Thursday, July 28, 2016

Stephen A. Gabuzda 1885-1966 Part 2

My grandparents’ Wedding Day

My grandfather, Stephen A. GABUZDA, with his brother, George GABUZDA, decided the coal mining business was not for them. They left Mahanoy City to the small town of Freeland, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles northeast. They apprenticed for their cousin’s husband, George E. PALYA, in his meat market business. See previous post.

Mary SARNA, was a regular customer at this time. She lived with her older sister, Anna Sarna REMAK in Freeland, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. The Remaks had their own business running a hotel and bar. Mary would watch her nieces and nephews as their parents minded the business. Mary had her eye on the older brother, George, and at the same time Stephen, the younger, had his eye on this special costumer. 

Stephen Gabuzda finally got the courage to ask Mary Sarna out on a date. He was so nice to her that she soon forgot about George. Their dates included going on walks, dancing and an occasional movie, when Steve had the 20 cents to pay for their admission. They were both good dancers and enjoyed it even into the early years of their marriage. They did more than polkas, mostly ballroom dancing, the waltz and fox trot. They often won prizes like a box of chocolates, for being the "best couple on the dance floor." One Sunday, with box lunches, Stephen and Mary joined five other couples for a fun afternoon. Here is a photo of them, third couple from the left, playing a relay game. Mary wrote the date on the photo and kept this in her Bible. It was found here after Mary died. That must have been a very special day when Stephen captured her heart.

They were married on 25 June, 1912. Mary (18) would not marry Stephen (27) until he was Naturalized as an American citizen. He was naturalized 24 days before on 1 June. During this time, if a female American born citizen of the United States married an alien from another country she would lose her citizenship.

I am fortunate to have all three copies of the three steps Stephen took to become an United States citizen. 

Naturalization Petitions and Declarations , 1901-1931, from court held in Scranton, Index 1906-1991. Petitions Vol. 7, No. 1503-1752. 1912. NARA Series M626 Roll 24.  LDS Microfilm#1,666,914. Accessed online Image 522-523 of 1124 from on 28 Jul 2016.
Step 1: Declaration of Intention

On the 12th day of June 1908, Stephen went to the Common Pleas Court of Schuylkill County to begin his first step of American Citizenship. The application reads
“I, Steve Gabuzdza, aged 22 years, occupation Fireman, do declare on oath that my personal description is: Color White, complexion Light, height 5 feet 6 inches, weight 164 pounds, color of hair very light brown, color of eyes blue, other visible distinctive marks none.
I was born in Razlavicza, Austria, on the 12th day of November; anno Domini 1885; I now reside at Mahanoy City, Penna. I emigrated to the United States of America from Hamburg, Germany, on the vessel Pennsylvania; my last foreign residence was Razlavicza, Austria.

It is my bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, and particularity to Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria, of which of now I am a subject: I arrived at the port of New York, in the state of New York on or about the 2nd day of March, anno Domini 1906; I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy; and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of America and to permanently reside therein: SO HELP ME GOD.
Steven Gabuzdza"

Step 2 : Petition for Naturalization

Four years later, on 21 February 1912, Steven traveled to the District Court of Scranton, Pennsylvania to apply for his Petition for Naturalization. 

“To the Honorable the District Court of the United States for the Middle District of Pennsylvania: The petition of Stephen Gabuzdza, herby filed, respectfully shows:
First: My place of residence is 72 S. Center St, Freeland
Second: My occupation is Butcher
Third: I was born on the 12th of November, anno Domini, 1885, at Razlavicza, Austria.
Fourth: I immigrated to the United States from Hamburg, Germany, on or about the 16th day of February anno Domini, 1906 and arrived in the United States, and arrived in the United States at the port of New York, N. Y., on the 2nd day of March anno Domini, 1906 on the vessel “Pennsylvania.” 
Fifth: I declared my intention to become a citizen of the United States on the 12th day of June, anno Domini, 1908 Pottsville, Pa. to the Common Pleas Court of Schuylkill County.
Sixth: I am not married. This section is crossed out. 
Seventh:I am not a disbeliver in or opposed to organized government or a member of or affiliated with any organization or body of persons teaching disbelief in or opposed to organized government. I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy. I am attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and it is my intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign princes, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularity to [stamped] FRANCIS JOSEPH EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA AND APOSTOLIC KING OF HUNGARY of whom at this time I am a subject,  and it is my intention to reside permanently in the United States. 
Eighth: I am able to speak the English language. 
Ninth: I have resided continually in the United States of America for the term of five years at least, immediately proceeding the date of this petition, to wit, since the 2nd day of March, anno Domini, 1906, and in the state of Pennsylvania, continuously since preceding the date of this petition, on the 3rd day of March, anno Domini, 1906, being a residence within this state of at least one year next preceding the date of this petition.
Tenth: I have not heretofore made petition for citizenship to any court. 
Attched hereto and made apart of this petition is my declareation of intention to become a citizen of the United States, together with my affidavit and the affidavits of the two verifying witnesses thereto, required by law. Wherefore your petitioner prays that he may be admitted a citizen of the United States of America.
Signed Stephen Gabuzdza
Declaration of Intention filed this 21st February 1912.
Witnesses included: Dominic A. O’Donnell, occupation Clerk, residing at Foster, Luz.[erne] Co., Pennsylvania. and Patrick Moehan, occupation Contractor, residing at Freeland, Pennsylvania. 

Step 3: Certificate of Naturalization

Stephen was granted his U. S. Citizenship on 1 June 1912 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It is interesting to read that this document is later dated on 4 January 1929 with the embossed seal.

U.S. Certificate of Naturalization of Stephen Gabuzdza in possession of the author.
I noticed the spelling of GABUZDZA on all three documents. The second Z at the end of his name was eventually removed.

Mary SARNA was born in 1894 in Sandy Run, Foster Township, Luzurne County, Pennsylvania. Her parents came to the United States in 1880. Her father, George SARNA, worked in the local coal mines as a miner.

"Pennsylvania County Marriages, 1885-1950", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 June 2016), Stephen Gabuzdza and Mary Sarna, 1912.
After their marriage in the local church of St. John’s Nepomucene Church of 420 Vine St., Freeland, Pennsylvania, by Father Andrew Jurica, they took a rented “surrey with a fringe on top” with their wedding attendants, Anna and Julius Demshick, to the local Ice Lake Hotel in White Haven for the wedding luncheon. The hotel was owned by Tim REILLY, and managed by an on-site couple, brother-in-law, Anthony O’DONNELL and Mary Reilly O'DONNELL.  On the way back to town, the surrey broke in two, leaving the bride and groom stranded as Anna and Julius left for help in the two wheel-one seat buggy. I wish I was a bird nearby to hear what the newlyweds discussed as they waited for their rescue with the returning vehicle.

Stanhope Surrey in the Seeley Yard Museum, San Diego, CA. Used with permission.
Later in family history, Stephen and Mary’s daughter, Irene GABUZDA, married the son of Anthony and Mary, Donald O’DONNELL. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Stephen A. Gabuzda 1885-1966 Part 1

My First Family Reunion

Stephen A. Gabuzda

I have finally been inspired to start a blog (after reading many for the past 10 years). I started an interest in genealogy back in the 1990s, after a distant cousin on my maternal side sent a fifty question survey for my mother to fill out. Mom would take strips of scrap paper and write pages of details to his questions. She would then rewrite her answers by hand on larger pages to mail to him. I know cousin, John, was ecstatic when he received her packages of photographs & detailed stories.

The summer of 1999 was the family reunion, we all so forwardly looked to attend. My mother’s paternal family has a great history. Her father, Stephen GABUZDA, was born in a small town of Raslavice, in Austria-Hungary on 16 Nov 1885. He was the fourth child of nine children born to Andrew GABUZDA and Maria SZABOL. His older brother, Joseph GABUZDA, born 1882, was the first of the family to come to the United States in 1899. Anna GABUZDA, born 17 Jan 1884, followed in 1902 and settled in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, with her brother, Joseph. George GABUZA, born 10 Nov  1889, followed in 1905, and Stephen GABUZDA, came in 1906. Both George and Stephen settled in the little coal mining town of Mahanoy City, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania.

By 1910, I find Stephen living with his cousin-in-law, George PALYA, apprenticing in the butcher/meat business in Freeland, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. George PALYA was married to the GABUZDAs’ cousin Anna TKACS (pronounced KOTCH and later spelled). Anna’s mother, Anna SZABOL, was the younger sister of Maria SZABOL, mentioned above. PALYA came to the US in 1895 and he married Anna TKACS who was born in the US. Her parents came to the US in 1893 after they were married in the “old country.”

George Palya & George Gabuzda stand in doorway. Stephen Gabuzda stands in front of delivery truck.
Of these four GABUZDA siblings, who traveled to a new world, worked hard, and found love; their descendants gathered together for a weekend in Poconos, Pennsylvania, to learn of their history and shared stories.

I will follow with more entries of these stories and memories of this side of my family. 
But I must say, Thank you cousin, John Gabuzda, for all of your diligent work searching through courthouses, libraries and family’s personal stories WITHOUT the computer...and inspiring me to continue on. I am sad to say that he died 5 April 2015.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sophie Ramona Piña (1886-1969)

Sophie Ramona Piña was my paternal grandmother. She was born on 8 Dec 1888 in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were Ramon Piña, born in Cuba, and Margaret Gunther, born in Brooklyn, New York. I searched for her birth record at the Family History Library when I was in Salt Lake City. I could not find her name in the New York Birth Index. I even tried to look at films in the range of 1887-1889. No find. She was the second of seven children. She had an older sister, Margarite Piña, born 27 July 1887. Ramon Piña was born 9 October 1891, Piedad Piña was born 30 October 1894, Frederick Piña was born 19 March 1896, Anita Piña was born on 26 April 1897 who later died 24 July the same year. The youngest son, Edward Piña, was born 23 September 1903. There will be more blog posts with detailed information and photos about each of Sophie’s siblings.

I find a hint of her birth in the 1900 U.S. Census stating Dec 1888.

U.S. 1900 Census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, ward 22, p. [243]-B,  enumeration district 373, sheet 4-B, dwelling 48, family 86, Sophie R. Pina; Digital images,  ( : accessed 9 July 2016); from NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1060.

In my possession, I have a Physics lab notebook of hers from Erasmus Hall High School of Brooklyn, New York, dated June ’05. This is 1905. She graduated from Erasmus Hall H. S. the following year. Other well-known graduates of Erasmus Hall High School include Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond, two of my favorite musicians.  

Sophie Piña's lab book from 1905.

One Sunday in church in the fall of 1906, she met John Carrick Cooper. “Jack” started pursuing her. They became very close friends and romance continued in their relationship as “Honey” continued her education in teaching to become a teacher. By the 1910 U. S. Census, Sophie is listed along with her older sister, Margarite, as teachers. 

U.S. 1910 Census. Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, ward 29, p. 81(stamped),  enumeration district 1022, sheet 8-A, dwelling 108, family 63, Sophie R. Pina; Digital images,  ( : accessed 9 July 2016); from NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 983.

She taught for 8 years until she and Jack eloped to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be married on 27 Dec 1916. I assumed they were married in Brooklyn until I found this clue on I have yet to order this document from Pennsylvania. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marriage Index, 1885-1951.  ( : accessed 9 July 2016)

They boarded a train to Washington D. C. for their honeymoon. Their families had a wedding reception for the couple when they returned home to Brooklyn. After her marriage to Jack, she continued teaching by private tutoring from her home.

Look at blog entries John Carrick Cooper (1886-1969) Parts 1-6 to read about her married life  with children and grandchildren.

Sophie’s daughter, Margarite E. Cooper Carl wrote a touching essay about her mother in 1991. She has given me permission to share it. 


My mom always walked slowly, as her tight shoes were hand-me-downs from her sister, and she carried her head high with a slight questioning tilt as she made her way to the local grocery store. She was middle-aged, slightly plump but dressed neatly with a calf length floral dress, hat, gloves, and purse that always held more than it was meant to. Her hair was rolled in a bun which was pinned in the back and a hat adorning her head like a crown.

The two most haunting physical features of my mom were her eyes, soft, warm and brown, which mirrored her emotions of compassion, anger or pain. The other one was her hands, soft and yet strong from hard work. Those hands could hold your face in a loving vise or swing like a boxer to hit you for discipline. 

In those depression days of my childhood, my mom, like other mothers in that era, were always busy with children, housework, laundry, ironing, preparing meals, grocery shopping, helping neighbors, and many other chores. There were no washing machines, dryers or dish washers to make their work lighter. Most jobs were done by hand. The meals were prepared from scratch as there were no packaged food or TV dinners in those days. Also, the women had to grocery shop each day as there were no supermarkets or no car to help you bring your groceries home as you had to carry them. The icebox was not too large and could only keep food for just so long before spoiling.

In the summertime my mom had to keep a watchful eye on the ice block as it would melt faster and the food would spoil. My mom would place the “ice sign” in the porch window. The next day the ice truck would pull up and the iceman would get out and walk around to the back of his truck carrying those big metal things that looked like claws. He’d stick the claws into a big square piece of ice and grunt and lift it to his shoulder, lug it up the back steps, and mom would hold the screen door open for him. The ice block would go into the icebox, and things would get cold again. At night there was the ritual of removing the pan from under the icebox and emptying the melted water into the sink. If you forgot to do this, you would have a wet kitchen floor in the morning.

The day would start early as in the wintertime she would have to go down to the basement first to put a shovel of coal in the furnace. It was so important in the winter back east not to let the fire go out or you would freeze. So the routine was for the last person home would put some coal in the furnace and the first person up in the morning (mom) would also put coal in the furnace. One night my eldest brother Bud came home from a Valentine party where he played a joke on a girl by wrapping up a white rat for the grab bag. After the party he was told by all to take the white rat home which he did. While in the basement, he let the rat go in order to shovel the coal in the furnace.

In the morning the whole house was awakened by shrieks, screams, and yells emanating from my mom. We all scrambled out of our beds in haste to help her.  Upon arriving in the basement we saw my mom with her hair disshelved, hopping in pursuit and swinging the coal shovel at this rat now turned grey. She began yelling all kinds of orders at us as we stood watching. Bud started lo laugh and almost got hit with the shovel himself as my mom did not see the humor in this terrifying moment! He finally convinced her that this rat was no diseased or dangerous rat but rather a harmless one. She finally calmed down but was angry at my brother for bringing it home and, pointing her finger at him, ordered him to get rid of it. My brother did get rid of the rat by putting it in a cranky neighbor’s mailbox. 

Our neighborhood was international: Irish, English, German, Greek, Italian, Chinese, Russian and Swedish. I always felt lucky to grow up learning about the many cultures and traditions of our world. My mom was a good neighbor, never too tired to help a family in need whether to be a mid-wife at an early hour of the morning or late at night, going to a neighbor’s house to prepare a meal when the mother was ill or to assist a family in grief. 

One day my mom came home just laughing so hard that it took awhile before she could talk and explain. Finally, controlling herself, she explained that she had assisted Mrs. Sweeney in the birth of her baby girl. She had prepared a meal, cleaned the house, and really washed Mr. Sweeney’s teapot. Well, Mr. Sweeney did not appreciate this clean teapot, as now the wonderful flavor was gone. He almost bit the stem of his pipe off!  He never thanked my mom for that or remarked about the baby but Mrs. Sweeney was happy to see the shiny clean teapot. This was the thanks my poor mom got!

Every night we would sit around the dining room table, while my mom held court, as we did our homework. As a former teacher, she corrected our efforts and answered our questions with questions. God help us if our homework was messy as she would tear it up. “You can’t expect the teacher to ruin her eyes on your work, do it over again!” Also, it did not help us a bit, if one of our teachers had gone to teacher’s college with our mom, for they would remark, “Your mother would not appreciate that behavior at all!” My mom always took a great interest in what we learned, and spent time hearing us.

One spring day, when returning home from school, I was delighted to observe my mom hanging the sheets in our backyard. She wore a cast-off Panama hat of my dad’s, a worn housedress, apron and old slippers. The hat was cocked at a jaunty angle, so untypical of my mom. It was almost daringly comical. I stood there unnoticed, watching this person struggle to take advantage of the sun and wind. This scene reminded me of a ship’s captain setting sail with those wet sheets and hoisting the mast with a pole to support the wash line so those sails would not touch the ground. She struggled and groaned but she was not to be denied this day as she put the mast in place. She stood back to survey the start of her voyage with a sense of pride for a job well done.

“Take control of your life and don’t let it control you,” I was reminded of her favorite saying, while not losing sight of the course you have taken in life.

My dad died after two long years of illness during which time she took care of him. Five weeks later she also died. That was the summer of 1969. He was 83 and mom was 81. She no longer had the strength to hold up the mast for her voyage in life but I am sure she is sailing in heaven."

Five weeks after her husband, Jack, who died of a heart attack; Honey followed him of dying of “natural causes” according to her death certificate on 29 Aug 1969. I ordered both of their death certificates from the Office of Vital Records, New York, New York back in 2007. Her eldest son, John A. Cooper or Bud, was the informant for her death certificate. Her birth date is listed as December 8 1888. Honey was the informant for her husband’s death certificate weeks before. She was also buried at Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, with other family members after her funeral on 2 September 1969.

Her daughter tells me that she died of a stroke at a local hospital. During the night at home she got out of bed and fell. Her neighbor, a policeman (who had a key to the house), saw that her dining room window shade was still down late the following morning. This was a signal to him that something was wrong. Every morning if the shade was up, she was OK. If it was pulled down in the evening that was the same message. Her neighbor took her to the hospital. After a week of tests  she “sailed away to paradise.”          

John Carrick Cooper (1886-1969) Part 6

Jack owned a Ford car in the early 1920s which he later traded in for a Packard. After the Depression, this gas guzler Packard was set on bricks. After the Second World War, he sold it for $200. His son, Bud, felt he could have made a better deal. Jack continued to be an active man walking daily from 221st St. to 212th St. (two miles) to catch the local bus to go wherever he needed to be. He walked daily to the end of his life. 

In the early 1950s, Jack “retired” and  started to collect Social Security. He loved to cook. I will share some of his beloved recipes in later posts. He and Honey enjoyed these years with their nine grandchildren who called them "Pop and Nana." 

 Bud, his eldest, lived not far to be able to care for his parents when needed. Bud also took care of his father-in-law who lived with his growing family.

 Jack, an excellent communicator, continued to trade letters with his military son, who, traversed across the U. S. and world working in different duty stations. 

His daughter, moved out to California.

Jack and Honey made flights to California, in 1953, and Texas, in 1955, to visit Stan. Jack with grandson, Gib, feed the pigeons at the California San Juan Capistrano Mission as seen below.

On the Texas trip, they brought a family heirloom with them to present their son. It is a petite point of the face of Christ, hand stitched by Jack’s great-grandfather, Samuel Cooper. See future post on this family heirloom. 

Stan and family try to come home between duty stations to visit relatives. I can document through my family photos about 5 visits for me; my older brother was privileged with several more. I can only remember my middle childhood ages from 10 to 13 when I spent more time with them. Nana and I loved to play games. She taught me how to play the card game WAR along with others. 

Bud’s family helped to celebrate Pop’s 80th birthday on 5 Nov 1966. 

The Coopers celebrates Jack and Honey’s 50th Wedding Anniversary 
with a family reunion on 27 Dec 1966. 

Jack and Honey lost their adult son, Stan, my father, a month later. It broke both of their hearts, along with the rest of the family. I have a letter Pop typed for me as an encouragement to keep working to my best ability as it pleased all of those who cared about me. This was much needed during my teen years.

The family gets together for granddaughter Ellen’s wedding in the summer of 1967.

Jack died of a stroke on Tuesday, 15 July 1969. Services were at the local Stutzmann Funeral Home, on 17 July at 8 P.M. His funeral was Friday, 18 July at 10 A.M. He was buried at Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn with other family members. See future blog about Evergreens Cemetery. Honey died a few weeks after Jack.

Since I have few memories of my grandparents, I asked my cousins to share with me their memories of growing up with Nana and Pop.

“It seems like to me that we saw Nana and Pop every weekend. I remember driving there on the parkways and going through a small tunnel by Belmont Raceway and dad would blow the horn. I remember pop as being old, always with a smile, a beer, and a cigarette. He would always be making jokes and teasing Nana. Nana was such a kind, giving, and caring woman.  I remember playing cards with her - Slap Jack and War. I was a sore loser so she would always let me win. I remember she would cook me ravioli in a can and I could never finish it. The first time I finished the whole can I was so happy and she was clapping and cheering. I remember always being happy when we either went to their house or they came to visit us.”  Cousin Bill

“Nana was the most nonjudgmental person I have come across. My dad was the same way and he got this trait form Nana! Nana was a very kind person also. She was also a good listener. She read a lot to us children and the teacher in her was very evident. She helped me with my reading and spelling when I was visiting.
  My memories of Pop were: he sat in the corner of the living room in his chair and smoked and drank  his beer. He loved to cook. My mom still uses his stuffing recipe. His baked beans were out of this world! He was very intelligent and read a lot. I loved sitting at his roll top desk in his room. I use to pluck away at his Old Remington typewriter. Sometimes he would get mad when I was at his desk, but then he would just walk away. He always talked about your Dad - he was very proud of his Navy accomplishments. He was a sensitive man, and I have seen him shed a tear or two. Nana and Pop argued a lot, but they were very devoted to each other. Pop was very good to Aunt Margarite [his sister-in-law]. 
  We visited Nana and Pop every Sunday growing up for dinner. Later on, my dad would drive to Queens Village to bring them out to Massapequa for the day.” Cousin Ellen

I remember picking berries in their backyard and walking with Pop to the candy store down the street.”  Cousin Debra

Thank you so much for these precious memories.