Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Write a Short Life Sketch of an Ancestor Living in 1900

We’re moving right along through February and it’s time for my favorite weekend activity – Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings.

This week’s challenge:

1)  The year is 1900. Choose an ancestor who was living in that year and write a short life sketch (no more than 300 words).

I’m going to choose a collateral ancestor for two reasons. First, it’s been just over a year since my dad’s first cousin, Nicholas Tidik, passed away at the age of 100 years, 2 months and one day on 2 February 2022. I knew Nick well and he was a wonderful man.

Second, he and his brother, Steve, were orphaned in their teens, but overcame hardship and lived long and happy lives.

Their mother, Maria Scerbak, was Nana’s only sister and I’d like to remember Nick and Steve through their mom, who passed away long before I was born.

Maria (Scerbak) Tidik, left

Photo Note: Rusyn custom dictated that married women covered their hair with scarves always and forever when they left the house. This picture of Maria and soldier Stephen was probably taken not long after they married since Maria’s head is covered. The young lady on the right is probably a friend of Maria’s.

Maria Scerbak lived a short, eventful life. She was born 5 June 1899 in Ujak, Slovakia, the fourth child of Michael Scerbak and Anna Murcko, but the first born in Europe. Unlike her parents, she had the opportunity to attend school to the 4th grade.

She married a village boy, Stephen Tidik, on 2 September 1917 at the age of 18 years. That was a bit young for an Ujak girl to marry – most waited until 21 or 22, but World War I was raging.

Her sons were born in Udol, but were too young to remember the trip to America in 1923. Stephen emigrated first and sent for his family when he was settled.

Arriving in Passaic, New Jersey, Maria saw Nana (her sister, Julia) for the first time in thirteen years! However, the Tidiks didn’t stay long in New Jersey because Stephen wanted to work the mines in Leroy, Bradford, Pennsylvania. With 190 miles between them, Julia and Maria saw no more of each other.

Sadly, Maria soon caught tuberculosis and died on 6 May 1926 in Leroy. Nick told me the last thing his mother said to him was “Mikulas, bring me a glass of milk.” The 4 1/2 year old went to retrieve some milk, but when he brought it to his mother, she had died.

P.S. By all accounts, Maria loved her family and was well-loved in return. She has many descendants today. One of Nick’s daughters is the spitting image of her. A friend saw this photo in Nick’s home and thought it was his daughter dressed in costume.

Thanks, Randy, for this week’s challenge. I’m already waiting for next week’s!

3 thoughts on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Write a Short Life Sketch of an Ancestor Living in 1900”

  1. I too love the photo. Am curious, where did the emigrate to Europe from?

    I too enjoyed this week’s challenge, though it took me longer to complete than I’d hoped…

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