Tower Hill #1 Fayette County Pennsylvania

This page is dedicated to my father Paul Edward Trimbath, his father Charles Trimbath and all those whose lives revolved around the Patches of Fayette County.

Life in the Coal Patches of Fayette County Pennsylvania

What is a coal "patch"? Well briefly, patches were small towns built by coal companies near the coal mines. The houses were close to the mines so the men could walk to work. The coal company typical house was called a "double", it was home to two families. Each side consisted of four rooms, a front room, with a kitchen behind it, upstairs two bedrooms, there was a wall front to back dividing the house in half. There usually was a small front porch and a larger back porch. No indoor plumbing; the outhouse was out back. In 1914 a patch house usually rented for $4 per month. Each house had a small yard for a garden and often outdoor ovens for baking bread. Some families had a chicken coop and if they were lucky a cow or pig.

Families tried to be self-sufficient like they were in the "old country". Electricity did not come to the patches until the late 1920's, houses were lit with coal oil or kerosene lamps and few families could afford a telephone. The coal companies established company stores where the patch families could purchase goods they needed to live. The prices in these stores were very high but the miners had no way to travel to other stores to buy so they bought in the company stores. Some stores "carried" the miners bill and would subtract the amount owed to the store from the miner's earnings. Wages were low, 25¢ per hour, often the amout earned did not cover the debt owed, so it was carried to the next payday. Some familes were never able to get out of debt.

The miner's Check Number was his label for many things. It provided a record of his entry into the mine each day, his number was on a tag that was hung on each coal wagon he loaded, so he could be paid by the number of wagons he loaded each day. A visit to the company store required the miner's family to know his Check Number, so goods could be charged against his account.

The lives of the patch families were hard, but they had plenty of love. Families celebrated with joy weddings, births and baptisms. My Aunts recall that their mother said her wedding celebration lasted an entire week. Holidays such as Epiphany, Carnival and Lent, Thanksgiving and Christmas were all celebrated. These familes made their own way in this new land they had come to. To quote Regis M. Mahler, M.D. in his book "Patches of History": We were before television, penicillin, and antibiotics, before radar, fluorescent lights, credit cards and ballpoint pens. For us a chip meant a piece of wood because there were no computers, hardware meant hardware, software wasn't a word.

If you would like to read more about coal mine "patches" I suggest you locate a copy of "Patches of History" The 1920's & 1930's Heyday of Fayette County Coal and Coke in Pennsylvania, by Regis M. Mahler, M.D. printed by Stefano's Printing, Dunbar, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. This book gave me my first true insight into the lives of my father's family.

coal lamp

My father Paul Edward Trimbth

My research into the beginings of my father's family led me back to Fayette County, Pennsylvania in 1917. On May 17th of this year my Grandfather Charles Trimbath and Grandmother Mary Margaret Buksar were wed at Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church in Republic. During the next 11 years 5 children were born to them, three boys, two girls; George, Joseph, Anna, Paul and Margo. My father Paul was their youngest son. Charlie and Mary first met when her older brothers brought Charlie home from the mines to met their sister. They fell in love and were married.

My trip to Fayette County was a wonderful journey back into the lives of these familes. I was able to see the house where my father and all his siblings were born. I visited the church were my grandparents married, and their children were baptized. I saw the Catholic school my father and his siblings attended and visited the graves of my grandparents and great-grandparents.

Charles and Mary Trimbath in 1971

Charlie Trimbath had come to America just a few years before they met. The stories handed down by the family tell of a sorrowful tale. Charlie's (Karol) father Frank and mother Anna had been in the United States when he was a small boy. His father worked in the mines, one day he was gambling in a bar and was killed during a fight. His widow Anna decided to leave America and return to the "old country" and her family. In Europe rumors of war were spreading and Anna feared that young Charlie would be conscripted into military service. She made arrangements for Charlie to stay by himself at a boarding house they had once lived in, possibly near Keisterville, then she returned to Europe alone. With no family or friends Charlie barely out of childhood went to work in the mines and began to make a new life for himself.

Mary Margaret Buksar must have seemed to be a ray of sunshine in his life. Her family had moved into the Republic area sometime between 1905 and 1910 coming from another coal mining patch, near Connellsville. She was born in Coalbrook, Connellsville in 1896 the 5th child and 2nd girl born to John Steven Buksar and Susanna Hruby.

Mary Margaret Buksar as a young woman

Buksar/Hruby Families

The Fayette County Courthouse in Uniontown was high on my list of places to visit during my trip. There I was able to locate the emigration records of my great grandmother Susanna Hruby Buksar's two brother's John and Martin. Lucky for me they both were naturalized so citizenship records exisit for both of them. It appears that John Hurby was the first to come to America, arriving in 1880. I believe he was the trail blazer for this family, coming first, then writing the others telling them of the opportunities available. From the 1920 census records I found that Susanna Hruby Buksar's husband John Steven arrived in 1882, she arrived in 1889 eight years later, with their first born child John Buksar who was born in 1883.

I also visited the two churches in Connellsville that John and Susanna attended, Immaculate Conception and St. John's Evangelist. The parish secretaries agreed to search their records for the name Buksar and promised to mail their findings to me.

Update: Eureka!, I received a copy of the baptism certificate for John and Susanna's youngest child. On the certificate was listed the birth villages for both John and Susanna, Leskovjan Szepes, Hungary and Markusfalu, Szepes, Hungary. What a find!. I have begun a new web page devoted to these villages for more information please visit: Markusovce, Spis, Slovakia

Susanna Hruby Buksar is seated on the left, on the right is her daughter Katie and the baby is Andy Foltaine her grandson

Trimbath Family

Charles Trimbath in his garden

In my search for the roots of my Grandfather Charles Trimabath I've located many records but nothing to date has helped me identify exactly where he came from or much information about his parents. I've put together a time line of events in his life along with data that I've located. If you recognize any of the names listed below I'd love to hear from you.

1900-1917 Charles Trimbath possibly lived in Fayette County during this time. According to family stories, he came to America with his mother and father. His father was killed following a poker game in a bar in Republic, Fayette, PA (he used to point out the building where the bar was to his children). He also said that his father was buried in a nearby town (possibly New Salem) but I've never been able to locate a grave or a record of his death.

His mother did not want to stay in America but was afraid if she took him back to the “old country” he would be conscripted into the military. I found an article dated July 28, 1914 in which the Austro-Hungarian Consul Louis Vaczek stated that every Austrian and Hungarian in Fayette County is notified to be prepared for any crisis in the pending war between their country and the Servian government. She made arrangements for him to stay in a boarding house and she went back home. My Aunt said he told her the boarding house was dirty and the lady had lots of children.

The family had always been told that Charlie Trimbath was not Grandpas real name, he said when he went to work in the mines that's what they called him. I was took this story with a grain of salt until last year. That's when I received an email from a man named Robert Trimbath; his family is from Fayette County. This is what he told me “my father who has past now, told me of Charles, he said that he thought he was polish but couldn't remember. Anyway the story I was told was that my great-grandfather worked at the mine with Charles and kind of took him in since he had no family here, he had a name which I do not know, but dad said it was very hard to pronounce, the paymaster at the mine just started calling him Trimbath and it stuck. I guess this seemed logical since they were always together”.

This is the first time I've had someone outside of the family collaborate a family story so I have given this much more weight in my research. Not that it helps much if I don't know Grandpa's real name.

Another fact about Grandpa is that even though he married in the Roman Catholic Church he still walked to a nearby town (possibly New Salem) to attend the “other” Catholic Church, possibly Orthodox, my Aunt remember walking in the snow to Christmas mass in January. The other fact I have is that he was never naturalized and never voted.

1917 or before letter from my Aunt say he was Karlos Terembitz and lived in Keisterville, PA 15449, she also thought that there were “relatives”? Named Patton that lived in Hastings, PA

1917 April 25 Marriage License, name Charles Trembath, born Austria, age 21, father Frank Trembath, deceased, mother Annie Trembath (maiden name Medleck) living in Austria.

1917 April 26 Notice in the Uniontown Daily News Standard marriage license issued for Charles Trimbath of Thompson #2 Fayette, PA and Mary Margaret Buksar.

1917 May 15 Charles Trembath and Mary Margaret Buksar at Holy Rosary Church, Republic, Fayette, PA

1917 June 5 Draft Registration WWI, name Charley Trembath, age 21, living on Gil Road, Republic, Fayette, PA listed as an Alien, states he was born December 30, 1895 in Zara, Sigar, Austria and he is a citizen of Austria Hungary.

1920 Census, Fayette County, PA, name Charlie Trembetz or Trembatz born Beretski, Austria, emigrated (hard to read might be 1909 or 1901)

1930 Census, Fayette County, PA, name Charles Trimbath, born Czechoslovakia

1936 December 5 Social Security Application, name Charles Trimbath, age 40, born December 31, 1896 in Haston, Cambria, PA, father Frank Trimbath, mother Anna Vaingar (this is different than the name on his marriage license which was Medleck)

1942 April 27 WWII Draft Registration, name Charles Trimbath, age 45, living at Tower Hill #1, Redstone Twp, Fayette, PA, states he was born 31 Dec, 1896 in Cambria, PA

1956 March 1 Applied for United Mine Workers Pension, name Charles Trimbath, born December 31, 1896, father Frank Trimbath born Austria, and mother Anna Medleck born Austria. Since early mine records were scarce he obtained affidavits from people who worked with him in the mines, the earliest record came from James Cover who stated he first became acquainted with Charles Trimbath on or about May 1915. James Cover was born 6 Dec 1896 so he would have been about the same age as Charles; James' father was Thomas Cover who was listed as a mine foreman in the 1920 census.

1987 January 15 Death Certificate, name Charles Trimbath, born 12-31-1895 in Hastings, PA

2007 November Grandson of Charles Trimbath has DNA tested with Family Tree DNA, we were surprised when we found out Charles DNA matched with 5 participants. Below is information on the matches and where their family came from.

William Kisseloff - Bill is the closest match to Charles, in 25 DNA markers they matches exactly and in 37 DNA markers they have a genetic distance of 2.

Bill's paternal ancestors emigrated from Kars, Russia (now Turkey) to Los Angeles in 1911. They had been exiled by the Czar to the Southern Caucasian Mountains (near Mt. Ararat) for rejecting the Russian Orthodox Faith and joining a Christian sect referred to as “Molokans” He had a Moscow historian trace paternal line back to a Maxim Kisilev or Kiselev who was born around late 1700's, no birthplace, but a relative claims the line originated in Moscow.

Statement from Bill: Our common ancestor probably originated somewhere in the Balkan region and then his descendents must have migrated throughout Europe (Austria, Hungry, Poland, Germany, Russia, etc.). 

Paul Gamaldi –Paul matched Charles at a genetic distance of 1 in 25 DNA markers.

Grandparents came from Italy to America in the early 1900's. He says his DNA does not match with very many Italians; most matches are from Poland and Ukraine.

Michel Kryvenko - Michel matched Charles at a genetic distance of 2 in 25 DNA markers.

His grandfather was living in a house located near a lake at Vinnitsa, Ukraine, when the Russian revolution took place; his father was horrified by what he had seen and ran away to Poland then to France. Surname Êðèâåíêî may be written Kryvenko or Krivenko.

Ron Paler - Ron also matched Charles at a genetic distance of 2 in 25 DNA markers.

His grandfather immigrated to Canada and then to the US in the early 1900-1920. He was born in the Ukraine in a small village named Borstiew(sp?). This section was constantly in flux with Poland; grandfather had striking red hair and pale complexion. The family name was originally Pulak or Polak.

Keith Weissinger –Keith matched Charles at a genetic distance of 4 in 37 DNA markers.

According to Keith his oldest know ancestor lived in Germany before 1600

As I gather more infomation about Charles I will update this timeline.

Copyright © 1997 by Lisa Baker - All rights reserved.

Back to Baker Roots