by Mary Ann NOVAK, granddaughter of Stephen NOVAK and Johanna KASCSAK


In the genealogical records at Spisska Kapitula, The Slovak Republic, and from the notes left by his sister, Anna, and compiled by her great granddaughter, Patti Malcolm, there is a record of the birth on March 15, 1858, of Stephen NOVAK in Dubrava, Austria Hungary.  His parents are listed as Jan NOVAK and Anna SZIVAK [the z may have been added by the Hungarians].  The third of four children, Stephen was born on his father Jan’s birthday, March 15th, 31 years after Jan arrived in 1827 in Zehra, Austria Hungary.  The records show that Jan’s parents were Jozef NOVAK and Anna FRANKO. Stephen’s mother Anna SZIVAK was born in 1824, but we have no other date or information on her roots.


Jan must have traveled to Dubrava to marry Anna SZIVAK in 1853, for their first child, Anna, was born in Dubrava on July 10, 1854 [died KISSELL, 1945, in Latrobe, PA].  Two years later, Maria was born on March 18, 1857.  Then there is only a one-year gap, almost to the day, until Stephen was born on March 15, 1858, followed three years later by Michael on March 9, 1861, again the pattern of delivery in early March.  According to the notes of Anna NOVAK KISSELL, their father Jan died October 30, 1862, when Stephen was only four years old, and their mother died nine years later in 1871 (March 30th).  Anna was sent to live with some woman, apparently not a relative, and their home and property was taken by the State when their parents died.  She did not say what happened to 13-year-old Stephen or 14-year-old Maria and 10 year old Michael.  They must have been shipped out to homes also.  She somehow kept track of Stephen and later knew he was in Johnstown.  She came over with her husband and three children between the birth of her third child in 1885 in Spisska Nova Ves, and the birth of her fourth child in 1888 in Washington, PA.


In Book M-1395, page 45, genealogical records in Statny Oblastny Archiv v. Presov, east of Dubrava and Zehra, in Slovakia, “Istvan [Stephen] NOVAK, carpenter of Dubrava, now of Velky Saris, 27 years old” is listed as marrying Anna OCSIPA, widow of Andreas FURST, age 31, on August 11, 1885.  Anna OCIPA, daughter of Andreas and Julianna [nee KROHMALY] OCIPA, is twice widowed, first at age 19/20 by Istvan DEBRECZENCZI, a soldier who died of cholera on July 4, 1873, and then by Andreas FURST.  Anna’s two married names and her maiden name caused much confusion in researching the records in both Presov and Johnstown, PA, as she was alternately recorded under all three names.


In Book 1394, page 885, Istvan NOVAK and Anna OCIPA of 88, Velky Saros, have a son Istvan on May 8, 1886.  No records of the baby’s death were found, nor were any further records of Stephen and Anna found in the searched Presov records.  No records of Anna’s birth were found either, but birth records of four sisters and one brother were found between 1858 and 1869.  (Joannes OCIPA, the son, died on December 27, 1870, seven years of age.)  Sometime between the second half of 1886 and the end of 1891, Stephen and Anna immigrated to America.  This overlaps or follows the period when Stephen’s sister Anna and her husband Stephen KISSELL emigrated to Latrobe, PA, for their fourth child’s birth in 1888.


In 1891, Stephen and Anna [PCSIPANNA!] appear in the records of the Church of the Immaculate Conception (the German Church, formerly called Old St. Mary’s) on Broad Street in Johnstown, Pa., with the birth of a daughter, Eva, on December 6th.  Eva was later called Emma.  The Slovak Church, St. Stephen’s, on Fourth Avenue in Cambria City opened in 1892.  Church records show that Stephen and Anna OCSIPA had a son Mattaeus on September 21, 1893.  A son, Andrew, is born to Stephen and Anna FRYRST (handwriting was difficult to read exact spelling) on December 5, 1895.  Stephen became a U.S. citizen on September 7, 1896.  Stephen and Anna OCIPA had a son, Adam, later called Emil, on November 22, 1897.  We do not know when Eva’s and Adam’s names were changed to Emma and Emil Stephen, nor do we know what happened to Mattaeus or Istvan, as no death records were found in the Church books either.  Then, “Anna OCIPA from Saros died May 9, 1901, age 44.”


Six months and one day later, on November 10, 1901, in Passaic, New Jersey, Stephen NOVAK married Johanna KASCSAKOVA, daughter of Janos KASCSAK, worker, and Anna [nee DARO] of 322, Velky Saros.  Johanna was born in Velky Saros on October 19, 1884 [BookM-1394, page 823, Presov].  Legend has two contradictory stories.  The first one, that Johanna’s two sisters in Johnstown, Mary RODAK and Anna STANKO, knew Stephen from Velky Saris and arranged for Johanna to marry him, either arranging for her trip, or she was already coming over, as she was badly treated by her stepmother, Mary.  Johanna supposedly left a stepsister, Barbara, and a brother, John, who later became a priest in Velky Saris.  The second legend is that Stephen wrote back to the parish priest for a new wife.


In any case, six months after Anna’s death, Stephen had a mother for his three children, Emma, Andrew and Emil [died February 20, 1984].  Joanna had just turned 17 for her wedding.  The couple returned to Johnstown to live.


One year later, on November 21, 1902, John Michael NOVAK was born in Johnstown.  On April 27, 1904, Stephen signed a note for the purchase of a lot with buildings on Virginia Avenue for $775.00.  On November 10, 1906, Mary was born.  Charles was born on January 16, 1909, and Michael Francis John NOVAK was born on September 26, 1910.  On February 26, 1911, Stephen NOVAK died of pneumonia in Johnstown [buried at St. Stephen’s Cemetery, Johnstown], leaving Joanna pregnant (she miscarried a girl) and a widow at 26 with seven children.  She took in laundry to stay at home and care for the children.  She also took in a boarder for many years.  The loan appears to be paid off on July 16, 1915.


Joanna died on December 27, 1959, in Youngstown, Ohio, much loved by all her children and grandchildren.  She is buried next to her stepson Emil in Grandview Cemetery.