Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is For Pribyl

P is for Josef Pribyl (1839-1911)

Josef Pribyl is another brick wall of mine. His daughter Marie married John Benert #3. He's not a brick wall in the real sense, just one I haven't pursued back to Bohemia.

Josef was probably 39 years when he immigrated to the United States with his wife Frantiska Vana or Frances as she was known here. At first they lived on East 38th street, near the cigar factories. At the time a cigar manufacturer would rent tenement rooms to his workers where they would make cigars under deplorable conditions. The following is an excerpt from How the Other Half Lives, Studies Among the Tenements of New York by Jacob A Riis (1890). The photo also appeared in the book.
"The manufacturer who owns, say, from three or four to a dozen or more tenements contiguous to his shop, fills them up with these people, charging them outrageous rents, and demanding often even a preliminary deposit of five dollars “key money;” deals them out tobacco by the week, and devotes the rest of his energies to the paring down of wages to within a peg or two of the point where the tenant rebels in desperation."

By 1900 the family had managed to save enough money to move to  East 97th street, still in a Bohemian neighborhood, still making cigars. Josef had retired by 1910 and his sons had found work in the building trades. Son Joseph was a carpenter, and later joined the police force, retiring as a lieutenant. Both Fred and Stanley were plumbers.  Daughter Marie was still working as a cigarmaker but then again, I'm sure the thinking was she was a just a girl and would marry one day. She did just that in 1913. The beginnings of an American success story. 

Frances died in March 1911 and Josef followed in December of the same year. They are buried in St Michael's Cemetery in Queens, New York. Click here for the Find A Grave page.