My name is Jami Russell. My mother, Paulette Russell (maiden name Pavlick) grew up in Streator.
My grandmother, Pauline Pavlick was a Vojtko before she married John Michael (also known as Michael John) Pavlick.
I'm trying to do my mother's maternal family tree as the Pavlick one has been done by another family member. I've got two huge roadblocks though.
1: The people who'd remember majority of the information I need are dead.
2: When my grandma was dying, my uncle, John Pavlick, went into her house and took everything he could lay his hands on. If he hasn't destroyed any papers or photos, I sincerely doubt with the bad blood between the rest of the family and him due to his death bed thievery he'd allow me any access, even if all he did was photo copy the information.
I'm waiting for the spring thaw so another uncle who still lives in Streator, Michael Pavlick, can go to both the old St. Stephen's cemetary and the new St. Stephen's to get the dates I need. (I already tried Find A Grave and orbituary search engines.)
Here's what little I do know. My great-grandfather was named Andrew Vojtko. He was married first to Maria Vojtko, my grandma Pauline's mother. Maria died when my grandma was four years old from kidney failure. She had several other children besides Pauline, but I'm unsure as to their names. I think, however, that some of the names were Andrew, Stephen, and Ann(e). There was one other girl after my grandma who was two when Maria died.
Great-grandma Maria Vojtko's maiden name was possibly Husar or Huasar, or something akin to that that begins with the letter H.
Andrew Vojtko's mother was also named Maria Vojtko and apparently died when ran over by a wagon (or buggy). Both she and my great-grandma are buried side by side in the OLD St. Stephen's.
Great-grandpa remarried to a widow with children of her own. Her first name was Helen. She was an evil, abusive woman who starved and beat the Vojtko children badly. While treating her own kids like royalty. She and Andrew did not have any children of their own. Probably a blessing. They are buried together in the new St. Stephen's cemetary.
Grandma was born in either 1910 or 1911. So great-grandma would've died around 1914/1915.
I know this much about both the Pavlick and Vojtko sides - both sides originated in Russia. They left to escape persecution and changed their names several times. Sometimes just one or two letters, sometimes the entire name. (The name Pavlik - the C was added at Ellis Island - could only be traced as far back as Austria. We have confirmation however that they were originally Russian Jews who changed their name and coverted to Catholic in an effort to stop getting beaten up and killed by bigots.) Both sides settled briefly in Austria, then lived in Slovania long enough to be considered Slovalk. Then both sides came to America via Ellis Island. Grandma and grandpa Pavlick were born in America, grandpa in Ohio, grandma, I believe, in Illinois.
Great-grandpa Vojtko worked for the railroad in Streator. I'm not sure as what but I do know he often didn't get home until way after one in the morning.
I'm hoping with this I might come across some remaining Vojtkos who might have information to help me. Or someone who has to go to either St. Stephen's anyway despite the snow who could spare five minutes to look up at least Andrew Vojtko's grave. (I don't expect anyone to make a special trip. Not with the snow. And I doubt anyone will be going to the old St. Stephen's anytime soon.) But if not, that's okay. I can wait until uncle Mike can get up there.
I've gotten what little I know in my family tree. I'm having a hard time proving my great-grandma even existed. So little is known about her other then she had bad kidneys - as do most of the women in our family - and that Maria had "long, black hair." I don't even know if she married great-grandpa before or after leaving Europe. So I don't know what name to look for her under the Ellis Island records. Plus the name Vojtko was changed at least as many times as the name Pavlick. So what it was before they even came to America I can't be sure.
Any help to put me on the right track would be greatly appreciated. I am a complete beginner here and honestly don't know what I'm doing. I'm in California and can't afford to travel. All I've got is my uncle Michael to rely upon plus some census records a woman was kind enough to find for me, though I can't make sense out of them. My hopes is to trace them as far back into the European line as possible, and see if the same holds true of the Vojtko line as the Pavlick. (It's really important to me to know this. I can't explain why because I'm not sure myself. Just that I long for the sense of heritage on my maternal side that I have on my paternal side - the Russell family tree has been done too so I'm not even going to bother filling it out here farther then my paternal grandparents.) I'm currently awaiting the results from the National Geographic Genographic Project - though of course that cannot give me any names, just a location where my maternal line started.
I don't know if any of grandma's siblings had children or not. I know one sister died childless. Hopefully though I have one or two Vojtko cousins alive, well, and currently on this site.
I anxiously await a reply.