Barbara Toner


I wish that, while I was growing up, I had written down the stories that, my Babcia, (my Polish grandmother, Helena Olkowska Kolakowska), told about her life in Poland and her early days in Wilmington.    But I thought she'd be here forever. My sister-in-law, Joan started the " Toner Tree " and I caught the "Genealogy Bug". And so, I, too, am researching our ancestral lines so that my nine grandchildren won't have to search so far back in time.

All four of my grandparents emigrated from Poland in the early 20th Century. I still correspond with some of my Mother's first cousins in the old villages in Przasnysz, Dabrowka, and Makow Mazowiecki in Poland.  They have given me family information from the past as well as the present. The Polish lines are Olkowski, Kolakowski, Lukowski, Lisowski, Zawadski and Kupis (no “ski”).

My husband's ancestry is a little more difficult to research. We have, however, discovered the old family home complete with smithy in Malin Village, Co. Donegal.  We have also learned that my husband’s great-grandfather, John Toner and wife Jane Robinson immigrated to Wilmington, DE from Malin Village about 1868.

John, two of his sons, William Henry and Patrick as well as grandsons John Joseph, James Edward and Charles were blacksmiths in Wilmington whose shops were in the vicinity of Lincoln St. and Pennsylvania Ave.  William Henry had two wives and twenty-three children.

I'm a native Wilmingtonian, retired from banking and have three children.

My husband and I plan to return to Ireland and to Poland this year for more research.

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