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A Brief Biography of Peter and Rose

  Peter was born July 24, 1880 in the village of Turzovka in the Trencin area of what is now Slovakia. It has been established that he had four sisters and four brothers. Their names in order of birth are: Katharina (3/24/1882), Stefan (12/25/1883), Jan (3/30/1885), Anna (6/6/1887), Paulus (1/26/1890), Simon (12/10/1891), Joanna (5/24/1893), and Eva (12/28/94). Paulus and Simon were killed on the Russian front during World War I. Peter married Rose (Rozalia) Chudej, daughter of Joannes Chudej and Anna Vrablik, who was born on March 15, 1887 in Turzovka. Records indicate that Rozalia was the youngest of 8 children. The others were: Apolonia, Joannes, Simeon, Jacobus, Veronika, Antonius, and Anna. Rose and Peter were married on July 27, 1907.

Peter earned a living as a drotár (tinker or tinsmith), traveling from house to house fixing pots and pans and doing other kinds of metal work. At the turn of the the century, there was much poverty, political instability and oppression in the region encompassing Slovakia, which was then part of the Austro-Hungary Empire. In search of a better life, Peter emigrated to the U.S. in 1907. He and 16 others from Turzovka (Turzofalva in Hungarian) departed from Bremen, Germany on October 22 nd on the Kronprinz Wilhelm and arrived at Ellis Island through the Port of New York on October 30th. Included among the Turzovkans were Rose's brothers, Jan and Anton, and Josef Polka, husband of Rose's sister Veronika. The records indicate that Peter had $30 when he arrived in the U.S. Rose arrived in the U.S. on the Barbarossa on August 3, 1910, apparently waiting until Peter was settled. She brought with her their daughter "Verona" (Veronika), who was approximately 2 years old.

Peter originally settled near Cheswick, Pennsylvania, where he found employment as a coal miner. His employment in the mines was brief, according to his son Peter. His dislike of the mines resulted in a quick change to a job in a glass factory in nearby Blairsville. This is understandable in light of the Hartwick Mine disaster near Cheswick in 1904, in which 179 miners perished. Through friends, he and others learned that the economy in northwestern Pennsylvania was very strong. There was an abundance of jobs in the forest and wood products industries, glass manufacturing, and tanning industries because of the extensive hemlock tree growth and natural gas.. Records indicate that when Rose arrived in 1910, Peter was living in James City, a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania, where he found employment in the American Plate Glass Company factory. In November, 1919, he bought a small farm located at Lamont (a few miles from James City), where he and Rose lived out the remainder of their lives. Coincidentally, this final residence was across the road from the farm of Anton and Susie Virecz (later changed to Weritz and Veritz), who were from Divina, Slovakia which is near Turzovka. Anton had also been a drotar, working in the same area of Slovakia as Peter. Their paths frequently crossed and they became good friends. Their close friendship continued when they became neighbors in Lamont.
The mortgage shows that Peter purchased the farm for $5,000 and a bill of sale indicates that he paid an additional $1,500 for the grain and hay, 1 horse, 2 cows, 5 pigs, 24 sheep, 50 chickens, 15 rabbits, 2 buggies, a cart, machines and assorted farm tools. He made a down payment of $2,500 and paid off the balance at a rate of $200 per year plus 6 percent interest on the principal. That is a remarkable accomplishment considering how little he had when he arrived in the United States and the fact that the typical wage in the glass factory was $2.00 for a 12-hour day. Peter and others from the Lamont area who worked in the glass factory usually walked the 3-4 miles to save the 20 cent round-trip train fare. Peter farmed part-time with the help of his children and continued working at the glass factory until it closed in the depression years. He was then left to earning a living entirely from farming. The farm was only 58 acres in size, and less than half was tillable, severely limiting his earnings. As mentioned, he farmed with horses and little machinery; in fact, Peter never owned or drove an automobile.
  A supplemental source of income for many of the Lamont-area farmers was the sale of moonshine during the Prohibition era. It has been reported that a Croation neighbor, Mike Novosel, showed them how to make the beverage. Anton Vericz was the only producer known to have been caught and arrested. Peter's son Anthony recalled that his father also played the bass fiddle.
Despite the hardships they endured, Peter and Rose were known for their generosity. Families from James City have passed down stories of how Peter gave them potatoes and other vegetables during the depression years.

Not much is known about Rose because of her early death and the fact that she never became a naturalized citizen. The naturalization procedure ordinarily was not pursued by married women immigrants during the early part of the century. They were considered legal citizens because of their husband's naturalization. Consequently, there are few records that provide a glimpse of her past. It has been established, however, that she served as the midwife for Susie Weritz during the birth of her daughter Elizabeth (Betty Weritz-Johnson) and attended to several other births in the Lamont-James City area. Additionally, the maiden name of Rose's mother is given on her death certificate as "Annie Rublick." In the Slovak church records, the spelling is "Vrablik." This provides a link between her and the "Wroblick" family residing in the West Point, VA area, who Peter, Jr. and Anthony are known to have visited from time-to-time. The Social Security records indicate the following deceased relatives: Steve Wroblick (1910-1977), Anna Wroblick (1911-1979), and Helen Wroblick (1912-1979). There currently are West Point, VA phone listings for Helen and Joseph Wroblick.

Peter and Rose understood very little English, speaking mostly in their native tongue at home. This limited their socialization primarily to relatives and the few other Slovak families residing in the Lamont and James City areas. These included the Weritz, Trulik, Gabriel, Prokop, Undrovic, Gaston, Mishic, and Romanick families, most of whom still have descendants living in the area.

Peter and Rose had two daughters and seven sons. In order of birth, they were Veronika (Slovak spelling), Mary, Peter, Anthony, Joseph, John, Paul, Frank, and Vincent. It has been reported and confirmed that Veronika died at age 5 when she fell into a cauldron of hot water being used to boil clothes. Anthony recalled hearing that she stumbled backward and literally sat in the cauldron while she was carrying her sister, Mary. Mary was only a few months old at the time and apparently was not harmed. Rose died on October 28, 1930, in the Community Hospital in nearby Kane. The cause of death on her official death certificate is given as "gangrene of the lungs" caused by bronciectasis, an inflammation of the lungs that sometimes results from the flu or pneumonia. Peter died on January 10, 1942. The cause listed on his death certificate was bronchial asthma and acute pulmonary edema. It may be attributable to his love of cigars. Betty Trulik-Rossman , a Lamont neighbor, reported that she and her mother, Barbara, visited Peter shortly before his death. He was being cared for at home by daughter Mary Chubon-Piersa. It was apparent that he was near death, and Betty's mother sent her home for a bottle of holy water, some of which she sprinkled on him. Betty, who was 11 years old at the time, explained that she was petrified, but managed to get through the scary ordeal. The bodies of Rose and Peter were interred in the St. Callistus Cemetery, near Kane, a few miles from Lamont. No information regarding the burial of daughter Veronika has been found