Joseph Vanyo/Helen Sariska Vanyo

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Andreas Vanyo/Anna Matta Vanyo        John Sariski/Katrina Unknown


Joe and Helen Vanyo on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, Summer 1940




Andrew William Vanyo, Joseph Thomas Vanyo, Helen Matilda Vanyo,

John William Vanyo, Michael Henry Vanyo, George Emil Vanyo, Francis Emil Vanyo,

Stephen Daniel Vanyo, Emily Ann Vanyo,

Anna Cecelia Vanyo, Emil Vanyo


Joseph & Helen Vanyo, son of Andro & Anna Vanyo

Joseph Vanyo born Feb 18, 1867 in the village of Janovik, House #20, Budimir Parish, in the Kosice District, Slovakia Occupation: farmer, inventor

Joseph passed away on Dec 4, 1956 at Home, in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

Joseph's Age: 89 Years, 9 Months, 16 Days

Joseph buried at Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery, Tabor, MN

Married Helen Sariska on Oct 31, 1890 at East Mauch Chunk (since known as Jim Thorpe), PA

Years Married: 60 Years, 0 Months, 30 Days

Helen Sariska born Apr 4, 1871 in Deco, Slovakia

Helen's Father: John Sariski

Helen's Mother: Katrina Helen passed away on Nov 30,1950 at Home, in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

Helen's Age: 79 Years, 7 Months, 26 Days 'Helen buried at Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery, Tabor, MN



. Andrew William born Oct 5, 1891 in Shamokin, PA

. Joseph Thomas "Joe" born Ju119, 1893 in Shamokin, PA

. Helen Matilda born Oct 4,1895 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

. John William born Nov 22,1897 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

. Michael Henry "Mike" born Oct 14.1900 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

. George Emil born Nov 14,1902 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

. Francis Emil "Frank" born Mar 10, 1905 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

. Stephen Daniel "Steve" born Dee 11, 1906 in Northland Twp., Polk Co.,MN

. Emily Ann "Emma" born Dee 11, 1906 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

. Martha Mary born Apr 4,1910 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

. Anna Cecelia "Ann" born Apr 14, 1912 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN

. Emil born Mar 4, 1915 in Northland Twp., Polk Co., MN


Joseph was born Feb 18, 1867 in the village of Janovik, House #20, in Budimir Parish, in the Kosice District of Slovakia. Stephen remembered his father, Joseph, tell how this was a small village, but the land that they farmed was out in the country. They would get up early in the morning to go out in the fields to hoe the potatoes, cabbage and other vegetables. Breakfast, brought out to the field by the women, consisted of potato soup and rye bread or rice. when Joseph was still a young boy, he would climb on the apple, plum, pear, and peach trees. the trees were right by their house, but the one that Joseph took great pride in was a nut tree that was 25 feet in diameter.

When Joseph was 15 or 16 years old (1882-1883), he wished that he could come to America. His older brother John had already gone and had settled in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. One day Joseph finally got enough money to come to the United States. but since he didn't have a passport, needed to cross the border, he had to promise that he would come back to serve in the army. Elvern Vanyo remembered that Joseph, at the age of seventeen, together with a companion, John Sedlacek, left his home in Janovik on March 1, 1884. Stephen Vanyo remembered that Joseph (and John Sedlacek) managed to get to Heidelberg, Germany, get on a ship and hide out until they were out on the ocean. Apparently there were others that had to do the same thing to get their chance at the New World. Elvern Vanyo remembered that they arrived in New York on March 16, 1884. Stephen Vanyo remembered his father's first impressions of America as being, "things look so different!". Since he, at the time, did not know a single word of English, he really had a tough time.
But Joseph had three sisters and a brother living in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. After getting to Pennsylvania, he found that money didn't "roll down the chute". His brother-in-law got him a job picking slate from the coal. Stephen Vanyo remembered that his father said he was as dirty as a monkey before the day was over and he only go 75 cents to take home. The first day he went to the coal mines, he had never sweat so much in his entire life. Now he was getting a taste of America. Later, he figured out a way so he wouldn't have to shovel coal by hand. He made a chute from tin and positioned it so when the dynamite would explode, the coal would roll by itself into the car, but even that wasn't an easy job. His average pay was between $3.50 and $5.50 a week.

When Joseph was 22 (1890), he started to think about getting married, but meeting a girl wasn't easy. One day, Joseph went to a house party. He sang a song and when he got done, one of the ladies said she had never heard a voice like that. (I think it was said as a compliment.) During their conversation, she told him she had an 18 year old sister, who wanted to get married. the lady gave Joseph her sister's address and the next day he went to see her. (As told by Stephen Vanyo.) .

When he met the lady the first morning, she was washing clothes. Her name was Helen Saiska. She had come to the United States in 1890. Helen was born in Deco, Slovakia, according to Elvern Vanyo, and worked as a domestic for her sister and brother-in-law, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Vargovcik.

Joseph told Helen, who he was and that her sister had sent him. He asked her if she would marry him and she told him that she would go to the end of the world with him. She wanted to get married because she had to get up early in the morning and make breakfast for about 20 men at her sister's - (they had twenty men boarding at their house). Then she had to fill twenty dinner pails and when that was done, she had to bake twenty loaves of bread every single day! Her wages were $3.00 a month. Oct October 31, 1890, Joseph & Helen were married in East Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, at the Catholic Church. This was on a Friday. It is known that they lived in Shamokin until 1895, when they traveled west. their oldest two sons, Andrew & Joseph Jr. were born in Shamokin.

The Joseph & Helen Vanyo Family taken by Thomas Studios in Shamokin, PA about 1893 Joseph Sr., Andrew & Helen holding Joseph Jr.

Word got around that there was some good land in Minnesota that sold quite cheaply. those that got there first got the land for nothing, just by planting trees. Joseph wasn't that lucky, but his brother-in-law, Stephen Boldyzar Sr., was. Steve was in Minnesota when Joseph wrote him and asked him if he would buy a piece of land there for him, because he had a few dollars saved. Stephen invested it in 80 acres of land. The next thing Joseph had to do was save up enough money to get to Minnesota.

On May 30, 1895, Joseph, Helen, andrew & Joseph Jr. arrived in Angus, Minnesota by train. They were met by Stephen Boldyzar, who traveled there, three and a half miles, by a team of oxen. Joseph was very disappointed that there were no fruit trees, just wild grass and mud holes.

The Vanyo's stayed at the neighbors' place for over a year. The harvest was very bountiful, and they were able to begin their homestead - three miles west and one and one-half miles north of Tabor, Minnesota. This was the land Stephen invested Joseph's $5.00 on. Joseph worked out that harvest, so that they would have money to live on through the winter. The neighbor's name was John Pribula, that the Vanyo's spent the winter with. This is also where their first daughter, Helen was born.

In the spring, Joseph got some lumber and started to build their new house. One room, 20 x 20, became the kitchen, living room and bedroom - all rolled into one. On one side he made a pantry and a place to store wood. The older boys also slept there. They had no chairs, so he made a few benches and a table from lumber that he had left over from the house.

That year (1896), Joseph raised his own garden, but most of the meals were mashed potatoes and sour milk or potato soup and bread. Their meals were like that till he was able to raise a pig. He had a couple of oxen that he used to plow a few acres each year and he seeded by hand. He had a lot of hay the first few years, up to 10 stacks a year! It was cut and raked and put into piles, so that it would cure. then he had to stack it. He would then load the hay on the wagon and his wife would fix the load. Helen would unload the hay, and he would fix the stack. After the haying was done, then the harvest would begin. Joseph bought his first binder in 1897 and paid $65.00 for it. It was pulled by three horses. and oxen. The women helped with the stacking and when that was done, the grain had to be put in stacks, also. It was threshed in the fall. During the winter, Joseph would load hay on the sled the one day, and the next day, he would take it into town and sell it. He would get about $3.00 a load.

The Joseph & Helen Vanyo Sr. Family taken about 1911 (with the first Ten Children)

Back row: John, Helen, Joseph T., Andrew & Mike

Front row: Stephen, Joseph Sr., Emily, Helen with Martha on her lap, George & Frank


Sometimes, a storm would come up and the only way he would find his way home, was to let the horses go the way they wanted to. The horses would find their way home. sometimes, it would take till midnight to get homel Once when they came back, they found their barn had blown down!!! As time went on things began to look brighter and their family grew to a family of 12 children. Joseph kept buying land, till he had up to 800 acres in at He also added on to the house. The family all stayed home. There weren't any jobs to be had in town. They didn't have to worry about the children getting spoiled, because they seldom went out at all. The children were given more responsibilities as they grew and were expected to do their share of the work on the farm. It was a religious home and the children were raised with deep convictions. They attended church in Tabor, where the first Catholic church was built in 1893. when the church building was destroyed by wind, they attended Mass in the house belonging to Jacob Novak. Joseph became a Trustee of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church for many years.

A team of horses was the main source of transportation and often the family had to walk. The children walked 2 1/2 miles to school every day and often times the boys walked to Tabor for an occasional dance. If the older boys helped the neighbors and earned a nickel, the pay was given to the parents! Since Joseph was always trying to invent things, so h wouldn't have to work too hard, he would take a pocket knife and a piece of wood and sit in his chair. He started to carve on the wood, till he had made a lock. Later he applied for a patent on it. He thought he "had it made", but by the time he got everything done, it had cost him $1,000.00, to get a die made and to start to manufacture the lock. He started to sell it, but the First World War began, and everything stopped, and that was the end of the lock. Another foiled attempt at making it big, was when Joseph bought some land in Alaska, that was thought to have gold on it. Needless to say, no one had gone up there, and not a dime was had of this venture either. As the First World War begin in 1914, none of the Vanyo boys were drafted for the effort. Farm boys had to register, like the rest, but they were needed to work on the farms. In 1916, Joseph bought his first tractor. It was a Waterloo Boy that he bought for $800.00, and used it for plowing. That year, he also purchased his first used car, a Dodge for $880.00.

In 1918, Joseph bought a used 1530 Runley and a threshing machine for $3,000.00. Farming was all small grains, but the garden, the cattle, and the poultry were all major parts of "making a living" . They began building the large eight-room farm house in 1919, which still stands today (2001). The cost was approximately $4,000., however, much of the labor was done by the family. A hailstorm in 1920, took all the crops and with no hail insurance, they had no income. A damaging tornado also struck that same year. Then in 1930 and 1931, the Depression loomed. It took a strong faith and a hardy character to continue despite all these setbacks. During the Depression, the crops would be drowned one year, and the next year be blown out. when Joseph had a car load of barley to sell, he shipped it by rail to Duluth. He ended up getting a bill for $15.00 on it for the shipping cost instead of getting any money for the sale. (It cost more to ship and the grain was worth!) Joseph also lost three thousand dollars when the State Bank of Alvarado went bankrupt. When World War II came along, the prices got better, and the crops were pretty good. Joseph was finally able to payoff all he owed and all the land too!!!


Celebrating Joseph T. Vanyo's 85th Birthday on Jul10, 1978 Standing are John, Mike, Steve, George & Joseph T. Seated are Ann Gust, Helen Myerchin & Martha Henrickson

Their Golden Wedding Anniversary was celebrated in October 1940, when aU of their eleven living children, along with their families came home to celebrate with them. Helen died in 1950 from diabetes. Norbert Vanyo remembered being there when she died at home - never a day in the hospital! It seemed that her heart kept beating a while after she had died. Joseph died in 1956, at home also and he too, never spent a day of his life in the hospital. "Hospital were for sick people", it was often said. Norbert Vanyo remembered being at his Grandpa's side when he died, along with many other people, including John & Anna Vanyo. John became the executor the Joseph Vanyo, Sr. estate.

....Vanyo Family Book



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