Stanislaus Markoski: Where Did He Go?

We last saw the Markoski family leaving the farm in South Hadley, Hampshire County, MA around 1931. The Holyoke-South Hadley-Chicopee directory said they “removed to Brooklyn”. This was news to me and didn’t seem to fit what I knew about the family. Yet, Stanislaus and Joanna didn’t return to the Holyoke area until 1936, so they had to be somewhere! I had to cast my research net a little wider and view them in the context of their whole family.

The children were growing up and beginning to live their own lives. Oldest son Max moved back to Holyoke about 1928, which is when I assume he married Catherine Harazmus. Stephen began work as a rubber worker (I assume at Fisk in Chicopee) about 1927 then moved to Springfield in 1931. Robert, an outstanding athlete in high school, began attending Williams College in Williamstown, Berkshire County, MA in 1930. Doris worked as a “tuber” in an auto tire factory (probably Fisk) and Anita was a waitress. Youngest sons Bruno and Charles started high school in South Hadley and got involved in sports like their older brother.

It was in October 1931 when my grandfather Bruno’s life changed dramatically. While playing football for Central High School in Springfield (why he was there, I don’t know), he had a terrible injury that gave him a serious concussion and hospitalized him at Wesson Memorial Hospital. As a result, he took some time of from school, presumably to fully recover.

I imagine that the combination of Bruno’s hospital bills and other effects of the Great Depression had an impact on Stanislaus’ and Johanna’s finances, and perhaps they could no longer sustain the farm. This is only a guess. But what would make them move to Brooklyn or anywhere other than the Holyoke area?

Brooklyn Bridge! Courtesy Wikipedia.

First of all, despite me not being able to find them in any records there (yet, anyway), the Markoskis did spend some time in Brooklyn. Apparently my grandfather told my mother that this period of his life is when he became a New York Yankees fan. He’d said he was able to see them play–and this was when both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were on the team!

As far as why they moved, I may never know for sure, but I believe it may have something to do with daughter Doris. Sometime in the early 1930s, she married John Miezianka. I was told that my grandfather lived with her in Riverhead, Suffolk County, NY (in eastern Long Island) to finish high school. I recently found out that Charles went to high school there as well! (And both met their future wives there.). It only follows that Stanislaus and Johanna lived there too.

Both Bruno and Charles had a successful time at Riverhead High. Because of his injury and subsequent time off, Bruno graduated later (1934) and was president of his class. I imagine that being older than his fellow classmates gave him a certain maturity that they looked up to. Charles graduated the year before and was secretary of his class, involved in sports and drama and was the class poet. Charles, like Robert, was able to go to the college prep school, Deerfield Academy and later to Williams College (I assume on athletic scholarships). My grandfather, whose sports career was long over, went into the working world.

After about five years in New York, the Markoskis returned to Holyoke, but their lives were to be much different from their first arrival there.

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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!

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.

Great-Grandfather Stanislaus Markoski: What I Know

 

[Edited March 8, 2017 to correct marriage place.]

For the past nearly three years, I’ve written about my father’s side of the family. Here is where much of the low-hanging fruit is, though I can’t say I’ve exhausted everything on that side, especially descendant research. We can always come back to that later.

Now it’s time to look to my maternal ancestors, which are much, much harder to trace back. They are all Eastern European! The paternal side is Polish and the maternal side is Lithuanian. I decided to start with my grandfather’s father, Stanislaus Markoski. Because he is somewhat of a brick wall, my pace is going to be slower and more analytical.

Stanislaus Markoski is the name of my great-grandfather that I grew up knowing. However I’ve seen his first name also recorded as Stanislaw, Stanislawa, and later (in the 1920 census and directories from 1936 onward), Stanley. His last name has also been spelled Markocki, Markowski and Markocka. This makes for very challenging record-searching! Here, we will just call him Stanislaus.

If Stanislaus himself was certain of his birthday, it was November 24, 1875 (according to his World War I draft registration) in Polish Austria. His parents, according to his American marriage record, were John Markoski and Marie Pytel. He had black hair, grey eyes and was medium weight as an adult. He was considered to have a sixth grade education.

Stanislaus immigrated to the United States sometime around 1893-1894. On either June 30 or July 1, 1896, he married Johanna Gazda in Holyoke, Hampden County, MA.

Holyoke, Hampden County, MA is where Stanislaus spent the majority of his adult life. There was a period in the late 1920s when he and his family were living in nearby South Hadley, Hampshire County, MA and a brief time after 1931 when they lived in Brooklyn, Kings County, NY (which was complete news to me!). His occupations included a textile mill labor, butcher, laborer in a paper mill, ticket agent for a steamship company, farmer, and a sweeper in a rubber mill (we’ll revisit all those more slowly later).

Holyoke, MA in 1900. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Holyoke, MA in 1900. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Though he died when my mother was just a little girl, my mother remembered him as having a collection of smoking pipes (like his son, my grandfather, did) and he would give her a nickel each time she would visit. Stanislaus died in 1949 and is buried at Mater Dolorosa Cemetery in South Hadley.