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Tag Archive | "Polish prayer book"

Yard sale find brings treasure back home


Inside the Polish prayer book.

A peek inside of the Polish prayer book.

By Judy Reed

It was a chance finding at an area yard sale, but one that intrigued Pam Hacko. The treasure? A 100-year-old Polish prayer book. And she was determined to find the family of the original owner and return it.

According to Sara Magnuson, youth librarian at Nelson Township/Sand Lake Library, Hacko, who is a patron at the library, used clues she found in the book, and with the help of the librarian and KDL’s Ancestry.com, she found Linda DeVries, a relative of the original owner.

DeVries, of Manistee, said she thinks the Polish prayer book belonged to her uncle. “He most likely received it for his First Holy Communion,” said DeVries. “Communion is handwritten in Polish on the front and back covers of the book, which would have been when he was eight years old, in approximately 1923. My uncle was born in 1915 in Manistee, Michigan and lived in Manistee his entire life.  He passed away in 1991. He would have had the prayer book for sixty-eight years.” 

Linda DeVries (left) holds the Polish prayer book found by Pamela Hacko (right). Courtesy photo.

DeVries explained that Manistee had a large population of Polish immigrants, and they established St. Joseph Church (now renamed Divine Mercy Parish) and School. “The children were taught their prayers only in Polish. Most of my Manistee ancestors belonged to the Polish Church and attended the Polish School. My mother, who passed away in 2007, like my uncle had a Polish prayer book and could only recite her prayers in Polish. I suspect he, like my mother, used the same prayer book his entire lifetime, explaining it’s worn condition.”

She said that her uncle had only one son, who inherited the family home and possessions, after her aunt died. The son, (DeVries’s cousin) died in 2013. His wife had already passed away, and he had no children. “It was the end of the line of that family and a sister-in-law inherited everything,” she said.

DeVries went on to explain that the sister-in-law had an auction company come in and sell all the family possessions. “And, there were so many possessions. A lifetime of collecting things. Small items like books, dishes, knickknacks, etc. were boxed up and auctioned off by the lot. So people would bid on a box and have little idea what it contained. I suspect that is how the prayer book ended up in some random person’s yard sale downstate.”

DeVries is thankful to have this one small memento of her uncle. “I am extremely grateful to Pamela for making the effort to find our family and return this little treasure,” she said. “It is so thoughtful and kind of her. I attended the auction with my niece and we both found it to be a heart-wrenching experience. It appears the prayer book was meant to remain in Manistee and in our family, for although it journeyed to a distant place, it made it’s way back home again.”

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