The Family Disperses

The story so far:

My great-grandmother, Petronėlė Melnikaitytė, was born in 1864 on the Sakalupis Estate in south-western Lithuania. She married Pranciškus Simanavičius in 1886 and had three children, two of whom died as infants. Pranciškus died somewhere between 1890 and 1893, so Petronėlė then married my great-grandfather, Jonas Šugžda, a farmer at Lauckaimis, and had another six children between 1894 and 1901 (one was my grandmother, Petronėlė, and two died young). In about 1903, this family fled Lithuania for Scotland.

The Šugžda family made its way to Bellshill, Lanarkshire, where Jonas worked as a coal miner until 1911. In that year, the oldest daughter, Ona (aka “Annie”) married a Pole, Jonas Zinkevičius, just before they all moved to Bothwellhaugh, a nearby mining village. In October 1911, Jonas Šugžda lost a leg in a mining accident at Bothwellhaugh. Annie had three children before her husband left to serve with the Russian Army in 1917, but he died of typhus in 1921 without returning. One of the boys, Joe, married in 1917 and had four children — and he emigrated to Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1922.

S.S. “Cameronia” – this ship carried many of our relatives to the USA.

As mentioned on the previous page, Joe Sugzda had migrated to the USA in 1922. His wife, Phemie, and their four children sailed on the S.S. “Cameronia” in April 1923 to join him at 35 West 47th Street, Bayonne, New Jersey, and his brother Barney followed, via Canada, in April 1924. Coincidently, just as some members of this branch of our family were heading for America, some of the McKay family (then living in Bellshill and Galston) were doing the same (read about them in the article on McKay Diaspora). The 1920s were to see most of my mother’s uncles and aunts head for the New World.

The 1925 valuation rolls once again had young Johnny Shugesda living at 2 Store Place under the name “John Zincavish”, obviously still keeping the company house for Annie.1Source: Zincavish, John; 1925 Valuation Roll; VR10700401-/98; Bothwell, Lanarkshire. The coalfields of Lanarkshire would have been in turmoil during May 1926, as there was a five-day general strike throughout Britain. No doubt the two remaining Šugžda boys would have been involved, but nothing else is recorded for the family until we had a marriage in 1927 that would spell the end of Johnny’s tenure at Store Place:

1927 SCOTLAND STATUTORY MARRIAGES: Bothwell, Lanarkshire 2Shugesda, John & Wallace, Jeanie Hill; 1927 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 625/1 99; Bothwell, Lanarkshire.

married: 20th August 1927
at: 8 Main Street, Uddingston

John Shugesda, Coal Miner (Bachelor)   age: 23
of: 13 Park Place, Bothwell Haugh, Bothwell
father: John Shugesda, Coal Miner
mother:  Patrone Shugesda M.S. Menikaitis

Jeanie Hill Wallace, Pithead worker (Spinster)   age: 20    
of: 23 Haugh Place, Bothwell Haugh, Bothwell
fatherAndrew Wallace, Coal Miner
mother:  Isabella Wallace M.S. Donnelly

By declaration in presence of:
George Roberston Foyer, 1 Square Place, Bothwell Haugh, Bothwell
Jessie McGunn Wallace or Foyer, 1 Square Place, Bothwell Haugh, Bothwell
Warrant of Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire

Shortly after their marriage, Johnny and Jeanie had their first child, Sadie, who years later was temporarily to be the main beneficiary of my grandfather’s will! (More about that in another article.) Jeanie must have been five months pregnant when she married, and it seems they both lived with my great-grandparents at 13 Park Place for the next couple of years. However, sometime between February and October 1929, when Jeanie was pregnant with their second child, Johnny left his family and travelled to the US to join his two brothers. We’re not sure how or exactly when he departed, but there was another marriage and birth in that year — and these were much more important to my own story:

1929 SCOTLAND STATUTORY MARRIAGES: Bothwell, Lanarkshire 3Source: McKay, George Brown & Sugsdaite, Petronele Juze; 1929 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 625/1 16; Bothwell, Lanarkshire.

married: 23rd February, 1929
at: 8 Main Street, Uddingston

George Brown McKay, Railway Surfaceman (Bachelor)  age: 28
of: 408 Allison Street, Govanhill, Glasgow
father: Andrew McKay, Coal Miner
mother:  Lizzie McKay M.S. Brown

Petronele Juze Sugsdaite, Brickfield worker (Spinster)  age: 21
of: 13 Park Place, Bothwell Haugh, Bothwell
fatherJonas Sugzda, Coal Miner
mother:  Petronele M.S. Meliniskaityte

by declaration in presence of:
Anthony Donnachie, 4 Laighmuir Street, Uddingstone
Matilda Zinkewicius, 2 Store Place, Bothwell Haugh, Bothwell
by Warrant of the Sherriff-Substitute of Lanarkshire 23rd February 1929

S.S. “Caledonia” – another transatlantic ship used by many of our relatives.

This is my grandparents’ marriage (again, by declaration) and they made their home close to where George had been living with some of his brothers at Govanhill in Glasgow. One of the witnesses at their marriage was my granny’s niece, Matilda (later known as Tillie Fletcher, whose story you can read here); but, in less than a month, she had left Scotland for Canada where she went to work as a nanny. She had been living at 2 Store Place; so, obviously, the widowed Annie was still in residence there. However, three days after Tillie left for Canada, and less than a month after my grandparents tied the knot, the youngest of the family, Alex, jumped aboard the S.S. “Caledonia” and sailed off to to join his brothers — Joe, Barney and Johnny — in Bayonne, New Jersey. The family would never be the same again.

My granny, like Jeanie Wallace, was already pregnant (5 months) when she married, and my mother came into the world in July after much of her close family had left Scotland:

1927 SCOTLAND STATUTORY BIRTHS: Bothwell, Lanarkshire 4Source: McKay, Patronele Elizabeth; 1929 Scotland Statutory Births; 625/1 287; Bothwell, Lanarkshire.

Patronele Elizabeth McKay
born: 27th July, 1929  (2:10 pm)   at: 2 Store Place, Bothwell Haugh

father: George Brown McKay, General labourer
mother: Patronele Juze McKay M.S. Sugzdaite
domicile: 81 Govanhill Street, Govanhill, Glasgow
married: 23rd February, 1929    at: Uddingston

informant: George Brown McKay, Father

S.S. “Letitia” – carried Jeanie and her children to join Johnny Sugistaff in New Jersey.

I will tell more of my grandparents and parents in a different article, but of interest here is that my mother was born at her Aunt Annie’s house, even though her parents lived in Govanhill; this is the last record we have for 2 Store Place and, by the following year, someone else was living there. In October 1929, Jeanie delivered Johnny’s second child (Isabella Sugistaff) — and, in December, she sailed with her two children on the S.S. “Letita” to join her husband in New Jersey. Now, only two of the Šugžda siblings, Annie and Sarah, were left to care for their ageing parents, and neither of these now lived in Bothwellhaugh. By 1930, Annie was probably living at the Bothwell Park Farm where her son, Russell, worked for the Gibson family, and my mother’s family had moved to 63 Hamilton Street, Polmadie, Glasgow.

Final years

Sadly, just as her boys and their families had left for the New World, and her daughters had moved away, Petronėlė Melnikaitytė took a stroke and died in January 1930:

1930 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Bothwell, Lanarkshire 5Source: Sugzda, Patronele; 1930 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 625/1 22; Bothwell, Lanarkshire.

Patronele Sugzda
married to: (1) Vincas Simanawie, Farm Labourer; (2) Jonas Sugzda, Coal Miner
died: 18th January, 1930 (2:00 pm)  at: 13 Park Place, Bothwell Haugh   age: 60 years

father: Simonas Melinikaitis, Farm Labourer (deceased)
mother: Ona Melinikaitis M.S. Widrinskiute (deceased)

cause: Cerebral Haemorrhage (9 hours)
doctor: J.A. Walls, M.B., Ch.B.
informant: Patronele Juze McKay (daughter, present)
of: 63 Hamilton Street, Polmadie, Glasgow

The spelling of names is all over the place in this record, and Petronėlė was 65, not 60. We know little of her daily life, but she had delivered eleven children and lost five. My mum always said Petronėlė had been delivered in a field where her mother was working.  She had married and lost a husband, then married again before fleeing oppression in rural Lithuania and starting life over again as a coal-miner’s wife in troubled times. Her second husband was invalided when she was 47, and then she watched her children gradually drift away. Yet, by all accounts she was a jolly person, and a skilful home maker. Another story of her says she died with all her teeth intact, though she had only ever cleaned them with soft ash from the fireplace! I’m not sure we make many like her any more.

In 1935, Annie’s son was a “byreman” at Bothwell Park Farm, just south of Bellshill, and registered as Russell Zincavitch,6Source: Zincavitch, Russel; 1935 Valuation Roll; VR010700607-/218; Bothwell, Lanarkshire. and we know Annie worked at that farm sometime in those years. Her daughter Malvina was living there in 1937 when she married John Whyte, but they eventually moved to Troon in Ayrshire.7Source: Zinkewicius, Malvina & Whyte, John; 1937 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 644/8 1732; Blythswood, Glasgow. An interesting side note is that my mother was evacuated to stay with her Aunt Annie at Bothwell Park Farm during the Battle of Britain in 1940. She always said it was the first time she had ever tasted milk or eggs!

In April 1938, Annie remarried having been a widow for 17 years (but, effectively, husbandless for 21 years).8Source: Dubickas, Vincas & Simanaviciute, Ona; 1938 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 647/0 104; Hamilton, Lanarkshire. She married a divorcee, Willie Dubickas, and they lived for some years at 60 New Orbison Rows in Bellshill. Her son, Russell, married Jessie Yokubaitis (aka Grant)9Fletcher, Russell & Grant, Jessie; 1938 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 644/8 2276; Blythswood, Glasgow. four months after his mother married WillieJessie is an older half-sister to Alex Grant (born Aleksandras Pridatkas), and I have a something to say about him in my article on the Lithuanian Language. Jessie’s father was also a Conventionist who had died in a Russian camp without ever returning to his family.

While the rest of the family were getting on with their lives in New Jersey, old Jonas was now alone at Park Place, and he finally succumbed to a heart attack in 1941:

1941 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Bothwell, Lanarkshire 10Source: Sugzda, Jonas; 1941 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 625/1 111, Bothwell, Lanarkshire.

Jonas SugzdaCoal Miner – Hewer
Widower of Patronele Menkaitis
died: 3rd September 1941 (6:10 pm)   age: 72 years
at: 13 Park Place, Bothwell Haugh

father: Jurgis Sugzda, Farmer (deceased)
mother: Agota Sugzda M.S. Klimaitė (deceased)

cause: Myocarditis, heart failure
informant: John Shugesda (son)   of: 147 Hamilton Road, Bellshill

This record is the first we have that tells us anything about Jonas Šugžda’s parents, and their names are not to be found in the old parish records of Vladislavov in Lithuania. One story my mother used to tell was that Jonas actually died from hiccups — when he was injured in the mining cage collapse (1911), one of his upper leg bones had been pushed up behind his rib cage, and on a particularly violent hiccup, that bone touched his heart and stopped it. I’ll leave it to the reader to evaluate the plausibility of this story. One thing you may have noticed in the death certificate is that the informant was John Shugesda, the son who left to join his brothers in 1929. Well, John and his wife Jeanie had returned to Scotland in May 1931, just after his mother died, and they lived at 60 New Orbison Rows, Bellshill with their family. This is the address his half-sister Annie and her new husband (Willie Dubickas) lived at in 1938, so there must be a connection. After 40 years, only Annie, Sarah and Johnny were left of the family in Scotland.

The next page contains a summary of the lives of each of my grandmother’s siblings and her parents.



4. Emigration: 1922–1950 — No Comments

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