Dolores sits on the lap of her father, Joseph Charles Walker.
Picture taken ca. 1937-38.
I have very little information on the early life of my grandfather, Joseph Charles Walker, and even less on his ancestors. I have included on this page some memories and stories that my mother and uncles shared with me. Perhaps someday I will be able to fill in some of the gaping holes that currently exist in my story of this branch of the family tree.
Joseph Charles Walker was born Josef Bendzela on March 14, 1904 in Slovakia, possibly in or near the village of Horvát Gurab (present day Chorvátsky Grob).He died on December 31, 1950 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio and was buried at Toledo Memorial Park in Sylvania, Ohio. He was the son of Michael (born Mihaly) Bendzela and Anna Král. He married Anna Ida Augusta Jaffke on November 25, 1923 in Monroe, Monroe County, Michigan.
Anna Ida Augusta Jaffke was born on November 25, 1923 in Monroe, Michigan. She was born April 03, 1904 in Toledo, Ohio, and died February 22, 1973 in Toledo, Ohio. She was the daughter of Franz (Frank) Frederick Jaffke, Sr. and Mathilde Caroline Zupke. (See The Jaffke Family Page for more on Anna Jaffke Walker.)
When a mere seven years old, Josef Bendzela came to America, traveling with his Aunt Anna Vorlecsek and 3-year-old cousin, Celestina Vorlecsek. (The identification of Anna Vorlecsek as Josef’s aunt comes from another cousin.) He was to join his parents, who had previously come to America and were currently living in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. His journey took him to Le Havre, France where he departed on 03 September 1910, sailing on the SS La Gascogne. He arrived in New York City on 12 September 1910, coming through the Ellis Island processing center. For several years, Joseph and his family remained in South Bethlehem before moving to Toledo, Ohio, which they made their permanent residence, around 1918.
Josef Bendzela later changed his name to Joseph Walker at some point after running away from home when he was about seventeen years old. It was apparently an informal name change, as there are no court records of this. He must have been unconsciously reinventing himself, wanting to be 100% American, as he never acknowledged to his wife and children that he was born in Slovakia. He went so far as to have a delayed birth certificate issued by the probate court of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, stating that he was born in Pittsburgh. He did such a good job at this that the truth of where he was born was not learned until several decades after his death.
Left: Joe Walker with wife Anna, picture taken in 1936.
Center: Joe Walker watering the grass in the backyard at 702 Bowman St.
Right: Joe Walker and his good friend, Tommy Groom.
Left: Joe and Anna, with their good friends, the Losonsky sisters on a picnic.
Right: Joe Walker's son, Gale, in the backyard at 702 Bowman St. This picture was taken in 1941.
After leaving home and prior to his marriage to Anna, Joseph worked on the farm of the Pertner family in Latcha, Ohio (in Wood County, near Millbury). After his marriage, Joseph and his family and Pertners remained close friends. Joseph’s daughter Dolores recalls that one of the Pertner daughters, Freda, had married a man named Bill Marsh. After many years of not having any children, a daughter Gwen was finally born. The Walkers went to visit the proud new parents. The day would be noteworthy for more than that, however. It was Sunday, December 7, 1941. After a pleasant day in the country, the Walkers returned home to Toledo. Anna went across the alley to visit her neighbor Adeline Pockmire and came home, excited, telling her family to turn on the radio. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
Joseph lived his adult life in Toledo, Ohio. He and his family moved frequently, as this was the time of the Great Depression and they rented rather than owned a home for many years. During his mother-in-law’s (Matilda Jaffke) final illness, Joseph and his wife, Anna, lived on Morton Street (house #116). In this way, Anna could take care of her mother while her husband and father worked, and did so until Matilda’s death in 1926.
Later, they lived at the following addresses, which they rented:
- 1927: 2314 Dunham Street
- 1928-29: 903 Walbridge Avenue
- 1929: 263 Leland Avenue
- 1934: 734 Western Avenue
- 1934: 637 Green Street (where they lived with Anna’s brother, Harry, and his wife)
- 1936: 1432 Beecham Street
In 1937, Joseph Walker was finally able to buy a house at 702 Bowman Street and lived there until his death in 1950.
It was during the mid-1930’s that Joe revealed the fact that he had family living in Toledo. Up until that time, even his wife had been unaware that Joseph had parents and siblings, much less that they were here in Toledo. According to Dolores, she learned of Rudy and Louis Bengela, Joseph’s younger brothers, when she was about 8 years old, when her father took her for a ride across town to meet her Grandmother Bengela (“Americanized” from Bendzela) who resided on Oak Street over in Toledo’s East Side. Like the prodigal son of old, Joe was welcomed back into the family. Uncle Louie and Uncle Rudy bought penny candy for Dolores, who took her treasures home and showed them to her mother. From time to time, the Walkers and Bengelas would get together. In fact, Joseph’s son Norman remembered putting on a pair of old boxing gloves and “duking it out” with Louie. Norman also recalled that he came out on the short end of that encounter.
Two Pictures from an Outing: Anna, daughter Dolores, Joe and the Losonsky sisters pose in both pictues. The Lososnkys were from Rossford, Ohio (across the Maumee River from Toledo), but no one seems to be able to remember their first names.
As an adult, Joseph worked as a cement truck driver for Kuhlman Brothers for a number of years. He was also a mechanic for Krogers. Joe and Anna enjoyed a social life that included bowling, card parties, and social gatherings with their friends.
The manifest for the SS Gascogne shows the names of Josef Bendzela, Anna Vorlecsek and Celestina Vorlecsek bracketed together, verifying that they were traveling together. They had a total of $18.00 between them. Anna and Celestina’s entries state that they were being met by “husband Vorlecsek, John” whose address is given as “736 School Ally, So. Bethlehem, Pa.” Josef is listed as being met by “His father, Michal Bendzela & mother, 736 School Ally, So. Bethlehem, Pa.” That the Vorlecseks and the Bendzelas living at the same address supports the fact that they were probably related. The three of them traveled in steerage class.
Anna and Celestina Vorlecsek and Josef Bendzela on the manifest of the SS Gascogne.
from the above, showing “Horvatgurab” as the place of last permanent residence.
Detail from the previous page, showing that Anna is being met by “Husband, Vorlecsek John, 736 School Alley, So. Bethlehem, Pa.”
On the line for Josef it says, “His father, Michal Bendzela & mother, 736 School Alley, So. Bethlehem. Pa.”
Michael Bendzela was born Mihaly Bendzela in 1879 in Slovakia, the exact place not found. He died on December 16, 1929 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio; the cause of death was valvular heart disease. He was buried on December 19 in Calvary Cemetery: Section 2, Range 12, grave #688. His parents’ names have not been found. He married Anna Král about 1899-1903 in Slovakia. No naturalization records have been found for Mihaly/Michael, or any voting records, which suggest that he did not become an American citizen. His religion was Roman Catholic, indicated by the cemetery in which he is buried; however, I do not know what church to which he belonged.
Anna Král was born October 30, 1885 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia; she died March 28, 1938 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, the cause of death being “natural causes; the exact cause cannot be determined” per her death certificate and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Section 2, Rg 24, #1030. She is the daughter of Mathias Král and Anna Veszely. Anna was baptized on November 01, 1885 in the Roman Catholic Church in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia. Later, she was a member of Sts. Cyril & Methodias Church in Rossford, Ohio. She immigrated to the United States in 1909, arriving in New York on September 21, 1909. She did not naturalize, and is listed on 1930 census as “alien” (and where her surname is misspelled Vengila).
MORE ABOUT MICHAEL BENDZELA
Michael Bengela, born Mihaly Bendzela, came to the United States in 1906, sailing from Le Havre on February 24 and arriving in New York City on March 5. 156, 159 He sailed on the SS Gascogne, the same ship his son would sail on four years later. On the ship’s manifest recording his arrival to the United States, Mihaly’s name can be found with his age being listed as being 27 (which matches the birth year of 1879 found on his gravestone), and is married. His last place of permanent residence is “Gurb”, an abbreviated form of Horvat- Gurab, where his wife and son also resided. He states that he is going to live with a friend, name not clear, who is living in Trenton, New Jersey. Michael arrived in America prior to the rest of his family and established residency in Trenton, New Jersey. Three years later, probably after enough money had been saved up, he sent for his wife, Anna. After her arrival, the two of them moved to South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania along with John Vorlescek. The following year (1910), their son Josef, who may have been living with relatives, was sent for. Around 1918 the family left South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and moved to Toledo, where they established permanent residency.
Chorvátsky Grob (Croatian: Hrvatski Grob; Hungarian: Horvátgurab, Horvát-Gurab; German: Kroatisch-Eisgrub) is a village and municipality in western Slovakia in Senec District in the Bratislava region. It has gone by many names over the centuries.
1773 - Horv Veisbrog
1808 - Horvatsky Grob
1948 - Chorvátsky Grob
The village’s name Chorvátsky means Croatian, and Chorvátsky Grob translates roughly as Land of the Croats. This refers to the Croatian people that have lived in the area since the early 16th century. This population arrived here after escaping the area between Sisak and Kostajnica during the Ottoman Wars. The first written mention of the village dates from 1214, when it is called Dolný Monár (Lower Monár). Jewels and necklaces, or mooari, used to be made here, hence the name. During German colonization, the locality was given the name of Aizgrub. Chorvátsky Grob today has a population of 3162 people as of December 31, 2009. CLICK HERE to see some vintage photographs of Chorvátsky Grob as it looked about the time Mihaly and Anna lived there.
The graves of Anna and Michael Bengela, Calvary Cemetery.
Children of Michael Bendzela and Anna King are:
- Joseph Charles Walker, born March 16, 1904 in or near Horvat-Gurab, Hungary (now Chorvatsky-Grob, Slovak Republic). He later claimed to have been born in Pittsburg, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He died December 31, 1950 in Saint Vincent's Hospital, Toledo, Ohio. He married Anna Ida Augusta Jaffke on November 25, 1923 in Monroe, Michigan.
- Anna Marie Bengela was born October 27, 1910 in South Bethlehem, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania; she died February 13, 1988 in Saint Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida. She married (1) Ollie Klimczak in 1928 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio. They had one daughter, Leona. The marriage ended in divorce. She married (2) James Bert Jones in 1939 in Saint Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida. They had three sons.
OBITUARY ~ St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Florida
February 15, 1988; pg. 9.14.12
JONES, ANNE MARIE, 77, of 131 41st Ave. N, St. Petersburg, died Saturday (Feb. 13, 1988). Born in Bethlehem, Pa., she came here in 1938 from Toledo, Ohio. She was a member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church and the Anthonians of St. Anthony’s Hospital, where she was a volunteer for 17 years. Survivors include a daughter, Leona R. Thomas, Orange Park; two sons, Louis P. Jones, Palm Beach Gardens, and the Rev. James A. Jones, Tampa; two brothers, Louis and Rudy Bengela, Toledo; and 10 grandchildren. Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, St. Petersburg.
- Michael J. Bengela, Sr, born February 27, 1913 in Toledo, Ohio or South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; died August 23, 1974 in Oregon, Lucas County, Ohio; married Mary J. Cuda; born December 08, 1913; died April 20, 1998 in St. Luke's Hospital, Toledo, OH.
Obituary from the Toledo Blade, Sunday, August 25, 1974
Michael Bengela, Sr., 61, of 426 Front St., died Friday in his home after an apparent heart attack. He was a glass cutter 20 years for the Libbey-Owens-Ford Co., and then a freight handler 10 years for the former New York Central System, retiring in 1962. Surviving are his sons, Michael, Jr., and Frank; daughters, Mrs. Barbara Roberts and Mrs. Betty Stover, and brothers, Charles, Rudy, and Louis. Services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Clegg Mortuary.
MARY J. BENGELA obituary, April 21, 1998, TOLEDO BLADE
Mary J. Bengela, 84, a resident of Swan Pointe Nursing Home and formerly of W. Foulkes St., Toledo, died Monday, April 20, 1998 in St. Luke's Hospital. She was born December 8, 1913 to Mr. and Mrs. Frank (Catherine Gillen) Cuda.
She was the wife of the late Michael J. Bengela; the mother of Michael T. (Barbara) Bengela, Mrs. Betty L. (Don) Stover and Frank Bengela, all of Toledo; mother of the late Barbara K. Roberts; 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren; sister, Josephine (Bill) Iler of Bowling Green, OH.
Friends will be received at Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Walbridge, (666-3121), from 2-9 p.m. Wednesday. Private funeral services will be held Thursday, April 23, 1998. Interment will be in Lake Township Cemetery. The family suggest memorials to Swan Pointe Nursing Home.
- Charles J. "Toppy" Bengela, born November 26, 1914 in Toledo, OH; died May 25, 1975 in Toledo, OH; married Veronica M. "Sweet Pea"; born May 24, 1910; died April 20, 1989 in Oregon, Lucas County, Ohio.
Obituary from Toledo Blade, Tuesday, May 27, 1975
Charles J. (Toppy) Bengela, 60, of 1614 Oak St., died Sunday in Toledo Hospital. For 39 years he was a polisher for Libbey-Owens-Ford Co., retiring seven months ago because of illness. Surviving are his wife, Veronica; daughters, Mrs. Stella Pelker and Mrs. Genie Jachimiak; sister, Anna Bengela and brothers, aloysius Bendzela and Rudolph. The body is in the Sujkowski Mortuary. Services will be Thursday at 10 a.m. in St. Jude's Church. Wake services will be Wednesday at 8 p.m.
- Mike Bengela, born September 30, 1918 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio; he died October 01, 1918 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio and was buried October 02, 1918 in Calvary Cemetery: Section 35, Range 16, Grave 1508 (infant’s section). Cause of Death: failure of foramen ovale. The foramen ovale is the opening in the septum secundum allows blood to enter the left atrium from the right. On the death certificate for “infant Mike Bendzela” the baby’s parents are listed as "Mike Bendzela and Anna Kink". Calvary Cemetery records are under the spelling “Bendzela” and Mike is among those buried in the infants’ section of the cemetery. Although the location was provided by the office at Cavalry Cemetery, a walk through that section (April 7, 1998) revealed no grave marker. However, many of the infant markers are partially buried, and others may be completely so. They are flat stones; many of them are for babies that were only weeks or days old. The infants’ section is next that reserved for the Sister of Notre Dame.
- Aloysius J. "Louie" Bendzela, born January 06, 1921 in Toledo, Ohio; died October 25, 1997 in Berryville, Arkansas; married Vivian
From Toledo Blade, Tuesday, October 28, 1997
A.J. "Louie" Bendzela, age 76 formerly of Toledo, died Saturday, October 25, 1997 in Berryville, AR where he and his wife, Vivian lived since 1984. A Navy veteran he served in W W II, was a member of the Stinger club for the USS Wasp CV-7 and a member of VFW Post 7572 in Marblehead, OH. He retired from Libbey Ownes Ford Glass Company after 31 years.
Surviving in addition to his wife, are step children, Gerald Dummitt and Patricia Gonzales, both of Toledo, and Carla Jackson of Berryville, AR; 6 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. Also surviving is his brother, Rudy Bengela, other relatives and a host of friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and 3 brothers.
Visitation will be Thursday from 2-9 in Hoeflinger Funeral Home, 3500 Navarre Ave., where funeral services will be held Friday at 11 a.m. Interment will follow in Ottawa Hills Memorial Park.
- Rudolph "Rudy" Bengela, born 1926 in Toledo, OH; married Rose Marie 1948 in Toledo, Ohio
Although I have no further information about Michael Bendzela's family and origins, I have been able to find additional information about Anna Král's family, presented here. All the information has been obtained from records, including digital images of church records, posted online at FamilySearch.org, in the Slovakia Church Records.
Mathias Král was born February 1852 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia. He was the son of Stephanus Král and Theresia Lukacsovics. He married Anna Veszely. Mathias’ occupation is “pastor pecudia communitatis” according to several baptism records, all of which are written in Latin. Pastor = shepherd; pecudia = sheep; communitatis = community duty/public service.
Anna Veszely was from Schweinsbach, now called Vinicné, in Slovakia. No further information is known about her at this time.
MORE ABOUT THE KRALS AND VESZELYS
In addition to Anna, I found two other Veszelys in the Chorvatsky Grob church records from ca. 1773 to 1896. If these are relatives of Anna’s, then it looks as though the family (or at least some of it) lived in Nigra Aqua – where/whatever that may be. Digital images of the original documents can be found online at FamilySearch.org, under "Slovakia Church Books, 1592-1910 > Roman Catholic > Senec > Chorvátsky Grob > Marriages 1773-1870. Images available online. Image 72 (page 96 in original register). Transcription as follows:
1869, 7 February
Veszely, Fridericus - auriga (unreadable) et —kula, Julianna - boari filia (auriga = coachman)
Location: Nigra Aqua #128
Might this be a brother of Anna Veszely, wife of Mathias Král? If so, was the Vezsely family living in Nigra Aqua? If so, what or where is Nigra Aqua - an even smaller village or community adjacent to Horvat-Gurab?
Also from Slovakia Church Books, 1592-1910 (FamilySearch.org) > Roman Catholic > Senec > Chorvátsky Grob > Baptisms (Krsty), 1773-1852. Images available online. Image 53 (page 24 in original register). Transcription as follows:
1813, 30 December
son of Joannes Schraider and Catherina Veszeley
Patria – Nigra Aqua (patria = homeland, residence)
Mathias and Anna are listed as godparents in the following baptism entries, partially translated:
Paulus [? - name difficult to read], legitimate son of Jelinek, Franciscus, sntor [?], or. Horvatgurab, Matnlovic or Manulovic, Sophia, or. Sibenici, Dalmatia.* Roman Catholic.
Born 10 January 1883
Baptized 14 January 1883
Godparents: Král, Mathias, pastor communitatis or. hujas [from here, or from this village] et Veszely, Anna, or. Schweinback uxor [wife].
*Sebenici = Šibenik is a historic town in Croatia, with population of 51,553 (2001). It is located in central Dalmatia where the river Krka flows into the Adriatic Sea. Šibenik is a political, educational, transport, industrial and tourist center of Šibenik-Knin county. Source: Slovakia Church Books, 1592-1910 (FamilySearch.org): Roman Catholic / Senec / Chorvátsky Grob / Baptisms (Krsty), 1871-1895. Image 60; Page 53 in original register. 1883.
And again in this baptismal entry (roughly translated into English):
Anna, legitimate daughter of Jelinek, Franciscus cothurnarius or. hujas et Matulovic, Aloysia, or. Sibe-nici in Dalmatia
(Franciscus Jelinek, boot maker/shoemaker of this village, and his wife Aloysia Matulivic, from Sibenici in Dalmatia)
Born 22 July 1885
Baptized 26 July 1885
Godparents: Král, Mathias pastor communitatis et Veszely, Anna uxor (wife) Horvatgurensis R.C.
Cothurnarius = probably a variant spelling of coturnarius, or the man who makes the cothurnus (a kind of top boot). The occupation refers most likely to a boot or shoemaker. Source: Slovakia Church Books, 1592-1910 (FamilySearch.org): Roman Catholic > Senec > Chorvátsky Grob > Baptisms (Krsty), 1871-1895. Image 71; Page 63 in original register. 1885.
Children of Mathias Král and Anna Veszely are:
- MARGARETHA KRÁL was born February 21, 1881 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia and was baptized on February 22, 1881.
- ELISABETH KRÁL was born July 01, 1883 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia and was baptized on July 01, 1883.
- ANNA KRÁL was born October 30, 1885 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (old name Horvat Gurab) and was baptized on November 1, 1885. She died on March 28, 1938 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio. She married Michael Joseph Bendzela about 1899-1903 in Slovakia. For more information, see her entry above.
- THERESIA KRÁL was born April 14, 1888 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia and was baptized on April 15, 1888, Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia.
Stephanus Král was born, date and place not known, but probably in or near Horvat Gurab (Chorvátsky Grob) in Slovakia. He married Theresia Lukacsovics in February 1851 (the exact date is hard to read) in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia. He is the son of Georgü Král.
Theresia Lukacsovics is the daughter of H. Lukacsovics of Egyházfa, Slovakia. No further information has been found for Theresia at this time.
Children of Stephanus Král and Theresa Lukacsovics are:
- MATHIAS KRÁL was born on February 1852 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab). He married ANNA VESZELY. For more information, see Mathias and Anna above.
- AGNES KRÁL was born on May 23, 1853 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab).
- MARIA KRÁL was born on August 25, 1855 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab); she died October 05, 1866 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia.
- STEPHANUS KRÁL (I) was born on August 25, 1855 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab); he died September 13, 1855 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia. Stephanus and Maria were twins.
- JOANNES KRÁL was born about June 1860 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab); he died December 10, 1861 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia and was buried on December 12. Cause of death was phtysis (wasting illness, usually tuberculosis); age 1˝ years.
- PETRUS M. KRÁL was born on April 28, 1862 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab)607; he died October 10, 1862 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia.
- STEPHANUS KRÁL (II) was born on February 07, 1864 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab); died June 19, 1865 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia.
- FLORIAN KRÁL was born on February 07, 1864 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab); he died September 26, 1864 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia. Stephanus (II) and Florian were twins.
- PAULINA KRÁL was born on May 09, 1866 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia (Horvat-Gurab); she died January 13, 1867 in Chorvátsky Grob, Slovakia.
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