30 October 2016

Sunday’s Obituaries: Aunt Katie and Cousin Steve

Yesterday was an exhausting day. It was a bittersweet day. I saw so many family members who I do not always have the opportunity to see and yet I saw them because of the circumstances. One of my daughters and I attended the viewing of my cousin and the services and burial for my aunt.

Katherine Wiker was my paternal grandfather’s sister. She was the last of that generation.

Aunt Katie’s obituary reads:
Katherine "Katie" Wiker
Photo with obituary
Katherine Ruczhak Wiker, 92, died Friday, October 21, 2016 in Windsor, New York. She was the wife of Chester P. Wiker Sr., who preceded her in death having shared 47 years of marriage.

Katherine was born in Coatesville, and lived in Hershey, PA and Windsor, NY. She was the daughter of the late Panko and Bessie Ruczhak. She worked for 24 years at Pepperidge Farm and then worked for the Coatesville Association for the Blind. She was devoted to her family and friends and was a member of Olivet United Methodist Church. 

Surviving her are her children, Chester P. Wiker, Jr.; Katherine M. Schwartz; daughters-in-law, Terri and Norah Wiker; son-in-law, Dave; 11 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her son, Richard E. Wiker; daughter-in-law, Gail Fry Wiker; and an infant daughter, Bessie Ann Wiker. She was also preceded in death by her brothers and sisters; Joseph, Theodore, Nicholas, Paul, Mary, Helen, Ann and Peter. 

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, October 29, 2016 at the Harris Mountain Funeral & Cremation Service, 1030 E. Lincoln Highway, Coatesville where relatives and friends may begin calling at 10 a.m. Interment will be in Romansville Methodist Cemetery.

Her obituary was published on Harris Mountain Funeral Home’s website. I do need to note that she had one other brother – also named Theodore – who passed early. He was just a toddler when he died and few of the siblings even knew about him. Aunt Katie did though. She told me once that her mom used to have her drive up the Polish Cemetery outside Coatesville to “visit” the baby.

Steve is my cousin. His mother and my maternal grandmother were sisters. Everyone called him “Buddy” but I never thought to ask why. It may have been to differentiate between him and his father, also named Stephen.

His obituary read:
Steve Kaba
Photo with obituary
Stephen E. Kaba, III, 72, of Royersford, PA, died on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 in Southeastern Veterans' Center, Royersford, PA. He was the husband of Mary (Giampietro) Kaba, who he was married to for 48 years. Born on June 27, 1944 in Phoenixville, PA, he was the son of the late Stephen E. Kaba, Jr., and Loretta (Welsh) Kaba.
Stephen was a graduate of Phoenixville High School, class of 1962.

Upon graduating from high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, retiring as a Master Sergeant.

He was employed as a General Contractor for many years, until his retirement. He was a friend of the Chapel of Four Chaplains, and a Eucharistic Minister at Sacred Heart Church in Royersford, PA.

Surviving in addition to his wife are, son, Stephen Kaba IV and wife Christine of Douglassville, PA, grandfather of, Hailey and Lauren Kaba, brother of Loretta Swier and Martin Kaba. He was preceded in death by his sister, Donna Moore.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his Funeral Mass in St. Joseph Catholic Church, 3640 Schuylkill Road, Spring City, PA, on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 11:00 am. Burial will follow in Limerick Garden of Memories. A viewing will be held in the church on Saturday morning from 9:00 am to 10:45 am.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Southeastern Veterans' Center Resident Welfare Fund, DMVA Office for Veterans Affairs, Bldg. O-47, Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, PA 17003-5002.

It was published on the Devlin Rosmos Keep Gatcha Funeral Home’s website.

Sunday’s Obituary is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

13 June 2016

Military Monday: WWII Veterans

Last week I mentioned the Honor Roll at my church – the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Coatesville. Our Honor Roll plaque is in the back of the church and was originally created for those who served in World War II but has added the wars and our soldiers since then.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to our World War II veterans. The three marked with an * are the three who were Killed In Action (KIA). 

They are:
Babel, Harry
Bilinski, Michael
Bodnar, Stephen
Bodnar, Michael
Bodnar, Paul
Branson, Lewis Jr
Buckle, Andrew *
Buckle, John
Buckle, Michael
Daniels, George R Jr
Donkewicz, George
Donkewicz, John
Euler, Frank
Gbur, John
Grycky, William A *
Hachak, John
Handoe, John
Hanna, William H
Hasiey, Joseph
Hewczuk, Michael
Hruszczak, Nicholas ß my Uncle Nick (Gigi’s brother)
Hruszczak, Paul ß my Uncle Paul (Gigi’s brother)
Jacoby, John
Jacoby, Steve
Jacoby, William
Kasuba, B Myron
Katherina, Michael
Keshuta, Steve
Kish, George
Kopple, Nicholas
Kobylanski, M John
Koven, Michael
Koven, John
Kowalski, Joseph
Kozacheson, Nick
Krawchuk, Alex
Kryworuka, Abraham
Kryworuka, John
Kryworuka, Nicholas
Kryworuka, Paul
Kurenda, Paul * ß my Uncle Paulie (Baba’s brother)
Labiak, Paul
Labiak, Peter
Ladun, Joseph
Ladun, John
Lebid, John D.
Leveille, William J
Malamon, Demetro
Malamon, Michael
Mascuilli, Frank
Max, William
Max, Pete
Max, Stanley
Melnick, Peter
Melnick, Wasyl
Melnick, Michael
Monkow, Metro
Mogkow, Joseph
Monko, Maurice
Monko, Joseph
Mudry, Michael
Ohar, Peter
Panaski, Andrew
Panaski, Michael
Panaski, William
Papernick, William
Pashesnik, John
Peck, Harry
Podedworny, John
Poholka, John
Poholka, Paul
Poholka, Peter
Poholka, William
Procyson, Joseph A
Procyson, Paul
Pryma, Leon
Pryma, Michael
Rhoades, Charles E
Rhoades, Charles Jr
Sheremetta, John
Sheremetta, Paul
Sheremetta, Metro
Slawko, John
Slawko, Leon
Suchak, Steve
Suchak, Peter
Sushysnky, Steve
Sushysnky, Vladimir
Sushysnky, Anna
Towber, Paul Z
Towber, Michael
Turczyn, Joseph H
Turczyn, Nicholas
Turczyn, John
Urban, Michael
Urban, Joseph
Yankavish, Michael
Yosko, Andrew
Yosko, John
Zadorozny, Mary
Zaplitney, George
Zaplitny, Joseph
Zook, Anthony
Zook, Michael
Zubyk, Joseph T
Zvodar, Anthony
Zvodar, George
Zvodar, John

The Honor Roll also notes six veterans from the Korean War, eight from Vietnam, one from the Gulf War, and one from Iraq. The six Korean War veterans are: Robert L Barlow, Jr., Richard P Curry, George L Degnan, John Horblinski, Walter Maskula, and John Max. The eight listed (there are more) who served in Vietnam are William F Bigar, John L Dmytryk, Gary Handoe, Thomas P Kish, George Nolan, Teddy Ruzchak, Jr. (my cousin), Robert Timozek, and Wes Hatch. Our lone Gulf War veteran is Mark Teijaro and our lone veteran from Iraq is Jayme Houck.

Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

12 June 2016

Cleaning leads to holdings find

I'm cleaning out - the house, my "office", my personal holdings, my piles and piles of papers! While cleaning out, I came across a listing of local newspaper holdings at the Lancaster Library. These holdings are on microfilm and the library is located on Duke Street in Lancaster City.

The Library offers:
Lancaster Journal
Lancaster Intelligencer
Lancaster Examiner & Herald
Lancaster Democrat
Saturday Express
Daily Evening Express
Lancaster Inquirer
Lancaster Daily Examiner
Uncle Samuel
Lancaster New Era
Morning News
Terre Hill Times
and the Lancaster Sunday News

Some of these collection date back to 1796.

(c) Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

06 June 2016

Military Monday: Church Honor Roll

Many communities – be it a town or a church family – have an Honor Roll of the brave men and women who served our nation over the years. Some wanted to serve and enlisted while others were drafted and have no choice.

My church – Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Coatesville – is no different. Out Honor Roll plaque is in the back of the church. Both the American flag and the Ukrainian flag are attached.  The Honor Roll was originally created for those who served in World War II but has added the wars and our soldiers since then.

Three of our men have gold star next to their names, implying they were killed in action. They are Andrew Buckle, William Grycky, and (my uncle) Paul Kurenda. Not every parishioner who served is actually listed. Most of the men are buried up in our cemetery.

Some of their stories – like my Uncle Paul – I know but many I do not and fear their stories will be forgotten by the next generation or two if not retold. So, over the next several Mondays, I will try to highlight those brave men who served our country.

Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

01 June 2016

Wedding Wednesday: Hubby with his parents

Glenn and I were married on 22 August 1992. Here he is pictured with his parents - Dorothy Deyoe and Frank Eckman. Both passed away a few years ago - Dad in 1994 and his mom in 1996. The photo just felt fitting today.

We were married by Father George Schneider at Our Lady of Consolation (I was Catholic at the time) in Parkesburg, Chester County.

Wedding Wednesday is a genealogical prompt from GeneaBloggers.

(c) Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

30 May 2016

On This Memorial Day We Remember …

On this Memorial Day we remember those who served and died in that service to out great Nation. Today, as President Barak Obama and many before him announced in his Memorial Day Proclamation, “we pay solemn tribute to those brave Americans who laid down their lives to defend our freedom.

In our families – mine and my husband’s – we have many who have served. Between us, we cover all five branches too. Our son-in-law is currently serving. However today is Memorial Day. Today we honor those who made that ultimate sacrifice. Today I honor my great Uncle Paulie (Paul Kurenda) and my husband’s 6th great uncle, Jacob Eckman.

Paulie with my grandmother, Anna
Paulie, as his sister (my grandmother) always called him, was the baby of the family. Born 16 July 1922, Paul grew up on a farm in Sadsburyville, Chester County. He was the youngest child of John Kurenda and Frances Skrabalak. Like many Coatesville area boys of that era, he went to work in the steel mill after school as a welder. 

On 1 January 1943, he enlisted – like so many of our nation’s young men – in the US Army. I know nothing of his service time. The only thing my grandparents ever said was that he served in Europe and his letters home were mostly about the weather. It evidently was always raining there. He got sick there and was sent stateside. As his condition worsened, he was sent to Valley Forge Hospital in Phoenixville, Chester County, to be nearer to family. He died there on 11 August 1944 at 5:20 p.m. His official cause of death was “tuberculosis, pulmonary, acute, miliary, bilateral.” He is buried at Holy Ghost Ukrainian Cemetery in Valley Township, Chester County between his parents. 

Growing up in Chester County, I have had more field trips to Valley Forge Battlefield than I can recall. Some facts stand out more than others – like that George Washington’s troops wintered there but there was no actual battle there. Another fact is that Jacob Eckman died there.

Jacob Eckman was born in Lancaster County in 1737 to Johannes Eckman and Eva Dorthea Seitz. On 29 April 1760 he married Anna Maria Taylor at the First Reformed Church of Christ in Lancaster. They had a son, Jacob, born 1763. Their son married Christina Musser in 1784 in Lancaster County.

Jacob served in the German Regiment of the Continental Army during the American Revolution under Colonel Baron De Arendt. His regiment was part of Muhlenberg’s Brigade. The Muster Rolls shows him present in December 1777. He was marked “sick present” in March 1778. He was on Furlough in April 1778 at the time of roll. In May his name was on the roster with no comment. Jacob died at Valley Forge on 20 May 1778.

Today – Memorial Day – is about them and the many other soldiers who have died in service for our country. May Their Memory Be Eternal.

Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

26 May 2016

Ancestry explains DNA Testing

DNA testing has become quite popular, especially through Ancestry.com. In this video, Ancestry's Brad Argent explains DNA Testing.

(c) Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

24 May 2016

Blessing of the Graves

Normally we (Ukrainian Orthodox) bless the graves of our departed on St Thomas Sunday, which is the Sunday after Pascha (Easter). This year St Thomas Sunday was 8 May, which was also Mother's Day. Between that and all the rain lately, my parish postponed the Blessing of the Graves until this coming Sunday.

Our priest, along with several parishioners, will visit the individual graves of our departed family members. We pray at each one. We chant at each one. He blesses each one with holy water. Everyone gets his or her own personal blessing. It is a beautiful day. Look for my reflections on this moving service next week!

Tombstone Tuesday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

22 May 2016

A Family Addition

On Friday, 20 May, a new addition to the family arrived! My cousin Tim delivered (well, ok his girlfriend actually delivered!) a beautiful 7 lb 9 oz baby boy!

His name is Pierson James Still. He is named after Tim's (and my) grandfather (Lloyd Pierson Still) and our grandfather's brother (James Franklin Still). He was born on the 20th - the day our grandmother (Mary Welsh Still) passed away many years ago.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

20 May 2016

Remembering my maternal grandmother

Today is one of "those days". It is my parent's anniversary. They were married in 1967. When I was in sixth grade, I made my Confirmation. I was Roman Catholic at the time. My sponsor was my Aunt Neva (my mom's sister-in-law). When I was in eight grade, my dog died. Troubles had been with the family longer than me. She was a great dog. It is also the day my maternal grandmother passed away today.

I remember waking up that morning feeling a heaviness in my chest and feeling very sad. I managed to roll over and go back to sleep but then a few hours later, I heard the phone ring. Daddy came in my room (I was home from college) and asked if I was awake. I remember telling him Mums had passed and about what time she had passed.

Mary Rose (Welsh) Still
d. 20 May 1989
May Her Memory Be Eternal

That day is a bit of a blur but some random things stand out. For instance, my grandparents had a party-line. In all the years they lived there, none of us could ever recall the other party talking much. That day, she would not get off the phone! I remember finally my uncle breaking in to say we had a death in the family and needed to make some phone calls. My grandfather lived there for awhile afterwards and we never heard the other party again!

My grandmother was very Irish and VERY proud of it. All four of her grandparents are our immigrant ancestors. Every St Patrick's Day was like celebrated with more fanfare than Easter and Christmas combined! She made these nasty grasshoppers which of course all us kids would readily accept since it was the only time she ever suggested we share a drink with everyone. Nasty!

She never learned how to drive but oh man could she get around. We lived a good 25 miles away and it really was not a surprise to walk in after school and see that little blue overnight bag of hers sitting in the kitchen.

The kitchen ... my Dad used to cook on the grill all the time. One day - it was raining - he made a comment about being able to cook anything on the grill. So there's my 5' even grandmother out holding an umbrella over my 6'2" father while he cooked her an EGG on the grill!

I have so many wonderful memories of her. Please feel free to share YOUR memories of your grandmother ... or if you knew mine, of mine!

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

18 May 2016

Celebrate the USO this weekend

Celebrate the USO this Saturday, 21 May at the Lancaster Historical Society. Celebrate the USO at LHO invites you to relive the magic of USO shows. Those often historic shows brought great entertainers like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and the Andrews Sisters to our troops around the globe.

A cash bar will be provided by Tellus 360. The bar opens at 7 p.m. and accepts cash only. You are also invited to come early and enjoy a picnic on the lawn before the show. Burgers, hot dogs, and ice cream vendors will be onsite.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person. Children 10 and under are free. Tickets are available on the Society’s website and will also be available at door for cash or credit.

The Society is located at 230 North President Avenue, Lancaster. Parking is available on site.

Today’s piece was taken from a press release
from the Lancaster County Historical Society.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

12 May 2016

Those Places Thursday: Nickel Mines, Lancaster County

Take a moment, if you would, and look at the spare change in your pocket. I would venture to bet you probably have a nickel in among your coins. Did you know that the history of the nickel is linked with a little rural village in Bart Township, Lancaster County? That hamlet is Nickel Mines!

The hamlet gets its name from the area mines which are abundant for nickel. The idea of today’s five cent piece – the nickel – was suggested by Joseph Wharton who bought the mine back in 1862. Nickel Mines is just a stones throw away from where I grew up in Sadsbury Township and I never knew this fact until last Friday when I was doing some background info on my great aunt’s husband, Chester Wiker, Sr. for the Funeral Card Friday post.

The year was 1862. The United States was being torn in two by the Civil War. Coins were then made of silver and gold so many people started holding on to their coins, not for monetary value but rather for the value of the silver and gold. Joseph Wharton took a chance and bought the Gap Mining Company.

I should back up here and mention a bit about the mines in the area. Nickel ore was discovered during the 1850’s in the waste products of copper mining. Concentration shifted to mining for nickel ore specifically and in the decade between 1850 and 1860, it has been estimated that over 35 million pounds of nickel ore was mined. Unfortunately during the Civil War there was little use for nickel and the mine fell on difficult times.

Wharton went to the Federal government and suggested, in light of the coin shortage, that a new coin be made of nickel. The nickel would be the new five cent piece. The idea was a hit. Congress, in 1866, required the United States Mint to produce a new five-cent coin made of nickel and copper, according to the US Mint.

In addition to the new coin, nickel was used for many other things. The mines continued to operate until 1893. Nickel ore was being imported from Canada at a lower price.

Wharton was not just successful, and now wealthy, but he was also a philanthropist. He financially founded the Wharton School of Business so that other men could also prosper. The Wharton School of Business in now part of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Wharton also co-founded the Bethlehem Steel Company.

“History of Nickel Mines,” Nickel Mines Mennonite Church. http://nickelminesmennonite.org/Nickel%20Mines%20History.html

Those Places Thursday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016

09 May 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Van Horn connection made

Last month I received an email from a potential Van Horn connection! Many of the names fit but the dates seem off a bit. It took a little searching but our two lines do connect.

Hi Jeanne,
I found your blog while on Amnesty.com and I’m wondering if you would have any information on my Grandmother’s mother.  Grandma was Margaret E. Van Horn/ Lilley(DOB 1897-1968). She married Roy E. Lilley. They had 4 girls and two boys. One of the girls, Laura Lilley/Kulp/Hilbish was my Mother. My question who was Margaret’s Mother .  She died while my Grandmother was very young and no one in the family knew who her Mother was or how she died. 

I have George W. as her father (DOB 1867) and 1900 census shows George W. and Margaret E. living with Robert Newsom (DOB 1840 England-Immigration 1877-Married 1882 to Martha Van Horn/Newsom (Dob- June 23, 1845-June 6, 1915) but can’t figure out what the first husbands name was.(George W. ’s father)  George is listed as a stepson and Margaret as a Granddaughter.  I’m thinking that Martha married the second time after having her children.

So, I am still looking for George W’s father and also George W’s wife and mother to my Grandma.  I thought since you have done a lot of research on the Van Horn side you might have some answers for me. We must be related somehow but right now, I’m not sure what the connection is.

Thanking you in advance for your help.
Donna M. Kulp/Pressley

I can trace – with documented certainty -   my Van Horn family back to John Van Horn. John was born 13 November 1785, according to the US Federal Census Mortality Index. The same Index notes his death as having occurred May 1850 in Bucks County. His wife’s name was Jane and they had two known children: George W. and Rachel.

George W. Van Horn was my 4th great grandfather. He was born 3 August 1819 in Pennsylvania. He grew up in Northampton, Bucks County, according to tax records which also confirm his father was John Van Horn. George moved to Kensington, Philadelphia. He was living there in 1850. The 1860 Census shows him living in Valley Township, Chester County. He is back in Philadelphia by 1863 though, working as a carpenter. He died in Philadelphia 23 June 1878.

George had married Jane Dudbridge (born 1811). They had seven children:
  1. Chrispin Pierson (1839 – 1902) ß my 3rd great grandfather
  2. Asher (1841 – 1842)
  3. Benjamin Franklin (1843 – 1909) ß a Civil War veteran
  4. Martha Elizabeth (1845 – 1915) ß Donna’s
  5. Joanna D (1848 – 1915)
  6. George W (1850 – 1851)
  7. William G. (b 1852)
Martha appeared in the 1870 US Census as a 24 year old keeping house in Wilmington, New Castle, DE. Living at home with her were 20 year old Joanna labeled "idiotic" and 2 year old George W. Van Horn. Martha and Joanna were born in PA. George was born in DE.

Fast forward to 1910. Forty-three year old widower George W Van Horn is living in Leacock Township, Lancaster County with his 65 year old mother Martha E and her husband Robert Newsam. Living there also is 13 year old Margaret E Van Horn, listed as Robert’s granddaughter. This is the second marriage for both Robert and Martha. Martha notes she has only one child.

Hence, Martha Elizabeth had George most likely out of wedlock before marrying Robert Newsam in 1881. Margaret E Van Horn is then the daughter of George W. Van Horn, and the granddaughter of Martha Van Horn Newsam.

Donna was still looking for George W’s father and his wife. Sadly, I cannot answer who fathered George. As for his wife … in 1900 George was a widower living with his daughter and his mother in law Ann Margie Eesmuth, as well as his brother in law John A Eesmuth. So, while I do not have a first name for his wife, I do have her maiden name!  

Amanuensis Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2016
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.