George Mruzik, Sr.
Born: November 17, 1857 in Czechoslovakia (formerly Austria-Hungary)
[Birth date is from family history but Death Certificate lists November 11, 1864.]
Passed: November 27, 1934 in Ashtabula, Ohio
George Mruzik emigrated from the town of “Joblua Zob” (or “Toblua Zeb”) in Hungary (later Czechoslovakia) in October of 1881 arriving in Philadelphia on about the 18th. In 1891 at the age of 34 he formally applied for citizenship in a “Declaration of Intention” [Index of Naturalization Records of Ashtabula County, Ohio 1875-1906, page 73]. Note this document is indexed in Family Search of the Mormons as 977.134 P42i. In the 1930 Census, the immigration date for George Mruzik is 1880 and that for Mary Bertha Mruzik nee Ledva is 1882.
He originally lived in Phoenixville, PA, which is adjacent to Philadelphia, but sometime before 1889 had moved to Ashtabula, OH. Ashtabula is a shipping port on Lake Erie of the Great Lakes not far from Cleveland, Ohio. In the late 1800’s is boasted a growing but always small population of less than 10,000 souls.
His family nickname later in life was simply “Zedo.” At some time he married Mary Bertha Mruzik nee Ledva who was called “Baba.” They had eight children as follows
1. Susan Agnes Bartko nee Mruzik (b. January 4, 1885 in Phoenixville, PA, m. John Barkto on June 23, 1906 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Ashtabula, OH)
2. George Michael Mruzik (b. December 16, 1885 in Phoenixville, PA, m. Otillia Filla on January 13, 1910 in St. Louis, MO)
3. Michael Joseph Mruzik (b. October 10, 1889 in Ashtabula, OH, m. Mable Reynolds, d. 1953)
4. Mary Magdalene Mruzik (b. January 30, 1891 in Ashtabula, OH, m. Joseph Stredney on October13, 1906 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Ashtabula, OH).
5. Joseph Mruzik (b. 1893 in Ashtabula, OH but died at age 6 in 1899 and is buried in the St. Joseph’s Cemetery outside of Ashtabula).
6. Helen Mruzik (b. February 12, 1896 in Ashtabula, OH, m. Michael Ihnat on January 17, 1914 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Ashtabula, OH).
7. Elizabeth Mary Mruzik (b. November 17, 1898 in Ashtabula, OH, m. Nano Farrone).
8. Anna Bertha Mruzik (b. October 4, 1901 in Ashtabula, OH, m. Michael Pavolino on August 16, 1924 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Ashtabula, OH).
Note that in all extant records, Mary Ledva is recorded as immigrating to the US one year later (in 1882) than her husband George Mruzik (1880-1881). They are then recorded as being married in 1882. Note that the 1900 Census form lists the family name as “Mencik” which is a miss-reading of the actual record of “Mrucik”. See the form at
George worked as a laborer and later as a foreman at the #4 Ashtabula docks. He died of arteriosclerosis and a coronary occlusion at age 75 in Ashtabula and is buried at St. Joseph’s cemetery alongside his wife, Mary Ledva, just outside of Ashtabula (Ohio Death Certificate 64219, Volume 7649).
[The family legend is that Mary Bertha Ledva was being forced into an unwanted marriage. So they eloped on her wedding night or perhaps she was already married. They claimed to have been married in Czechoslovakia (Austria-Hungary). In any event, there is another story that they waited for news that the jilted groom, or former husband, had passed away after which they were formally married (or re-married) perhaps somewhere in Ohio. Details of their story were putatively recorded in the family Bible which was later burned by their grand-daughter Veronica Agnes Filla for reasons unknown.]
[There is a recently invented rumor that the family came from or was associated with or somehow passed through the famous town of Lidice, Czech Republic. This was the small village of 350 people which was massacred by the Nazi’s in WWII. Rather the family oral tradition is that they came from a farm community along a river valley with a name something like “Lucerne”. Other imaginings are perhaps wishful thinking but are without foundation and wrong. ]
From a family reunion in 1975, a “Mruzik” family crest is claimed and rendered as follows:
The words in the crest are the same in both the Czech and Slovak languages and are translated more or less f as
“God and Beauty are good. Everything is therefore a gift."
[ Boh a krása je dobry. Vsetko preto je dnotka. ]
His father was Andrew Mruzik [from his death certificate] also born in Czechoslovakia (formerly Austria-Hungary). His mother is unknown.
LIFE IN ASHTABULA
Note that his community was largely Italian as evidenced by, if nothing else, in his daughters’ choice of husbands. George is reputed to have raised a few cows on his adjacent lot on Pacific Street (renamed to 15th street in 1930). He enjoyed music and played the violin. George attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church at the corner of Sibley and Columbus.
The 1900 US Census lists his address as 125 Sibley St. in Ashtabula and records him as owning his home with six children and three boarders. In the 1908 City Directory his address is given as 121 Sibley St., Ashtabula, Ohio, and in 1930 at 819 East 16th Street, Ashtabula, Ohio. These are actually the same address. In 1930, the City of Ashtabula changed the name of Sibley St. to 16th Street and rearranged the house addresses. House numbers for streets running east to west had odd numbers to the north and even to the south. Streets running north to south had even numbers to the east and odd to the west. A map from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company is given below.
Note that 121 Sibley St is the last house on the left and to the north on the map. Also the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is just “down the street” being the last on the right at 108 Sibley St. next to Columbus Avenue to the south. [In the 1931 and 1934 City Directory of Ashtaula, there is an additional address for the growing family of 729 East 16th Street which may be an additional house purchased for George and Mary in retirement.]
ROMAN CATHOLIC FAITH
One of the earliest Roman Catholic communities in this Diocese was in Ashtabula, Ohio. In 1850, a small group of Catholics living in and around Ashtabula petitioned the Diocese of Cleveland for their own parish. A shortage of clergy, however, prevented the assignment of a resident priest. Instead, a visiting priest from Painesville would intermittently undertake an entire day’s journey by horse over secondary rural roads. Eventually in 1858 the St. Joseph Mission was established and Father Charles Coquelle took up permanent residence. The inaugural members of the St. Joseph Parish were primarily Irish and German, drawn to Ashtabula by the railroad industry.
Initial services were in private homes but in 1860 a small wooden frame church was built. An elementary school first opened in September 1865 when the Reverend John Tracey was pastor. The purchase of an additional five acres in 1877 allowed construction of St. Joseph’s two-story brick secondary school. In the early years of the school, the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Sisters of Charity from Cincinnati were engaged as teachers for the school. In 1897, the Holy Humility of Mary Sisters (the “Blue Nuns”) took charge of the educational program in the school.
In 1878, a small group began to celebrate worship services in a grocery store adjacent to Ashtabula Harbor. Out of this gathering a parish was established in 1890 dedicated to St. Mary as the “Mother of Sorrows”. By 1892, a school was opened with Miss Mary Cox as the founding principal. The Sisters of Saint Joseph from West Baden, Pennsylvania were in charge of the educational operation of the school. In future years, the Sisters of the Benedictine order from Erie, Pennsylvania, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Augustine, the Sisters of Notre Dame and the Holy Humility of Mary Sisters staffed the school as teachers and administrators. A permanent church was constructed nearby in 1898 and remains today.
Towards the turn of the century, a growing influx of Italian American Catholics made the formation of a third church in Ashtabula desirable. In 1897 land was purchased on the southwest corner of Columbus Avenue and Sibley Street (whose name was changed to 16th street by city government in 1930) and construction of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church began in 1902. The first mass was celebrated in 1903. Later, a new church with the same name was constructed a short distance away and services moved to the new building.
As the Catholic presence grew, the cornerstone of a larger masonry building to replace the original St. Joseph’s was laid on Aug. 1, 1905. That church cost $34,000 to build and is still in use. Various remodeling projects to include a new marble altar and communion rail were installed after World War 2.
The history of priests officiating at St. Joseph’s of Ashtabula is given below
Father Charles Coquelle, 1858-1862
Father John Ellwood, 1862-1863
Father John Tracey, 1863-1869
Father John Edward Conway, 1869-1887
Father Thomas M. Smyth, 1887-1893
Father John Tracey, 1893-1902
Father James H. Halligan, 1902-1903
Father Matthew O’Brien, 1903-1942
Father William J. Murphy, 1942-1967
Father Ralph Friedrich, 1967-1971
Father Thomas Bissler, 1971-1974
Father Daniel Kulesa, 1974-1983
Father Thomas G. Bishop, 1983-1995
Father Philip Miller, 1995-2011
By the early 1940s, the Diocese of Cleveland was growing too large for effective administration, so on May 15, 1943, the six northeastern counties of Ohio, Ashtabula, namely Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark, and Trumbull, were reorganized as the Diocese of Youngstown. Today this Diocese contains some 98 parishes. The first Bishop of this Diocese was James A. McFadden succeeded by Emmet M. Walsh, James W. Malone, Thomas J. Tobin, and most recently by George V. Murry.
Today the city of Ashtabula, Ohio, consists entirely of the single Parish Our Lady of Peace, 3312 Lake Ave, Ashtabula, OH 44004-5761, but with three separate churches.
1. St. Joseph’s [constructed in 1905 with 350 seats], 3312 Lake Ave, Ashtabula, OH 44004
2. Mother of Sorrows [with 550 Seats], 1464 W. 6th St., Ashtabula, OH 44004
3. Our Lady of Mount Carmel [constructed with 450 seats to replace the original building], 1200 E. 21st St., Ashtabula, OH 44004
In addition, there is a Byzantine Catholic Church, namely St. Nicholas of Myra, 1104 East 15th. St., Ashtabula, OH 44004
The only passenger ships arriving in Philadelphia in October 1881 are
1. Lord Gough – October 1, 1881
2. Ohio – October 3, 1881
3. British Crown – October 11, 1881
4. Hecia – October 15, 1881
5. Illinois – October 16, 1881
6. Lord Clive – October 18, 1881
7. British Queen – October 27, 1881
8. Pennsylvania – October 31, 1881
Checking passenger ship arrivals, several unexplained entries include
1. Juine Mruzik, age 23 from Hungary (b. about 1867 in Czechoslovakia) arrived on December 18, 1890 on the ship Belgerland sailing from Antwerp, Belgium to New York.
2. Andras Mrozik, age 33 from Hungary (b. about 1857 in Czechoslovakia) arrived in 1890 in New York
3. Janos Ledva, age 23 from Hungary in 1910 in New York; Josef Ledvay, age 16 from Hungary in 1890 in New York; Mikaly Levda, age 26 from Poland in 1904 in New York.
Maryanna Pryworgska arrived Feb. 26, 1880 on the ship Vaderland.
Mary A Sawatzka arrived in Philadelphia on May 18, 1881 on the ship Lord Clive