Old Polish document brings generational family peace

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo

Just got this today– I wish Gramps was around to share this with him. It’s his dad’s 1893 baptismal record from Obrazow, Poland.

Says Jan Stanislaw Cichon was born in Glazow, Radom, Poland to Jozef and Agnieszka (nee Korona.) Like all the records from Poland at this time, it’s written in Russian.

My dad lived his life hating this man– his grandfather– who treated him poorly for a variety of reasons. Because of some genealogical research I was doing and questions I was asking, my dad talked to my grandpa about this guy only days before Dad died… and Dad made some peace– which I know gave my grandpa peace, too.

They both had tears in their eyes, as Gramps said, “Pa really was good, son. He was just sick.”

Jan Cichon spent the last decade of his life mostly drunk, self-medicating after cancer of the jaw and throat saw the lower half of his face horribly pained and disfigured.

He spent a lot of time sitting on the porch of his house, which directly across the street from the home where my dad spent most of his childhood.

Dad’s memory of his grandfather was a mean and ugly man who spat and threw empty liquor bottles at him.

But literally days before he died, Dad came to peace with the fact that this wasn’t the whole story. (It rarely is. Ya know?)

Finding this record, even a few months after Gramps’ death, closes some kind of loop for me.

Much of who I am traces back to my dad and his dad… and the way Gramps talked about his dad– It goes back to him, too. I’m really proud of the part of me which was born to a couple of Polish peasants in Southeast Poland in 1893. I’m glad to know the history of it. I know Gramps would have loved to know, and I think my ol’man would have found some satisfaction in it, too.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.