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Galician Trails: The Forgotten Story of One Family
This is the story of Galicia, once a crown land of the Austrian Empire, located in the center of Europe. Although largely forgotten today, Galicia was a vibrant, multicultural place where the lives of numerous ethnic and religious groups were intertwined

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ISBN: 9780962665525

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This is the story of Galicia, once a crown land of the Austrian Empire, located in the center of Europe. Although largely forgotten today, Galicia was a vibrant, multicultural place where the lives of numerous ethnic and religious groups were intertwined for generations. Galician Trails explores every facet of this long-gone land, from tiny farming villages tucked into mountain passes, to towns filled with a variety of small industries and craftspeople, to modern cities with the conveniences of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The political struggles and wise compromises that kept Galicia’s citizens together for centuries, and the tragic forces that ultimately tore Galicia apart, unfold here before our eyes.

When Andrew Zalewski set out to learn a bit more about his grandmother, little did he know that he was embarking on the journey of a lifetime—one that would take him back to faraway Galicia. Along the way, he encountered many of his ancestors, from simple sheep farmers to nobles, from men who helped establish railroads—the exciting new technology of the late nineteenth century—to pioneering professional women of the early twentieth. One of the latter was the author’s grandmother, Helena Regiec Sobolewska, a talented educator and a determined, independent woman. She raised a daughter single-handedly through the turmoil of the Great War and the little-known conflicts that followed it.

Although the real Galicia disappeared from maps long ago, it will live on in the memory of anyone who travels there through the richly illustrated pages of Galician Trails. This book is for you if you are interested to:

   Discover the rich lives of those who lived in Galicia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
   Find out something about your Austrian, Jewish, Polish, or Ukrainian ancestors who once lived in the land that is divided today between Poland and Ukraine
   See how new mixed with old to change people’s lives
   Learn little-known details of how World War I and the events that followed forever changed the lives of the people of Galicia.

About People & Places

Galician Trails is the story of Poles, Ukrainians (Ruthenians), Jews, and Austrians who once lived in the small villages and towns of Galicia. In this multiethnic land, we also meet Armenians, Germans, Hungarians, and even migrants from Asia. This is the tale of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim neighbors, living side by side.

The Lösch family had its roots in Austria. Their story began with a father and a son who settled in Galicia at the beginning of the nineteenth century when nothing seemed certain, with Napoleon redrawing the map of Europe. Yet one or two generations later, their descendant Andreas Lösch and his wife, Eleonora Wilczek, would live in Galicia no longer thinking about it as a temporary home. Along their life journey, they developed close bonds with the Jahl, Telesnicki, and Winkler families, whose names hint at their multiethnic origins.

The saga of the Regiec family had its distant origins in Hungary, with an oral legend about Asian blood in their veins. The Regiecs’ story stretched from the simple life of a shepherd to the memorable one of the accomplished Joseph. The lives of Joseph Regiec and his wife, Stephania Lösch, became connected with the railroads that were suddenly opening the world around them. Their daughter, the author’s grandmother, would be shaped by her own quest for independence and by circumstances that nobody was able to predict. As a result, the life of Helena Regiec, a predecessor of many modern women of today, turned out to be inspiring.

The Sobolewski family traced their roots back to sixteenth-century Poland. In ancient times, they were minor nobles who moved east to become landowners, turned farmers. The Sobolewski clan lived among their Jewish, Ukrainian (Ruthenian), Bohemian, and German neighbors (with names like Baumann, Feyerl, Ernest, Halawaj, Herman, Kühn, Martyniec, and Schüssel, to mention just a few). Theirs was a large family, which for generations remained linked to the ancestral land. But soon after Helena Regiec and Franciscus Sobolewski became married, their lives would take an unpredictable turn, during World War I and its aftermath. The unearthed tale of Helena and Franciscus is the story of personal dreams halted by events beyond their control.

The people of Galician Trails shared a stubborn perseverance that allowed them to prevail over the adversities of the time. The big events playing out on the world stage constantly mixed with what the Galicians did in their free time or talked about around the dinner table. Time after time, the prevailing norms of that now long-gone society and our own preconceived notions about the past are challenged by the Lösches, Regiecs, Sobolewskis, and their neighbors.


Galician Trails takes us through the many towns of Galicia that the Lösches called home, including Andrychow, Wieliczka, Tarnow, Jaslo, Biecz, Liszki, Chrzanow, and Nowy Sacz. Our journey also passes through Cracow and Lvov.

With the Regiecs, we move from the tiny and poor Galician villages of Gierowa and Roztoka to larger places. We travel with Joseph Regiec to towns in the Duchy of Bukovina and to Vienna, the capital of Austro-Hungary. When the family settles in Stanislawow, we discover a charming city with a vibrant life. We walk with the Regiecs through the parks and streets, where the sound of Yiddish is mixed with Polish, German, and Ukrainian.

The Sobolewski family takes the reader to Bohorodczany and Lachowce, their ancestral homelands. From Austrian censuses and old cadastral maps, we re-create a precise picture of the town of Bohorodczany, passing by small shops around the market square. Continuing through the fields and along small country roads, we arrive at the family compound to discover the real-life tales told in these pages.

About the author:

Andrew Zalewski is a cardiologist who lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife, Margaret. They have two children and three grandchildren. He has always been interested in history. Despite a busy professional life, Andrew embarked on writing this book, a rewarding experience in which he learned about distant times and discovered amazing details about his family and the people of Galicia.

As Andrew writes in Galician Trails:

What followed was an incredible journey through the Galicia of the Habsburg Empire, the land where my Austrian and Polish ancestors, both Christian and Jewish, had once lived. Against all the odds of passing time and intervening wars, an amazing window into the past had opened to me. Information that had been buried in archives and collections around the world—personal records, old newspapers, church and school records, early photographs, and more—came directly to my desktop when I learned where and how to look. Without any need for me to travel (to places that might no longer exist or be quite different than in bygone times), a picture started slowly to emerge. Soon, I had the thrilling sense that an imaginary curtain was being lifted.

With each new discovery, my fuzzy image of the past was slowly becoming sharper. Multicultural Galicia, a place that well deserved the label “melting pot,” was unfolding in front of my eyes.
  • Softcover
  • 392 pages
  • Size 7" x 10" - 17.5cm x 25cm

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