Tag Archives: George R Sabo

Sabo Gravestone Design and Final Product

Have I mentioned before that my family and Dave’s were savers? Yep, I think I have. Among the boxes and drawers of photos and papers that my Nana, Julia Scerbak Sabo, kept were the original design for what became the family headstone at St. Michael’s Cemetery in South Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey.

SaboJuliaGravestoneSketch_Page_1 SaboJuliaGravestoneSketch_Page_2
Headstone Design with “Sazbo” Misspelled

My grandfather, George Kucharik, aka George Sabo, died in 1936 in the midst of the Great Depression. My grandparents not only saved papers, they saved money and Nana was able to have a beautiful gravestone designed.

I found the original sketch in her papers. It was too large to scan in one image at home so Dave scanned it in four sections and then pieced them together. That is why there is a space down the middle of the drawing.

She also kept the deed to the plot at St. Michael’s Cemetery:

Deed to Grave at St. Michael’s Cemetery

I am actually a bit shocked because my grandfather’s gravesite cost $200, which was a small fortune during the Depression.

How did the gravestone turn out?

Gravestone, c1937

It is a beautiful headstone and is unique, at least in St. Michael’s Cemetery. Our surname spelling was corrected and I am surprised that the cross was not added to the stone, as Nana was very religious. The 1937 picture was taken soon after it was placed on my grandfather’s grave. The little girl is Nana’s niece, the daughter of her brother, Pete.

Through the years, Nana went regularly to the cemetery to not only visit my grandfather’s grave site, but to visit the graves of other family and friends. She actually knew most of the people who had been buried there since the cemetery didn’t open until the early 1920s.

The gravestone in the left forefront below that only has “AK” and “71” is the headstone of her brother, Peter Scerbak, who died in 1971.

Dave had Nana stand next to the Sabo headstone when we visited in 1981. Notice that she has her gardening gloves on. She was 88 years old and still pulling weeds at the cemetery!

Nana at St. Michael’s Cemetery

Nana died four years later, in May 1985, and was finally reunited with the love of her life, my grandfather, George.

Narodny Slovensky Spolok, First Slovak Fraternal Society in America

Sometimes, I seem to get on genealogical tangents. Since I found the Masonic membership cards online, I started looking at other items in my family collection that might link members to fraternal or other organizations.

I remember asking Nana, Julia (Scerbak) Sabo about this ribbon many years ago.

Slovakian Medal from Passaic
Pannonia ODB XIX
Nar. Slov. Spolek
Passaic, New Jersey

Nana was never very clear telling me anything about this ribbon, although it is obvious that it is quite old and that with the handshake emblem at the top, it belonged to some sort of Slovak fraternal organization.

Besides the ribbon, I also have this tiny pin:

Slav-USA Piin
Less than one inch across

It also has NAR SLOV SPOL and USA around the four sides. I have a vague memory of trying to find out more about this organization years ago, but had no luck. With more and more information online, I took another look.

NAR SLOV SPOL USA stands for Narodny Slovensky Spolok, or the National Slovak Society in America. This fraternal organization is the oldest such Slovak group in the United States and it is still in existence today. It was found by Peter V. Rovnianek in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1890. The society was the first to offer nation wide membership, at least in areas in which Slovaks settled, and it was a non-sectarian fraternity – no religious affiliations.

Search engines have brought me several surprises lately and Google didn’t let me down while I was researching this group. The pin appears to date from the early 1900s, so I thought it probably belonged to my great grandfather, Stephen Kucharik, who also socially used the surname Sabo.

When I entered PANNONIA ODB XIX  in Google, one of the results was the 1910 city directory of Passaic, New Jersey! Although my family lived in Passaic, I really expected hits reflecting national membership.

Here is the very small listing in the directory for the Narodny Slovensky Spolok:

George Sabo Jr., sec.!

First, I didn’t think my family started using the Sabo surname until around 1915. They are enumerated in the 1910 census as Kucharik. Second, George Sabo Jr. was my father, but he hadn’t been born yet, so the “junior” part is an error. My grandfather was George, but his father was Stephen. The junior tells me that Stephen was probably a member, too, though.

My grandfather, George, was only 17 when he served as the secretary, but that isn’t really too surprising because I have his 8th grade school certificate from Passaic School #2, so I know he was literate.


Most of the older members had little chance for an education in the village back in Europe. At 17, George then would probably have been one of the oldest members literate in both Slovak and English.

The Passaic chapter of the National Slovak Society met on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. The president was Anthony Patak, who I found in the 1910 census. He and his family lived at the back of 125 Fourth Street in Passaic, which was part of the First Ward where the mill hand immigrants lived and worked. At 66 years old, Anthony was considerably older than George and probably did most of the talking while George did most of the writing!

There are literally hundreds of fraternal and other organizations in local communities. If your family settled in one area, particularly if they were immigrants, chances are excellent that they might also have belonged to whichever fraternal/social ethnic organization that was active at the time in the town.

Spend some time examining the organization’s history and you might discover your own ancestors in those records.

Christmas Card 1920’s Style

This is the second of my vintage Christmas memories and memorabilia. Today’s holiday card dates between Christmas 1915 and Christmas 1925, before the birth of my father. The card style looks a bit Art Deco and I believe it is more likely George and Julia Sabo sent this card to friends sometime during the 1920s.

Christmas Card 1 Cover

Christmas Card 1 Inside

What I love about this card is that it is hand signed and it is NOT my Nana’s writing, which means my grandfather George signed it. I have only a couple of letters that he hand wrote (I never knew him as George died of tuberculosis when my father was only ten yeas old) so I value the few things that were left by him.