More on City Directories and Family History Questions

Yesterday, I tried to answer questions about when my Kucharik great grandfather started using Sabo as a surname and when his son, John, died. I was partially successful, as I determined that, although the censuses in 1900 and 1910 identified his family as Kuchariks, socially they were using the Sabo name no later than 1901.

I also now believe that John Kucharik likely died about 1902, give or take a year.

I also had questions directly relating to my grandparents, George and Julia Sabo. Specifically, I would like to know when they bought the family home at 49 Summer Street and I would love to know when they first opened the Central Market Company, which was a meat market.

When I wrote to the Passaic County Clerk requesting a copy of the land deed for the house purchase, I was told to hire a title company to do the search. That expense just wasn’t worth it, but city directories may answer both of these question, plus give me other addresses where my grandparents might have lived before they bought the house.

Although George and Julia married in 1915, I am mostly interested in the 1920-1930 time period because the meat shop opened in this decade and they bought the house sometime before February 1926, when my dad was born.

In 1920, the census indicates they were living at 10 Cedar Street in Garfield, New Jersey.

10 Cedar Street, Today

Now for the city directory entries:

George Sabo, Laborer, 1920

George Sabo, 1921

This was a complete surprise. It appears that the meat shop opened in late 1920 or early 1921. I had always assumed that they didn’t start the business until later in the 1920s. The store closed in 1951, so it had a good 30-year run, which is amazing since it survived the Great Depression. George’s home was still in Garfield, although it doesn’t give a street address.

George Sabo, 1922

By 1922, George and Julia had moved and, although it doesn’t say so in this entry, Elm Street is also in Garfield. Today, it appears that a bank with a large parking lot has replaced houses that were once there.

George Sabo, 1923

George and Julia were still on Elm Street in 1923 and the market was again mentioned as George’s work place.

The 1924 city directory gives me the answer to my family home question:

George Sabo, 1924

Sometime between 1923 and 1924, George and Julia bought their home and moved to 49 Summer Street.

My grandmother was born in Passaic in 1893, but the family moved back to the village in Slovakia about 1897. Julia returned to the United States permanently in November 1910. I’ve wondered where she lived from 1910 until she married in September 1915. However, as a young female, she wasn’t listed in the city directories and she had many relatives living in the First Ward of Passaic. That question will probably never have an answer.

If you haven’t ever searched city directories online and you have access to Ancestry, I would recommend that you search the card catalog for U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 and then browse the collection by state, city and county. Searching manually through the pages isn’t difficult since the names are in ABC order. I found more than once that someone in my family WAS in a directory for a particular year, but when I backtracked and tried searching for him, the name didn’t didn’t come up in the hits.


2 thoughts on “More on City Directories and Family History Questions”

  1. I love using the city directories, even though the index is usually horribly mangled! You are spot on in suggesting we browse through them. Often I’ve often discovered widowed sisters or nephews living in family homes this way. Also, many of them will give the d.o.d. of a husband the year after. Sometimes they continue to list a woman as “widow of John” for many years later! So much to discover if you’re patient.

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