Roberto Polin Tapia

My grandfather Roberto Polin Tapia lived as a child in the Chapultepec Castle when his uncle Alvaro Obregón was president of Mexico. The story I have heard is that he was in charge of giving the Chinese cook the daily ammount of money for the food. What he did was to exchange the gold coins he received into less valuable coins and that is how he made some money. I don't know how truth is this story and/of how often it happened.
What I am sure of is that the eagle I have now in my home was the national symbol on top of the flag at the Castle. Why he got it or how I don't know.
It ended in the hands of my father Manuel Polin Loustaunau and I saw it my whole life at home. In November 1998 I asked him for the eagle after his death. He said No! But you will be dead- I said. No!- was again his answer.
Six months later he was dead. As we arrived home after his wake the first thing my mother did was to give me the eagle. But he didn't want it that I would have it - I responded. You take it because I want to- she finalized.
So it is now at my home and as I look at it I think of the stories I mentioned, my family , my childhood and my country.
Marisa Polin, The Hague


Response to Tara Mitchell and Karen Saunders on SLO and Zillis

Dear Tara,
I am very happy you found me and we can get in touch. It is really moving the memories you had from our visit to SLO. I can't remember the presents I gave you, but I remember you and your brother. I was then 16 ( it was 1981) and you were probably 13. I hope you can correct me If the relations and my memory are wrong. My father, mother and I stayed at your home. You had a beautiful home, with ditto guest's room, with very white bed covers and big white pillows. I remember everything white and perfect. (Every body has their own selection of memories of course!) I just told my mother about you and she also remembered very well the visit and your parents visit to Mexico, and that you had two Mercedes Benz (I suppose even then she liked cars, something I recently discovered from her). Your father was a tall and big man. Your mother took me to the City Poly of SLO, where she was very much involved and got all kind of information for me. (Then I was studying High School in Arizona). She was very kind to us, as all of you were. I had the idea that you were distant to our visit, and it is very nice to hear your side of the story, and I am very glad to know that it was also of some consequence for you, as it was for me.

Your parents visit to Mexico was soon after and they stayed shortly but it was also an enjoyable stay. My mother reminded me yesterday, that my father took them to a Paco de Lucia concert, I have to admit I was a bit jealous as I was not invited.
I think that you may be mixing memories with another visit from Mexican relatives. My parents always lived in Mexico City. Other family members went to Rosarito and Ensenada but as far as I know only years after. Also the Papas and Beer comes later in the story. The Ampudias and Reynaldo Polin are now there. Maybe my parents said something about Baja California Norte.
At the moment of our visit to SLO even though I was very much interested on the family history it was in a way a little bit embarrassing because we have not met before, but my father insisted to meet the Polin side on the USA. For me then, meeting your grand mother Rose was of big influence in my life. She was so enthusiast about everything, very warm. As I remember her showing me the bibles, they were at least two, and they were very old (1718). They meant not only the confirmation of my father stories' but the physical proof of my past. My European past. She also told me about her trip to Zillis, the name of the canton, she described me the church, the painted ceilings, the bench -that I am photographed next to it-. (Which still keeps me with some kind of doubts about the surname Polin of Pullinn). She also had, if I remember well a little yellowed genealogical book, that later on my aunt Julia in Acapulco also showed me a copy.
Roses home is also in my memory and the living room and a dinner with more members of the family, among them Burt an one of her daughter who was very near to her. The house was at a high place.
Five years later when I went to Europe, because I wanted to travel, to see the castles of the Rhine river, the paintings I have seen only on photographs and because I had to go to Zillis, the conversations with aunt Rose where accompanying me. I travelled for very little money and a back pack. From Chur I took a lift and I was left at Zillis. I went to the post office-hotel, and I tried to made myself understood but I didn't get that far. It was getting late and I couldn't go to the church under the town, but I still see myself staring at the beautiful "calendar" landsapes and listening to the cows' bells and thinking that my ancestors lived here. I started walking to the the next town Andeer as it was getting late. That evening I was already in Italy at a friends' house in a very different world.
It was only in 1997 that I was able to come back without discovering anything new but finally visiting the beautiful St Martin Church, with the oldest painted ceiling.

About "Parade Along the Creek", I think I saw it (a magazine size, white cover, grey letters and a photograph of a parade?) but it makes no logic because you said she wrote it later. I don't have it and I would love to have it in case you still have a copy.
Now a little bit about me:
After the first trip to Europe in 1986 I continued at the Academy in Mexico City and two years later I left again for two years to London where I specialized in ceramics. There I met Hans Hoogervorst a Dutch historian with political ambitions. I had been living in The Hague since 1990. I went again to the academy there and started having exhibitions in The Netherlands. Hans and I got married in 1992 and Gabriel Andreas was born in 1996. Hans became Secretary of Finances and on a second cabinet Secretary of Health. Since 1998 we live in our actual house and for the last two years I had been very happy to have my studio-gallery next to our home. Hans had left politics and he is now the Chairman of the dutch Securities Exchange Commission (AFM). Our son Gabriel speaks Dutch, English and Spanish, so actually he could communicate with all his family.
I would like to see a photo of you and your family, maybe one from the time we met.
Marisa Polin

Dear Karen,
It is very interesting all the letters you have from your grand father, hopefully you could share some of them with us. I am looking forward seeing these information, specially from and about Joe Polin from Mexico, because to tell you the truth, I know very little about him except a couple of anecdotes.
The trip description to Zillis is also quite a story and I think there is a lot to research there. I would like also to see some of the photos you have of the town.
Marisa Polin


Family Tree Wiki

I have taken a lot of the information that has been posted on Los Polin and some additional materials that my family has, and I have started a family tree with pages about each family member and digital copies of old photos. The page is a wiki, which means that many people can add stories and change the information on the pages. If you would also like to be a writer for the wiki, please email me or Marisa and we'll add you to the list.

I hope you enjoy the things I've posted and I look forward to seeing new stories a photos as they are added to the site!

-- Sarah Loos
(Indiana, USA)


News from Zillis

I just received this today and together with the letters of Sarah, Mark, Tara and Karen from the last months this makes it very big news. It means we may have found the link to the family in Switzerland and the book probably will give us even more information.

Dear Marisa,
It is exactly a week ago that a very exciting book concerning the emigration has come out: Peter Michael, "Hier hört man keine Glocken", Verlag Hier+Jetzt"
In that book you can see the following pictures:

I suppose you do know very well both pictures from your ancestors!
In your page you mention some of my ancestors with name Polin and Grischott. I am not sure at this moment if those are yours ancestors too, but the author from the book above could explain this very exactly.
The maiden name from Martin and Peter Polin's wife (born 1831) was Magdalena Liesch. Peter Polin's mother was Ursula Camenisch and Martin's mother was Elsbeth Camenisch. So they were half-brothers.
If you are interested in more informations concerning Zillis or the Polin-Genealogy then please send us a sign.
Peider Grischott

(On the first photo:
Magdalena and Martin Polin with her two older children, and their 5 younger children and ?
The second photo: my great grandfather Joe Polin and I indeed know the photo. Note: Marisa Polin)


More about Rose McKeen and Zillis

Hello Marisa,

My name is Karen McKeen Saunders, I am Rose McKeen's other daughter. (Rose had four children: Rosemarie, Bill, Jack and Karen. Bill predeceased my mother.)

My brother Jack told me about your blog last night, it is a fascinating piece of work....a family history quilt of information, if you will.

I did write an article about Elsbeth Polin and her work as a photographer in San Luis Obispo. It was published in Westways Magazine in October, 1979. I borrowed pictures from my mother Rose Polin McKeen and her cousin, Katherine Coates (who also helped with information and anecdotes) about their aunt. No article was ever published in the Union Oil magazine, Seventy Six, about Elsie Polin. I was editor of that magazine for several years, so that is where the confusion might have occurred.

Besides Cullen Coates letter about the Civil War, my great grand father Martin Polin wrote down his memories of his war experience: "Memories of the Civil War: April 4, 1892 - February 24, 1863." It starts out that it was written to his son O.M. "Oscar" Polin. The original of that story is owned by my brother Bill McKeen's family. My siblings and I have copies of the original.

I also have one of the large Romanish Bibles (1718) which my mother owned.
I also have correspondence to my grandfather, Oscar Martin Polin, from his various relatives. Oscar, from what I can tell (I never met him, he died soon after I was born) kept everything...including every tooth he pulled as a dentist in San Luis Obispo County. Included are letters from Joe (his letters from Mexico are typed, so they are faint but readable), Annie (in Canada), and Elsie. There are also all the bills, businesses he dealt with buying dairy cattle and more. I am slowly sifting this correspondence.

Information about Switzerland

Sebastian Polin and his brother (I do not remember the name) were prominent in politics in the area. They also had a home in Chur, the political center of that area. They lived with their sister Rosa, I believe they were all unmarried.

My family (husband John, and sons Scott and Chris) and I visited Zillis in 1999. I found an English speaking teacher who lives in Zillis to help us find out about our family. She was able to find a building still standing that was the building the family visited as they moved the cattle from the lower pastures to the higher pastures during the year. Using old photographs, as we had in a previous visit, we located a home which I believe was the Polin family home on the far side of the town. The teacher told us that a few years previously some children were playing and brought home some old Roman coins. Their parents wanted to know where they found the coins, the children showed them a cave and excavations found a cave with three Roman skeletons very near to where the Polin house still stands. We were able to visit this site. There is another home in Zillis with the name Polin painted on the side, none of our old photos resemble this home.

The teacher pointed out that if we drove to the other side of the valley and drove into the hills we could get a photo of all of Zillis, including where the family had moved their cattle. We did get this photo and used it in our Christmas cards that year. I still have some copies of the photo, but it is film, not digital. If you wish, I could locate one and mail it to you.

When my mother wrote her book Parade Along the Creek, she wished to share it with her Mexican cousins. My sister (Rosemarie), brother (Bill) and his wife (Fay )and my husband and I were asked to deliver a copy of the book to the cousins in Ensenada. We met with Rogerio, the father of the owners of Papas and Beer, and his wife. They gave us a wonderful tour of the city and were a wonderful host and hostess.

Karen Saunders
Glendale, California


Rose McKeen

Thinking of Rose McKeen from her granddaughter Tara L. Mitchell (McKeen)

Hi Marisa,

My name is Tara L Mitchell, (My maiden name is McKeen). My father is Jack McKeen, son of Rose L. Polin McKeen Riley. I ran across you blog about "Los Polin" on a little whim; I was missing my grandmother for it would have been her 96th birthday today... It's kinda silly but I googled her name in hopes I would find out something new about her and wow I found you!

I think I remember being a pre-teen and your family visiting from Mexico, we all ate dinner at my Grandma Rose's house in SLO Town Ca. Do you happen to remember this? It was the '80's, You would have been a teen yourself; if I remember correctly. What a small world. I also remember (I think it was you giving me a black scarf -I really loved it!) and hearing all about Papas and Beer... This was somewhere I always wanted to go but my road was to have a family instead... My big plan was to visit Rosita or Ensanada when I reached 18, and see for myself all the beautiful sights my parents Jack and Joyce, and Aunts, Uncles and Grandma had been raving about for years.

My father Jack is currently living in Rose's old home. Grandma passed away a couple years ago, and I have been thinking of her a lot these days because, in her last years; my Mitchell family (my husband Greg, son Jeff & daughter Ashley-cared for her in her home...) anyways the last time I saw her was on Halloween, so close to her birthday.

Grandma always wanted a family tree and had many stories to tell including stories of your family too--she would be very proud of you and would have loved to have had a hands on role of adding to the blog I am sure. She actually wrote a book called "Parade Along the Creek"; it was about her history growing up in San Luis Obispo. Have you ever heard of it? She wrote it about 8 years or so before she passed and something remarkable about that was that she was unfortunately going blind during this time, and yet still had the courage and determination to (and much help form people like my Aunt Rosemarie) finish and publish! It is quite a story for a lot of locals around here. We really enjoy it!

In your blog; it was cool to read about Uncle Martin and read what Aunt Rosemarie had to offer. These days the family is so busy with their own lives (our own little families) we don't talk much anymore. It is very sad but since the passing of my Uncle Bill Grandma's first son and since she passed so has Her sister Elisabeth and Brother Burt and as you know Martin Polin; our new families seem to take precedence. My dad (Jack) has many photos and we like to reminisce and tell old stories it is so interesting to us to find out family history and it just keeps us close to those we have lost.

After viewing your site I quickly called my father and he would be very interested to share some old stories or pictures with you. Would it be possible for him to get a hold of you some how, besides the computer? (he is not so hip to it) I told him about the "Los Polin" website and decided I would just print it out for him.. He was very grateful and he started remembering how he visited Mexico w/my mom, and you were a great hostess while your parents were busy with other obligations.

Looking forward to your reply & thanks again for starting the blog.

Tara L. Mitchell (McKeen)
of SLO Town Caifornia


My Grandmother's visit to Acapulco

My grandmother Suzanne and her husband Dick visited relatives in Mexico in May 1976. Here are a couple of photos with the family at the Pierre Marques Hotel.

Jose Polin, Juanita, Suzanne, Julia, Dick

Jose Polin, Suzanne, and Juanita
(I'm not sure who the couple and their daughter is. The photo appears to be marked Mr. & Mrs. Aznar and daughter.)

Jose Polin is the grandson of Peter and Magdalena Polin, and the son of Joseph polin, Julia is his sister and Juanita is his wife. So Julia and Jose are siblings of Magda, Robert, and Martin who are shown (much younger) in a picture in a previous post. My grandma Suzanne is their first cousin, once removed.

Sarah Loos


Hermanos Manuel y Eduardo

Foto de 1993 ?. Jessef (grandson of Manuel), Manuel Eduardo (son of Ml), Manuel Polin Loustaunau, Eduardo 'Minto' (brother of M), Dinorah (niece of M) y Monica Polin (daughter of M).


Mark Polin

Dear Marisa,
As you may know, my father, O. Martin Polin, son of Oscar Polin, passed away on August 17, 2007. I have a brother, Martin, and a sister, Elizabeth, and my mother's name is Susan. My sister Elizabeth found your website 'polink' shortly after my father passed away, and my mother, sister, and I enjoyed reading about you and your family and your vocation as a visual artist.
My family and I very much appreciate your family website, Los Polin, and we look forward to future postings and to our providing information that would contribute to the collection of knowledge about the family. We have some family photos of my father, his parents and brothers and sisters which we would like to share with you in due course. I look forward to corresponding with you.
Kind regards,
Mark Polin


Aunt Annie

On the back of this photo is a note: "To our dear aunt Annie, from Martin, Robert, and Magda." Martin, Robert (or Roberto) (twins), and Magda are three of Joseph Polin's children.

Aunt Annie, or Anna Marie Polin Miley was the daughter of Peter and Magdalena Polin. She was Joseph Polin's sister. Here is a photo of her:

This photo was used to create a large portrait which now hangs in the entryway of my parents' house in Indiana, USA.


Polin Women

This evening I visited home and was able to bring back a wealth of stories, photos and letters about my family.  

This is a photo of four generations of Polin women.  The woman sitting on the left is Magdalena Liesch Polin.  Her daughter Anna Marie Polin Miley is sitting on the right.  Anna Marie's daughter, Madeline Miley Beck, is in the middle.  And the little girl is Madeline's daughter, Magdalena's great-granddaughter, Suzanne Beck Loos -- my grandmother.  


Descendants of Peter and Magdalena

They had only two children:
Anna Marie Polin Miley (Nana or Tanny)
and Joseph or Joe.

The Mexican side are all descendants of Joseph.
I had just been contacted by one of the descendants of Anna Marie, Sarah Loos.
Here is her own text:

Hi Marisa,

I'm so glad you got in touch with me. I am a computer science and math major in my last year at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas.
My father has done some research (along with my step mom) on our family history, so I've Cc'ed him on this email.
I am also a descendant of Peter and Magdalena Polin. They had a daughter, Anna Marie Polin Miley or Nana, as my family calls her. Nana had a daughter, Madeline Miley Beck. Madeline then had a daughter, Suzanne Beck Loos, who was my grandmother. She had two sons: Bruce Loos and Gary Loos (my father). So that makes me the great-great-great granddaughter of Peter and Magdalena Polin. Which means we're third cousins, once removed.
I've also included an email below that my dad sent me before I met Barbara Tuffli and Cullen Coates in California. It has a little more information about the people I mentioned before.
I am really looking forward to reading Los Polin and finding out more about you. I also have a blog, though it doesn't have a purpose, just for fun and keeping in contact: www.sarahloos.blogspot.com.
I'll try to sort through some of the family info with my dad and then hopefully we can send you some compiled information!

Best, Sarah Loos
The next text is from her father Gary Loos:
I enjoyed visiting with Barbara and Rick over dinner in 1983. Give them my regards and tell them that I have visited Alma several times since then, including a visit to the cemetery just south of town....very interesting.
Nana (Anna Marie Polin Miley) (portrait outside your room) was Grandma Suzanne's mother's mother. Barbara Coates Tuffli is also a descendant of Nana's mother, Magdalena Polin. You are a descendant of Magdalena and Peter Polin. Barbara is a descendant of Magdalena and Peter's brother, Martin Polin. Nana grew up in Alma, Wisconsin.
Nana married Lucius Miley and moved to Spokane, Washington where he managed the department store. Nana was the lead sewing person for the store. Nana and Lucius had two daughters. One was Madeline, who was Grandma Suzanne's mother, my grandmother whom I knew well. When Madeline was a teenager, 190_), Lucius impregnated someone in Spokane. He then moved to Australia in disgrace! (Times were different. This was an ostracizing offense.)
Love, Dad (Gary Loos)


Martin Polin in Tasmania

The wildlife reserve (526ha) Something Wild was donated by the American conservationist and businessman Martin Polin.
In December 2004, Martin Polin, donated about 1000 acres of land to Something Wild for the Conservation, Rehabilitation and Education on native Wildlife. For many years, Martin purchased land such as this, which he has locked up for wildlife. The land incorporated in this gift has been preserved by Martin for approximately 30 years and he has entrusted it to continue and expand upon this important work.
Unfortunately Martin Polin passed away last year.

Something Wild is near Mt. Field National Park, Tasmania, 45 minutes north west of Tasmania's capital city, Hobart.
The reserve is a Non Government Funded Private wildlife sanctuary and is the worlds largest Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary encompassing approx. 1200 acres. The main visitor site covers an area of 30 acres allowing plenty of space for these animals to feed and interact as they would in the wild.
More about it at Scoop Travel.


Lo que me dio y lo que se lleva con ella.

Emma Loustaunau de Polin
(Emma Francis Loustaunau Remley)

Lo que me dio y lo que se lleva con ella:

Los ultimos años cuando le preguntaba a mi Aleli como estaba, su respuesta era -Aqui sigo-.
Hoy ya no esta aqui. Su cuerpo finalmente la dejo despues de una larga vida en salud.
Su delicadeza tuvo mucho sello en su vida y tambien en su muerte.
Correcta como siempre solo murio despues de ya haber terminado la conmoverdora y prolongada celebracion del cumpleaños de su hijo.
La familia no habia dejado la ciudad cuando fueron llamados a su probable despedida.
Ellos no lo creian, pero aun asi se reunieron alrededor de ella como, yo me lo imagino, en una escena de cine.
Mi Aleli murio cuando no pudo mostrar su elegancia, cuando no pudo expresarse, cuando la comida perdio su sabor, cuando no pudo darle una sonrisa a los que queria, cuando estar viva comenzo a parecer a estar muerta.

-me dio la consciencia del fisico, de la propiedad y del valor propio
-me entusiasmo a saber mas, a estudiar y a ser curiosa
-me cultivo el amor a la palabra, con ella hice la mayoria de los crucigramas de mi vida y los posteriores siempre me recordaron a ella
-me enseño a disfrutar la comida, me compartio sus libros de cocina y me enseño mas que las bases, con ella hize mis primeros pasteles y los ultimos
-me hizo algunos de los vestidos mas importantes de mi vida
-me enseño a buscar la perfeccion y a apreciar la delicadeza
-me enseño a ser discretamente orgullosa
-me transmitio historias personales, de familia y de los objetos que la rodeaban y el gran significado de estas
-me inculco la importancia de las fotos
-me dio el ejemplo en el arte
-con ella comparti una de nuestras mayores tristezas
-me enseño su dolor de madre
-escondia su fragilidad pero no de mi
-me dejo enseñarle lo que yo sabia
-me compartio sus errores para que yo no los volviera a cometer
-me acompaño cuando estuve sola
Ella fue mi amiga

-se lleva a su generacion
-se lleva las historias que no oi o las que no escuche con atencion.
-se lleva mi pasado
-se lleva mi amor
-me deja su recuerdo

Aleli estara con nosotros.

Marisa Polin
La Haya, 18 de julio del 2008

*Emma was the widow of Roberto Polin Tapia.


Otros Polin en el mundo

Aqui pueden dejar sus comentarios o preguntas o quien crea ser de la familia Polin.
Marisa Polin


Zillis 1997

St. Martin Church.

Zillis from down under.

Church bench with the name: Anna Pullinn.

Marisa Polin and Gabriel Hoogervorst.

The beautiful ceiling in St. Martin.

One average building in Zillis.

The only person outside on that morning.

A typical Zillis landscape.


Zillis, the tunnel, Polin or Pullinn

Dear Marisa,

I do not know much about Anna Polin, other than the family called her “Tanny” as a nickname. I know that she moved to Canada after her marriage. I believe that Cullen has more information than I do.

I told you all that I know about Aunt Elsie’s trip to Switzerland. However, I have visited Zillis twice. The first time was with Mother (Rose), my sister, Karen, and her husband. We arrived on a day that the town was having a funeral and didn’t want visitors which was a disappointment. We recognized the Polin Inn from the picture in my grandmother’s bedroom. However, we met a couple from California at a village 2 miles down the road where we spent the night.

About ten years later, one of my sons, Michael, and I spent 3 weeks in Europe and visited Zillis. The woman, Annie, whom I met on the first trip, arranged for us to meet the oldest (at that time) villager in Zillis. She never invited us inside her house, but communicated through Annie in her garden, about the family. She showed us a second Polin house, and said the roses in that garden were planted by a grandmother ? relative in about 1820 and that her mother had been a best friend of that particular Polin. When we asked about the spelling of a similar name on a pew in the church, she told us that was how we were supposed to spell our name---Pullinn. Whether that is true or not, I do not know as I never had heard this before. We asked about the tunnel that mother said her grandfather, Martin Polin, had told her about from behind the altar to the priest’s house. The answer was, “How did you know about that?” It seems that the entire village had not known about it until about 2 years before we arrived because some gravediggers had fallen into the tunnel while digging a grave. She was very concerned that we had known about it.

Karen and her family went back several years ago. She went on the internet prior to her trip and found someone who spoke English. She was told there was a summer cabin even further up the hill and brought home pictures of it. Sounds like something out of the book of Heidi.

Hopefully, my husband and I will make the trip this year or next, as he has never seen Switzerland or Italy and it is very beautiful.

I will try to work on my part of the research after Easter as we have family coming.

Best wishes,

From Rosemarie Carrington


Juanita y Jose Polin

Es curioso como a pesar de que muchos sentimos curiosidad por nuestra "pequeña historia" es decir la historia familiar, rara vez alguien se ocupa de ello. En esta ajetreada epoca en que vivimos se valora en exceso la velocidad, el andar rapido y muy ocupado, y en cierta forma esta es la excusa para no detenernos a vivir, a registrar, a sentir.
Cuantas historias interesantes no habra en las familiass son un patrimonio para el que se tiene ceguera y si no se registra, se diluye frente a nosotros como agua entre las manos. O peor, porque a veces ni siquiera lo vimos. Cuantos abuelos, que son precisamente el acceso unico y privilegiado a cuando menos tres generaciones anteriores, estan arrumbados en el rincon y son vistos como estorbo o como visita obligada de una tarde a la semana? Entre las historias que de pronto me gustaria rescatar es la de mi abuela Juanita. La imaginas huyendo de la guerra civil española hacia Francia y despues saliendo de Francia hacia Mexico por el inicio de la Segunda Guerra Mundial? Esa abuela que llega a Veracruz, despues en algun momento viaja al DF y conoce a Jose Polin Tapia, con quien se casa y acaba viviendo en Acapulco. Y esa abuela que resistio todos esos embates y siguio el viaje de frente aun vive. Acaba de cumplir 96 años. Esta muy lucida pero por desgracia fisicamente limitada a raiz de una caida a fines del año pasado que le provoco fractura de cadera.
Un fuerte abrazo y espero que nos veamos pronto,
Manuel Valverde Polin


Tester and Polin Store

The store is an historical monument and it was owned by Martin Polin.

Tester and Polin General Merchandise Store

Also known as Riverside Gallery 215 N. Main St., Alma
Significant Year: 1861.
Area of Significance: Exploration/Settlement, Architecture, Commerce.
Period of Significance: 1850-1874.
Historic Function: Commerce/Trade, Domestic.

Historic Sub-function: Department Store, Single Dwelling
Current Function: Commerce/Trade, Domestic.
Current Sub-function: Single Dwelling, Specialty Store

The Gallery House Bed and Breakfast (or Tester and Polin)
is a lovely and intriguing home established in 1861, worthy of its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The living room, dining room and grand front deck overlook the Mighty Mississippi. A sighting of eagles in their favorite tree or fishing, passage of the Delta, Mississippi or American Queen riverboats or towboats and spectacular sunsets generate wonderful memories. Jan's multi-course gourmet breakfast and the expanding art collection are also special features of a stay at The Gallery House.
Owner(s): Jan Hopkins.Open Since: 1985 with two rooms,.215 N. Main Street, P.O.Box 55, Alma, Wisconsin 54610, United States.tel: 608/685-4975 fax: 608/685-4977 e-mail: janbnb@win.bright.net

History of Alma, Wisconsin.
In 1848, two young Swiss men arrived in this area to cut the wood which would be used to fuel the steamboats which traveled the Mississippi River. They built a small shack and decided to stay. Others soon followed these early settlers. Until 1857, the newcomers were mostly Swiss immigrants. Perhaps the geographical features of this area reminded them of their native Switzerland. Twelve Mile Bluff was the original name (assigned by pilots of steamboats as they used a prominent cliff as a guide on dark nights) for the settlement.

The Bible and the Civil War story.

The letter from Martin Polin about The Civil War and the bible in Romanesque.

Here Martin's letter, one of the bibles he brought from Zillis CH written in Romanesque and a photo of Cullen Coates. All photographs by C. Coates.

First mails between Cullen Coates and Marisa Polin

By chance I happened on your write-up on Polink regarding the Polin family in California. My Grandmother was one of the Polin daughters who moved from Wisconsin and my mother, an only child, was one of Elsbeth Polin's favorite early models. We have a lot of information and many original copies of her photography - she was one of the first women photographers in California. I am trying to find the time to collect it and put it into some web publishable form. Glad to see what you have done.
Best Regards

Some few memories:
1. My grandmother Magdalena was the lost "infant" in the census
2. When I was young cousin Julia de Tapia came to visit from Acapulco I believe and brought me a wonderful battery powered red model car - I am forever indebted to her and have wonderful but vague memories of a very warm and delightful woman
3. My Mother was Magda's only child and she became the older "Sister" of Martin, whom I last saw when he came to my Dad's funeral in 1981. He borrowed a copy of the plans for my Mother's house, moved to Tasmania and built a replica of it.
4. My grandfather Roscoe Leslie was a mining engineer and met Magda in Mexico CIty - I was told that Joe's wife was a sister of then General Obregon (don't know if that's true) and they lived in the palace in Mexico City - and my grandmother was the governess to all the children. My Mother and grandmother moved to Salvador for many years when she was young and thus they both spoke Spanish fluently .
5. I think the article about Elsbeth was in a Union OIl magazine and I think we have a copy of it. My Mother ended up with a large collection of Elsbeth's work.
6. I am currently look ing at my copy of one of the many Romansch bibles that were in the family - my sister has another one and I believe that the library at UCCLA in Los ANgeles was given two of them by other cousins.

I am thinking of enlisting all members of the family to bring all of this material back together and give it to some historical society that will preserve and display it for all our offspring - and today we could have a lot of it on the web.

I have three long articles that I have not yet published:
A> A long letter by Martin Polin written to his son during our CIvil War.
B> An article that my Mother wrote about her life with Elsbeth - she spent every afternoon in her studio as a youth
C> A write-up that my Mother did describing her life and experiences growing up in San Luis Obispo

Best Regards

I am a bit confused about all the names. Julia died like 9 years ago, she was indeed lovely. Was the sister of my grandfather Roberto. Sarita was indeed Obregon's sister.
Plenty to talk about...


We should talk when you have more time. I last spoke to Julia many years ago and met her when I was about 4-5 and I am currently 61 -
Best Regards

I hope your show went well. I had another question about the Polin family. I have a collection of original photos of Elsbeth Polin - do you happen to know what happened to her original collection of photos/negatives/plates?? Do you think Rose might know? Also do you know if Martin is still living and do you happen to have any contact info on him?

I am going to see if we can get the family bibles back into a single collection and perhaps Elsbeth's photos and then see if there is an historical society here or in Switzerland that might be interested in them. Given the possibilities with digital reproduction we can reproduce them and distribute them to the families.
Best Regards


Dear Cullen,
I am glad you write back.
The exhibition went really well (220 people on the opening afternoon!)

We have a lot to talk about.
1 About the bibles: I remember my aunt Rose McKeen (nee Polin) from San Luis Obispo who showed me at least two very old bibles bound in leather. As you may know Joe Polin, was more of a traveller so I think he never brought anything from California except the long talked about Banjo. So on the Mexican side you wouldn't find anything as bibles or Elsbeth photographs. My aunt Julia, had an informal genealogical book about the Polins and she was the one who knew the most of the stories and history. My aunt Olga kept her belongings. After her it was my father who continued with the interest and he gaved it to me. My father Manuel died 8 years ago. My little nieces in Monterrey ask me all I know, so there are many of us who would enjoy and be happy to know more and give it to the younger generations. I would love to see one of those Bibles again!
2 it seems to me that more information on the photo's could be collected in San Luis Obispo. Rose's son had also some interest. And they had some objects. It was thanks to Rose that I got to know more about the family. She went once to Switzerland to Zillis (I had been there twice, very little to find! I am afraid that is possible that Rose is rather old now.
3 I am still not sure who are you talking about of "Martin"? My father'sa uncle (Roberto's brother) who died in an plane accident. His son also Martin, and looked incredible like my father I have not seen him in many years. He is I suppose around 70 years old. I always liked him a lot. His daughter I think she just found me on internet about a year ago. Any way this is not the Martin you are talking about because he had never moved to Tasmania. Could you explain me who are you talking about?
4 I wouldn't count on a society in Switzerland I think it must be USA-Mex, because that is were most of them live. As far as I know only me and my nephew Jessef (son of my brother Manuel, living in Nice, France) are the only ones living outside the two countries.
5 Years ago I found another Marisa Polin, from La Jolla, Cal. I know she lives now in New York, do you know anything about Polins in La Jolla?
6 I would like to work together and recollect stories, facts and objects, and descendants of the Polins.
I will go to Mexico in December so it may be a good time to collect info. My grandmother Emma (Roberto's wife) is 93, but there is nothing more to ask her. She doesn't rembember much.

All my regards,

Many thanks.
Attached are pics of my bible - it's the best I can do on short notice - also a picture of me so you can see to whom you are "speaking".

Martin would be about 80-90 now I think as my Mother would have been 100 in 2006 and he was about 10 years younger. I would like to call him again. He was in Tasmania (if it's the same Martin) as there is some sort of animal sanctuary there that he funded. They gave me his contact info but I never heard from him. I will give Rose a call in the next day or so - I spoke to her some months ago. I think he was the one who also supported the library in San Luis Obispo. He was a major property owner around San Luis Obispo and moved to Tasmania for awhile to get away from the nuclear power plant in SL. (He didn't realize that there is more danger from sunlight radiation in Tasmania than from the power plant in SL) I spoke to him years ago when he was living in Tasmania.

My current plan is to:

1. Scan the old Polin pictures
2. Finish (finally) the articles etc. that I have had around for years about the Polin family - and add in the pictures.
3. Figure out the best way to pull them together - I was thinking of a website with digital copies of everything so everyone could have access. (Some of the new collaborative web sites might work - or perhaps Google - but I haven't looked yet) Yahoo groups is another possibility.
4. Ideally have a way for family members to "register" so that people could communicate if they wanted.
5. Figure out who has what "artifacts" and try to bring them back together. I think the California Historical Society might be interested - but the important thing is to figure out who has what things so that they are not lost.

Best Regards

November 08, 2007

I have made contact with Mark Polin who lives in Utah. He is Martin's son. Martin was one of Oscar's children. He is going to put together a list of descendants as he know them and I will try to put something together to share. Apparently Martin died a couple of months ago. and Rose McKeen has also passed away. I'll let you know more as I gather it
Best Regards

Februay 7, 2008

Wonderful to talk to you the other day. My apologies for the delay in sending this. I am also copying Marisa so you have each others email addresses. (Marisa - Rosemarie is your Aunt Rose's daughter - Rosemarie thinks she met you when you were a child in Mexico.) I am also copying my sister Barbara Tuffli so she can see what we are discussing.

To recap some of the things we discussed - as I recall:
1. You will send me contact details on Robin and/or James Gray
2. You will contact the curator of the San Luis Obispo historical society to discuss bringing together as many of the family artifacts as we can manage into some sort of exhibit - question of whether it would be of sufficient interest to make it a permanent public exhibit of some sort.
3. We will try to bring together as much information and as many of the original photos of Elsbeth Polin as possible and perhaps Karen can help with her research on her life as one fo the first women photographers in california. WE will also create high quality digital copies of all the photos with subtitles
4. I will complete the stories I have with pictures of 1, Martin Polin's Civil War letter (It would be great to have a picture of the original letter to include) 2. My Mother's story of their life in Salvador with pictures and 3. I will send along the document my Mother put together on Elsbeth - question of whether it's the basis for the Union Oil Magazine article.
5. Perhaps Robin or James can confirm that the UCLA library was the recipient of two of the bibles - if so I will contact them and see if they want to have more of them. Either way we will try to find a safe and permanent home for them - question of how many there were r- I know of 4 of which my sister and I each have one. We will also create digital images of at least the first few pages for a digital family archive.
6. We will put as much of this as possible into a digital archive for distribution to all the family
7. We should put together a family tree with contact information of as many folk as we can gather - there are ways to keep all this online - which we might do - but frankly it would be important to ensure that there is a way to export all the data in case the online group goes under. - So perhaps simply keeping it in excel might suffice
8.It would be nice if someone could prepare some sort of family history based on what we collect - perhaps Marisa could see if members of the family in Mexico have stores, artifacts etc. to contribute (marisa I think you said you could be the focal point for contact with the extended family there??) Do you think karen might be interested in this task??

Anything else??

Best Regards

Magdalena and the brothers Peter and Martin Polin

Hello Marisa,

I have been working on our part of the family tree. I am missing some dates and will search a little further. Will send what I have in the next few days. My understanding of my great grand-parents, Magdalena and Martin Polin is that two brothers, Peter Polin and Martin Polin came from Zillis because the land in Switzerland was too small to support the large family.
I am not sure, but think that a brother, Sebastian and sister, Rosa, were left in Zillis. There may have been more siblings. If so, I never heard their names. When Aunt Elsie (Elsbeth) contacted TB, she was ordered to a dry climate for a year--either Arizona or Switzerland were recommended. She spent a year in Switzerland and was asked at that time to stay and be given
the family land, as there were no children in Switzerland. She returned to marry Uncle Frank but never had children because of her hearing loss from TB. I was fortunate enough to receive letters from her regularly as a little girl and our family visited Aunt Elsie and Uncle Frank when I was a teenager. Both were relatives of which we can be proud.

According to mother, Peter and Magdalena had two children, Anna and Joseph. The Alma historical book calls him Joshua, but I never heard family members mention that name. Peter died on the night he was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate. The Swiss tradition was for an unmarried brother to marry a widow to be sure she and her children were provided for. Martin married Magdalena and they had five children, as your chart shows. Rose was married for a year, but never had children. Oscar, my grandfather, had 5 children and I have listed them and will forward that list on along with their children and grandchildren. All of his 5 children are now deceased. The Martin that lived in Utah, mentioned in your letter to Cullen, was the middle, 3rd child, and the last survivor.

I confused you with Juanita and Jose's daughters, Elsa, Elena and Marina whom I met in Alcapulco in 1957. I did not know of Evita. We also met Elsa, with Rolando and ChaCha at that time and Elsa met us again in Mexico City. I knew Julia as she came to San Luis several times and she had our entire family for Christmas at her home in Alcapulco one year when my boys were teenagers. We all thought the world of Julia.

Thank you for all your work. I'll try to help.

Fondly, Rosemarie Carrington


Los gemelos Roberto y Martin Polin

Fotos de maquinita(?) de Martin Polin.

Bolo de bautizo de los gemelos Roberto y Martin.

Martin Polin Tapia (hijo Martin) y Ailyn Polin Tapia (nieta Martin).
Fotos mandadas por Ailyn Polin Tapia.

Hola Marisa!!!
Te escribo nuevamente pues me perdí bastante del contacto contigo. No sé si te acuerdes de mí, soy la hija de Martin Polin Barrenechea, hijo de Martin Polin Tapia, hermano gemelo de tu abuelito.
Fíjate que me encontré el otro día con mi tío Roberto y mi tío Eduardo y estuvimos platicando de ti. Los vi muy bien y les comenté que hemos estado un poco en contacto. También te acabo de encontrar en el facebook y te hice una invitación.
Mi papá y yo nos encontramos con esta invitación de bautizo de tu abuelito y mi abuelito y quise enviártela pues no se si ya la tengas, pues tiene 100 años e inmediatamente la escaneé.
También te mando una foto de mi abuelito cuando estaba en la fuerza aérea y la verdad es que sí eran igualitos.
Por último, te mando una foto con mi papá para que nos conozcas y sepas al menos con quién estás en contacto, pues yo te conozco por las fotos de tu página, pero tú a mí no.

Te mando un fuerte abrazo y espero sigamos en contacto.

Ailyn Polin Tapia

Oscar Polin

Estimados Marisa y Oscar:
Primero que nada un cariñoso saludo y un reconocimiento por el trabajo tan bonito que están haciendo uniendo lazos, tejiendo redes y reviviendo recuerdos.
Me encontré éste periódico de nombre " COOPERACION", con fecha de 22 de Octubre de 1949 en la "ciudad" de Zacatepec, Morelos y creí importante compartirlo con ustedes.

Rogerio Ampudia Polin


The Background: Zillis and Alma

Here some
background on my family on the Polin side.
I am
descendant of Peter Polin, who moved to Alma Wisconsin from Switzerland as a young adult with his brother Martin. I read the biography Kathy Kubly wrote. As I live in The Netherlands I was not able to find out the year he was born, thanks to her I know it know for sure (1840). The Polin's (originally from Zillis, Switzerland) moved to San Luis Obispo after Alma and my great grand father Joe -Joseph born about 1868- (Peter's son), moved to Mexico marrying a lady from Sonora, Doña Sarita Tapia. Even though they never learned each other's language they had ten children, among them the twins Martin and my grand father Roberto. He married Emma Loustaunau. They had first the twins Manuel (my father) and Roberto and then came Eduardo. Manuel married Carmen de Palacio Magarola and they had Manuel Eduardo, Monica and me, Marisa.
It is very interesting to know that a huge Swiss immigration occurred mid 19th century to Wisconsin. Back in Zillis, Switzerland they have not much record about it... Only at the the St. Martin's Chuch in Zillis there is a chair graved with the name "Anna Pullinn", could be Peter's and Martin's mother, but I had other information with the now used surname "Polin" starting from 1690.

Kathy Kubly's text:

POLIN, Martin.
History of Northern Wisconsin. Chicago: Western Historical, 1881, p 164 Martin POLIN, merchant, Alma [Buffalo County, Wisconsin], was born 13 February 1840 in Switzerland. In 1857 he came to Alma and clerked for a man named GEETER [DeGEETER?] for a short time. He then went to Stillwater [Washington County], Minnesota, and clerked for Benjamin & Gray. In 1863 he enlisted in Company F, Fifty-fifth Regiment, New York Infantry, and was discharged in 1865. In 1865 he came back to Alma, and was in various businesses until he purchased the store of Tester & Polin, in 1873. [For additional information on Mr. TESTER, see the Buffalo County, Wisconsin, biography of John A. TESTER.]In 1872 he [Martin POLIN] married Magdalena POLIN, a native of Switzerland. They have seven children: Annie, Joshua, Elizabeth, Rosa, Oscar, Olga, and an infant. [The POLIN family is enumerated in the 1880 census of Alma, Buffalo County, Wisconsin: Martin, age forty, merchant, born in Switzerland (about 1840 from his census age, which agrees with the year of birth given in the biography), to parents also born in Switzerland; his wife Magdalena, thirty-eight, born in Switzerland (about 1842) to parents also born there; and six children: (1) Anna M., sixteen, born about 1866; (2) Joseph P., age twelve, born about 1868; Elsbeth, six, born about 1874; Rosa L., age four, born about 1876; Oscar, one year old, born about 1879; and Olga, also one (twin of Oscar?) and thus born about 1879. Since the census contains six instead of seven children, it is likely the infant mentioned in the biography was born between the 1880 enumeration and the date in 1881 when the text went to press. Submitter did not seek this family in later census records. Bracketed material added by submitter (who is not researching these surnames) to support and clarify information given in the biography and to raise questions.]

Tester and Polin General Merchandise Store

Also known as Riverside Gallery 215 N. Main St., Alma
Significant Year: 1861.
Area of Significance: Exploration/Settlement, Architecture, Commerce.
Period of Significance: 1850-1874.
Historic Function: Commerce/Trade, Domestic.

Historic Sub-function: Department Store, Single Dwelling
Current Function: Commerce/Trade, Domestic.
Current Sub-function: Single Dwelling, Specialty Store

The Gallery House Bed and Breakfast (or Tester and Polin)
is a lovely and intriguing home established in 1861, worthy of its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The living room, dining room and grand front deck overlook the Mighty Mississippi. A sighting of eagles in their favorite tree or fishing, passage of the Delta, Mississippi or American Queen riverboats or towboats and spectacular sunsets generate wonderful memories. Jan's multi-course gourmet breakfast and the expanding art collection are also special features of a stay at The Gallery House.
Owner(s): Jan Hopkins.Open Since: 1985 with two rooms,.215 N. Main Street, P.O.Box 55, Alma, Wisconsin 54610, United States.tel: 608/685-4975 fax: 608/685-4977 e-mail: janbnb@win.bright.net

History of Alma, Wisconsin.
In 1848, two young Swiss men arrived in this area to cut the wood which would be used to fuel the steamboats which traveled the Mississippi River. They built a small shack and decided to stay. Others soon followed these early settlers. Until 1857, the newcomers were mostly Swiss immigrants. Perhaps the geographical features of this area reminded them of their native Switzerland. Twelve Mile Bluff was the original name (assigned by pilots of steamboats as they used a prominent cliff as a guide on dark nights) for the settlement.

The first two photo's are from the St. Martins Church in Zillis. The painted wooden ceiling is one of the oldest in Europe.
The third photo is an hoax, it comes from an old winery in Australia, probably as old as the real Tester & Polin shop.
The 4th photo is of Via Mala an important pass in the neighbourhood of Zillis, thanks to that money paid to cross the pass in the middle ages is that the region kept their economy. The last is the Martin Polin Library in Atascadero California.

NOTE: Since this text was written I have discovered new facts. This post is not completely correct, a better version will come later.

Introduccion al blog Los Polin

Estimada Familia,
Hace dias recibi una lista de miembros de la familia Polin, a este arbol le he aumentado los bisabuelos y los tatarabuelos, los conocidos del lado de Estados Unidos, que tambien estan trabajando en el arbol dirigido por Cullen Coates (que me encontro por internet) y he aumentado los miembros de mi familia. Opte por poner lugar y fecha de nacimiento y muerte de los que lo se.
Resulta que tengo gran cantidad de mails tanto de tios, como de primos (casi todos) y de algunos sobrinos, estos tambien los agregue, para facilitar el contacto.
Es increible una familia tan grande, et tatarabuelo Martin Polin tuvo 7 hijos, solo su hijo Jose tuvo 9, estos tuvieron en total de 26 hijos y en mi generacion somos cuando menos 86!. La lista de los sobrinos no esta completa todavia.
Ojala que les guste recibir esta informacion, si quieren aumentar la informacion que falta o corregir lo que este equivocado por favor regresenmelo (de preferencia las correcciones en otro color) para que centralmente desde Holanda pueda reorganizar y de preferencia completar de la mejor forma esta historia Polin.
Cullen tiene una carta del tatarabuelo Martin cuando estuvo en la guerra civil norteamericana y fotos de las biblias que se llevaron desde Suiza en Romanesh. Me gustaria si algunos de mis tios o tias tienen historias escritas o cartas, fotos, tambien pueden mandarlas y ponerlas en este site junto con las historias "del otro lado". Me gustaria que en especial escribieran las historias orales de Sonora de Dona Sarita y Joe.
Tambien les sugiero que vean mi weblog: Polink donde he puesto algo de informacion sobre los Polin. Y tambien sobre Cullen Coates.
Rose Polin McKeen me dijo cuando los visite de ninia de donde venia y he tenido la oportunidad en dos ocasiones de visitar el pueblo de Zillis, (donde no existe ahora ningun Polin), que les puedo decir probablemente no ha cambiado mucho desde que los hermanos Peter y Martin dejaron Suiza a mediados del siglo 19.

Espero que esta informacion les sirva de referencia del "Quien es quien?" de los Polin, a mi ya me ha servido mucho, pero tambien para la generacion mas joven y sepan por ejemplo de donde vienen los nombres Oscar, Olga, Martin, ya que Jose o Joe Polin les dio los nombres de sus hermanos y su padre y probablemente nombres que ya venian desde generaciones anteriores. (La iglesia principal de Zillis es San Martin a proposito es una de las iglesias mas antiguas de Europa con un techo de madera pintado, les recomiendo lo vean en internet. El pueblo de hecho recibe enorme cantidades de turistas que vienen a ver esta maravilla pictorica.)

Tambien hay en California una biblioteca "Martin Polin", me imagino donada en parte por los Polin de San Luis Obispo.

Gracias a internet estoy en contacto constante con la familia. Por ejemplo recibi mails de Reynaldo Polin desde Rosarito hace un par de dias por ejemplo (que me encontro por casualidad en la net) u hoy de Aylin Polin Tapia mandandome fotos de nuestros abuelos y de ella con su padre que por cierto siempre crei que se parecia el que mas a mi papa. Y tambien el bolo de bautizo de los gemelos nuestros abuelos.
Me parece tan lindo de que una familia tan pero tan grande siga tan unida por aqui y por alla, donde primos segundos y en ocasiones hasta primos terceros son amigos. Reynaldo me conto de una Polinada que hubo en el norte hace poco. Bueno pues quien tenga fotos de ese dia tambien me las puede mandar.

Con todo mi carinio, desde La Haya pero muy cercanamente,
Marisa Polin de Palacio