Pioneering Dreams: Independent Margaret Kobylarz

Pioneering Dreams: Independent Margaret Kobylarz

In Redstone Township, Pennsylvaniai, a bustling coke town at the beginning of the 20th Century, Margaret Kobylarz held a challenging yet integral role in the industrial fabric of the community. The air in Redstone was thick with the acrid smell of burning coal, and the rhythmic clatter of machinery reverberated through the narrow streets. As the wife of a laborer in the coke ovens, she navigated a world shaped by the relentless production demands of the steel industry.  

She was born Małgorzata Kwaśnik to parents Szymon Kwaśnik and Katarzyna Wdowiak on 30 October 1872 in Krzątka, Galiciaii. At age 19, her parents arranged for her to marry Wawrzyniec Kobylarz, a 25-year-old farmer, also from Krzątkaiii

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Marriage entry: 10 February 1892; Wawrzyniec Kobylarz, farmer, son of Wojciech Kobylarz and Jadwiga Jaskot, born and lives in Krzątka. Małgorzata Kwaśnik, age 19, daughter of Szymon Kwaśnik and Katarzyna Wdowiak, born and lives in Krzątka. 

During their first five years of marriage, the new couple had 3 daughters: Marianna, Małgorzata and Anna.iv However, life changed for them in 1898.v Most likely for reasons due to economics, Małgorzata’s husband left to take a job in America. At 31, she was left alone in Galicia with 3 young daughters under the age of 5. Thankfully, she had her extended family in Krzątka that was able to help her with her husband out of the country.  

In early 1899, Małgorzata’s 6-month daughter, Anna, passed away; Małgorzata’s husband never had a chance to meet her, as he had left before she had been  

At the turn of the century, Małgorzata and Wawrzyniec wrote letters to each other. She would tell how beautiful their daughters were, and the sounds of their joyous laughter as they grew up alongside their cousins in the green fields of Krzątka; he would share about the industrial boom occurring in Southwestern Pennsylvania as well as the new multi-cultural community that was forming and the opportunities that were available. In one of these letters, Wawrzyniec sent money specifically for Małgorzata and their two daughters to immigrate and join him in Redstone, Pennsylvania.  

In June 1907, Małgorzata packed up the bare minimum for her and her daughters and boarded the SS Pennsylvania in Hamburg, which would take them across the vast Atlantic. Małgorzata was 34 and her two daughters were 13 and 11. In addition to her two daughters, she led a troupe of 3 other young women from Krzątka, looking to make a better life in America, across the Atlantic: Ewa Dul, Łucja Rębisz and Józefa Lidwin.vii 

Upon arrival, she saw her husband again for the first time in 9 yearsviii. He had a small home, and the newly reunited family began to get to know each other again. Małgorzata’s days were marked by tireless domestic labor, as she tended to her home, cared for her daughters, and managed the household amidst the constant hum surrounding her. The immigrant community in Redstone formed a tight-knit support network, where shared languages and cultural bonds offered solace in a foreign land. The harsh conditions of the coke town were tempered by the camaraderie of neighbors, all striving for a better life amid the smoky landscape.  

Małgorzata, now known as Margaret in her new homeland, went on to have 4 more children in her late 30s and early 40s with her husband: John, Charles, Ann and Helenix. She had resilience etched into every line on her weathered face, became a vital force in sustaining both her family and community amidst the challenging and gritty reality of life in Redstone. 

AI generated coke mining community

End Notes

i Wikipedia, “Redstone Township, PA”.,_Pennsylvania. Accessed 6 Jan 2024. 
ii Krzątka Births, 1858-1879. Parafia pw. Matki Bożej Nieustającej Pomocy, Krzątka, Poland. Year 1872. 
iii Krzątka Marriages, 1887-1907. Parafia pw. Matki Bożej Nieustającej Pomocy, Krzątka, Poland. Year 1892, act 5. 
iv Marianna was born in 1893, Małgorzata born in 1895, and Anna born in 1898, all in Krzątka. Scans of the birth records for the daughters can be found online:,list,384463,1   
v While her husband’s passenger manifest has not been found yet, the 1910 US Federal Census lists his immigration year as 1898.  
Citation: 1910 United States Federal Census,, Provo, UT. Loronz Cobolash:  
vi Majdan Królewski Parish Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1895-1899. State Archives in Sandomierz, Sandomierz, Poland. Entry: Krzątka year 1899, act 29 – Anna Kobylarz. Scans available online:,list,384465,1  
vii New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957., Provo, UT. Year 1907, Line 5, Page 49, SS Pennsylvania.  
viii While her husband’s passenger manifest has not been found yet, the 1910 US Federal Census lists his immigration year as 1898. It is speculated, for storytelling purposes, that she most likely did not see her husband between the years of 1898-1907. 
Citation: 1910 United States Federal Census,, Provo, UT. Loronz Cobolash: 
ix John was born in 1909, Charles in 1911, Ann (born Stephanie) in 1914, and Helen in 1916.  
Citation: 1920 United States Federal Census,, Provo, UT. Lawrence Kobelish family: Roll T625_1570, page 14B, enumeration district 78, Redstone, Fayette, Pennsylvania.  


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