Category Archives: Sabo

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!


How Do the Vander Woudes and Nolans Connect to a Slovak FAN Club?

An ancestor FAN club is always an important source of information about extended social contacts between one family and others. Sometimes, it is even interesting to investigate much more recent FAN clubs.

My Nana, Julia Scerbak Sabo, was nothing if not consistent in her life. She was very religious and her social circle was almost exclusively other Carpatho-Rusyn friends and relatives who had a common origin in the neighboring villages of Ujak and Hajtovka, Slovakia.

As I was the official Christmas card addresser for Nana for many years, I remember two surnames that today I recognize as most definitely not from the villages – Nolan and Vander Woude.

Nolan is a name that I can associate with a person – Nana’s friend Elsie Nolan. Elsie and Nana were close in age and I even remember going to Elsie’s home in Clifton a couple of times when Nana went visiting. She lived at 8 Cloverdale Road. They had been friends for many years and often spoke on the phone. Elsie was widowed and, if she had any children, I don’t think I ever met them.

However, how a Dutch name like Vander Woude ever crept into Nana’s social circle, I had no idea. I also can’t ever remember meeting anyone by that name.

I’m not sure why I started thinking about Elsie today, but I decided to research her life to learn more about her. I first pulled out my family albums because Nana was a saver and I was sure I’d find an old Christmas card or two that Elsie sent her.

Sure enough, one of the first cards I found was indeed from Elsie. The front is a cute sleigh scene and the card dates from the 1950s or perhaps early 1960s, so I am not posting the front. However, there is a message inside to “Jule” to Nana (who was Julia).

From the square stain on the inside of the card, I imagine there was either a Christmas stamp or small religious image included in Elsie’s holiday greetings.

I’ve actually learned quite a bit about Elsie Nolan, but there is one question that can’t be answered – How did Nana and Elsie meet and become friends?

Elsie Minerva Stiles was born on 1 June 1891 in Paterson, Passaic, New Jersey, so she was two years older than my grandmother. Her mother was Evana Milnes, born 12 February 1871 and who died at the very young age of 20 on 2 February 1892, just days before her 21st birthday.

Eva, as she was called, married Edgar M. Stiles on 5 December 1891 in Paterson. Edgar was born c1869 and died on 15 November 1941, Spring Valley, Rockland, New York.

Whether Edgar was Elsie’s father I haven’t been able to determine. Her birth date in the 1900 census matches the month and year on her gravestone, so she was born six months before her mother married Edgar.

Given that Edgar married (2) Charlotte Haver on 10 July 1894, also in Paterson, but Elsie was living with her grandparents in 1900, he may have felt unable to care for a little girl or allowed her grandparents to raise her if he was actually her stepfather. Another question that probably has no answer.

Evana Milnes had one brother, Fleetwood, who also died at a young age, being just 28 years old, on 7 April 1906. However, he had married and had one child, son Henry B. Milnes.

Henry Milnes, father of Evana and Fleetwood, was up in years by 1906 and wrote his own will on 6 May 1906, a month after Fleetwood’s passing. It was recorded on 8 April 1907.

Henry left his real estate and grocery business to wife Martha with bequests to his remaining daughter, Mary Elizabeth Fair, and grandchildren Elsie Stiles and Henry B. Milnes.

Martha survived Henry by 14 years, passing away in 1921.

This somewhat fragile family stability may have led Elsie to marry Timothy Lyons in 1908 in New Jersey. She would only been about 16 or 17 years old at the time she married.

Timothy was a full decade older than Elsie, born in 1881 in New Jersey. By 1910, they were living at 322 Montgomery Street in Passaic, which was no where near Nana’s Rusyn family and friends. Tim was working at a livery stable as a hackman. Elsie reported being the mother of one child, who was living, but no child was enumerated in the home.

By 1920, the Lyons family had moved to Clifton and one year old daughter, Evanna, was at home with them.

In 1930, Elsie Lyons is enumerated as divorced and is at home in Clifton at 14 Vernon Avenue with daughter Evana, plus boarders Stephania Zak, 18, and Joseph Mastroberte, 34. She owned her own home, valued at $6000. That was quite a hefty amount at the start of the Great Depression.

Sometime between 1930 and 1940, Elsie married (2) John Nolan. The family still lived on Vernon Avenue and Evanna was at home, aged 22.

John Nolan was quite a bit younger than Elsie, having been born on 12 August 1905. However, John died on 4 February 1944, just 38 years old.

John and Elsie had no known children together. His obituary states that he was a local baseball pitcher – a very interesting occupation to have at anytime, but particularly in the middle of World War II. The Nolan family lived in Ramsey, New Jersey when John died. At some point after his death, Elsie moved back to Clifton, probably to the house I remember on Cloverdale Road.

Elsie survived husband John (who was buried in the Milnes family plot at Cedar Park Cemetery in Paterson, New Jersey) by many years, passing away on 16 August 1980.

John Nolan was a member of the St. Clements Episcopal Church in Hawthorne, Bergen, New Jersey. Elsie’s religion is unknown; her obituary only mentions a funeral home service.

The only connection I can think of as to how Elsie and Nana met might be through my family’s store, Central Market Company, which was a butcher shop. Perhaps Elsie shopped there.

What happened to Elsie’s only child, Evana?

Evana Elizabeth Lyons was born 24 January 1918 and died on 27 March 1999.

Evana Lyons
Source: Ancestry

Evana married Abram Cornelius Vander Woude! Now I know why I was addressing Christmas cards to them.

Abram Vander Woude was born 24 October 1919 and died on 12 September 2003, when he was living in Ohio.

Abram was survived by one child, who may still be living today, so I will omit details about that person.

Elsie Stiles Lyons Nolan was a close friend of Nana’s for many years. Now, I know much more about her life, which wasn’t easy. She was a strong lady who proved she could take care of herself.






Life on Little Sebago Lake in the 1950s

Summer 2020 is well under way and I can’t believe that it’s been almost 70 years since Grandfather and Grandmother bought their camp on Little Sebago Lake.

They had rented for several years – the late 1940s into the early 1950s – and I guess the owners decided they were ready to sell.

While Grandmother enjoyed the lake, sunbathing and taking boat rides, I think the impetus behind buying the camp was Grandfather.

Grandfather and Grandmother with Family and Friends

Grandfather was a very handy guy and I remember him always puttering around camp with various tools, working on his projects.

Their camp had two buildings on it, the main cottage, where Grandmother, Grandfather and Aunt Barbara lived and the guest cabin, where my parents, brother and I stayed when we visited for two weeks every summer.

Mom, in front of the guest cabin, c1956

Notice the right side of the guest cabin and the open door. That was a wood shed. Around 1957, Grandfather finished off the shed into a second bedroom and covered an area behind to use as a carport.

I remember being quite in awe as we inspected the beautiful new room. I also have distinct memories of those big wooden window shutters that opened and closed pulling that rope. There was a second shutter on the left side of the cabin that let in nice cool air in the evening. They were so heavy that I couldn’t open them by myself and, if I tried to close them, there would be a huge THUD. I imagine I probably tried doing that once by myself and got yelled at enough that I kept my little hands off the pulley rope!

I think part of the reason I remember those shutters so well is that, when the weather was nice, they were left open all night and all the scary night sounds kept my fertile imagination going. What animal was walking around right outside, crackling the pine needles on the ground? Was it a wolf or a bear or something else? Or was a stranger lurking about? (The stranger was probably Aunt Barbara who liked to walk around camp in the early evenings.)

On the other hand, there were some ferocious summer storms on the lake. I remember a big hail storm with golf ball-sized hail pelting the cottage during the day. Thunder and lightning made regular appearances so when storms arrived, the shutters closed. I was tucked safely inside the guest cabin, listening intently.

Grandfather and Grandmother loved taking boat rides. I never, ever remember Grandmother taking the motor boat out by herself. I don’t think she ever did, nor did Aunt Barbara. They sometimes went rowing in the rowboat, but that was all.

Me, c1955

This appears to be Grandfather’s first motor boat, but it’s not the one I remember. This boat was retired to a tiny sandy area along the camp’s waterfront and I used to play in it when I got a little bit older.

Eventually, it had too many spider webs and there were water snakes slithering along the path to the boat and I stopped wandering down there.

However, by the summer of 1957, Grandfather had the boat which I remember and which he still had in 1968, the last summer before he died.

Once each season, Grandmother and Grandfather would head out on their marathon boat ride early in the morning. They explored every nook and cranny all the way around the lake and they were gone for hours. I remember asking if I could go with them a couple of times, but the answer was no because I would get bored sitting in the boat for that long. I probably would have!

They never tired of the beauty of Little Sebago Lake.

The  green motor boat is also the boat behind which I learned to water ski around 1965. I was spending time with my aunt and uncle on Lake Winnipesaukee by this time and traveled over to Little Sebago when my parents came up for their two week visit. I had been trying and trying to get up on skiis in New Hampshire and had almost made it up. I was determined to learn and Grandfather spent several days with me, pulling me up out of the water. His green putt-putt didn’t have tons of power, but I did succeed and went back to Winnipesaukee able to water ski with my friends.

Grandmother loved to sunbathe on the dock and on the beach across the lake that we used to visit. It was like our own private beach because there was hardly anyone ever there when we were.

Grandmother, ready to sunbathe, c1958

In the water with me, c1955, off the beach

My favorite activities were (1) picking blueberries, which I did even when I was of high school age, although they weren’t nearly as plentiful as when I was little, and swimming or playing in the water:

Playing with baby brother, 1958

Mandatory life vest until I became a proficient swimmer

Enjoying the inner tube at the beach

I still think back fondly of those perfect summers on Little Sebago Lake. I also remember being quite sad when Mom told me in the spring of 1969, a few months after Grandfather died, that Grandmother had sold the cottage.

Later this summer, I will do one more post about those idyllic years on Little Sebago Lake in Maine.