|Birth: ||Sep. 10, 1842|
|Death: ||Nov. 11, 1927|
Los Angeles County
Colonel John's father was a graduate of the University of Heidelberg in 1840. He was a Colonel in the Polish contingent of the Russian army. He was among those who entered into the insurrection in 1846, trying to free Poland from Russian rule. He participated in several battles until he was wounded and captured and imprisoned. He was in prison for 13 months without a bath or change of clothing. He was executed by the Russian government the 10th of March, 1848. His sister was sentenced to Siberia for 20 years of hard labor and was never heard from again.
Colonel John's family lived on the Sobieski Estate, which was located about 120 miles from Warsaw and consisted of 200,000 acres, being one of the largest estates in Poland.
On the 6th of March, 1848, Countess Sobieski was notified that she must go to Warsaw and meet with the Viceroy of Poland, who was the brother of the Czar. They made the cold trip in two days. On the 9th she met with the Viceroy. He told her that her husband, father and two brothers would be executed the next day. He also told her that if she would allow them to take her son that day and had him over to be raised in the Greek Church and that she would take an oath of fidelity to the Czar, then she could return to her estate unrestrained. She flatly refused. She was then told that all of her estate was immediately taken from her and that she and her son were immediately expelled from Poland forever. He Viceroy begged her to think about it before she made up her mind. She said: "Sire, you can tell the emperor for me, that he can take from us our estate, he can take from us all we possess in the world, banish me and my chld from our native land, home and kindred, to dwell in foreign lands among strangers. I may be compelled to beg bread for myself and boy, but I will go, and I'll teach my boy that he is a Pole, and to love liberty and to despise tyranny, and to revere and cherish the cause which his father cherished and died for, and to hate with undying hatred that nation and sovereign who murdered his father and kin and despoiled his country, and sent us into exile."
A few days after Colonel John's father, grandfather and uncles were executed, he and his mother were placed in a sleigh and under escort of Cossacks were started toward Galicia, which was under control of the Austrians. They were denied entrance. They were then taken to Posen, known as Prussian Poland. They were there a few weeks and then ordered out of the country. They went to the city of Brussels, Belgium. Were there a few weeks then went to Berne, Switzerland. They were there for more than a year. The Countess (Mrs. Sobieski) taught school to young ladies, teaching them languages, music and painting.
The Countess Sobieski's health began to deteriorate so they moved to Milan, Italy, where she had some friends. They were there over a year. While there and incident took place that changed John's life. An American citizen was captured by the Austrian government and placed on one of their ships. This man was originally from Turkey, which was under Austrian control at that time. An American captain, Capt. Ingraham, found out about this and ordered the Austrians to release him. They refused. He told them he would fire upon them if they did not with his the American, even though they had three ships and he only had one. They released him only after Captain Ingraham aimed his guns at their ship. John thought how wonderful a country America must be that they would go to so much trouble to protect one of their citizens who was foreign born.
Archduke Maximilian, the brother of the Emperor of Austria, ordered all political refugees to be expelled from Austrian controlled Italy. The Countess Sobieski and her son John now left for England. While in England they were visited by General Joseph BEM, John's uncle and by Louis KOSSUTH, who had been liberated from a prison in Turkey. Louis told John that he would some day also fight for liberty. His uncle Joseph went to Turkey to help fight the Russians and gain liberty for Turkey and then hopefully later, Poland. He died there in December 1853. It is believed that he was poisoned.
The Countess' health was getting so bad that John had to go live with a Polish gentleman by the name of Zolaski. The Countess Isabella (BEM) SOBIESKI died in September of 1854 at the age of 29. On her death bed she had John pledge to her that he would never drink strong drink, gamble or take the name of God in vain. He remained true to that pledge.
After the death of his mother, John was adopted by the family of Professor KALOSKI. His wife was an English lady and was very kind to John. The Professor actually taught for a time at Annapolis in America after fleeing Poland before he met and married his British wife.
In December of 1854, the United States ship of war, Constellation came into Liverpool. The captain of the ship, John CRAVENS, was a pupil of Professor ZOLASKI and therefore visited him on several occasions while in dock there. A young midshipman by the name of Abbot would also visit the Professor with the captain. He was about three or four years older than John. They became friends. John persuaded him to smuggle him aboard the ship, which he did. He was dressed as a sailor and was taken to sick bay, pretending to be sick, which he often was from sea sickness. Captain CRAVENS did not find out about him until they were entering the harbor of New York.
Arriving in America
Captain CRAVENS was at first very angry, but then got over it and asked John what his plans were. He told him he wanted to be a soldier as were his ancestors. He told him he could blow the bugle as well as anyone. Captain Cravens became John's guardian and John was enlisted into the United States Service on the 26th of April 1855. Captain CRAVENS was lost at sea during the Civil War, off Cape Hatteras, serving the United States.
John went to Carlisle barracks in Pennsylvania. From there he was sent to Jefferson barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. It was there that he met Robert E. Lee, who was a Colonel on the staff of General SCOTT. In 1857, he went to Fort Leavenworth, to help suppress the trouble brewing in Utah with the Mormons. And from there they went to Fort Union in New Mexico because of the trouble with the Apache Indians and later to California and back to New Mexico.
John re-enlisted on the 26th of April, 1860 into the United States Army. His company went to Fort Leavenworth, arriving on the 11th of November. The next day they received the news of the election of Abraham LINCOLN to the presidency of the United States. It had taken more than a week for them to get the news. John's battery had been converted into a fine artillery and was called to the east. They arrived in Brooklyn, New York on the 1st of December, 1860. It was there he experienced his first Thanksgiving, as it was not a nation wide appointed time back then. New York observed it in December.
On the first of March, they arrived in Washington, D.C. John was 19 years of age at this time. John was there for the inauguration of President Abraham LINCOLN. He was not impressed by Lincoln until he heard him speak. He said of LINCOLN, "He appeared so sincere, so true, so honest and sensible, that from that moment I had a faith in him which never wavered."
John's captain, Capt. MAGRUDER, came to him and asked him to go with him and join the southern cause. He told Captain Magruder, "I came to this country an exile, without home or country; the United States had given me both, and I should be forever true to the government of my adoption: wherever the flag went, I should go; and if it went down in defeat and disaster, I would go with it." He visited Captain MAGRUDER one more time after their parting in Washington. It was in 1870 and they talked of old times and MAGRUDER told him that he had made the correction decision. MAGRUDER died a few months after their meeting.
John was injured in during the war. He was taken to a barn, that was being used as a hospital. They thought he was going to die so a man asked him questions and pinned the information to his shirt. In his own words, "I told him that was unnecessary, as I expected to live many years. Right behind him was a Catholic sister, who, looking down upon the piece of paper on my blouse, said to me: "You are a Catholic." I said, "No, I am not." "You have a Catholic name," she said. "Yes," I replied, "I have been a Catholic, but I am not one now." She asked me what I was. I told her I was nothing. "Well, my poor, wayward boy," said she, "I shall stay by you until it is all over with you." "Well," I said, "then you'll have to marry me, as I intend to inhabit this planet for some years to come." She smiled and said nothing, but carefully watched over me until I was removed from the barn hospital."
John was at Appomattox during the surrender by General Robert E. LEE. He said it was exciting because two great generals were there together, LEE and GRANT, but then it was also a said time as they reflected on the years of death of their fellow countrymen.
John mustered out of the army on the 26th of June, 1865. He was for the first time since arriving in America, a regular American citizen. For ten years he had served in the army, fought forty-two battles.
(Much more about John's life during the Civil War can be read about in John's autobiography, "Personal Reminiscences of Col. John Sobieski and a History of Poland.")
All Saints Episcopal Church
Los Angeles County
Created by: Wisteria
Record added: Feb 24, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 85621954