GRALLA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
Vol. 5 No. 1
GRALLAS HAVE MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE IN BARCELONA.
In June of 1992 Eugene Gralla, his wife, Beverly, and son Steven with his wife Sue, spent some time visiting with Professor Clopas, family historian of the Gralla family in the Barcelona area of Spain. The professor, now 82, was enthusiast about telling the Gralla descendants of the prestigious Gralla family which he had traced back to the 15th century. He showed them some of the artifacts of the Grallas which are in his museum in Martorell, Spain. The family of Eugene Gralla enjoyed its visit and was thrilled to hear more about the Gralla history and origins in Spain. Eugene Gralla is a retired executive now residing in Fl.
PHONE BOOKS HELP LOCATE GRALLAS IN POLAND.
As the last issue of the newsletter was closed, a continuation of the Polish research trip report was promised. One thing worth mentioning was that in all the villages visited where Grallas lived many years ago, there are still Grallas there today as well as in all the surrounding towns. While in Ostroleka, we met Josef Gralla, who presented us with a phone book of the entire area. Numerous people with the Gralla name were found in this book. Since returning home, I was also given two copies of the 1993 Warsaw phone book, which also carried the name of many people of this surname. As part of the continuing research, these people will be contacted through correspondence, and perhaps they will also have information that may further enlighten us regarding the background of the Gralla family from this area.
FIFTY-SEVEN GRALLAS IN THE AREA OF MYSZYNIEC.
We were amazed as we went to the civil registration office of Ostroleka as to how many Grallas were still living there. At first the office personnel was not willing to help us, but after some time we were able to convince them to share the addresses of the Grallas of the vicinity. We recorded fifty-seven, and found an additional sixteen in Myszyniec when visiting the civil registration office there. In Myszyniec, all the inhabitants were recorded on computer with names, parents, dates of birth, and addresses.
MONUMENTS OF JEWISH TIMES IN RÓZAN LOST IN THE WAR.
The Gralla family is not the only family of Rózan searching for clues to the past. Other descendants of the Jewish people of this village have returned looking for traces of their past, with little success. Several years ago, a Pole, Wojciech Kassian, searched for any remains of the Jewish history of the village. He mentions in an article he published in Poland, how the city registrars mentioned others who were survivors of the war, returned to Rózan looking to see if any of their belongings could still be claimed or if their certificates of births, marriages, or deaths could be found. They were very disappointed to find very little in the way of records. The synagogue records were burned in the fire which also destroyed the synagogue itself. Those records that were not lost were of the civil registration office which records began in 1899. Wojciech Kassian urged all the readers of his publication to submit any information of Rózan to the city offices of Rózan to help develope a history of the Jewish people from the village.
There is also a society of people from Rózan in Israel which are survivors of the war. This organization is the same which published the Rózan memorial book, mentioned in earlier publications of this newsletter.
PARISH RECORDS OF GRALLAS IN TOSZEK AND WISNICZE ARE STILL PRESERVED.
The records of Grallas in Toszek, Wisnicze and surrounding areas are still kept in the parishes. It was in Wisnicze where in early 1600's church records a Jewish man, Jacob Gralla, was baptized into the Catholic church. It is not yet known if this man was the only Gralla ancestor there at the time or if there were more which were in this area. After this point, other Grallas are recorded in the records of Wisnicze. The Grallas spread throughout this area into many small villages, as did those in the Grale area of Poland.
Several years ago, a Jewish woman came to the archive where I work and asked for assistance in locating Jewish records of Wisnicze. She said she had been told in her family of how her ancestors had come to Wisnicze as Jews expelled during the inquisition times from Spain. Her people were not Grallas, but, although unsubstantiated, this shows there may have been groups of people from Spain which settled in areas as a group, rather than as single families.
LOCAL PEOPLE GIVE COLORFUL ACCOUNT OF "ROBIN HOOD" GRALLA.
In the village of Koszecin, Poland, stand the remains of the Franz Gralla farm of the late 1800's. Although, much has changed on the property, the people who live there now were able to share what they remembered of Franz Gralla, father of twelve children and my great grandfather. The current owners, the Soballas, bought the farm from a Jewish man who had purchased it originally from Franz Gralla in the year 1903. Mr. Soballa tells what caused Franz Gralla to leave the area for Moscow and later St. Petersburg, as he recalls in the year 1903. Franz Gralla, although the owner of a farm and acreage was not the farmer "type" nor did he want to be. He lived life a little on the "wild side" as he chose to defy the local nobility, the Hohenlohes, who owned the forests and most of the surrounding property. Franz Gralla liked to hunt in the forests of the Hohenlohes, which was against the law. But he did this to provide food for his large and growing family and to provide food for all the poor townspeople. For this, the people of the village loved him and the Hohenlohes despised him. He became known as "Robin Hood" Gralla. Often times he would hide with his hunting friends in the forests as the local authorities tried to track him down. He made traps out of bridges which would drop to the water below and help him in fast get-aways. This he did for quite some time until the Hohenlohes eventually caught up to him, and knowing him to be very knowledgeable in forestry, rather than arrest him, as was expected, he was given a ranger's job in Russia on the Hohenlohe property there as an alternative punishment. This same Franz Gralla was also a merchant, a business man who provided the stones for the road which still is there and leads to the next town. According to the Soballas, Franz Gralla was involved in many interesting business "deals", but was a good man whom the people liked and respected for his help in feeding their families.
CONCLUSION OF TRIP TO POLAND.
The trip to Poland was very enlightening, very enjoyable and well recommended to all Grallas wishing to see the land their ancestors walked. I did have some anxieties before the trip. But now my feelings are that if the trip is well planned ahead of time, much can be accomplished. The economic situation at that time was interesting. Certain things were inexpensive for the tourist, while gas and car rentals were very expensive. Traveling can be difficult by car, unless accompanied by a native as there are very few road signs throughout the country and the few that are there, of course are difficult to read and understand. The homes, at least those visited were very nice, modern and comfortable. All had TV's, some satellites and microwaves. For the local people, wages are relatively low and therefore commodities are very expensive for them. Many of the villagers still travel with horse and wagon, which was a common sight all over Poland. But in the cities, things are quite similar to the United States with parking problems and traffic jams. I highly recommend a family roots vacation to any who are interested in the Gralla family.
NEWS ITEMS OF INTEREST WELCOMED FOR FUTURE NEWSLETTERS.
We are anxious to share news of your families with others. If you have items which are of interest to other Grallas whom you may have lost contact with, we will be happy to publish these in future issues. These could include family accomplishments, births, marriages or other similar events. Send these to Sonja Nishimoto at the return address on your envelop. Currently, we are sending out a spring and fall issue. Also remember to inform us of new addresses or relatives who are not currently receiving issues and should be added to the mailing list.
The Gralla family newsletter is printed and mailed free of charge to Gralla family members throughout the United States, most originating in Eastern Europe. It is researched and written by an accredited genealogist, who is herself a Gralla descendant.