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.
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.
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.
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.
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.