The Modzelewski Family
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.


At the end of the 14th century (1402), Janusz I (r. 1373-1429), Siemowitowic, Prince of Warsaw, Wizna, Zabroczym, Ciechanow, and Mazovia, bought land from the Teutonic Knights in a region called "Ziemia (meaning land) Wiznenska." Janusz was the grandson of Trojden I. In 1373, following the first division of Mazovia, the Prince received from his father, Siemowit III, a "Starszy," a province of his own comprising the lands of Warsaw (in 1374), Wizna, Zakroczym, Ciechanow (in 1374). Janusz's mother was Euphemia von Troppau, who died on December 8, 1429. Part of Janusz's purchase was forty lans (about 30 morgs) enough for a full-size farm, in the area known, at that time, as Sokolakaka Woods.

Within this area, a man called Mikolaij was given some of this land, as a noble, to oversee Janusz's new purchases. Mikolaij's village was named Modzele, meaning "hard place." Mikolaij hired local people to work the land and he eventually changed his name to Mikolaj of Modzele or "Modzelewski." There was another relatives of Mikolaij who was given similar lands. Szymon was the lord of Niewodowo and Drozdow, in the region of Wizna. Szymon's family later became known as "Niewodowski." Szymon received his land after he fought in the Battle of Tanneburg (in 1410) against the Teutonic Knights.



In the USA, during the 1920 census there were the following states with the name Modzelewski:

9-15 were located in Michigan.

..... Piotr Modzelewski was a member of Haller's Army in France, in 1917. He was from Detroit.

4-8 were located in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

..... Jan Modzelewski was a member of Haller's Army in France. He was from Natrona, PA.
..... Jozef Modzelewski was a member of Haller's Army in France. He was from Natrona, PA.

1-3 were located in Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.

At least two members of this family came from Prussia in the late 1800's.

The name Modzelewski is Polish and Jewish. The name was originally associated with places in Poland called Modzel or Modzele, which means "hard place." There are three villages named Modzele:

1. Modzele-Skudosze
.....As of 1827 Modzele-Skudosze had 24 houses and 124 inhabitants.

2. Modzele-Starawies
.....As of 1827 Modzele-Starawies had 42 houses and 223 inhabitants.

3. Modzele-Wypychy

.....As of 1827 Modzele-Wypychy had 20 houses and 119 inhabuitants.

Modzele is the family seat of the clan of Modzelewski as show in records going back to 1403. [Br. Ch. Volume 6, 57-5-576]. As translated from Slownik Geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego. Warswaw, 1885.

Modzele is located at 53.5667 Latitude and 22,4667 Longitude. It is about 459 feet high (above sea level).


In the book, Herby Rodów Polskich(Polish Coats of Arms), a reprint of Leszczyc's Herby Szlachty Polskiej) by Orbis Books (London) Ltd., 1990; it shows the following:

They became members of the clan Boncza in Modzele, Mazovia, in 1642, which was also the origin of the Modzelewskis of the clan Pilawa, who proved their descent from, nobility of the kingdom of Poland, in 1825 r."

Another branch of the Modzelewski family, from Mazovia, was located south of Lomza. They are associated or descended from the coat of arms Pilawa. This Modzelewski branch was confirmed as nobility in 1825 in Poland.


Under the clan , ywet another branch of the Modzelewskis lived lomza in the year 1402. Another book (Kapica-Milewski) states that Modzelewskis lived in the Lomza region from circa 1402 until 1535, and are associated with the Boncza arm. This clan is a variety of the clan Pilawa, that follows the town crest of Babinski Wolyn 1528 r.


Modzelewski is also listed under the Herburt arms:

.....Modzelewski of Mazovia was in the area of Wolyn, Prussia in 1500. They were restored to their original noble state by the Polish Kingdom in 1825.


Modzelewski is listed under the Pilawa Arms:

.....Modzelewski, Lomza 1402 r Monasterski."


Syrokomla - Modzelewski


Trzywdar - Modzelewski



Both these men were members of the Polish Falcons from the Original 15th District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They enlisted and served in the Polish Army during World War I.

A quote from the Polish Falcons of America page:

Founded on the same principles as the organization in Poland, the Polish Falcons of America during its many years of untiring efforts was able to constantly harmonize the obligations of its members towards their adopted country, the United States of America, and towards Poland, the land of their forefathers.

The great patriot of two countries, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, whom the Falcons have chosen for their patron, serves as an inimitable model and ideal. Like Kosciuszko, who fought for the independence of America and Poland with equal zeal, courage and loyalty, Polish Falcons fought in World War I for the liberation of Poland in the Polish Army of France as well as with the United States Armed Forces.



Aleksander Modzelewski ..... Antoni Modzelewski ..... Kazimierz Modzelewski ..... Wincenty Modzelewski ..... Franciszek Modezelweski ..... Boleslaw Modzelewski ..... Feliks Modzelewski.

(Historic Pittsburgh)


An Appeal to Erect a Statue in Honor of the Men That Served in WWI.

My Modzelewski Line

Weronica Modzelewska was born in Lomza Province, Poland; on January 5, 1889. She was the daughter of John Modzewlewski and Ewa Gasiewski. They were from the Commonwealth of Poland, diocese Lomeynska. Modzielewski is the original spelling of this name(?) Weronica married Kazimierz Sypniewski on July 2, 1913 in Glassport, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. They settled in Glassport for all their lives, and Kazmierz first worked as a mill worker and later took up coal mining. This job choice cost him an early grave as he acquired black lung disease.

The children of Kazmierz and Weronica were:

1. Sigmund Stanley Sypniewski, who was born April 3, 1914 in Glassport, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He married on September 14, 1939 to Irene Pearl Stempnakowska. who was born September 14, 1918 in Pittsburgh, PA. and died October 9, 2003, in Dade City, Pasco County, Florida.

2. Stella Sypniewski married William Schmotzer. William was born on May 13, 1913 and died June 1984 in Glassport, Allegheny County, Pannsylvania.

3. Chester Sypniewski was unmarried

4. Gertrude Sypniewski married Joseph Majur.

5. Jane Sypniewski married Stanley Zielinski.

6. Sophie Sypniewski married ?

7. Stanley Sypniewski

8. Blanche - died at age 19, as a result of an accident at a school dance.

9. Joseph Sypniewski was born on November 16, 1931, and died on January 7, 1995. Joseph was unmarried.

1923 Detroit City Directory (Michigan):

Edward Modzelewski - meats - 6212 Chene (a house)
Frank Modzelewski - autowork - 4791 Chopin Ave. (house)
Peter Modzelewski - machinist - 2692 Giemer Ave., Hamtramck, Michigan.
Walter Modzelewski - machinist - 5384 Lovett Ave. (house)
Witold Modzelewski - lino operator - 7565 Chene (house)

submitted by Barbara House (Michigan)


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