Julia Wilimczyk and Simon Wargo, Cleveland, Ohio

Julia Wilimczyk and Simon Wargo

My mother, Genevieve Wargo Amacher, was born on August 28, 1926 to Julia Wilimczyk and Simon Wargo and was the first generation Wilimczyk Girls, Click on image to see larger versionof her family born in this country.

Julia's parents were Joseph Wilimczyk1 and Mary Florek. Joseph was born on St. Joseph's Day, March 19, 1870 in Novograd, Russian Poland and was baptized the same day. Mary was born August 30, 1877 in Poznien, Austrian-Poland. Joseph and Mary Wilimczyk stopped in Manchester England on their way from Poland long enough for Julia to be born on September 22, 1900. Joseph and Mary lived in Wisconsin for a time, and eventually moved to a farm near Warren Ohio. Mary had eight children, two of whom died in infancy. Julia was the second oldest. My mother's uncle Frank Wilimczyk, the youngest of Joseph and Mary's six children and their only son, inherited his father's farm.

I love this picture. It's so Victorian. My great-grandparents weren't wealthy. Joseph was a farmer. I can picture the family blowing their budget for this wonderful picture of their four girls; Helen2, Julia2, Stella2 and Rose2. Born after this picture were Ann2 and Frank2, the youngest and only son. Keith Henderson klhenderson@mindspring.com is interested in Ann and the Wilimczyk family.

Julia told me that they were required to learn their catechism in Polish while growing up in Wisconsin. My grandmother wasn't a brilliant woman. She remembers that school was so hard for her that she cried. But she more than made up in sweet good nature what she might have lacked in formal education. She contracted polio as a child. The elastic ankle brace she wore Julia and Stella Wilimczyk; Click on image to see larger versionwas the only reminder. The second picture shows Julia with her sister Stella around 1920. Make-up was the sign of a sinful woman, but my grandmother stretched this by putting chalk under her fingernails to make them whiter.

Julia married Simon Wargo on May 4, 1922. Simon's first anniversary present to Julia was a beautiful pink cameo which I still have. Simon and Julia had two children, my mother Genevieve, born on August 28, 1926 and and my uncle James Wargo, born on March 23, 1932.

My grandfather, Simon B. Wargo2 was one of four children of Jan Varga,1 a farmer, and Maria Juhas. The children were:

  1. Anna Varga2, who married John Zsiga.

  2. Marie Varga2 who lived in Europe.

  3. Frank Varga, Sr.2 who was born on March 27, 1888 in Czechoslovakia. Frank married Anna Drabik, daughter of John Drabik, Sr. Frank and Anna had four children.

    Anna Drabik Varga was a victim of the flu epidemic and died on December 20, 1918.

    Frank Varga, Sr. married Mary Shimko on June 28, 1920. Frank and Mary had three children: Ethel,3 Andrew,3and Arthur Varga3.

  4. Jan and Marie's fourth child was Simon B. Varga2, born on October 21, 1890 in Poproc, Czechoslovakia.
Simon arrived in New York on the ship "Slovakia" in 1906. He was sixteen years old and was ready to join his brother, Frank in Cleveland.

Simon changed his name from his father's Varga spelling to Wargo to be sound more American, while his brother Frank kept the original Varga spelling. Simon didn't abandon his roots totally, however. My mother remembered her father teaching her to say "What's up?" in Hungarian, to the entertainment of her father's friends who would come over to their home to enjoy a game a cards.

My grandfather, Simon, was a World War I veteran. In civilian life he was a first-class tool and dye maker. My mother remembered how he cleaned and polished his tools with care. I have a brass cannon that is a lamp base that he made. My mother liked to remember how she could stand with her arm around her father's shoulders as she did in this picture. The picture is taken in the back yard of the duplex the family owned on Shaw Avenue in Lakewood on the West Side of Cleveland. Shaw Avenue was the only home my mother could remember except for a year that the family Simon and Genevieve Wargo; Click on image to see larger version lived in Mentor, a city East of Cleveland. My mother recalled that she was in seventh grade when her father became worried about the economic crisis of the Depression and moved his family to a farm. I don't think my mother liked living on the farm. She remembered taking care of the chickens and recalled that her brother Jim would shoot the chickens with a B-B gun. The family would sit down to a chicken dinner only to spit the B-B's out of the chicken meat.

Simon evidently regained confidence that he could support the family in the city and moved back to Shaw Avenue. The home on Shaw was the second floor of the duplex. My mother said that it made her father nervous to have people walking over his head, so the first floor apartment was rented out. The family shared two bedrooms. Simon and Julia had the front bedroom and my mother slept in the other small bedroom. The back porch was enclosed and was called the "sun room." This was my Uncle Jim's room. The bathroom had a claw-foot bathtub, now very popular. Everything seems quaint now, from the manual juicer in the kitchen to the wringer washer in the cellar. Simon and the family lived on Shaw Avenue until his death on December 30, 1952.

Julia continued to live on Shaw Avenue until she was no longer able to live independently. Julia was still healthy into her 90's. My grandmother was always glad to see me, even when her memory failed. "Who did you say you were again?" she'd ask, but then be sure to thank me again so much for coming to see her. Julia died on June 21, 1998 at the age of 97. She was laid to rest with Simon in Holy Cross Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.

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Copyright 2000 Nancy McAdams
April 21, 2000
Updated July 14, 2006

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