Joseph and Mary Ann Wierzbicki

The father of Elizabeth Lubinsky was Stanley Lubinsky, also called Stanley Wierzbicki. The family used both surnames but used Wierzbicki usually in early records and Lubinsky in later records. Stanley’s father, who was Elizabeth Lubinsky’s paternal grandfather, was Joseph Wierzbicki. Joseph married Mary Ann Wojtkiewicz, Elizabeth’s grandmother, about 1878 in Lithuania. On Google translate, Mary Ann’s last name of Wojtkiewicz translates roughly to “province of Kiev” so it may mean where her family originated from.

Now Joseph was born in May of 1856 in Balwierzyski, Russia – part of Lithuania. He was the son of Antoni Wierzbicki and Anna, both born about 1830. Did you see the “wierz” in the middle of Balwierzyski? I wonder if the Wierzbicki surname has something to do with where Joseph came from. According to Wikipedia, Wierzbicki is a “noble Polish family name. It derives from the Polish word wierzba meaning willow. The Lithuanian form is Verbickas and the Russian is Verbitsky/Verbitski.”

So how did the Wierzbicki family get to America and become the Lubinsky family? It all started with the immigration of Stanley’s parents, Joseph and Mary Wierzbicki, who came to America in 1893 bringing their three children named Mary, Stanley and Joseph Jr. Daughter Mary was about nine years old, Stanley was about seven and Joseph Jr was about four years old. Most likely they traveled as steerage passengers and were subjected to crowded, unsanitary conditions aboard a steamship. I have not found a passenger list but the 1900 census lists their immigration year as 1893.

I wonder how they chose to settle in the mountains of Pennsylvania, namely Cumbola in Schuylkill County. Perhaps they had friends or relatives already in that area and learned about Cumbola from them. In the early 1900s, Cumbola was mainly composed of Polish and Lithuanian Catholics. Maybe the mountainous area was similar to where they had come from in Lithuanian. Many of their friends and neighbors spoke Polish like the Wierzbicki family and the church services were in Polish. Polish and English were both taught in the schools.

1900 Census for Joseph Lubinsky

The first written records of the Wierzbicki family is the 1900 Federal Census for Cumbola, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania and, interestingly, they used the name Lubinsky in the census ( the census taker spelled it Librusky!). Joseph works in a coal mine like many of his neighbors. He was listed as an alien (not naturalized). Joseph was now 45 years old and wife Mary (Mary Ann) was 40. Mary was born in January of 1860 and they have been married 22 years and now have seven children born and all are living in 1900. The three that were born in Russia were Mary, age 16 and her two brothers, Stanley, 13 and Joseph Jr, age 10. Other children that were born in Pennsylvania included Rosy (Rozalia) age 6, Annie age 4, William age 2 and Ellie (Helen) age 3 months. They rented their home and had a boarder named John Creguna, a 20 year old coal miner, who also immigrated from Russia the same year as the family and may have traveled with them.

The family was harder to find in the 1910 Census and I had to browse all the Cumbola census records to find them. Instead of using the Lubinsky name in 1910, they used Wierzbicki! Joseph is listed as 52 years old and Mary as 48 so in ten years since the last census, Joseph and Mary gained only seven or eight years! I believe, based on other records, Joseph was about 55 and Mary was about 50 in 1910. Sometime between 1900 and 1910, Joseph became a citizen and was naturalized. At that time, when the husband became naturalized, the wife and children were automatically naturalized.

In 1910, Joseph was working as a retail merchant in a grocery store and spoke English and Polish. Their sons, Stanley and Joseph Jr, worked as carpenters in a railroad box shop. Besides Rozalia, Anna, William and Ella (Helen), the latest family addition was Margaret, age 8, who was incorrectly listed as Magdelena. Interestingly, it also listed ten children born to Mary Ann but only eight were living. They lost two children between 1900 and 1910! No death records were found for the children who apparently died at birth or died young.

In 1917, tragedy strikes when their daughter Mary dies. Mary was 34 years old and married to John Krizno and they had two young sons, Leo Krizno born 1909 and Jesse Krizno born 11 Nov 1917. Mary Wierzbicki Krizno died on 20 Nov 1917 in the Pottsville Hospital just nine days after the birth of Jesse. The cause of death was “Puerperal Septic Infection” and General Peritonitis. Most likely this was a complication from the birth of the baby as the duration of the illness was ten days. She was buried in Sacred Heart Polish Cemetery near Cumbola.

By 1920, Joseph owned his home free of mortgage and worked as a “teamster” doing “hauling.” His age is listed as 65 and Mary is 62. Daughter Annie is 24; William is 22 and works in a car repairer shop; Ellie is 20 and works as a winder in a silk mill, and Margaret is 18 and a saleslady in a grocery store. Also the family is raising Jesse Krizno, age 3, the son of Mary Krizno.

The last record I found for Joseph was his gravestone in Sacred Heart Polish Cemetery near Cumbola. He passed away in 1928 and was buried next to his daughter, Mary Krizno who died in 1917. Mary Ann stayed in the same house and, in 1930, daughters Anna and Helen lived with her along with grandchildren Jessie Krizno and Theresa Lubinsky and a nephew, Alex Rufus. The same relatives were living with her in 1940 except Helen who had married.

Mary Ann lived to 1941, dying of a coronary occlusion on February 8th. Mary was buried in a plot in the same cemetery and two of her daughters, Margaret and Helen, were later buried next to her. More about the family will be in future posts!

Joseph and Mary Ann Wierzbicki/Lubinsky, circa 1920.

Sources: U.S. Federal Census: Year: 1900; Census Place: Cumbola, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0122; FHL microfilm: 1241482.

U.S. Federal Census: Year: 1910; Census Place: Blythe, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1416; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0007; FHL microfilm: 1375429.

U. S. Federal Census: Year: 1920; Census Place: Blythe, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1649; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 8.

U. S. Federal Census 1930, Index and images, FamilySearch; Blythe, Schuylkill Pennsylvania; Enumeration District: 0009; Sheet: 6B; Roll: 2144; FHL microfilm: 2341878.

U.S. Federal Census: Year: 1940; Census Place: Blythe, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania; Roll: m-t 0627-03601; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 54-9.

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