Koslowsky Stories
Story of Martin Koslowsky
(Grandfather of Mary Koslowsky Seibel)
(Great-grandfather of Gene Seibel)

Martin Koslowsky was born February 6, 1839, at Danzig, Germany. Helena Steinke Koslowsky was born November 13, 1838 in Russia. Eight children were born to them. Tena and Anna died in infancy. John was born February 27, 1870. Martin was born February 15, 1872. Two more children were born: Peter and Maria. They also died in infancy. Then Peter was born on July 4, 1878. Mary was born August 21, 1880. All the children were born in Russia.

Grandfather Martin was Catholic and Helena was Lutheran. They agreed between them that the boys should be Catholic and the girls were to be raised Lutheran. Grandfather was a little lax in getting the boys established in their faith, so one day while he went, to a larger village to shop, Helena took advantage of the situation and took all the children to the Lutheran Church and had them baptized Lutheran.

Grandpa was one of 14 children; only he came to America. In 1883 they immigrated to America from South Russia from the village of Sonsuff (Peter had been, born at Maurinpol, a city on the banks of the Black Sea). They traveled overland across Poland to Hamburg, Germany. There the children saw their first oranges which were sold by a fruit vendor from a cart. At Hamburg they got aboard the ship, Westphalia. They stopped at Havre, France, and arrived in New York City on June 19, 1883. Their original destination was Iowa, but five days later, on June 23, 1883, they arrived in Florence, Kansas. Fred and William Reddigs and Ephraim Kleins were some of their close friends who had traveled with them. They moved north to the place we call the Clyde Darrow place, south of Aulne. They lived there until they built, a granary; then they lived in the granary until they had saved money to build the house. The house is presently on Vine Street in Peabody.

Grandpa Martin went back to visit his relatives in Russia once during his lifetime. His brother Peter was an elder in the darp (village). Grandma Helena refused to go along. She had already said good-bye to her family forever and wasn't going to do it again.

Grandpa and Grandma were farmers and farmed the same place until Grandpa died. The grandfolks joined the Mennonite Brethren Church at Ebenfeld but it was quite a ways to go to church. Then in 1906 they built a church, which they called Steinreich, a branch off the Ebenfeld Church. Grandpa gave most of the money to build the church. Grandpa would sit in a side bench facing the side of the preacher. When it would be nearly twelve o'clock, Grandpa would look at the clock and out would come his red handkerchief, and he would blow his nose. If the preacher did not quit, he would blow louder! Grandpa let the children go to school when there wasn't work to be done, so what little schooling they got was at the Hardscrabble School on the quarter just north of their farm.

Grandpa had a stroke in November of 1914 and died December 5 of the same year. In those days they laid the body out at home until the funeral. The body was packed in ice. One evening Aunt Mary Koslowsky went in and put more ice in fruit jars around the body. We weren't, supposed to be looking, so Lena and I went and looked through the west window to see what was happening. We were smart enough not to tell our mother. Grandpa's corpse was in the parlor and the children had to go into the parlor to get to the bedroom on the other side, so Uncle Pete and Dad Rempel had to stand by the body so we could not see anything. We all slept in the other room; there were at least ten of us.

They took Grandpa to Ebenfeld for burial in a hearse that was pulled with two horses. The men sat on top of the hearse so coming home Grandma, Lena and I came home with Uncle Abe Braun in his big wheel car. When we got home some lady had cleaned the house and had a hot meal ready for us all. Lena, Mary and I had to take turns going to stay night with Grandma for a while. We had to sleep between two featherbed covers and we did lots of kicking as it was too hot for us.

In 1904 Grandma was taking care of Aunt Minnie Koslowsky before her death and she came home and they told her about the bees in a tree. We all went to look at them. The bees swarmed around Grandma's head. She became very sick and that was how she lost her hearing. She walked around like a letter "L" but I don't know where she got her back hurt.

Every year we had a Christmas program at church. In the middle of the program they asked for volunteer numbers. Grandma always had a piece and got up and recited a poem by heart. She never made a mistake and they were always long ones. When we came home from the program Mother would say "How could she remember it? She had a different one every year." They were always in German.

Grandma never had a tooth pulled by the dentist. She pulled her own if they needed it. She never wore glasses but could read her Bible and paper without glasses. She always seemed as well informed as if she could hear. She always wore a dark apron and dress and a lace cap.

Grandma stayed on the farm with Uncle John and baked her own bread in the oven in the stovepipe over the little square stove until she was 90 years old. At that time one leg became swollen and she had to be in a wheelchair. She came to live with her daughter Mary and family until she died September 12, 1935 at Mary's place. She was laid to rest September 17.

All their children have been laid to rest with the Lord. Only one daughter-in-law remains.


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