17 June 2012

Father's Day ... my paternal ancestry

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!
My dad is Joseph P. Ruczhak Jr. He was born and raised in Coatesville, worked in the Mill (Lukens Steel mill that is) like every male graduating then. He put in 40+ years at the mill. The only time away from the mill was when he served our country in Vietnam. He was drafted and served his time, eluding Death on more than one occassion.

His dad - my Gigi - was Joseph Ruczhak. Born in 1918, my Gigi worked various jobs, even ran his own steak shop a while, before he too worked at the mill. He loved to play golf and in fact was on Luken's golf team (see photo on the right). He was very active in the parish - Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church and today is buried in our cemetery alongside my Baba - Anna Kurenda Ruczhak.

Gigi's father was Panko Hruszczak (1893-1968). He came over from "the Old Country" to find work assumably. He was born in Prusy, Sambor, Galicia. He met my great grandmother - Bessie Matyz - here and they were married at Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church. They had nine children survive to adulthood. Both were active in the parish and both are buried together at out cemetery. Panko worked for the railroad and for the iron works before setting in and retiring from the steel mill in Coatesville. I never got to meet my great grandfather. He passed away two months before I was born.

Panko's father was Theodore Hruszczak. Sadly, I know only his name ... at this point. Theodore never came overfrom Galicia.

12 June 2012

Extinct churches and closed cemeteries

I am one of those people who actually enjoy visiting cemeteries. I like doing tombstone rubbings and hunting down that elusive ancestor. With the virtual advancements of recent years, research has become easier but not always as exciting. Today I had an exciting moment! I found my husband's great great grandfather's first marriage information.

Leopold Cousault married Mary Canon on 3 July 1832 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Southwark, Philadelphia(1). The church was located below 3rd Street at Catherine Street. The church no longer exists sadly, according to Edwin Rivera's article on the church. The Episcopal Diocese closed because of declining membership in 1908, according to Rivera. Eventually the building deteriorated and the City of Philadelphia finally condemened the property in 1914. The property is now known as the Friends of Mario Lanza Park.

The graves were removed to the Mount Moriah Cemetery, which also has closed. The cemetery was incorporated in 1855 along Cobbs Creek. The cemetery was considered a "rural cemetery" and for awhile enjoyed its prominent status.  Mount Moriah Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark. It is on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places and was placed on Preservation Pennsylvania's Most Endangered Historic Properties List in 2004 and on The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia's Endangered Properties List in 2005. Today it is closed for business. It no longer accepts new burials. It is located at 6201 Kingsessing Avenue. Leopold passed 18 June 1867 but I do not have a confirmation as to his burial location.

Leopold's second marriage was to a woman named Catherine. Leopold and Catherine gave birth to Charles E. Coursault. Charles (1859-1909) fathered Julia Cousault (1885-1945) who married Morgan Deyoe. Julia and Morgan gave issue to Dorothy who married Frank Eckman - my husband's father.

(1) Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

07 June 2012

The Struggle For Freedom

The Chester County Historial Society (CCHS) will be presenting "The Struggle For Freedom, Documented" on Tuesday, 19 June at Barnaby's in West Chester.

According to CCHS: Laurie Rofini, Director of Chester County Archives and Records Services and CCHS staff member, and Rob Lukens, Ph.D., CCHS President, will offer an exploration of two Chester County stories - the 1852 Pennsylvania Woman's Rights Convention and the 1821 murder trials of John Reed, a former slave. Using rare archival documents as a guide, Rofini and Lukens uncover stories that center on the core principle of freedom in American history.

This brief 25-30 minute presentation will be followed by discussion, Q & A, and good conversation. And of course, there will be lots of great beer and good food. History on Tap brings history to you in the casual atmosphere of your favorite local bar or restaurant. The program is free for the community to enjoy!

06 June 2012

D-Day 6 June 1944

Over 4,000 Allied soldiers laid down their lives on the beaches of Normandy 68 years ago today. May their Memory Be Eternal.

05 June 2012

A Closer Look: Onifer Romanko

According to their tombstone, he was born 24 June 1873 and passed 2 June 1939. She was born 22 August 1866 and passed 3 January 1937. According to the Chester County Archives, they were married 4 June 1917 in Coatesville. Little is know of Onifer and even less of Rosalia, his bride.

I first learned of Onifer while researching my great grandfather, Panko Hruszczak. Panko immigrated to the US on 20 April 1911 aboard the Volturno from Rotterdam, Holland. His last known address was Prusy, Austria. He listed his ethnicity as Austria, Ruthenian. He was an 18 year old single white male. He lists that he was coming to see his uncle Onifer Romanko in Coatesville, PA, that his destination is Coatesville, PA and that a living relative back home was his father Ted Hruszczak in Austria. (According to the Ellis Island Passenger Record). Hence, Onifer would be Panko's mother's - Catherine Romanko - brother.

Tombstone Tuesday: Pomahko

Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Cemetery
Valley Township, Chester County, PA

04 June 2012

Military Monday -- Alonzo Smedley Eckman

I’m not sure where – or even if – Alonzo fits in the family yet but I stumbled across him the other day on Ancestry.com. The site has the US Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958 available online.

His muster date was June 1898 after having enlisted on 26 May 1898. He was a Private stationed at League Island, PA.[1] A month prior to Alonzo enlisting, the US had declared war on Spain (on 25 April 1898 to be specific). The Battleship Maine had exploded while in the Havana harbor in February. The Spanish-American War ended on 10 December 1898 with the Treaty of Paris.

According to his Spanish War Compensation File, Alonzo S. Eckman was born 7 February 1877 to Alonzo and Anna Peters Eckman in Desota, Kansas. Kansas! The File shows he served from 25 May 1898 to 25 January 1902. He served overseas from November 1898 to 2 January 1902 in Puerto Rico. His discharge date was 27 May 1903 in Brooklyn, NY. His wife is Agnes Florence Evans Eckman. Their minor children were Ernest, William and Joseph. He was living at 1422 North Hobart Street, Philadelphia when he applied for compensation. At the time of enlistment however he was living at 5012 Willows Avenue, also in Philadelphia.[2]

The 1900 US Census confirms Alonzo, now age 23, was a Private stationed at the US Naval Station in Puerto Rico. The Census confirms his and his parents’ birthplaces.[3] The 1910 Census shows a 33 year old single Alonzo Eckman living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his mother and step-father. The step father’s name is Jacob McCorkle. Other information, birth year and place, parents’ birthplace all match and confirm information already discovered. The census does show it is Anna’s second marriage and that her and Jacob have been married for 28 years. It also shows she had two children, both still living at the time. Jacob is a flagman for the railroad. Alonzo is a carpenter. [4]

Alonzo’s World War I Draft Registration Car shows he was living on Penn Street in Harrisburg, PA. His birthday was 7 February 1877, making him 41 at the time. From the Registration Card we also learn that he is a carpenter employed by James Black, a Mason, of Marsh Run, PA. His wife is Agnes. He is of medium height, brown hair, brown eyes, and white.[5]

In 1880 three year old Alonzo show up on the 1880 US Census for Fulton Township, Lancaster County! Maybe … getting closer to the hubby’s family! Alonzo is listed as the nephew of Ambler J. and Elizabeth Penrose. The Penroses have four children of their own: Laura S., Sarah E., William A. and Charles and a 19 year old servant Annie Zell. Ambler was a farmer. Alonzo’s parents are listed as having been born in Pennsylvania! [6]

The 1920 Census shows a 42 year old Alonzo now married to Connecticut born Agnes and living on North Alden Street in Philadelphia. Their son Ernest was just a month old when the census was taken on 12 January 1920. Agnes was just 26 years old.[7] By 1930 the three were joined by William L., age 8, and Joseph P. age 6. The family was now living on North Hobart Street in Philadelphia. Alonzo still was employed as a carpenter.[8]

Alonzo passed in September of 1969, according to his Social Security Death Index. The SSDI confirms 7 February 1877 as his birth date. His last residence was in Saint Cloud, Florida. According to BillionGraves.com, he was laid to rest in Mount Peace Cemetery, St. Cloud, FL.

By the way, I connected! Through FamilyTreeMaker.com I found Alonzo named as a direct lineal descendent of Ulrich Eckman. It is through my husband’s paternal grandmother’s side that he is related to Alonzo. However, that is a whole different article!

[1] U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1893-1958; (National Archives Microfilm Publication T977, 460 rolls); Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, Record Group 127; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[2] Spanish American War Veteran's Compensation File. Department of Military and Veteran's Affairs, Record Group 19. Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
[3] United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.
[4] Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[5] United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.
[6] Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[7] Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[8] United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.