Friday, August 19, 2016

Stephen A. Gabuzda 1885-1966 Part 4

A Growing Business

The family continued to grow for Stephen and Mary GABUZDA. Stephen Jerome Gabuzda was born on 12 June 1920 and Martha Gabuzda was on 28 Nov 1922. Two more daughters were added including Bernice Gabuzda on 26 Sept 1925 and Marion Gabuzda on 24 Apr 1928.

The decade just after the Great War was a boom-time in America. For the immigrant sons of Slovak peasant farmers, the American dream was becoming a reality after two decades of hard work. In Freeland, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, Steve and George GABUZDA were expanding Gabuzda Brothers Meats, adding a dairy farm to their growing business in 1922. They named their company “Ayrshire Breeders and Dairy Corporation.” They bought the title to the 101 acre dairy farm three miles east of Freeland that became known as Glen Almus Farm, named by Stephen’s daughter, Irene. Both Freeland Gabuzda families would go out to the farm together on Sundays.

Around this same time, in September 1922, a nephew, fourteen year old, Andy HAZARA, arrived to the U. S. from Lopuchov, Austria Hungary, to Freeland. Andy's mother was Zuzana Gabuzda Hazara, a sister to the four Gabuzda siblings who arrived twenty years earlier. Susan married Andrew Hazara and Andy was their only child. Stephen met him at Ellis Island. Irene, eight years old at the time, Stephen's oldest, remembers when Andy came to his new home in Freeland. "I'll never forget the day he came. He looked like a little scared rabbit, and he had his pack tied, and he was carrying it. My mother greeted him at the door, I was behind her. He got down on his knees and he kissed her hand. Andy had his haircut so short because the first thing they did at Ellis Island was to shave his head." Irene remembers that Andy knew no English at all when he first arrived, but he learned English quickly living in the house with her family, working in the Gabuzda Brothers store. Andy also went to a tutor, Mr. Johnson on Ridge St. in Freeland, who taught Andy all the way to the eighth grade level in just six weeks or was it six months? Part of Andy's apprenticeship with the Gabuzda Brothers business was taking the butcher wagon on a regular run through the small coal patch-towns and villages just outside of Freeland to cut and sell meat for the many customers in places like Jeddo, Highland, Eckley, and Upper Lehigh.

Employer and Employee picnic at Gabuzda`s Glen Almus Dairy and Truck Farm, Pond Creek, PA, circa 1932.
From left to right: Alvina Peters (father, Carl, works on farm), Mary Gabuzda with arms around daughters Marion and Beezie, Mrs. Hogg holding Cyril, (newly arrived from Scotland - Living and working on farm with husband), Martha in front of Mrs. Hogg, Mrs. Anna Peters and daughter, Lorraine Peters in white, Eddie and Tommy Fedorshak (father, Peter Fedorshak worked in Stephen’s store) in front of them, and Anna Gabuzda with little Tommy Gabuzda. Photo from my mother's scrapbook. 
Martha's memories of the farm includes a cement walkway that ran the length of the barn with the cow-stalls in either side, and she used to try to walk down the very center of that walkway because she was so afraid of those cows! Not far from the big barn was the cement dairy building, where milk from the cows flowed down from above through pipes along the wall and directly into bottles with “Gabuzda Brothers Glen Almus Farm” on them.

 These cows were awarded several times for the Gabuzda Brothers and George after the brothers split their partnership in the 1933. George took the farm while Stephen kept the store on Centre and Chestnut Streets

"Glen Almus Farm" 1986

My mother, Martha, wrote a short history of the Gabuzda Brothers business  in 2002.

“A few years after arriving in the United States from the Slovakian area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they [Stephen and George GABUZDA] apprenticed themselves to their uncle by marriage, George PALYA, an established Freeland “butcher” (now known as meat cutters). About 1912 they opened their own meat and grocery store, “Gabuzda Brothers. Meats and Groceries” at the northeast corner of Center and Chestnut Streets, while a store and residence building was being built for them on the south east corner. (Presently being remodeled by the new owner). The business existed for 50 years until the A&P came to town. At one time they had four delivery trucks going to the “patch” towns on Route 49 such as Eckley and Jeddo.

They also owned a dairy and truck farm called Glen Almus on the road to White Haven, across the road from Fairchild's swimming pool and recreational park.They did their own milk bottling and house to house delivery. They were their own suppliers of many fresh products. In addition to their Ayrshire dairy herd and bottling plant, there were chickens, pigs, cows for slaughter, a truck farm for vegetables, a fruit orchard and cattle feed of hay. They even bred some of their dairy cattle for sale and won many blue ribbons for their herd at the many Pennsylvania County fairs. 

Chickens were kept in coops in their truck garage at the Freeland location from which came fresh eggs daily. Some customers were lucky enough to get them still warm from the nests. Also in the garage building was a smokehouse and slaughter house where they made their own sausages and scrapples. The Gabuzda Brothers were well-known for their kielbasa sausage, their secret recipe. To this day it is still being made by their grand-niece, Mary WITHERELL, daughter of Andrew HASARA, who had been apprenticed to them and later opened his own store on South St. That store is still in business (2002), though the kielbasa is now made only for special orders during the Easter season including regular orders from former Freeland residents from miles away.

They employed many people on the farm, in the store, and on the road. Their sons also had to work after school and on Saturdays. Brother George, also, later on opened his own store a few blocks away.  

During the depression years, they kept many people “on the books" causing indebtedness for themselves.

George sat on the Board of Directors of the Citizens' Bank.

The brothers were active members of the Elk’s Club doing many charitable fund-raisers and other works. They financed one of the side altars of St. John’s Nepomucene Roman Catholic Church.

They were for a time, partners, in ownership of a mahogany forest in British Honduras."

More detail of their international business travels in my next blog. 

Checkout  This website gives more details covering the GABUZDA, PALYA, MERRICK, and REMAK stores. These family names will be presented in the future.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Stephen A. Gabuzda 1885-1966 Part 3

After Stephen GABUZDA and Mary SARNA were married on 25 June, 1912, they move to a small 3 room house for six months on Birkbeck St. between the old silk mill and the lumber yard in Freeland, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. Because their first child, Irene, did not arrive for another year and a half; Mary said that she was often embarrassed by older women asking her, “Mary, when are you going to have a baby?”

After Steve’s marriage, his brother George GABUZDA continued to live at Palya’s for awhile. Around 1913, the Gabuzda brothers decide to move on with a business of their own. 

They rented the wooden building that still stands (quite barely) at the northeast corner of Center and Chestnut Streets in Freeland, and operated their new business from there. At this time, Mary finally had her first child, Irene, on 10 Jan 1914. 

In August/September 1914, the two brothers bought the land right across the street, at the southeast corner of the same intersection. In October, they had a contract started to build a brick store and house on that corner. Directly, across Centre from the store is St. Ann’s, the Irish Catholic church, now called Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. 

One day, Mary went over to watch the workmen pour the cement foundation for the new brick building. She was twisting her wedding ring on her finger, a habit she never got rid of, when it popped off and fell into the wet cement while they were pouring. The ring was never retrieved, and Steve had to buy her a new one. Sometime in 1915, Steve, Mary, little Irene and Steve’s brother George, moved into the new brick home and store at 899 Centre St.

899 Centre Street on corner of Chestnut and Centre Streets
My aunt Marion states that their home was unique in that it was built “as a big beautiful home with a built in store and small office. The large side porch led into a living room, large formal dining room and a very large eat in kitten; an open stairway to six large bedrooms upstairs, all with walk in closets, and one large bathroom.”

Later that same year, when the brothers had moved into the brand-new brick building, Stephen and Mary welcomed their first son, George, born 5 Nov 1915.

Two years later, Stephen’s brother George, brought home a new family member, marrying Anna SILVASI on 6 Aug 1917, at St. John Nepomucene Church. Months later, Steve and Mary welcomed their third child, Edward born 17 April 1918.

George & Anna Silvasi Gabuzda

By this time World War I was raging for four years in Europe. By August 1918, George Gabuzda left Freeland to join a US Army motor transportation corps as a truck mechanic, in Pittsburgh, Virginia and Florida. Sometime during his service in the south, George contracted a case of the influenza virus which killed about 600,00 Americans in 1918. It is possible that this influenza that almost killed him saved his life from being sent overseas for the last days of one the bloodiest wars in history.

When George finally came home, he quickly agreed it was time he and Anna had a place of their own. George and Steve signed papers renewing their business partnership interrupted by the war. George found an empty double lot just a half block away from their business at 941 Centre St.

The next decade would bring promise of hard work for these two immigrant brothers from Slovak peasant farmer parents. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Family Scrapbooks

While helping my elderly mother going through boxes  in her garage, I found a “gold mine.” One large box had several scrapbooks. These were hers from her teen years to early marriage covering World War II, family history, newspaper, diary, and baby scrapbooks. Others of these mentioned were safe in the house. 

For the ones in the garage, to keep them in their “best” storage, I have decided to take pictures of each page with individual items on each page. This will take time and much data. I also plan to remove them from the garage and store them properly in a cool dark place.

I also have 4 military trunks that belonged to both of my parents when they served in the U. S. Navy. Two are filled with my father’s military history. I plan to add the scrapbooks to the other two empty military trunks with other family heirlooms. I also need to learn how to prepare the trunks for proper storage. To be continued.

As a member of Legacy Family Tree Webinars, I learn so much about the many aspects of family history and genealogy research. This last week, I discovered five new presentations for members only given by Melissa Barker. Two of them are in the categories I am dealing with right now covering family scrapbooks and old family letters. Thank you for the perfect timing! Here is a connection for those who are interested in learning to preserve their family paper “jewels.”

In the summer of 2012, I visited my Cooper cousins on Long Island, New York. One family has in their possession our grand aunt Margarite Pina’s photo album and Alexander Sisson Cooper’s, our great-grandfather, newspaper scrapbook filled with clippings covering Ireland, his birth place. I will have to find out more detailed information about the topics those articles cover. 

I also got a new generation interested in our family history. My cousin’s son, started scanning family documents to e-mail to me.

I also took photos of the documents and later pictures of Aunt Margarite’s photo album. See future posts about her photo scrapbook.