polski deutsch

1822 - 1882

Łukasiewicz - Youth

Ignacy Łukasiewicz, the originator and excellent organiser of the first oil field, was born on March 8, 1822, in Zaduszniki as the youngest of the seven children of Jozef and Apolonia, nee Swietlik, in a family of impoverished land gentry. His father, a poor noble took part in Kosciuszko Insurrection. After the failure of that Polish uprising, he moved to Galicia, where he worked as a leaseholder of a landed property. There was a warm, friendly, patriotic atmosphere in Ignacy's home. Unfortunately, in 1830, because of his father's poor health, the family had to sell their property and move to Rzeszów where they bought a tenement house and lived on the income gained from the rents tenants paid.

In 1832 Ignacy started his education in the grammar school of the Priarist Friars. He was a good, ambitious student also involved in patriotic activities. However, the poor material position of the family, which got worse after his father's death, made Ignacy leave school. Luckily, good knowledge of Latin and German enabled Ignacy to start pharmaceutical training in the pharmacy of Antoni Swoboda in Łańcut.

At this time Ignacy Łukasiewicz met some members of the secret favouring independence organization "The Polish Democrats' Conspiracy", which aimed mainly at educational and pedagogical actions. In 1840 one of the activists - Antoni Tarłowski was arrested and imprisoned, but Ignacy avoid sentencing owing to "his young age and lack of evidence".

After 4 years of pharmacy apprenticeship Ignacy took the exam which contained all main issues both of theoretical and practical pharmaceutics, chemistry and legislation. He passed the exam, got a promotion and started working as a pharmaceutical assistant. In October 1841 Ignacy Łukasiewicz moved to Rzeszów and took up employment with the pharmacy owned by Edward Hübel. This job gave him an opportunity to increase and intensify his professional knowledge.

At the same time Ignacy got in touch with Edward Dembowski, joined the Polish Democratic Society and became a regional agent. His main task was preparing an uprising in Rzeszów and its region. The pharmacy he worked in, was an ideal meeting point for illegal activity. Łukasiewicz got involved in the patriotic actions with enthusiasm, he kept in touch with the middle class, clerks, students, workmen, craftsmen and other social groups living in the area of Rzeszów, Łańcut and Leżańsk. The uprising was to be held in the middle of February, 1846. However, all the plans and preparations failed because of the massive arrests made by local authorities and military forces. For his conspiracy activities Ignacy was persecuted and imprisoned in jails of Rzeszów and Lvov, then released from prison in December 1847 on condition that he would stay in Lvov under police surveillance.

Only in summer 1848 Łukasiewicz managed to start his work in the Lvov pharmacy of Piotr Mikolasch called "Under the Golden Star". The possibility of working in that place was Ignacy's great personal and professional success. During this work he wrote the almanac called "Manuscript" which contained lots of prescriptions, analytic methods and pharmaceutical formulas. "Manuscript" is a proof of his numerous professional interests, reliability and commitment to his work.

In September 1850 Ignacy stopped working in Lvov and moved to Cracow where he wanted to continue his studies. In 1850/1852 he studied pharmaceutics at the Jagiellonian University of Cracow and later in Vienna. He spent 4 months in Vienne and during his stay there he wrote his doctor's thesis and passed an examination for a doctor's degree in pharmaceutics. After his graduation in July 1852 he returned to the Lvov pharmacy where independently from his work he was involved in research on properties of crude oil, occurring in the form natural oil seeps in the Region of the Carpathians.

 Łukasiewicz - an inventor

In those days pharmacies were the only places equipped with special laboratories and chemical apparatus. What's more, their staff always had wide and comprehensive chemical knowledge. That's why in autumn 1852 Łukasiewicz and Jan Zah began research on oil in the Lvov pharmacy. They intended to obtain some light kerosene and to build a kerosene lamp. They managed to do it at the end of 1852 and thus they became the first people in the world to obtain safe in use lighting kerosene. The year 1853 was a breakthrough period in the research activities of Łukasiewicz. In this period of time, while working with Jan Zah on destilation of oil he not only obtained lighting kerosene, but together with Adam Bratkowski he also constructed the first oil lamp which was first used at Mikolasch's pharmacy in March 1853. Public lighting of kerosene lamps in the Lvov hospital on July, 31, 1853 was generally recognized as the beginning of the national oil industry. That day Łukasiewicz, his collaborator pharmacist Jan Zah and Adam Bratkowski - the main constructor of the lamp, entered the annals of the Polish and the world petroleum industry. Besides, the Love hospital bought 500 kilos of kerosene from themwhich in fact was the first kerosene transaction in the world. Soon after Łukasiewicz and Zah reported their invention at Austrian Patent Office and received a patent on the invention. Encouraged by that success Łukasiewicz decided to move to Gorlice where a lot of natural oil occurred. He arrived at Gorlice in the fall of 1853 and stayed there until January 1858. Łukasiewicz began working in the pharmacy as a provisioner, getting extensively involved in industrial and social activities. He continued his research on possibilities of oil use and searched for sources of its occurrence. In addition, he initiated the construction of the first distilleries. He was also well-known as a pharmacist, analyst, toxicologist, botanist and zoologist. Besides, Łukasiewicz had a great share in coping with the epidemic of cholera which broke out in Gorlice in 1855. Thanks to his hard work and devotion the first in the world street oil lamp appeared in Gorlice on the turn of 1853 and 1854.

Life wasn't easy for Łukasiewicz at that time. He needed money to continue his work and he also wanted to get married. All this required a lot of efforts and money. Unfortunately new investments and numerous fires entailed great expenses. However, on April 20, 1857, after getting a permission from the government in Cracow and the Pope's dispensation Ignacy Łukasiewicz married his niece Honorata Stacherska.

 Łukasiewicz - an industrialist

In 1854 Łukasiewicz met Tytus Trzecieski who was interested in oil seeps in the Bóbrka forest owned by his neighbour Karol Klobassa. Trzecieski offered Łukasiewicz establishing of a partnership for exploration and exploitation of this raw material. The agreement was finalized and in 1854 the petroleum company Łukasiewicz-Trzecieski (Łukasiewicz - Trzecieski - Klobassa since 1861) was instituted. As the result, the first fully commercial crude oil refinery in Chorkówka was put into operation, and oil prospecting in places as Ropianka, Smereczny, Nowosielce, Gniewoszów, Uherce and Solina was commenced.

Opening an oil mine in Bóbrka and a huge distillery in Ulaszowice was the reason for his moving to Jasło where he leased a pharmacy. He stayed in Jasło until 1861. His further successful research was mainly possible thanks to those 2 places - the pharmacy and the distillery. At that time he produced 2 kinds of oil - the heavy oil and the light one.

In February 1858 his daughter Marianna was born, but she died of lung paralysis the following year.

Living in Jasło Łukasiewicz was involved in comprehensive economic, social, oil and pharmaceutical activities, e.g. he joined the committee for building town headquarters, he was the organizer of the agricultural and industrial exhibition at which he presented different possibilities of using oil in everyday life, at homes or on farms.

The year 1860 was unlucky for Łukasiewicz. In that year the distillery in Ulaszowice burnt down and he had some financial problems. Luckily the company was supported by a new partner and shareholder - Klobassa. In 1861 they dug up a new oil well called "Wojciech" which rescued the company Łukasiewicz - Trzecieski - Klobassa. The company which they founded and ran was the first in the world oil company and Łukasiewicz became its manager and plenipotentiary. He also took over as the manager of the oil mine in Bóbrka and oil distillery in Polanka. Despite his short stay in Jasło Łukasiewicz was respected and liked for his extensive knowledge, diligence and helpfulness. That's why in June 1861 he was conferred on a diploma for a citizen of honour of Jasło.

After leaving Jasło he moved to Polanka and since that time he finished definitely pharmaceutical practice devoting all his attention to oil industry matters. Then, in 1865 Łukasiewicz and his wife settled for good in their estate in Charkówka. In this village Łukasiewicz constructed an advanced refinery and administered oil well facilities in Bóbrka.

His home became a kind of headquarters for local oil industry, but also the center for the local intellectual and social life. In his company only real professionals and specialists worked. He employed experienced, ambitious, creative experts, e.g. Henryk Walter, Juliusz Noth, Albert Fauck, Adolf Jabłoński. Moreover - they bought and used the latest and the best equipment, often imported from other countries, even from the USA. The mine in Bóbrka and the distillery in Polanka were thought the best in Galicia and regarded as the source of oil industry.

Łukasiewicz was the founding father of Poland's oil industry and the international authority in the world's oil field. His achievements were the result of his hard work and commitment, the technological advancement, the innovative methods used in sinking, production and processing. In that time oil production was booming, oil processing was developing and trade in oil product flourished. More and more people were becoming enthusiasts of petroleum. Gradually Łukasiewicz became an independent industrialist. As his stature was growing and so was the number of his public functions. He became the member of numerous organizations of the national importance, among them the president of the National Society for Oil Industry Promotion.

Since 1876 Łukasiewicz served as a deputy for the National Parliament, working actively in the committees of culture, mining, and evaluation of real estate tax. He was focused on organization of legal and tax issues as well as improvement of occupational safety. Along with a team of enlightened oil entrepreneus and lawyers he contributed to passing of the National Oil Act in 1884. He was also a great patron of different institutions, schools and production plants for example the Association of oil and gas or the Polish Pharmaceutical Association. In 1880 he became the head of the National Petroleum Society, defending the interests of oil enterprises against rapacity and bureaucracy. All the time he was involved in local matters and worked in different local communal or district committees - financial, culture, mining or tax ones.

 „Father” Ignacy

Despite huge engagement in establishing of the Polish petroleum industry, Łukasiewicz had become known as very sensitive to human distress and injustice. His marriage and family life proved to be very successful and their home was a meeting point and a guest house for numerous emigrants and patriots. He was a patriot dedicated to the service to the nation and homeland, an activist and a philanthropist. He offered huge amounts of funds to support the 1863 January Uprising. After its fall he sheltered many insurgents, providing them with housing and employment. He also fought for social and political liberation of the oppressed nation in improvement of education, culture, vocational skills and growth of economic life. He was noticing an opportunity of improving living standard of the nation in development of the oil industry, devoting his entire time to these issues, implementing his ideas in life. Łukasiewicz founded general education schools in local villages. In Charkówka he opened a lace-making school for girls. He concentrated his efforts on establishing a lower education oil mining trade school in Bóbrka. In addition, he offered financial assistance and protection to children and youth attending schools and colleges. In order to protect peasants against usury he organized and supported community funds, established fraternal funds, offered loans aimed at improvement of agriculture and purchase of stock. He offered free lighting kerosene to local Orthodox and Catholic churches and monasteries. Along with Klobassa he built a church in Zręcin. He supported road construction and donated huge sums for the benefit of the poor. He helped to lay foundations for petroleum law regulations.

As early as during his lifetime, his many merits - unassuming manner, reasonable altruism, patriotism, eagerness to promote good and just issues - won him the respect and gratitude of his countrymen. During his life Łukasiewicz was presented with many honorable mentions and titles. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of lighting the first kerosene lamp he received a golden medal with his image from manufacturers who in this way awarded him for all his achievements. In 1873 Pope IX presented him with the Papal Order of St. Gregory and the title of papal chamberlainship for his charitable works. The development of oil industry and his achievements made Łukasiewicz not only a very famous person but also a powerful symbol of patriotism and hard work. He was appreciated by Polish scientists and politicians and became a honorary member of many different societies:

1875 - The Association of the Tatra Mountains
1876 - School Superintendant's Office of St. Kazimierz Pupils' Hostel in Tarnów
1877 - Galicia Pedagogical Association
1878 - Instrumental Music Association „Harmony” in Lvov
1880 - Galicia Doctors' Association
1881 - National Petroleum Association and Fraternal Help of Engineery Lvov College Students

However, the unusual professional and social activities weakened the health of Łukasiewicz. Being in his full creative power he died of pneumonia on January 7, 1882 and was buried at the Zręcin graveyard, near the church he had founded with his friend and partner Klobassa.

There are a lot of tokens of the nowadays popularity of Father Ignacy. He is a great patron of numerous institutions, schools and production plants, for example the Association of Oil and Gas the Engineers as well as the Polish Pharmaceutical Association. His name can be found on awards presented for outstanding achievements in the oil industry and Polish pharmaceutics. The Museum of the Oil and Gas Industry in Bóbrka is dedicated to him, too. There are monuments in Krosno, Bóbrka, Gorlice, Cracow and the schools named after him and scattered all over the country and a lot of different printed publications.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Oil Industry the year 2003 was accepted as the year of Ignacy Łukasiewicz whereas the day 13th June 2003 went down to posterity of our school. On that day we had the unforgettable celebration at which we gave our school the name of Ignacy Łukasiewicz - the great Polish patriot and the originator of oil industry.

Bonusiak Włodzimierz: Życie i działalność Ignacego Łukasiewicza. Rzeszów, 1985
Brzozowski Stanisław: Ignacy łukasiewicz. Warszawa, 1974.

This text is a summary of the Polish version wholly written by our librarian Agnieszka Juryś

Agata Hap