Our Polish ancestors started coming to Suffield almost 125 years ago. Upon arrival, most were farm laborers and domestic servants. They worked hard, became landowners and started families. Often their children continued to work on the family farm. Eventually some became civil servants, teachers, business owners, doctors, and civic leaders. With the Town’s 350th Anniversary coming up in 2020, it is time to prepare to highlight the contributions of the Polish people to our successful community.
The Polish Heritage Society (PHS) has existed in Suffield for more than 10 years and is a subcommittee of the Suffield Historical Society. A few of those who attend PHS meetings are first-generation Polish-Americans, that is, born in the United States to Polish immigrants, but the majority are second generation. They grew up speaking Polish in their homes and at Saint Joseph’s Church. Each month the PHS gathers to remember and preserve the customs they learned as children. They sing the Polish national anthem . . . in Polish. They also share stories about their families, their farms, their visits to Poland and the relatives who still live there.
To perpetuate the traditions, memories and values of our ancestors, the PHS hopes to attract more participation from second and third generation Polish Americans. In order to demonstrate our pride for the ancestors who played a significant role in creating this community we treasure, the Society will add an occasional evening meeting to the schedule, beginning in April. It is not required that you speak Polish to attend. It is not even necessary to be of Polish descent.
This article is the first of a series to bring attention to our Polish heritage. The next will be a very short history of the country of Poland, setting the stage for when and why our ancestors began immigrating here in the late 1890s. It will continue with discussion about how they traveled to Suffield, how they adapted once here and their impact on this small New England farming community. Hopefully, the series will spark an interest in learning more about your ancestors as well as the Polish culture. In the meantime, please visit and join the Suffield Polish Heritage Society group on Facebook to pick up tidbits of information about the Polish culture, watch for future meeting announcements and make suggestions for discussion topics at future evening sessions of the PHS.