The origin of Zygmunt Gnatowski

from "Die Gnatowskis. Die Geschichte einer masowischen Familie" by Alfred von der Lehr
ISBN-Nr: 3-00-005311-5


Unfortunately from Mrs Jablonska we learn no details about the relationship of Zygmunt and Jan Gnatowski. Neither the already quoted Nobility Books (compare segment 2.1. and 2.2.) are explicit about the origin of Zygmunt Gnatowski as there are a variety of family trees.

From the text of "Rocznik Towarzystwa Heraldycznego we Lwowie" (Yearly of the Heraldic Association in Lwow") (section 2.2) we have following family tree:


This family tree gives only a possible graphic of Zygmunt Gnatowski's origin. To what extent it is complete, we don't know. In two points it's wrong: first, the father of Zygmunt and Pawel was not Josef, but Henryk and, second, the brother and prelate Jan Gnatowski is missing in this picture.

Another riddle gives Mrs. Jablonska herself: when Zygmunt Gnatowski, because of his illness, quickly left for home and died shortly after, Pawel wrote a Telegram to his close friends in Zakopane. In one place in her book Mrs. Jablonska writes that the telegram was sent not on the 7th, but already one day earlier and here she speaks of a Pawel (Paul) Gnatowski, a cousin of Zygmunt Gnatowski, who reported the death of Zygmunt on June, 6th, 1906.

Pawel was a cousin of Prelate Jan Gnatowski - reports Mrs. Jablonska 1). According to the above family tree Paul was rather brother of Zygmunt.

Adam Boniecki also writes in his "Herbarz Polski" (Polish Heraldry) (compare section 2.1) that Henryk had sons Zygmunt, Paul and Stanislaw and Henryk was the son of Paul. Concerning Jan Gnatowski Boniecki reports only shortly: "To this family belongs priest and later Prelate Jan Gnatowski, who used to work as a secretary of the Pope's Nuntius in Munich."

This results in a more appropriate origin of this family tree:


Pawel and Stanislaw are, because of the uncertain source of information, marked only with dotted arrows.

One can hope that with the Koliba house not only the memory of this interesting epoch of Polish history of arts will be secured, but also of this man, who, in giving Witkiewicz his order, created these possibilities and has thus secured his place in the history.

Zygmunt Gnatowski as builder of the Koliba-House

from "Die Gnatowskis. Die Geschichte einer masowischen Familie" by Alfred von der Lehr
ISBN-Nr: 3-00-005311-5


As already mentioned, we know little of Zygmunt Gnatowski's life. He is known mostly as the builder of the Koliba house. It's as if he became part of the history just through the construction of this house. Even his birth year 1854 is uncertain because in all the documents there is always a question mark behind it. He was however owner of the property of Jakimowka, before it became his brother Pawel's.

While Pawel remained however in the Ukraine and after Zygmunt's death his energy was put into the development of the family estate Jakimowka - perhaps already before Zygmunt's death he was its manager - Zygmunt's heart became more and more attached to his "summer residence" in the Tatra.

In the end the originally planned summer hut became a regular summer residence. Really, Zygmunt has evolved into a patron of the whole area, he invested not only in his own property, but has also sent peasant's sons to school so they could learn different manual skills and thus could contribute to the development of the community.

Documents concerning these different aspects of Zygmunt Gnatowski's life can still be found at the archive in Zakopane, which we show here with friendly permission of the institute administration.1)

In the documents, it simply reads: "Information about the childhood, teen-years and education of Gnatowski is lacking. The oldest source of information available about him are personally by Walery Eliasz made notices on the edge of a "New illustrated Guide of Tatra and the Pieniny Mountains", made probably during their tours in the Tatra. On the basis of these notes it is assumed that Gnatowski visited Zakopane in the year 1883 for the first time and participated in a six-day trip, organized by Tytus Chalubinski into the Tatra. In the trip also the legendary Sabala participated."

Therefore Zygmunt Gnatowski rather coincidentally discovered Zakopane, when he participated in a kind of study trip. Further the notes say: "Further sojourns followed in the years 1885, 1886, 1887. It is also known that in the nineties he visited Zakopane every year, mostly to improve his health and as time went by, so to Gnatowski's fascination for the Tatra mountains, the highland population and their culture - a source for his collector's passion and increasing engagement in the regional concerns."

Soon the Ukrainian landowner felt the healthy power coming from the mountains, their climate and the people. He seems to have felt very much at home in this land and between those people. However, Zakopane was still a place of "summer freshness", which he visited from time to time.

"In June 1889 he became a regular member of the Tatra-museum-society and that's probably the moment when he started amassing his collection and planning his summer house. Fate decided it when in June 1890 Stanislaw Witkiewicz and his family established themselves permanently in Zakopane.

One year later began his employment for the preservation of the Zakopane style. The exact circumstances, which made Gnatowski abandon his plans of building a peasant's house in favour of the house in Zakopane style, are not known. Through this decision he became the first patron of Witkiewicz's idea and till the end of his days its greatest follower."

By chance two related spirits met here and Witkiewicz had no difficulty inspiring Zygmunt Gnatowski with enthusiasm for his ideas: "'Koliba' - the first house in "the Zakopane-style" - was built and furnished in the years 1892 - 94."

See Koliba House Photos - First and second building phase

The house seems to have immediately become a great success. "In Gnatowski's lifetime many famous personalities have visited this house: among others Henryk Rodakowski, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Tadeusz Stryjenski, Jozef Chelmonski, Helena Modrzejewska, Adam Chmielowski and Jan Kasprowicz". Aside of the literary Nobel Prize winner Henryk Sienkiewicz (a. o. Quo Vadis) they were known Polish artists: Henryk Rodakowski was an artist and one of the most famous portrait painters, Tadeusz Stryjenski was an architect, a. o. in 1874 -1877 the state architect in Lima. As one of the first, he used ferroconcrete. Jozef Chelmonski was also an artist and as such an exponent of Realism, Helena Modrzejewska was an actress and counted at her time as one of the best Polish tragic actresses and was known worldwide. Adam Chmielowski was a painter, friar and participant of the January uprising, Jan Kasprowicz was a poet.

Zygmunt caught fire: "Gnatowski is known as founder of one more important implementation of the Zakopane-style, the John the Baptist Chapel constructed according to Witkiewicz's concepts in the new church in Zakopane. He has also designed furniture of this style and a series of small items for the "Koliba house" and even a barn shed with a parlour, unfortunately not preserved, next to the Koliba house."

Zygmunt Gnatowski must have invested great amounts of money here, he became not only a patron in of the architecture, but he also became benefactor for the community and its economy and social development. "Behind all Gnatowski's activities there was always social consideration in the background," continues the report. "As initiator of many campaigns in Zakopane, he has, for example, in 1900, paid for furrier apprenticeship of Stanislaw Batka and Stanislaw Roj, the objective of which was to make this branch of industry more popular in Zakopane. In June 1900 he was chosen Head of the Committee for the construction of Dr. Tytus Chalubinski monument and thanks to his efforts the uncovering of the monument was on August 15th 1901. Gnatowski was also head member of the Association for the Adornment of Zakopane and co-worker of the Association Friends of Zakopane, which met, among others, in the Koliba house. During that time Zakopane must have developed, thanks to the tireless work of Zygmunt Gnatowski, into a place we today call, according to American mountain holiday villages, resorts. A mostly wealthy upper class has created a recreation resort with alpine-style charm and comfort.

Fine handicraft in the local style met the taste of these clients and, at the same time, made showing the fortune possible. This art of "development" was still far away from the "mass tourism" of today and thus could the "Gorale", the local highland peasants, keep their identity and dignity.

Zygmunt Gnatowski found this place, these people and his life in the unspoiled mountain land more and more likable. This could be a result of the surroundings, the climate and also of the task he undertook. Anyway Zygmunt considered staying permanently in the home of his choice: "Gnatowski, still Russian subject, took arrangements in 1901 to receive Austrian citizenship. Most likely because of his worsening state of health he intended to always establish himself in Zakopane for which he also received the permission of the local council.

The "Zakopane-Show" of 7 March 1901 reported: "Zygmunt Gnatowski's application to become citizen of the municipality Zakopane, needed to receive Austrian citizenship, deserves special interest. Kulig, member of the municipality council declares, considering the merits of Gnatowski, his approval "with open arms". He also suggests that the taxes should not be mentioned in the answer to the application (according to the law the municipality council is authorised to charge 1000 crones for the registration as a citizen) and that the answer - delegation of 6 members of the municipality council - should be announced to Mr. Gnatowski. Mr Pawlica suggests accepting this resolution without discussion, which is supported by director Walczak and the priest. The consent is accepted unanimously and the priest suggests that only Gorale should be members of the delegation: Jacina, Maciej Gasiennica, W. Roj, Slimak, Sobczak and Jan Krzeptowski.2)" This procedure reminds a little of the relocation of prominent and wealthy citizens of Swiss Cantons.

Anyway, Zygmunt continues investing all his power into this village: "In the years 1904 - 1906, Gnatowski held the office of the chairman of the Tatra-museum-society and manages the renovation work on in the Museum building: "... Although ill and without necessary power for these exertions, he came along very well with the workers, he supervised their work and in finally sorted himself the ethnographic collection. In addition, he passionately recruited and won, during a stay in its homeland, a considerable crowd of new members in this affair, thus helping to reinforce the association's modest account..."

Zygmunt's state of health got worse: "Gnatowski's health got obviously worse in 1905. He travelled to his homeland, Jakimowka. In May 1906, following letter reached the Museum:

"Dear and much valued Sir,

As I'm not writing myself, and only dictating these few words, you will have no problem guessing that the state of my health is not very good.

After half a year of bed confinement in Kiev - the doctors are planned on sending me to Montreux into Switzerland in the spring, but after a discussion with doctor Kruszynski, who visited me in Kiev, agreed that my actual condition would not allow making such a long journey - opted for Slawuty, where I am now - I take the opportunity to enclose 64 rubles, which I collected as contributions for the museum from persons specified below."

And further a memo:

"My brother dictated this letter during my absence, but to sign it could not do it no more, he could not sign it because his condition got worse so that there is little chance for him and I don't know if he will live long enough to see tomorrow.

This I wanted to communicate to you.

With my best regards to you,

Pawel Gnatowski."

Zygmunt Gnatowski died on 6 June 1906 in Jakimowka. His last will contained a generous entry for the benefit of the Tatra-museum-society, covering a priceless ethnographic collection, a library with precious archival files and a photo collection, as well as 10,000 crowns as a fund for the construction of a brick building for the Museum. 3)"

So far the report, which is in the documents of the museum. Pawel Gnatowski also sent a telegram advising the Gorale of the death of their patron and sponsor:


"Zygmunt died, Funeral Jakimowka, Monday, Please inform Jarniczkiewicz, Osiecimska and other sympathisers - Pawel Gnatowski"4)

As we know, the Zakopane-style hasn't spread all around Poland and even the fondness in Zakopane itself seems to have gradually faded.

Zygmunt's death marks the beginning of a long decline for the Koliba house and the Museum, which could only be stopped just a short time ago. Today the house is restored and offers a very good insight into Zygmunt Gnatowski's taste and into the past of Zakopane.

1) Archivals: Gnatowskis notes at the edge and on the back of the designs in "The new Illustrated guide of the Tatra and Pieniny Mountains", author Walery Eliasz, from the year 1881; Documents of the Tatra-Museum from the years 1888 - 1912; The minutes book of the Tatra-museum.

2) See also: Jablonska, page 76

3) See. Jablonska, page 81

4) Aus Slawuta an Kronhelm/Skoczyska, Telegramm (Nr. 223). Vgl. auch: Jablonska, page. 81.

Zygmunt and Prelate Jan Gnatowski

from "Die Gnatowskis. Die Geschichte einer masowischen Familie" by Alfred von der Lehr
ISBN-Nr: 3-00-005311-5


While Pawel Gnatowski took care of Jakimowka through Zygmunt's absences and later after his death, it seems that he has never visited Zakopane or the documents confirming his visit there have not been kept. But next to Zygmunt Gnatowski appears another member of the Gnatowski family, one we already know: the Prelate Jan Gnatowski.

He has not only inaugurated the Koliba house at the end of July 1894, but at the same time performed the marriage ceremony of his niece Janina Lewandowski and Antoni Helzel: "After a solemn mass and blessing of the house, the young married couple was blessed with cordial words by the bride's uncle Jan Gnatowski1)."

Jan Gnatowski didn't just coincidentally bless the Koliba house, but was without doubt a close relative of Zygmunt Gnatowski, the building owner. And as he is talked about as the bride's uncle, the mother of the bride must have been his sister, otherwise the bride's name would have been Gnatowski, too.

The procedure is being reported further on: "On Mr. Lewandowski's initiative, to remember this event, the families Lewandowski, Gnatowski and Helzel have sponsored an altar at the Church of the Holy Jan in Zakopane. The church, the altar and Koliba have all been built in the same Zakopane style2)."

Thus the church in Zakopane became almost a family church, because Zygmunt has not only supported the construction of the church, now the church received also an altar to remember this marriage. Later, in the year 1900, Jan Gnatowski has also blessed the chapel, which Zygmunt had had constructed inside the church. There are no more details in Jablonska's reports or in the Museum's archives3).

An interesting letter from prelate Kaszelewski has been kept, in which he forwards Jan Gnatowski's request for a leave to visit his brother (!) in Zakopane during Christmas:

Kaszelewski_m "To the dignified, royal bishop's consistory in Cracov!

Last year the religion teacher from gymnasium in Lvov (Lemberg), prelate Jan Gnatowski has been allowed to perform a Christmas Mass at the house of his ill brother Zygmunt Gnatowski in Zakopane. As he plans to visit his brother during next Christmas vacation, he asked the signer of this letter, if it would be possible to provide permission like the one last year. The signer of this letter takes the liberty to forward this request to gracious consideration, while being free to mention that Zygmunt Gnatowski has had a bad peritonitis a short while ago and, as a result of it, is not able to visit the church. This Christmas Mass, held by his brother, would be a great solace for the patient. He has received the Holy Sacrament several times during his illness and a few years ago he has contributed the money to build a chapel in the church, which proves that he is a religious man.


Zakopane, 15 December 1902
Signature: K. Kraszelewski, priest"4)


According to that, Jan and Zygmunt Gnatowski were brothers! We know that Jan Gnatowski was born in Skarzynowka (see "Prelate Jan Gnatowski"). In the ""Słownik Geograficznz Krolestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowianskich (Geographical Dictionary for the Kingdom Poland and other Slavic Countries)" there is an mention of this place:


"Skarzynowka, by mistake also called Skarzenowka, a village at the banks of river Kublicz, a tributary of Sob, district Hajsyn, Police department Teplik, municipality Krasnopolka; catholic community and court in Granow (20 werst away, 27 werst to Jajsynow, 100 werst to Balty, includes 81 settlements, 754 inhabitants, 609 dessjatine farmland, 650 dessjatine estate land and 34 dessjatine owned by the orthodox church5).

The orthodox St. Michael's Church, built 1784, community counts 989 persons. There is a distillery, founded 1850 and employing 13 people, in 1886/7 1,013,370 st.6) have been produced here, two watermills, black soil, Skarzynowka belonged to families Czartoryski, Opacki and now Gnatowski7)"


Possibly Zygmunt Gnatowski was born here. By the way worth mentioning is the notice that in Skarzynowka as well as in Jakimowka there has been a distillery. A considerable part of the wealth of this branch of Gnatowski family should be due to alcohol production, as even on the assumption that the contraction st. stands for just a little more than one litre, we are talking about a year's production of considerably more than one million litres of spirit! It must have probably been Vodka.

As Jan Gnatowski opted for a religious office and Jakimowka belonged to Zygmunt, the question is: who was the owner of Skarzynowka (CONNECTION FOUND: see notes for January Boleslaw Gnatowski - owner of Skarzynowka)? Possibly it also belonged to Zygmunt or maybe to another brother of member of the family. This gets us to the question of the origin of Zygmunt Gnatowski.

1) Jablonska, page 52

2) Jablonska, page 52

3) Jablonska, page 112

4) Source: XXXII The request of the Prelate K. Kaszelewski to receive permission to celebrate a mass at the house of family Gnatowski, APZ I Cracovia, L 553.

5) Translator's notice: Dessjatine - old Russian measure of area ~ 1.025 hectare.

6) Translator's notice: this contraction could mean "sztof" = 1.229 litre or "stagiew" / jug 200 litres

7) Słownik Geograficznz Krolestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowianskich (Geographical Dictionary of the Polish Kingdom and other Slavic countries), Warsaw 1889, page 658

Origin and family of Zygmunt Gnatowski

from "Die Gnatowskis. Die Geschichte einer masowischen Familie" by Alfred von der Lehr

ISBN-Nr: 3-00-005311-5


Mrs. Jablonska points out that the birth year and the place of birth of Zygmunt Gnatowski is not well known. Probably Zygmunt is born in the year 1854. He attended an agriculture training school in Dublany and died in 1906 in Jakimowice 1).


The family property Jakimowice

Modern_Jakimowka_m Jakimowka_m

About the manor in Jakimowice there is a report in "Wies Ilustrowana" (The illustrated village), which gives a very good impression not only of the house, but also of the Gnatowski family 2). The author, by whom we know only the initials Z.R., visited the property approximately around 1912, thus after the death of Zygmunt Gnatowski. From Zygmunt the property passed on to Pawel. The report reads:


(Government Kiev, district Taraszczan).


If your fate, dear reader, through emergency or accidentally, leads you in the area of the earlier district Braclaw, near the family estate of the Counts Czetwertyński and Zbaraski - to Zywotow, you will find a wavy landscape, contrasting with the bordering Humanszczyzna with its steppes.

Like into an oasis on a hot summer day, the travellers are attracted by closely spread, beautiful, Ukrainian settlements with their green fruit gardens with crystal-clear river water, as usually found in quiet canyons.

One can see them very often, even though the new conditions and the American way of farming are bringing out, especially close to the sugar factories, a new kind of people, mostly of a non-descriptive character. But one can here also find such estates, where tradition and simplicity, combined with comfort of living and, sometimes amenities, are cherished, without claiming to be lordship residences.

One can feel that people living here didn't just see themselves as followers of the saying "ubi patria - ubi bene", but that they really loved their homeland, in which they also saw their emotional home. By building such spacious estates they didn't think just about themselves but also about always welcome guests and the motto "dulce et utile" which they followed all through their lives. The aesthetics of those estates, though functional, hasn't been forgotten.

One of such typical land estates in the Ukraine is Jakimowka, at present owned by Pawel Gnatowski. Earlier Jakimowka was part of the town Zywotow, from which it is now separated by the stream Ros.

The estate stands for a link between the old and new demands. Then even though the new owner of the distillery has seen to its improvement and progress through modification, has established rectification, has reconstructed watermills and built a roof tile facility, supplying sought-for and solid tiles, this all didn't hinder him in keeping consequently to already mentioned tradition and piety in its rare form.

The founder of this estate was the very much-liked Henryk Gnatowski. He has used so many creative ideas and his natural good taste by the construction of the family estate and has decorated the house in such an aesthetic way that the settlement belongs doubtlessly to the most beautiful in the whole area.

The admired Henryk Gnatowski was also the first owner of Jakimowka, its creator and at the same time its founder. He was truly a patriarch, loved and valued by everybody. This was the reason why, throughout some generations of the family, closer and distant relatives and acquaintances, it was customary to kiss the hands of the aged, hospitable man, especially on the occasion of his birthday 3).

On this great day they all came to Jakimowka, sometimes from far away, drawn not only by the famous hospitality of this man, but also because for them he was the embodiment of many bourgeois- and old polish virtues, marking this wonderful person.

Now a few words about the picture of this village. Special attention must be given to the path, leading in natural windings, between meticulously groomed roses and hedges, to the manor house.

It ends in front of the big manor house, with multi-storey building attached on the side. This building is characterized by simple and architecturally quiet lineaments and is totally embedded into green area. Its separate parts fit so well into an ensemble so that it looks like a friendly housekeeper, adorned festively to receive guests.

The mansion house fits the whole surroundings area. Behind it an old lime tree avenue leads in terraces down to the pier on the lake, on the horizon taking the form of a crest, running to a group of Italian cottonwood trees in the background. In this wondrous place, shortly before sunset, terrific water bird concerts, surprising the most demanding connoisseurs, can be heard.

The furnishing of this house corresponds with its outside picture in its meaning and charm of architecture. Among the inherited pieces the collection of honour awards takes a special place. "Virtuti Militari", "The French Legions of Honour", "Napoleon's Star" and many more, which have once belonged to the Grandfather of the present owner and his namesake, the honoured Pawel Gnatowski.

These high valued awards he has received during the besiegement of Saragossa, in the canyons of Samosierra and on other battlefields and in unaccounted combats. Through his heroic death near Daszow, he has left a name clothed in glory for the ascendants of his family branch.

I lack the space to write many more interesting details, concerning the whole estate of this wonderful settlement and building a very impressionable oneness. I dedicate this short report to my unforgettable recollections of the time I have spent there. 4)"

In this report, concerning on the beauty of the estate and settlement, there is no mention of the year since when the mansion was owned by the family. The text lets one believe that Henryk Gnatowski has bought or received the estate. Anyway has Pawel, in the year 1912 owner of the estate, seen to the "industrial" development of the family property. A picture of the estate is among colored photos.

Another source is the "Słownik Geograficznz Krolestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowianskich (Geographic Dictionary of the Kingdom Poland and Other Slavic Countries)". The article about Jakimowka there is not only much shorter, but also less romantic.

"Jakimowka. Suburb of Zywotow, the river Rosia separates both municipalities; district Taraszczan, earlier Kiev, so called because the village lies on the street between Zywotow and Kiev.

614 inhabitants of the Greek-orthodox faith. Orthodox parish church, distillery. 1124 Dessjatinen5) of fruitful soil. Possession of the family Hnatowski. Local administration in the city Zywotow, police station in the city Tetyjow. 6)"

So the estate already belonged to the family in 1882. Accordingly, already Henryk Gnatowski has run the distillery and possibly also the farm. Remarkable, because especially rough is the mistake in the spelling of the name: Gnatowski in this dictionary has been changed into Hnatowski 7).

1) Jablonska, Introduction, page 7, footnote 1

2) "Wies Ilustrowana" (The illustrated village), 3. Class: 1912, No. 5 (May), Warschau, page. 23f. The report contains four photos the property and the environment.

3) Translator's note: in the original text the house owner was called "Amphitrion". This term comes from the Greek "Amphitryon" - mythological king of Thebes.

4) The translation was provided by Mrs. Mazur from Nürnberg.

5) Translator's note: Dessjatine - old-Russian square measure = 1.0925 hectars.

6) Słownik Geograficznz Krolestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowianskich (The Geographical Dictionary for the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries), Warsaw 1882, page. 376

7) The spelling mistake is understandable when one knows that in the Russian language the letter "G" is shown as "H". The estate Jakimowka was in the Ukraine, thus on a Russian speaking territory, the common spelling of the name was Hnatowski. Still the author of the Polish text failed to adjust the Russian spelling in a Polish text.