Muscatine County, Iowa



Submitted December 12, 2019 by
Deanna Bennett, email:

The following are the words of Mary Zukasty about her life and her calling to a religious life. Sister Mary Anatolia worked as a domestic 1897 - 98 in Ft Atkinson, IA, 1899 - 1900 LaCrosse, WI at St Francis, 1900 - 03 in Rozellville, 1903 - 07 in Des Moines, 1907 - 10 in St Mary’s Ridge, 1910-16 in Des Moines, 1916-28 in Luxemberg 1928-30 in Balltown, 1930-31 in LaCrosse St Rose, 1931-32 in Hills, 1932-39 in Halbur, 1939-40 in Loyal, 1940 in Villa St Joseph’s.

Mary was the niece of my G.G. Grandmother, Julia Zukasty Bujewski. Julia came to Muscatine in 1868 and her brother came about 1875. After many years of searching I found Julia's marriage in 1868 in Jaktorow, Poland on the Poznan Marriage Project. Her last name was spelled Culkowska and her brother's last name on his marriage record in 1871 in Margonin, Poland was spelled Sulkowski. Through DNA I was able to find the third sibling in their family - Augusta Calhowski who married Hermann Regenberg in Moline, IL. Their names were misspelled when they came to America - very common with Polish names. You will only find the Zukasty name through Joseph's children and as far as I know it has died out. However, Joseph does have descendants still living in Muscatine, County, Iowa. If I were to guess which spelling in Poland is correct, I would think Sulkowski was their name. Joseph’s parents are given on his marriage as Antonius Sulkowski and Anna Heimann. They both died about 1855 in Poland.

I still had scant information about this family until I contacted the convent and asked if they had information in Mary’s file. Mary was the oldest daughter of 10 children. Two boys died as babies and two died in their youth. Of the remaining children only two had descendants. When I read Mary’s story I knew it must be shared.

- - Mary Zukasty's early life - -

     I was born 8 Jul 1878 on a farm on the outskirts of Muscatine, Iowa. Our home was a log house consisting of one large room and a kitchen. The other buildings were similar to the log cabin. A small orchard surrounded the house.

     In the summer time I took care of the children, kept the house in order and saw to it that the poultry was fed at the proper time. I did this because my mother had to help in the field. My parents always took their dinner along which gave me the opportunity of managing the household during the day.

     When I was eight years old, I took my mother’s place in the field and she remained in the house. At the age of nine, during the time of my mother’s illness for three months I prepared the meals and took care of the twins.

     Many sacrifices were connected with taking care of the twins. They had to be nursed with the bottle. Frequestly during the night they would cry and had to be carried or rocked. Often when I was tired I slept on the floor beside the cradle rocking the twins at intervals when they cried. This gave mother some rest.

     The last two months of my father’s illness I took care of him during the greater portion of the night, standing aside of his rocking chair, assisting him in his illness by applying cold applications to his head. My mother was not able to be up with father. On account of poverty at home we were not able to hire help.

     I had no opportunity to attend school. My two oldest brothers attended school during the winter months. As my parents were unable to do the work alone I had to remain at home to help do the necessary work. My first opportunity to attend school was at the age of ten in January 1899 at St. Mary’s School Muscatine Iowa. I received First Holy Communion June 19, 1892 and Confirmation on November 5, 1893. I attended the parochial school until the end of June 1894. After that I went to work.

     Both of my parents died January 1889. I was only ten years of age.

     My calling to the religious state was singular. I had no intention of embracing it. At the age of 15 I had a wonderful dream. I saw God, The Father sitting on a throne, having open before him the Book of Life and he spoke to me thus, “Look here, this is all for you.” I looked at the book and saw that on one side of the page in the Book of Life was filled with small writing. It was known to me that these were the graces prepared for me that I was to receive in the Religious state. The voice of God continued, “You are afraid to embrace the Religious life on account of the difficulties and trials connected with it. You will be able to endure the trials of life. It will not be as hard as it seems to you now. The necessary grace will be given to you.”

     In this dream also my lot in the world was made known and shown to me. I saw the other side of the page in the Book of Life which was nearly empty. These were the few graces I was to receive in the world. It seemed to me that I had risked my salvation.

     Again God the Father spoke to me, “Now choose what you would prefer to do – remain in the world, enjoy the pleasures of the world and risk your salvation or sacrifice the pleasures of the world, enter the Religious State, bear trials and receive life everlasting. If you preserver to the end, see the happiness God has prepared for you, life Eternal. This beautiful vision of God made such a deep impression on me that I kept it a secret. Finally at the age of seventeen, in October 1895 I entered the Religious State. I trust that the God who has brought me thus far will give me grace to preserve to the end.

Family History of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Zukasty, parents of Mary Zukasty
that was found in Mary's files.

     Joseph Zukasty, the youngest of three children, was born in Poland. His parents died when he was twelve years old. The children were then obliged to make their home among strangers one not knowing where the other was. Later on he married Julia Dujewski (Julia Wieczorek on their marriage record in Poland). To this union two children were born while yet across the ocean.

     Times were exceedingly hard and Joseph decided to move to America where his only sister had already emigrated. He settled on the outskirts of Muscatine, Iowa in a little log house. His means were meager, but when means increased they moved on the island of Muscatine. The members of the family increased to ten. In the fall of 1899 Mr. Zukasty began to fail. His illness gradually grew worse. Doctors claimed he had consumption but he died of the dropsy in January 1899 leaving ten children, seven living and three dead. Mrs. Zukasty attended the funeral of her husband but when she returned she felt ill. The next day she was unable to get up. That night she called for all the children and told them that their dad appeared to her and told her that he was coming to get her. He said it was so nice where he was and that it was too hard for her to live alone. She spoke her parting words to each one and breather her last. The doctor said she died of heartbrokenness.

     The two oldest are twins, Henry and Leo. Henry died as a babe. Leo was 14 when his parents died. He went to work for a farmer in Nichols, IA. He died of pneumonia at age 20.

     Ernest worked for a farmer near Muscatine. This did not suit him so he went to work for Mrs. Will near Muscatine. When she moved to Cleveland he went with her and is still working for her there.

     John and Mary, twins, were born in 1878. John died at age 2. Mary went to stay with the Sisters. When she was 17 she entered St. Rose Convent.

     August stayed with the sisters a short time then went to work for a farmer and later married. He worked in a button factory 4 years and now is farming.

     Anthony stayed with the sisters 4 mos. Then was adopted by a Davenport family. When the Spanish American War broke out he was working for a farmer. He went to fight the war and was never seen again.

     Frank was four when his parents died. He went to live with the nuns and died there at age 11.

     Julia and Joseph, twins, were born in 1888. Joseph died at 5 months. Julia was 9 mos old when her parents died. She stayed with the nuns until age 15. She first worked for a farmer, then a lady with tuberculosis. The lady’s family moved to Peach, California and she went with them. She married and is still there.

Note from Deanna - I found no record of Julia marrying in California. She died with her maiden name and I found her on many census records always with the name Zukasty. However, it appears she had two sons. On her tombstone in Olive Lawn Memorial Park, La Merada, CA it says Beloved Mother. There are two birth records of boys born in Los Angeles with the mother’s surname listed as Zukasty. One boy had two records. On one he is William D. Trishman on the other he is William D. Zukasty both have Zukasty as the mother’s name. There is one death certificate in California for a William David (last name Confidential) who had the same birth date 31 Dec 1913. It lists Frieshman as his father’s name and Zukasty as his mother but his last name was different. The other boy was born 29 Sep 1916 (both were born in Los Angeles county). His name was James Zukasty. I found no record of his life or death under that name. I assume both boys were adopted or raised by the father. I did not find a James or William Frieshman or Trishman with their birth dates. Genealogy is a long process about solving mysteries...

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Page created December 12, 2019 by Lynn McCleary