At this time, the earliest ancestor we have information on is Mateusz Stezowski, who was married to Maria Prusak. We know they had at least one son, Kazimierz Stezowski.
Kazimierz Stezowski married Salomea Stosur, who was the daughter of Tomasz Stosur and Agneszka Szkartat. Kazimierz and Salomea lived in the village of Trzetrzewina, (pronounced Che-che-vee-na), Poland. Kazimierz made brick furnaces. To this union was born Franciszek "Frank" and Joseph Stezowksi. There may have been other children, including a Thomas (Tomasz) whom we have a picture of. The family worked as farmers.
Frank lived in Poland. It is known that he had at least one son who married a lady named Victoria, and had at least two children. Frank's grandson was a priest who the family took great pride in. He died while very young of a heart attack while at his parish in Germany. Frank's grand-daughter married a man who was outside the Catholic faith, which was very unusual, and moved away from the village. This was very sad for Victoria, especially after her son died.
Joseph Stezowski was born on January 18, 1888 in Tososina, Poland. Joseph served in the Polish Austrian Army, in Artillerey. During WWI, he served in Haller's Army. He was buried with a medal that he earned for valor while serving. While still in Poland, he worked as a skilled shoe maker. He emigrated to the United States aboard Name of Ship and year; to find a better life, Once in the United States he took classes in Auto Mechanics. He worked part time as a Barber, and as an auto mechanic on weekends. Joseph also worked installing indoor plumbing in Cleveland. Much of his career was spent as a screw machine operator for National screw in Cleveland.
Joseph was a very enterprising and inventive man. While at National Screw he invented a way of quickly converting a screw machine from right hand to left hand thread production by use of a chain mechanism. This simple idea saved a great deal of re-tooling time, and earned him a cash award from the company.
His first car was a black 1923 Chevy Touring car which he purchased new. This was the same car that his son Clarence learned to drive on much later, but not before he drove it through it the neighbors house at age 6.picture The touring car was an "open" vehicle; mighty brave for winter weather in Ohio. Joseph eventually installed a four door sedan body (from a wrecking yard) in place of original open body. This was a weekend project undertaken with a few friends in his backyard garage on Newman Avenue. In 2002, Newman Ave. still had a brick street. The Stezowski's house at 6538 Newman was still there, but painted brown instead of the white with green trim that it was. The weeping Mulberry trees were still growing out front.
In 1931 he purchased another new Chevrolet, which he only used sparingly on weekends through the rest of the decade. The '23 then became a "work car", and he gave many rides to friends in it that did not have automobiles. This "taxi service" was much to the dismay of his wife Mary who felt his riders should chip in for the gas.
In his private life, Joseph was known for his ability to fix almost anything mechanical - which his son Clarence, and Grandsons Robert and Richard inherited. He repaired everything from clocks to automobiles, often making the replacement parts required. After driving his first car for many years, he stripped a gear in the transmission. When he was unable to buy a new gear, he actually repaired the old gear. He drilled and tapped holes in place of the missing teeth, and then screwed in screws, which he then filed by hand in the shape of new teeth (the car continued to run for many years with this "rebuilt" gear). He also repaired a music box in similar fashion, by completely making a new worm gear govenor to replace the original which had become lost.
Joseph and Mary worked hard and saved enough money to buy a seperate rental house in addition to the four flat they already owned. The house was located at 11618 Pinceton Street. Clarence remembered that one of their tennants was an FBI man who was working on the John Dillenger case. They owned that house for a long time before selling it sometime before Clarence's marriage.
Joseph became a citizen of the United States of America on September 6, 1929. His documentation lists age as 41, his complexion as dark, brown eyes, his hair color as blond, 5 foot 9 inches in height, and 164 lbs in weight. His address is listed as 6538 Newman Ave. Cleveland, Ohio.
Joseph was living with the Koldras Family on Philipa street (this is a few blocks from Newman), when he met Mary Kumor (1882-1961), in Ohio. Katherine Koldras said that she knew Mary liked Joseph very much because she was always dropping by. They married on November 7, 1922 by Rev. A.J. Swevalski at Saint Hyacinth's Catholic Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Stanley Pasiut and Anna Gormatha were their wittnesses.
Mary Kumor was born in the village of Trezetrezewina, (pronounced Che-che-vee-na), Poland on November 10, 1882 to Stanislaw Kumor (1842-1917) and Maria Berdychowski (born? -1933). She emigrated to America aboard the (ship)(date). Mary was pushed to immigrate by her family for economic reasons. She was "bitter" about it. For many years, Mary refused to write or have contact with her family in Poland. She worked as a domestic and told stories of never getting enough to eat. She eventually got back in touch with her family and became very involved in sending packages of religious books and cloth for vestments to her brother's son Father Kumor who was studing for Priesthood even though it was against the Communist Government's law.
Mary became a seamstress in the Kaynee Shirt Factory sewing men's shirts in Cleveland. In later years, she was known as an excellent seamstress and cook.
Mary Kumor Stezowski became a citizen of the United States on May 15, 1942 at the age of 58. Her citizenship papers record her complexion as medium, her eyes as hazel and hair color as brown. She stood 5 feet 6 inches tall and weight of 175 lbs. Her address at the time was listed as 6538 Newman Ave., Cleveland, Ohio. In her later life, she suffered from diabetes and hip problems. She also underwent cataract surgery when that was a very new and rare proceedure.
It is remembered that Mary had a stronger Polish accent that Joseph. She was also noted for having a beautiful garden where she grew lots of vegetables to can and also yucca plants.
Joseph and Mary had one son, Clarence Stezowski. The women in their neighborhood were convinced that Mary would die in childbirth because of her age, 43. But Mary delivered a healthy baby boy on March 19, 1925.
During the prohibition era Andrew Koldras (who would later become Clarence's father-in-law), came to stay with the Stezowski family in Cleveland after an incident in a Chicago bar room which caused him to leave town rather quickly (See Koldras family history for more details). While visiting with Joseph, the two decided to produce an alcoholic beverage for their personal consumption. Although Joseph Stezowski was not much of a drinker, he accepted the challenge to build a distilling device. The still was cleverly concealed from law enforcement in the porch roof of the Felitus house, and produced liquor which the two enjoyed until the end of prohibition.
The Stezowski House on Newman Avenue was actually a large, frame four flat apartment building. This presented a fairly formidable painting job every ten years or so. The job was usually finished in a single weekend, with the help of some of Joseph's close friends and his wife Mary, who would ensure that there was a good supply of food and beer for the workers. Joseph would then return the favor by helping his friends paint their houses.
Painting a three story house is hard and dangerous work. One of the paint jobs required that the entire house be stripped to bare wood, which Joseph and his son Clarence did with old fashioned gasolene powered torches. During one of these painting projects, Joseph fell from high scaffolding, and suffered a severe head injury that at that moment looked to Clarence like it might be fatal. He was rushed to the hospital and was fortunate to make a complete recovery, although his head was forever after slightly mis-shappened.
Joseph was also injured severely later in a freak traffic accident. While crossing the street, a truck stopping at a traffic light lost one of it's tandem rear wheels, which rolled into the cross walk an struck him down. The injuries were severe enough that his doctor told him that he would probably never walk again. Joseph was determined that he would recover and prove his doctor wrong. He exercised and pushed himself until he was back on his feet. He was an avid walker, and walked for miles regularly until his death in 1970 at age 82.
Clarence was born on March 19, 1925.
He attended Todd, which was a public school for kindergarten and had a Miss Temore for a teacher. She is the
only teacher who's name he can remember. The remaining years of grammar school
he spent at St. Hyacinth, a Catholic school in Cleveland that was founded in 1906. The Stezowski family attended St. Hyacinth Church and later Clarences two oldest children were baptized there. The students were not
required to wear uniforms at St. Hyacinth, but Polish language classes were
required. The rest of the instruction was in English.
Clarence attended public school again, but just for the ninth grade. He also
was on the Jr. Highschool track team, on the Relay squad. Though never claiming
to be a great athlete, Clarence really enjoyed this activity.
In 1939, when he was 14, the World's Fair was held in Cleveland. This was a major event.
his friend were desperate to go, but by the time they made it to the waterfront
where the fair was being held, they had run out of money. A kindly gentleman
saw them standing by the gate and surmised that they didn't have the money to
get in. He took it upon himself to pay the admission for the boys, simply out
of the goodness of his heart.
It was at the Great Lakes Exposition 1936 World's Fair that Clarence and his friend came within 5 feet of President Roosevelt.
There was a procession going through the exposition, and all the kids went to the
front of the crowd. The President was riding in a limo waving at the crowd. He
passed right in front of Clarence and his friend. This was a great thrill for
Clarence had many memories of his High School days in the early 1940's.
He attended East-Tec High School in Cleveland. He remembered that his locker mate was on the football team, and was "a typical
football player, BIG!" Also, Clarence was on of the few kids in school to have
a car to drive, as a result he ended up with about 8 friends in his car to and from school.
The car was a 1931 four door Chevy Sedan. Two tone Green with black
fenders. It was the Special Sedan model with the two side mount tires.
During highschool, Clarence took machine shop, and one of his fellow students
machined a cannon. The student smuggled in some gun powder to school, and during
lunch decided to test fire the cannon to see how it would work. He ended up blowing two of his fingers off.
At one point, Clarence injured his ankle and was removed from gym class. Until
his recovery, he was placed in a Typewriting class. The students used the old
fashioned Olivetti manual typewriters. The rest of the class had been typing
since the beginning of the semester, so their keys were not marked. Needless to
say, he was totally lost.
While in Highschool, one of the jobs Clarence took was with a junkyard near his house. The owner had purchased a load of bricks from a demolished factory. They were covered with mortor and Clarence's job was to chip it off with a hammer. He was paid a penny a brick and remembered it as awful work.
Clarence also worked at the Dandy Potato Chip factory near his house. His job was to load the chips onto a truck. Another job he held was working in a Gas Station.
Just a few weeks after Clarence's graduation from High School, he was drafted, and much to his dismay, not by the Army, but by the Navy. The Navy had him assigned to boot training at Great Lakes, after which he was assigned to Navy Pier. Clarence was not anxious to go to sea, because he could not swim. He said he learned "real quick" in boot camp. He was instructed to go up to a platform about 15 feet over a pool where he was pushed into the water. Aparently they had "a guy in the water to make sure you didn't drown."
Clarence told the stories about life at Navy Pier. There were broken windows in the pier and it was freezing in winter. The men's bunks were stacked three high, the men in the top bunk got pooped on from the seagulls who flew around inside the building, the men in the bottom bunk were bitten by rats who lived on the Pier. Apparently there was a bounty on the rats, if you were able to trap one, you could get a weekend pass. Clarence was luckily assigned to a middle bunk.
During WWII, Navy Pier in Chicago became a Navy pilot training facility. Clarence remembered that they had two aircraft carriers on the lake which were converted cruise ships. Information published about Navy Pier says that an estimated 15,000 pilots were trained there, including future President George Bush. It is estimated that there are about 200 crashed planes at the bottom of Lake Michigan from the training there.
Clarence's parents were happy that he was stationed near Chicago where they had friends. Clarence made contact with the Koldras family and would come out to their house for dinner when he was off. With five pretty daughters, many service men visited the Koldras house. This is how Clarence and Stephanie became reaquainted. The Stezowski's had come for a visit to Chicago when Sally was 16, that was the first time she met Clarence.
Clarence's next post was as an Aviation Machinest Mate (airplane mechanic) at Glenview Airforce Base. While there, he took the pilot test and was accepted into the program. One day, he saw a notice that the pilot's test was to be held so he thought he would try for it. When he and the other men showed up for the first day of the test, there were way too many questions to ever be answered in the time allowed. The next day, many of the men had dropped out. By the time the test was over, enough men had dropped out, that they accepted all the candidates who had perservered. As part of his pilot's training, he was sent for college courses at Murray State Teacher's College in Kentuckey (which is now a University), then on to more study at St. Mary's College at Oakland, Ca. Clarence gave Sally a ring before he left for Murray State Teacher's College. He was in flight training when the war ended and was given the option of staying in the Navy or going home. He optioned for the latter.
Stephane Koldras Stezowski
Sally said her "happy life started with Clarence". But things were very difficult for her in the beginning of her marriage. There was a severe housing shortage after the war, so the newlyweds moved in with Clarence's parents apartment until another unit in their building became available.
Sally found her mother in law to be very domineering. When another apartment became available in their building and Clarence and Sally were finally able to move out, Mary would just walk right into their apartment. She even went as far as to dictate which dress Sally should wear that day. But through it all, Sally credits Mary with teaching her many domestic skills which were to serve her well in her long married life.
Sally and Clarence lived with Mary and Josef for 6 years. Sally rembered that the house 2 doors down raised chickens. She also remembered that every week the tennents in the building would take turns scrubbing down the common hallway. Judy and Bob Stezowski were born while they lived in the back apartment on Newman Ave. Sally would load the kids up in the pram and walk down 55th street to the shopping area on Broadway. Clarence worked for a Leo Grabski Ford Dealer which was also located on Broadway.
In 1952, they moved to a custom built house at 19693 Mountville, in Maple Heights, where their third child Richard was born. They remained in Maple Heights until 1963 when they moved to Elmhurst, a suburb of Chicago, IL where they still reside. During the years they lived in Cleveland, Sally and Clarence would load their kids in the car and visit Sally's family in Chicago. When their first child Judy was a baby, Clarence hooked up a hammock across the back seat so she would sleep during the trip. At this time, there were not seatbelts or carseats for kids.
Mary died on 17 Jan 1961. When Clarence and Sally decided to move to the Chicago area where Sally's family was, Josef moved with them. Josef and Sally's father Andrew Koldras were old friends. Clarence was able to find work as a Parts Manager at Ford car Dealerships. Clarence worked for a number of prominent dealerships throughout his career.
Mary Kumor Stezowski's sister, Sophie Kumor also emmigrated to the Cleveland area. (Information from the memories of Sally and Clarence Stezowski 5/15/01) Sophie Kumor married Joseph Gargula. Joseph was born September 26, 1887 in Nowy Sacz, Poland to Stanley Gargula and Mary Wasco of Poland. Sophie and Joseph had two daughters, Emelda (Emily born April 16, 1922 in Cleveland, OH) and Loretta who were a few years older than Clarence. The family eventually moved to the suburb of Garfield Heights, Ohio. I believe Joseph Gargula died 28 Oct 1968 in a Nursing Home.
When Sophie was still quite young, in her mid thirties or so, she died from cancer. Her daughters were both in High School at the time. The loss was very difficult for her daughters. Their Aunt Mary Kumor Stezowski was very interested in Emily and Loretta's welfare and tried to help them whenever she could. Joseph Gargula lived to be an old man. Sofie is buried in Calvarey Cemetary in Cleveland, but at the opposite side from her sister Mary. Sofie Gargula's Death Cert.
Emily Gargula was a bridesmaid in Sally and Clarence's wedding in 1946. At the time, she was living in Van Nuis, CA. Emily later returned to Ohio and lived not far from her Aunt Mary Kumor Stezowski. In the late 1940's, early 1950's Sally's sister Rose, and cousin Helen Koldras came to visit her in Ohio. The pair stayed at Emily's house. Rose Koldras and Emily "hit it off" and sent Christmas Cards for many, many years.
Sally and Clarence hosted Emily's wedding reception in their house. Their daughter Judy Stezowski, then about 5 (1953?), was the flower girl. Sally made her a long dress for the occasion and said she probably has pictures of the event. Emily married a Michael Henry Buch. Michael's name was shortened from it's original Buchkovich. He was the son of Anna Lata of Austria, Hungry and John Buchkovich and was born October 25, 1918 in PA. Emily Gargula Bush and her husband had three children, a daughter and twin boys.
Emily's twin sons were born on November 24, 1963 in Encino, California. They were named Tim and Michael. Sally believes and that one son married and the other stayed with his mother. Emily's daughter Patty was married in Las Vegas to Greg Fall. At some point, Emily and her husband seperated. Michael passed on Oct. 6, 1994 in San Fernando, CA. Emily passed on 12/2/2002 in Meridian, Idaho
Lorretta Gargula married a Mr. Ed Betts (Betleski). Loretta had been in California before she was married. Loretta and Ed eventually settled on a farm in Ohio. Ed had a business as an egg distributer. He would buy eggs from local farmers and sell them in the city.
Loretta and Ed Betts has two children. Their daughter, as Sally and Clarence remembered, was an excellent student and went on to attend Northwestern University in Chicago and studied in Europe. They could not recall anything about Loretta and Ed's son.