Monday, January 17, 2011

Tuesday's Tall Tales! - On the run from the Czar

Tabor, Czechoslovakia at the end of the 19th century
My maiden name is Tabor.  From what I've encountered, this is said to be a Czech surname, but my Tabor ancestors aren't from the former Czechoslovakia, so why were they called "Tabor"?  Time for some tall tales, courtesy of my dad......

My great-grandpa, Adam Tabor, and his brother were on the run from the Russian Czar.  They were caught cutting down and selling trees that were the czar's so they fled to the United States.  They didn't take the direct route.  Apparently, they feared the czar's men would be able to catch them more easily if they took a direct route, so instead they traipsed around Europe for a bit and found themselves in a town named Tabor in what used to be Czechoslovakia ("B" on the map).

Now why did they pick this city's name for their own.  Well, I'm told that it was a rough, bad-ass town and they fancied the comparison with themselves, so Tabors they became.  My dad says that they eventually went through Germany and then on to England before heading over to the US and eventually settling down in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Quite the journey.

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What are the nuggets of truth in this rather tall sounding tale?  It's hard to tell.  My great aunt, Lillian Ruminski nee Tabor, is the only surviving child of the above-mentioned Adam and his wife Jadwiga.  I've only had the privilege of sitting down with my Aunt Lillian once in the past 10 years.  My father was there and let's just say that he polluted the pool more than a little.  I asked him before driving to visit to please not answer questions for her.  The answers needed to be from her and unprompted or his tales and memories could influence her answers.  Sadly, my father rarely does anything he's asked, but I gotta love him.  Unfortunately, his need to interfere could mean that I'll never know the truth.  What Aunt Lillian did manage to tell me, was that her father didn't like to talk about his past.
Adam and Jadwiga are the couple on the left.

So now what I actually know about my great-grandfather...

Adam was born between 1874 and 1885 in Russia (this later became Lithuania in later censuses as borders changed, which is helpful at narrowing down his region since Russia is rather large!).  He arrived in America between 1884 and 1890 and became a citizen in 1896.  He married Jadwiga Paszkawicz on April 2, 1902.  They had four children, Aldona, Clarence (my grandpa), Adam Jr, and Lillian.  He passes away in 1958.  He ran a shop in Scranton and joined the Polish National Catholic Church because (according to Aunt Lillian) the majority of the people that patronized his store belonged to that church.

I've never been able to find that "brother" of his.  The only thing I have is a picture of Adam and Jadwiga with another couple and children.  I've been told that the other gentleman is his brother, but no name is given and really just hearsay. I haven't been able to find his passenger record or naturalization papers, but I'm working on it.

Should we disregard these tall tales that our colorful family members pass on?  No.  They could hold that little piece of truth that can break through a brick wall or two.  If nothing else they're entertaining when taken with a tablespoon of salt!