Funeral Card Friday – Caroline B. Wolford

I have a small collection of funeral cards. It seems that whenever a family member dies, I don’t take one funeral card. I take seven or eight. Thus, I have a lot of funeral cards for just a few relatives. My great grandmother Caroline lived to be 93 years old. I didn’t go to her funeral as I was closing out the first semester of my senior year of college in Cleveland and the funeral was 900 miles away in Topeka. I think my mom brought this back for me. A lovely quotation from the Prayer of Saint Francis is on the card.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Military Monday – World War I Draft Registration of Carl Porubsky

In 1918 America was deeply involved in World War I and men were needed by the thousands to serve in the United States Army. The Selective Service Act of 1917 authorized the government to conscript men into service to fight overseas. On September 12, 1918, the pool was increased requiring all men 21-45 to register. 
With wife Lizzie and daughter Caroline at home in Little Russia 33-year old Carl Porubsky, my great great grandfather, went to the local registration office and was registered for possible conscription into Uncle Sam’s Army.
Interestingly, this draft card lists his name as Charles. I’m certain it’s for Carl. The date of birth, wife’s name, and address all align with other sources I have for Carl. Perhaps the woman transcribing it, Besse Buechner, heard ‘Charles’ in Carl’s heavy accent?

Family Recipe Friday – Porubsky’s Chili

I haven’t been to Topeka in 20 years, but I’m certain that a small deli in Little Russia was putting out the same chili then that can be found there today. Topeka is the birthplace of my great grandmother Caroline Porubsky and an eponymous deli, Porubsky’s.

Porubsky’s Deli at 508 N.E. Sardou Street was first opened by Charlie Porubsky in 1947. Charlie is my 1st cousin, 3x removed. For those of you who aren’t good at figuring out cousin relationships (which was me, before my interest in genealogy), I’ll break it down for you starting with my 3rd great grandmother, Christina Porubsky:

Charles and my great grandmother Caroline were first cousins.
Charlie’s grocery and deli soon became famous for two things: hot pickles and chili. Now, I say all of this having never been to Porubsky’s Deli. But there’s enough on the internet for me to believe this is true. There’s even a documentary:
Porubsky’s chili recipe appears on a few different websites, and while I can’t verify its accuracy, I figured I would give it a try anyway and report back for my millions of loyal readers. So here, complete with photos, is the supposed Porubsky’s chili recipe:

  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds coarsely ground chuck
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • Two 16-ounce cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Tobasco to taste
  • Saltine crackers

  1. In a large skillet or gallon pot, sauté the onions and garlic in the oil until they are soft.
  2. Add the beef and salt. Cook until the beef is completely browned, breaking it up with a fork as it cooks. Drain off any excess fat.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, Worcestershire, sugar, tomato sauce, and 2 cups water.
  4. Bring the chili to a low boil and summer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the beans and simmer 15 minutes more.
  6. Add the Tobasco and more salt, if desired.
This was delicious!
The chili was a winner in my book. A very simple beef and red bean chili with great flavor and mild heat. You could obviously jack that up with more Tabasco or by adding red pepper. I added a few dashes of Tabasco and it was perfect me for. If you’re looking for a great, simple recipe, give this one a try.

Jane and Michael Stern. Porubsky’s Grocery Store Chili – Kansas. The Recipe Link Accessed May 8, 2013.

Matthew Porubsky. “Porubsky’s Transcendent Deli.” YouTube. Gizmo Pictures, August 9, 2009. Accessed May 8, 2013.

Wordless Wednesday – The Porubsky’s

Family photo. Click to enlarge.
Dapper in their floral print, this is my great, great grandparents Carl (1885 – 1962) and Elizabeth Schulmeister (1887 – 1977) Porubsky. This photo was probably taken near their home in Topeka, Kansas. Carl was a Volga German born in Saratov, Russia who immigrated to the United States in 1901. Elizabeth was born in the United States. Her parents were likewise Volga Germans who had immigrated in 1886.

Sylvester V. ‘Pop’ Porubsky, 1916 – 1950

Sylvester Porubsky was the son of John and Catherine Porubsky and was Grandma Caroline Wolford’s first cousin. John Porubsky and grandma’s father Carl were brothers. Sylvester was born on 15 November 1916 in Plains, Kansas.

At the start of World War II, Sylvester entered the Army. I don’t know (yet) if he was drafted or volunteered, but in September 1944 he was a 2nd Lt in 1st Platoon, Able Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion (Rudder’s Rangers). He joined the company after D-Day as a replacement officer. In the book, ‘The Battalion’ by Robert Black, Sylvester is mentioned several times:
“The battalion was attached to the 311th Infantry of the 78th Infantry Division. At 0815 on the morning of January 2, a messenger arrived from the regimental commander of the 311th. The message read, “We must have a prisoner by 2400 hours.” Able Company was alerted to the mission and planning began. The day was relatively quiet. There was some incoming German mortar fire, and a German self-propelled gun fired twenty-five rounds without causing injury. Seven enemy planes flew overhead but they did not strafe  As evening came on heavy vehicular movement could be heard from the German lines but it was soon quiet.

Lt. Sylvestor “Pop” Porubsky would lead the Able Company patrol consisting of Sgt. Joe Drake, Sgt. Garland “Gabby” Heart, T/5 Richard Rankin, T/5 Gerald Shroeder, and PFC Eugene Pycz…

As the winter night closed in, the patrol readied itself and conducted final checks. At 1935 hours Pop Porubsky led them out from battalion lines to search for a lightly manned German outpost, a forward position…

The Germans and the Americans saw each other simultaneously and at close range… Fifty-nine minutes had passed since Porubsky’s patrol had crossed into this no-mans-land… Dick Rankin was crawling forward to close on the enemy when a potato masher grenade exploded beside his head seriously wounding him…

Porubsky and Drake hastily bandaged Rankin’s wounds and carried him back to friendly lines. Medic Joe Guerra administered plasma, and Rankin was evacuated… He would be treated in hospitals in Belgium, France, England and the United States, where he met a Red Cross volunteer named Lucy Lolli. In time they married.”1

The unit history of Company A, 2nd Rangers, tells the story of how Lt. Porubsky was lost to the unit in April 1945:

On April 6, we lost Lt. Porubsky, not as a war casualty, but as a matrimonial victim to an army nurse. It appears our Lt. had gotten himself engaged when he was back in Schmidthof. How after a couple of months of waiting, he finally had received the permission to marry the girl. That day saw the Lt. nervously packing his belongings and throwing them on a jeep which awaited him. That night we had one bachelor less in the company. “Congratulations” and best wishes, Lt. May happiness and health follow your every footstep through your journey of life and may your marriage bring you the bliss the enjoyment you had so rightfully earned for yourself.

In 1950, as the United States entered Korea, Sylvester again found himself leading men in combat. His citation for a Distinguished Service Cross tells the tale:

Awarded posthumously for actions during the Korean War
The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Sylvester V. Porubsky (ASN: 0-1313302), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving with Company A, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. First Lieutenant Porubsky distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces near Chirwon-ni, Korea, on 1 September 1950. On this date, Company A was assigned the mission of retaking a ridge in the vicinity of Chirwon-ni, Korea. Shortly after darkness Lieutenant Porubsky deployed his platoon in a skirmish line and moved slowly and silently up the hill through the hostile fire. When the silently-moving group unnerved the enemy and flashes from their weapons disclosed the hostile positions, Lieutenant Porubsky and his platoon neutralized the opposition with grenades. As the platoon continued its movement up the hill, the enemy, terrified by the silent attack, hastily abandoned their positions and fled. When the enemy moved over the crest of the hill, Lieutenant Porubsky led his platoon in a charge which destroyed the hostile ranks with grenades and rifle fire, accounted for thirty enemy dead, and secured a vital position in the battalion defense line. Lieutenant Porubsky’s outstanding heroism, superb leadership and tactical ability reflects great credit on himself and the military service.

General Orders: Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea: General Orders No. 169 (November 13, 1950)
Action Date: September 1, 1950
Service: Army
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company A
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Regiment: 27th Infantry Regiment
Division: 25th Infantry Division

Sylvester survived this action, but was killed five days later on 6 September, probably before he knew anything about being awarded the DSC. He left behind a wife, Audrey, the nurse he met during World War II and four children.

Putting ‘Chirwon-ni, Korea’ into Google Maps doesn’t yield any promising results, however a friend of mine is a Korean native and provided additional information:

Around the time that he was killed (1 – 8 September 1950), the North Koreans picked up the pace with their offensive that pushed the ROK and US troops to the brink. The KPA launched attacks on five different fronts, including Haman, which is the district Chilwon-ri is located. During this period, the Eighth Army and ROK Army HQ in Taegu was forced to retreat to Pusan.

On 15 September 1950, UN Command troops launched Operation Chromite, which was the amphibious landing operation of Incheon Port.

The location of Chilwon-ri, now Chilwon-myeon (myeon is the next level of administration after ri. Over time the population grew and was later upgraded to a higher administrative level) is approximately 53 km west-north-west of Pusan.

You can look it up on Google Earth at the following geocoordinates:
Latitude: 35.308781°Longitude: 128.518522°  (link added)

On both Google Earth and Google Maps, you can search for the location with the following search phrase:

Chilwon-myeon, Haman-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea

You probably had some trouble with the exact spelling of the location, as the spelling of the town on the citation was based on the old pronunciation.

Korean, being a phonetic alphabet, could be very confusing when written in English. Hope this helps, and please tell your grandmother that I greatly appreciate people like her cousin who fought in defense of my country. The Pusan Perimeter was the most important operation that allowed any counter-offensive to work, and Operation Chromite would not have been successful had it not been for people like those with the 25th Division.


Sylvester’s grave marker, Hayden Section, Mount Calvary Cemetery, Topeka, Kansas (source)

Black, Col. Robert W. “The Battalion: The Dramatic Story of the 2nd Ranger Battalion in World War II.” Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA. 2006. Pg. 239-240.

Military Times. “Valor awards for Sylvester V. Porubsky.” Accessed 1 Oct 2012.

Prince, Morris, “Co. A, 2nd Ranger Battalion: Overseas then Over the Top.” Self published. Collection of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Pg. 57.