Iwona's Sources - Baptists in Poland
Baptists in Poland
Baptists belonged to a religious minority originating from Anabaptism and comprising a splinter group of the Protestant faith. The trait that most clearly distinguished them was their questioning the practice of baptizing children, dooming them to passive acceptance of Christianity "from birth." They felt baptism should be accepted by adults aware of their faith, not infants.
They came from East Prussia to the territory of the Congress Kingdom in the mid-19th century. The first group baptism took place on 28 November 1858 at Adamów, near Pultusk. Among those baptized was the movement's leader, Gotfryd Alf, the first teacher of the local Sunday school and organizer of courses in theology. Over the next five years, 541 persons were baptized there.
.Baptists did not have an easy life for the first two decades. They were rejected and repressed by both the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches; and at the instigation of the local spiritual heirarchy, they were also persecuted by civil authorities.
The Baptist movement was treated as an illegal sect. During frequent raids, educational materials were confiscated, pastors were arrested, practicing the religion was forbidden, and metrical records they kept were outlawed. Gotfryd Alf was compelled to leave Adamów and in 1864 moved to Kiciny, where a new Baptist center arose.
Despite intense persecution, during the years 1858-1864, Baptists distributed nearly 2,000 copies of the Bible and New Testament, and about 16,000 brochures and flyers. Over the next 10 years, they published over 40,000 brochures. New cogregations arose in Kurówek (1870), Zezulin (1873), Żyrardow (1875), and Łódź (1878).During a period of increasing repression, many Baptists, mainly farmers, left for Volhynia, the eastern borderlands of the Russian partition. Not until a decree of Empress Catherine II in 1879/80 did Baptists experience any relief, gaining the right to religious freedom. This tolerance was not for all, however, as the decree applied only to foreigners. And although Baptists came from various ethnic groups, German Lutherans made up the most dynamic and extensive group. Among religious groups, the Lutherans and Mennonites (with a similar approach to baptism) were foremost.
The period of religious freedom did not last very long; by 1891, a new wave of persecutions had begun. The Czarist authorities and the Orthodox Church regarded Baptists as socially harmful. Especially painful punishment was given to Baptists who came from the Orthodox Church. They were imprisoned, exiled to Siberia, and deprived of the right to acquire and lease land. Repeat offenders received prison sentences of up to 40 years.
Despite this harsh repression, the Baptist movement continued to develop. By the turning point of the 19th and 20th centuries, its greatest concentration in Polish territory was in the very highly industrialized region of Łódź, led by the city of Łódź itself.
The next thaw came in 1903 and resulted in the creation of new centers within the Congress Kingdom. By the time of World War I, there were 17 congregations and some 5,000 active adherents. In Volhynia, the number was over 10,000.
The wave of emigration to America did not pass by the Baptists. Their pioneeron American soil was Józef Antoszowski (1853-1934), who emigrated to Chicago in 1887 and then moved to Buffalo, New York, where he founded the first Polish Baptist congregation. The fruit of his missionary work was the monthly Żrodlo [The Source], Podręcznik: dla baptystów polskich [Hand book for Polish Baptists], and Śpieumik: Pieśni Religijnych [Songbook of Religious Songs]. Due to increased agitation among Polish communities, the following congregations came into existence: Pound (1901), Chicago (1902), Philadelphia (1905), Milwaukee (1909), Cleveland (1911), Rochester (1912), New York (1919). By 1929, 36 congregations existed.
Baptist Records in Polish State Archives
(A = alegata, B = births, M = marriages, D = deaths)
Aleksandrów Łódzki - A, 1920; B, 1905; M,1903-1905; D, 1905
Barlinek - B, 1851-1874; D, 1859-1874
Betchatów - B, M, D, 1904-1906
Czermno - A, 1928-1929
Drzewce - B, 1903-1920; M, 1905-1930; D, 1903
Dzbanki - A, 1891, 1894, 1896-1901,1903-1905; B, 1891, 1894-1902, 1904-1906; M, 1891, 1894-1901, 1904-1906; D, 1891, 1894-1901, 1904-1906
Głusk - A, 1895, 1898-1900, 1902, 1904-1907; B, 1892-1895, 1897-1902, 1904-1907; M, 1892- 1895,1897-1902, 1904-1907; D,1892-1895, 1897 -1902, 1904-1907
Gorzów Wielkopolski - B, 1858-1874; M, 1851- 1863, 1865-1874
Górka Pabianicka - B, M, D, 1882-1940
Gradzanowo Kościelne* - B, 1880-1881, 1883, 1885-1887,1901-1905; M, 1880, 1887, 1905; D, 1885, 1901-1905
Jastków - A, 1890-1900, 1904-1905; B, 1890-1908; M, 1890-1908; D, 1890-1908
Kolo - B, M, D, 1870-1896
Kożninek - B, 1888-1901; D, 1893-1898
Lipno - B, 1883-1892; D, 1890-1908
Łódź - B, 1870-1900; M, 1870-1900; D, 1870-1872,1874-1900
Lublin - B, M, D, 1885
Majaczewice - B, 1873, 1876 Mlock - B, 1890-1907; M, 1890-1898, 1900-1902, 1904; D, 1891-1905
Naramice - B, 1889
Niedrzwica Duza - A, 1907-1908; B, 1876-1906, 1908; M, 1876-1906, 1908; D, 1876-1906, 1908
Nowe Miasto - B, M, D,1875-1882, 1889-1890
Osowa - A, 1892, 1895, 1897, 1899, 1902-1904; B, M, D, 1891-1908
Osówka - D, 1880
Plock- B, D, 1874-1875
Raciąź - B, 1880-1881, 1883-1887, 1889-1896, 1899, 1902-1907; M, 1881, 1883-1884, 1886- 1887,1889-1893,1898-1907; D, 1881-1887, 1889-1893,1896,1899-1905,1907
Rypin - B, M, D, 1888
Rzgów - B, M, D, 1897
Sierpc - B, M, D,1870-1880, 1886
Szydlów - A, 1874; B, M, D, 1874-1877
Tomaszów Mazowiecki - B, 1900-1902, 1904-1905,1907,1910-1911,1913,1921; D, 1899, 1902, 1905-1906, 1908, 1911
Turek - B, 1877-1882, 1902, 1904-1906; M, 1902, 1904-1906; D, 1902, 1904-1906
Tuszyn - B, M, D, 1874-1880
Uniejów - D, 1876-1934
Wlodawek - B, M, D, 1886-1903
Wolbórz - A, 1889-1890, 1893, 1901, 1906, 1929,1933; B, 1890-1940; M, 1890-1937; D, 1892-1937
Zduńska Wola - A, 1871; B, M, D, 1871-1884, 1886-1889, 1892-1895, 1897-1907
Zgierz - A, B, M, D, 1898-1905
Zloczew - B, 1873-1875, 1892-1897, 1900-1901, 1911,1917
Zyrardów - B, M, D 1870-1887
* Baptist families in Gradzanowo, Sierpc powiat: Berger, Bonkowski, Brajer, Daede, Dede, Dier, Fender, Gomdel, Guzowski, Hertman, Jads, Jobs, Kiersz, Klamer, Knoper, Liedke, Nass, Palnoch, Piszcz, Plec, Polnay, Putz, Roks, Rossol, Rozental, Rychter, Schinke, Szatginajder, Szulc, Szinke, Szynke, Teske, Wise, Wize
Also, Baptist records in the Archiwum Zabuzanski (USC Warszawa) include Kolowert in Równe powiat and Rozyszcze in Łuck powiat (regions now in western Ukraine).
Iwona Dakiniewicz, Lodz, Poland <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[with translation assistance from William F. Hoffman]
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Last Updated on March 19, 2014