Drake Business School, New Jersey – Mary Mirota – 1936

Mary Mirota earned a secretarial degree from the Drake College of Business, Plainfield, New Jersey after taking classes in the 1930s. Mary ran this newspaper ad in her local newspaper, The Courier News, during the month of June 1936, looking for employment. Drake Business College was founded in 1883 in New Jersey, and had at different times locations in Jersey City, Elizabeth, Newark, New Brunswick and Plainfield.

Drake Business College had been located in Plainfield, Middlesex County, NJ since 1911. In 1919 it merged with the Plainfield Business College. By the fall term in 1935 it was located at the Morris Building, at 32-40 Somerset Street, Plainfield, NJ, where it occupied the top floor. If attending full-time, you could earn a diploma in seven months. From another newspaper article, I was able to find out about the courses offered to day and evening students, which included a new executive secretarial course. The pupil capacity was 225, slightly larger than the facility in the old Union Building in Plainfield.

The principal [Henry B. Sumner] said the enrollment for the fall term “looks like old times,” adding he has found an awakening on the part of the public to the values of business and secretarial training of young people. The college now takes students of high school and college years only, having discontinued the enrollment of very young people. ” [Source:  http://www.newspapers.com, The Courier-News, “Drake College Now Located in New Home” Bridgewater, New Jersey, Thursday, August 8, 1935, Page 8, accessed 26 September 2017].

In August 1935 Drake Business College was teaching a new method of Gregg shorthand and accountancy instruction, along with secretarial studies and business management. It is possible that Mary took classes while working for the Lydecker family in nearby Middlesex, or she took the train from Whitehouse Station to Plainfield from her home. Here is a certificate Mary Mirota earning for proficiency in typewriting on a manual Remington machine. Her name, Drake Business College, and her typing speed of 36 words per minute, have all faded with age. Now I know that this certificate was from 1936. After completing the course she worked for Mrs. Francis de Lacy Hyde, of North Plainfield, NJ.

Mary Mirota – circa late 1930s

Looking at a much older edition of The Courier-News, I came across this ad from the early days of Drake Business School, from 1911. I’m not sure how successful calling prospective students “backward” panned out.  Maybe that was discontinued along with “very young students’. You can click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Source: http://www.newspapers.com, The Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey), 12 June 1911, Monday, Page 4. Accessed 26 September 2017.

Here is another photograph of Mary Mirota, from when she worked as a personal secretary to Mrs. Hyde. Mary is the one holding the paperwork on the right.

World’s Fair 1939-40, Mary Mirota, along with Mrs. Hyde and her daughter and grandson. Copyright Genealogy Sisters.

Drake Business College shut down in 2015 after 130 years of business.  It’s motto had been, “Developing Successful Careers, One Student at a Time.” Here is a link about the closure of the institution:  https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/05/22/drake-college-business-close-doors-end-july

Good luck searching for your family in newspapers!

Copyright 2017 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Blogger, Family Names, Family research, Mirota, New Jersey, Plainfield, Research, Schools | 5 Comments

Discovering Our Family Through Newspapers – 1934

I’ve really been enjoying my recent subscription to a newspaper archive. While searching the New Jersey newspapers for any articles about our Doran Clan, I came across this one below. I realized instantly that it pertained to our family, because of the Rafferty and Doran surnames, and the location of East Newark, New Jersey. That town is across the river from Newark and right next to Harrison. What I really loved about it is that my great-uncle Bill Doran was so understanding. James Rafferty was his nephew, and James must have been very trusting of the police to approach them for help or gas money to get back home. James’ mother was Elizabeth Doran Rafferty, and Bill’s sister, and she had just died a little over a year before this incident.

James Rafferty was the second son of Tom and Elizabeth Rafferty, and he was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1912. He married Harriet Zimmerman in New Jersey. A few years back my brother and I visited two of Bill and Rosina Doran’s children, and their spouses, and they had said the two relatives that always came by when their mother, Rosina, was ill and dying, was Jim and Harriet Rafferty. I didn’t know about this stolen or “borrowed” car story then, but what strikes me now is how a kindness is almost always returned.

Old newspapers can turn up all sorts of headlines, and what a joy that more and more they are now available for browsing right from home. With newspapers.com you can email, save to your computer, and post on your ancestry.com family tree. What I also like is doing something my daughter taught me, which is taking a screen shot of the page, and saving it to my photos.

Jim Rafferty was my first cousin once removed, and I don’t remember him as well as his brother, John, who had a fascinating bike shop in Newark when I was a child. I do remember my father saying that he and his buddies would hot wire cars in Newark when they were teenagers, and as a lark move them to a different location. I think this incident was not hijinks, but perhaps there was an emergency and a valid reason for taking the car. Maybe Jim tried to reach his uncle and couldn’t, or someone didn’t give a message. We will never know, but it is wonderful that all ended well. Good job, Great Uncle Bill, for taking care of family! This photo is of Bill and Rosina Evans Doran on their 1920 wedding day in England, curtesy of their daughter.


William John Doran and Rosina Evens – 1920 – Canning Town, West Ham, England

This photo is of a young James Rafferty with his family. He is the handsome young lad standing in front of his father, Tom.


Thomas and Elizabeth Doran Rafferty family with children: Sarah, James, and John. Photo from Robin Rafferty Benesh.

I’m so happy we got to meet Jim’s youngest brother, Tom Rafferty, Jr., and hear about what his life was like growing up in the city when times were tough. What a delight to also meet some of his family. Later, meeting Bill and Rosina Doran’s family was also a wonderful day of sharing stories and photographs.

Good luck discovering your family through newspapers.

Copyright 2017 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Blogger, Doran, Family Names, Newspaper Headlines | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Polish mtDNA Line of Genevieve and Mary Mirota


Sisters – Genevieve and Mary Mirota – 1934.

This lovely picture of sisters, Genevieve and Mary Mirota, was taken on Mother’s Day in 1934. Later that summer in August, Genevieve married Ted Lubas. Their dresses are so pretty and very similar so that I wonder if they sewed them. Both sisters were excellent seamstresses. Gen was born in 1909 and Mary in 1913, both in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Their parents were Josef and Zofia Szczerba Mirota. When they were young, their family moved to Hunterdon County, New Jersey. This photo was taken at their parent’s farm in Whitehouse Station.

Their brothers were Steve and Joseph Mirota, Jr. As children, Polish was their principal language until attending grammar school in New Jersey.

This photo below, although slightly blurry, shows the Mirota family at their farmhouse in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. Since Zofia Szczerba Mirota died on the 6th of October 1953, it was taken before that. Mary is standing next to her sister-in-law, Stefie, who married Joe. Seated next to Gen is sister-in-law Jean, who married Steve. Seated after their  parents, are Jim Doran – Mary’s husband, Steve Mirota, Ted Lubas, and on the far right, Joe Mirota, Jr. I’m not sure who the birthday cake was for. Both of their parents rarely smiled in photographs. Possibly it was for one of their 70th birthdays. I still have this old oak table that they are gathered around. The table was made in Pennsylvania, and brought to New Jersey on the family’s wagon pulled by their draft horses.

Mirota Family

Their mother, Zofia Szczerba was born in Poland and baptized on 5 February 1878 in Bobowa, Grybof, Galicia – Poland. On some records Zofia listed her birth place as Strozna and sometimes Berdechow ad Bobowa, Poland. Zofia married Josef Mirota on the 17th of February 1909, in Carnegie, PA when she was thirty years old. They had met two weeks earlier and had an arranged marriage. Josef had come from a nearby village in Poland, called Plawna. This picture of Zofia most likely was taken for her Naturalization Papers. It was also used for her obituary. She was listed as Sofi Mirota, residing at Whitehouse, New Jersey, age 59 years. Her date of order of admission was 17 November 1944, by the Common Pleas Court at Flemington, NJ, Petition Number 1381. Zofia was really sixty-five years old.

Zofia Szczerba Mirota

Both my sister and I are grouped in the ancestry.com genetic community of “Poles and Slovaks in Malopolska and the Tatras”. This is the summary of the time back in Galicia, that Josef Mirota and Zofia Szczerba emigrated from to Pennsylvania, USA.

Poverty Pushes Galicians from Europe
In the early 1900s, Galician villages in southern Poland were among the poorest in all of Europe. Peasants had no land and barely enough food to survive; tens of thousands starved each year. Most immigrants who left home in search of a better life were these unskilled Galician workers. They often immigrated to established Polish neighborhoods in Chicago and New York, or went to New England and Pennsylvania to work in the mines [Source: ancestry.com].

Gen and Mary Mirota never met their maternal grandmother, Apolonia “Pauline” Olszewski. She had died on the 7th of January 1910 in Berdechow, Grybof, Galicia – Poland, aged sixty-one. Apolonia was born on the 10th of January 1848 in Berdechow. Berdechow is a section of the larger town of Bobowa, in present-day Gorlice County, Poland. This section of Poland is also called Little Poland, or Małopolskie. Google Map shows the villages below. You can click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Source: Google Maps. Bobowa, Poland.

This area is in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains, part of the Carpathian mountain chain in Eastern Europe. Bobowa is about fifty miles south-east of the regional capital of Krakow. What is fascinating to me is that my close mtDNA and autosomal Eastern European DNA matches are showing up with roots in these same villages.

Zofia Szczerba was born in house number 24 in Berdechow ad Bobowa. Here below we can see at least one of the connections with the Satkiewicz family. This is a note that I saved from my sister’s research.

LDS #2090065 Baptism record of Zofia Szczerba born February 3, 1879. Zofia Szczerba is the first child born that year in Berdechow ad Bobowa to Piotr Peter Szczerba son of Joannis and Catherine (or Sophia) Mysliwice and Apolonia daughter of Thomas Olszowski and Marianna Filip. Her godparents are Andreas Job and Sophia Job. Farmers. She is born in house #24 which is where her grandfather also lives with his second wife. The midwife is Sophia Gucwa. This is the same house that Ludovica Rafa Olszewski lives with Apolonia’s brother Jacob Olszewski. After Jacob dies (est 1912) Ludovica married Adalbert Satkiewicz, the father of Jan, Sophia, and Mary. Adalbert Satkiewicz dies shortly after the marriage, and Ludovica marries her fourth husband. She was a widow when she married Jacob.

Apolonia Olszewski or Olszewska married first Piotr Peter Szczerba on 28 October 1869, when shew was twenty-one. After his death, she married Wawrzyniec Lawrence Wasik on 26 October 1882 in Berechow ad Bobowa,  when she was thirty-four. She had children from both marriages.

Her mother was Mariana Filip Olszewski, and Mariana’s mother was Apolonia Librant Filip. When my sister and I started our family research about twenty years ago, all we knew was Zofia “Sophia” Szczerba Mirota’s, maiden name, from her gravestone. I still remember how excited we were when we found her naturalization records at the courthouse in Flemington, New Jersey. Now we know our Polish maternal line goes like this:  Zofia Szczerba > Apolonia Olszewski > Mariana Filip > Apolonia Librant. Apolonia Librant Filip was born circa 1800, and her children were born in the 1820s.

My sister and I carry the mitochondrial DNA of these women. Our brothers, and male cousins, also carry it, but can’t pass it on.  “The fact that mitochondrial DNA is maternally inherited enables genealogical researchers to trace maternal lineage far back in time.” [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_DNA].

This photo below was sent to Jozef and Zofia Szczerba Mirota from her Polish family. Most likely this house was the ancestral home in one of the villages mentioned. This photograph may have been taken in August during the Blessing of the Herbal Bouquets on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15th), also called Matka Boska Zielna.

Szczerba home in Poland. Copyright 2017 Genealogy Sisters

My sister has recently ordered the LDS microfilm records of our maternal ancestral villages, because August 31st is the last day to do so. The records will later be digitized and indexed. The problem is that with the sometimes difficult Polish surnames, the records are sometimes indexed incorrectly. My sister hopes to sort out the families by the houses they lived in. Click on this link to read about this decision:  https://www.lds.org/callings/temple-and-family-history/familysearch-microfilm-discontinuation?lang=eng

Good luck searching for your maternal roots!

Copyright 2017 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Berdechow au Bobowa, Blogger, Bruśnik, Family Names, Family research, Filip, Hunterdon County, Mirota, New Jersey, Olszewski, Poland, Satkiewicz, Sczcerba | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments