The newly released 1940 census has brought me one step closer to figuring out the story of my Slovak great-grandparents Andrew and Mary Sabol.
I have written in earlier posts about my attempts to figure out what became of Andrew and Mary. I found their birth records in church registers available online through the Family History Center. Andrew was born Andrej Sabol in the small village of Trebejov, Upper Hungary (now Slovakia) on May 5, 1872. Mary – then Maria Daniel – was born eight years later, on June 1, 1880, in the neighboring village of Kysak.
Andrew came to the United States as a teenager either 1890 or 1891, part of a chain migration of Slovak Lutherans from Trebejov and neighboring towns who settled in Raritan, New Jersey. Mary came over in 1895 at the age of 15. They married a year later at the First Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church in Raritan (now known as St. Paul’s). The couple went on to raise a family of six children, including my grandmother Anna Sabol Agin. Three other children apparently died young.
With some effort, I was able to find Andrew and Mary in census records from 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930. The family name was spelled differently each time. Over those three decades, Andrew worked as a railroad laborer. Mary was for the most part a homemaker, although in the 1920 census she appears to have been running a boardinghouse for immigrant factory workers.
The Sabol family moved around a fair bit. They always rented, never owned. By 1930, when Andrew was 58 and Mary 50, they lived at 57 Frelinghuysen Avenue in a rented apartment with their three youngest children: Hermina, Stephan and Ruth.
I also found my great-grandparents in a 1930 city directory for Raritan. The entry shows that the family lived in a house on the south side of the Frelinghuysen Avenue just east of Victoria Street. Andrew’s occupation was laborer. Hermina was listed at the same address. She worked as a machine operator.
But 1930 is where the trail ran cold. I know that Mary lived to be 88 years old, passing away in June 1968. But how long did Andrew live? Thanks to information in the 1940 census, I’m a little bit closer to finding the answer.
While the page is a bit blurry, we can see Mary Sabol on line 65. She is recorded as a 60 year old widow. So Andrew Sabol died some time between 1930 and 1940.
Mary was living with her two youngest children, Stephan and Ruth, at 10 Doughty Street – right next to the family church. I looked for the address on Google Maps. It appears to be where the church parking lot is now.
The Sabols lived right next door to the church’s pastor, Rev. John Liptak. Was that a coincidence? Or was my widowed grandmother under the care of the church?
The family was undoubtedly poor. Mary did not have a job in 1940 and neither did her 22 year old son Stephan. Ruth, then 19 years old, worked as a “floorgirl” in a factory for either $200 or $300 a year (the writing is hard to read). Their monthly rent of $18 would have consumed just about all of that. (In 1930, the family lived in a place with a monthly rent twice that.)
The census record reveals some other interesting details. Mary told the census taker that she received an eighth grade education, as did Ruth. Stephan had seven years of schooling.
Mary reported that she was born in Czechoslovakia, one of the countries created out of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire following World War I. Of course, in June 1940 when the census was taken, Czechoslovakia no longer existed. The Nazis had forcibly annexed the Czech lands in 1938 and Slovakia, where her hometown of Kysak was situated, existed as a Nazi puppet state.
So when did Andrew die? I have a hunch that it was before 1935. The census asked where the family lived five years prior. Mary reported that they lived in the same house. I’m guessing that Mary and her children only moved near the church after Andrew’s death. The other clue comes from a 1936 city directory. Andrew Sabol is not listed there and neither are any of his family members.