Foundation of Pine Creek

Early in the 1860s, Kashubians and Bohemians from Winona began buying land in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. The Pine Creek area was ideal for their purposes: close enough to the market town of Winona but remote enough to create a true farming community. Pine Creek had already been settled, but the landowners (most of whom were from the East Coast) disliked the thick black soil, and happily sold out. In this way, the farming community of Pine Creek was founded. Once the town of Dodge was incorporated, Pine Creek was added to the new town.

For more about the establishment of Dodge, you can consult Ron Galewski’s outstanding book, Dodge, Wisconsin, which can be purchased at the Museum Gift Shop.

Pine Creek’s first Kashubian Polish settlers were led by the Paul Rudnick and Paul Libera families around 1860. In 1862 the Michael Cyrzan family settled in the Big Tamarack Valley. In 1863, the Mathias Brom family became Pine Creek’s first Bohemian settlers. In 1865 the Frank Pellowski family moved into Latsch Valley. Oddly, it quickly became known as “Hungary Valley”, although the Pellowskis were Kashubians, while the Bohemians (who had emigrated from Austria-Hungary) lived elsewhere in the area. These groups of settlers formed the core of the Pine Creek community, which was also in effect a Roman Catholic faith community.

Unfortunately for the Pine Creek settlers, no Roman Catholic parish existed in Trempealeau County. Precisely how and when the Pine Creek lay faith community formed into an actual parish has been lost over time. Long-standing community tradition states that Saint Wenceslaus-Sacred Heart was founded in 1862. But the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph L. Hauck, longtime pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Arcadia, and unofficial church historian, gave this account of Saint Wenceslaus-Sacred Heart’s founding:

It was during the winters of 1862 and 1863 that the first settlers arrived at Pine Creek. They were mostly Bohemians. On Feb. 7, 1864, they organized the parish and called it St. Wenzeslaus’, in honor of the Duke and patron of Bohemia. Having received as a donation from Paul Liberia a site of ten acres, they erected on it a little church, a wooden structure.

This deed for the Libera family’s donation still exists. Yet Father Hauck himself did not set much store by the official date of February 7, 1864; he states elsewhere in his account that “on Nov. 16, 1912 the parish celebrated with great solemnity the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation.” Some of the founding members (including the Liberas, who had donated the land for the parish, and the Broms, who were the first Bohemian settlers) were still alive in 1912, and would certainly have objected if 1912 did not actually mark the parish’s fiftieth anniversary.

For more about Pine Creek and Saint Wenceslaus-Sacred Heart Church, you can consult Rebecca Ann Kaldunski’s beautiful and informative book, St. Wenceslaus & Sacred Heart – 150th Anniversary, which can be purchased at the Museum Gift Shop.


Foundation of Pine Creek — 9 Comments

  1. If you want to learn more about the history behind Sacred Heart Church in Pinecreek, wi I suggest buying the book we have many copies available. It was made possible because of everyone that contributed photos and memories that they had while growing up in the area.I found out while researching that we are all somehow connected to this growing faith community!

  2. The 150th Anniversary celebration at Sacred Heart Church in Pine Creek, WI 2012 was a memorable experience for my Kukowski family. When I purchased the Anniversary book, I was saddened to see that our Kukowski line and others were forgotten to time. Although, for any practicing Genealogy researchers, on page 219 of that wonderful 150th Anniversary Book there is a picture – unmarked(lower right corner) of Stanley Ratajczyk and his wife Marie Kobierzynski. Marie is the daughter of Peter Kobierzynski and Josephine (Radomka/Kukowski) – she was the half sister to the Kukowski siblings Agnes Kukowski who married Robert Stanislawski at Sacred Heart Church in 1895; Joseph Mathias who married into Cichosz line; Andrew Anton 1878-1887; John who married into Herrick line who also married at Sacred Heart Church in 1905.
    I am the descendant of the Joseph Thomas Kukowski & Josephine Radomski lineage. The Kukowski family(s) from that era, except Joseph Mathias Kukowski, are all buried in the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Pine Creek, WI. The Kukowski farm was located in Bear Coulee where Agnes(Kukowski) and Robert Stanislawski took over the farm, and there it stayed for three Stanislawski/Stanislowski generations until the 1970’s.

  3. My mother (nee Frances Moga) was born on a farm in “Hungry Valley” in 1915. She was the oldest of 8 siblings born to Thomas and Laura Janikowski Moga. While the farm was worked by her father, it was actually owned by her grand-father, also Thomas Moga, who owned other land, including a farm operated by Ralph Moga on the edge of Dodge. Her parents (my maternal grand-parents) left that farm in 1937 and moved to Winona, to the homestead of her mother (Laura Janikowski Moga) on Chatfield. My grand-father worked for the C&NW until his retirement. I (and many of my cousins) still visit the old farm, which was recently owned by Gabriel Moga. When I was young there were more traces of the original farm structures, but they are disappearing over time. In 1965, just before leaving for Vietnam, I tore my dress uniform while climbing the old windmill. About the only thing I see now is the old cistern and the entrance to the root cellar. Time is reclaiming the place.

    • Moga’s where among the first Poles to come to North America, first coming to Ontario Canada before the Winona, Minn area. In the late 1870’s some moved west to Dakota Territory to homestead north of Grand Forks, in Walsh County. They were Kaszubians and spoke that dialect.

  4. I am greatly interested in the history of Pine Creek. My 3rd-great-grandparents, Frank Thomas and Francesa Reck (give or take some variations in the spelling of the names), were married there in 1864, and I believe they are buried there. As far as I know, that’s where they met, too.

    • Hello Mr. Kaufman, I was just looking around the internet about things Polish/Silesian and I came upon this message you put on in May. Your great-great-great grandparents Frank & Francesa Reck Thomas were my mother’s uncle & aunt. My mother was Augusta Reck Kampa and was the daughter of Francesa Reck Thomas’ brother Vitus Reck. This is my grandpa who I was named after. I have loads of info about this family and about all of the Polish/Silesian folks who came to Wisconsin in the 1800’s. Would you tell me where you are from and from what part of the Thomas family you are from. I would love to share any info you may be interested in. I just returned from Poland about 10 days ago and found the home/farm that this Vitus & Francesa ( Frances as I know her) lived in during the mid- 1800’s. It is still standing and is lived in. If this interests you – please get in touch. Thanks.

      • Hi Mr. Kampa and Mr. Kaufman, I too am a descendent of Frank Thomas and Franciska Rek. Frank Jr. and Julia Sobotta are my great-grandparents. I have been doing family history since the early 80’s and am part owner of the original Rek farm in Arcadia Township. Years ago, it was a woman from you family who told me that many of our people are from the Popielow area of Silesia. I still have the map she gave me and used that to help me navigate the world of microfilm records in the early 80’s at the Wisconsin Historical Society and numerous LDS Family History Centers. After all these years of research, I still can’t locate exactly where the Thomas Family is from in Poland. Can you please help me with that? It would be great to meet both of you sometime. If you get this message, please feel free to call me at (609) 902-6455. My email is bellow. Thanks!

  5. Polish Genealogical Society of America confirms the following as Kashubian surnames (in my son-in-law’s direct ancestry) for families that settled in Wood County, WI at least for awhile: Cisewski, Lepak, Czapiewski, Klaczsunski (var sp. Klasynski, Klasinski). Geni adds the surnames Bloczynski and Leszczynski (var sp Lasinski, Lesinski). Can anyone help us find out more about Kashubians with these surnames who settled in Wood Co or other areas of WI? Thanks for any help you can offer.

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