Individual Research History for:

Andrew John Nagy (1894 - 1983)


The picture above shows Andrew and his family (approximately 1943).  Top row:  Mary, Ann, Frances, Eleanor, Caroline.  Bottom row: Mary Kosta Nagy, Edward, Andrew Jr., Andrew, Edna.

Genetic parents:
  Father:  Nagy, Andrew John - 1690 (1861 - 1946)
  Mother:  Gergely, Anna Veronica - 1958 (1866 - 1951)
Genetic children:
   Daughter  Nagy, Anna Mary - 1345 (1919 - 2009)
Daughter Nagy, Caroline Elizabeth - 1346 (1920 - )
Daughter Nagy, Mary Anna - 1347 (1922 - 2005)
Daughter Nagy, Sophie Eleanor - 1348 (1926 - )
Daughter Nagy, Frances Edna - 1349 (1931 - )
Son Nagy, Edward Andrew - 1350 (1936 - )
Daughter Nagy, Edna Audrey - 1351 (1936 - )
Son Nagy, Andrew John - 1352 (1941 - )
Other relations:
   Brother  Nagy, Andrew - 2060 (1885 - 1885)
   Brother  Nagy, John Andrew - 1338 (1886 - 1972)
   Brother  Nagy, Andrew - 2059 (1889 - 1889)
   Brother  Nagy, Frank - 1692 (1904 - 1974)
   Sister  Nagy, Elizabeth - 1691 (1907 - 1923)
   Spouse  Kostka, Mary - 1344 (1898 - 1975)
Basic data:
  Birthday  May 29, 1894
  Birth location  Karos, Slovakia
  Death date  August 7, 1983
  Death location  Barberton, OH
Contact information:
  US Mail  
History and Miscellaneous:
   Married July 24, 1917, St. Stephen, Johnstown, Cambria Co, PA.

The picture below shows the Andrew Nagy family.



"Dad enjoyed reliving these events in his life in conversations we had while he lived with Ann, and I would visit him during the times she had to be away from home."

Written by: Eleanor (Nagy) Stetz -- daughter #4

Typed by: Frances (Nagy) Kosuth - daughter #5

September 1991

My father, Andrew John Nagy, was born on May 28, 1894 in the village of Zdana in the country of Austria-Hungary, now known as Slovakia.  The family consisted of his parents, Andy and Anna (Gergel) Nagy, an older brother, John, a younger brother, Frank and youngest sister, Elizabeth.

From the time Dad was six years old until he was twelve, he attended a Hungarian school.  Young Andy spent his youth caring for geese, taking cows to pasture, and looking after chickens and pigs.

Dad remembered much about his maternal grandfather.  He had total of four wives.  One of Dad's favorite stories about his grandfather is that he had only one tooth left in his mouth for many years.  One day as he was chewing meat off a bone, the tooth fell out.  Dad's grampa held the tooth in his fingers and said "Buddy, you're not going to leave me!"  He pushed it back into the same hole it came from and kept it until he died.  Dad affectionately remembered him as a big man, tall, with lots of curly gray hair.

Dad also remembered that his grandfather, at the age of 65, was planning to marry for the fourth time.  Dad helped him bring large porous stone from the mine in order to build a new house for his new wife.  This is what all the houses were made of and they lasted many years, maybe even until now.  The roofs were made of straw.  Between the ceiling and the roof were about two feet of clay so that if the roof burned the house and its contents did not.  The walls of these houses were 18 inches thick.  They had double windows.  Dad said it stayed cool inside even in very hot weather.  The wood burning stove for cooking was the only source of heat in the winter.  Although the kitchen was a separate room, one large room made up the rest of the living area.  The "bathroom facility" was the manure pile out back.  Straw served as the only toilet tissue.  Plumbing was a creek about 50 feet from the house.  Laundry was done there, both summer and winter.  Large tubs were used for indoor bathing.  Well water was used for drinking.  Oil lamps and candles provided light.

Dad's village had a population of approximately 200 people.  Young Andy's father served 3 years in Francis Joseph's army.  Soon after his army duty was completed he came to the USA and worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Johnstown, PA, to earn money for his family in Europe.  He would work for three years, then return to Europe for one year, come back to Pennsylvania for three years, etc., until he finally remained in Europe and he and his wife worked their farm until their deaths.  They each died at 85 years of age.

In 1905, the oldest brother, John, journeyed to America to join his father in working for the Pennsylvania Railroad.  Later John took a job at Bethlehem Steel in Johnstown, PA and settled there.  Naturally, young Andy was most anxious to come to America also.  He tried to secure a pass from the notary in the village but was told that he was too young and must wait until he was 16 years of age.  When he reached 16, he was told that he was too old to qualify for a pass.

There was a man in Dad's village, Andy Veres, who was in the military service.  He was a young man, about 22 years of age, and he was Mrs. Kopco's brother's son.  When he came home on furlough, he approached Dad's father to ask if he would permit Andy to go along with him to America.  He was planning to run away from the military service and escape to America.  So plans were made for both of them to leave.  Young Andy's mother sewed a sausage into a heavy coat lining, along with $40.  Dad was 16 years old and it was October, 1910.

They left by train from their village to Kosice.  From there they walked to Saris.  Along the way, they were offered a ride by a man driving a horse and buggy.  This man was on his way to pick up a priest in the same town that was their destination.

Upon arrival, they went in to an inn where they were to receive instructions on where to meet a guide.  They were told to meet him under a certain bridge at 8:00 in the evening.  After waiting many hours for the guide who never came, they went back to the inn.  They were given lodging in the inn in a hayloft over night, and were told not to appear until the innkeeper called them.  The next night the guide did arrive along with a team of horses and a wagon.  So they journeyed with him, taking out of the way paths to Poland, where at last they felt safe.  There, they were turned over to another guide who took them in another horse and wagon, all the way to Hamburg, Germany, traveling mostly at night.  In Hamburg, their guide took the two travelers to a steamship agent, who arranged the trip to America.  

However, it would be a full week before their ship would leave.  While in Germany, they were free to come and go during the daytime, until finally departure day arrived.  Dad said he never forgot the name of the ship, "AMERICA"!

Once aboard ship, the first day out was fine, after that, he became very seasick.  He gave what was left of the sausages to a man on board who spoke Dad's language and who wasn't seasick.  After about three days, he began to feel better and the man who got his sausage brought him food from the ship.  The trip took seven days with good weather.

Upon landing at Ellis Island, New York, each passenger had to go to separate stalls, depending on what state was his destination.  Dad's companion was destined for Maine, Dad was heading for Pennsylvania, so they were separated and never saw each other again.

At the time Dad arrived in this country he could speak several Slavic languages: Slovak, Polish, Croatian, as well as Hungarian, as he had attended Hungarian schools.  His family name was originally Velky, but the Hungarians changed it to Nagy.  Both names mean big or large.

From Ellis Island, the passengers were taken by Ferry to New York City and the railroad station, probably this was Grand Central Station.  Dad remembers getting on a train at 8:00 in the evening.  The conductor kept an eye on him and did not let him leave the train until it arrived at the Johnstown, PA station.  This was about 10:00 in the morning.

When he left the train, he looked around and didn't know what to do.  Then a man with a horse-drawn coach appeared and he asked Dad where he was going.  This man was Jewish but spoke many languages and discovered that Dad understood Slovak.  So Dad showed him the address of this brother's house, and he took Dad along with six other men to their destinations.  He left the other men in Cambria City but told Dad to stay with him.  They drove on to Brownstown and Virginia Ave., where a lady who had been drawing water from an outdoor faucet saw the driver and his passenger.  She became very excited and clapped her hands and shouted in Slovak, "Lizzie, Lizzie, here's your husband's brother!"  The was Uncle John's landlady.  So Aunt Elizabeth came and welcomed him.  She told Dad that his brother, John, would be coming home for lunch soon.  So Dad watched all the men coming up the hill from work, and he was able to pick out his brother from the other men.  So the two brothers who hadn't seen each other for over five years had a most joyful reunion.  Dad told this story numerous time, always with tears in his eyes.

At first it was difficult to find a job because Dad was too young.  He said he was a year older, 17 instead of 16, and he was hired at Bethlehem Steel in Johnstown, to load railroad rails on a gondola care, two men to each rail.  Dad said he lasted half a day in this job and he went home and told his sister-in-law that he was going back to Europe.  Instead, he got a job in the machine shop at Bethlehem Steel Corp., by changing his name.  Now he was a stock man.  Because he learned English easily, could speak other languages, and could read numbers well, his foreman took a liking to him and put him in charge of six other men who were bringing stock into the shop.  Ed Flanagan was his Irish foreman, "a good man, went to 5:00 AM mass every morning."  This is where Dad learned to operate a crane.  He worked 14 hours a night for 1 week, then 10 hours, 7 days a week at 12.5 cents and hour, starting salary.

In 1919, during a four months' long steel strike in Johnstown, Andy came to Ohio to seek employment.  He first went to Cleveland because he had relatives there, but the steel mills there were also all on strike and a friend advised him to go to Akron to the rubber shops.  On the streetcar from Public Square in Cleveland, Andy traveled with a man from Barberton who told him there were many jobs there for him.  He got off the streetcar at 17th St. and Wooster Rd.  Mom's brother, Frank Kostka, was working as a bricklayer at Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. at the the time.  Dad said he went to three different factories and could have had a job at any one of them.  He chose the Babcock & Wilcox Co. and worked one hour as a crane operator.  It seems that a worker was killed that very day in another work area because of unsafe working conditions resulting in a too heavy crane load falling on him.  Dad thought his crane was also unsafe and complained to his foreman, but was told to do his job as ordered.  Dad left the job.  From there, he went to Pittsburgh Plate Glass and was hired into the electric shop.  The foreman promised him a job as a crane operator on a bridge crane which was to be built the following year.  There he remained for 43 years, retiring in 1963.  I remember he walked to work and back every one of those years.

Mother was born in Spisske, Hanuscovce, in Austria-Hungary on August 22, 1898.  Her parents were Adelbert and Caroline Kostka.

Young Mary came to the US in 1912, to Orange, New Jersey, where her older sister, Anna was already living.  There she took housekeeping jobs at the tender age of 14.  It always saddened me when she would tell the story of her home-sickness for her family in Europe.  When she had been in this country a very short time, she was in the basement washing clothes at her place of employment, when all of a sudden she felt she could stand it not a minute longer.  She dried her hands, came running up the stairs, and sought out her employer.  In tears, she explained to the woman that she couldn't stay in America any longer, she was returning home immediately.  Knowing this would pass, the woman said "Okay, Mary, we can't do anything about it today but we will make arrangements on the weekend."  Contented, Mom finished her work and in a few days the terrible longing for home lessened and she realized she was better off where she was.

When young Mary visited her older brother, Frank, who was then living in Johnstown, PA., he persuaded her to stay there in Johnstown.  After about a month had passed, Frank took mother, then Mary Kostka, to a dance in Cambria City, a part of Johnstown, at the band hall, and introduced her to some of his friends.  Andy danced the first dance with her, asked her for a date, and that's how it all began.  Mary was 16 years old.  They went together for 3 years and then were married in St. Stephen's Church in Johnstown on July 24, 1917.  They went to church in a horse and buggy and had a reception that lasted three days.  Mom always told the story about her brother, Frank, getting so drunk at the celebration that he fell into a huge tube of sauerkraut!

Dad liked repeating the pre-marriage advice given to them by the priest, Fr. Martvon, "Don't let any old lady come between you, because where the devil can't go, he sends an old lady."  And with that sage counseling, their marriage lasted until Mom died in 1975.  

Prior to the wedding, young Mary did housework for several different families, finally working for a doctor and his family in Westmont on Tioga St.  This was then the very nicest residential area in Johnstown, situated on a hill overlooking the city.  Her salary was $4.00 per week plus room and board.  Dad liked telling the story about the Saturday evening he stayed too late with Mom and consequently missed the last cable car going down the incline into Johnstown from Westmont.  The last car left at 2:00 AM.  Therefore he had to go down the steps that were built between the rails of the cable track, 500 of them, then he walked another 20 minutes to where he was boarding.  He had to be at work at 6:00 AM Sunday morning and he made it on time!

As newlyweds, Andy and Mary rented a two-bedroom apartment on Maryland Ave. in Johnstown.  Ann was born there in 1919.  Dad came to Barberton later that year, then moved his family to 151 Nineteenth St.  Caroline, Mary, Frances and I were all born in that house.  In 1935, Dad bought a larger house at 873 W. Hopocan Ave., where the twins were born the following February.  Andy Jr. was born there, also.

Dad and Mom moved to the new home they had built at 1107 Columbus Ave. in 1954.  Dad suffered a mild stroke in April of 1975 and Mom died on June 26, 1975 at the age of 76, from complications of her many circulation problems.  Consequently, the family home was sold, and Dad moved into Ann's house at 1156 Shannon Ave. in 1976.

Of all Dad's lifetime accomplishments, he seemed most pleased with the eight years he served as councilman-at-large on Barberton's old city council, from 1953 until 1961.

Dad realized, after his stoke, that he must give up driving.  This was a difficult, sad time for him.  But he learned to accept his dependence on others and lived quite contently  until he became more feeble and died on August 7, 1983, at the age of 89.

With the Grace of God and their own resources, Andy and Mary Nagy led full, productive lives here in their new country. We can only wonder how different their lives, and ours, would have been had they not taken those first courageous steps toward a new future in a strange land.

Additional information provided by Rose Kuzma:  He came to the US November 14, 1910 on the "America" and had $15.  He was 5'5" tall at the age of 16.  His partner was Andrew Weres who was 26 when he left his wife in Europe and had been to America before. He came under the name "Andras."

The map below shows Andrew's birth location in Slovakia.


This site developed and maintained by

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