Susannah Woychik's Letters - Epilogue
Susanna Woychik Kulig died on January 27, 1947, aged 92. She outlived her husband, Hyacinth by 7 years, as he died on August 2, 1940,at the age of 91.
Two of their four children had quite different lives from their parents. John F Kulig became a lawyer, and also was very active in the political life of Independence, being the Mayor and head of the city, and a member of many organisations. He obviously stayed friends with JA, as we have photographs of him visiting Grampa's farm and he also went to his funeral. His brother Albert became a doctor until he died in 1946, one year before his mother.
Paul Kulig bought his parents’ land and farmed, as did his son, Roman, who still lives there. Another of Susanna's grandsons, Edward, son of John, lives in the house that Susanna and Hyacinth bought in Independence when they retired from farming. Gertrude married George Sabotta, who I understand was a peanut farmer. I think he, was the son of one of the families that moved in the same year as the Woychiks.
Susanna's parents John and Anna Lyga Woychik both died in 1907, within a few days of each other. Her brothers all stayed with farming in the Wisconsin area, and one of Thomas' grandchildren, Albin, still has the same land today. I don’t know if the sod house is still there or not.
John Alexander Woychik, who was my grandfather, and Mary Suchla, my grandmother, had ten children and had a hard but successful farm life. Mary died when she was 43 and pregnant with her 11th child. I have written much about their lives in my book Rosie and Anna, (already posted here) where I write from Rosie, the eldest daughter, to Anna, her aunt newly arrived in Chicago, and later on, I include the real letters of my mother, also Anna, to Rose which she kept and her daughter gave to me after Rose died.
However, I would like to add in some tidbits of family history, mostly from the North Dakota Woychiks and Suchas, which were not included in my other writing.
Tidbits of Family History
Anna Woychik, JA’s sister took off from the job she had at the Gladstone Hotel in Jamestown, and moved to Chicago. She had not said as much as a word about it to her brother. He was furious, and very hurt. Then he got a letter from her, asking him to send her things on, and giving the address as Mrs. L. Lorenz in Chicago. So she had got married as well as leaving him, without his permission. He did eventually forgive her, and decided to name his second daughter, (my mother) Anna, after her. She and her daughter, Viola Lorenz often visited with him and his family in later years. I have vague memories of Viola.
Here is another story from 1901 that relates to the Nogosek family who I have had Susanna correspond with. I copied this from the Joseph Nogosek website.
A tragic event on the night of September 26 brought great sadness and even shame to all the Nogosek families. Gregory Nogosek was drowned that night in Spiritwood Lake under circumstances which were mysterious, humiliating, end, to say the least, rather. Louis Kilmek, grandfather of Sophia Kilmek, Anton Nogosek’s wife, had come from Independence, Wisconsin to visit his good friend of earlier days, Gregory Nogosek. With him was John Suchla, Sophie's uncle and of course Sam’s brother. These two men, along with another friend named Mike Bender, had been drinking whisky with Gregory at his home. They went on to the farm of Gregory’s daughter Maria, the Theodore Gospodar farm, for supper and a few more drinks. Then borrowing a dollar from his daughter and saying that they were going to Wimbledon, which was 15 miles away, Gregory set out with his friends in two buggies. Instead of going to Wimbledon, they ended up at Spiritwood Lake, only a few miles away, at the LaBrasche boat house, which was reportedly a “blind pig,” if you know what that is. It’s a place where liquor is illegally sold. North Dakota came into the Union in 1889 with a prohibition article in its constitution, and since July 1890 it has been illegal to manufacture, sell, import, or give intoxicating beverages to anyone in the state. A great business in bootlegging has been going on, with liquor especially being brought in across the Canadian border at night. Spiritwood Lake was known to be a place of rendezvous for such bootleggers. It is no wonder, then, that the Nogosek family claimed Gregory had never before been at Spiritwood Lake, even though he had farmed no more than four miles from it for 23 years.
According to the testimony of witnesses, there were more drinks at the boat house, and the men got into a very vocal argument with Gregory. He then left the boat house, which extended out over the water. It was a very dark and rainy night. Suddenly he was heard screaming the name of Jesus in Polish three times. His friends inside were frightened, and did not go out immediately to find out what was the matter. When they did go out, they saw no sign of Gregory. One waded out into the lake a little way, but found nothing. They did, thought think they saw for a moment the shoulder of a man in the water. Mike Bender said, “He's gone!" Then they left the boat house to walk up the hill to LaBrasche's house. In the yard they reportedly saw a strange man pull a light out of his pocket. John Suchla began to panic, and ran out into the field to hide in a slough until 4 a.m. Only then did he return to LaBrasche’s house, where he was let in. Once it grew light outside, they went down to the water and found Gregory’s body face down along the shore, in eighteen inches of water. The coroner found only ten cents in his pocket. Outside of a bruised nose, no other injuries were found on the body. His friends were convinced that he had been jumped in the dark. What would be the motive? As they figured it out, people in the area had thought that Lewis Klimek had come to the Fried area to buy a farm, and hence would have a lot of money in his pocket. As a matter of fact, this was not true; he had just gone to visit Gregory. Anyway, they had mistaken Gregory for Louis Klimek as he emerged alone from the boat house. It does seem possible that several men could easily cause a man to drown by holding his head under water for a few minutes, and not leave any bruises on the body. Moreover, how explain that Gregory had only 10 cents in his pocket? Farmers are used to carrying considerable sums of money on their person. But the coroner's jury, which met at the same time in Jamestown as the funeral was being held in Fried on Sunday, September 28th, rendered the verdict of accidental drowning, it does seem possible, indeed, that Gregory had walked out on the dock, fallen into the water in the dark, and in his panic at not being able to swim he could have stumbled out into deep water instead of making his way towards shore. Spiritwood Lake does drop off quite suddenly, for it is a spring-fed lake. Christina, Gregory’s wife, decided to remain at the homestead until Anton sold it to George Bautch. Gregory’s body is at Sacred Heart cemetery at Fried, under a large white tombstone erected for him in the center.
As I mentioned, the whole Suchla family moved to North Dakota, very close to my grandfather’s land. But later, John and Tom Suchla moved a few miles north to Courtney, North Dakota, and Frank Suchla moved to the Jamestown area. Andrew, the eldest, took his large family and moved to Gull Bay, Manitoba, Canada. Rosalya Suchla died the fall of 1906. She was 63. She got breast cancer which spread fast and, according to my Aunt Rose, she was very disfigured.
When my grandmother, Mary Suchla died, JA remarried another woman with both Prussian and Wisconsin heritage – Martha Karmowski Szarkowski. But part of his new marriage was to not have anything more to do with his first wife's family – so I grew up knowing virtually nothing about most of the Suchlas. Since writing this, I have made contact with a third cousin, Ellen Orlesky – the great granddaughter of Sam Suchla, as I am, but her grandfather was Andrew, the one who went to Canada.
She has provided me with many stories and pictures some of which I have already included in this book.
John and Mary Suchla continued to live in Courtney and were well regarded by their neighbors, according to Ellen. I found this clip in the paper. Courtenay - The farm home of John Suchla, just west of here, was burned down. The first started from an overheated stove. January 23, 1920. Ellen mentioned a fire at Tom's house, so we don't know which is true or if they both had house fires.
Andrew Suchla died in 1921. He was only 52, so that must have been quite a shock for his family. I think they had 11 kids in all. He went into the hospital to have his appendix removed and when he was ready to go home he caught a staph infection and died. John and Mary Suchla went to Canada for the funeral, as did Julia, the only time his family visited him there.
Sam Suchla, my great grandfather, died of a heart attack on January 24th, 1923. He was 88. He spent much of his later years in bed, with physical complaints.
Frank Suchla, was my mother's godfather, and the wife of John Filla, the son of Susanna Woychik Filla was her godmother. Frank at that time was a well driller, but in later life, he was well known for his short temper and drunken habits, and violence with those who did not pay up his fee for helping them with the harvest.
But there is also a rumor that he may have had something to do with the death of his wife, Julia, who was found burned (and perhaps shot) under a haystack. Nothing was proved against him, but many suspected him of foul play. He and his sister-in-law Mary Sobata moved back to Wisconsin, and after about eight years he married her. (pictured above)
Frank on 23 February, 1937, aged 69, died of chronic alcoholism. In Frank's will - since his daughter, Katie and wife, Mary both had already died, all of the land was left to his son, Frankie, as long as, “Frankie is willing to undertake to pay all of the indebtedness and obligations of Frank Suchla and to support and maintain him during sickness and health. To give him proper care and nursing and medical attendance during his life. And a proper burial according to the rights of his church, at his death. “
I would like to add the story about the murder of Tom Suchla, and a bit of gossip about his wife.
Jamestown Sun, Tuesday, August 26, 1924 (I think the murder was on August 13th)
SAW MURDER OF THOS. SUCHLA;
John Suchla Returns From Scene of Slaying His Brother - Witness Tells of Killing by Robbers
John Suchla, who went to Elgin to identify the remains of his brother, talked with the man who was with Mr. Suchla when he was murdered. Mr. Suchla had been working near Elgin and had finished shocking and returned to Elgin to spend a day or two before it was time for him to run the separator. With him was a young companion, also a harvester. The two had their blankets and made their bed in a boxcar, while three others made their in an adjoining car.
About three o’clock Saturday morning two men came to the car and asked Suchla and his companion if there was any hay in the car. When they received an affirmative answer, one of the strangers pulled the blankets off of Suchla, who then reached for his gun, but the robber pulled his gun first, the bullet striking Mr. Suchla in his left shoulder, going thru his heart and lodging in his left side. The young lad with him said the two men, who had also lined up with the three men in the other car, fled in a Maxwell car. After the shooting they did not rob their victims, evidentially being frightened. Descriptions of the men and given my Mr. Suchla’s young companion have been telegraphed to various parts of the state.
No further clues have been found to lead to the identity of the man who murdered Thomas Suchla of Jamestown in a boxcar in Elgin on Saturday. Mrs. Suchla, the widow, returned to the city Monday evening with the remains and funeral services will be held at the Catholic Church at Fried tomorrow at 10 o’clock. Mrs. Suchla went to Elgin on Saturday to identify the body being accompanied by a brother of the deceased, John Suchla, who returned to the city Sunday evening to make arrangements for the funeral.
The body will be at the family home at the corner of 4th Street and 2nd Avenue until tomorrow when it will be taken to Fried for the funeral and burial.
According to cousin Ellen Orlesky, Susan had split up with her husband because she felt it was responsible for the death of their two year old son, Joseph, after a fire in their house. Rumor has it that Susan Suchla made her money making bootleg whisky (and very good it was too, one man remembered) , so I copied out this little item from the paper. It doesn’t name her, of course, but you can’t help but wonder if it refers to her.
Jamestown authorities raided a local residence they discovered the source of a booze supply that has occasioned them some little trouble in the last few days.
Julia Suchla, the youngest and the only one of the Suchla family born in the US, got married to Albert Mish, another of Prussian-Wisconsin heritage in Jamestown.
They lived on the farm next door to JA and Mary Woychik for awhile, and later, when they couldn't have children, adopted Mary Stevens. Albert died when while working for an electric company in 1927, he was electrocuted, at the age of 47. Julia remarried some years late to Bill Bugby. She didn't die until 1969. Their adopted daughter married John Suchla, son of Andrew Suchla who lived in Canada.