. Poles and Powhatans in Jamestown, Virginia
Written and researched by Margaret nee Knight Sypniewski B.F.A., ROP, ROJ, [Odrovaz Clan]

My main interest, in the history of Jamestown, Virginia, was in regards to Pocahontas. My great-aunt, sister to my paternal grandfather Knight/Knecht, told me Pocahontas was a relative on my father's side of the family. My father's family was already a veritable "Who's Who," of famous people, so adding Pocahontas was not that much of a stretch. Although, this fact was well-known among his family, I have yet to find the right genealogical connection. I have read many accounts of their life in Jamestown, and I own two of the genealogy books on her family tree.

From my readings I discovered that "Captain John Smith and George Percy, a gentleman, were adversaries ... The early settlers of Jamestown were plagued with dissension, jealousy, and competition from the start" (Minnis, 256). Both Smith and Percy knew their survival depended on financial help from England. They had to paint the New World as attractively as possible, so their sponsors would continue in their investments. They downplayed the bad, and up-played the good.

I got involved in writing for the Polish community, in 2000-2003. This was as webmaster for the Polish Nobility Association Foundation. My own "Courtly Lives" pages were established in 1998. This article about "Poles and Powhatans in Jamestown, Virginia," was originally written in 2003, as "Poles in America," and has been updated as more evidence has surfaced.

NOTE: Poland is one of the many countries that have claimed a pre-Columbian discovery of the New World, although the proof is rather weak. One "Jan of Kolna" was said to have led a Danish expedition, in 1476, and landed in Labrador. They later sailed into the Delaware River, if this report is to be believed.

Subjects Covered on These Pages will be:

Jamestown, Virginia
Two Bad Portents
Trade With the Indians
The First Poles in Jamestown
Back in Poland
Glassmaking in Eastern Europe
The Native Americans
More About the Poles

[pronounced vir-gin-yeh]

Jamestown was named after King James I (r. 1608-1625) of England and Scotland. After leaving England, on December 20, 1606, it took five (5) months to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. The first wave of English settlers to Jamestown arrived on May 12, 1607. The three ships: The Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery brought the initial colonists to Jamestown by May 13, 1607, seeking "Earth's only Paradise," with free land. On June 21, 1607, everyone was given communion and gave thanks to God for bringing them safely to their new home. More than half of these original 105 settlers, in Jamestown, were already dead by the first autumn.

Idealized Native American and Colonist Feast

INCIDENT ONE: On the first meeting with the whites, the Native Americans arrived to greet them with a deer and other food items for a feast. This was a friendly gesture, even though the last colonists, at Roanoke, had turned their friendship into hatred.

CLICK HERE to read why the Natives hated the Roanoke colonists.

George Percy, an English colonist, reported that all was well, until one of the braves picked up an Englishmen's hatchet and walked towards the forest. It seems he was going to help the colonists get firewood and wished to try this new tool. The Powhatan man could not ask because they spoke different tongues. Anyway, they had come to help the colonists, and most likely thought they would not mind them using one of their own tools for their benefit. The Englishmen, instead, thought the man was stealing the tool, so he grabbed back his hatchet, with anger, and used it to cut the Native's arm. The colonists were asked to lay down their arms before the Natives would even enter the new village. This was to be a PEACEFUL feast. This was because of past problems with the Roanoke colonists, who tried to kill all the Natives. The other Natives saw this rude display, and went to the next step. A friend of the injured and bleeding Powhatan tribesman came to his defense with a wooden pole to knock in the Englishman's brains (according to Percy's writings). Then the colonists all took up their firearms and began to shoot the Powhatans. They angrily ran off, figuring these Englishmen were just as crazy as the first ones on Roanoke Island.

The Native Americans did not understand individual possession of things. They had tools that were owned by the tribe. The English did not understand this. Their possessions were theirs, and how dare anyone else steal them, especially "a savage.".


My Native American ancestor, Pocahontas, was no more than ten years old at this time. After "Incident One," on May 26, 1607 (fourteen (14) days later), two hundred Paspaheghs, a tribe in the jurisdiction of Chief Powhatan, attacked Jamestown. They killed Eustis Clovell, and wounded eleven other colonists. One died of their wounds. When the Powhatans heard the cannon fire from their ships, to announce the deaths, the Natives mocked them from the shore. "Destroy the Tassantasses (meaning the English)!" they chanted.


  1. In 1607, Halley's Comet appeared to the starving founders of Jamestown. Comets meant trouble, in these times, as they were considered bad omens.
  2. One of the Powhatan shaman had a vision about the English. His vision predicted that their first two settlements would fail, but the third settlement would result in the conquering and death of the Indians and their lifestyle:
    ...... The very first English settlement was in Newfoundland, Canada, in 1583, it failed
    ...... Their second settlement (two waves) was on Roanoke Island, Virginia, from 1584-1586, it failed.

    ****Note: The first wave of Roanoke colonists left on June 9, 1586, because of civil unrest, resulting from the pride of "blue-bloods" who were used to getting their own way. They began to slaughter Native American Indians for minor offenses. The Indians returned the favor in kind. So when the second wave of colonists arrived, a few days, after the departure of the first group, they found a few dead bodies, but no trace of those that came before. They did not know that they went home. The second colony was the "Lost Colony of Roanoke." This was in 1587, when they discovered no one left there. There is much speculation about the fate of the second colony. It is likely that they were slaughtered. Some claim they went to live with friendly Native American Indians.

    ...... Their third settlement was at Jamestown, beginning in 1606, and even though they experienced hard times, Jamestown made it.

Jamestown had three early charters:

The First Virginia Charter, of April 10, 1606, The Second Virginia Charter, of May 23, 1609, and The Third Virginia Charter, of March 12, 1612. 900 colonist landed during the first three years. The English principal officers were given 1,500 acres each, and if they owned even more shares, they were given 5,000 acres. Junior executives were given 500 acres. The company gave itself 12,000 acres.

Jamestown Timeline

One of the continued tensions between the British and the Native Americans was that British livestock damaged unfenced Indian gardens. Hogs did more damage than cattle. We must remember that early on, the Indians kept the colonists alive. The concept of saying "thanks" was unknown to the English. If a Native American brought damage to a hog, their ENTIRE village would be burned and a dozen of their people were put to the sword. The Algonquians called the Englishmen "cutthroats."

Native American Indians and negro slaves, in the Caribbean and later in Virginia, were rarely considered human. Violence and murder towards either of these groups rarely had consequences. The English were never brought to justice. There were no laws to protect the non-English negroes or Native American Indians.


After many unsuccessful campaigns to destroy the English colonists at Jamestown, the Virginia Algonquins entered a period of trade with the English. These were the Pamunkey, Appomattoce, and others of the Powhatan Nation. This trading period began after 1606. Maize (Indian corn) was exchanged for European goods.

Tens-Kwau-Ta-Waw (above) meant "Open Door." He was a Shawnee Prophet (c.1775–c.1837), and brother of Tecumseh. He is shown wearing his silver/pewter gorget. This portrait is from the Collection of Thomas L. McKenny and James Hall, now housed in the Library of Congress.

English copper was treasured the most as a trade commodity. One hundred and fifty (150) miles in Maine, two towns were found with small plates of copper. These plated were hanging on the ears of the chiefs. The Powhatans liked the large gorgets the best. These gorgets were used by their werowances and other individuals of high status. These same men were even buried with their gorgets. Later on, George Catlin (1796 - 1872), portrait artist, and others, would paint the portraits of many Native Americans, who still valued these gorgets, in the 19th century. Most tribal men and women used pearls (both freshwater and salt-water types) for earrings and necklaces. Copper beads were fancied as ornamentation too.

Since the Roanoke administrators had burned villages and killed twelve (12) members of the village with a knife to the jugular, the Algonquians called the Englishmen "cutthroats." This was not just one incident, it was repeated over and over again. Each time this punishment was carried out for very minor infactions. To the English the Natives were not human.

The third wave of Jamestown passengers came on the ship called Mary & Margaret, in late September or Oct 1, 1608. Here is the list: Fall 1608 passenger list


In the early 17th century, the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth had a population of over nine (9) million and occupied the greatest amount of territory (315,000 square miles) in its history (Banaszak, 49). The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was bordered by Russia (on the East), the Baltic Sea (on the North), the Habsburg Empire (on the West), and the Ottoman Empire (to the South). This was twice the population in England. In the 1600's there were the Livonian Wars. The Swedes were defeated at Kokenhausen (1601), Bialy-Kamien (1604), and Kircholm (1605). Poland took the town of Parnawa.

In America, in 1604, an unknown group of "white men" came to Virginia, and traveled up the Rappannock and Pamunkey rivers to abduct young Powhatan boys. These same boys were to be sold as slaves in the West Indies, to work on the plantations. When the tribe tried to stop this, their arrows and spears broke, upon contact, on the perpetrator's metal armor. The whites opened fire and killed many warriors (Barbour, 163).

In an account attributed to John Smith it says:

... "among the 70 settlers who sailed for Virginia in the summer of 1608 there were "eight Dutchmen and Poles," some of whom were glassmakers. The so-called "Dutchmen" probably came from Germany, for Captain John Smith, in one of his letters, mentioned that the London Company had sent to Germany and Poland for "glasse-men and the rest," "the rest" referring to the makers of pitch, tar, soap ashes and clapboard. It was customary to refer to Germans as "Dutchmen." in the 1600's.

Other records record:

"Captain Christopher Newport knew that Poland had many capable craftsmen and regulary traded Polish goods with England. He brought Polish artisans with him on October 1, 1608, on Newport's return voyage to Jamestown. He brought supplies as well" (Moscinski, 20). Captain John Smith also took credit for bringing the Poles. So we have to ask: Which story is correct?

More About the Germans and the Native Americans.

In later centuries, Poles are also referred to as "Deutsch," if they were from German occupied territories. Remember that Poland's borders were changed many times. This is especially true when the "Pennsylvania Dutch" came to Pennsylvania, in mass, from the late 19th to early 20th century to escape their war-torn country. Germany invaded Poland and conquered their territory. It might be noted that Germany is still known as Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany). Poles were also labeled as "Russians," during the Communist years. After the break-up of the U.S.S.R., the satellite nations were once again called by their own names. Today Poland is a Republic.

In an American Heritage book called History of the Thirteen Colonies, it states: "In October, 1608 ... a second supply of recruits, seventy in number, including the first woman to arrive, a mistress Forrest and her maid, Ann Burras. In this group were four 'Dutchmen' (Germans?), one Swiss, and three Poles, who were to teach the colonists various industrial skills, including the manufacture of glass, the making of pitch, and the smelting of iron and other ores" (Blow, 74).

In John Smith's own hand, it states that the "Dutchmen" defected to Powhatan. They plotted to lure other dissidents from Jamestown and, with the help of the Indians, to take over the colony. The oldest settlers had much closer ties to the Pamunkey, Appomattoc, and others of the Powhatan League, than did the new settlers. The newer settlers tended to forget how the Powhatans helped them.

Alan Taylor tells us in American Colonists that several dozen colonists ran away to join the Indians. If they brought weapons and guns they could stay, otherwise they were killed. By this time, the Indians were tired of giving their food to these ungrateful people without reward. In 1612, the governor captured the fugitives. The lucky ones were hanged or shot. The unlucky were burned at the stake or had their backs broken on the wheel.

We do know that none of the non-British were given the same freedoms as the English colonists. The other Europeans might have been angry about this. However, this plot failed, and Smith was unable to recapture them for punishment. Some went back to their homelands, others married Native American Indians. Records do not mesh entirely, because the other accounts say there were seven foreigners (non English). These were all Polish names, except for Wilhelm Waldi, unless this incident involved German apprentices under the Swiss-German prospector.

Waldi or Waldo, as the English called him, wrote a book about his experiences in Jamestown. This book is a rare book and is next to impossible to locate 400 years later. Many say his writings were merely the writings of a man who had BIG issues with the English, and their treatment of the non-English.

See my articles on the "Poles in Haiti" for a similar incident involving Napoleon and the Poles. Poles have always fought for the under-dog. This was because of their constant battles with other nations. The Turks, Germans, Russians, and the Swedes were waging war since Polish lands all were fertile and their ports were well placed on the Baltic Sea.

It is too bad that John Smith did not list their names on his passenger lists. However, they should have appeared in some sort of listing of births, deaths, marriage, or tax records. This area needs to be explored much more thoroughly.

It was the Virginia Company of London and John Smith (in his own words) who recruited Poles as soap makers, glass makers, and for the making of pitch and tar. In fact, the one man that we know was listed as making tar and pitch was a shipbuilder. This man was named as Jan Bogdan, in Waldo and Stefanski's books. Again the Stefanski books is also rare since it was published in Europe. Jan is the Polish version of John. In German his name would have been Johannes. Poland has a long history of shipbuilding on the Baltic Sea, and this was the main reason that Germany and Russia wanted their land in ports like Danzig. It would make good sense that a Pole would be a shipbuilder.

Their landing was twelve (12) years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts.


In 1608, the Swedish Vasa line was ruling Poland. Sigmund III Vasa was the King of Poland from 1587-1632, and the country had much turmoil. When the Poles arrived in Jamestown, often their names were misspelled by the British. Sandowski, as an example, could be spelled as "Sadousky, Sowdusky, Saduscus, Sandosque, Sadowskij, Sandusky, Zadosky, and Zadorowski.

John Smith was well aware of Polish ingenuity, ability, courage, and endurance. These were necessary characteristics for members of a new colony. Their work ethic was one of their strongest points. The John Smith books continue to be printed. Excerpts from the work of Arthur L. Waldo's True Heroes of Jamestown, tells us that the British colonists, at Jamestown, lacked in resourcefulness. The Polish workers wrote that the fort did not have water. "Within four days, we (meaning the Poles) dug a well with a shade roof, so they would stop drinking the river water, which was effecting their health." It is a known fact that more colonists died of dysentary and related diseases from the swampy Tidewaters. We do know that this area was prone to mosquitos and to malaria.

The English did not bring enough lumber to build shelters. Remember that England had basically cut down most of their forests and were more than glad to cut down ours for shipbuilding. They knew nothing about pitch, flock, or glass. Waldo and Stefanski wrote that they (the Poles) set up sawmills and began in cutting beams and planks without rest. England had been near crisis, since Columbus' time, in regards to its wood supply. By 1543, the British Parliament had to restrict the cutting of English timbers (Cronon, 20). The reason the majority of the colonists did not know how to do this work was because the British were nobles, not working class people. Waldo showed a distain for the English, and perhaps painted them in a bad light. However, other sources agree on this point. Even the English themselves.

Waldo continued:

Glasshouses were constructed and four of us began blowing glasses, bottles, jugs, and beads. The beads were for the Indian women. In return the Indians gave grain and fish in their own homemade baskets. This may be a bit of National Polish pride run amok? No one knows.

Most of the Polish were Catholic, not Anglican. This is strange since their own decree was:

"No man shall be chosen who is known as a Papist Catholic (Waldo 134). This was in reference to the requirements for people going to Virginia. This is on English records still today and there is exhausting proof that this was English law. Waldo wrote it, but anyone who has read about the Reformation knows that Catholics were called "Papal Recusants" in England and were fined and sometimes even killed for practicing their own religion in secret. Catholics were fined for not attending Anglican Church each Sunday. Many English priest sought exile in France, under punishment of death in England. The English colonists were punished for not attending church. The English were against "Papists," since Henry VIII made his own Church of England in order to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Mary I, known as "Bloody Mary" was Catholic and had many Protestants put to death. Elizabeth I always feared the Popish Plots against her as an Anglican ruler. Waldo suggests that the Polish skilled laborers were needed, so they were exempt from attending the Anglican Church, and were allowed to worship in their own way, but without a priest or a church. This may be wrong, because of the unyielding attitude of the English, in this regard. Just think of the Massachusetts pilgrims who were Puritans and had to flee to Leyden, Holland, before coming here to seek "religious freedom." Puritans were against Catholics too, and they were Protestants. Yet they were not Anglican, so were not tolerated, anymore than the Catholics.

Legend is that John Smith, leader of the Jamestown Colony, had at one time been taken prisoner by the Turks. Smith escaped and fled through Poland, where he received help and hospitality. It is thought that if we are to believe Smith's writings (sometimes he stretched the truth), that this may be why he hired the Polish artisans to work in Jamestown. He saw their work in Poland. An old Polish tenet:

"A guest in the home: God in the home."

The Poles were brought in via the directions of Captain Smith, to help save the Jamestown colony with their technical expertise. The original crew in 1607 were competent soldiers, but were ill-equipped to make things needed to start a colony. Jamestown was basically a small wooden fort on the James River, at this time.

Most of the seventy (70) passengers were English. Here are the non-English (from Waldo's book). Again modern historians say that Waldo's book is pure bunk! However, we live in a nation where FREE SPEECH was thought to be one of our grassroots tenets. So this is offered here to ponder:

1. Zbigniew Stefanski.
Stefanski, like Stefanowski is a distinctly Polish name. Zbigniew was thought to be the son of Stefan Stefanski, a documented, and well-known glassblower from Wloclawek (located on the Vistula River), Poznan Province, Poland. Zbigniew, his first name, is a Polish name.

2. Jan Mata.
The name Mata could have been shortened from Matajewicz. Mata means "descendant of Mathias." Jan Mata was said to be from Krakow (the capital of Poland from 1320-1609). Jan was a soapmaker by trade.

3. Jan Bogdan.
Jan was from Kolomyja. He was a shipbuilder and maker of tar and pitch. A British sailor was known as a "tar." Tar was used to seal out water and to preserve rope from rot. Pine trees were used to produce pitch, tar, resins, and turpentine. The name Bogdan is a Russian-Polish name, meaning "descendant of Bogdan." Bogdan is also a Polish first name. This name might have been shortened from Bogdanski or Bogdanowicz(?), both Polish surnames. Gdansk was the shipbuilding center of Northern Poland, on the inlet of the Baltic sea.

4. Michael Lowicki
Michael was listed as being from London, England - a nobleman of unknown talent. Perhaps he was the boss/foreman of the others?

5. Karol Zrenica
Karol was from Poznan, Pomerania, Poland.

6. Stanislas Sandowski
Sandowski means "one from the orchard," and he was said to be from Radom (in central Poland). Sandowski was thought to have converted to Calvinism. Calvinism became the religion of part of the gentry in Little Poland and Lithuania. The Orthodox religion prevailed in Ruthenia.

7. Wilhelm Waldi [sometime known to the English as "William Yoday" or Waldo]
Waldi was a Swiss-German. He was listed as a mineral prospector. His name is German for "one who lived near a forest (Wald, in German = forest/woods). Most Germans were Lutheran by this time. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was the first to question the rites of the Catholic Church. Lutherism, in Poland, was primarily in Royal Prussia. Waldi accompanied Captain Newport on a search for precious metals. The colonists though they had found a vein of silver beyond the James River. The Germans and Poles faced precarious conditions at Fort James, which was built on the north bank of the James River in 1607.

Polish factories also produced ceramics, in Poland, in the Dutch style of the city of Delft. A Polish ceramic factory at Biala Podlaska produced porcelain with Meissen motifs. Royal Meissen factories were established after the Saxon King ruled Poland as King August II (1670-1733), "the Strong," He made Dresden the capital of Saxony, and the China was later known as Dresden China. Most modern Polish pottery still is made in various shades of blue. August had a man called Böttger, who ended up making a white porcelain-like pottery. This formula was to mimic the Chinese formula, for porcelain, which had been kept a secret until 1701. Böttger's porcelain made Augustus famous.

This Czectochowa church website confirms that the Polish glass makers and other poles are honored in Doylesville, Pennsylvania, at Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church. One pane includes Zbigniew Stefanski's name.

Many have seemingly forgotten about this contribution. However, my own husband's relatives lived in Glassport, PA. and they worked in the glass plants there in the 1900's. The Glassport factory was largely a Polish Community effort.


The art of glassmaking goes back thousands of years. The Renaissance era saw glass-making techniques develop to a new level. Venetian glass was very costly, while Bohemian glass was cheaper and simple, which made it more affordable for the middle class. For the first time, footed glassware developed, based on similar shapes made by goldsmiths. Other new shapes were tankards, jugs, rectangular bottles, and various goblets. These same shapes were seen in pottery. New colors sprung up, such as blue cobalt glass (from 1570). This color was popular in northern Bohemia, near the Polish border, on the Sloup estate. Roman or Romer glass was produced in Germany. They also had Karautstrunk or "green glass." In Hungary, glass-making was in various locations in the 14th century. In the 13th century, in 1419, Anthony Olasz was a glass-maker in Budapest. By the 15th-16th centuries, glass was styled into can, jars, bottles, cups, and goblet shapes. The Hungarian bottle (made in the 16th c.) was based on the German bottle. The bottle had a round bottom, a long thin neck, and a funnel-like mouth. These were used for storing oils. In Transylvania, it was thought that they drank their strong cherry wine from these bottles.

The Hungarian nobles and kings imported fine Venetian glass in large quantities. The Cserep/Cserepes family of potters were well established in Hungary in the 14th and 15th centuries. Other pottery makers were from the Fazakgyarto, Gerencer, Korsos, and Teglas families. Most Eastern European countries established their pottery in Medieval times. The royal workshops, in the 15th century, made a coat of arms and tiles for the king's palaces.

Potters, glassmakers, and goldsmiths all crafted their respected wares in Renaissance times, and borrowed designs and inspiration from one another. Eastern Europeans developed many wares that were traded to England.

The development of a new type of glass, called "Crystal," forerunner to lead crystal, began in Central Europe in the 17th century. It was named after natural rock crystal which, in medieval times, had been frequently carved into decorative objects. Many of these can be seen in European museums. In medieval Europe, there were two major centers, noted for glass making and rock crystal carving, Venice (in Italy), and Bohemia (Czech Republic today). Venetian glass making went back to very early times, as did Bohemia's. Poland and Bohemia have always admired each other's crafts and costuming. So most likely the Poles and the Bohemians traded their secrets of glassmaking. The Czech and Polish languages are even very similar.

By 1708, it was discovered that quartz and lead produced a glass that was far more transparent, that refracted and reflected light, and when decorated with cut designs, it made a pleasant ringing sound when tapped. That was the year that Michael Miller perfected crystal glass, opening a new era in European glass making. "Lead Crystal Glass," was much heavier than ordinary glass, more difficult to produce, and could be used to make far more impressive objects.

Shortly after their arrival, Jamestown Polish artisans constructed a glass furnace, that was located about a mile from Jamestown, on drier land. The Poles began to produce wood products. They established a manufacturing center which paid for their passage (indentured servitude), and they were made freeman. Polish people continued to produce wood products until 1622. The English and the Poles had strained relationships between 1608 and 1622. Their works were conducted under very difficult circumstances and they were often tormented by Indian attacks and suffered from hunger, especially in 1609 and 1610. Before that, in 1608, Captain Smith severely injured himself, when his powder bag fired accidently and tore the flesh from his body and thighs. Since there were no surgeons in Jamestown, Smith returned to England. Within six months after Smith left, there were only 60 colonist left of the 500. Some turned to cannibalism, as one man was said to have salted his dead wife for food. Others ate their horses.

William M. Kelso, author of Jamestown: The Buried Truth used archaeology as his glimpse into the lifestyles of the Jamestown colonists. He says "evidence of glass-making abounds ... They found heat resistant clay crucibles and melting pots with melted sand and glass residue, glass-making slag (froth), and over 7,000 pieces of European window glass (cullet)." The colonists sent trial ingots back to Europe. Kelso thinks that glass-making was short lived. Some of the glassmakers sided with the Indians, but those who did not bring them muskets/firearms were killed circa 1609. It is not until 1620, when Italian glass-makers were brought to Jamestown, that they once again made glass.

Archaeological evidence states that no product was created other than ingots. Perhaps this had something to do with the ability of the materials to make glass, or the inability to get proper heat? Perhaps they did not bring the most skilled workers. Not too many thriving glass-makers would want to make the trip to the Americas.

After this tobacco was their new cash crop.


It is now thought that Stanislas Sandowski had converted to Calvinism, since he married a Dutch Protestant wife. Sandowski had emigrated to England, to join Smith's company of pioneers looking for a new life in the Americas. An old book, written in old Polish script, was penned by Zbigniew Stefanski. The book was called Memoirs of a Merchant. Stefanski wrote that he thought that Stanislas Sandowski wrote a famous brochure against the Jesuit priests of Wilno called Idolatriae Jesuitorum Vilnensium Oppurnatio. Since Poland was primarily a Catholic country, many fellow Poles appealed to King Sigmund to put Sadowski to death and to burn his brochures. It is thought that Stanislas was from Ostroleka, not Radom. The place name was changed because Ostroleka did not wish to claim him, since Poland was mostly a Catholic nation. William M. Kelso found a number of religious objects in the shambles of the old colony. A jet coal cross seems to resemble current museum replicas that are produced by monks in modern-day Germany. Kelso's crew also found rosary medallions and a silver seal with a scallop of St. James. This tells us that there were Catholics at Jamestown. Ions such as these were frowned upon by both Lutherans and Anglicans alike. These were "Papist."


The English were Anglican, the Poles were Catholics, except for Stanislas Sandowski, who had converted to Calvinism. The Germans were mostly Lutherans. The ethnocentric English were poorly prepard to understand and accept a culture so different from their own. They disatained the Native American Indian pantheon as paganism, at best, and devil-worship, at the worst. The colonists wanted to assimulate the natives as menials. The Natives believed in many gods called Mantoac. They worshipped the sun, moon, and stars, as petty gods. The colonists of Jamestown built at least part of their village on marshes with stagnant water. This water bred disease, especially when they left garbage around. The Native American Indians had advised them against these practices, but since the English felt superior, they did not listen. The Poles made their own homes on higher ground, nearer the Native, and were basically disease-free. It is not clear if this was by choice or by chance. Perhaps the "papists" were separated so as not to influence the Anglicans? No one knows. I repeat, the swampy tidewaters bred millions of mosquitos. Mosquitos were carriers of malaria. Jamestown was located beside a swamp. Their shallow wells gave the citizens salt-poisoning. The colonists polluted their own fresh water with garbage and bodily excretement. This caused dysentary and typhoid fever.

Although today's archeaologists claim that some wells were not polluted in this manner. However, in 400 years it would seem that these wells had been altered over time. Not all additions and improvements could be detected.

To the natives the English smelled bad. The English were not fond of bathing, whereas the Native Americans bathed each and every day. Each thought the other had vile traits.

The English expected the Natives, as their inferiors, to provide their food, and when the Indians grew tired of their demands, the Powhatan Confederation attacked the colony. This was a result of their own failure of crops. They could not let the colonists take their own food stores...that would be suicidal. These attacks were in 1622 and again in 1644. Most of the killings were done as a moral message.

The Powhatans [meaning "at the falls"] had originally tried to help the colonists and provided food and other supplies. English greed made them ask for more and more. They were extremely RUDE to their benefactors. Powhatans could no longer tolerate this behavior. Englishmen were found dead with bread stuffed in their mouths. This message was that "they deserved to be choked to death, because of their appetites." In 1622, these attacks resulted in one-third of the colony being killed with their own tools. Others were found with dirt in their mouths, since they were "land hungry" and "wanted to eat up all the Native American Indian land for themselves." This tactic was done at other massacres in other colonies. The Natives thought these graphic killings would send a clear message to those that they allowed to live.


One time, Zbigniew Stefanski and Jan Bogdan were said to have saved Captain Smith's life (in Smith's own journals), when he was attacked by Indians. This refers to the Germans who decided to live with the Powhatan, after getting totally disgusted with the British. Smith is recorded as being held captive from 1607-1608. By 1619, the settlement had a population of about 2,000. Captain John Smith complimented the Poles for their courage in the various battles against the Indians (Polonia Semper Fidelis, 93).

In modern times, Komozja, the Mostowski family's state-of-the-art glassworks in Czestochowa bears the obvious marks of a successful business enterprise. A young mother, Kazimiera Zjawiony, her soldier husband (Wladyslaw Mostowski), her older brother Waclaw, and their friend Henryk Kozak, a glass-blower, had lost everything during the war. To establish a livelihood, they resolved to create their own glassworks business. Komozja opened in the spring of 1945. At the family home the four children, Urszula, Aleksander, Barbara and Robert, grew up learning the craft of glass-making. In 1994, Kurt S. Adler Inc. launched The Polonaise Collection by Komozja. This made Polonaise one of the most renowned names in Christmas tree glass ornaments.

They now have a 21,000-square-foot warehouse in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. and the New York factory works with factories in the Czech Republic, Italy, and Germany as well as in Poland, his mainstay. The original Polish factory has grown from four employees to 150.

The sport of baseball resembles the game brought to America by the early Polish settlers of Jamestown, Virginia (1609) known as "pilka palantowa." Zbigniew Stefanski in his "Pamietnik Handlowca" ("An Industrialist's Memoirs") of 1625, gives the facts of the Polish game and even names some of its players. AGAIN STEFANSKI'S WORK IS POO-POOED today. They were: Stanislaw Sadowski, Zbigniew Stefanski, Jan Mata, Tomasz Migtus, Gwidon Stojka/Stojak (a Ukranian or Polish name, meaning one who used a stick or cane), and Karol Zrenica. Some of these names could have been manufactured in Sadowski's mind. Again no one really knows for sure. I would wonder why these men who were skilled would manufacture these details. To what purpose?

The answer to this might be that Poles and other non-English were denied the right to vote because they were not of British descent. Governor Sir George Yeardley called a meeting in July 1619. English colonists were to vote for new representatives in Jamestown's government. The Poles asked to vote with the rest, Yeardly refused. So immediately, on July 30, 1619, Michal Lowicki, Zbigniew Stefanski, Jan Nata, Jan Brogdan, Karol Zrenica, and Stanislas Sadowski led the strike. The British Crown overturned the Virginia House of Burgess and granted them equal voting rights, and they returned to work. By no longer offering their labors, the Poles were able to exert economic pressures on the English, since most of their highest profits to the London company were provided by Polish industries. Governor Yeardly and the Virginia legislature soon saw the light, and undid the wrongs.

Some statements were:

  • Poles built the first factory in America. They were hired by Captain John Smith's London Company to establish a glassmaking industry in Jamestown.

  • Poles produced the first goods for export to England.

  • Poles staged the first strike for democratic rights, on July 30, 1619. They fought for the right to vote. Michael Lowicki, Zbigniew Stefanski, Jan Mata, Jan Bogdan, Karol Zrenica, and Stanislas Sadowski's slogan was "No vote. No work."

  • On July 21, 1619, Poles were entitled to the same freedoms as the English.

However, in 1619, the first shipload of African slaves landed in Virginia. The colonists then planted tobacco and other crops with the forced, unpaid labor of slaves. After the first successful crop there was no longer a demand for skilled artisans and the most of the Poles returned to Europe.

Many, but not all of these statements can be verified. The most recent writing about the Poles in Jamestown was in the William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, Volume 21, No. 1 (January 1964) 77-92. However, I have not been able to access this document as yet.


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