Every one had to come from somewhere


My father's paternal ancestors came from the village Ciche, his maternal ancestors from the village Witow.  Both villages are located in the district of Nowy Targ about 8 km W of Zakopane at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, close to the Polish-Slovak border, a region also known as Podhale. The Podhale people are called 'Gorale' (highlanders), they have their own traditions, culture, and a language dialect that differs from the rest of Poland.

While the Podhale is one of the most beautiful and popular regions for vacation in Eastern Europe that attracts tourists from all over the world today, many people left the Podhale towards the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century in search for work. Farming, shepherding, and pasturing was the main occupation of the people in the Podhale, but limited land, poor soil, and the long and bitter cold winters at the foot of the Tatra Mountains made it impossible for most villagers to live from farming alone. Their farms, those who could own one,  were usually small and with great efforts kept a family going in good times. Males and females of all ages worked as day laborers, farm helpers, maids and servants for better-off neighbors, nearby manor estates or town houses besides farming to make money and to be able to survive the winters. Outbreaks of cholera, famines due to crop failure, conscription and the general poverty towards the end of the 19th century led to emigration from the Podhale to either America.