Wednesday, April 4, 2012

1940 census: John Michutka (Mitchell)

The hunt for my grandparents George and Valeria Michutka in the 1940 census continues, rural township by rural township. George appears with a specific address in a county directory in 1940, but perhaps the information was actually collected in 1939 and the family had relocated again by census day, April 1, 1940.

In contrast, it took me only a couple of minutes to find George’s older brother John in New York City. I knew that John and his wife had remained in one home from before 1930 until shortly before John died in 1952. An enumeration district conversion tool and the knowledge that they lived in Queens Assembly District 3 (aka College Point), block G, made for quick work.

John and Carrie in front of their house. The reverse of the original copy reads: "Dear Jennie, I am sending you picture taken front of our house. me and aunt Carrie second from left and brother inlaw and wife and others are friends from Norwalk Conn. this was last summer taken" [no date]  

Their house as it appears today. (Google Earth)

John and his second wife Caroline “Carrie” Bachor had bought their two-story two-family house at 131-10 14th Avenue sometime between 1920 and 1930; the house had been built in 1910, so it wasn't very old at whatever time they purchased it. A comparison of their 1930 and 1940 data is interesting. Their home was valued at $9000 in 1930, and their tenant Claus Wiebach paid $35 monthly rent.
1930 U.S. census, Queens County, New York, population schedule, 3rd Assembly District, ED 41-861, page 6B, dwelling 71, family 114, John Mitchutka; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1593.
In 1940, coming out of the Depression, their home value had decreased to $3500, and their tenant Martin Gerhardt was paying $28 a month. John’s neighbor, also renting out part of his house, shows a near-identical decrease in value and rental income.

1940 U.S. census, Queens County, New York, population schedule, Assembly District 3, ED 41-474, page 4A, household 79, line 34, John Mitchell; digital image, ( : accessed 4 April 2012); NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2729.
Some time between the two censuses, John changed his last name to Mitchell. (This change made it impossible for me to find information about him for several years—try searching for a particular John Mitchell in New York City some time!) John and Carrie were still using Michutka when Carrie paid a visit to her home village in Czechoslovakia in 1931,[1] but when John applied for a Social Security account in 1937 he was using the name Mitchell.[2]

John and Carrie’s places of birth are recorded as Austria in this census. Not quite correct--I’m pretty sure the enumerator was supposed to record the place of birth by the current political designation, which would have been Czechoslovakia at that time (but part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time they were born). On the other hand, maybe the enumerator didn’t question John’s saying they were born in Austria. ‘Cause you know, Mitchell is such an Austrian-sounding name….

In spite of changing their name to something more American-sounding, and buying a house and settling down for years at the same place, neither John nor Carrie appear to have taken steps to become citizens; they are both still aliens in 1940.

Consistent with the 1930 census and with his 1937 Social Security account application, John is doing auto metal work in 1940. In 1930 the census specified “sheet metal” work, and in 1937 he was employed by Bayside Auto Body Work in Bayside, Long Island.

1940 U.S. census, occupation and industry columns for John and Carrie

Carrie will not be found in the 1950 census when it is released in 2022; she died of cancer in 1945. John lived for several more years, visiting his brother George’s family in Michigan at least once. He died in 1952 in College Point, Queens.[3] His only child had died in infancy,[4] so he has no descendants.

John's and Carrie's gravestone, div. 10, row 46, plot 43, Mt. St. Mary Cemetery, Flushing, New York. Whoever took care of John's burial arrangements apparently did not have John's name added to the headstone. Photo taken by Julie Michutka, November 2009.

[1] Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, 1897-1957, microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: NARA, roll 5035), SS Europa, for Karolina Michutka, p. 151 [stamped], line 20; digital image, “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” online database, ( : accessed 10 November 2006). [corrected from original posting, which mistakenly cited Carrie's 1905 manifest entry]
[2] John Mitchell, SS no. 104-03-8281, 20 May 1937, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.
[3] City of New York, certificate of death no. 2346, Caroline Mitchell, 15 March 1945; Dept. of Health. Also, City of New York, certificate of death no. 156-52-403649, John Mitchell, 11 April 1952; Dept. of Health.
[4] City of New York, death certificate no. 29574, Caroline Mitchutka, 27 September 1911; Dept. of Health. John's daughter was the child of his first wife Mary Perdoch.

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