Stanislaus Markoski: Out of the Tenements

For whatever reason, Stanislaus Markoski stopped working for Lyman Mills about 1914; however, mill work was not over for him. The 1915 Holyoke Directory lists him as working at Norman Paper Company, but that was short-lived. He then worked for Parsons Paper Company from 1916 to at least 1922.

Parsons Paper was founded in 1853 and established its second (which later became its main) plant on Sergeant Street, right between the two canals. It was th first of many different paper mills in Holyoke, which became known as “Paper City”. Parsons’ specialty was high-quality paper – the kind of paper with cotton in its fibers. The company that Parsons ended up merging with went bankrupt in 2005 and the mill closed its doors. In 2008, the building burned down due to arson.

Parsons Paper Company 1909. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Stanislaus’ 1918 World War I Draft Registration said that his occupation was “paper maker”, so I am sure that he was in the thick of mill operations. Unlike Lyman Mills, Parsons Paper did not seem to run its own tenements for the workers, so the Markoskis began living in different apartments and houses in the neighborhood: on Prospect Street, Walnut Street, 29 and then 30 Fountain Street for five years.

I believe that Stanislaus’ job must have left him some spare time, for the 1921 – 1926 city directories show that he was the secretary of the Tadeusz Koscuisko Club (misspelled Kosciuski Club)! The Koscuisko Club was founded in 1909, so perhaps Stanislaus was one of its earliest members. If I could find the records of this club, perhaps I could even find records that Stanislaus himself created! The internet does not lend much information, other than the club was located at 119 Lyman Street while Stanislaus was there. Sadly, the club dissolved in 2012. It does not appear to have been part of a national organization, so I’m not sure where the records might have gone. It doesn’t seem that the Wistariahurst Museum or the library has them, although I could see if the library might know where the records went. (Another action item.)

1927 marked a big change for the Markoski family: they moved from their home at 101 Walnut Street in Holyoke to a small farm in South Hadley (across from the river), at the corner of Lathrop and Brainerd. (Side note: I remember going for a ride through South Hadley with my grandparents, and my grandfather pointing out where they had lived. It was kind of rural even then.) From 1927 to 1930, the city directories listed Stanislaus as a “rubber worker”, and the 1930 Census listed him as a farmer. (Perhaps his side-line was farming?) I don’t think South Hadley had any rubber factories at the time, but its neighbor to the south, Chicopee, was the headquarters of Fisk Rubber Company, which made tires. My guess is that where Stanislaus was employed.

I love this 1917 ad for Fisk Tires! Courtesy Wikipedia.

The 1931 City Directory stated that Stanislaus and Johanna had “removed to Brooklyn” – but did they? And why would they move from this peaceful little farm? Tune in next time!

Advertisements

Stanislaus Markoski: The Lyman Mills Years

When I first glanced over Stanislaus’ life, I thought I could make a quick post about his life in Holyoke. Was I wrong! I started seeing his life in sections, and it’s only fair to him that I go one step at a time.

Lyman Mills Corporation was founded in 1854, just four years after Holyoke was incorporated as a city. It was built between two of the canals that were carved into the city off the Connecticut river, along Lyman Street. It specialized in textile making for both fine and coarse goods. Lyman Mills also built tenement housing next to the factory for its workers. It grew quick enough for an expansion in 1891 and was employing 1,200 workers by 1900. Many of its workers were immigrants from Poland, French Canada and Ireland. It seems that Stanislaus was one of those workers hired during this growth spurt.

Lyman Mills, circa 1921. Courtesy “Textile World” in Google Books.

Stanislaus first shows up in the Holyoke City Directories in 1895, working at Lyman Mills and living in one of the tenements at 18 Oliver Street. I suspect that it was at the mill where Stanislaus met his future wife, Johanna Gazda. The register where their 1896 marriage is recorded indicates that both lived in Holyoke and both were “mill operators”. As previously mentioned, they were married either on June 30 or July 1 (I suspect it was June 30–that register even includes a time married: 6:55pm) in Holyoke by Father Francis Chalupka of Chicopee, who presided over the Polish Catholics prior to September 1896 formation of Mater Dolorosa Church. It would not surprise me if they were among the first members of the church, which first met in the basement of the Holy Rosary Church. I’m not sure where Holy Rosary Church was, but eventually in 1901, Mater Dolorosa was built on the corner of Maple and Lyman Streets, just a few short blocks from the tenements.

Mater Dolorosa Church. Courtesy Wikipedia.

In the earliest years of their marriage, Stanislaus and Johanna lived in various tenements on Oliver Street (numbers 4, 8 and 11), which (if you look carefully), you can find on the insurance map here. In 1902, they finally settled at 116 Lyman Street, where they remained until 1915 with their large and growing family. Stanislaus and Johanna ended up having ten children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. I will list the English names that they were eventually known by, noting the Polish names if I could find them. All were born in Holyoke, except as noted:

  • John, born August 6, 1897 and died August 9, 1897 (reason unknown). (I assume he was named after Stanislaus’ father.)
  • Max (Mieczyslaw), born April 2, 1899.
  • Stephen G., born June 16, 1901.
  • Joseph, born February 15, 1903 and died November 19, 1903 from meningitis. He supposedly is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Chicopee.
  • Edward I., born October 16, 1904 and died May 30, 1913 from some sort of complication from scarlet fever. His death certificate says he is buried at Notre Dame Cemetery in South Hadley, but they don’t seem to have a record of his burial.
  • Doris M. (Domilla or Domilly), born December 6, 1907 in Polish Austria.
  • Robert P. (Roman?), born March 19, 1910.
  • Anita F. (Antonia), born July 11, 1912.
  • Bruno August (Bronislaw), born December 19, 1913.
  • Charles D. (Casmir), born January 30, 1915.

I just wanted to note that in the 1910 Census, while Stanislaus and Johanna already had five living children, they took in six additional boarders! Needless to say, the tenements were quite crowded.

As written in many history books, work at the mills was hard. Workdays often spanned over twelve hours, and I’m sure the pay, however fair, was not high. With those long exhausting days, I’m surprised that Stanislaus had enough energy to build such a large family! Eventually, he found other nearby opportunities, which we will start to look at in the next post.

Lyman Mills building today. Courtesy Google Earth.

Research Notes: Lyman Mills eventually closed in 1927, although the mill buildings are still standing. ¬†There is an extensive collection of Lyman Mills corporate, financial and other records in Harvard Business School’s Baker Library Historical Collections, including employment and tenement records. Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke also has some records about Lyman Mills’ housing. If I’m in either of these areas, it is probably worth a look.

Stanislaus Markoski: From the Beginning

Although Stanislaus’ marriage records and US census records place his birthday anywhere from February 1874 to 1876, I lean toward believing the record where he directly gave his birthdate of November 24, 1875 – the World War I draft registration.

From his 1896 marriage record to the 1918 draft registration, Stanislaus’ place of birth is listed as “Austria” or “Polish Austria”. I’ve been wondering what that is all about — what is “Polish Austria” anyway? I got a couple of clues from his wife, Johanna. In 1908, she and the children were on a ship’s passenger list for a trip back from “Galicy” (or Galicia). Since Johanna had been listed as being from Polish Austria as well, I suspect that she and Stanislaus were likely from the same region. Galicia was an area in the northern part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until about 1918, which marked the end of World War I. After the war, Poland itself gained that territory. However from February 1919 to March 1921, Poland was at war with the new Soviet Union, and its borders changed dramatically throughout that war. This explains Stanislaus’ 1920 census country of origin being “Russian Poland”. Later censuses simply indicate “Poland”.

Pinpointing the exact town Stanislaus was from, though, is another matter. I have not yet been able to find a ship’s passenger list with his name on it (having infinite name spellings and combinations is not help). I know that eventually, I will have to get my hands on his naturalization records, which should be dated between 1910 and 1918. (This is discounting the 1920 census saying that he is an “alien” with an immigration date of 1908. That is obviously not true, considering all the other records I’ve found.) Action item: find out whether local courts and/or NARA have the paperwork.

As far as Stanislaus’ parents’ names go, the only thing I have is the 1896 register of marriages in Holyoke, Hampden County, MA. It states that his parents were John Markoski and Marie Pytel; I suspect that at least the first names are Americanized. ( Stanislaus’ wife Johanna’s mother’s name is also listed as Marie (Tenera) – so could the city clerk have entered both mothers’ names as Marie by mistake? I later confirmed that Johanna’s mother’s name was Marya, which could easily be Americanized as Marie.) Where else could I find his parents’ names? Recently, I wondered if he had any siblings in the Holyoke area. According to city directories and censuses, there are other Markoskis (or similarly spelled surnames) in Holyoke, So I tried looking up marriage records for them in Holyoke. There are two really close matches: Andzej and Aniela, both of whom have parent names of John Markocki and Helena Pytel. However, this really doesn’t prove anything yet. It is an avenue worth exploring, though.

According to the 1900 Census, Stanislaus immigrated to this country in 1893. (The 1910 and 1930 Census say 1894.) Where did he first step foot in America? My strongest suspicion is Ellis Island. First, it was the largest port on the East Coast. There was also easy access to Holyoke via the railroad. Finally, when Johanna visited her mother in 1908, she sailed back to the US to Ellis Island. It’s also possible that he arrived in Boston and took a train out to Holyoke. Another reason to obtain those naturalization records!

Ellis Island, as Stanislaus may have seen it. Courtesy New York Public Library.

So what brought Stanislaus to Holyoke anyway? I know that Holyoke had a burgeoning Polish population in the 1890s as the paper and textile mill industries grew there. Maybe, like so many others, Stanislaus had a friend or relative who let him know about the possible job opportunities. I don’t know what conditions were like in Galicia at the time (this is when being on “Genealogy Roadshow” would come in handy!), but this is the time period when people began immigrating to the US in droves. Stanislaus was just one of millions.

Next time, we’ll start to take a look at Stanislaus’ life in Holyoke.