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Kaua‘i’s Bukoski family – descendants of Polish immigrants who arrived in 1897

Several hundred Polish immigrant contract laborers arrived in Hawai‘i aboard the sailing ship H.F. Glade from Bremen, Germany, between 1896 and 1899, and were assigned to sugar plantations on the Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kaua‘i.

Their plantation co-workers and bosses knew, of course, that they were of Polish ancestry, but since Poland did not then exist as a nation, the ethnicity of most of these Poles was not noted in official Hawaiian labor records.

Therefore, Polish immigration to Hawai‘i was understated.

Take for instance the labor record of December 1898.

It lists no Polish contract laborers, when in fact many of the 158 contract laborers listed as German and Austrian were actually Poles.

However, the proper ethnicity of hundreds of Polish immigrants was finally established in 1982, when University of Hawai‘i linguistics professor Tadeusz Gasinski made an examination of the passenger lists of the H.F. Glade.

First off, he found that the H.F. Glade’s passenger list for April 1896 identified 80 immigrants only as being natives of Galicia, then a province of Austria.

Yet, by analyzing their given names and surnames, Gasinski determined that the majority of them were really ethnic Poles.

Likewise, Gasinski’s examination of the H.F. Glade’s passenger list for Oct. 1898 revealed 365 Poles instead of 365 Germans as first reported.

And, his examination of the H. F. Glade’s passenger list for July 1897 uncovered 220 chiefly Galician Poles and 21 Russian Poles.

Among the Galician Poles were Josef Bukowski, age 26, and Sophie Bukowski, age 20 — a married couple of Polish ancestry.

“Josef” was anglicized to “Joseph,” “Bukowski” became “Bukoski,” and the couple settled on Kaua‘i, where Joseph Bukoski was employed by Koloa Sugar Co.

Joseph and Sophie Bukoski had 11 children: Frank, William, Lawrence, Joseph Jr., John and Antone Bukoski, and Mrs. Mary Souza, Mrs. Sophie Vasconcellos, Mrs. Katherine Veveiros, Mrs. Madeline Souza and Mrs. Ludvina Lopes.

Today, the descendants of Joseph and Sophie Bukoski are comprised of several races and nationalities, and are among the most numerous of families on Kaua‘i.

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Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at hssgms@gmail.com

3 Comments
  1. John Patt May 24, 2020 6:59 am Reply

    It’s been a real pleasure to know Frank and Lynn Bukoski.


  2. Michoel Goldman May 24, 2020 9:14 pm Reply

    I’m curious if any of these families may have been Jewish. Josef Bukowski definitely sounds like he could have been.
    Is there someone in the family who may know the ancestry?
    Or how can we get in touch with the author of this article?
    Who knows?
    Thanks
    Michoel


  3. Mary Rapacon May 25, 2020 3:20 am Reply

    Madeline Souza was my granny! Every Sunday all the sisters would get together and go play cards and drink wine at aunty Sophie’s Great Memories


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