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Archive for August, 2012

During the 1940s, my great-grandmother, Hazel Eva (Shook) Rork, collected photos and newspaper clippings about her family members and others in her town. Most of the clippings are related to soldiers from Osgood, Indiana who joined the military, including her two sons, Horatio Thornton Rork and Harold Albert Rork (my grandfather). I’ll share some of the individual clippings over time, but for now, here are a few examples of what can be found in the scrapbook:

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Brokenicky Family Graves

For background, read this post and this one, too.

I did a search on FindAGrave.com, and found the gravestones of Anastasia, John, Frank and Charles Brokenicky.

Anastazie (Kovarik) Brokenicky (1875-1970) was my great-grandmother’s sister:

Photo Credit: Irene Keiper Alexander

John Brokenicky (1867-1942) was her husband:

Photo Credit: Irene Keiper Alexander

Frank Brokenicky (1900-1975) was their son, who was three years old when they immigrated to the US:

Photo Credit: Irene Keiper Alexander

Photo Credit: Irene Keiper Alexander

Charles Brokenicky (1906-1997) was another son, who was born in Nebraska:

Photo Credit: Irene Keiper Alexander

John and Anastasia also had a daughter named Otilia, who would was born around 1899. I have not found a grave stone for her, probably because she married and was not buried as a Brokenicky. I was also not able to find a grave stone for Františka Kovarik, Anastasia’s mother, but I’ll keep looking!

All of these graves are in the Bohemian National Cemetery in Dodge County, Nebraska.

Photo Credit: Wanda Ross

My thanks go to Irene Keiper Alexander and Wanda Ross (two people I do not know) for taking these pictures and posting them on FindAGrave.com!

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John Swinney Diary, Part 3

This is the third post of excerpts from a diary written by John Swinney, my 5x great-grandfather, in 1822-1823. You can read the first two parts here and here. To recap what I know about John during this time: he lived in Cumberland County, New Jersey; he had a son named Reese; he was some kind of employee at the county’s poorhouse.

December 9, 1822: “Pleasant morning, not very cold. Have been cutting wood and carted 5 loads then got into the barn. Reese began to go to school, to the Hopewell school house, John O’Herron preceptor; he says 20 scholars today. He says he stands the 3rd from the tail end in Spelling.”

December 10, 1822: “David Morrow has been brought here to day as poor distressed pauper, by Jonathan Hofman, from Greenwich, a lousy, dirty creature, had to scour him all over and burn his clothes.”

December 17, 1822: “Went to Mill, came as far as Timothy Elmer’s, he went with me, and got Bill Bitter’s wife and child & brought them to the Poorhouse. They were in a state of sufferance, got home in the evening. David Morrow was very bad. Attended to him as well as I could. He died at eleven this evening.”

December 18, 1822: “First went to Bridgeton to get muslin for a winding sheet, then laid out the grave for the hands to dig; ate my breakfast and went over to David More’s. He and I made the coffin for which I paid him 2 dollars for his help. Returned home and buried David Morrow at 4 o’clock.”

December 25, 1822: “The ground covered with snow, and continued till about 9, so cleared off and the day was favorable. I went to cutting up & salting pork. Cut up 15 hogs 3375 lbs pork, and salted better than half of it, etc.”

January 4, 1823: “Sabbath day, wet and damp, the frost coming out the ground, rain some. Went to church in the wagon, took a load. Sermon by Elder J. Davis, his text in 1st Peter 1st chapter, 20 and 21 verses. ‘Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, etc.’

1st Speak of the ordination of Christ

2nd How he was manifest in these last times, by being raised from the dead

3rd The faith and hope of the Christian as being in God. So conclude.”

January 15, 1823: “I went and helped Mr. David Wood kill hogs and beef.

13 hogs, 2508 lbs, average 193

1 beef, 486 lbs

Hide, 67 lbs

Total, 3061 lbs

Doctor Peck married to Jane Davis this day. It has been beautiful, pleasant, moderate day, returned home at night.”

January 17, 1823: “Pleasant and warm…Reese returned from school, reports 21 in school & trustees met this afternoon for examination of said school etc.”

January 20, 1823: “The rain began last evening and rained all night attended with thunder and lightning. Today have overhauled my pickled cucumbers, put them into another barrel, 630, Patrick’s count. I think there is that or more, took up some beef to dry etc. Sundry sorts of business. Tis now 9 o’clock in the evening, the rain has continued all day without intermission, and still continues; the weather is so warm. We can sit very comfortable without fire, a thing remarkable for the twentieth of January. The ground is frozen underneath that the water has to pass off to the lowest places, which makes almost the appearance of a flood in some places. The almanac says clear today, but it has been quite the reverse. The rain began last even, about the time the moon quartered.”

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For the background on this post, be sure to read Part 1.

So far, I have found three census records (1910, 1920 and 1930) for a Brokenicky family in Dodge County, Nebraska. I believe the wife, Anna, is my great-grandmother’s sister, Anastasia Kovarik, but I’m trying to make the connection that confirms this.

Going with the immigration date of 1904 from the 1910 census, I decided to look for a passenger list. For this, I went to EllisIsland.org. Well, the 1910 census was off by a year, but I found John and Anna with their first two children, in a passenger list for the Kaiser Wilhelm II, which arrived at Ellis Island on November 10, 1903. Františka Kovarik was also traveling with them.

Click to enlarge; see lines 1-6

This is all interesting information, but how can I be sure this is my family?

After looking at the passenger list a little more closely, I noticed that there was also a 15 year old girl named Marie Bičakova traveling with the Brokenicky/Kovarik family. Her occupation is listed as “servant” and there is a note saying she is the niece of Františka. In the column asking for the name of a relative in the United States, Marie’s record shows, “Uncle, Joe Hromada, Chicago, Trumbull Ave, 1399, near 28th St.”

Well, there’s my confirmation! Joe Hromada would be my great-grandfather and the Trumbull Avenue address matches the address I found in a Chicago city directory for him and his wife in 1901. If Marie Bičakova was really Františka’s niece, as the passenger list says, she wouldn’t be Josef’s niece as well; she would be his wife’s cousin. But, that seems like a minor error. Perhaps because of their age difference, he was more of an uncle to her anyway.

Okay, now I’m convinced this is my family.

So, here is my theory based on what I have found:

  • Anastasia came to the US with her sister, Marie in 1893.
  • At some point between 1893 and 1898 (the year of her marriage), she returned to her home country, got married and had two children. Maybe she decided to go back when her father died, or maybe she just missed her mother. There could be several reasons.
  • In 1904, Anastasia came back to the US with her husband, children and mother. This time, the family eventually settled in Nebraska. Maybe John had family there. I know there were a lot of Czechs immigrating to Nebraska at that time, but they certainly would have stayed in Chicago with Josef and Marie unless there was other family out in Nebraska.

I know a lot more now, but I still have questions:

  • What happened to Marie Bičakova? It’s possible that Josef and Marie found her a job, which would explain her occupation on the passenger list. Or, maybe she moved in with them. According to census records, she was not living with the Hromadas or the Brokenickys in 1910. Maybe she got married, or maybe she was working somewhere as a live-in servant. That could be hard to find out.
  • I’d also like to find John and Anastasia’s three children in later years. Maybe they have some descendants who have information about the Kovarik family. I know very little about them.

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I know this post is long, but I’m kind of excited to share this news, so try to bear with me.

I’ve always been interested in learning what came of Anastasia Kovarik, the 17-year-old sister who immigrated to the US with my great-grandmother in 1893. I’ve done Ancestry.com searches on her name and never came up with any more than that 1893 passenger list.

from EllisIsland.org

My aunt recently told me that she remembers my grandfather going to Nebraska to visit his aunt and that her married name was Brokenicky. So, I sat down at my computer the other day to see what I could find out about Anastasia Brokenicky in Nebraska. The first thing I found was a 1910 census record for Dodge County, Nebraska.

Click to enlarge; see lines 39-44

The Brokenicky household included:

John Brokenicky, age 41

Anna S. Brokenicky, age 32

Otyllia Brokenicky, age 11

Frank Brokenicky, age 9

Charles Brokenicky, age 3

Anna could easily be short for Anastasia, and the birth places (Austria-Bohemia) are correct. This looks promising.

Then, I looked a little closer and realized there was one more person living with them: Františka Kovarik, a widow aged 63, listed as the head of household’s mother-in-law. I had never heard of Anastasia’s mother coming to America, and I never knew her name, but having a Kovarik in the same house makes me think I have the right Brokenicky family.

But, there are a couple other pieces of information on this census record that don’t match up to what I thought I knew. The immigration date listed next to John is 1904. There is no date listed for anyone else, which I assume means the 1904 is meant for all of them. I know that Anastasia came to America in 1893.

Also, John and Anna’s first two children were born in Austria-Bohemia. If Anastasia came in 1893, she couldn’t have had children in Bohemia in 1899 and 1901. Right? So, is this the right Brokenicky family or not?

Ancestry.com couldn’t come up with any other records based on my search terms, so I tried FamilySearch.org. This time, I got the 1910 census, but I also got census records for 1920 and 1930. The last name is spelled a little differently in the transcription, but it is clear that all three census records show the same family. Here is the 1920 record:

Click to enlarge; see lines 9-12

The names listed in 1920 are:

John Brokenicky, age 52

Anna Brokenicky, age 44

Frank Brokenicky, age 19

Charles Brokenicky, age 13

Františka is no longer listed with them, so I assume she passed away sometime between 1910 and 1920.

This time, the immigration date given is 1893. I’ll have to do some more research to see if John had been to the US before, as well. This record says that John was naturalized, so I will also have to look for his naturalization records for more information.

Here is the 1930 census:

Click to enlarge; see lines 37-38

The names listed in 1930 are:

John Brokenicky, age 63

Anna S. Brokenicky, age 55

Interestingly, this record says the family operated a chicken farm. Anna is listed as the proprietor and John was a carpenter.

Okay, so I’ve followed John and Anna Brokenicky through three census records, but I still can’t say for sure that this is my Anastasia Kovarik. There’s more to this story, but I’ll save it for tomorrow…

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