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.