12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: April 2016

Have you ever come across a record that you had no reason to believe ever even existed? I know that sounds like a ridiculous question to ask a genealogist since we are always hoping to find “the” record, but that is what happened to me.

I’ve written many times about my Scerbak side of the family from Udol, Slovakia and Passaic, New Jersey. My grandmother, Julia, was born in Passaic in 1893 and her brother, Peter, followed on Christmas Day in 1896. They lost a brother, Michael, in between and the family moved back to Slovakia about 1897 and 1898.

Pete and Julia were both American citizens, having been born in Passaic and both returned to the United States to live permanently when they were young adults.

Passaic County has a fabulous digitized resource available for free online – its naturalization records. Of course, I had to poke around and was hoping to find information on Julia’s and Pete’s uncle, John Scerbak, who also immigrated and lived in the Passaic area.

Imagine my surprise when this came up:

Peter Scerbak Petition for Citizenship

I still haven’t figured out why Pete filed this petition on 18 December 1928.  His four children are named, but they were all born in Passaic, too. The only reason I can think of was to obtain American citizenship for his wife, Mary, who was born in Ujak. If so, did the law state that wives had to apply for citizenship through their husbands? 1928 seems quite late for that to be the case, but maybe it was.

I learned something else I didn’t know about Pete’s family. At the time, they lived at 156 Harrison Street in Passaic. During my lifetime when I knew Pete, the family always lived in Clifton. My grandparents already owned the house at 49 Summer Street, where I also grew up.

I know this area well. Here is the house they likely rented:

156 Harrison St.
4-Plex at 156 Harrison Street, Google street view

Look what is directly across the street:

Roosevelt #10 School, Google street view

It’s my elementary school! I never knew that at one time Pete and his family lived right across the street.

This was very much a fun fascinating find!

3 thoughts on “ 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: April 2016”

  1. What a fun find! I wonder if Peter lost his citizenship after getting married in Czechoslovakia? The petition does note that he is renouncing his allegiance to the Czechoslovak Republic. It looks like a question for the Legal Genealogist, though it may have to do with Czech laws at the time?

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