14 July 2014

Matrilineal Monday: Bessie Matys Hruszczak

Bessie Matys, my great grandmother, was born 5 June 1895. She came to America in 1912, leaving her father and three older sisters in Fraga, to join her brother in Coatesville, Chester County, PA. It was there she met and married Panko Hruszczak in 1915. Together they had 10 children. One passed in infancy but the others lived full lives. But today, I'd like to focus on Bessie herself.

Little is known of her life before she immigrated. She was born in Fraga, Rohatya, Galicia to, according to church records here, Joseph Matys and Olena Vaspleship. I know of her four sisters only because of a letter from her brother's oldest daughter, Catherine. Catherine Matys Rothermel immigrated with her parents. We wrote and visited several times. She wrote once that there was four girls and her father and that Bessie was the youngest of all.

She was 18 when she boarded the ship Cincinnati in Hamburg, Germany to join her brother, Frank, here in America. She arrived, according to records at Ellis Island, on 28 October 1912. She listed her ethnicity as Ruthenian - Austria. She listed her place of residence as Fraga, Austria. Her name was listed, not as Bessie, but rather as Paska Matys. The records show too that she would be joining her brother Frank Matys in Coatesville, PA. Bessie lived with Frank and his young family, according to Catherine Matys Rothermel, until she married Panko.

Panko and Bessie were married 24 July 1915 at Holy Ghost Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (now Holy Ghost Ukrainian Orthodox Church) in Coatesville. Catherine Matys Rothermel was one of the flower girls!

They spent most of their married life in Coatesville. In 1917 they spent a short time in Columbia, Lancaster County when Panko worked for A. M. Byers Co. as an ironworker (according to Panko's World War I Draft Registration). When their infant son passed in 1918, he was buried (according to his death certificate) at the "Polish cemetery" (St Stanislaus) near Coatesville. The 1920 census shows the young family in Chester City, in Delaware County, PA where Panko was a machinist in a pipe mill. They are back in Coatesville shortly thereafter. Panko's Social Security application lists Coatesville as home in 1936, as does his World War II Draft Registration in 1942.

They had 10 kids:
1916 - 1918 Theodore (named for Panko's father / COD pneumonia/influenza)
1918 - 1997 Joseph (my grandfather / named after Bessie's father)
1919 - 1985 Theodore (named after Panko's father and child lost)
1921 - 2008 Nicholas
1922 - 1995 Paul
1926 - 1971 Mary
1930 - 1997 Ann
1932 - 2002 Peter
? Helen
(living) Katie

Panko passed in December 1968. After he passed, she remained living at their house in Coatesville on New Street. Bessie passed 5 September 1972. They are buried at the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Cemetery in Valley Township.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.