Każmierz Czarnecki: Travel Agent, Insurance Sales, Realtor
Many immigrants into Toledo took the route of self-employment or owning their own shops–groceries, dress shops, tailoring, etc. Każmierz Czarnecki did just that–he was a self-employed businessman with several interests. He arrived in the US as a young man of about 26 in 1879 and married Mary Anielak at St. Hedwig’s Parish in 1880. The would go on to have eight children, including Dr. Casimir Czarnecki, their youngest child.
Każmierz ran a business that was targeted at Poles that provided not only travel services but groceries, insurance, real estate, and liquor. The business seemed to have been started about 1890. Ameryka published a portrait of Każmierz on 24 October 1890 along with the portraits of Fr. Nicodemus Kolsanski, Fr. Simon Wieczorek, Antoni Kujawa, and Frank Zielinski with the title of “Priests and Industrialist Poles in Toledo.”
Many of our ancestors did go back to their homelands, to visit family or friends at least once. Some did return permanently. In small part, businesses like Każmierz’s is one reason immigration did grow quickly during the 1890s and early 1900s. Local businesses in the United States catered to ethnic groups to assist them to either travel home or to assist local families to to obtain passage to the United States for other family members. An immigrant landed here early on, learned the ropes on how to come to the United States, and they communicated how to do that back home via their customers.
Kazimierz advertised through the Ameryka or Ameryka Echo to gain his customers. On 16 May 1891, a small clip was published in Ameryka:
38 Polish families came to Toledo on Friday from the ship Dresden. Almost everyone traveled using cards bought from Mr. Czarnecki by their relatives.
A larger ad dated 21 March 1891 read:
Best Opportunity for Poles in Toledo
Każmierz Czarnecki sells ship cards for all the best and safest ship lines. These make a safe journey for those who want to escape the military. From all European ports to all places in America. Tickets will go straight to your destination without stopping. Wikt is the best and most convenient. Polish translators accompany travelers. I notify relatives or friends in time of the arrival of travelers.
Money. I will send the smallest and largest amounts of money to Europe and exchange all American currencies or other currencies. Before you go to another service, send me a message. You don’t need to waste your money on translators, because you can speak Polish.
I am an authorized agent to protect real estate and homes from fire, using the better companies.
Homes and land/lots. The richest and most responsible people in Toledo have entrusted me with selling their homes. I have sold a lot in Polish neighborhoods.
My market/grocery is clean and prices are very low. I have the best beer, liquors, and cigars. I have the best groceries.
Office hours: in morning from 7am to 10 am and in afternoons from 2 pm to 8 pm.
Respectfully, Każmierz Czarnecki
1157-1159 Nebraska, corner of Hoag.
He continued to run the larger ads, such as the one below dated 1 August 1891 for the next few years. This advertised him as a “Polish Agent.” Loosely translated, the ad reads:
Whoever wants to visit his old homeland, or bring his relatives or friends from Europe to America, should go to an agent.
Mr. K. Czarnecki is, as everyone knows, a good Pole, a long-time American citizen, and known to all Poles in Toledo, O., for his diligence. Here you can get a ship’s pass for the wonderful new iron postal steamers that go from Europe to America in only 6 days and with over 1,600,000 passengers. This is the Hamburg-American Line.
The another line is the Baltycka. It is the line for. Poznan, Szlazek, Galicia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia. You can go on it from Szczecin to New York. It is characterized by lower prices.
The Union Line is direct without transfer from Europe to America.
A fourth line is the Hamburg-Baltimore. Straight from Europe to Baltimore. The cheapest prices and the best food.
Now there is a better opportunity for young people aged 18-24 wishing to visit their friends or relatives in America. For them, the best is a German shipping line, which can be landed in Antwerp and landed in Montreal, Canada, where you then can travel to Detroit, Mich. Nobody searches at the border there, and its path is the cheapest and safest line. So give me your name and the place you wish to stay in the old country of a friend or relative, and also on which line do you want to go and where you want to get off. Write him a letter, including a 2 cent stamp for the reply, and you will get a reply immediately. You can write to me in Polish, Czech, English and German. Send money straight to the recipient’s home
K. Czarnecki, Agent.
Smart man, Każmierz must have been. Noting the easiest places to cross the American border and to market to the 18 to 24 age group. The American economy was strong in the early 1890s and young people who came here generally did not have much difficulty in finding employment. Young Polish males often delayed marriage until their mid- to late-20s, sometimes 30. The young were encouraged to travel, and for a few years, they had a perfect opportunity while they were earning money and had a bit of freedom. A financial panic would follow in 1893 when the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and the National Cordage Company failed, causing a stock market crash, and an economic panic with skyrocketing unemployment. It appears as the financial crisis in the United States spread in 1893, Każmierz’s business may have ended or slowed down. One of the last ads I could locate was one that made it clear he believed he was the first Polish agency in Toledo, founded in 1880. This ad was run on 8 July 1893.
The first Polish Agency, founded in 1880, is located at 1202 Vance Street, Toledo, O.
I sell boarding passes and train tickets from all European and American cities for journeys from Europe or from America. I am an agent of the best postal lines. The ships I represent are built in of the finest steel and comfortably carried three and a half million passengers.
From Europe to New York on a quick ship of $ 30, $ 32, $ 25
Antwerp to America, to Baltimore, $ 27.50
From Szczecin to New York $ 27.50
From New York to Europe $ 26, $ 23, $ 22, $ 21
Baltimore to Europe to Prussia $ 22.50
Tickets to Africa and Asia $ 31
Obtain a ticket for a perfect and comfortable travel time. There is no need to change trains. Do not listen to those who tell you that they are the only agents, come to me.
Near St. Anthony’s Church, I have lots (40X200 feet) to sell at $500, $450 and $325, at 6 percent per 100, do not delay buying, because prices will go up. I prepare legal documents, deal with various court cases with foreign consulates, I prepare documents and abstracts about real estates.
By 1900, it seems as if Każmierz moved on to other endeavors. The 1900 census lists him as a saloon proprietor The 1893 financial crisis was severe: many banks were closing and businesses and manufacturers were not able to operate because they had no cash to pay workers or to buy raw materials. In some areas of Ohio, unemployment rates reached 50% and the government refused to intervene to help workers, even with a march on Washington by Jacob Coxey, an Ohio businessman. Many in Toledo’s Polish community likely would not have been able to purchase tickets for travel or to purchase home lots from him. This depression did not ease until 1897.
Każmierz died on 26 March 1929 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.