by Edward Pinkowski (Copyright 1966)
Originally issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Anthony Sadowski
historical marker at Douglassville, PA on Sept. 18, 1966
Hardly anyone thought of it at the time, but generations later, when descendants tried to trace their lineage back to Anthony Sadowski, they could not find complete records of their descent. They ran into a maze of conflicting first names, half-truths, errors, and family traditions. Two different branches of the family rarely reached the same conclusion from the information at hand. Their big problem was to hurdle the tendency of the family to assign real facts to later generations -- in other words, to telescope generations -- and confuse family relationships. Consequently, some descendants don't know that Anthony Sadowski was their first American ancestor.
Indeed there was no similarity in names for anyone to think otherwise. By the beginning of the twentieth century the family name looked as if it had gone through a wild babel of tongues. It was spelled in many ways in early records -- Sadoski, Sadusky, Sowdusky, Sadowskij, Zadoroski, Saduscus, Zadosky, Sadusky, and Sandusky, to mention a few of them. The original name was derived from 'sad,' a Polish word for orchard, or Sadowie, an isolated village not far from Ostrowiec on the Kamienna River in the Polish province of Kielce. The 'd' in the name has a heavy, nasal sound that might make a person not familiar with the Polish language think it had an 'n' before it. Thus, the name most used, and the one that survived was Sandusky. But in no known authentic signature did Anthony Sadowski ever sign his name in this manner.
He signed his name, as shown on his will at Philadelphia and a few letters
found in the Pennsylvania State Library at Harrisburg, Antoni Sadowski.
As there is no 'th' sound in Polish, he wrote his first name exactly as have
all others in Poland who have the first name of Anthony. However, he
wrote with such sweeping curves to his capitals and flourishes after his
name that his signature probably confused copy clerks. The flourishes
after his names, both of which ended in 'i', looked as if the downward
sweeping flourish was the tail of a 'y' or a 'j'. Kosciuszko and other Polish
figures of the colonial period also used the same writing style. So, though
Sadowski carefully dotted each 'i', when a clerk transcribed his signature
into the record books, he ignored the dots, but gave heed to the tails, and
made his name in most records "Antony Sadowsky".
Mystery shrouded his noble origin until his great-great-great-great granddaughter, Dorothy Sandusky, whose people were pioneers of Vermillion County, Illinois, went to Poland with her husband, Dr. Joseph Taylor, to round-up Polish refugees who had been displaced by World War I. Dorothy became his assistant. Ignace Jan Paderewski, premier of the reconstituted Polish state, gave them all the aid that was required to do their work. The Taylors were frequently guests in the home of the Polish premier and his wife.
"You know," Dr. Taylor remarked one day at dinner, "my wife is Polish. Her name was originally Sadowski, but now everybody pronounces it Sandusky. Some people think it was Jewish."
"Oh, I know that family," replied Mrs. Paderewski. "They never were Jews."
To show her more of the Sadowski traces in Poland, the wife of the Polish
premier provided a carriage and an interpreter for Mrs. Taylor to visit an
old Polish castle. The castle floors were made of cobblestones. On the
walls hung the family coat of arms known as Nalecz, and near it a
fireplace so big that it could roast an ox. The caretaker was named
As she toured the castle, the caretaker told Mrs. Taylor interesting stories about the family that possessed the Nalecz coat of arms. He told her that two sons of Martin Sadowski had left Poland and gone to America at the time of the Swedish invasion. When she pressed him for the names of the two brothers, he told her, "Study the family coat of arms. It will tell you a lot about your ancestors in Poland."
Whether he told her that Nalecz was Anthony Sadowski's coat of arms or whether she gained it from a heraldry book, such, at least, is the explanation that Mrs. Taylor -- and, no doubt, many other branches of the Sandusky family -- accepted. In their homes in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Kansas I have seen reproductions of the Nalecz coat of arms. Instead of the name Sadowski on them, they have the name Sandusky.
As far back as heraldry runs, the clan was one of the sturdy and respected families of the minor nobility in Poland. It begins with Thomas Sadowski at Sadowie (Sadowia). From there he was taken in 1452 by Zbigniew Cardinal Olesnicki, the first cardinal Poland ever produced, and given a church assignment in the town of Miechow, twenty miles north of Cracow. Another one with the same family shield, Daniel Sadowski, became Archbishop of Gniezno in west central Poland. Born at Radom, not far from Sadowie and perhaps of the same clan as Anthony Sadowski, was Stanislaus Sadowski, who arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1608 to help Captain John Smith's colony with its lumber production and who left no other traces in America. One tradition says that he was an uncle of Anthony Sadowski.
An old friend and colleague, Arthur L. Waldo, who in "First Poles in America" has described his experience with a rare and now missing book, "Memoirs of a Merchant," written in old Polish script by Zbigniew Stefanski, one of the original Jamestown Poles, sent me the following information on Stanislaus Sadowski:
"We know very little about him. However, I have a strong suspicion that he was the one who became quite notorious in Poland during the final years of the sixteenth century. He was a Calvinist by faith, a traveler and a man of many trades. In 1594 he published a famous brochure against the Jesuit priests of Wilno entitled 'Idolatriae Jesuitorum Vilnensium Oppugnatio.' He was ostracized by the Catholics who appealed to King Sigismund III to put Sadowski to death and burn his brochures.
"He had to leave Poland, went to England and later arrived in Jamestown, giving for obvious reasons now the city of Radom as his place of origin, instead of Ostroleka.
"I would not exclude a possibility that Anthony Sadowski was related to Stanislaus Sadowski of Jamestown fame.
"Stanislaus returned to England in 1609 with Captain John Smith, but
eventually returned to Jamestown. He was in Jamestown in 1619 during
that first strike on American soil. Then he might have been about 55 years
Unless Mrs. Taylor was given a bad steer, Anthony Sadowski came from the clan with the Nalecz coat of arms. His father, Martin Sadowski, kept closer ties to Gostyn, a town in west central Poland, than to Sadowie where the clan apparently originated at least two centuries before. He was a chamberlain of Gostyn in the time of King Wladislaus IV. In 1643 he became a member of Sejm, the Polish parliament, and one of his duties was inspector of the royal estates in the Ukraine. His career in the Sejm was brief. Next he was a castellan of Gostyn and in 1650, while still holding the same position, he erected a wonderful church and convent for the Sisters of St. Clare in Lowicz, a religious center between Warsaw and Lodz. It is said that he served three kings of Poland.
Anthony Sadowski was born during the period of Poland's greatest
financial woes. Presumably the year of his birth was 1669. The records of
St. Gabriel's show he was sixty-seven when he died. The long war with
Russia just before he was born had drained Poland's treasury. The election
of John Sobieski as King John III in 1674 gave fresh impetus to correction
of evils in the Polish government. Not all members of the Sejm felt the
same as the new king. Some of the rich members, satisfied with their
lives of ease and luxury, did not know what changes the king's reforms
would bring, and they preferred to have things remain as they were. They
King John III's efforts to reform the country, however, captured the imagination of many Polish students, including Anthony Sadowski. There is a tradition that as soon as he finished his schooling he followed in his father's footsteps and served two kings. Unquestionably he drew into his blood the burning conviction of King John III that Polish rights, Polish freedom, and Polish soil must be cherished at all costs, even the cost of one's life.
The schools that he attended are unknown. The statement of his great granddaughter, Mrs. Susan Shanklin, to Rev. John D. Shane in 1854 that Anthony Sadowski was "a great scholar" and could "speak seven different languages" arouse the strong suspicion that he went to a good classical school. Anyone who did go to such a school in Poland learned the Polish, Russian, German, French, Latin and Greek languages, mathematics and the natural sciences. Others said he may have been a priest because he was deeply religious. If he had attended a theological seminary, he could have learned Hebrew rather than Greek or some other language so that he could read the Bible in its original language.
But if the facts about his education are few, there are many questions swirling about his shadow figure. What, for instance, did he look like?
There is no known portrait of him. One may only assume that he possessed the same physical characteristics as the majority of his male descendants. In over two hundred years almost every Sadowski male has been prodigal of his physical strength and capable of great physical endurance. The photographs available of his fourth and fifth lines of descent and the present descendants, some of whom I have studied carefully, show short, broad skulls, fair complexions, and thick-set bodies. The descendants who trudged into the Kentucky wilderness shortly after the American Revolution to make their homes were considered big, strapping men. Thus it is hard to conceive of the progenitor of the American clan as anything but tall, light complexioned and strong.
The women of the clan, on the other hand, present a wider range of physical characteristics. The descendants of Anthony Sadowski, through his son and three daughters, who married and left issue, have been numerous, and have, by interstate migration, spread out into all parts of the United States. Some ten generations have been added to the clan and marriages with other groups have produced as polyglot a mixture as any family has in America. One of them was "amused to discover that I myself, in looks and character, am far more Polish than I am Dutch, French, Scotch, English, Irish, or German."
As the clan grew and grew larger, the elderly folks, who sometimes traveled great distances to see their loved ones, perpetuated many traditions of the first of the family to migrate to the new colonies in the wilderness of North America. The youth were often told to remember what they heard because the information about Anthony Sadowski was not in books. Unusual words or phrases stuck in their minds and were passed from one generation to another.
The story of his departure from Poland is one of the most stirring in the annals of American Poles. As I am the sixth one of a chain to learn this story, some explanation of its survival may therefore be in order. Anthony Sadowski's daughter, Ann, told it to her grandson, Amos Miller, and in 1850, ten years before his death, his wife, Mary Dewitt Jayne, gave it to their granddaughter, Mrs. Eliza Brooks Mitchell, and she in turn passed it on October 3, 1901, to Ailene Miller, seventh in line of direct descent from Anthony Sadowski. The story was in written form in May, 1966, when Mrs. Ailene Miller Williams presented it to me at her home in Champaign, Illinois. Some details from Jane Sandusky and Mrs. Taylor were added to the story.
It probably happened at the beginning of the Great Northern War in 1700 when Sweden invaded Polish territory on the Gulf of Riga. Brave, adventurous, loyal subjects of Poland, Anthony Sadowski and his brother quickly left home to take up arms in defense of their country.
Misfortune followed them. Somewhere in the invasion of Riga by the Swedish troops under Marshall Fleming in the spring of 1700, Anthony was captured by a "press gang" and his brother was killed in a surprise attack on their position. When Anthony refused to enter the service of a group of Swedish soldiers, he was brought before one or two Swedish officers for questioning. He refused to reveal the sites of Polish fortifications, how many men held them, and where the Polish supplies were kept. He guarded such vital information with his life.
To force him to talk, his captors put him upon a rack, an unusual looking wooden framework, tying his ankles to the bottom of the frame and his wrists to a wooden bar at the top. He was questioned again. At the same time the bar was turned in such a way that he felt his joints were being pulled apart. For two days he endured this torture. When he stubbornly refused to reveal any secrets, he was removed half dead to a prison ship in the Gulf of Riga.
On board ship he apparently pretended he was dead. He was left unguarded. His hands and feet, of course, were numb, but he could stare past his guards into the water and estimate the distance to shore. When the ship was nine miles from shore, he got a chance to take off his clothes, tie ten pounds of coin in a sack around his neck, and jump from the ship under the cover of darkness.
The moment he got into the water he was faced with stiffness. He was not sure he could swim to shore. But even as he struggled in the water, he knew he had only postponed the inevitable. The best he could hope for would be a quick death by drowning rather than the long, drawn out torture at the stake. His mouth must have twisted in an ironic grin. It might have been better after all if his captors had tortured him to death.
Instinctively, he swam as the water wet his body. A few minutes of swimming gradually restored the circulation to his arms and legs, which had been tightly bound for two days. He held on desperately as he narrowed the distance between him and shore. He floated whenever he needed to catch his breath, but each stroke took him closer to freedom and he forced himself on. Finally he reached land and limped away into the countryside, sore and bruised, but safe.
Evidently he did not go back home. He would have been shot or hung if recaptured. Some American branches of the family, together with the Sadowski in Poland who talked with Mrs. Taylor in 1919, created confusion by claiming that two brothers came to America. Jacob E. Sandusky; who wrote an account of the family in 1888, was aware of this confusion, and he specifically said that the progenitor of the American clan "was the only one of the name that ever came to America." Not until I met Joan Sandusky, a member of the branch that settled long ago near Danville, Illinois, was I able to clear up this confusion about the two brothers. In her family it was always said that one was killed in battle and the other came to America. Credit Mrs. Taylor, however, for learning that Anthony Sadowski left Poland, leaving family and possessions behind, at the time of the Swedish invasion.
Another puzzle is the question of where he spent two or more years prior
to his emigration to the New World. Everybody agrees that he came to this
country in the reign of Queen Anne of England (1702-1711) and landed at
New York, but no two branches of the family agree on the exact year and
whether anyone accompanied him or not. Did he make his way to Holland
and come with the Dutch to New York? Or to France and across the
Atlantic with some Huguenots? Or was he one of the immigrants brought
over from Scotland and England?
As pieces of information were added to the puzzle, the evidence confirmed a tradition that Anthony Sadowski, prior to his emigration to the American colonies, spent a few years in Scotland. The first records that refer to him in America tie him in with William Laing, a Scotch immigrant and a wealthy planter of Freehold, New Jersey. The first record is dated May 21, 1709, when Anthony Sadowski, William Laing, and Richard Clark were witnesses to the will of Benjamin Cook, another planter of Freehold. William Laing died about the same time, and when an inventory of his estate was filed in 1710, it showed that Anthony Sadowski owed him one pound and five shillings, but the debt was paid by the time the estate was settled in 1716. William Laing's brother was master of a school in Cannongate, Edinborough, Scotland, and his cousin was master of a school at Leith, Scotland. It is believed that Anthony Sadowski fell back on his linguistic skill to earn a living and taught a foreign language in one of the private schools in Scotland. But of this no one can be sure, except that the two schoolmasters from Scotland, both named Alex Laing, picked Anthony Sadowski to make a detailed account of William Laing's estate in 1710.
If one studies family records, however, one can find evidence that he was in America much earlier than 1709. His wife, Marya Bordt, or Mary Bird as it was Anglicized, came of Dutch forebears who were located at Mespath Kills (Newtown), Long Island, as early as 1682. According to records of the Raritan Dutch Reformed Church, she was still not married in 1704 when she was a witness to the baptism of her brother's child. The average age of girls who married then was 14 or 15 years. Presumably she was about that age when she married Anthony Sadowski, who was at least twice her age.
Their daughter, Justina, gave birth to a son, James Warren, named after
her husband, on May 3, 1722. If Justina was at least 16 years old at her
son's birth, she would have been born not later than 1706. Thus it is
reasonable to suppose that Anthony Sadowski and Mary Bird were married
between 1704 and 1706, and that he arrived at New Amsterdam, as New
York was then known, between 1702, the beginning of Queen Anne's reign,
and his marriage to Mary Bird.
Brief and incomplete as it is, this is the background of a Polish pioneer in America. In later life Anthony Sadowski made no speeches and wrote no memoirs reminiscing about his European experiences. His early descendants likewise recorded but little. They carried stories about him in the oral tradition for more than two centuries, and small details, unusual words or phrases like "nine miles from shore," "press-gang," "ten pounds in coin," "put upon the rack," and other things indicate that folklore, if used with facts and figures, can be a valuable tool in writing history. This account of his early life is necessarily a composite of many traditions.
Crossing the wide, deep Atlantic Ocean in the early part of the eighteenth century meant more than merely giving up charming castles and gilded uniforms for a rugged land of wild animals and still wilder Indians.
It had not been an easy matter for some aristocrats to leave the luxuries they had always enjoyed in Europe for the harsher life of America.
As his ship approached the Island of Manhattan, Anthony Sadowski, gazing out at the quaint, slant-roofed houses and a windmill or two in the low inland hills, thought anxiously of his decision to seek freedom in America. In Poland he would have been a prisoner of war. In America he was a trail blazer. Some friends probably asked him before he got on the sailing ship if he knew the practical obstacles he faced. He had to learn a new language. He had to practice new customs. He had to deal with more different groups of people than he ever did in the Old World.
To his amazement, he found, at the seaport where he landed, that a number of Poles had come there in the previous century and contributed to the growth of New Amsterdam. During the period that Peter Stuyvesant was governor of the Dutch colony, one of his aides was Daniel Litscho (Liczko), a Polish army officer from Koszalin, and Martin Krygier, another Pole, was a burgomaster. In 1659, five years before Stuyvesant ceded the Dutch colony to James, Duke of York, a Polish scholar, Dr. Alexander Curtius (Kurcyusz), arrived and founded in New Amsterdam one of the first institutions of higher learning in America. At the same time Albert Zabriskie, or Albridt Zaborowski as he signed his name, who left Poland because of religious unrest, took an interest in the land along the Passaic River in New Jersey and eventually owned more land than he could walk around in one day.
If Sadowski had met any of his countrymen and knew them any length of
time in New Amsterdam, the feeling of being part of America would have
come faster to him than it did to the common, run-of-the mill colonists in
the wilderness. Historical researchers, however, have found no proof of
this connection; some, in fact, are trying to locate records of a colony of
Polish Protestants in New Jersey, supposedly founded by Zabriskie at the
beginning of the eighteenth century, to see if Anthony Sadowski might
have been among them.
No doubt exists, though, that Anthony Sadowski fitted quickly into the ways of colonial New Jersey. Within a decade of his arrival he witnessed a will, prepared an inventory of a man's estate, and had a fair account with Captain John Bowne, an old established merchant at Matawan, a village on the south side of Raritan Bay, across from Staten Island. No man could have performed all these things unless he was held in high esteem and showed some intelligence, energy, honesty, and hospitality.
The first records of his presence in America show that he settled, at least for a while, in Monmouth County, New Jersey, probably Matawan, Freehold, or near one of those places. The area had been inhabited for the most part by Dutch settlers from New York and the western towns of Long Island principally between 1690 and 1720. As the names suggest, Sadowski associated with men who sedately raised families, cultivated the soil, held political offices, traded with Indians, and reverently attended church. While living among the Cooks, the Laings, the Bownes, the Lincolns, the Warrens, and other families, he decided to marry the daughter of a Dutch settler along the Raritan River. One of six children, his wife, Marya Bordt, who was born at Mespath Kills, Long Island, brought another strong pioneer into the Sadowski family.
The prospect of raising a family in New Jersey did not appeal to the newlyweds. Fields barely thirty years cleared of pine trees had not shown as much fertility as new farmers were finding in parts of Pennsylvania and New York. Just as the younger sons of the Dutch farmers of Long Island left their homesteads to make homes for themselves in New Jersey, Anthony Sadowski now led Mary, as Marya shortened her name, to Pennsylvania, which had been inaugurated by William Penn about thirty years before and had since then shown more religious freedom and self government than any other colony in America. Since Penn was a Quaker, many Quakers, persecuted in England, came to Pennsylvania, but for the most part they clustered in and near Philadelphia.
To make finer sites available to them, Penn offered land practically for nothing to Rev. Andrew Rudman, head of the Swedish settlers in Philadelphia since his arrival from Gestricia, Sweden, on June 24, 1697, in order to create a new Swedish settlement in a section of the province not already taken up or seated. The Swedish clergyman and his followers selected 10,550 acres of land along the Schuylkill River, site of the present village of Douglassville, and Penn sent David Powel to make the first survey for them on October 21, 1701. The canny Quaker leader expected that the Swedes, whose forebears had first settled on the banks of the Delaware six years before he was born in 1644, would leave Philadelphia and sell their attractive places to his followers. It took him, however, more than four years to issue sixteen patents, and by that time the ardor of some Swedes for a new settlement was gone.
The name of the settlement was subject to change at the whim of any man. Originally, it was Manatawny, named for the creek that ran from the rear of the tract into the Schuylkill at Pottstown. Marcus Hulings, who was of French-Swedish descent, corrupted it to Manathanim, and Rev. Samuel Hesselius, whom he obtained in 1720 to serve as the first rector of St. Gabriel's, twisted the name still further and gave it a Swedish ending "ten," thus making it Molatten. Two other ministers who held services in the rude log cabin, Muhlenberg and Murray, who were not familiar with the Swedish language, changed the next to last letter from "e" to "o". Sandwiched between them was another Swedish Lutheran, Rev. John Abraham Lidenius, and he was typical of people of the Swedish tongue who frequently change "l" to "rl" in their speech. Lidenius got mixed up and spelled the name Morlatten. After the congregation broke with the Swedish Lutheran tradition and became Episcopalian in the 1750's, wholesale changes were made in the village name. It was successively known as White Horse, Warrensburg, and Douglassville.
No sooner had the Swedes received their patents from the proprietor of Pennsylvania than they began to divide their grants and sell portions to land speculators and new immigrants. Among them was Anthony Sadowski. On January 21, 1712, he bought 400 acres of land along the river for thirty pounds from Thomas Andrews, a Philadelphia barber-surgeon who speculated in real estate, and Andrews in turn got it in 1706 from Mathias Holstein, a native Philadelphian of Swedish descent who did not care to join the pioneers in the wilderness.
There is no record of the route Anthony Sadowski took from New Jersey to
Pennsylvania. However, his descendant, Mrs Ailene Miller Williams, who
made an exhaustive study of all the material she could find on her noble
ancestor, produced this theory:
"My personal belief is that Antoni moved westward because he was naturally adventurous, restless, and daring, and could not be contented in the quiet backwaters of Freehold when the great, far-reaching rivers, forests, and mountains of unexplored Pennsylvania urgently called him. To a person of this type the call of an unexplored road is strong. And right thru Freehold went an Indian trace that led from New York to the settlements on the Delaware. That it was used at a very early date is proved, for in 1668 Peter Jagow, a famous Indian trader, obtained a grant to take up land at Mattinekunck, called from him 'Chygoc's Island,' and kept a house there for entertainment of travellers going to the Delaware settlements. Burlington grew up at that place, and the old Indian trace became 'the Burlington Path.' From Jagow's down the Delaware, travel was mostly by canoe.The land he bought must have seemed to him such as Moses promised the children of Israel. In every direction he could see an almost unlimited supply of oak, hickory, ash and maple trees. He was struck by the natural beauty of its surrounding hills, the majesty of the winding, narrow river, and the fertility of the soil, he found waters springing out of meadows and hills.
"We will not be far wrong if we imagine Antoni traveling, then, by the Burlington Path, with a pack horse or two, to Peter Jagow's Inn; and thence perhaps by canoe, while a servant takes the pack horses down streams, over a path, to Philadelphia, where he stays until he has located and bought the land he wants; and then by canoe again up the Schuylkill to his new home."
In 1712, forty years before Berks County was formed for the most part
from the upper sections of Philadelphia and Lancaster counties,
Manatawny, Molatten, Morlatton, or whatever name was in usage, looked
like an abandoned baby on the frontier line of Pennsylvania. Only a handful
of the original Swedish grantees were still around. Life in the area grew
more varied after Sadowski joined Mounce Jones, John Justice, Jonas
Yocum, Justice Justafson and other settlers on the Swedish tract.
Someone dubbed the poorly defined animal and Indian path which ran past
Sadowski's homestead the King's Highway. As he used it, he could see the
advance of settlement up the Schuylkill.
At least two children of the Swedish pioneers branched out and established homes in their midst. They were Magdalen Rudman the founder's eldest daughter, who married Andrew Robeson (1686-1740), and Magdalen Jones, whose father built the first st one house of the settlement in 1716, became the second wife of Marcus Hulings (1687-1757).
By 1718 Sadowski and some of his neighbors on the Swedish tract believed it was time for them to have their own township. They engaged George Boone, an English Quaker, who eventually became the grandfather of Daniel Boone, to survey the boundaries and prepare the application for a new township. They suggested the name Amity for the township because they enjoyed peaceful relations with neighboring Indians.
Soon afterwards the name was approved in the Court of Quarter Sessions at Philadelphia, the township was erected, and a constable and other necessary officers were appointed. However, no records were made of the proceedings. The inhabitants of the township, including Andrew Sadowski, the son of the Polish pioneer, signed another petition in 1744 to renew the act of incorporation.
Next after Amity Township was erected the settlers got a burial ground without asking for it. Andrew Robeson, a highly respected man of Scotch descent, having served as Justice of Peace for many years in Philadelphia County, came to visit his son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Robeson, and liked the solitude of their farm at Molatten so much that he picked a spot in the corner of a wheat field for his grave. When he died on February 19, 1719, at 66 years of age, his son buried the body on the east bank of the Schuylkill River and erected a tombstone over the grave. Today it is the oldest gravestone in Berks County. It says:
Removed from noise and careWithout being guilty of exaggeration a biographer of Anthony Sadowski could say that he took part in the most mysterious beginning of a church in America. If he was not present at the funeral of Judge Robeson, he knew about it because young Andrew Robeson and his wife donated the ground to the settlement for the burial of other bodies and the erection of a church. On March 27, 1720, Marcus Hulings, with whom Sadowski frequently conferred, and "other respectable inhabitants" were sent to Philadelphia for the purpose of finding a clergyman to erect a church and conduct services for their religious well being.
This silent spot I choose,
When death should end my year
To take a sweet repose.
Here in a peaceful place
My ashes must remain,
My Saviour shall me keep
And raise me up again.
Rev. Samuel Hesselius, assistant rector at Gloria Dei, a lovely small
Swedish Lutheran church on the banks of the Delaware in Philadelphia,
accepted their call, and shortly after organized the congregation known as
St. Gabriel's. For a year or more, in this tiny outpost of civilization, he
christened the newborn, comforted the bereaved, and said the final
prayers over the dead. Each member contributed his share to the salary of
the rector. Then Rev. Hesselius complained that his hearers were few and
unable to suppport him. He left Molatten, as he called the place, and went
to Wilmington, Delaware. St. Gabriel's was then without a regular
minister for twelve or thirteen years and without a church until some
members built a rude log cabin in 1736.
As members of the congregation died, they were buried near the spot that the elder Robeson selected for himself. No records were kept of the burials until Rev. Gabriel Falck came in 1735 and established an irregular system. It is important to bear this in mind because it seems to me that three children of Anthony and Mary Sadowski died during the period St. Gabriel's was without a rector and only one of them can be spotted in the burial ground by the process of association of tombstones.
The number of children the Polish-Dutch couple had is a question. According to the will that their daughter, Justina Warren, made on October 29, 1731, Justina gave her clothes to "three sisters." none of whom she named, her husband's new hat "to my brother Andrew," and "I give my brother Jacob a great coat."
In his will dated December 29, 1735, Anthony Sadowski mentioned only three children, namely, Andrew, Sofia, and Ann, who was married to Increase Miller, and two grandsons, John and James Warren, whose parents died in the fall of 1731 during a severe epidemic of small-pox. No record gives the name of the fourth sister. As none of the three known sisters bore their mother's Christian name, the elusive sister may or may not have been named Mary.
Whatever her name, what happened to her and Jacob Sadowski? According to Eliza Brooks Mitchell, fifth in line of descent from the progenitor of the clan, one son and one daughter died before Anthony did in 1736. She named two surviving daughters who married and left issue. Ann had 11 children, Andrew seven, Justina two, and the number that Sofia had is unknown.
Anthony's grandson, James Warren, remained in the locality all his life. Upon his death April 7, 1776, he was buried in the churchyard of St. Gabriel's, as was his widow, Hannah, on December 26, 1782.
From the positions of their tombstones it is possible to shed light on the
graves of James and Justina Warren, whose deaths were not recorded in
St. Gabriel's books, and Anthony Sadowski, whose death in Pennsylvania
was unknown to scholars until I discovered it. There are five graves, but
only two stones which are still readable, in a family plot. The remains of
three tombstones are left in the ground between the graves of James and
Hannah Warren. The names of the persons who were buried under them are
missing with the tops of the tombstones. However, the quality of the
stone in the remaining parts look the same as other tombstones put up in
the 1730's in the burial ground. Thus the assumption is that James and
Justina Warren are buried next to their first-born child and Anthony
Sadowski is buried next to Hannah Warren.
Before preceding further, however, it should be stated that the Sadowski Memorial Committee is appealing for funds to erect a fitting tombstone to Anthony Sadowski on this hallowed spot. If any reader is inclined to pay tribute to this illustrious Polish pioneer, please send your contribution to the committee at the address shown on the inside cover.
To tell, as far as practicable, how he lived, what he acquired in his lifetime, and how he disposed of his estate is like the task of an archaeologist who must piece together scattered fragments into the object they once formed. According to an inventory of his estate, Sadowski did not believe in luxury and display, but he believed in being well protected and well stocked with livestock. He left a personal estate valued at 565 pounds.
His plantation and 200 acres of land were valued at 200 pounds, and 300 other acres of land 150 pounds. The wheat and rye he had planted at the time of his death was worth thirteen pounds. He left some books, a watch, carpentry and farming tools, two guns, three pistols, four spinning wheels, and hundreds of household and farm items, typical of a well run frontier compound.
Larger than most of the farms around him, Anthony Sadowski used his farm as much as he could for livestock production. George Boone and Ellis Hugh, who made a detailed account of the property in Amity Township, listed the following livestock:
Another aspect of his household was the attention he paid to a Negro named Joseph and a small white boy named John Marshall. Under the law both were considered articles of personal property. The Negro was valued at 25 pounds and the servant lad ten pounds. Although not mentioned in the will, a servant woman worth four pounds was listed in the inventory. One and half pages were required to list his goods, chattels and credits.
To horned cattle £ 36. 00. 00 To other young cattle 8. 00. 00 To 3 working horses, a mare 12. 00. 00 To 1 horse and a 1-yr.old colt 8. 00. 00 To some mares in the woods 6. 00. 00 To 30 sheep and 18 lambs 10. 00. 00 To swine 2. 00. 00 ------------------- £ 82. 00. 00
For Anthony Sadowski practically half his life was involved in all kind of
experiences with the aborigines of the Middle Atlantic and the North
Central regions of America. Unlike Cortez and Pizarro, who were fierce
enemies of the Indians, Sadowski had nothing but friendly relations with
them. In no sense of the term was he an Indian fighter.
Not much is known about his first experiences with them. He met such Indians as Pelopee, Wequehalye, Pecsacohan, Gawakwehon, Shelahon, Lewis the Indian, and Pelowath at John Bowne's trading post at Matawan, New Jersey, and saw that, as far as Bowne was concerned, trading with them was no different than trading with Mordecai Lincoln, Benjamin Van Cleave, John Van Metre, John Warren and other white settlers. Bowne bought furs from the Indians, shipped them overseas, and received in turn the supplies needed by the colonists.
The trade with the Indians for peltries and furs probably fascinated Sadowski more than anything else in the colonies. As he bought more goods from Bowne than his family could possibly use, he probably stepped into this activity as soon as he could. In 1715, three years after he moved to Pennsylvania, his account with Bowne amounted to twenty pounds.
His property in Amity Township was conveniently situated in the
beginning to serve as a base of operations. Along the east bank of the
Schuylkill River ran an Indian trail, later an important artery of
transportation, which extended from Philadelphia to the Indian villages at
the forks of the Susquehanna. The upper reaches of the trail were
unexplored, and only Indians, a few traders, and wild animals dared to go
In those days a trip to the Indian country was an adventure. A traveler had to have courage, endurance and an iron constitution if he hoped to survive. Fortunately his escapade in the Gulf or Riga convinced Sadowski that he was physically fitted for the rigors of journeys into the wilderness. Within a short time he was transformed into a typical Indian trader.
As the Indian chiefs were treated well by William Penn and his successors, Sadowski was able to step into their villages with open arms. He learned the Delaware and Iroquois languages and had an intimate knowledge of Indian habits and customs. His family worried about the difficulties and dangers of these trading expeditions, but he always answered the remonstrances of his wife and children with going again. In the course of these long trips, he blazed new trails and expanded the American fur trade.
Never did his knowledge of these trails and Indians play a more important role than in May, 1728. Some Indians had just forced a number of white families out the Tulpehocken region, a short distance from his home, and created a reign of terror.
Sadowski quickly mounted his horse and galloped off in the direction of Shamokin (now Sunbury), an important Indian village at the forks of the Susquehanna, many miles away. He passed farmers in flight, cornfields and houses burning, panic-stricken women and children running along the trail. He had to deliver a message to the Indian chiefs at Shamokin and could not stop to help the victims.
Before he completed his mission a band of Conoy Indians descended upon Manatawny, as Sadowski and Mounce Jones called their settlement. The strange Indians were halted on May 9, 1728, and asked what they wanted. They refused to give any information. Then four white men killed one of the Indian men and two of their women.
Upon his return home Sadowski was surprised to find Governor Patrick Gordon at Manatawny. The provincial official had come up the river to investigate the skirmish between the Indians and the white settlers and to reassure both sides that "we are all brethren." He ordered twenty men to find the bodies of the three killed Indians and bury them, possibly in St. Gabriel's burial ground.
He also appointed John Pawling, Marcus Hulings, and Mordecai Lincoln, two of whom were Sadowski's close friends, to maintain peace in the neighborhood.
Then he returned to Philadelphia to prepare more peace moves. Sadowski accompanied him and the following day was sent with another message and gifts to the chiefs of the tribes in the disputed territory. Traveling by horses, Sadowski and another Indian interpreter, John Scull, and three assistants, covered more than 100 miles before they reached their first destination.
Within two weeks the party traveled to Shamokin, Tulpehocken, and Conestoga, and delivered messages and gifts to Allummapees, also known as Sasoonan, chief of an Indian tribe that formerly inhabited a place along the Schuylkill, Opekasset, chief of a small Delaware tribe, and Manawkyhickon, a chief of the Minsis. Governor Gordon wanted to meet the sachems at Conestoga, but they realized they did not have enough time to get together with him on May 24. Only two days remained. Nevertheless, the Indian chiefs were pleased with the Governor's soothing words.
Finally, it seems, Sadowski proposed that the two parties meet at Manatawny, and probably offered his home for the purpose, and the Indians put the proposal in their letter to Governor Gordon on May 22. As a result of the friendly contact between the two sides, peace was restored.
Sadowski, however, was disappointed that the provincial council waited two years to pay him seven pounds for two weeks instead of fifteen pounds for more than a month's service. It probably seemed to him that the council had not thought of what would have happened to William Penn's Holy Experiment if it let the Indians alone for two years.
As the Indians moved westward, Sadowski's knowledge of the Alleghenies was extended, and his trading expeditions lasted longer. He came to know the rivers which flowed not toward the Atlantic but toward the Mississippi. No doubt he saw in some places almost nothing of civilization, with practically no food except what he gained with his rifle and no shelter except the bottom of a wagon.
The farther west he traveled, the more resistance he met. The trading post at Shamokin was a mild place compared to the one he and two other traders, John Maddox and John Fisher, had on the Allegheny River, ten miles below the mouth of the Mahoning. It is better known as Kittanning.
In June, 1728, while Maddox was alone at the trading post, a band of drunken, impoverished Indians came in and demanded goods on credit. The shelves were full with 500 pounds of European goods. When Maddox refused to give them credit, they attacked him and forced him to give them one hundred pounds of goods. The goods included five shrowds, twenty shirts, and a half tick.
The traders could hardly afford the loss. It probably hurt Sadowski more than either Maddox or Fisher, for on July 31, 1730, he sold to George Andrews 100 acres of land in the rear of his tract in Amity Township for thirty pounds.
None of them, however, cleared the thieves from their debt. On August 8, 1730, they reminded Governor Gordon that the Indians still had not paid for the goods taken from their store. After writing to Allummapees and Opekasset two old and respected Delaware chiefs at Shamokin, and Mechauquatchugh, an Indian chief on the Allegheny River, the provincial governor dropped the matter.
No more did Sadowski weep over what he had lost. With redskins crossing the mountains in increasing numbers, he followed their trails down the Allegheny, Ohio, and other rivers and continued to trade with them.
Of all the traditions of the Sadowski family, the most widely known was that their ancestor established a trading post on the western shores of Lake Erie and that a large city, a county, a river and a bay in Ohio now bear his name. Little do they care how the name was changed to Sandusky.
Down through the years, as places in New York, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Texas adopted Sandusky as their name, the origin of the name did not receive the attention it deserved. In 1842, Jacob J. Greene, a resident of Tiffin, Ohio, situated on the Sandusky River, described the name as "more extensively known, perhaps, than any other one in the Union." With a name of such permanent importance, it is baffling that two entirely different versions of its origin still exist.
If Anthony Sadowski gave the Ohio landmarks his name, or even a corrupted form of it, the first thing to do is to find evidence of his connection with them. The year he was robbed, an Indian trader, John Le Tort, with whom Sadowski was well acquainted, planned to take goods and come back with furs from the Miamis who were settled at the west end of Lake Erie. Nothing stood in Sadowski's way. If Le Tort could do it, so could he. As a matter of fact, Madame Montour, who had a sister living among the Miamis, discouraged him from making the same trip as Le Tort planned right away.
As is well known and documented, Sadowski naturally followed the Indians, traded with them wherever he went. He traded with them on the Susquehanna. He traded with them again when they moved to the Allegheny Valley. If he followed the Mahoning, a stream ten miles from where he was robbed in 1728, he had only to cross over the highlands west to Sandusky River and down it to Sandusky Bay.
Greene summarized the family tradition in an article published in the first issue of the American Pioneer in 1842. As he put it, "a Polish trader by the name of Sandusky, or more properly spelt Saduski, established himself near the present site of Lower Sandusky, at the foot of the rapids of the river. His operations in trading for furs and so forth with the Indians, being entirely confined to the river and bay, they soon became known to Europeans as Sanduski's River and Bay." His statements were confirmed in a following issue by a letter from twin brothers, one signing his name "Isaac Sodousky" and the other "Jacob Sandusky."
The brothers mentioned a quarrel between Sadowski and the Indians which caused him to leave the trading post. It may or may not have resulted from the struggle between the French and the British for the trade of the Ohio drainage area. It was about the time that the French first began to stir up Indians against the British. Sadowski was caught in the middle and he was probably forced to take sides. Whatever the cause, he returned home and pledged his allegiance to the British throne in 1735.
Another interesting fact I have discovered is that his daughter, Ann, who married Increase Miller about 1733 and moved to Bedford, New York, was not living at home when Sadowski went to the present site of Sandusky, Ohio, because she never mentioned it to her children and descendants. Her direct descendant, Mrs. Ailene Williams, first learned about the family tradition when she read Theodore Roosevelt's book, Winning the West, which stated, without citing any supporting evidence, that Sandusky was of Indian origin. She compared it with other family traditions, studied them carefully, and made many careful observations about the Sadowski family.
"The more I have worked at untangling truth from error in family traditions," she wrote, "the more I became convinced of the following: (a) there is more truth than error in most of them; (b) when minute details are carried down from mouth to mouth for several generations, it is usually because they really were true; (c) the vaguer the tradition, the less reliable it is; (d) the less likely an individual fact is, the greater the chance that its unlikelihood is what impressed it upon the memories of the narrators; (e) it is very common for succeeding generations to increase the closeness of their relationship to famous people; (f) there is a common tendency to drop out some generations entirely; and (g) where two or more generations have the same given name they often become one person in the traditions of their descendants."Another observation is the number of descendants who said that Andrew Sadowski, who was killed by Indians in Virginia, was one of the first traders on the shores of Lake Erie. Some historians, in fact, think this is an error, but it is not necessarily so. Whether they knew Andrew was Anthony's son or not, Andrew Sadowski was old enough in the 1730's to go with his father as loader, taking the place of Sam Cousins, John Phillips, William Davis, or some other helper that was no longer in his employ. All that came to an end when Anthony Sadowski died in 1736.
"Why should they ?" asked Mrs. Williams. "After Antoni pioneered there
and died, Andrew went down into Virginia; a sister removed to New York
State; Andrew's sons migrated to Kentucky. I have examined family bibles,
deeds, newspaper obituaries, etc. from widely separated branches of the
family, and was greatly interested to note how, from generation to
generation, there was a gradual change from Sadowski to Sodowsky, then
to Sodowsky, then to Sadowsky, then Sadusky, and finally Sandusky. It
seems to me to be a perfectly natural Anglicization of a foreign name.
Names are greatly influenced by the way neighbors write and pronounce
them. Of course most of the records available to us are not written by the
owners of the names, but by clerks, recorders, etc., so they are not of
great value in tracing the changes.
"If the clerk was English, it seems to me that "sand" and "dusky" would be more natural English syllables to write instead of "Zad," "Sad," and "dowsky," either if he did not quite catch the name or were unfamiliar with it, whether oral or written.
"In the case of the branch of the family that came at an early date from Kentucky to Illinois, I have been permitted to look at family records, deeds, and early newspaper obituaries, and was interested to observe how the successive generations changed the spelling from Sodowsky through Sadowsky and Sadusky to Sandusky. Therefore, I restate my conclusion that both the name of the family, in its various branches, and of the Ohio region, from pioneer trading post to river, bay, and towns, all changed quite naturally and gradually from the original Polish Sadowski to its most natural Anglicization, Sandusky."
In the name of God Amen, The Twenty ninth of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred thirty five, I, Antony Sadowski of Amity in the County of Philadelphia and province of Pensilvania, yeoman, being very weak in body but of perfect minde and memory and knowing that it is appointed for all men a time to die, doe make and ordain this My Last Will and Testament, that is to say, principally and first of all, I give and recomend my soul to God that gave it and for my body I recomend it to the earth to be buried in a Christian like and decent maner at the designation of my Exe'trs, nothing doubting but att the Generall ressurection I shall receve the same again by the mighty power of God. As touching such wordly estate wherewith it pleased God to bless me in this life I give and dispose of the same in the following manner and form:
Imprise -- I doe give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Mary Sadowsky all my Tenaments and Liveings which is two hundred acres of land fronting upon Skullkill dureing her widowhood and in case the said widdow alters her condition, then she shall only have what the law directs to widdows and if she remains a widdow then she must enjoy and posses the said estate during her life and after her decease then my well beloved son Andrew Sadowsky shall injoy and posses the said estate with all the improvements and four horses, two cows, ten sheep with all the utensils upon the said plantation and the negro man called Joseph and the white boy called John Marchell until he comes to age paying such legacies as I shall appoint.
Item -- To my daughter Soffia Sadowsky I give two cows, one mair, ten sheep and best feather bed with all the furniture belonging to the said bed and all things in proportion that my daughter Ann Sadowsky gott when she was maried to Increase Miller.
Item -- I order and apoint that there shall be sold three hundred acres of land of the rear of said front in order to pay my just debts and whatever money remains after paying the said debts shall be equally devided between my two daughters, Ann and Soffia, and if the said land be sold before my decease then the said daughters shall have only forty pounds if in case there will be so much after paying my debts. And I doe appoint that after my wife's decease that all the stock and moveables shall be equally devided between the said two daughters.
Item -- That the negro man named Joseph shall have twenty five shillings yearly during his servetude if in case he proves to be good and is all one and twenty years of age. After which age he is to have the said money paid yearly.
Item -- John Marchel shall have two pounds in money and an ax and a grobing hoe when of age and the said money is to paid by him that posses the said two hundred acres of land.
Item -- If in case my son Andrew Sadowsky should die without lawfull heirs that then the said estate shall be equally devided or sold and the one halfe of the said estate or money shall be possesed by my daughter Ann's children and the other halfe to be possesed by my daughter Soffia or her heirs and if in case the said land be possesed by my two daughters that the shall pay to my two gransons James Warren and John Warren twenty pounds to each when of age.
Item -- If the said Andrew shall live and have heirs to posses the said land
he shall pay to the said James and John Warren five pound to each or when
they come to age.
Item -- I constitute, appoint and ordain my well beloved wife Mary Sadowsky jointly with Marcus Hullings and Walter Camble of Amity Township whole and sole exec'trs of this My Last Will and Testament with full power to pay all my just debts and demand the same according to law. I doe hereby revoke and disannull all former wills, legacies, pronouncing and confirming this to my Last Will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.
/s/ Antoni Sadowski
In presence of us
/s/ Henry Gib son /s/ Henry Gibson
/s/ Andrew Caldwell
Philada June 17, 1736. Then personally appear'd Henry Gibson, one of the
witnesses to the foregoing will (Andrew Caldwell, the other witness,
being removed to distant parts) and upon his oath did declare he saw &
heard Anthony Sadowski, the testator above named, sign, seal, publish and
declare the same will to be this Last Will & Testament and that at the
doing thereof he was of sound mind and memory & understanding to the
best of his knowledge & that Andrew Caldwell, the other subscribing
witness to ye will did subscribe his name as witness thereto in the
presence of this deponent and the sd Testator.
/s/ Pet. Evans, Reg. Gen.
The will of Anthony Sadowski is a remarkable legal document. His attempt to foresee possible family changes gave him just cause and concern as to the equitable distribution of his estate. His concern over two male servants, a Negro and a white man, also reveals a man well ahead of his time.
My concern is specifically with the handwriting of the will. In retouching
the faded characters for suitable reproduction, I became fascinated by the
script and noticed upon close study of its structure that it was an
excellent specimen of penmanship in colonial America. It can be said that
American penmanship of the time was sturdy, readable and less given to
frills than those of English writing masters.
The scrivener of Sadowski's will starts off with a fresh and clean hand, but by the time he reaches the second page he is plainly tired and finishes the document in a somewhat hurried style.
Sadowski signed his first name 'Antoni' as he did in Poland in a true old Polish maimer. The 'i' ending of Sadowski is also in the manner of the old Polish script which very often resembles a 'y'. Actually old Polish names ended in 'ij' and in the final flourish this often looked like a 'y'. Sadowski, however, ended his name with an 'i' with a somewhat extended down stroke. The last name is clearly spelled 'Sadowski' in the notarized portion of the will on the bottom of the second page.
Of interest, too, are the signatures of the witnesses. Many colonists wrote often with a heavy and labored hand. Such was the case with Henry Gibson, who apparently ran into trouble by having his quill blot the last part of his name. He skipped the blot and wrote, away off, 'son.' On second thought he signed his name again without further mishap.
It is also apparent that Peter Evans, Register General for the Probate of Wills in the Province of Pennsylvania, considered himself a better penman than the one who prepared the will and just to prove it signed his name and an abbreviation of his title with over eighteen flourishes!