John Szabo, Died 1902: Is He My Grandfather’s Long Lost Brother?

I’ve been trying to find out what happened to my grand uncle, John Kucharik, aka John Sabo, for quite a few years. The search has been somewhat complicated by the fact that the family used both surnames, which can be spelled several ways.


Grandfather George & I think his brother, John

My grandfather, George Kucharik, aka George Sabo, was the next to youngest of five surviving children of Stephen and Mary (Kacsenyak) Kucharik, who settled in Passaic, New Jersey sometime between youngest son Stephen’s birth in Pennsylvania on 18 February 1897 and the 1900 census of New Jersey.

John Kucharik was baptized on 25 August 1877 in Okruzna, Slovakia, which is slightly east of Presov. He appears in the 1900 census with the rest of the family, living in Passaic:


Kuharik Family, 1900, Passaic Census
Source: Ancestry

Note that most of their birth months and ages don’t square up with the Slovak church records. Greek Catholic babies were usually baptized within a couple of days of birth because the infant mortality rate was so high.

Also, it appears from Stephen and Mary’s marriage date that John was one of those first babies that didn’t take nine months to arrive!

Aside from that, notice that Mary reports having five surviving children out of eight to whom she had given birth. I’ve only accounted for seven children, but FIVE surviving children is the important detail here.

New Jersey records aren’t the easiest to access, but I have not found any evidence – yet – that John ever married. However, it would be common cultural custom for John to have married when he was in his 20s, which would have been between 1900, when he was 23, and 1910, when he would have been 33.

Next, I looked at the 1910 census enumeration of the family:


Kucharik Family, 1910 in Passaic
Source: Ancestry

Anna and Mary had married and were in their own households. George and Stephen Jr. were students and both living at home with their parents. Look at the right column, next to Mary’s name: 9/4

Mary might have lost yet another child, or the total number might be in error. Stephen and Mary were both spoke little English and I think they were also illiterate in Slovak, too. However, now she only has FOUR living children.

I have searched in Pennsylvania for their son, John, as they first lived in Delano, near Mahanoy City in Schuylkill County for both marriage and death records. Nothing has turned up.

I also checked records back in Slovakia on the chance that John might have returned home to marry a local girl and/or possibly have died there. Nothing has been found there either.

If he traveled to some other state, he might be lost forever, as the Sabo/Szabo surname is way too common to research. It’s Hungarian and means Tailor (Taylor).

That left searching New Jersey records. No marriage record has been found. thanks to Reclaim the Records, there is an online index of New Jersey marriage records, although the groom’s index isn’t complete for all years. Both of the Kucharik sisters, Anna and Mary, appear in the index. John has not been found.

Recently, I came across an index of New Jersey death records that covered the first decade of the 1900s. There was a John SZABO who died in 1902 in Passaic.

Obtaining a copy of the death certificate was an interesting activity. First, I thought that if the city of Passaic had the record, it might be easier and less time consuming to order it from the City Clerk’s office. I made a phone call and the office confirmed that they had death records for 1902.

However, in order to purchase the record, I had to prove my relationship to the deceased, even though the death happened 117 years ago. I duly made copies of documents and mailed off a check with the paperwork (The order form listed CHECK as one of the forms of payment.)

Over 3 weeks later, the entire packet was returned to me, with a note that they didn’t accept checks and to call the city clerk’s office. I did call and found out two things. They accept checks, but only cashier’s checks and, much more importantly, they couldn’t find the volume of 1902 deaths.

I was referred to the state website where I could order the record online, with no documentation required as the death happened so long ago and could pay with a credit card.

Less than two weeks later, I received the record, but not without one more hiccup. Thankfully, I had included the record number found in the index – #18772 – or else they would not have found it.

The death was indexed under Passaic County, but read the record for yourself:


Death Certificate of John Szabo, 1902

About half way down, next to the ink blog on the edge, the place of death is noted as Belmont, New Jersey, where John lived. Belmont is actually a neighborhood of Garfield, which is next to Passaic, but in BERGEN County, not PASSAIC County.

How did this get indexed under Passaic County? Look near the bottom where the medical attendant’s name is recorded. Residence is PASSAIC, NJ.

Unfortunately, this John Szabo is not my grandfather’s brother. This John was born c1854, aged 48 years old when he died of chronic nephritis on 23 August 1902, so he was way older than my John, born in 1877.

Here is John Szabo in the 1902 Garfield City Directory:

John Szabo was the son of John and Elizabeth Szabo of Hungary. He was married at the time he died, but no wife’s name is given and I have not been able to identify him in the 1900 census even though the death record said he had lived in New Jersey for 11 years.

If you are a descendant of this John Szabo and would like the death certificate, please leave a comment.

The search goes on for my grandfather’s brother!

 

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