Great-Grandmother Johanna J. (Gazda) Markoski

You would think there would not be too much to say about Johanna after all my posts about Stanislaus. On the contrary, what I’ve found about his life just adds to her story, rather than the other way around.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when Johanna was born; it seems to range anywhere from 1875 to November 1878. Her birthplace, however, was gen on the 1908 ship’s manifest (more on that later) as “Rehberg, Galicy”. As we saw in researching Stanislaus‘ home country, this area was Galicia, the northeastern section of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which stretched from modern-day Poland to modern day Ukraine. So where was Rehberg? According to the Galicia Town Locator on geshergalcia.org, it was in the Jaworow Administrative District and the Krakowiec Judicial District. With a little more poking and prodding on the internet, it seems that the town is now known ans Yavoriv, which is now in the Ukraine, very close to the Polish border.

Johanna’s parents, according to her 1896 marriage record, were Andrew Gazda (misspelled Garda, I assume due to a mis-reading of some original paperwork) and Marie Tenera (the 1908 manifest says her mother’s married name was “Marya Gasda”). Johanna arrived in the United States sometime between 1890 and 1892; the 1900 census (closest to that time) states 1891, and I tend to lean toward that. If she did arrive prior to 1892 in the Port of New York, she would have been processed at Castle Garden. I have not been able to find her or her parents in any immigration database yet. For all I know, she may have come over with brothers or other family members. From what my aunt says, there were other Gazda’s in Holyoke, Hampden County, MA, so it seems that she didn’t immigrate alone.

Castle Garden, today known as Castle Clinton. Author’s collection.

If Andrew and Maryah did in fact immigrate to the United States, Maryah did not stay here. The 1908 ship manifest I mentioned before shows “Joanna”, “Mieczyslaw” (Max), “Stefan” (Stephen), Edward and “Domicela” (Doris) “Markocka” sailing on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm from Bremen, Germany on June 16, 1908 and arriving in New York City on June 23. It is clearly our Johanna, as page 2 states that she is returning to her husband “Stanislaw” at 116 Lyman Street in Holyoke. Since Doris was just six months old upon this return journey, and other records show that she was born in “Poland”, a pregnant Johanna and the three boys must have departed America in late 1907. I strongly suspect that Stanislaus did not go along, since the manifest notes that Johanna paid the passage for herself and the children. While there, the family visited Maryah, who was then living in Wisniowa, which today is in southwestern Poland (about 175 miles due west of what was Rehberg). I don’t know why Johanna and the children made the visit; perhaps Andrew had died?

Poster about the SS Kaiser Wilhelm at the Ellis Island Museum. Author’s collection.

Another interesting tidbit on the ship manifest was it said that Johanna could read and write, whereas the 1900 census stated that shoe could not. Was the census wrong? Or might she have learned over the course of eight years? Perhaps Mater Dolorosa Church helped immigrants with this skill (I’m just guessing!), or maybe she learned through her own children’s schooling. In any case, Johanna stated on the 1940 census that she had a sixth grade education. That seemed to be enough to get by in her community.

Another thing the ship manifest provided was a physical description of the passengers. Johanna was four feet, eleven inches tall, but her growing children’s heights were not given. All were blond and had either green or blue eyes. (Johanna’s were green – now I know where my eye color comes from!)

Johanna’s life followed the same track as Stanislaus’ until about 1940, where the city directory stated that she “removed to Flushing, LI, NY”. That is where youngest child Charles (who changed his last name to Markham) lived with his wife and baby daughter. I’m not sure why Johanna went there – whether there was marital difficulty, or if Charles and Janet needed help with the baby, or she could have just missed her youngest son. The Holyoke City Directories don’t show Johanna by name again until 1944, but I can’t say for certain if she was actually away all that time.

In any case, Johanna remained with Stanislaus for the rest of his life. For the rest of her life, she lived with various children. My mother remembers her living with Bruno’s family for a time (although she never re-appeared in the Holyoke directories). From 1958 to 1959, she lived with son Stephen in Springfield, Hampden County, MA. Stephen’s wife Josephine died suddenly in 1958, so perhaps Johanna was helping him get through that aftermath. Of course the majority of Johanna’s later life was spent with daughter Doris Mieczianka in Riverhead, NY. Doris had no children, but her door was always open to extended family who needed a place to stay.

Johanna Markoski in the 1950s. Author’s collection.

On Friday, September 13, 1968, Johanna passed away in Westhampton Beach, Suffolk County, NY. I’m not sure why she was in Westhampton Beach; her residence was still Riverhead. Perhaps she was in the hospital there. Her wake was in Holyoke the following day, and her funeral mass was at Mater Dolorosa Church that Monday, followed by her burial next to Stanislaus at Mater Dolorosa Cemetery in South Hadley.

I never knew until recently that Johanna’s lifetime extended right into mine. I know I never met her, but probably wouldn’t have remembered her if I had. I’m just glad to have learned all that I have about her now.

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.