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!

Meet Elizabeth Wierzbicki of Pennsylvania!

#52Ancestors, Week 3 Long Line

Last week I shared pictures of Charles Pawlak from his childhood. Charles of Milwaukee, Wisconsin eventually married Elizabeth Wierzbicki of Cumbola, Pennsylvania. How they met is a great story for another post! On this post, I will share some childhood pictures of Elizabeth Wierzbicki – also known as Elizabeth Lubinsky. Her family used the two surnames interchangeably until about 1928 when only Lubinsky was used. More on that in another story! Elizabeth was the first of a long line of seven children and came from a long line of Polish ancestors.

Elizabeth Wierzbicki was born on 26 May of 1914 to Stanley Wierzbicki and Susan (Stempkowski) Wierzbicki in Cumbola, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Whereas Charles Pawlak, her future husband, was the youngest of seven children, Elizabeth was to be the oldest of seven children. Elizabeth was followed by four sisters: Stella in 1916, Helen in 1918, Victoria in 1919 and Celia in 1921. Then came two brothers which were Bernard (Bernie) in 1928 and Gerard in 1931. The youngest picture found of Elizabeth is a photo of her at six years old with her mother and aunt.

Elizabeth is on the left, her mother Susan is seated. Standing is Susan’s sister, Cecelia (Czeslaw in Polish) who later joined the Bernardine Order and became Sister M. Assumpta.

On 22 June of 1924, Elizabeth Wierzbicki made her First Holy Communion at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Cumbola PA. Elizabeth and her family attended this Roman Catholic Church and the children went to Catholic School where they were taught by the Bernardine Sisters. They not only taught reading, writing and arithmetic in English, but also all of the other required subjects in addition to Polish language, reading, writing and history. There was also time for Art, Music and Drama and, of course, Catholic rites and ceremonies.

On 20 June of 1928, Elizabeth graduated from eighth grade at St. Anthony’s School. She had her picture taken with the other girls in her class. Their matching dresses were blue with gold ribbon trim to go with the class colors of blue and gold. Elizabeth was especially proud of this photo as her mother, Susan, was an accomplished seamstress and made all the dresses for the girls! Elizabeth is in the second row and wearing glasses.

Elizabeth attended ninth grade in the Junior High School of Blythe Township Public Schools in 1929 and then it was on to Blythe Township High School. She graduated June 7, 1932.

One of the surprising things I found out about Elizabeth during her high school years was that she was never absent nor tardy in all the years she attended Blythe Township High School! Below is one of her certificates of perfect attendance.

Upcoming posts will have more stories about Charles and Elizabeth and their ancestry!