Sometimes, it seems that so many items are being digitized and posted online that it is hard to keep up with them all.
I recently found a new resource. Most researchers are aware the the 1890 U.S. census burned and literally only a handful of fragmented images survived out of the entire country.
City directories have been suggested as an alternative to documenting families in that time period.
The problem with city directories is that often only the head of household is listed, or at best, the wife’s name is included.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city directory that listed everyone in each family. That is – until now!
I never knew my paternal grandfather as he died of tuberculosis when my father was ten. When I started asking questions about our family history, I asked my dad if he knew where his father was born. He said Delano, Pennsylvania near Mahanoy City.
Those towns are in Schuylkill County; Mahanoy City is 140 miles due west of Passaic, New Jersey, where my grandparents met, married and lived their lives.
From census records in 1900-1930, I learned much about my paternal line.
Stephen Kucharik was born in 1855 in Slovakia. He married Maria Kacsenyak three days after (yes, after) the birth of their first child, John, born 25 August 1877 in Okruzna, just east of Presov, Slovakia.
When the family emigrated to America around 1888, Stephen and Mary had two living children – John, born 1877 and Mary, born 1881. After settling in Pennsylvania, one more child had been born to them before the 1890 census – Anna, in 1889.
My grandfather, George, didn’t come along until 1893 and the youngest child, Stephen, was born in 1897, not long before the family moved to New Jersey.
I was also aware that, for whatever reason, Stephen Kucharik began to use the surname of Sabo/Szabo/Sabol socially. In 1900 and 1910, the family appears as Kucharik in the census. However, by 1920, everyone, including the adult children, used Sabo, which is the spelling of my maiden name.
With that background information, I happened to browse Internet Archive to see what was available for Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
A book called Directory of the Eleventh Census of Schuylkill County, with a publication date of 1891 by E.E. Shartel appeared.
The 11th U.S. census was, in fact, the 1890 census. In the notes section, I found:
This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries [and the Pottsville Public Library.]
Schuylkill County had published a directory that included all the towns in the county at the time. . . . and it is an EVERY NAME directory!
Of course, I had to go down this rabbit hole. The towns were in alphabetical order, so Delano was quick to find.
Now, it is a good thing I know as much as I do about the Kucharik/Sabo family because. . . there were no Kuchariks in Delano.
Instead, there was a listing for the JOHN Sabol family, not the Stephen Sabo family.
Interestingly, addresses are not included in this directory.
However, if we substitute Stephen for John, we have a perfect fit for the Kucharik/Sabo family – Stephen, Mary and children John, Mary and Anna.
Stephen and Mary spoke very little English ever. Stephen was a laborer. In Pennsylvania, he eventually worked as a ticket taker on the railroad. I’ve inherited his watch.
Later, he became an alcoholic, which sadly was a common illness among Rusyns, even in the old country. After the family moved to Passaic, Stephen was a laundry worker in a bleachery.
In the above directory entry, son John would have been about 12, Mary 10 and Anna a little over one year old.
I have to wonder who gave the information to the men collecting the information. Stephen would have been working and Mary home with the children. They’d only been in America for a couple of years, but Mary and John would have learned enough English in that time to at least get by.
The information gatherers maybe confused the ages and listed John as 10 years old, but no ages for Mary and Anna.
In spite of the errors, this is clearly my family. Delano was a small place.
Stephen and Mary left little in the way of a paper trail, just a few appearances in city directories and the census records.
The Schuylkill County 1891 city directories are a fun discovery.