Noteć (Netze) River Village Photographs
by John W. Teske
- In early 2005, I commissioned photographing certain villages along a
stretch of the Noteć (Netze) River from Szamocin (Samotschin) to Osiek nad
Notecia (Netzthal), Poland where it is known that Teske family members
lived in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Some Teske families immigrated to
Russia in 1809 or later to America. Others remained for several generations
until 1947 when the country was returned to native Polish citizens. In 1944,
many Teske families living in Russia joined a trek to refugee camps near
Wielun’ (Welun), Poland. Ironically this was only 150 statute miles and 123
years from where they started in 1809 when they immigrated from Żulawka
Mala (Zeckwerder), Poland to Neudorf and other villages in Russia. In 1947,
an agreement between Allied governments to re-establish the country of
Poland resulted in a second trek to send Germans residing on Polish lands to
the west to post WWII Germany. I was interested in what remained today of
family villages in Poland.
- Photographers were two young ladies Kasia Grucza and Magda
Smolka who along with their colleagues provide photography, genealogy
and guide services in Poland. They are headquartered in Posen. Pictures
provided in this series were taken May 11, 2005, which in the spring of the
year shows scenes with little green vegetation. In each photograph, I
identified the location first in Polish and then German in parenthesis, and
provided a short description of the scene. This narration is based in part
upon the photographer’s observations. You can explore more at
- Szamocin (Samotschin)
- The town today is neat and orderly. Traces
of Germans residing there can be seen in the architecture. As with most
photographs in this series, a distinction between early 18th century and later
construction is evident in the type of construction. Early construction would
be clay and timber which is later covered with stucco. Later construction is
brick. In Szamocin, there were both Catholic and Lutheran churches. Today
there are almost exclusively Catholics, the predominant religion in Poland.
Pictures will be seen of a Lutheran church c. 1825 which has been converted
to a Catholic church. Two of the photographs are of a German cemetery.
Green paint on the fence indicates that it has been recently cared for. It
could not be learned for sure if records exist of those buried there. Johann
Christoph (Johannes) Teske, son of Johann Teske and Anna Marie Wert was
born and baptized here in 1805. Anna Marie and Johann Christoph
emigrated in 1809 to Neudorf, Russia where she married Christian Bischke.
- Heliodorowo (Helldorf)
- The current Polish cemetery is interesting.
Village streets appear to be compacted dirt which most likely follows the
same routes as when German colonists resided here. A combination of old
clay and timber and new brick construction can be seen. A blacksmith
Martin Eldor Teske and family lived here along with other Teske families.
Martin and his family emigrated from here to Wisconsin in 1864 where he
continued his blacksmith trade.
- Żulawka Mala (Zickwerder)
- When villages were renamed after 1947, both Zickwerder and Friedrichshorst
were combined and named Żulawka . However, to differentiate between them,
the photographer added the word Mala (small) and Dura (large) to make the
distinction. Zickwerder is the village where Christian Teske, his wife Anne
Christine Henke and family lived. Born in Zickwerder were Karl Ludwig in 1802,
Johann Friedrich in 1804, and Anna Marie in 1807. The family emigrated from
here in 1809 to Neudorf, Russia in the Glückstal colonies.
- Żulawka Dura (Friedrichshorst)
- Many Teske families lived here, and as with all Teskes living along the
Netze River, they are believed to be related. Early architecture is
distinguished by clay and timber construction with stucco overlay as well as
later brick construction. Roads are compacted dirt to this day.
- Polanowo (Eichfelde)
- It is not certain if this village of Eichfelde just
south of Wirsitz, or a second Eichfelde south of Zickwerder is where
Christian Teske and family might have lived for a short time. The second
Eichfelde appears in early 1878 atlas, but not on later maps. The truth may
never be known. These pictures are of the first Eichfelde, just south of
Wirsitz. The second Eichfelde of a few houses apparently no longer exists.
Christian Teske, son of Christian Teske and Anne Christine Henke, in 1799
was born in one of the Eichfeldes.
- Noteć (Netze) River
- These pictures are of fish ponds and the Netze
River. The fish ponds are at the intersection of routes 191 and 194. They
are a later addition. They do not appear on 1878 maps but provide a good
source of food for residents. Several pictures are of the Netze River
showing dikes built by German colonists to contain the river for low land
reclamation. The bridge over the Netze River is in the same location as
shown on early maps, but probably of more recent construction.
- Wyrzysk (Wirsitz)
- This town was important to German colonists and
their descendents since records were kept in a Lutheran church built here in
1772, the year of the first partition of Poland. That is also the year used to
estimate when German colonists first settled along this stretch of the Netze
River to build dikes, construct the Bromberg canal and establish new villages.
The Bromberg canal to this day connects the Netze and Wista (Vistula) Rivers.
The Lutheran church no longer exists. Disposition of their records is not
certain, but current genealogy research seems to indicate that at least some of
these records survived. The Catholic church shown in the photographs was built
in 1859 on the site of a previous one.
- Osiek nad Notecia (Netzthal)
- This is the largest village in the area.
Most of the photographs are of a museum showing typical houses (German) of early
settlers along the Netze River. Photographs are not clear, but there are two
windmills on the museum site. This would indicate that early settlers arrived
from northern Europe such as Pomerania, Mecklenburg or Holland where windmills
and land reclamation is commonly used as it was along the Netze River.