The other Polonia. Polish rural settlements in central and northern Wisconsin, 1850-1920

Dariusz Aleksander Ciemniewski, Marquette University


This dissertation studies the emergence of Polish rural settlements in Wisconsin between 1850 and 1920 by examining selected patterns of Polish immigration and settlement, individuals, and groups involved in placing Poles on Wisconsin land. The time frame reflects the most crucial period in the inception and development of all discernable Polish rural settlements in Wisconsin. This study begins with the examination of push and pull factors that brought Poles to Wisconsin. In subsequent chapters, settlements are studied chronologically within their respective geographic locations on the agricultural map of Wisconsin. To facilitate the understanding of the complex interplay of time and locations, a line has been drawn across the central section of the state to demarcate the cut-over land of northern Wisconsin. Consequently, the dissertation is divided into two parts. In Part I, the study focuses on the settlements south of the cut-over. Part II introduces the concept of the cut-over land and its significance to Wisconsin and to Polish settlements. Then, it examines one religiously motivated settlement and another that resulted from a buy-out of a lumber operation. Communities that emerged from the efforts of Polish colonization agents are the subject of the subsequent chapter, and four have been selected to represent the multitude of small and big land agents and speculators. The following chapter is devoted to the efforts of J. J. Hof, who founded Polish settlements in northeastern Wisconsin. Subsequently, efforts of other non-Polish agents are examined by sampling four enterprises and entrepreneurs that represent various approaches, strategies, locations, and time frames. This chapter is followed by Conclusions and Selected Bibliography. This dissertation helps to build a more complete understanding of the Polish experience in the social history of Wisconsin and the United States. Moreover, it contributes to the general study of the immigrant presence in rural America, a field of historical research that has been laying fallow until recently. Consequently, this work provides a foundation for a laboratory of further studies of immigrant influx into rural America.

Recommended Citation

Ciemniewski, Dariusz Aleksander, "The other Polonia. Polish rural settlements in central and northern Wisconsin, 1850-1920" (1999). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9929152.