Saturday, September 3, 2016

Mary Irene Sarna 1894-1991 Part 1

Standing in the back row are George Jr., Anna and John. Sitting in the front row are Mary, their 
mother Mary and father George. Standing in-between his parents is young Andrew taken around 1900.

Mary Irene SARNA, my maternal grandmother, was born in Sandy Run, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, on 26 April 1894. Her parents, George SARNA and Mary HYDUK/KOSTELNIK, immigrated to the U.S. during the last quarter of the 19th century. 

Immigration records are yet to be found, to state if they traveled together or separately; but both are found in Eckley, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, by 1880. George worked as a miner in the local mine fields. George and Mary were married in the small Immaculate Conception Catholic church in Eckley on 20 Aug 1883. This is the same exterior church building used in the film The Molly McGuires with Sean Connery and Richard Harris (1970). The movie resulted in the town being saved from demolition. It was afterward turned into a mining museum under the control of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. See website about the Eckley Miners Village.

Small Catholic church in Eckley, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mary Cooper.
Their first three children were Anna SARNA, George SARNA and John SARNA, born from 1884 to 1891. A fourth child Josephine SARNA, was born in 1892, but died a year later. They returned to Europe in 1893, to take care of family business. Mary was homesick for the United States and they returned the following year to Upper Lehigh, Luzerne, PA, where daughter Mary SARNA was born in 1894. Andrew SARNA was born in 1899. She had another child by the 1900 census who died in infancy. Mary vaguely remembers watching her mother give the baby a bath and seeing “holes in her chest” or blisters. This was Susan SARNA, born in February 1896. Susan died 4 months later in June of ‘cholera infantum’, a summer illness caused by heat. 

The family moved to Freeland, a nearby town by 1900. Anna, the older daughter, married Michael REMAK in 1903. Michael and Anna owned and operated a bar and restaurant in Freeland, PA.  Their oldest son, George, Jr. was killed in a mining accident in 1912. At the time of his death, he was married with a young son. John grew up to collect and repair clocks. Andrew, the youngest son, worked in the coal mines most of his life with his father, George.

There is a family controversy concerning the name of Mary’s mother’s maiden name. Some family records/obituaries state it as Koscelnick and others as Hyduk. On Mary Sarna’s certificate of baptism, it states Hajduk. It is interesting to see that this document was copied from the original on Jan 8 1930, 36 years later. A future blog post will cover my research regarding this name conflict.

As a child, Mary’s job was to carry two buckets of water at a time from a cistern two blocks away on wash day. Mary would also find empty discarded soda bottles, take them to McManaman’s Drug Store and trade them in, one bottle for a pencil or tablet for school. She would go to the dump for wooden orange crates for driftwood. Once she found a grapefruit spoon and had it for years after she was married. It was one of her treasures as a little girl. She didn’t know what happened to it.

Mary started school in first grade. Mary’s best friend from childhood through adult years was Annie Metro (Mrs. Slefanick). They shared a double desk in a two room school house in Sandy Run. They were always together. Mary spent more time at their house then at her own. Mary’s schooling was up to eighth grade. She and Edith Saricks were the top two students in her elementary class. Edith went on to high school in Freeland and then to college. Mary was not allowed to finish schooling by her parents as they could not even afford the shoes which she’d wear out too fast walking three miles to Freeland. Mary even offered to carry them. Miss Saricks was later Mary’s daughters’ Freeland High School music teacher.

Mary, left her family’s home in Sandy Run at the age of 16, and moved in with her older sister, Anna REMEK, in Freeland, to take care of her four nieces and two nephews. Mary made a daily trip to Palya’s Meat Market to buy groceries.There she met the young handsome GABUZDA brothers. 

Mary SARNA’s story continues with Stephen A. Gabuzda 1885-1966 Part 2. 

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