27 August 2012

Matrilineal Monday: Frances Skrabalek Kurenda

Frances Skrabalek Kurenda is my great grandmother. She was born in Poland on 25 December 1892, immigrated to the United States, married, outlived her husband and one son, remarried and lived until 30 May 1962.

During the course of her 70 years, this strong Polish woman most likely danced The Cake Walk as a young girl. During her life, the Brits launched the first sub; the Trans Siberian Railroad expanded into Port Arthur; the Russo-Japanese War claimed many lives as Port Arthur fell to the Japanese and Russia saw a general strike; and Rasputin wormed his way into Czar Nicholas II's court.

She was one of the nealry 10.5 million immigrants from southern and eastern Europe during 1905 to 1914. Once here, she would have no doubt read of World War I in the papers recognizing I'm sure many affected towns and villages. She settled into life in Berks County, Pennsylvania where she married John KURENDA in 1908. At some point after their marriage, the couple moved to Coatesville in Chester County. Their first son, Peter, was born in February of 1909. In 1910 a daughter Mary graced the Kurenda home, followed quickly in 1911 by a second daughter Catherine. They were blessed with a second son John. he was born sometime between 1911 and 1917. My grandmother - my Baba - Anna was born in 1917. The youngest son Paul - Baba often called him Paulie - was born in 1922.

The family attend the Holy Ghost Ukranian Greek Catholic (now Ukrainian Orthodox) Church. As most women did at that time, Frances stayed home with the children on their famette in Sadsburyville while John worked at Bethlehem Steel in Coatesville. He retired in 1936. John was a big man and suffered from sleep apnea and diabetes. He passed in 1938 due to sleep paralysis and complications of the sleep apnea and diabetes. He was buried at Holy Ghost Ukrainian Cemetery in Valley Township.

The United States stayed out of the Second World War as long as possible, but soon it was inevitable. Paul was drafted and served in the US Army. He was killed in 1944. His wounds brought him stateside but he passed before the family could get to Valley Forge Hospital.

Frances - alone now all her children married or passed - married Frank Keshuta, of Coatesville. Baba always maintained it was a marriage of companionship rather than romance. In fact, in 1962 when Frances passed she was buried with her son Paul and first husband John Kurenda in Holy Ghost Ukrainian Cemetery. Incidently the Keshuta family is also buried there.




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