Friday, June 27, 2014

June 28, 1914: “The Archduke is Assassinated!”

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, being greeted by dignitaries in Sarajevo, June 28, 1914

June 28, 1914 was an ordinary Sunday in the village of Bila, just outside the eastern wall of the city of Ternopil.  The villagers attended church and ate dinner at home. They spent spring and summer afternoons outdoors, visiting with friends and enjoying the summer weather. Nobody had any idea how everyone’s lives would change because of what happened that Sunday morning in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

My great-aunt, Katherine Rychly was 10 years old in 1914. Her father, Sylvester, was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, working at a sugar company in order to save enough money to bring his family to the United States.  Katherine’s older sister Anna was newly married and living in Minneapolis. Katherine's other older sister, my grandmother, Paranka (Pauline), had left Bila a few days earlier,  and sailed from Bremen, Germany, on June 23, arriving in New York on July 1, 1914.  Katherine, Anna and Paranka wouldn’t see each other again until 1922.

Map of the Austria-Hungary Empire, showing Bosnia - Herzegovina and the city of Sarajevo

Sarajevo, Bosnia, was located in a province of the Austria-Hungary Empire, added in 1908, after being occupied by the Austrians since 1878.  The province had a mixed population of Serbs, Croats, Muslims and other ethnic groups.  The annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary was unpopular with its people. I have heard from family stories that my paternal grandfather, John Nyznyk, was a soldier in the Austrian army, stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and he said that there were a lot of problems there.  After the Balkan war of 1912-1913, the neighboring country of Serbia gained territory and power, and growing Serbian nationalism encouraged the Serbs to do something about the status of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

June 28 is an important day to the Serbians, St Vitus’s Day, the day when, in 1389, the Ottoman Turks destroyed the Serbian Army on the Field of Blackbirds—today known as Kosovo, and ended the Serbian Empire.  The Serbian lands and people became part of the Ottoman Empire.  The visit of the Archduke, Franz Ferdinand to Sarajevo on June 28 was considered an insult to the Serbs.   Austrian authorities were warned that the Archduke’s visit wasn’t a good idea, but nobody took these threats seriously.  Seven young Serbian men volunteered to assassinate the Archduke and his wife. They were members of a secret Serbian nationalist society, The Black Hand. 
Archduke Franz Ferdinand arriving in Sarajevo on the morning of June 28, 1914

The Archduke and the Duchess Sophie leaving the train station for the ride to City Hall

On Sunday morning, June 28, the Archduke and his wife, the Duchess Sophie, arrived at the Sarajevo train station. There was a six car motorcade waiting, full of Austrian and local dignitaries.  Their first destination was the Sarajevo City Hall, with other stops scheduled later.

The Archduke and the Duchess were in the second car, open so the crowds could see them, along with the Governor of Bosnia and another person. There was no security along the route, normally soldiers line the streets when important dignitaries such as the Archduke visited. The chosen route, Appel Quay runs along the Miljacka River.  Two cells of Serbian terrorists were stationed along the Quay. To insure its success, seven men were assigned to the plot.  Each one had small bomb strapped to his waist, a revolver and a packet of cyanide in his pocket.

The first assassin lost his nerve and did not throw his bomb.  As the second assassin detonated his bomb, it made a noise similar to a blown tire, which alerted people in the motorcade.  The bomb was thrown just as the driver stepped on the gas.  The Archduke batted the bomb away, and it exploded under the third car, injuring several people. The second assassin swallowed the cyanide and jumped over the wall and into the river.  His suicide attempt was unsuccessful, and he was easily captured. 

The motorcade was stopped so the wounded could be attended to, and the proceeded to the Town Hall. 
The third, fourth and fifth assassins lost their confidence and did nothing.

The Archduke and Duchess minutes before the assassination

The Motorcade arrived at the Town Hall, the planned speeches continued after the Archduke expressed his unhappiness with the “welcome” he received.  It was decided to cancel the rest of the day’s activities, however, the Archduke wanted to visit the wounded at the hospital.  Nobody thought to tell the drivers of the changed plans, so when the parties arrived at the cars, the procession went ahead with the original route.  Someone in the Archduke’s party shouted that they were driving in the wrong direction, so the cars stopped.  Since the Archduke’s car did not have a reverse gear, the car had to be pushed backwards to Franz Joseph Street.  

Map of the Archdukes's route.  The green arrows show the trip from the train station to the City Hall.  The yellow star is the first bomb.  The  broken red arrows show the new route from the City Hall to the Hospital.  The red star is the place of the Assassination

The sixth assassin, Gavrilo Princip, saw that the car stopped and ran toward it.  He untied the bomb, but decided to use his revolver.  The first bullet hit the Duchess in the stomach.  The second shot hit the Archduke in the neck.  Both died quickly, by the time the car arrived at the hospital, both were dead.  It was 11 o’clock in the morning.

Newspaper depiction of the assassination.  Duchess Sophie was shot in the stomach, the Archduke  was shot in the neck.

The next day, newspaper headlines around the world told the story, but nobody as any idea  how far reaching the consequences of the assassination would be.  Many people remembered for years, exactly what they were doing when they heard the news of the assassination, the effect was similar to how people felt when they heard about the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the Assassination of President Kennedy or 9/11.

The arrest of the assassin, Gavrilo Princip.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Genealogy Mysteries: Finding Fred Koshuba

Fred Koshuba's Grave in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Maplewood, MN

One of the first genealogy projects I worked on is a family tree for the Koshuba Family  I have been interested in  putting together Fred Koshuba’s story, since my mother and uncle told me that he was a favorite cousin.   Since my mother’s family was estranged from Joseph Koshuba’s (Fred's father) family, finding information about them has not been easy. 

When doing genealogy research, you have to consider what do you know, what  you think may be correct and what may or may not be correct.  These are big questions when studying a person’s history. Remember, your information is only as good as your sources.

First of all, the facts in the list below are backed up by the 1920, 1930 and 1940 US Census and Fred’s Death Certificate.

·       Fredrick Koshuba was the son of Joseph Koshuba and Florence Florence Holmberg

·       He had two sisters, Katherine Florence and Marie Olga.

·       He was born on January 18, 1914 in St Paul Minnesota

·       He was living in Detroit, Michigan in 1941.

·       He died on December 8, 1941 in Dolton, Illinois, at the age of 27, and was buried in St Paul, Minnesota

Fred Koshuba, about 10 years old.

Fred Koshuba , 1934-5

The 1920 and 1930 US Census

The first place that I found solid information about Joseph Koshuba’s family was in the 1920 and 1930 United States Census.  Since Joseph died on January 1919, on the 1920 US Census, Florence is the head of the house, living at 886 Central, in St Paul, and is listed as the owner of the house. Her mother, Ida Holmberg and her brother, Julian lived with the family.  Fred was attending school.

In the 1930 US Census, The family had moved an apartment at 177 St Albans St, Saint Paul. Fred is working as a helper in a print shop, as well as going to school.  According to family information, Fred always worked, and the Census corroborates this. 

St Paul City Directories

From the years 1930-1940, the information about Fred  comes from St Paul City Directories, which list addresses and occupation information for residents of the city.  They are good sources, but not great ones, since I haven’t found a directory for every year, and sometimes the information doesn’t agree with what I already found.

Fred graduated high school in 1932. I assume that it was Central High School in St Paul, since Fred's sister graduated in 1934.  In the 1940 Census, his education is listed as 4 years of high school.  In the years following high school, Fred worked at various jobs including apprentice at the St Paul Dispatch-Pioneer Press newspaper.  In 1935, he worked as an assembler at the Ford Motor Company in St Paul.  In 1937, he is listed as working as a printer, but I’m not sure that this is accurate, since on the 1940 US Census, he is listed as living in Detroit in 1935.

The 1940 US Census

In the 1940 Census, Fred is living in Detroit, Michigan at 6436 Jonathan St.  All the information appears to be correct about Fred, his age, state of birth, but his name is spelled Kashuba.  However, the Koshuba name is spelled incorrectly more often than it is spelled correctly. Fred was boarding with a family, and had been living there for five years. His occupation is listed as line hand in an auto factory, which is consistent with his last occupation in St Paul.  The dates fit what is already known about Fred, except for two dates in the St Paul Directory for 1935 and 1937, so it is possible that the Census record may be for a different Fred Koshuba.  Both my mother and my Uncle Walter told me that Fred was working as a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, but I can find no sources to back this up.  This may just be one of those "facts" that were muddled by time.

The Report in the Dolton Pointer

The next information I have about Fred is his death.  My mother told me that Fred died in a car accident and that a Koshuba uncle was driving.  Family members from the Holmberg side of Fred’s family said that a Holmberg relative was driving.  This is when I searched for some additional sources.  I found a copy of his death certificate and an article about the accident in an Illinois newspaper. 

According to the Dolton, Illinois newspaper, The Pointer, Fred was killed and another man was seriously injured on Monday, December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese.

The accident occurred at Stoney Island Ave and Main Street in Dolton, IL, when a car, driven by C. Akerman (or Ankerman), was traveling west at a high speed on Main Street when he struck a culvert and his car overturned.  There is no mention of how Fred’s car was hit, but from the description, I am guessing that Fred was driving south on Stoney Island, and was hit at the intersection of Stoney Island and Main St.  When I checked Google Maps and Google Earth, I  found this intersection no longer exists; today, Main Street ends at the Bishop Ford Expressway. Fred suffered internal injuries and a crushed chest and was pronounced dead at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, Illinois.  The other driver, Akerman, survived with serious injuries; several broken ribs, an injured spine and a possible skull fracture.  In my search, I contacted the Dolton Police and was told that accident reports are destroyed after 10 years.

Unanswered Question: Why was Fred in Dolton?

Why was Fred in Dolton, Illinois, when he lived in Detroit?  One of his nieces suggested that he may have been visiting her mother who was living at the time in Evanston, Illinois. He would have to travel south in order to get around the southern tip of Lake Michigan.  Stoney Island Ave, still a main thoroughfare on Chicago’s south side, now runs next to The Bishop Ford Expressway (Interstate 94).  Route 41, runs near the shore of Lake Michigan, and I94 follows the route of old Route 41.  It is possible that Fred was driving south on highway 41 on his way back to Michigan when he was hit.   

Unanswered Question: Was Fred Driving Alone? 

Since this was a serious accident, it is hard to imagine that a second person in Fred’s car could survive it with no injuries.  The article in The Pointer does not mention any other person in either car. I can find no sources to back up the family story that there was another person with Fred in his car. However, since it was mentioned by both the Holmberg and Koshuba families, there is a possibility that someone was with him and was not seriously injured in the accident.

Unanswered Question: Fred's Marriage

When and where did Fred get married?.  My mother never mentioned that Fred was married, and his nieces did not know this either. According to the death certificate, Fred was living at 1761 Seward Ave in Detroit, working at the Ford Motor Company as a payroll clerk. He was married to Charlotte. The address differs that the address shown on the 1940 US Census.  At the time of the Census, usually taken in the month of April, Fred was single.  He must have married sometime between April 1940 and December 1941.  However, I have found no other source for Fred’s marriage besides the Death Certificate.  I have found no evidence of Charlotte’s maiden name or of the date and place of the marriage.

So, I do not have all of Fred's story.  I will continue to work on it, because solving mysteries is one of the pleasures of genealogy.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Beautiful Brides! 106 Years of Family Weddings.

June is the traditional month for wedding, so to celebrate this beautiful month, I am sharing wedding pictures from my extended family.  The pictures are arranged by decade, the bride and groom (if he is in the picture) are identified.


 Morris Gerstein,  Sarah Schwartz, Chicago IL, 1907-08

 John Nyznyk, Marya Klak, New York NY, 1914.
 John Koshuba,  Pauline Rychley, Minneapolis MN, 1916

Joseph Graskow, Anna Koshuba, Minneapolis, 1918


Oleksa Pylatiuk, Katherine Rychley, Minneapolis, 1923









Stephen Koshuba, Helen Rychley, Minneapolis, MN 1924



Stephen Koshuba, Sally Popko , Minneapolis MN, 1930's

William Krause, Muriel Friedman, Buffalo NY, 1930's

Helen Tkacyk Rychley, Minneapolis MN, 1930's












Dave Gerstein and Lillian Krause, Chicago IL 1941

Julia Pylatiuk Lawryk, Minneapolis MN 1943

Jack Krause  and Evelyn Schwartz, Chicago IL, 1946

Julia Koshuba Noznick, Minneapolis MN, 1944

Sam Nemtzow and Charlotte Lieser, Chicago IL 1944

Mykola Haydak, Pauline Koshuba,  Minneapolis MN, 1943

Stephen and Eugenia Koshuba, 1940's

Walter Koshuba and Renella Waalund, Minneapolis MN, 1945


William Palaniuk and Evelyn Koshuba, Minneapolis MN, 1951