An Appeal To Rescue
The Past of Cracow, Virginia
For almost three years Tom Hollowak has been researching the Polish colony at Cracow, New Kent County, Virginia. The farming community located between Barhamsville and West Point Virginia was settled by approximately twelve Polish families beginning in 1915. Among those who formed the enclave was Hollowak’s paternal grand-parents and great-grandparents. Many of the families learned of the availability of farmland from advertisements place in Polish-language newspapers place by Adam Sturtz(ynski) who was responsible for bringing not only the Poles to New Kent County, but Port Richmond now a part of West Point.
Photo: St. John Canty of Cracow Church. The church illustrated above was built in 1920 in the area of Virginia known Cracow. It burned down after lighting struck its steeple in 1935. The aging church cemetery, located along Polish Town Road, is the church’s only remaining landmark. Photo courtesy of University of Chicago – Church Extension Society Collection
Hollowak who has spent the last thirty years researching Baltimore’s Polish community had always had an interest in the history where his father’s family were raised, but it wasn’t until he accidently discovered that one of the families that came to Virginia after seeing an ad in Baltimore’ Polish-language newspaper, Jednosc-Polonia, were from Baltimore. As he began researching, he discovered that a boat regularly ran between West Point and Baltimore and there were other links between the two Polonia’s – The Franciscan Father’s at St. Stanislaus Kostka did missionary work among the Polish settlements in Tidewater Virginia.
By contacting the once Polish church in West Point, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, he located another grandson of one of the earlier pioneers who generously shared information on his family a branch that still reside on their family’s farm. Hollowak also consulted the online database Ancestry.com to locate other grandchildren of the Polish families who lived along what is now Polish Town Road to share their memories and photographs for the planned history.
With most of his research completed in May he has begun writing his history that he hopes will be published by the spring of next year. Although, he has heard from several the families there are about five or six where the information is scant and for whom he lacks any photographs. Therefore, he is appealing to our readers who families lived at the settlement to contact him with any information and photographs they are willing to share so that his work chronicles as completely as possible this until now obscure history of Virginia’s Cracow Polish settlement.
Information and/or photographs can be sent to: Tom Hollowak, 7 Dendron Court, Baltimore, MD 21234; or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
August 9, 2019