St. Stanislaus Kostka Church
Establish December 13, 1874.
915 S. Grant (cor. 22nd St.) - Bay City, MI by Marvin Kusmierz (2003)
Louis Danielewski, a young immigrant from Zyrkowo, Poland, is considered to have been the "first Polish descendent" to settle Bay City, and was instrumental in organizing other Poles in the founding of St. Stanislaus Catholic church.
Original church building (abt. 1875).
Louis moved to Bay City in 1870 from New York. He found employment at the clothing store of Captain F.H. Blackman working as a tailor. Shortly thereafter, he began a writing campaign to urging his fellow Poles to move to his new community which was bustling opportunities. His efforts appeared to have been successful as an estimated one hundred Polish families were living in Bay City by 1874.
The majority of Polish families lived in south Bay City. It was a typical practice of immigrants to settle near each other taking on mini-ethinic village within a larger community. The reasons for doing this were practical. Many were "new" to America and looked to their ethnic cousins for support. Many came from the same area of Poland. And, a relatively few knew or spoke the English language.
At this time, the Poles were without a church. Most attended the St. James Church on 12th and Monroe where Polish services for their group was provided Father Xavier Szulak, S.J.
The Poles looked to Louis for leadership. He was fluent in the English language and knew many of the city's leaders from his tailoring work. Louis led the meetings of the group that led to plans for building their own church community. The St. Stanislaus Kostka Society was formed from these meetings, and Louis elected as society's first President. The society's board consisted of:
Joseph Welter, Albert Pawlanty, Anthony Przybylinski, Vincent Kazyak
and Secretary Felix Tafelski.
During their meeting of February 8, 1874, it was decided to proceed with plans to build a "Polish" church to serve the religious needs of thier group. Each committed one month's income to move the proposition forward.
Louis took on the task of obtaining finanical support from the Bay City community. He had made contacts with many of the city's leading citizens from his tailoring profession. His efforts resulted in the following donations:
- William D. Fitzhugh
- donated 8 lots of land located on the corner of Grant and 22nd streets for the building's site.
- L.A. Pratt
- donated the architectural and building plans.
- Mr. Bradley
- donated $1000 worth of goods and cash.
- Local Bay City groups
- donated cash raised from several social events.
Photo (abt. 1885) of new addition on original church.
On right is Father A. Sklarzyk outside first rectory.
Bldg. built in 1879 for class rooms, Sister's quarters, Chapel (2nd level).
With sufficient funds in place, Neil Mahoney was hire for constructing the new church building, which was built during 1874. Consecration of the building took place on December 13, 1874, by his Excellency Bishop Casper H. Borgess, of Detroit. Cost of construction was about $4,000.00.
Rev. Xavier Szulak, S.J. and Rev. Joseph Dabrowski provided for the initial pulpit duties until on March 29, 1875, Rev. Casimer Rochowski became the "first full time pastor." However, his stay was brief, suddenly departing the church on February 5, 1876. He wasn't replaced until November 13th of that year when Rev. Augustine Sklarzyk arrived.
Shortly before 1885, the original church building was remodeled and expanded adding a new side wing with a second steeple, and another entrance.
That year, Father Sklarzyk retired his ministry in this area and Rev. Xavier Szulak was appointed as his replacement. He served from August 24, 1885 until March 20, 1886, and was replace by Rev. Marion Matkowski.
The present church building was built in 1890 on the same location of the old church which was moved to the site of the present rectory. The old church build was relocated again in 1892 to the corner of 21st and Farragut where it was used as an auditorium and school. Three years later it caught fire and was destroyed.
The Bay City Time Press newspaper covered the "dedication ceremony" with the following article being published:
Bay City Times Press - July 18, 1892.
The dedication of the new church of the St. Stanislaus Kostka took place yesterday in the presence of a dense mass of humanity. It is estimated 6,000-8,000 were present, and it is safe to state that the attendance has never been equaled at any similar ceremony in the city. There were over 2,000 in the church during the entire service, which occupied, almost three hours, and a still greater throng outside, but the prearranged plans for handling the great crowd were carried out so perfectly that not the slightest mishap occurred to mar the success of the occasion.
The Polish people were proud of their celebration, and they had just cause to be. The day was a memorable one in the history of the congregation. At a house of the early morning the parishioners began to assemble in the vicinity of the church, and as the time for holding the principal services drew near, Catholics from the different parishes throughout the city, and peoples of other denominations as well came pouring along in a steady stream, adding their quota to the vast throng.
Most of the business blocks and many private residences for blocks were decorated with the National and Polish colors, and red, white and blue bunting and both towers of the church were decorated with the stars and stripes and Polish flags. Four arches of evergreen and tricolor bunting had been erected across Van Buren at 17th, 18th, 19th and 22nd streets.
The great street parade, which started from the church at 8 o'clock, was in charge of George KABA, marshal of the day, with Joseph GORZYNSKI, Lawrence DARDA and Joseph JABLONSKI as deputies. There were about 2,000 men in line. Half a dozen bands filled the air with music.
It was during the term of Rev. Matkowski that the church's congreation grew substantially. In 1892 the present church building was built at a cost of $60,000. It was built on the same location of the old church which was moved to the site of the present rectory. Later it was relocated to the corner of 21st and Farragut for as an auditorium and school rooms. It was destroyed by fire about three years later.
The church had nearly 800 families and the school building was expanded to handle the increased student population.
Father Matkowski gained some notoriety among the citizens of Bay City as a spiritualist for his heroic efforts in one of the city's largest fires that nearly destored the south end on July 25, 1892:
The fire started at the Miller and Turner Lumber Mill on Harrison Street and gail force wind quickly spred it to nearby homes, initiating one home after in the Sixth ward. The fire raged throughout the blocks between Harrison, Jennison, Freemont and 33rd streets. Concerns were high that the fire would spread even further, and fire departments were called in from West Bay City and Saginaw to help fight the blaze.
One of the eye witnesses accounts said, Father Matkowski arrived on the scene around 6 o'clock, and positioned himself near the edge of the inferno, then began a prayer vigil. Shortly thereafter, the gale force winds subsided and the firemen were finally able to gain control. By 8 o'clock they did so and saved the city from any further distruction.
On October 1, 1896, Rev. Anthony Bogacki became pastor but his term was short due to dissension that divided the church community at this time. Bishop Richter placed the St. Stanislaus Church under canonical control which endured until 1898. During this time the Polish parishioners attended Mass at St. Joseph, St. James, St. Boniface and St. Mary's. On June 18, 1898, Bishop Richter reopened St. Stanislaus, naming Rev. Joseph A. Lewandowski pastor and Rev. Anthony Bieniawski his assistant.
On January 6, 1900, Rev. Edward Kozlowski became the fifth pastor, his assistant was Rev. Victor Wisniewski. Father Kozlowski served for tens years and would prove to be an excellent leader and healer. Improvements during this time period included completion of the church furnishings with a distinctive bell system and a majestic pipe organ. Electricity and gas services were added to buildings. Father Kozlowski influence was also instrumental in the organization new churches in the area, such as: St. Hyacinths and St. Hedwig in Bay City; St. Valentine in Beaver; St. Mary on Nine Mile road; and, St. Anthony in Fisherville.
The follow are students from the first grade class of 1909:
|Vincent BalcerLouis DelestowiczJohn KabatCasimer KajdanJoseph Reszka||Ignatius TomzakAlbin ZielinskiSalome AndrzejewskiCatherine GlaszaHelen Kiersznowski||Clara LukowskiFrances SkowronskiMaryann Smilewski|
On January 25, 1914, the now "Bishop" Edward Kozlowski, appointed Father Ladislaus P. Krakowski to carry on his former position of pastor at St. Stanislaus. Father Krakowski served the church for 29 years and 11 months, longer than any other pastor. During his term, a new rectory was built in 1921, church renovations in 1925 and 1939, new Stanislaus High School organized and built in 1929, and new gymnasium in 1940.
On September 7, 1943, Msgr. Joseph A. Lewandowski became pastor. He had served as administrator in the year 1898 and 1899 was familiar with the church community. In his term the new high school building was completed in 1952 and he presided over the 1974 centennial celebration. Rev. Clement M. Niedzwiecki was the next pastor on June 24, 1953 at a time when St. Stanislaus was the largest parish in the Saginaw Diocese. On June 16, 1966, Rev. Kenneth J. Povish became pastor for the next 4 years before becoming a Bishop. Rev. Richard Jozwiak was appointed on September 29, 1970 to supersede Bishop Povish.
The following are some events of historical importance:
- First baptism, May 7, 1875 -- Mary, the daughter of Simon and Frances (Ruzga) Nowalkowski.
- First marriage, July 12, 1875 -- Francis Nagorny and Barbara Nevetz, administered by Fr. Casimer Rochowski, witnesses were Joseph Wittbrodt and Barbara Piesik.
- First parish school -- was set up in a store on 19th and Farragut streets rented from Mr. Rychert. Teachers were Walter Pociecha and Mr. Smoczynski.
- First school building -- was built in 1876 built on the corner of 21st and Grants streets. It was staffed by the newly arrived Felician Sisters -- Mother M. Cajetan, Sister M. Joseph and Sister M. Hyacinth.
- First English Sermon, March 27, 1931 -- given by Fr. Bronislaus Roguszka.
- First diamond wedding, October 23, 1927 -- celebrated by Michael and Josephine Sliwinski.
- WWII, 1940s -- 1,016 parish sons and daughters were in military service.
- Sports field, 1951 -- Property off east Lincoln steet in Portsmouth Township was acquired.
- New High School -- opened on September 8, 1952.
The following heritage photos were contributed by Susan Jaskiewicz. Please contact us if you are able to provide additional information on any them.
St. Stanislaus Polish Military Band (1892)
(Source: Stanislaus Diamond Jubilee book - Page 35 (1952).
"POLISH MILITARY BAND IN 1885---This is how the Polish military band, made up of St. Stanislaus parish members, looked after its organization in 1885. Those in the picture, left to right are:
This picture was turned in by John J. Jaskiewicz."
Frank Wrobel, Frank Kasperski, director, who is the only known survivor, Frank Kowalczyk and Joseph Mienkwicz
Middle row: Vincent Mienkwicz, Anthony Urban, Frank Marchlewicz, Leon Wejrowski, Frank Balwinski and Albert Kasperski.
Michael Kowalczyk, Joseph Solinski, Stanley Musial, Thomas Jaskiewicz, drum major, John Pajak, John Razdorf and August Pletski.
Bay City's First Boy Scout Troop.
(Source: Family album.)
Susan's grandfather Felix Jaskiewicz, born in 1893, is shown in the back by the tent.
From Diamond Jubilee book:
"St. Stanislaus Boy Scout Troop No. 1 was the first organized in the city and the first admitted to Bay City council. Scout Executive Officer George Landane reports that when St. Stanislaus got its council charter in 1920 that the parish lads had already carried on Scout activities for several years. Fr. Ladislaus P. Krakowski, late pastor, was instrumental in pushing for the charter along with Fr. Frank Kozak, his assistant. The first parish Scout committee consisted of W.J. Matuszewski, John Budzinski, and Chester Janasik. Aloysius Wisniewski was Scoutmaster, assisted by Felix Glaza and Walt Musial. The 23 boys enrolled in the first troop were: T. Agdanowski, A. and E. Andrezejewski, C. Boks, G. Bessynger, A. Bukowski, J. Connelly, V. Gielda, O and H. Jarvis, O. Janowicz, A. and T. Janasik, A. Jankowiak, E. Kubiak, J. Lewandowski, L. Mcllaney, L. Peplinski, J. Ratajcazk, C. Torzynski, F. Zielinski and B. Krzyminski.organized in 1920, was the first in Bay City."
(Source: Family album.)
This wedding took place some time before 1897. Insert enlargement: The man on the right with the dark hat and striped bow tie is believed to be Susan's great-grandfather John Jaskiewicz, and the lady to his right with dark coat and lace collar may be his wife, Frances Szafranski.
(Source: Family album.
Group of teenagers from St. Stanilaus at Wenona Beach. Top right end: unknown Golumbek, Susan's great-aunt Angeline Jaskiewicz Balwinski (b. 1890). Top in 2nd & 3rd position appear to be the bride and groom from the winter wedding picture above this one. Bottom row left of Golumbek is Martha Jaskiewicz Fenske (b. 1891).
The St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is one of Bay City's many beautiful landmarks. It can easily be located simply by looking for it's majestic towers high above the tree line in the southend of Bay City. An area that remains predominately composed of Polish descendants. Their ancestors that created the conditions under which they exist, did so by overcoming the difficulties of their time. It wasn't easy. They succeed because of their strong of faith, an iron will to achieve, a "can do" attitude to better themselves, their family and their neighbors. Their legacy in this community stands out in the structures, societies, and the contributions they made as citizens of Bay County.
Please contact us if you can add to this history or are interested in contributing new content.
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church Centennial 1874-1974, Pamphlet, 1974.
St. Stanislaus Menu
50th Jubilee Bk: Officers
Polish History & Gen.
Bieniawski, Anthony (Rev.)
Blackman, F.H. (Capt.)
Bogacki, Anthony (Rev.)
Borgess, Casper H. (Bishop)
Cajetan, M. (Mother)
Dabrowski, Joseph (Rev.)
- alia: Daniels, Louis
Fitzhugh, William D.
Hyacinth, M. (Sister)
Jaskiewicz, John J.
Joseph, M. (Sister)
Jozwiak, Richard (Rev.)
Kozlowski, Edward (Bishop)
Krakowski, Ladislaus P.(Rev.)
Lewandowski, Joseph A.(Rev.)
Matkowski, Marion (Rev.)
Niedzwiecki, Clement M.(Rev.)
Nowalkowski, Francis (Mrs.)
Povish, Kenneth J. (Rev.)
Rochowski, Casimer (Rev.)
Roguszka, Bronislaus (Rev.)
Sklarzyk, Augustine (Rev.)
Sliwinski, Josephine (Mrs.)
Szulak, Xavier S.J. (Rev.)
Wisniewski, Victor (Rev.)
Bay City Times Press
Blackman's Tailor Shop
First Polish settler
Miller & Turner Lumber Mill
Polish Military Band
South Bay City
St. James Church
St. Stanislaus Koska Society
None at this time.
Bay Co. MiGenWeb|
Copies of pages from the St. Stanislawa Kostki Golden Jubilee 1874-1925 in Polish language. Includes name index.