Opatz Surname in America
by Robert Prokott
|DESCENDANTS OF THOMAS OPATZ|
Generation No. 1
Thomas OPATZ was born 18 December 1815 in Dombrowka, Prussia.
(1) He married Josepha KUBITZKI on 14 January 1844 in Falkowicz, Prussia, daughter of Matheus KUBITZKI.
(2) He married Hedwig KRYSTOSEK on 1 February 1853 in Falkowitz, Prussia, daughter of Mathia KRYSTOSEK and Maria SIKULUS.
(1) Children of Thomas OPATZ and Josepha KUBITZKI are:
1. Franciska OPATZ, b. 11 September 1846, Dombrowka, Prussia; m. Valentin WEIDEL, 12 November 1872, Falkowitz, Prussia.
2. Jacob OPATZ, b. 17 July 1849, Dombrowka, Prussia.
3. Anton OPATZ, b. 12 January 1852, Dombrowka, Prussia.
(2) Children of Thomas OPATZ and Hedwig KRYSTOSEK are:
4. Thomas OPATZ, b. 19 December 1854, Dombrowka, Prussia; d. 10 August 1927, Little Falls, MN.
5. Alexander OPATZ, b. 9 July 1857, Dombrowka, Prussia; d. 25 Jun 1936, Morrison County, MN.
6. Johann OPATZ, b. 12 December 1859, Dombrowka, Prussia; d. 19 September 1939, Stearns County, MN.
7. Maria OPATZ, b. 16 July 1862, Dombrowka, Prussia; d. 19 September 1939, Stearns County, MN.
8. Stephen OPATZ, b. 15 December 1864, Dombrowka, Prussia; d. 15 March 1938, Stearns County, MN.
9. Phillip OPATZ, b. 23 May 1867, Dombrowka, Prussia.
10. Hedwig OPATZ, b. 1 October 1869, Dombrowka, Prussia; m. Franz BIENIOSEK, 4 Jun 1895, Falkowicz, Prussia.
11. Anton OPATZ, b. 21 December 1871, Dombrowka, Prussia; d. 1 May 1877, Dombrowka, Prussia.
12. Anna OPATZ, b. 14 July 1875, Dombrowka, Prussia; d. 20 May 1877, Dombrowka, Prussia.
In looking at records from the Falkowitz (now Falkowice) parish in Poland we found this name was originally spelled OPAC. Records later showed the name as OPACZ and OPPATZ but in most records after 1820 the name is OPATZ. Al persons named Opatz in America are descendants of Thomas Opatz and Mary Krystosek who spent their lives in the small Upper Silesian village of Dombrowka.
It is located about 30 kilometers north of the city of Opole, Poland. Dombrowka is within the Falkowitz parish. Thomas, fifth in a family of nine children born to Valentin Opatz and Hedwig Neuman, was born on 18 December 1815. On 15 January 1844 he married Josepha Kubitzki, age 18, the widow of Joseph Barton. She had married Barton on 12 June 1842 and he died shortly after their marriage. Thomas and Josepha had three children prior to her death on 29 March 1852. Thomas then married Hedwig Krystosek on 1 February 1853. Their first five children, Thomas, Alex, John, Stephen and Maria, eventually migrated to America and any person bearing the Opatz surname and living in America is a descendant of those four oldest sons.
Thomas Opatz, born 19 December 1854, stated on his application for naturalization that he landed in the port of New York on or about May of 1881. He presumably then went to the vicinity of North Prarie, MN, in southern Morrison County, to join other settlers from Upper Silesia who had first come to this area in 1870. He married Elizabeth Prokott at North Prairie, MN on 26 November 1883. She came to America in November, 1881 with her windowed mother and brother, Peter, from the village of Hirschfelde (now Kanio~w), located about 15 kilometers northwest of Opole. Thomas and Elizabeth had a total of 12 children who were born between 1884 and 1900. They farmed in the vicinity of Opole, MN until 1921, then retired and lived in the village of Bowlus. Both died at St. Gabriel's Hospital in Little Falls, Thomas on 10 August 1927 and Elizabeth on 14 January 1946. Elizabeth lived with her bachelor son, Peter, after the death of her husband. Peter was known in Bowlus as Pepsi Cola Pete".
Alex Opatz, born 9 July 1857, stated on his application for citizenship, dated November, 1892, that he landed at the port of Montreal in April, 1888. How long he remained in Canada is not known. He was married to Gertrude Bieniek, daughter of Victor Bieniek and Pauline Yaeger, at Opole, MN on 15 July 1895. Shortly after that they moved to a farm located 2 miles north of Bowlus and remained there until Alex died suddenly from a heart attack. Gertrude later moved to the village of Bowlus where she passed away on 26 June 1955. George, the youngest of their 13 children, continues to live on the same farm that has been in the family for over 100 years. Gertrude Whittemore, now 88 years of age, is the only other living offspring.
John Opatz, born 12, December 1859, sailed from Hamburg and arrived at the port of New York aboard the ship MORAVIA on 6 May 1884. On 10 October 1887, he married Catherine Garnroth at Opole, MN. She was a daughter of Jacob Garnroth and Elizabeth Kania. They farmed near Opole, MN and had a total of 11 children, born between 1888 and 1908. The youngest child, Anna, died in infancy and son, Thomas, age 16, died during the flu epidemic in November 1918. the other children lived to adulthood but are now deceased. John died on 28 December 1933 and Catherine (Kate) on 16 September 1942.
Maria Opatz, born 15 July 1862, married Victor Wochnick, son of Alexander Wochnik and Francizka Jendro, on 3 June 1890 in Falkowitz (now Falkowice). They had five children while living in Dombrowka, and three more children born in Steams County after the family came to America in 1900. Victor died on 17 December 1937 and Maria (Mary) on 19 September 1939. The youngest daughter, Barbara Wochnick Lamusga, is the only surviving offspring and lives in Edina, MN.
Stephen Opatz, born 15 December 1864, married Christina Kampa, daughter of Michael Kampa, at Falkowitz (now Falkowice) on 18 April 1893. They had four children in Dombrowka, including Sophie, who was on 2-3 months old when she died on the ship when the family was coming to America in 1900. Six more children were born in Stearns County between 1903 and 1914. Both the Stephan Opatz family and the Victor Wochnick family came to America on the same ship, the FUERST BISMARCK, which arrived in the port of New York on or about 1 October 1900 (as indicated on Stephan's application for citizenship dated 17 September 1906). Stephen and his wife farmed near St. Wendel, MN after coming to America. He died suddenly of a heart attack while at the home of a neighbor, Peter Lambert, on 15 March 1938. Christine died at home of a heart ailment on 27 June 1940. Their youngest son, George, lives in North Dakota and is their only surviving child.
Other children in the family of Thomas Opatz and Hedwig Krystosek were Philip, born 23 May 1867; Hedwig, born 1 October 1869; Anton, born 21 December 1871; and Anna, born 14 July 1875. Anton and Anna died in infancy and Hedwig married Franz Bieniosek on 4 June 1895 in Falkowitz. Records about Philip other than the bird record have not been located.
We have documented over 2200 descendants of Thomas Opatz and our research is still far from complete. The great majority of descendants in the Opatz family continue to reside in Minnesota but some have migrated to other parts of the U.S., living in various states including California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Oregon, North Dakota, and Texas. While all who came to America were farmers, most descendants now are working in areas other than agriculture, including a Minnesota State Representative and a professional basketball player. Barbering also has been a popular occupation in the Opatz family for approximately 70 years with Opatz barbers being located in Little Falls, Sauk Rapids and St. Cloud, MN.
And a Postscript:
Adeline Sobiech Opatz of Sauk Rapids, MN recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She was born on 15 December 1900 near North Prairie, MN, the daughter of Stephen Sobiech and Elizabeth Trutwin. On 16 September 1923, she married Simon Opatz, son of Alexander Opatz and Gertrude Bieniek. Sarn was a barber in Sauk Rapids prior to his death on 11 November 1974. Adeline has 38 grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren.
Editors note: Surnames referenced in this article are:
BARTON, BIENIEK, BIENIOSEK, GAMROTH, JENDRO, KAMLA, KRYSTOSEK, KUBITZKI, LAMUSGA, LEMPART, NEUMAN, OPAC, OPATZ, PROKOTT, SIKULUS, SOBIECH, TRUTWIN, WHITTEMORE, WIEDEL WOCHNIK, WOCHNICK, YAEGER.
Author Email: Robert Prokott
- "Silesia to America - A Heritage" by Robert Prokott
- Polish Genealogical Society of Minnesota
- Map of Silesia -FEEFHS
Dombrowka is located in northeast section of map, due west of Kreutzburg. Falkowitz (not shown) is northwest of Dombrowka.
- Map of Minnesota -Encarta
This article originally appeared in the Polish Genealogical Society of Minnesota Newsletter, Winter 2000-01.