Friday, June 26, 2015

John Nyznyk: My Grandfather an Enigma, The Story Continues

Last week I wrote about my grandfather John Nyznyk, who has always been a mystery to me.  All I know about him are some family stories, so when I began to research my family history, I was interested in finding more about him.  In last week's blog, I started to tell his story through my research findings.  This week, I will continue his story.

Surprises found in my research

The biggest surprise I found in my research was that my father had a brother and a sister.  My father knew that his father had been married before and that his first wife had died.  He never mentioned that there were any other children.  The second surprise in my  research was that my grandfather did not mention his son, my father, in his Petition for Citizenship.  He listed the children from his first marriage, but not my father.  This is interesting, because states that he was still married to my grandmother Mary Klak.

John Nyznyk's Petition for Citizenship

John declared his intention to become  a United States citizen in 1926.  He filed the Petition for Citizenship on April 8, 1930.  He was living at  533 East 6th Street in New York City and listed his occupation as an upholsterer. He stated that he was born on July 27, 1878 in Pomorainy, Galicia, Austria.

John Nyznyk's Petition for US Citizenship

John said the had been in the United States since 1910 (at least 5 years of residency were required in order to file for citizenship.)  He stated that he was married to Mary Klak, but had no knowledge of her residence since 1915.  He named his two children, Paul, born on August 19, 1904 and Michalina, born August 20, 1910.  He also named his first wife, Anna Kowalsky, who died in Pomorainy (known then as Pomorzany), Poland in 1913. My father Peter was conspicuously absent.  John's citizenship was finalized on November 10, 1930.

John Nyznyk's final Naturalization card

The 1930 United States Census: John Noznick

Searching for information about John Nyznyk in the 1930 US Census was very interesting.  I did not find anything about John Nyznyk, but I did find John Noznick.  The census taker was at 624 East 11th St, New York City on April 12, 1930.  The Noznick family was made up of John Noznick, age 49, Mary Noznick, age 42, and Peter Noznick age 14.  Neither John nor Mary were able to read or write.   They were both born in Galicia, Poland.  John came to the US in 1916,  Mary came in 1911. According to the Census, John worked as a porter in a restaurant and Mary was a housewife.

The 1930 US Census, showing the Noznick family on line 77

When I read this, I thought--what is going on!  First of all, John Nyznyk filed his Petition on April 8, 1930, 5 days before the census taker came to the Noznick home. According to his Petition, he lived at 533 East 6th Street, several blocks away.  John Nyznyk was an upholsterer and  from what I found in his records, never worked in a restaurant.  He was 52 years old, not 49 as listed on  the census.  John Nyznyk could read and write, John Noznick could not.  John Nyznyk stated that he had no knowledge of Mary's residence since 1915, but according to the census record above, he was still living with her.  From what I know for sure, John Nyznyk was never known by the surname Noznick.  So what do we have here?  I have a feeling that my father gave the census taker the information.  His step-father's name was Peter Zackowski and his mother married him before 1920.  I think that my father gave the census taker Peter's  occupation information.  I have no idea why he did not give the actual names of his parents.

The 1930 United States Census: John Nyznyk

Sometimes following a hunch leads to a genealogy jackpot, some times to a wild goose chase.  This time I hit the jackpot.  I decided to search the 1930 Census, using the address John Nyznyk used on his Petition for Citizenship.  After finding the enumeration district for the address, I found the schedule for 533 East 6th St. Looking down the list of names, I found a John Mazwyk, which looked liked it might be my grandfather. There are mistakes on the US Census, often names are miss-spelled or other wise mangled up.  When the person giving the information is not fluent in English, the census taker  would spell the name as best  as he/she could. John's age and birthplace were correct, as was his occupation of upholsterer. The year he immigrated to the US is 1910, which confirms other records. He stated that he was a naturalized citizen and could read and write. His place of origin was listed as Austria.  More surprises, his age at his first marriage was blank.  He stated that he was a widower;  he had "forgotten" not only his son, but his second wife as well.

John Mazwyk aka John Nyznyk is on line 30.
Now I have another record to back up John Nyznyk's basic information, his age, his date of arrival in the US, his US citizenship and his occupation. John's story does not end here.  There are more surprises that I will write about next week.