Monday, April 28, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Frank Popp (1889-1966)

Frank Popp was another of my grandfather's cousins who emigrated to the United States. He was a storied cousin to my father and his siblings, living a glamorous life in Los Angeles and sending photographs to them of beaches and Rose Bowl parades.

Several years ago I was fortunate to be able to talk to Frank's daughter and get some information about his life beyond the pictures. After our conversation she sent me this photo of her parents and brother taken sometime after his birth in 1913.

His daughter knew very little about his life or family in Europe. He was born Ferencj Pap, in a Carpathian mountain village, either Drahova or Berezovo (now in Ukraine). She thought he was about 20 years old when he came to America. She thought he came through Ellis Island and then went to the mines in Pennsylvania. He may have gone to stay with another cousin, Joe Popp. Her mother, Mary Burjosky, came with her family as a child. They settled in Wyoming. 

Frank left the mines as soon as he could and went to Chicago where his cousin and my great-aunt, Mary Popp Hricak was living. He learned to barber there, then left to work near, but not in the mines. He went to Wyoming where he met and married his wife, and then to Washington State where his son was born in 1913. By 1917 they had moved to Miami, Arizona (another mining community) where their two daughters were born. By 1920 they had moved to Hollywood, where Frank bought a barber shop on Hollywood Boulevard and even cut a few movie stars' hair. 

Frank lived the rest of his life in California. He died there in 1966. I don't believe he ever came to New York, but he did visit the Hricaks in Chicago. My aunt and uncle met him as adults when they were in California. 

I don't actually know how Frank and my grandfather are related. They were clearly close, but whether they were first cousins is open for discussion and further research. The documentation I have found supports the information his daughter shared (with the exception of the 1930 census which lists his son's birthplace as the District of Columbia, rather than Washington State). I have yet to find immigration documents that I can absolutely assign to Frank. He was not the only Ferencj Pap leaving those mountains at the turn of the century. 

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Photo Source
Frank Popp family portrait, c. 1914; digital image, privately held by Susan Popp Clark, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] St. Louis, MO. 2006. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: John Popp (1886-1959)

My grandfather, Stephen Popp (Stefan Papp) was part of the tide of Austro-Hungarian immigrants that came to United States in the early 20th century. Like many others, he followed his family and neighbors. In addition to his siblings, three of his Popp cousins came to America from two small villages at the eastern edges of the Empire.

I grew up in Connecticut near the family of one of the cousins, John Popp. John died when I was a toddler, but I knew his widow and son's family. John had a certain stature in the family stories. He was dearly loved, a successful business man in Bridgeport, owned a car (this was a big deal), and was active in the immigrant church and cultural societies in the United States. He and his wife even hosted my aunt and uncle on their honeymoon in 1947, providing a sleeper sofa in the living room for the newlyweds. My aunt made it clear that they stayed a few days, then headed off to someplace more private for a traditional honeymoon. The notices that appeared in The Bridgeport Post following John's death don't mention the car or honeymoon hosting, but they more than illustrate his stature in the community.

EASTON, Sept. 14 -- Services will take place Thursday for John Popp, 72, of 10 Palmer place, former operator of a liquor store on Arctic street, Bridgeport, who died yesterday in his home.
The will be conducted at 8:30 a.m. in the Adzima funeral home, 591 Arctic stret [sic], Bridgeport, and at 9 o'clock in St. John the Baptist church, Mill Hill avenue. Burial will be in St. John's cemetery, Stratford. Panahedeon services will be conducted at the funeral home tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 o'clock.
Mr. Popp was past president of St. John the Baptist Carpatho Russian Greek Catholic church on Mill Hill avenue and supreme past president of the American Russian Sokols of the Greek Catholic Brotherhood, and a member of the Fathers' club, St. Basil's society and St. Nicholas' society.
A native of Czechoslovakia, Mr. Popp resided in Bridgeport many years before moving to Easton three years ago.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Wargo Popp; a son, George Popp, operator of the Appliance Center on Main street, four grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

EASTON, Sept. 18 -- Services for John Popp, 72, of 10 Palmer place, were conducted yesterday in St. John the Baptist Carpatho-Russian Greek Cathoic church, Mill Hill avenue, Bridgeport. Burial was in St. John's cemetery, Stratford.
His Grace, Archbishop Benjamin, of Pittsburgh, officiated.
Celebrant of the Mass was the Rt. Rev. Andrew Slepecky, administrator of St. Clair, Pa.; co-celebrants, the Very Revs. John Kivko and Joseph G. Simko.
The Very Rev. Hrista Vasilescu, the Rev. John Shunda, the Rev. Victor F. George, the Rev. Alexander Kovachi, and the Very Rev. Stephen Antonuk were seated in the Sanctuary.
Father Simko assisted by Fathers Slepecky and Kivko, read the committal services.
Delegations from St. Basil's society, A.R.S. 3; St. Nicholas' society, and the Fathers club attended.
Bearers, all church officers, were Michael Tarasovich, Michael Hritz, Michael Soltis, Jr., Richard Kopchyak, Peter Liscinsky and George Komtos. 
John was born on 22 Dec 1886 in Drahovo, Maramoros, Austria-Hungary to Ivan Papp and his wife, Ilka Papp. Today Drahovo is in Ukraine. He came to the United States in 1903 with his mother. His father was working in Johnstown, PA, and paid for their passage. He had two surviving siblings who remained in Europe, Anna Papp and Stefan Papp. John's parents ultimately returned to Drahovo. While I cannot document the relationship between John and my grandfather, their children believed them to be first cousins through John's mother. If so, then Ilka Papp was a sister of my great-grandfather, Ivan Papp, and a daughter of Stefan Papp and Anna Stajko.

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


"John Popp, 72, Dies; Ex-Head of Sokols," The Bridgeport Post, 14 Sep 1959, p. 34, col. 8; digital images, (accessed 22 Apr 2014), Newspapers & Publications. Cit. Date: 22 Apr 2014.  

"Obituary John Popp," The Bridgeport Post, 17 Sep 1059, p. 2, col. 9; digital images, (accessed 22 Apr 2014), Newspapers & Publications. Cit. Date: 22 Apr 2014.  

"Ellis Island Ship Manifests," online images, ( : accessed 22 Apr 2014), manifest, S.S. Finland, 6 Oct 1903, Ilka Papp and Ivan Papp, lines 7 & 8. Cit. Date: 22 Apr 2014.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: A Mystery Aunt

Well, well, well. A mystery has unfolded.

I was roaming through Ancestry's shaky green leaves a few weeks ago and found a copy of this photograph on someone's tree. A photograph of my 2nd great-aunt Barbary Sawyer Proffit  I posted on the blog back in 2010. I assumed it had been taken from the blog, but when I checked, the woman who posted it had labeled it as being Liney Huffman Howlett Evans, Barbary's older half-sister. She had gotten the photo from a cousin. When I asked her about the identity she was unsure, having based the identification on her cousin's information.

As am I.

My photo is labeled on the back in my aunt's handwriting. She never knew either woman, but labeled the photograph based on interviews with her aunts. The problem is her aunts never knew Liney and only barely knew Barbary. I never have been able to figure out who the F.L. Evans is sitting next to Barbary. BUT, if the picture is Liney, then it is probably her husband James A. Evans. It would be lovely if the photograph included a studio name or location. Barbary lived in Cocke and Greene counties in Tennessee. Liney moved to Arkansas and then to Oklahoma. No studio. That the women might look enough alike to be mistaken for one another makes sense. They are sisters.

Last week I found the photo on another Ancestry tree belonging to one of Liney's descendants. This time I know the owner of the tree. He is a thorough and generous researcher who has shared his work with me about Liney and her life after leaving Tennessee. I am inclined to trust his information, even if the source of the photograph is not given. Unfortunately the email address I have for him is no longer valid and he has not responded to messages through Ancestry.

So, who is this? Another one of my Sawyer mysteries. A photograph of one of my great-grandfather Gee Sawyer's older sisters. With a man named Evans. My bet is Liney, but then again, my aunts were no slouches when it came to research either.

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.