I hope to be able to add brief histories of the families of Ganister, at least the ones with which I am familiar. One has to keep in mind that the town or village was all that the inhabitants knew and the community was resultingly very close-knit.
Some of the families that lived in Ganister, listed in alphabetical order with both what I figure to be the ‘original’ spelling and its eventual Americanisation. Following the list are very brief summaries of a few families.
The Fek family was quite large, with some members eventually chooosing to Americanise the name as Speck. All of the ones in Ganister, however, came from the town of Kruzlova, Slovakia, then in Austria–Hungary, and descend from a Michael and Helen (Gorun) Fek.
The Guerin family is an old colonial-era family of French Protestant descent. Ed Guerin was the first of the family to arrive in Ganister, where he worked as the supervisor of the quarry for the Pittsburgh Limestone Corporation. His brother Emmett followed and both were involved in the quarry in different capacities. Ed Guerin hired many of the Eastern European immigrants that worked in the quarry. However, one of his descendants relates the interesting story about her father, Ed’s son-in-law, moved to work in the quarries and was given some of the hardest jobs so that the other workers would not think he played favourites.
The Jackanin family is rather large, but is of not entirely known origins. The family starts with John Jackanin, born in 1864 in Austria–Hungary and who arrived in the US between 1886 and 1888. His sister was Mary Jackanin, who married first a man with the surname Demko and after his death, Michael Wapner who would later settle in Ganister. John worked in the St. Clair quarry in Ganister, on the other side of the Juniata from the Blue Hole that was operated by the Pittsburgh Limestone Corporation.
The Krajacic family, to the best of the author’s knowledge, began in Ganister with Nicholas and Annie (Verbonitz) Krajacic. Nicholas arrived from Croatia and married Annie, born in Pennsylvania to parents originally from Austria–Hungary, and they had several children together. In fact, the Krajacic name lives on as the small, unpaved lane along which a number of the old quarry homes were built.
Ganister was home to two ‘families’ with the name Wapner that were told they were unrelated. However, it appears quite likely that the two families—and thus their descendants—are in fact related, though the exact nature is not fully understood. The Wapners were originally Vapnars, from the small village now known as Roztoky, Slovakia in what was then Austria–Hungary. The two patriarchs were John Wapner, son of George and Anna (Pavelcsak) Wapner, who was born in 1881 and arrived in the US in 1900 and Michael Wapner, son of Demeter and Mary (Osifchin) Wapner, who was born in 1864 and arrived in 1887. Both John and Michael worked at the stone quarry in Ganister, although Michael appears to have first worked near Tyrone, Pennsylvania where he was severely injured in a quarry accident that left him with a crippled leg and the local nickname of ‘the Crippled Wapner’.
The Youchison family, like that of the Wapners, is interesting in that two separate families with that name have appeared in Ganister. However, there is no evidence yet that the families were related. This short piece—along with what may be written later—focuses on the family established by Michael Youchison. He was born in what is now Vysna Pisana, Slovakia in what was then Austria–Hungary in 1869. His arrival is not entirely clear, but his wife, Anna (Fek) Youchison, arrived in 1914 only a few months from the outbreak of World War I, an event that would make immigration much more difficult for those from that region of the world. Michael Youchison, like most other immigrants worked in the stone quarry of Ganister.