Dzedo Gliganic' was a coal miner, working (we suppose) for the Berwind-White Coal Co., since this company pretty much "owned" Windber at the time; Maria, according to family tradition, "worked for the priest in Windber", but she is not mentioned anywhere in the church records available today; just one more little mystery to unravel.
Now Dzedo Gliganic' had a real problem: besides being saddened by the death of his young wife, he had a four-year-old, a three-year-old, and a newborn baby on his hands; if he stayed home to look after them, he could not earn money for food, and if he went back to work, who would look after the kids? And if he paid someone to look after the children, there would be nothing left to buy food with.
Enter the "stara baba network" (for want of a better name). Actually, we don't know that the ladies were all elderly; just that the word was quickly spread far and wide that there was this unfortunate young man, "... such a good man, and so handsome, and a hard worker besides..." who was in urgent need of a wife.
It quickly reached the ears of a young widow, Anna Torma, who had two children of her own. But they were back in the "old country", where she had sent them to be raised by her family when her husband died in 1908, reasoning that she could provide for them better by staying in America, working full time and sending money home, than if she just returned home herself also and added another person to an already overburdened household.
Now the children had been trapped by the war, those cursed Magyars were making the Slovaks fight for the Kaiser, and who knew whether she would ever see her children again?
So when her friends came telling her about this unhappy young man, she told them to go away, she had enough troubles already without adding a man and three kids to the mix. But her friends persisted, and apparently set up a "chance" meeting; after only a few days, and less than five weeks after Michal Gliganic' was left a widower, he and Anna Torma were married.
He left the mines and went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad, so the new family moved to Wall, PA, next to the huge Pitcairn rail yard where he worked. Their son George was born there in 1918.
Barely two years after they married, Michal caught a bad cold; he would not stay home, though, because if you didn't work, you didn't get paid, and worse, if you didn't show up, the railroad would just give your job to someone else.
The cold got worse, turned to pneumonia, and a few days later he died. Baba Gliganic' was left with four children at home, two more from which she had been separated for over ten years, and no means of support; yet she managed to raise them all, and never remarried.
Years later, when her step-daughter-in-law (Michael's wife) asked her how she could bring herself to marry a man she had just met, and knew nothing about, she said "Oh, but my friends did know him, and they told me about him, and told me he was a good man, and kind... " and then, Aunt Ann told us, she got a faraway look in her eyes, and said "They said he was handsome, too; and he was -- as soon as I saw him, I knew he was the right one for me".
So -- even if there were no formal "matchmakers" back then, there was certainly an informal "network" of sorts, that obviously got eligible "potential couples" in touch with each other.
You can reach Roger Lewis via the email link below.
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