Category Archives: Kucharik

Stephen Kucharik aka Tomko aka Sabo: Timeline of U.S. Addresses

Sometimes, knowing a town in which an ancestor lived is deceiving if the street address is not known.

Such is the case with my great grandfather, Stephen Kucharik aka Tomko (in Slovakia) aka Sabo (in America.)

Stephen Kucharik, wife Maria, and children John and Maria, emigrated to the United States in the mid-1880s. They first settled in Delano, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania where three more children were born to them – Anna, George and Stephen Jr.

About 1899, the family moved to Passaic, where they lived out their lives. Stephen died in 1933, wife Maria in 1926 and son John, between 1900-1910. The other children married and lived in the Passaic County area.

Knowing that Stephen and Maria lived in Passaic for decades would seem to imply some stability in their lives. However, census records, city directories and newspaper articles (Stephen was an alcoholic who garnered  multiple mentions in the newspapers because of his drinking issues) indicate that the family moved from one rental apartment to another through all those years.

Almost every place they lived was in the neighborhood around St. Michael’s Church on First Street, as they were Greek Catholics and the mills where the Rusyn immigrants worked were close by.

Remember that data was gathered for city directories in the summer and fall preceding the year.

1891 City Directory – Delano, Pennsylvania, no address listed
1899 City Directory – 82 Third Street
1900 City Directory – 157 Third Street
1900 Census – 70 First Street
1901 City Directory – 204 Second Street/177 Third Street
1902 City Directory – 204 Second Street
1903 City Directory – 110 Second Street
1907 City Directory – 232 Fourth Street
1908 City Directory – 172/180 Second Street/197 Third Street
1908 School Certificate (son George) – 111 Third Street
1909 City Directory – 180 Third Street
1910 Census – 2 Third Street
1911 City Directory – 2 Second Street
1914 City Directory – 228 Fourth Street
1916 Newspaper Article – “of Mercer Street”
1920 Census – 77 Hope Avenue
1924 Newspaper Article – 77 Hope Avenue

There are several years when a Stephen Sabo was living at 290 Hope Avenue. That is a man born c1880 who died in 1918 in Passaic, unrelated to my family.

Stephen Sr. hasn’t been found in the 1930. My grandmother said he was more than a handful to deal with and the kids moved him from one house to another. Stephen Sr. died on 4 June 1933 in Wallington, probably while living with Stephen Jr. and his family.

As seen from all these addresses for Stephen Sabo, living in one city for years didn’t necessarily indicate a stable living situation. Stephen was a millhand and laundry worker who struggled to make enough to support the family.

Some of the above addresses no longer exist because the buildings have been knocked down, but all were small multi-family apartment buildings.

I Found My Family in the 1890 Census Substitute!

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.


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!