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Family Name - French Roots - Diaspora - Emigration to Poland - Beginnings in Poland - 20th Century

Beginnings in Poland (Striking Deep Roots)

Jan Jerzy, a first generation Pole born in 1741, married into very patriotic circles in 1775. His wife Salomea Opacka was the daughter of a courtier of King Stanisław August and was the godmother of a child, whose godfather was the famous Polish patriot Tadeusz Ko¶ciuszko. Jan Jerzy was also a member of the last parliament, the Sejm, shortly before Poland was partitioned into oblivion by Russia, Prussia and Austria. His patriotic credentials were established by the fact that he was one of the few who refused to sign the 2nd partition of Poland in 1793, which was a political catastrophe for the Polish kingdom leading to its ultimate dissolution in 1795.  Like his father Jan Jerzy rose to the rank of colonel, various sources have him fighting with Ko¶ciuszko in his 1795 uprising and being advanced to the rank of general. Although this would be very plausible considering his the fact that Ko¶ciuszko needed leaders, we have no reliable confirmation of this legend.  Jan Jerzy was the only one of JJP’s children to have descendants, his wife giving birth to 5 sons, four of which were highly decorated officers. They married women from patriotic Polish families and many of their children went on to continue the military tradition of the Deskurs.

After the Napoleonic Wars from 1815 to 1831 a small part of Poland was given a limited autonomy within the Russian Empire with the Russian Tsar as its king. One of Jan Jerzy’s sons Andrzej was a member of the Parliament of this so-called “Congress Poland” and he signed the bill which dethroned the Russian Tsar Nicholas I on January 25, 1831, which was much like a Polish “Declaration of Independence”. Many Deskurs played significant roles in the insurrections of 1833, 1848 and 1863. Thanks to good management of their estates, most Deskurs prospered financially despite periodic persecution by the partitioning powers, Russia, Austria and Prussia.  In 1835 colonel Józef Deskur, son of Jan Jerzy bought the palace of Sancygniów north of Kraków. This was the most splendid of the estates of the Deskurs, which remained in the hands of the family until it was nationalized by the communist government after WWII. 

One of the most inspiring patriotic documents passed on to us is the memoirs of Bronisław Deskur (1835-1895) entitled “Dla moich wnuków” (For my grand-children).  This book published in Lwów in 1892 is the patriotic, philosophical and political testament of a man who was one of the commanders of the last great uprising against tsarist Russia in 1863 and who was also one of the first Polish noblemen to offer his serfs their freedom.  He writes: My dear grand-children… Nobility is primarily an exclusive attribute of an individual person and is born out of a man’s moral merits and his work. It is not transferred through blood to one’s descendents... Therefore, do not allow yourselves to get whipped up into haughtiness by the honors and merits of your ancestors. These belong to the past and not to you. It is up to you to earn your own (merits) through the way you conduct your lives within the society in which you live.” He continues to elaborate about the generations of Deskurs who fought for an independent Poland and how he tried and lost when his time came. Ultimately he passes the torch on to his descendants to continue the struggle for Poland’s independence. Both of his grandsons, Jan and Jerzy, for whom the book was originally intended, were highly decorated for their military valor in battles to secure Eastern Polish territory of the newly reborn Poland against the invading Bolshevik armies shortly after WWI.         

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