My Great-grandparents, Lawrence (Wawrzyniec) Bojanowski and Salomea Raszkowska, were married in 1841 in the town of Kurtzetnik in Poland where your Julianna was born.

When we were children we were told nothing of our family history. My grandfather John left a little brown ledger book which gave us some information and got me interested in genealogy. I hope I hear from you soon.

"Boleslaw was also a paver. Late in life, he married a widow, Antonina, who had a twelve year old daughter, Martha. Antonina died only nine years after they were married. Boleslaw was found on his front steps, March 21, 1947, a victim of a cerebral hemorrhage, apparently. He was seventy-one. Boleslaw is buried in a potter's field. Hank speculates that Boleslaw had reported that he had no relatives at some point in order to receive a "a government dole." Boleslaw's exact resting place is not known.

Thanks to Hank Snarbach, to my uncle, Tom Amacher, and to my cousin John Soltes for the supplying the family photographs.


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Copyright 2000-2003 Nancy McAdams
March 22, 2000
Updated February 26, 2003

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