source: Wroclawska Gazeta Polska, June 1999 No 6 (59)
The Wroclaw Polish Newspaper
Translated by Alexandra Medvec. --- The English version has been slightly edited.
[pix here] [blank ] Editor's Note: This article appeared in the June issue of Gazeta Polska, in Wroclaw, Poland, of which Dr. Antoni Lenkiewicz is the editor and publisher. He visited to the United States in September to promote the the fourth edition of his book, Kazimierz Pulaski (1745-1779), at the Polish festival at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and to see the nearby Moland House (where Pulaski Met Gen. Washington), and made of tour of the United States. He is planning an English Edition of the book and will return to the United States in October of 2000 to participate in the re-burial ceremonies for Gen. Pulaski's body in Savannah, Georgia. This is an opportunity for Polish organizations to organize book affairs with him in their cities.

Dr. Antoni Lenkiewicz and his wife Anna at the Grand Canyon.


ONE MORE FUNERAL OF KAZIMIERZ PULASKI
221 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH

BY DR. ANTONI LENKIEWICZ

Savannah, in the State of Georgia, near the mouth of the Savannah River, where it empties its waters into the Atlantic Ocean, is a city of the same name, which has at present almost 300,000 inhabitants.

With this city during the War of Independence are linked together the last days of General Kazimierz Pulaski's life (1745-1779). There, in October of 2000, will probably be conducted the last and most solemn funeral of the hero of both the USA and Poland.

Pulaski's Achievements

The fame of historical figures and the knowledge about their deeds which justify that fame do not always go together. An example of this is Kazimierz Pulaski. Together with Tadeusz Kosciuszko, they are named in one breath as heroes of the American War of Independence among other Polish heroes. But this is, unfortunately, almost all that most Poles and Americans know about Pulaski.

The highest value that Pulaski always invoked in his bearing was God, Honor, Freedom, and Independence. It is significant that Pulaski put so much empasis on the word "independence." Before the Bar Confederacy, this word was not even used in the Polish language.

Not even defeats and betrayals, the sentence of death, emigration, intrigue and untimely quarrels among his compatriots could break our hero, nor make him despair in his cause, reality, and trust in the goodness of humanity.

Pulaski's achievements for Poland are much greater than are those for the United States. As a matter of fact, Pulaski was the first who showed us, with a legionary force, the way to regain independence. He was the first who died fighting for your independence and our's. He was an example of self-sacrifice, unshaken faith, and heroism for the sleepy Poles who were overwhelmed by disasters.

Mortally wounded near Savannah and the place of his eternal rest -- as it appears to be -- the life of Kazimierz Pulaski ended on October 15, 1779, unfulfilled and mostly unknown in a land far from Poland.

Where and how was Pulaski buried 220 years ago?

In spite of many theories and somewhat dubious sources, it was generally accepted that Kazimierz Pulaski was mortally wounded on October 9, 1779, during the siege of Savannah, and then, several days later, was carried on the brig "Wasp." It was never proven that he died on the Wasp, after setting sail, and his body buried at sea.

In my book, "Kazimierz Pulaski," I questioned this idea, because, in the French and Polish traditon, the custom of burial at sea was very rare. It happened only if land could not be seen on the horizon . It is certain that the Wasp sailed to Charleston and always was in sight of land.

Valuable discoveries by Edward Pinkowski

When the third edition of my book was published, parts of it by "Gazeta" (Gazette) of Toronto in 1989 and "Zgoda" of Chicago in 1990, Edward Pinkowski bought a copy of my book at the American Czestochowa. He is American born, does not know the Polish language, but almost from birth his Polish immigrant father told him about the the heroism of Pulaski on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and as he grew up the immigrant's son learned to admire Pulaski.

This is how, as I guess, he became interested in General Pulaski's remains and wanted to find out where they were buried. He did research in American documents for almost 50 years. Along the way he found a letter, written by the captain of the Wasp on October 15, 1779, revealing that an American officer had died the same day on his ship removed for burial in the ground along Thunderbolt Bluff. The ship's purser told his family that he made a coffin for Pulaski's body. The people who lived on the bluff told the grandson of Jane Bowen, who owned Greenwich plantation in 1779, where Pulaski's body was buried.

Thus, Edward Pinkowski solved the mystery of Pulaski's grave. Still, for years, the new information, as solid as a rock, was stubbornly rejected. Few believed that Pulaski was buried on Greenwich plantation.

His bones were dug up in 1852 and moved to a vault under the Pulaski Monument in Savannah. When the vault was opened in September, 1996, they found Pulaski's bones in an iron box with his name on it.

Monument built for a long time and a short memory

On November 29,1779, the Congress of the United States voted that a monument should be built in memory Count Pulaski. It was never done. Neither was the monument that General La Fayette started in 1825 ever done. Finally, on October 11, 1853, which Savannah thought was the anniversary of Pulaski's death, the Pulaski Monument in Monterey Square was dedicated. The vault under it contained two cornerstones but only the second one had room for important papers.
In the Savannah newspaper of the time, Edward Pinkowski, when he opened the files one hundred years later, found descriptions of the papers in one of the cornerstones, Pulaski's body in an iron box, and Bowen's account of the previous grave on Greenwich plantation.
Throughtout his life Pinkowski wrote about Pulaski. Unfortunately, not many readers paid much attention to the articles he wrote and a chapter on Pulaski in a book, "Washington's Officers Slept Here." (book page) When he wrote and said Pulaski's remains lay under the Pulaski Monument in Savannah, the city authorities considered him irrational.

How could one even think that Americans buried their hero in the middle of Savannah and later completely forgot about this?

The authorities did not know yet that Edward Pinkowski, the son of a Polish immigrant from Wizna who arrived 1906 in the United States, is not only a very inquisitive man, but also one with the ability to get to the bottom of a problem. He decided to devote his time and money, almost $50,000, to prove by a mountain of evidence that General Pulaski's bones were in Savannah and wanted other evidence, if it was available, to satisfy the public. When they found the iron box, inscribed with Pulaski's name, they saw the bones of a man, no more than five feet, three inches in length, pieces of the original coffin, a holy cross, and hand-made nails.

Search for DNA

The contents of the box with the inscription "Cassimir Pulaski" put together with earlier evidence and documents explained everything. But there are always skeptics and opponents who declared that it is not yet proven that the remains are those of Kazimierz Pulaski and to make sure, it has been necessary to carry out DNA test.

In this matter soon obstacles and difficulties multiplied because mitochondrial DNA is inherited only through the straight female line (from mother to daughter, etc.). The elementary condition was to find remains of Kazimierz Pulaski's mother or one of his sisters. There were five sisters: Anna -- canoness in a Warsaw institution; Malgorzata -- wife of Adam Skilski; Monika -- wife of Stanislaw Rohozinski; Jozefa -- wife of Marcin Slawoszewski, and Paulina -- wife of Antoni Suffczynski.

I also conducted the search for the graves of these Pulaski women, but so far without positive results. The search can be continued, but already we can assume that what Edward Pinkowski discovered and settled is credible.

Password Pulaski

During the solemn funeral in October of this year (1999) the remains of Kazimierz Pulaski will return to the place from where they were unearthed -- on Monterey Square in Savannah, under the monument that was dedicated in his honor in 1853. At present, this monument is under renovation and reconstruction. On the occasion of 220th anniversary of Kazimierz Pulaski's death, it is worthwhile to remember George Washington's order from November 17, 1779, to identify friends and foes when crossing military lines:

Query: Pulaski
Response: Poland