Ignacy Łukasiewicz (1822-1882)

Jan Boży Józef Ignacy Łukasiewicz was born into an poor noble family in 1822 in the village Zaduszniki with his father Joseph and mother Apolonia. In 1836 he graduated from the Class 4 gymnasium in Rzeszów and because of the heavy material conditions in the family he began working in a pharmacy in Łańcut and later in Rzeszow. There he joined a secret patriotic organization and on suspicion of illegal activity against the invaders was arrested in 1846 and imprisoned until 1848.

After his release from prison he started working in the pharmacy "Under the Star" Peter Mikolasch in Lwów. In the years 1850-1852 he studied pharmacy at the University of Krakow and Vienna. In 1852 in Vienna he obtained a master's degree in pharmacy and returned to work in the pharmacy Peter Mikolasch.

In the years 1852-1853 Ignacy Lukasiewicz together with Jan Zeh started research on crude oil for technical and lightning purposes.

July 31, 1853 in a hospital in Lviv Łyczakowie lit for the first time oil lamps, which made a tinsmith Lviv Adam Bratkowski, according to the project Lukasiewicz.

In 1854 Łukasiewicz met Tytus Trzecieski who was interested in oil seeps in the Bóbrka forest owned by his neighbor 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. Lukasiewicz had been working on improving the processing of crude oil, the effect of which was a reward for petroleum products exhibited at exhibitions in Jaslo, Lviv and Vienna.

He honed also at the mine Bobrka technique of drilling for oil. He introduced the use of manual drilling rig (1862), later applied steam engines to drive the rig.He did also attempts to establish a school of mining in Bóbrka.

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 Chorkówka 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.
Ignacy Lukasiewicz died in Chorkówka January 7, 1882 of pneumonia and was buried in the parish cemetery in Zręcin.

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 societie

 

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