Home Sweet Home in Cumbola, Pennsylvania!

#52ancestors: week 5 So Far Away

Last week, I gave you a peek at the home that Charles Pawlak grew up in. This week, I give you a look at a home “so far away” in Cumbola, Pennsylvania, where Charles’ future bride, Elizabeth, grew up. Elizabeth Wierzbicki (later called Elizabeth Lubinsky) lived in a home and place completely different than Charles! Whereas Charles grew up in the big city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a population of over 457,000 at that time, Cumbola was a very small town and still is today with a population of 443 souls. This was country living where everyone knew everyone else, not big city life! Here there were mountains, fresh air, farm lands, narrow roads, room to roam, and coal mines.

However, there were a few similarities between Charles’ home and Elizabeth’s home. Both houses were built for multi-family living as Charles lived in a duplex and Elizabeth lived in a three story house. Two or three generations lived together in these homes. Both were Polish speaking Catholic families whose parents had immigrated from Europe. Charles and Elizabeth and their siblings attended Catholic Schools where both English and Polish was taught. Both had seven children in their family. Other than that, I think their lives growing up were quite different.

So where in Pennsylvania is Cumbola? Well, Wikipedia states that “Cumbola is a census-designated place located in Blythe Township, Schuylkill County in the state of Pennsylvania. The community is located between the boroughs of New Philadelphia and Port Carbon along U.S. Route 209.”

What kind of community was this? Cumbola was in a coal mining district. Researching the census for Elizabeth’s family in 1920, I tried to get more information on the community. Just looking at 4 pages of Cumbola census in 1920, there were 68 families which could be a good representative sample. Looking at just the occupations showed that most of the heads of households worked in the coal mines. Of the 68 families, 47 peoples worked for the mines and only 21 worked other jobs. The other occupations included teachers (5), shirt factory workers (3), silk mill workers (2), knitting mill (1), grocer (1), telephone operator (1), drivers (2), railway worker (1), nurse (1), saloon keeper (1), car repairer (1) and salesman (2). From all this, I assume that Cumbola was a “blue collar” town with most men employed by the coal mines.

This is the three story Lubinsky home. If you look up images on Google of Cumbola, PA, you will see that this style of home was fairly typical in the area. Besides the three stories, there was a basement also. In addition to the seven children and parents, the maternal grandparents also lived with the family plus other relatives from time to time. Elizabeth’s dad also had a shed on the property where he raised chickens. I was able to find some pictures with views of the home in the background to give a closer look at the home.

Elizabeth with her mother, Susan Lubinsky, on side steps of home, dated May 5, 1943.
Elizabeth sitting on front porch rail, sister Victoria and brother Bernie in background, dated Aug. 29, 1943.
Here is a good side view of the house with Beatrice Funk (friend), Stella Lubinsky, Ray Funk (friend), Victoria and Celia Lubinsky and Bernie Lubinsky kneeling. Stella, Victoria, Celia and Bernie are siblings of Elizabeth. Photo not dated but probably from the later 1940s.
View of Cumbola and area taken from roof of Pine Street home. Note the mountains in the background! Photo not dated but probably taken in 1940s.

So this is where Elizabeth and her siblings grew up. Elizabeth was the oldest being born in 1914. Her sister Stella Mathilda was born in 1916, Helen Anna in 1918, Victoria in 1919 and Celia Collette in 1921. In 1928, her brother, Bernard Joseph (Bernie) was born and, lastly, brother Gerard (Jerry) was born in 1931. In 1920, Elizabeth’s father Stanley was a driver for a grocery store and in 1930, he was an insurance agent for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

More will be coming in other posts about the family!

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