Connellsville

It was a very scenic drive leaving the State College area and heading for Connellsville just south of Pittsburg. Beautiful green, rolling hills with a touch of early Fall color.

We stayed at another large KOA getting ready to celebrate Halloween this weekend. It is on the Youghiogheny river in a hollow. A very scenic setting. The weather was cold but fair while we were there.

Morning mist on Youghiogheny river

My Mom’s family, Mary & Michael Kovach, immigrated here in the early 1910s from Checklosovakia. My nephew Adam told me he thought they could be Rusyn Americans. According to a person I met, a lot of Slovakian immigrants came to this area as miners.

The immigrants were of an Eastern Orthodox religious background. A Byzantine Church was built in the late 1880s about 5 miles outside of Connellsville in Dunbar township. This is where the 1930 census has my mother living with her older brothers and sisters. The groundskeeper at the church told me it was the first Catholic church built out of stone in the United States. It was striking (and a bit out of place) with the onion dome towers.

St Stephen Byzantine Church in Dunbar Township Pennsylvania

Behind the church was a larger, well-tended cemetery with the graves of her mother, father, and several of her older brothers and sisters.

St Stephen Byzantine Church Cemetary

Mom came from a large family with 10 brothers and sisters. Her mother passed from complications of the birth of the last child, George. The father, for whatever reason, did not participate in their upbringing. This left the older children to take care of the younger ones. Most of the younger children were girls and married, and left the area like my Mom.

My grandfather Michael. He died at 82 in a car accident. My mother only met him once (after she was older) that I know about.
My grandmother Mary. She died following the birth of the youngest child. My mother was not even 2 years old.
Oldest brother Michael and his wife. He was born in Czechoslovakia and stayed behind for several years before moving to the United States. Mom told me he didn’t like it here but stayed anyway.
He had a large family. One of his daughters visited an area in the Ukraine where she thought they came from but was unable to find anything. It remains a bit of a controversy as to their actual origin but all of my geological research points to Checklosovkia.
Oldest Sisters Ann and Helen. They never married and raised their younger brothers and sisters along with the eldest son Michael. Ann worked at the church for her whole life.
Older brother James. He never married and I believe worked for the railroad.

Like in Snow Shoe, I tried to make a connection with these ancestors while there. Wondering what their lives were like in this beautiful mountain area.


Connellsville itself was a large town – almost a small city – with a lot of traffic. It sits right on the river which makes for some scenic views. I visited the waterfront and learned the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile hiking and biking route, runs through Connellsville.

Youghiogheny river in Connellsville

This ends the ‘roots’ part of the program! Tomorrow we make our way south (through the remnants of Ian πŸ™ƒ) through the Appalachians over three days and a long stop at my friends Bill and Laura Zweigbaum in Tennessee.

Author: Ed Tubridy

Eddie ! He's Just This Guy ~ You Know?