Category Archives: Scerbak

Scserbak Family of Udol, Slovakia & America

This family is part of my one-place study of St. Dimitry’s Greek Catholic (today Byzantine Catholic) Church parish, serving Udol and Hajtovka, Slovakia, covering the years 1827-about 1920. I will be sharing family records, roughly once a week, until all families in the parish are posted. Be aware that ages at marriage and death frequently don’t match baptismal records, when found. If you have ancestors who lived in these two villages and would like to receive an invitation to a shared Dropbox folder, please leave a comment and I will contact you.


Scserbak, John & Unknown, Ujak, GC

  1. Anna, born c1816, married John Koval, born c1812, son of Michael Koval, 30 February 1837 (sic)

Scserbak, John (c1837-24 February 1916), son of Miklus Scserbak & Helen Murczko & Maria Mikulik alias Patorai (c1842-27 January 1912), daughter of John Mikulik alias Patorai & Anna Szurgent, married 11 February 1861, Ujak 1, 70, 80, 84, 89 & 101, GC, GC

John died 22 February, buried 24 February 1916, aged 82 years.

  1. John, born 18 July, bp 20 July 1862
  2. Maria, born 17 April, bp 23 April 1865; died 1 April, buried 3 April 1872, aged 7 years
  3. Michael, born 17 February, bp 23 February 1868
  4. Anna, born 11 June, bp 19 June 1870; married Michael Zavacky, born 28 January, bp 4 February 1855, son of Michael Zavacky & Susanna Mikulik, widower, 26 February 1894
  5. Stephen, died 2 November, buried 4 November 1876, aged 1 ¾ years
  6. Susanna, born 28 June, bp 14 July 1878; died 12 January, buried 13 January 1879, aged 6 months
  7. Maria, born 19 September, bp 2 October 1881; died 28 December, buried 30 December 1882, aged 1 ¼ years.
  8. Stephen, born 10 December, bp 16 December 1883; died 1 April, buried 3 April, aged 4 months

Scserbak, John (c1835-1869+), of Andrejuvko & Helen Szovik (c1842-1869+), married 23 November 1863, RC, GC

See Andrejovka 1869 census.

Scserbak, John (18 July 1862-28 Februrary 1938) son of John Scserbak & Maria Mikulik alias Patorai & Catherine Dzuriczki (c1865-January 1949), Ujak 109, GC, RC

Married in America. This family emigrated to America. John died 28 February 1938 in Clifton, Passaic, New Jersey.

  1. John, born 22 February 1890, Springfield, Bradford, Pennsylvania
  2. Michael, born cDecember 1892; died 2 March, buried 4 March 1894, aged 1 year, 3 months
  3. Maria, born 17 August, bp 27 August 1894
  4. Julia, born September 1899, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey
  5. Michael, born c1905, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey

Scserbak, John, son of John, Ujak, born c1827, buried 14 April 1833, aged 6 years

Scserbak, John, Ujak, born c1760, buried 13 May 1835, aged 75 years

Scerbak, John, Ujak, born c1796, buried 23 October 1836, aged 40 years

Scserbak, Michael & Helen Murczko, Ujak, GC

  1. Michael, born c1821, married Maria Fecsisin, born c1821, daughter of Peter Fecsisin & Maria Hnat, 7 February 1842
  2. Maria, born cFebruary 1831, buried 16 August 1832, aged 1 ½ years
  3. Anna, bp 11 July 1833
  4. Michael, bp 19 November 1836
  5. Helen, bp 6 June 1843

Scserbak, Michael (c1820-27 August 1878), son of Michael Scserbak & Helen Murczko & Maria Fecsisin (c1822-7 April 1890), daughter of Peter Fecsisin & Maria Hnat, married 7 February 1842, Ujak 45, 85 & 101, GC, GC

Also living with them in 1869 was Michael Danyko, born 1845 in Kis Lipnik. Michael died 27 August, buried 29 August 1878, aged 58 years. Maria, widow of Michael, born Fecsisin, died 7 April, buried 9 April 1890, aged 75 years.

  1. John, bp 27 February 1843
  2. Maria, bp 12 June 1845; married Michael Vancso, born c1844, son of Michael Vancso & Maria Knapik, 22 November 1868
  3. Anna, born 20 December 1852, bp 2 January 1853; married Michael Hnat alias Danyko, born c1845, orphan from Kis Lipnik, 22 November 1868

Scserbak, Michael & Maria Vancso (c1846-1886+), Ujak 53, GC, GC

Maria, widow of Michael, born Vancso, 40, married (2) John Glycs, 40, widower, of Ujak 84, RC, 16 May 1886.

Scserbak, Michael (17 February 1868-16 March 1932), son of John Scserbak & Maria Mikulik alias Patorai & Anna Murczko (23 May 1872-28 June 1967), daughter of John Murczko & Maria Szova, married 22 October 1892, St. Michael’s Greek Catholic Church, Passaic, New Jersey. St. Dimitry’s church register notes they married in America. Ujak 107 & 135, GC, GC

  1. Helen Anna (Julia), born 17 August 1893, Passaic, New Jersey; died 29 May 1985, South Hackensack, Bergen, New Jersey; married George Kucharik, alias Sabo, born 24 May 1893, Delano, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, son of Stephen Kuchairk & Maria Kacsenyak, 6 September 1915, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey
  2. Michael, bp 30 January 1895, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey; died 13 October 1895, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey
  3. Peter, born 25 December 1896, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey; died 9 April 1971, Clifton, New Jersey; married Maria Sedlak, born 10 June, bp 17 June 1900, daughter of John Sedlak & Maria Hnat, 10 June 1918, Udol, Slovakia
  4. Maria, born 25 April, bp 1 May 1899, Hajtovka, Slovakia; died 8 May 1926, Leroy, Bradford, Pennsylvania; married Stephen Tidik, born 18 August, bp 23 August 1896, son of Michael Tidik & Helen Bisz, 2 September 1917, Udol, Slovakia. Note says parents married in America.
  5. Michael, born 7 June, bp 10 June 1906, Udol, Slovakia; died 6 March 1957, Velky Ceske, USSR; married Maria Hrinya, c1930.
  6. Stephen, born 28 October, bp 4 November 1917, Udol, Slovakia, died 28 April 1996, Udol, Slovakia; married Helen Murczko, c1948, Udol, Slovakia

The Scserbak family in Udol was fairly small. However, the surname isn’t uncommon in the Presov region and it is unknown if/how they might be related.

In America, the name is mostly spelled Scerbak.


Uncle Peter, Born in Passaic and Naturalized in Passaic, But Why?

Peter Scerbak was my Nana’s brother. I knew him slightly, as he occasionally came by our house to visit. I have a handful of photos of him, most of which were taken before I was born.

Nana with my infant father and brother Peter

Here is one more of Pete, as he was called:

Nana, Dad and Pete

From their clothing, it looks like these pictures were taken on the same day. My dad was born in February 1926, so the pictures were probably taken that summer. I do recognize our front yard on Summer Street in Passaic as the location.

Pete was born on 25 December 1896 in Passaic, so he was a citizen by birth. However, Pete’s wife, Maria Sedlak, was born in Europe in the village of Udol and they married there.

Passaic County, New Jersey is one of the few county court websites that I’ve ever come across that has digitized naturalization records which are both free to access and download.

I decided to poke around the website, searching various Slovak names that I knew were related to the Scerbak family. I was really surprised when this appeared:

As far as I was aware, there was only one Peter Scerbak in Passaic and that was Nana’s brother.

There is a bit of a back story here, but I was still puzzled. My grandmother, Pete and an infant baby brother who died at the age of 8 months were all born in Passaic. As I mentioned, Pete (three years younger than Nana) was born in 1896.

About 1897 or 1898, the family moved back to Slovakia. I knew that many years ago. However, that didn’t explain the naturalization petition under Pete’s name. Nana was recognized as a U.S. citizen when she returned to America in 1910.

Pete emigrated in the 1920s soon after he and Mary married. Their four children were all born in Passaic.

Pete’s petition packet consists of only four pages:

Reading through the pages, there was no question that this was “my” Pete Scerbak and it clearly states that he was born in Passaic.

There is no explanation as to why he was applying for citizenship, but he had apparently lost citizen status at some point before he returned to Passaic.

The answer can be found in a photo that my grandmother received in the mail, most likely along with a letter from her father or perhaps from Pete himself:

Peter Scerbak, on the left

Remember, Pete was born in 1896. When World War I erupted in 1914, he was the perfect age to be drafted and he was. Pete served in the army, but not in the U.S. army. He served in the army of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, which was the enemy in the eyes of the U.S.

That’s why he lost his American citizenship. From what I have read, young men in the peasant villages weren’t really given any choice about being conscripted into the armed forces and I have no idea how long Pete was in the army or whether he took part in any battles.

Many researchers are under the impression that, once a family emigrated, they never again saw their homeland and that is true in many instances.

However, by the turn of the 20th century, many emigrants remained in the U.S. for a while, returned home to Europe and came back to America once again.

In fact, the residents of Udol made multiple trips across the ocean for decades, spending part of their lives in the village and sometimes years in Passaic and the surrounding towns.

If you discover a family member who was born in the United States, but became a naturalized citizen, ask yourself why that happened. If the ancestor is a male, did they serve in the military in an action against the United States? You’ll have your answer.


Cousin Steve and the Luminescent TV Screen

My immediate family is quite small, although my Nana used to talk about “all” of my cousins. Today, I know that these cousins were once or twice removed-type cousins, but we were indeed related.

One of these cousins, who I actually knew, was Steve. He was one of the cousins living in California when I was growing up in Passaic, New Jersey. However, Steve had lived in Passaic when he was a young boy and eventually got a job working for DuMont Laboratories, which in turn owned one of the first television stations in the United States, DuMont Television.

Cousin Steve

DuMont originally broadcast right from Passaic, but in the late 1940s moved to New York City. It was Channel 5 and a major station right along with Channel 4 (NBC) and Channel 2 (CBS). DuMont was where Jackie Gleason became a household name. The Arthur Murray Dance show, Captain Video and Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour were also DuMont shows. It didn’t fare well against the competition, however, and shut down operations in 1956. I am just old enough to remember Channel 5 and DuMont TV.

One of the family stories I had heard growing up was that Steve had “invented” some type of improved television tube – those things that we all dreaded burning out so the picture disappeared.

I can’t say my interest in how televisions worked has ever been very great, but I am very curious about how much of this story is true. Google now has images of many U.S. patent records, so I searched for Steve in that database.

What I discovered is that the family story is really true. On 6 July 1945, right at the close of World War II, Steve and another man working for DuMont Laboratories in Passaic, filed for a patent. It was published on 19 October 1948 and involved an improved method of creating luminescent screens. Apparently this material was also used in the old-time TV tubes:

This invention relates to improvements in depositing luminescent material on a solid surface to form a luminescent screen and to the method of forming such screens. In carrying out the invention, particles of luminescent material are settled through a colloidal medium such as silicic acid in a solution containing an ionizable salt so that it is an electrolyte. . . . . Also, the time necessary to settle a luminescent screen in either a blown-face blank or a flat-face blank of the cathode-ray tube variety is decreased. . . . .

The patent entry is quite long and, to be honest, it is way too technical and a bit boring to read through, so I won’t post the rest of it here.

I researched many types of records through the years to prove or disprove family details. This is the first time, though, that I have used U.S. patent records.