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.

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