I posted a few pictures of the Moms in our family tree. Sadly, I realized that I do not have nearly the same number of photos of the fathers in our tree. I’m not sure if the Dads were behind the camera, or there were more pictures of the mom and baby or children. So here are the few pictures that I have … and Happy Father’s Day to all the Proud Papas out there!
In recent years, I have thought a lot about my immigrant ancestors. I stumbled upon this great hashtag that Rich Venezia at Rich Roots Genealogy started last year. The vast majority of us are descendants of immigrants – something we should remember and celebrate.
Our family tree (mine and my husband’s) is full of immigrant ancestors – some are more recent immigrants (my mother and mother-in-law!) and other ancestors immigrated to this young country before 1800. On this day 84 years ago – 8 May 1935 – my husband’s great-grandfather, Janos Babai, declared his intent to become an American citizen.
Naturalization records can provide a wealth of information about our immigrant ancestors. Janos Babai was born on 6 March 1871 in Žipov, Austria-Hungary, which was a part of Czechoslovakia in 1935 when he applied for citizenship, and today it is in the Prešov District of Slovakia. He was living in Jessup, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, and filed his Declaration of Intention in the U.S. District Court in Scranton. This document provides valuable details about John and his family:
John married Anna (no maiden name) in April of 1895 in Žipov, and she was born in Egreš, Austria-Hungary.
John and Anna had the following children:
Anna born 29 September 1896 in Žipov
John born 13 September 1898 in Žipov
Mary born 10 January 1906 in Žipov (this is my husband’s grandmother)
Elizabeth born 14 February 1908 in Jessup
Jennie born 13 September 1910 in Jessup
Susan born 27 January 1913 in Jessup
John also reported that he arrived in the United States on 2 March 1906 in New York, but did not remember the name of the vessel that left from Bremen.
The best part of this naturalization record is the picture of John and his signature!
After immigrating, Janos consistently used the name John. The surname Babai has been spelled Babbi, Babbay, and Babbie. I am not sure why Babay is on his naturalization record, as the family continued to use Babai in other records. I wonder his surname was mis-typed and he signed what was typed. In his Petition for Naturalization that was filed in 1937, he was recorded as Janos Babai, but his signature was Janos Babay. I need to brush up on my Slovakian language skills, but do remember some interchange with the letters “i” and “y.”
John was in this country for almost 30 years before he began the naturalization process. I have not yet located the passenger list for John’s travel to the U.S. His wife and children arrived in July of 1906, traveling to meet John in Peckville, Pennsylvania. Searches for John in early 1906 find several Janos Babai/Babi passengers that are about the same age, and additional analysis is needed.
If you have not located immigration and/or naturalization records for your immigrant ancestors, I highly recommend searching for what might be available. These records could be found at the county, state or federal level. This FamilySearch page has links to records by state. The National Archives also holds naturalization records. What you can learn from these documents varies by time period, but still are valuable parts of your family history. Understanding how immigration laws have changed is important too – here is a link to for more information.
What have you learned about your immigrant ancestors?
 John Babay declaration of intention (1935), naturalization file no. 24405, Middle District of Pennsylvania; Records of the District Courts of the United States; Record Group 21; National Archives-Mid Atlantic Region, Philadelphia.
 Janos Babai petition for naturalization (1937), naturalization file no. 24405, Middle District of Pennsylvania; Records of the District Courts of the United States; Record Group 21; National Archives-Mid Atlantic Region, Philadelphia.
 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 August 2016), manifest, S.S. Prinzess Alice, Bremen to New York, arriving 24 July 1906, p.138, line 3, Anna Babai, age 30; citing National Archives microfilm publication T715, RG 85, roll 0745.
I honor of this day of love, I searched around my family (and hubby’s) for Valentine’s records, marriages or pictures … nothing! Lots of marriages in December and January, but not much happening in February! I did find this clipping in the Cubbage Family Bible … I wonder which family member clipped it from the newspaper?
So no Valentine’s marriages or love letters, but here are some of the oldest pictures that I have of family couples:
I wish that I had more older pictures, but I am very thankful for those that I do have of our families. Do you have any Valentine’s marriages in your family? How about your oldest family pictures?
I love this photo of my husband’s grandmother, Mary, and her family! This was taken in New Kensington, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the 1920’s. Michael Simko and Mary Kelovcy were born in Zaluzice, Slovakia and arrived in the United States before 1914. Their children, Mary, Susan, Michael and Walter, were all born in Springdale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania before their parents decided to return to Slovakia in the late 1920s. Mary, Michael and Walter each married in Slovakia and then came back to the United States to stay. Only Susan remained in Slovakia.
A year ago this week, I spent a some time in Pittsburgh – doing some of my favorite things in one of my favorite cities! It was a wonderful week of research, conference learning, tours and genealogy friends.
I originally started planning this trip when a genea-friend told me that that the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International Annual Conference was being held in Pittsburgh. I had never attended a CGSI event, but it was a good place to attend one. My husband is mostly Slovak (three of his four grandparents are from Slovakia) and his mother was born in Slovakia before immigrating when she was a little over a year old. I attended two days of the conference and attended some excellent sessions on Slovak land records, Czecho-Slovak history, the Slovak language and more.
The conference offered several tours earlier in the week, and my friend and I attended the “Pittsburgh’s Industry of Our Immigrants” tour on Tuesday. I was very excited for this tour, not for the Slovak focus but because it included places that my father’s ancestors would have worked. We went to the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in Homestead during the morning, stopped at Penn Brewery on the North Side for lunch, and ended with a coal mine tour in Tarentum.
The highlight of this day for me was the tour at Rivers of Steel, especially the guided tour at Carrie Furnace in Rankin, which had been a part of the Homestead Steel Works. My great grandfather, Charles Cubbage, worked in the blast furnace at Carrie when they lived in Swissvale in the early 1900s. It was an excellent tour where we were able to go into the furnace and learn about the iron making process. I always find it extremely moving to stand in the places where my ancestors stood. And to experience the massive size of Carrie was very powerful (luckily minus insane heat of the furnace). Our tour guide, Susie, was outstanding! If you are in the Pittsburgh area, I highly recommend this tour.
On Wednesday, I spent some time at Homewood Cemetery in the Point Breeze neighborhood. Homewood is an almost 200-acre cemetery which is absolutely beautiful and well-maintained. I had emailed the cemetery ahead of time inquiring about record availability. A wonderful research volunteer, Richard, pulled records for my Cubbage ancestors and had copies of burial books, headstones, plot records, and other cemetery records for me. He even took me around to the locations of the graves (sadly, many of my ancestors didn’t have any tombstones).
I went back to cemetery after lunch for a wonderful tour led by Jennie Benford. I had read about the tour through a link to a newspaper article on Homewood’s Facebook page. The tour, “Audacious Pioneers: The Women of Section 14”, was about a handful of women who were laid to rest in the section of the cemetery where some of Pittsburgh’s wealthiest were buried. Walking through this section, we saw amazing mausoleums, obelisks and headstones for names like Mellon, Heinz, Frick and more. Jennie researched some fascinating stories about these women, and quite honestly, I’m so jealous of her job! Homewood also offers other tours, and I highly recommend visiting, especially if you have any ancestors who lived in Pittsburgh. The social history around the city and community was so very interesting.
In addition to researching at the Allegheny County Courthouse and the Carnegie Library, I spent most of a day at the Detre Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center. I had been to the museum part of the center years with my family (they have excellent exhibits and awestern Pennsylvania sports museum), but wasn’t able to get to the library. Archivist Sierra Green had presented a session at the CGSI conference about the library, so I changed my plans and went on Friday … and I am so glad that I did!
The library has an amazing manuscript collection in addition to vertical files, maps, books and more. I did a few searches with their online catalog, so that I arrived with a list of materials to be pulled for research. I found some excellent information including an oral history, school, tax and funeral home records, and town information held in vertical files. The archivists and staff were extremely helpful, and I will be sure to continue my research there on my next trip.
In addition to the conference, research, and tours, I was able to spend some time with my genea-friends Helen and Ellie. We compared research and resources, shared suggestions, and offered ideas for some roadblocks, and I heard about their amazing research trip to Poland! And one of the biggest highlights was having dinner with my dear friend’s son, who is a freshman at CMU.
On my way out of town, I stopped at few cemeteries too … it was a full week! I always love visiting and researching in Pittsburgh!