Ludwick Wesolowski

4236.101'N 8254.270'W

Taken 1969-12-31 16:00:00-08

LUDWIK WESOLOWSKI

THE FIRST ELECTED POLISH OFFICIAL IN THE UNITED STATES BY PAT HALLMAN

Marker, Clinton Grove Cemetery

Ludwik Wesolowski was born on MARCH 3, 1810, in Warsaw, Poland. He was educated in his homeland, at Warsaw's University of Military Engineering. He spoke and read six languages fluently (English, French, German, Latin, Polish, and Russian. While still a student, Ludwik was a Second Lieutenant in the Polish Insurrection of November 29, 1830. The Poles fought for liberty from the despotic Russians who partitioned their land with Austria and Prussia. The fighting continued for ten months, but many patriots withdrew to the West when the revolution failed. Wesolowski was later detained by the Kingdom of Austria then deported from Trieste by Chancellor Metternich on November 22, 1833. He arrived in New York on the night of March 28, 1834, and the following day, he was given 33 dollars by the Austrian Consul, Barion Lederer, and in essence told, `You are on your own.` Ludwik arrived in Michigan during the summer of 1834 with a group of these `Novemberistis`. As they later called. During early trips on the Huron (presently Clinton) River, Ludwik Wesolowski studied the river and its many branches with the help of the French and Indian guides, in 1836, Ludwik brought all the information he had gathered to liaisons for the `Canal Operators`. He heard of plans to build the `world's greatest canal` and was immediately hired as draftsman for the project. The chief engineer and draftsman began making plans, drawings, specifications, etc., for the locks, bridges, aqueducts, and culverts along the canal. At first, Wesolowski was salaried at $1,000.00 per year as draftsman, which was about $3.22 per day. The axmen (laborers) earned $18.00 per month, or about 70 cents per day in comparison. In later years, because of financial problems encountered by the canal project, Ludwik was demoted to assistant engineer and paid $800.00 per year. Canal construction slowed and then ceased in 1843, due to many reasons including pilfering by unpaid contractors and embezzlement of capital. Also, railroad transportation became more popular (faster and cheaper) and support for canal projects vanished. The canal began in Mount Clemens on July 20, 1838, and although it was originally supposed to continue west to Lake Michigan, it was only completed as far as Rochester, in Oakland County. Some sections of the canal are still visible and historical marker was erected in Bloomer State Park No. 2 in 1957 (Registered State Historic Site No. 96). After the failure of the canal project, Ludwik Wesolowski obtained the position of deputy county surveyor. He took his oath of naturalization at Mount Clemens on April 11, 1846. Ludwik later used his engineering skills and pleasant personality to be elected Macomb County Surveyor, as a member of the Whig Party in 1850. During his two years in office, he platted villages, cities, and surveyed throughout southeastern Michigan and Lambton County, Canada. Wesolowski lost in the elections of 1852 to 1860 due to political turmoil and third party candidates. In 1862, he was again elected surveyor under the new Democratic Party. In 1862, Ludwik Wesolowski surveyed and platted the City of Warsaw, which is presently along Cass Avenue at the railroad tracks and depot, in Mount Clemens, Michigan. On August 19, 1865, Leander and Mary Treble (owners of the homestead property) certified that `the above plat is correct and called the same, the City Warsaw, for the purpose have the same recorded in Macomb County Register Office (Liber 47, Pages 621 and 621A)`. It was signed, sealed and delivered in `presents` of L. Wesolowski (the first Notary Public of Polish extraction in Michigan and a Matilda Sturgen. The city was so named, because Wesolowski, always a patriot, was born in Warsaw, Poland because of his involvement in the political insurrection of 1830, he was deported and not allowed to return, even in later years to visits friends and relatives. This town was somewhat of a memorial to Ludwik's homeland. Since he knew that railroad transportation was very important to the development of any new area, he placed his City of Warsaw around the railroad depot. Ludwik Wesolowski had a variety of friends during his lifetime. He was well acquainted and friendly with the Indians who inhabited the area. He was once teased by an Indian chief, who told Ludwik, `that a reddish brown scalp would be a unique addition hanging inside his huge colorful wigwam`. Ludwik also met a hard-working teenager while on his frequent train rides from the Warsaw depot to Detroit. This young man always quizzed Wesolowski about his education in Europe, his travels, and many scientific subjects. The youth followed the advice of Wesolowski by quitting his job on the railroad. His name was Thomas Edison. Ludwik Wesolowski first lived in Belvedere in 1837. He then built a home in the Village of Marcelles (south of the Clinton River and east of Gratiot). Later he purchased 5.6 acres on North Branch Road (today-North Avenue) in Mount Clemens. There he build a beautiful home and had an orchard with over 50 trees. He also owned an orchard on land between the present Market and Clinton Streets. Ludwik was married to Sarah. They had three children, Albert Z., Helena Jane, and Charles (who died and was buried in Petrolia, Ontario. Son Albert was assistant surveyor to his and later enlisted with Mount Clemens Company F, 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry, during the Civil War. Much is known about Wesolowski's daughter, Helena Jane. She was born in 1845 and was still in school after her 16th birthday, rarity in the 1860's. She was 5'5" had auburn hair and hazel eyes. She was married on Wednesday, July 10, 1867, to William H McGarvey, a merchant from Petrolia, Ontario. They were wed in Mount Clemens by the Reverend H. E. Bissell and had their reception at her father's estate (presently church property). Immediately after their honeymoon, Helena went to Petrolia, Ontario, to assist her new husband with his business. Mr. McGarvey's real love was oil wells and within one year, he and his wife had 18 active oil producing wells. He became an oil operator, later a refiner, and was soon the leader of the oil industry. He helped set up oil drilling operations for Canadian government in western Canada, and later in foreign areas. He set up operations in Galicia, which is presently Poland, and near the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, struck oil. They named their enterprise the GALIZISHE- KARPATHEN PETROLEUM AKTIEN GESELLSCHAFT and it grew to tremendous proportions. Soon Galicia became the world's greatest oil producing fields and refineries were constructed at Marionpol and the world's largest at the Port of Trieste. In 1869, the McGarvey's had a daughter, born in Petrolia, Ontario, whom they named Nellie. On July 6, 1876, a second daughter was born and named Mamie Helena. In 1882, Helena and her two daughters went to Vienna, Austria. They traveled often between Vienna (then the cultural center of the world) and their castle at Gorlice, Galicia. Helens was possible the wealthiest woman in the world so her daughters were courted by nobility. On November 12, 1896 at Vienna. daughter Mamie married Count Eberhard Friedrich Alexander Joseph Edward Graf Von Zeppelin, making her a countess. Their wedding was the most festive three day affair of the century. Ludwik Wesolowski died on November 20, 1870 at New Baltimore, Michigan. He is buried in the North Mount Clemens Clinton Grove Cemetery, on Cass Avenue, and since 1915. Section A, Lot 235, has been maintained without a visit from a relative, friend, or voter. Wesolowski did the first survey of the cemetery where he is buried. In December of 1897, Helena Jane Wesolowski, the woman from Mount Clemens, Michigan, died in her mammoth castle overlooking the canal locks at Port Gorlice, Galicia. It is ironic that Helena Jane Wesolowski, the first multimillionaire from the Middle West, is buried in the country of her father's birth, where wealth was found in the country that he loved. The father was deported by Austria after the Warsaw Insurrection. He in turn is buried in the city of her birth. Ludwik Wesolowski accomplished many `firsts` in his lifetime. He was the first Polish immigrant in Macomb County. He was the first Notary Public of Polish extraction in Michigan, and the first Pole to become an elected official in the United States. His only daughter, Helena was the first multimillionaires from the Middle West and one of his granddaughters, Mamie, married a German Count. Ludwik Wesolowski was one of the earliest Polish immigrants in the U.S., but contrary to the ethnic stereotype of the time, he was well educated, talented, and elite. He has contributed much to the early history of Michigan.

Sources: Enduring Poles, by HARRY Milostan, Mount Clemens, Michigan 1977 The Ill ? Fated Clinton - Kalamazoo Canal, by the Rochester Historical Commission and Avon Township Public Library, 1983


Back to the index.