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Our Family History

Karl Janowski

Karl Janowski

I have traced my branch of the Janowski Family back to Racek Janovsky in 1279AD in Pajrek, Klatovy, Czechoslavakia. Around 1500, we moved to West Prussia, later called East Germany, and since World War II, Poland. My great-great-grampa Frederick Janowski and his family waited until the Franco-Prussian War was over in 1871 to come to America. They immigrated from Tuchel, Germany (now Tuchola, Poland) in May 1872 on the Bark Louis. My Janowski ancestors came to Elmira, New York and found a place to live on Robinson Street near the foot of Horner Street. There, the family picked fruit in the orchards for the rest of the summer and fall. They saved enough money to purchase their first parcel of farmland along Esty and Robinson Streets in the spring of 1873. More parcels were purchased between 1910 and 1915 after the family moved to Esty Street. There were probably 50 acres all together (today we have around 25 acres and use about 20). As the neighborhood grew, many acres were sold off and they became the lots on Robinson Street facing Brand Park, and the lots on the southside of Esty Street and northside of Liberty Street. 

Frederick, his wife Louisa, and their children Gustave, William, Karl (my great grampa), Daniel, Johannes, and Julia worked the farm. Frederick died in 1885 and the farm was left to his children. 

As the children grew older and eventually died, the farm was left to the seven children of Karl (including Gus, my grampa Albert, and Fritz who continued the business calling themselves the “Janowski Brothers” providing many Elmira grocery stores and restaurants with fresh vegetables. Between 1910 and 1915, Uncle Gus started buying more parcels of land. Eventually, Albert was the last of the three brothers and he and his sons continued the business as “C. Albert Janowski & Sons.” After his death in 1976, his sons Robert and Paul formed “Janowski Gardens.” I am Robert’s daughter, and have continued the family tradition by helping on the farm for many years. Good family friends including Denny Smith, Scott Tolbert, and Jim Freeman also contribute their time to the helping the family operation. My brother, Tom, worked on the farm until he graduated from college and now lives in Rochester, New York.

Many residents remember the years, before her retirement, that my mother, Hildegard Janowski ran the vegetable stand behind the house. She was born in East Germany, but her family moved to West Germany before the end of World War II. She immigrated to the United States in 1957, and became a U.S. citizen in 1962. Therefore, I am a first-generation American on my mother’s side.

I’ve done a lot of local family genealogy using the Chemung County census at the Steele Memorial Library and found that my last name was usually misspelled - Jenusky, Genasky, Janawski, Joloski, Jenosky, Jalowski, Janosky, Jenowski, Jenuski, Janowskie, Jamowfki, Janwoski, Joneski, Geneski, Gineski, Janiesky, Jannuaski, Janeszka, Jaeniski, Janaski, Janoska, Jenofsky, Janowsko, Janovska, Janoosky, Jonowsky, Jannowski, and Jinosky. My favorite misspelling, though, is Chanowski. It was probably very difficult being a census taker at the turn of the 20th century, but it also makes it very difficult to do family research today.

Today’s homegrown specialties of Janowski Gardens include sweet corn, cabbage, squash, potatoes, beans, strawberries, lettuce, swiss chard, onions, collards, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and melons.

- Diane Janowski

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