Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Anonymous Dead

I spent another day lost in the images of old newspapers at Old Fulton NY Postcards, skimming through news reports of slate quarry accidents for mention of a mystery Pereksta cousin reportedly killed in a mining accident in Vermont in the early 1900s.

While fatalities in the slate quarries of New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania weren't reported daily, there were dozens and dozens of reports. My first two search requests yielded over 500 hits each. I got a manageable list of 154 articles on my fourth try. It was very dangerous work. The demented genealogist in me perked up, thinking that there would be ample occasion to find my Pereksta mentioned.

Wrong. Lots of fatalities. Lots of news reports. But almost all the Eastern European immigrant fatalities were reported as unnamed Hungarians.
Five Workmen Probably Killed in an Accident in a Slate Quarry
Allentown, Pa., March 1 - While seven quarrymen were at work this morning in the slate quarry... the top caved in, burying Joseph Reamley, Samuel Kreitz, Griffith O. Pritchard, William R. Jones and three Hungarians....
(The Brooklyn [NY] Daily Eagle, 1 March 1894, p. 1, col. 4)

This next report adds the insult of scant vocabulary to fatal injury when compared to the adjective laden report of Mr. Williams' death.
Fatalities at Granville 
Rowland Williams, a native of Wales, while at work in Norton Brothers' slate quarry at Granville on Wednesday afternoon, was instantly killed by a huge stone which fell from the ledge and crushed him. His body was terribly mangled. He leaves a wife and four children.
A Hungarian working in Hughes quarry at Granville was struck on the head by a falling stone and killed on Tuesday afternoon. 
(Glen Falls [NY], The Morning Star, 30 July 1897, p. 8, col. 2)

There was a widely reported collapse in 1905 that killed several men - though reports of the numbers range from eight to 14. I read thirteen accounts of the accident. Most read like this one.
Cave-In Fatal to 14
Awful Accident in a Vermont Slate Quarry This Morning
Troy, N.Y., Oct. 6 - Sixteen men were buried this morning in a cave-in of the Vermont Slate company's quarry, about two and a half miles from Granville, N.Y.  
David Cadwallader and Fraser Queen, foremen of the quarry, were rescued. The latter is expected to die. The 14 dead include J. B. Williams, president of the company, and Hungarian laborers. 
Four bodies had been removed by 11 o'clock.
(The Auburn [NY] Citizen, 6 October 1905, p. 5, col. 8)
Only two papers, The Syracuse Journal and The Binghamton Press, named the immigrant laborers, Stephen Banois, John Illnetakie, Joseph Illnetakie, Netro Demsic, John Toronco and Joseph Wasick. The next spring there was another accident nearby.

Two Men Killed in a Quarry
Troy, N.Y., June 22 - John Hasoyd Roberts of Warren's Switch, and an unknown Hungarian were killed by a cave-in in the slate quarry of Beecher & Company.... Robert Jones of Granville and two Hungarians were injured, the former probably fatally....
(New York, The Evening Post, 22 June 1906, p. 1, col. 2)
I suspect this accident warranted a full paragraph because young Norton was injured. 
Slate Quarry Accident
Hungarian Killed and Granville Resident Seriously Injured. 
A falling rock in one of the Norton Brothers' slate quarries at Granville Tuesday afternoon killed a Hungarian and seriously injured Hiram Norton, son of James Norton, village president of Granville, and senior member of the firm of Norton Brothers. The block was being lifted when it slipped from the chain, and falling struck a rock in the side of the quarry, breaking into two parts. One struck the Hungarian on the top of the head, killing him instantly; the other struck Mr. Norton on the side of the head and shoulder, bruising the head and cutting open his shoulder badly. His injuries, while serious, are not thought to be dangerous. 
(Glen Falls [NY], The Morning Star, 13 February 1908, p. 8, col. 5)

This article names the Welsh miner who could not rescue the victim, but neither the victim nor his friend.
A Fatal Dive
A young Hungarian was drowned in the Mettowee river while swimming Friday near the Sheldon slate quarry in Granville.... [He] was accompanied by another Hungarian, who called for help. His cries were heard by Myrddin Jones, at work in a quarry. Jones dived in....
(Glen Falls [NY], The Morning Star, 4 August 1908, p. 8, col. 4)
This article actually named two Hungarian men, though not the two or three others who were still missing.

Was Covered by Tons of Slate Rock and Earth
... A remarkable escape from death was that of Phabbeus Drewseitch, who, with four or five other Hungarians, was buried in a cave-in of rock and earth at Owen Brothers slate quarry near Granville on Tuesday morning....
The dead body of Steve Sautjes, another victim, was recovered....
(Glen Falls [NY], The Morning Star, 15 April 1909, p. 8, col. 6)
There were more, but I'd seen enough. I'll have to find another avenue of investigation to see if I can locate documentation supporting or disproving the family story of a mystery cousin's death.

Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [ LC-USF34- 045884-D [P&P] LOT 1246 ]

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day is Done - Memorial Day

In honor of all our family who have served in the military, but especially in memory of those who died during that service.

James Conway, born about 1751 in Prince William County, Virginia and died 28 December 1776 near Trenton, New Jersey. 

Matthew Judson McAdams, born 15 August 1835 in Washington County, Tennessee and died 19 June 1863 at Nashville, Tennessee.

Elisha T. McComas, born about 1840 in Sangamon County, Illinois and died 6 January 1863 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Ralph Eugene Williams, born 10 October 1895 in Comers Rock, Grayson County, Virginia and died 9 October 1918 in the Argonne Forest, Meuse, France.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Carpatho-Rusyn FAN Club ~ Hamzik, Rudik and Havtur

This is another of the FAN Club photographs belonging to my grandparents Stephen Popp (Stefan Papp) and Anna Pereksta of Binghamton, NY. 

On the back of the photograph is written Anna Hamzik, Mrs. Rudik, Mrs. Havtur.

Two Anna Hamziks appear in the Binghamton, NY City Directories available on Anna Macko (1890-1961) was married to Michael Hamzik. They did not move to Binghamton until sometime before the 1930 census. In 1920 they were living in Montana. Anna Macko Hamzik is reported to have to come to the United States as a child. Anna Bancansky (1894-1966) was married to Joseph Hamzik. They moved to Binghamton sometime after 1930. According to the 1930 census she was born in Czechoslovakia and emigrated to the United States in 1911. 

In addition to the two Anna Hamziks, there is also an Anna Hemzik living nearby in Johnson City in the 1930 census. She was born about 1899 in Pennsylvania to Czechoslovakian born parents and was married to Andrew Hemzik. 

Mary Vaszko Rudik (1895-1964) is the only Mrs. Rudik found in Binghamton, NY census or city directory records. She was born in Ruské, a village near my grandmother's village in today's Slovakia and emigrated to the United States in 1911. She married Frank Rudik in 1915 at St. Michael's Church in Binghamton.

There are two potential Mrs. Havturs, sisters-in-law who were each named Helen. Helen Wasko Havtur Selanich (1894-1972) was also born in Ruské. (She and Mary Vaszko Rudik may have been related, but they were not siblings. Each named different parents on their marriage records.) Helen Wasko married Frank Havtur. Helen Bundga married Frank's brother John in 1916. She was born in Starina, the village where my grandmother's mother was born. Based on the descriptions in their immigration records the picture above is most likely Helen Bundga Havtur.

This is a challenging photograph to date or place. I have a similar photograph of my grandmother that I have assumed was taken shortly after she arrived in the United States in 1913. But if either of the Anna Hamziks are the woman pictured they do not appear to have been in Binghamton until after 1920. There are newspaper reports in the Binghamton (NY) Press referring to folk dancers led by Mrs. Helen Havtur and it may be the woman all participated with her.

I would be delighted to share high resolution scans of these images and source information with anyone researching these families. Please leave a comment or email me (there is a link in the righthand column).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mary Pereksta Kontir - Wordless Wednesday

My first cousin once removed, Mary Pereksta Kontir, daughter of John and Mary Pereksta of Clifton, NJ. 1928.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Carpatho-Rusyn FAN Club ~ Helena Basos

This is another of the FAN Club photographs belonging to my grandparents Stephen Popp (Stefan Papp) and Anna Pereksta of Binghamton, NY. 

The photograph is identified as Helena Basos in ink on the front. The only Helen Basos found in the Binghamton, NY City Directories available on is the wife of William Basos. She first appears in the 1923 directory, living with William, a grocer, at 51 Dickinson Street. He appears living alone or with a brother from 1911 through 1922. They both appear in the directories through 1959. 

She and William are enumerated together in the 1920 census. She is listed as born about 1894 in Czechoslovakia, emigrating to the United States in 1911 and working as a sorter at a tannery. The 1930 Census information is similar, though she is no longer working, but adds that she was married for the first time at age 20 (about 1913).

A death notice for Helen Basos was published on Saturday, 21 May 1960 in the Binghamton Press. It reads
Mrs. Helen Basos, 20 Holland St., Binghamton, died Friday at 9:35 p.m. at Wilson Memorial Hospital. She is survived by her husband, William Basos, Binghamton; one sister, Mrs. Theresa Pirich, Johnson City; one brother, Andrew Wacendak, Binghamton; several nieces and nephews. The family operates a grocery store on Clinton St. The body was removed to the Greskovic Funeral Home, 161 Clinton St., where the funeral will be held Monday at 9:30 a.m. Burial will be in Riverhurst Cemetery, Endicott. Friends may call at the funeral home this evening from 7 to 9 and Sunday afternoon and evening.
I found no immigration records for Helen Basos or her husband, but his World War I Draft registration card indicates he was born in Dara, a village near my grandmother Anna Pereksta's birthplace in today's Slovakia.

I would be delighted to share high resolution scans of these images and source information with anyone researching these families. Please leave a comment or email me (there is a link in the righthand column).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Swinging from the vines or reaching for the stars?

I have upon occasion (here and here and here, for example) expressed my frustration with current genealogy software. Those of you lucky (cough) enough to have spent time with me personally have heard me rant vent express my opinions. Some of my frustrations are the result of my own haphazard efforts, but many result from the challenges of analyzing and recording cluster research projects.

Imagine my reaction when almost the first words out of Elizabeth Shown Mill's mouth last Saturday morning at her NGS 2012 session Information Overload? Effective Project Planning, Research, Data Management & Analysis expressed her own frustration with the limitations of genealogy software vis-à-vis the research process? I was not restrained. Fist pumps were involved.

There is a light on the horizon, however. Or a vine to cling to, using the metaphor Katie and Chris Chapman of Pentandra have chosen for their new software, which will be released to beta testers this summer. Geungle, as in it's a jungle out there (which certainly reflects my research at this point), aims to provide a software platform for genealogical research and analysis that complements rather than constrains the research process.

I met Katie and Chris in the NGS 2012 exhibit hall after blogger Linda McCauley (who has heard those rants) told me forcefully that I must visit their booth. She was right. Rather than struggle to adapt existing software to fit their own research needs, they have opted to build a new cloud-based program that will integrate mobile apps, tools for analysis and reporting features that reflect genealogists' actual research work flow. Katie mentioned the ability to take a picture in a cemetery with your smart phone and add it directly to your Geungle database. I asked about linking individuals that are not related by family but by business partnerships, or as neighbors, and was assured that would be possible.

At this point they expect to have a free demonstration model with limited storage capabilities and a subscription-based version for individuals. They hope to include a professional version, as well.

I was completely smitten with their enthusiasm and vision. Completely. I want them to succeed! To the point of all but begging that they allow me to be a beta tester. They are wisely limiting testing in the first stages but (full disclosure here) relented and included me as a beta tester. They hope to start testing in July. Meanwhile, I am sending positive thoughts their way.

One more full disclosure note - I did send this to them to review for accuracy. I'd hate to have my muddled thoughts attributed to them!

Photo credit - From Flickr: Some rights reserved by Accretion Disc

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Uličské Krivé - Wordless Wednesday

The church in Uličské Krivé, Slovakia, taken in September, 1992.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Carpatho-Rusyn FAN Club ~ Augusto

This is another of the FAN Club photographs belonging to my grandparents Stephen Popp (Stefan Papp) and Anna Pereksta of Binghamton, NY. 

This photograph is of a dear friend of my grandfather's, Charlie Augusto. On the back my aunt wrote "Charles Augusto - Dad's kryan  Cumberland, Kentucky." Kryan or krajan means countryman. Augusto and my grandfather, Stephen Popp (Stefan Papp) both came to the United States from Berezovo in the Maramoros district of Hungary. Today it is in the Ukraine.

My father vividly remembers a visit Augusto made to Binghamton, NY when he was a boy. The visit took place sometime during the mid to late 1930s. It was an evening or week-end when my grandfather was at home. There was a knock on the door and Augusto and Ivan (John) Tegze walked in the house. My grandfather and Augusto embraced fiercely and my father saw his father cry for the first time in his life. The men would not have seen each other since Augusto's last visit home to Berezovo, most likely before WWI.

Charlie (or Wasily) Augusto was born about 1882. He appears to have gone back and forth between Berezovo and the United States. He gives his arrival date as 1908 in the 1930 census; 1892 in the 1920 census. There are multiple immigration records that may belong to him. He was a miner in Pennsylvania and Illinois before settling in a Kentucky mining community where he ran a grocery store. He is listed with 8 children in 1930 census so this photograph showing nine children was likely taken several years later. His surname appears as Agosto, Agoszto, Augusto, August and Augusta in various records.

I believe Augusto was related to Ivan Tegze, perhaps his brother-in-law.

There are handwritten ink numbers associated with the children, but I have no information regarding the meaning of the numbers.

I would be delighted to share high resolution scans of these images and source information with anyone researching these families. Please leave a comment or email me (there is a link in the righthand column).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Berezovo, 1992 - Wordless Wednesday

Recess in front of the church, taken in Berezovo, Zakarpats'ka oblast, Ukraine ; September 1992.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Holt-Allen Marriage, Nov 1823 - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is another transcription of documents copied last summer at the Library of Virginia - two documents relating to the marriage of my 3rd great-grandparents Zebedie Holt and Eleanor Allen. 

Know all men by these presents: that we Zebedie Holt William Driskill are held and firmly bound unto James Pleasants Jun. Esquire, governor of Virginia, In the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars, to which payment null and truly to be made, to the governor or his successors in office, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators, Jointly and severally, firmly by these presents, sealed and dated this 2nd day of Nov 1823    The condition of this obligation is such, that whereas, there is a marriage shortly intended to _ad and solemnized, between the above bound Zebedie Holt & Eleanor Allen
If therefore, there be no lawful cause to obstruct the same, this obligation to __ void else, to remain in full force and virtue.
Witness                                                      his
Joseph Wilson                                Zebedie  X  Holt {seal}
                                                      Wm Driskilll {seal}
This is to certify to the Clerk of Campbell Court that he may issue license to Zebedie Holt to marry me I bing [sic] of lawful age and acting for myself
Wm Driskill                                  Eleanor Allen
Campbell County, Virginia, Marriage Bonds & Consents, 1782-1853, Holt-Allen, 1823; LVA Campbell microfilm #44, items 227 & 227a.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Put THIS in your pipe!

One very special fella is celebrating a birthday today. Here's hoping it's a grand one, sweetie!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Introducing My Carpatho-Rusyn FAN Club ~ Gydik and Kostun

Elizabeth Shown Mills' FAN Club strategy of researching friends, associates and neighbors has been enormously helpful in exploring the Tennessee and Tidewater branches of my family. I have also used it when examining immigration records and newspaper articles for my Carpatho-Rusyn family.

My aunt recently gave me a photo album and loose pictures belonging to her parents, Stephen Popp (Stefan Papp) and Anna Pereksta. Most of the images are of friends of the family from the Binghamton, NY area. Most are from the 1910s and 1920s. All seem to have been taken in the United States. Over the next months I will digitize and post the images and any cursory research I have done under the title My Carpatho-Rusyn FAN Club.

I know some of the relationships predate their immigration. These friends were called krajan or krajani - countrymen or villagers. Stephen was born in 1882 Berezovo (also known as Berezna) in what was then the Maramoros district of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it is in the Ukraine. Anna was born in 1895 in Prislup (also known as Kis Pereszlo) in what was then the Zemplen district of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it is in Slovakia.

Those relationships that were established in the United States likely resulted from friendships through their work at the Endicott-Johnson shoe factory, residence in Binghamton's immigrant First Ward, or membership in St. Michael's Greek Catholic Church.

The first photo in the album is this picture. On the back is written "Sue Sedor Gydik/ John Kostun" in my aunt's handwriting.

Susie Gydik (also spelled Guydik or Guydick) was the daughter of William and Mary Sedor (also spelled Sidor). She was born about 1898 in Starina (near Prislup) and came to the United States with her mother in 1903. She was a close friend of Anna Pereksta's and probably a cousin. Her father is believed to have been Anna's first cousin. She married Frank Gydik.

John Kostun is not a name I have heard before. Two adult John Kostuns appear in the 1930 census index on Both were born in Czechoslovakia - one in 1895 with a wife Mary and one in 1899 with a wife Anna. Both lived in the First Ward, worked at a shoe factory and were identified as Carpatho-Russian or Ruthenian. This man could be either of them, however the man born in 1895 has boarders in the household named Kost and Bundza. These are both names associated with the Pereksta family in Europe.

I would be delighted to share high resolution scans of these images and source information with anyone researching these families. Please leave a comment or email me (there is a link in the righthand column).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Square Deal - A Different Perspective on May Day

Today is International Workers' Day. Growing up during the Cold War in a staunchly anti-Soviet home, my only awareness of it was press coverage of the military might marching through Moscow's Red Square. Those displays did not reflect the original intent of the day, but colored my perspective on labor movements, factory work and workers for many years.

The families I research were primarily agrarian with an occasional merchant or doctor. Rarely have I found ancestors living in a city and only once have I found a relative working in a factory prior to 1910 when my Carpatho-Rusyn family began arriving. Almina Whitaker died 3 Oct. 1844 in Chicopee Falls, MA. She was listed as a factory girl and died of an acute infection at age 17. She was my husband's 4th great-aunt. There are surely others.

Arch at the entrance to Johnson City.
It reads "Home of the Square Deal."
My paternal grandparents were both factory workers after they emigrated to the United States, but their experiences were different from those who worked in most of the factories and mills across the country. They worked for the Endicott-Johnson Corporation, a shoe manufacturer located in the Southern Tier of New York. Endicott-Johnson (or E-J as they were referred to at home) was known worldwide for their Square Deal, a paternalistic but generous program of medical care, recreational facilities, profit sharing and low cost housing that kept unions at bay. Another company in the area modeled their benefits programs on E-J's Square Deal. That company became IBM, where my father spent most of his working life.

My father, born in an E-J medical clinic not far from his parents' home, spoke glowingly of the medical care his family received. My grandmother spent months at a sanitarium at Saranac Lake recovering from influenza. Her job was waiting for her when she returned. My father recovered from rheumatic fever at a farm where E-J contracted to have its employees and their dependents cared for. The clinics, care and doctors were well-thought of and all were provided free of charge to E-J employees and their families. I never heard a single comment from my father or any other family member about Endicott-Johnson that was anything but laudatory.

When I was growing up IBM was equally revered. There were IBM Christmas parties, IBM country clubs, superb benefits packages. An IBM scholarship paid for some of my college education and IBM summer jobs helped pay my living expenses. It was mentioned more than once that there was no need for unions or labor organization at IBM. We knew whose fathers (and it was only the fathers) worked for IBM. No secret handshake, but we considered ourselves fortunate.

That world of welfare capitalism, with its lifetime employment and security, is long gone. Its legacy includes the binding together of healthcare and employment. We who grew up in its embrace face a changed world.

Happy International Workers' Day!

You can read more about E-J and its Square Deal in this episode of NPR's Radio Diaries and in this book by Gerald Zahavi.

Clifford Lyle Stott, The Vital Records of Springfield Massachusetts to 1850 (Boston: NEHGS, 2003), II:1225 citing Book 4, Births, Marriages, Deaths, 1843-1849.

Endicott-Johnson Employee Badges belonging to Stephen and Anna Popp; digital images; privately held by Susan Popp Clark, St. Louis, MO. 2008

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS NY, 4-ENDI,1--1.