Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Joseph Vidunas 1911-1945 part 1

Here we will start with the boring Genealogy part of the program for Joseph A. Vidunas
Birth -- 1 Oct 1911 Kingston, Luzerne, Pennsylvania
died -- 19 Feb 1945 Brachelen, Geilenkirchen, Rhineland, Germany
buried -- Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands

But, between that birth date and that death date lies his story.  Everybody's got one, and I want to share what and sometimes how I sniff out that story.

Joseph was the fourth child born out of six children born to Augustus and Mary Sadausky Vidunas.  He was also a first-generation American.  His father and mother and oldest brother Louis immigrated from Lithuania, probably from the village of Vilnius.  I don’t have any photo of Augustus, and I cannot find any immigration information for anybody in this family other than the 1920 census, which states that Father Augustus came in 1901 and Mother Mary and brother Louis came in 1905.  My dad remembers hearing that Augustus started in Pittsburgh for a few years, sent for his wife and son, then they moved to Kingston where the other children were born and raised.  I remember hearing a different story, but that will wait for another installment.  The father may have also had a name Stanislaus.

By the time he was born, the Boy Scouts of America is just beginning, Orville and Wilbur Wright take their only flight together (America's Best History, 2016).  Immigration is at an all-time high, and the Indianapolis 500 starts for the first time (Pearson, The People History, 2017).  The Wizard of Oz was shown for the first time in 1910.

1917 Death Certificate for Augustus Vidunas

Augustus died when Joseph was only 5 years old, on 30 May 1917.  They were living in Kingston, Luzerne County Pennsylvania.  He died of Lobar Pneumonia.  My educated guess is that the cellulitis on his knee was very infected, that he became septic and his organs failed including his lungs.  He was young, only 35 years old.  He had spent 19 days in Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton.  The family lived at 48 Pulaski Street in Kingston.

48 Pulaski Street, Kingston PA 
48 Pulaski Street, Kingston PA

48 Pulaski Street, Kingston PA

48 Pulaski Street, Kingston PA

By this time, the Federal Government allows the first income tax, Ford Motor Company starts the moving assembly line (America's Best History, 2016), WWI starts, the Suffragette movement starts advocating for Women’s vote (Pearson, The People History, 2017) and the German U-boat shoots down the British Lusitania (America's Best History, 2016)

1920 Census, 71 Penn Street, Kingston, Luzerne County, PA

About 1920, Joseph A. Vidunas First Communion
So, this is the first 9 years of his life.  According to the 1920 census, Joseph age 8 was still in school with his sisters, Stella age 10 and Anna age 2 6/12.  His older brothers Louis age 17 and John Joseph age 15 were working to support the family.  Neither of the older boys attended school.  Louis worked as a labourer in the coal mines while John was a messenger boy for the Telegraph.  Mother Mary was listed as not working, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t earn money.  She may have done laundry or sewing, which the census takers did not consider as a proper job.  Also, even if Joseph had a job delivering papers, he wouldn’t be considered to have a job, either.  We find out in this census that both Mary and Louis immigrated in 1905 but are still considered aliens.  This means that father Augustus never naturalized, because the wife and children were naturalized with the father.  But, did Augustus intend to become a citizen?  I cannot find any immigration information about him, other than the anecdote that he came to live in Pittsburg before moving to Kingston.  Mary and Louis could speak Lithuanian and everybody spoke English.

71 Penn Street, Kingston PA

71 Penn Street, Kingston PA (right side of duplex)

in 1922, Andrew Yorski married Mother Mary.  What made them consider getting married?  Andrew was about 34 years old but it was his first marriage.  What would make him consider taking on three boys and two girls?  Those boys took care of their mother for five years, did bringing Andrew in as the dominant male father figure cause increased tensions?  The one photo I have of them all together seems to show an harmonious family.  

Things I want to know:  What school did they go to?  How much schooling were they able to get?  What church did they go to?  What was everyday life like for them?  What kinds of food did they eat?  Did they have any kind of childhood, or did they have to go work in the coal mines at an early age as was typical in coal mining communitites.  

Oh, there is always something to research, isn't there.  The next post will be on his military career and his death and burial.  Below is the video from YouTube.  No new information, rather it is a discussion from the blog.


America's Best History. (2016). America's Best History. Retrieved from U.S. Timeline - The 1910s:
Pearson, S. (2017). The People History. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from 1910 to 1919 Important News, Significant Events, Key Technology:
Pearson, S. (2017). The People History. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from About The People History: