Monday, March 10, 2014


On June 15, 1885, Johnann ‘Adolph’ Szyzska (b.1824--1916) arrived in New York with his family having departed from Bremen, Germany aboard a ship called the Donau. Adolph, 61, came with his wife, Anna Carolina Petroll (1834-1895) and 4 of his 9 children to the United States.  The Passenger list is difficult to decipher, but it appears the children are Pauline, Bertha, Ottillie and possibly August.  Several of his older children emigrated to the US before this date.  Census records indicate Mary Wanda came in 1874 with her sister Augusta arriving in 1876.  In 1879, Adolph Gustav Szyzska (1861-1940) moved to America while his brothers Gustav Syska (1856- )  and William F. Syska (1866-1956) gave their dates of immigration as 1882 and 1883, respectively. 

The political situation in Poland/Prussia/Germany at the time, could conceivably have impacted the family's decision to emigrate  from their home in the Poznan province.    Poznan (also called Wielkopolski), is a large province with both a sizable Polish and German population.  In 1793, during the partition of Poland, Poznan became a province of Prussia, but in 1848, it was annexed as part of the German Confederation. Germanisation policies, including restricting polish language in schools and land seizures, were adopted to attract German settlers.  It was during this time that the Szyzska family moved to the USA.  After  WWII, Poznan was returned to Poland, but by then the Szyzska’s and their descendants were Americans!

Upon arrival, the Szyzska family settled in New York City, but ten years later, Carolina died on November 9, 1895.  Adolph and Carolina were  married on June 9, 1851 in Radlow, Oder-Spree, Brandenburg, Germany.  Carolina was the daughter of Johann Christian Petroll (1801-1855) and Anna Dorothea Gumpett (1811-1853), both from the Poznan province as well.  After the death of his wife, Adolph lived with his daughter Augusta  and her husband, Hiram Hoffman, in the Bronx until his death in 1916 (according to 1910 census). 

Adolph has a great many descendants and it appears that most, if not all, the Syskas in this country can trace their heritage to Adolph and Carolina (although there are a number of similar names that appear unrelated – Sisco, Cisco etc.)   At some point prior to 1900, the family name was changed from Szyzska to Syska.  The 1900 census has the name spelled as SYSKA.  Adolph listed his occupation as a farmer on the ship coming to the United States but it is unknown if he worked in the USA..
Adolph and Carolina had 9 children – Augusta 'Amalie' (Syska) Plate Hoffman (b. 1852 - 1935),  Anna Wilhelmina Syska (b. 1855), Gustav Syska (1856- ),  Johann Julius Syska (1857-1857),  Wanda Syska Gerlach (b.1858-1948), Adolph G. Syska  (b. 1861-1940), Ottillie (Syska) Strassle (b.1863), William F. Syska (b. 1866-1956) - my great grandfather,  Pauline B. (Syska) Brunotte (b. 1869-1938), August W. Syska (b. 1871-1955), and Bertha J. Syska (b. 1875-1949). 

*OF NOTE - Adolph G. Syska (1861-1940) married Katherine Stapelfield and had a son Adolph G. Syska (b. 1889) – my grandfather’s first cousin,  who co founded the Syska Hennessey engineering firm in New York City in 1928.  

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