16 November 2014

Census Sunday: Not always the full story

The census records are great resources. Each census adds a little different information which can eventually compile a nice picture of someone. However, the census records do not always show the whole picture. Today, I would like to illustrate that point using my great grandfather, Panko Hruszczak, as an example.

My grandfather, Joseph Ruczhak, had always told me he was the oldest son and the family always lived in Coatesville once his dad immigrated here from the Ukraine. Wow. Well, Panko is his father.

Panko first shows up in the 1920 census.

The enumerator recorded his name as Panka Hruegak. By 1920, he was married to Bessie and they had two sons: Joseph, age 2, and Theodore, four months. Both he and Bessie, ages 27 and 23 respectively, are still aliens. He immigrated in 1910, according to the census, while she arrived in 1913. They both state they were born in Austria and their native tongue is Austrian. Both can read and write. He was a machinist in a pipe mill. They lived - not in Coatesville, but - in Chester City, Delaware County, PA on Trainer Street.

Ten years later the family has grown and moved. Now they are living in Rock Run in Valley Township in Chester County. Rock Run might as well be Coatesville. He is listed this time as Penko Hruczhak. He and Bessie now have seven children: Joseph, 13; Theadere (Theodore), 12; Nick, 8; Paul, 8; Katy, 6; Mary, 4; and Ellen (Helen), 2. The 1930 census also reveals that Panko was 22 and Bessie was 21 when they were married. They are now 37 and 35 respectively. Panko is renting their home and the family does not own a radio. Both Panko and Bessie lists their birthplace, and that of their parents, as Austria-Poland. According to the 1930 census, Panko immigrated in 1911 and Bessie in 1912. He was a rod man in a tube mill.


The 1940 census shows 46 year old Panko Hruszchak (notice, yet another spelling) with Bessie, 45, and their children: Theodore, Nicholas, Paul, Katherine, Mary, Helen, Anna and Peter. My grandfather, Joseph, had already married at this point. He and my grandmother are on their own, also in Rock Run. Panko and Bessie both lists their birthplace as Austria Galicia now. The enumerator asked about their citizenship status. Panko was "Na" meaning naturalized. Bessie is listed as "Pa" meaning her first papers were filed. So she was not yet a citizen but had started the paperwork.

The enumerator asked about employment of everyone. Panko was still a rod man in a tube mill. Bessie remained a housewife. Theodore lists his occupation as an attendant at a hospital but he has been unemployed for 52 weeks prior to the census date. Nicholas was a laborer in a scrap yard and Paul was counterman at a restaurant. Both Nicholas and Paul answered yes to the question: Was this person at work for pay or profit in private or non emergency gov't work during the week of March 24-30? Uncle Nick had worked 40 hours in that area the week prior and Uncle Paul had worked 48, according to the census.

The 1940 census is the latest released. The census records do offer a variety of information and is a great way to track movements over time.

Not the oldest
In a nutshell, my grandfather was not the oldest. These was a boy, Theodore (I call him the first to differentiate from my grandfather's younger brother) who was born in 1916 and died of pneumonia on 13 October 1918. I originally found him on Panko's World War I Draft Registration.

Not always in Coatesville
That document also revealed Panko, Bessie and child were living in Columbia, Lancaster County in 1917. My grandfather was born in January 1918 in Coatesville. The first child, Theodore (Jebor on his death certificate), was buried at the Polish Cemetery in October 1918 and the family lived in Coatesville at that time. The 1920 Census showed them in Chester City, Delaware County. By 1930 they are back in the Coatesville area.

From whence they came
My grandfather swore we were Ukrainian and only Ukrainian. Through the years I have seen Ukraine, Austria, Galicia, Galicia-Hungary, Austria-Galicia, Poland, and even Russia as birthplaces listed for Panko and Bessie. I believe the most accurate (though I have included all in my notes) is his naturalization paperwork which states he was born in Prusy, Sambor. One reason for the confusion is that the area there was taken over several times by different leaders.

In summary, never trust just one source or even family stories. No one source can tell the full story.

Census Sunday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.