I Raise Potatoes to Sell, Not to Eat

I Raise Potatoes to Sell, Not to Eat


The Story of Jacob Jelen: His Journey to America and His Life


    Jacob and Stefania 50th Wedding Anniv, August 1954

    JACOB YELLEN (Grandfather)

    b. May 12, 1884

    d. March 9, 1960 (75)

    Parents: Jacob (Jakob) Jelen and Juliana Kovalik

    Jacob (Jakob) Yellen was born in Nowa Biala, a Slovak farming village now located in the southern portion of Poland near the border with Slovakia. In 1884, Nowa Biala was located in the Hungarian controlled portion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the end of World War I, Austria-Hungary no longer existed as an empire, but was broken up into separate countries. The Czech portion and the Slovak portion were combined to form the country of Czechoslovakia and Nowa Biala was located in the Slovak portion. In 1920, the borderline between Czechoslovakia and Poland was moved so that several Slovak villages are now in Poland. Nowa Biala was one of those villages. It is located in the Polish Highlands region called the Podhale, and is near the Tatras Mountains which are part of the Carpathian Mountains that form the border between Poland and Slovakia

    Jacob came to America in 1899 and settled at 78 Center Street in Clifton, New Jersey.

    On August 7, 1904, Jacob married Stefania Sciober (Scibior) from Galicia, Poland Grandmother's home village unknown.

    Jacob had two sisters, Julia and Anna. Julia Jelen arrived in the US in 1912 and went to live with her brother Jacob on Center Street in Clifton. Eventually, she returned to Poland and married Jan Bryja on November 4, 1920. They had three children who grew to adulthood, Maria, Jan, and Jozef who were the niece and nephews of Jacob. Jan married Filomena Soltys. Maria married Alfons Skvarek. And Jozef married Katarina Kalafut. Jozef came to the US for a few years in the 1970s, living in Clifton and working. He returned to Poland.

    Anna Jelen, came to the US before 1905 and married Valent Kurnat on November 22, 1905 at St. Mary's Slovak Church in Passaic, New Jersey. Valent died two years later while they were living in the Chicago area. There is information that Anna eventually remarried a man named Stachon, (this may not be the correct spelling). They lived in the Chicago area.

    Our family name in the old country is Jelen. This is confirmed by records in the village parish, Svata Katarina (St. Katharine), in Nowa Biala. The spelling was apparently changed to Yellen when Jacob came to the US. Jelen means deer or stag in Polish and Slovak. The Svata Katarina church in Nowa Biala was built in the mid 1700s and replaced an earlier wooden church

    Because of the many governments controlling Nowa Biala over the years, Jacob Yellen was able to speak Polish, Slovak, and Hungarian as well as English.

    JACOB (JAKOB) JELEN (Great Grandfather)

    b. March 29, 1858 in Nowa Biala

    d. February 7, 1917 (58)

    Jakob married Juliana Kovalik (Great Grandmother) from the nearby village of Trybsz.

    Jakob had a brother named Jan, Grandfather's Uncle, born December 12, 1846 and died February 18, 1905 of gangrene. Jan married and had 4 children, three boys who all died before adulthood and one girl named Maria who married Jozef Grucka and lived in Nowa Biala.

    Jakob and Jan both shared a portion of farmland. There were no separate farms in Slovakia. The town was laid out much like a medieval village with the houses grouped together in the middle and each family having a series of strips of land in various fields on the outskirts. It's still like that today.

    JAN JELEN (Great Great Grandfather)

    b. July 27, 1812 in Nowa Biala

    d. January 12, 1836

    Married Anna Blazon (Great Great Grandmother)

    JAN JELEN (Great Great Great Grandfather)

    b. 1780 in Dursztyn, a village nearby Nowa Biala

    d. unknown

    Married Rosalyn Nemec (Great Great Great Grandmother) and lived in Nowa Biala.

    MATHIAS JELEN (Great Great Great Great Grandfather)

    b. unknown

    d. unknown

    Married Maria Vanisek (Great Great Great Great Grandmother)

    Prepared by Jim Yellen, September 2006 from research by Paul Hadzima. Paul's grandfather, George Hadzima, was also from Nowa Biala and was a friend of our grandfather. George is the man with the handlebar moustache in the wedding photo of our grandparents.


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