The History of Franciszek Kwas’ Old Warmian House
house built ca 1932
The first house owner and its builder Franciszek Kwas was born on 15 June 1871 in Dywity (Olsztyn powiat) to a farmer family with a strong Polish tradition. Warmian activist, folk writer, memoirist and folklorist. Also known as Wiarus, Sawk, Saweka. Although he attended a German school, he did not lose his national identity. Having completed his military service in Germany, he worked at his own farm in Skajboty (Barczewo gmina). He engaged in social and political activity in 1918 as a member of the Warmian People’s Council in Olsztyn and in 1920 as the returning officer for the powiat plebiscite control committee. In 1919, he founded the People’s Society in Skajboty (Barczewo gmina). After Poles had lost the plebiscite, he was a member of the Central Committee of the Union of Poles in East Prussia. In 1920-1922, he was a member of the Patronage of Farmers’ Associations. In early 1921, he attended the teachers college in Lubawa. On 1 January 1925, he became a member of the Union of Poles in Germany. He teamed up with “Gazeta Olsztyńska” and “Życie Młodzieży” newspapers, where he published correspondence and numerous articles defending Polish people in Warmia. He collected folk songs, publishing most of them in “Gazeta Olsztyńska” and “Ziemia Wschodnio-Pruska” newspapers. Franciszek Kwas’ collection of folktales served as a source for Augustyn Steffen. Franciszek Kwas was a well-known bibliophile and collector of any Polish texts published in Warmia. A part of his library is housed at the Research Station of the Polish Historical Society (PHS) and the Museum of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. After the war, he wrote his memoirs entitled “Recollections of my life”, awarded in 1947 in the competition organised by the Masurian Institute in Olsztyn, and published, edited by J. Jasiński, in Olsztyn in 1957. (The manuscript of the memoirs is at the Research Station of the PHS in Olsztyn) The memoirs make an account of Polish customs in Warmia at the turn of the 19th century. Franciszek Kwas spent his entire life in a settlement in Skajboty. He had six children, of whom his son Jan died in the course of war and August was murdered by the Nazis in Bydgoszcz. Franciszek Kwas died on 26 April 1948 in Skajboty and was buried in Klebark Wielki. In 1986, he was posthumously awarded the Rodło, a medal given to Polish activists in those territories of pre-war Germany which were incorporated into Poland after World War Two.
Franciszek Kwas, Recollection of my life