Search This Blog

Friday, September 6, 2013

Kalyna Prytula nee Geryla


Her Early Years
This is the story about Kalyna Geryla, an immigrant woman from the Ukraine or Poland, depending on what time frame you are looking at. She was my great grandmother and I am going to attempt to tell her life story here. In almost every piece of information I found on her, her surname was spelled differently. I have chose to use GERYLA, but will print the other variations as I have found them. If you are researching this woman don’t count her out on account of the spelling of her last name. If you are researching this woman I would be happy to hear from you. You can contact me at

Kalyna was born to Henry GEROLO (1), August 1, 1879(2) in Galicia, Austria. Kalynas birth year has also been reported as 1877 by my aunt Francis Sowa. I have not been successful in finding out who her mother was. Family lore says she had a twin sister, I have been unsuccessful in establishing that fact. I’m sure there was a twin, and I sure like to know what her name was. I would also like to know if she had other siblings, and if they came to Canada at some point. Kalyna’s life could probably have been considered a good one, however the feeling I get was that she was not truly a happy woman. There were ups, and many downs. Not much is known yet about her life in the old country. I’m hoping someone reading this will be able to educate me.

Her Married Life
1894 - Kalyna’s married life began on September 24, 1894(3), in Austria-Hungary. She married Michael Prytula. Was this an arranged marriage?
Michael Prytula is my great grandfather. To this day I still don’t know who his parents were. He was born in Bielze, Zlote, Galicia, September 18, 1869.(6) He too led an eventful life, not all good, but not all bad either. Michael died in 1951, and is also buried at Hope Cemetery, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Again, nothing is known about the early years of Kalyna’s married life. Did she and Michael have children before they came to Canada?
How can I find out where she and Michael were living in 1895? (it was not Canada)

Her Children
Kalyna and Michael had at least 8 children born in Canada. I’m going to touch on each of them here but I will create a separate blog for each one of them in time. Of course, if there is something you’d like to discuss with me or share with me about her children feel free to contact me at the email address above.
1900 – Michael came to Canada first, probably to scope out a job and find a place to live.
1901 - Michael was found on a 1901 Census boarding in Ottawa at the home of an English family but no street address is given on these early Census forms (just wards). He claimed to be married but did not have Kalyna living there with him. During this year he returned to the old country to get Kalyna.
1902 – Kalyna and Michael left Austria and boarded a ship at Hamburg Germany to come to Canada. On the passenger list, Kalyna claimed to be 23 years old. She and Michael arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on May 29, 1902 on the vessel Arcadia. It is hard to say if this was an exciting time, or an anxious time for this couple. I think it may have been an anxious time because Kalyna was 3 or 4 months pregnant. The voyages were known not to be pleasant. Here she was arriving in a country where she could not speak or read the language, probably had no money, and probably was not able to bring anything with her except her clothes. On the Arcadias manifest they listed themselves as being from Austria. That was quite a find for me at the time because we were always told we were Ukrainian. But after some research I learned that many or most Ukrainians coming to Canada in that year listed themselves as Austrian.

The smaller woman on the right is Kalyna Gerylo, wife of Michael Prytula. The woman on the left is Maria Gladysz. Maria’s daughter Annie Gladysz married Kalyna’s son Peter Prytula
Kalyna’s last name was spelled Gerylo on Mary’s birth record.

Kalyna and Michael Prytula’s daughter Mary Petruni Prytula was born on October 17, 1902, in the area of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada that is known as Billing’s Bridge. She grew up to marry Wasyl Monuk more commonly known as William (Bill) Monk. She had at least 6 known children: Lillian; Helen; Pearl; Danny; Nancy; and Samuel.

Mary is the first lady on the left in the picture above.
1906 – Kalyna and Michael’s daughter Anna Pauline Prytula was born on October 27, 1906, in the area called South Gloucester which is now a part of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada today.
Kalyna’s surname was spelled Gyrla on Anna Pauline’s birth record.
1907 – Kalyna and Michael are listed at living at 42 Chamberlain Avenue, per a newspaper article where Michael had his bike stolen. Later the couple is listed at 22 Chamberlain Ave. It is impossible to tell if one address or the other is incorrect, or if the couple actually did move down the street, or if the street was renumbered as the city of Ottawa grew.
Today there is no 22 Chamberlain Avenue. I think it’s all parking lot from 14 Chamberlain which is a new building, a credit union actually to 42 Chamberlain, which is an old home converted into a business for an electrical contractor. The area is old.
1908 – Kalyna and Michael had a son which they named Jacob Peter Prytula on December 19, 1908. The family was living at 22 Chamberlin Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.(4) Kalyna’s surname was spelled Gerelo on Jacob’s birth record.
1909 – This was definitely a sad year for Kalyna and Michael. Their son Jacob Peter died on January 25, 1909. He would have been only 1 month and 6 days old. Infant mortality rates were high even in Ottawa, during this time frame. Pre-natal and post natal care was non-existent, and most women gave birth at home. Cleanliness and lack of sterilization posed a big problem in this city (and especially in others around the world). The medical needs of women and children were not a priority, as women were considered second class citizens....It would not be until a little later in the 20th century that women with babies would begin to be taught proper care of themselves. That type of education would not be widely accepted by the residents. It was seen originally as an invasion of their privacy, and many did not want to speak to public nurses about such personal issues. Kalyna’s surname was spelled Grelo on Jacob’s death record.
On December 26, 1909 Henry Peter Prytula was born to Kalyna and Michael. The family was still living at 22 Chamberlin St.(5) Henry’s name on his baptismal record is Hynri Piters Prytula. Kalyna’s surname was spelled Geryla.

1910 – Kalyna and Michael applied for Naturalization. This was the term used for Citizenship. They were Naturalized Canadians in June of this year. For Michael it was June 17. Kalyna’s was probably the same date. Her naturalization application said she was 5’tall, and Michael was 5’ 11” tall. As the future progressed Michael and Kalyna lost their Citizenship papers somehow. Further research shows that the Canadian Government destroyed these applications at some point. So one cannot get a copy of these 1910 records, not even today, they are gone for good.
1911 – On the 1911 Census Kalyna and Michael are reported to have been born in Poland. They had said Austria on their 1902 ship passenger list. Kalyna, Michael, Mary, Anna and Henry were living at 16 Chamberlain Avenue in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Also an Ottawa Citizen issue from 1911 confirms the family living there because his address was in the newspaper, when his name was mentioned when he was charged for selling beer.
1912 – This must have been a happy year for Kalyna and Michael because their son John was born in this year. It is unknown to me if the family was living at 22 Chamberlin St., or if they had moved to South Gloucester, another part of Ottawa.
1914 - Katherine Prytula was born this year to Michael and Kalyna. Her birthdate was May 16, 1914, and she was born in South Gloucester, now Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She grew up to marry Alexander Halchuk. They had at least two children; Carl and Anna. Carl is a famous artist. Katherine died February 1, 1975 and is buried at Pinecrest Cemetery in Ottawa.

Annie Prytula nee Gladysz is on the left, Katherine Monk nee Prytula is on the right.
1916 - Peter Prytula was born to Kalyna and Michael on January 12, 1916, in Ottawa. Peter grew up to marry Annie Gladysz. They became my grandparents. Peter and Annie had two children: Michael; and Francis. Michael is my father. Peter died in 1978 and is buried at the Hope Cemetery in Ottawa, with his wife who predeceased him in 1951.

Peter Prytula wedding photo. He is the groom. The bride is the former Annie Gladysz.
1920 – William Prytula was born to Kalyna and Michael during this year. I only assume his birth took place in Ottawa, but not sure. Bill as he was affectionately known as was in WWII. He met his wife Irene Nancie Alice Steele overseas. He brought her back to Canada, but I am not sure where they married. They had at least 4 children: Debbie, Diane, David, and Shirley. Bill died in 1969 and is buried at Our Lady of Visitation Cemetery, Ottawa, Ontario.

A 1946 picture of Bill Prytula and his wife Irene.
1922 – This could not have been a good year for the Prytula family. As per the January 24, 1922 edition of the Ottawa Citizen Kalyna was arrested on January 23rd for the murder of her grandchild. The press called her Mrs. Paulina Prytula, but I think they were just confusing her name with the middle name of one of her daughters. Or, they heard Paulina when the name was said aloud, but really it was Kalyna that was said. The article says that Mary had a baby back in November 1921, and that the baby was killed by Kalyna. Kalyna said the baby was born dead, but Anna said she heard crying coming from the room the baby was born on. Kalyna is accused of smothering it with a pillow. Kalyna said she wanted to protect her daughter. My research tells me that Mary was probably unmarried when she was pregnant. Kalyna probably wanted to protect her from the ridicule her daughter might endure for having a ‘bastard’child. Kalyna’s husband Michael says he knew nothing of the death in November, and that tells me he was probably unaware of the pregnancy all together. Either he was not living in the home, or the women hid the pregnancy from him. Something happened in the household on January 23. Maybe a big argument, and in the end Anna told her dad about the birth, and the death. He went to the police, and Kalyna was subsequently arrested. At the time of her arrest she was living at 42 Elizabeth Street. I think the house has been torn down to make way for office buildings. How can I find out the outcome of the charges? Was their a trial? Did she go to jail. I have browsed the old newspapers of the time and I have not found anything more. Maybe I will write the police and see what direction they can steer me in.
1925 – It is hard to know if this year would have been one of the happier years in Kalynas life. On July 27, 1925 Kalyna’s and Michaels daughter Anna Pauline married Stephen Walchuk, in South Gloucester, Carleton County, (now part of Ottawa), Ontario, Canada. Stephen was a blacksmith that worked at the Black Donald Mines, Ontario, Canada. He was born in Poland. Kalyna’s surname was spelled Gyrylo on Anna’s marriage record.
On September 6, 1925, Kalynas and Michaels daughter Mary Petruni Prytula married Wasyl Monuk in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan.
1932 – Could this have been another happy year for Kalyna and Michael? Their daughter Anna Pauline married Bronislaw Manugiewicz. This was the second marriage for Anna.
1936 - Henry Peter Prytula died on June 26, 1936. As far as I can tell he was unmarried. He is buried at Our Lady of Visitation Cemetery in Gloucester, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

1945 – This was definitely not a happy year for Kalyna and Michael. Their daughter Anna Pauline wife of Benny (Bronislaw Manugiewicz) died on November 27, 1945. According to her obituary, she is buried at Notre Dame Cemetery, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I do not believe she had any children with either of her husbands. Benny later remarried and had two children with his new wife.
1948 - Michael applied for their Citizenship in this year. He had claimed he had lost their Naturalization papers that were issued to them in 1910, 3 or 4 months ago. On April 5, his Canadian Citizenship was granted. He would have been about 76 years old, but his application says he was 78. He put his address as South Gloucester, Billings Bridge, and said his occupation was mason. He said his wife, whom he had been separated from for about 7 years lived in Ottawa. He had hazel eyes, greying hair and sported a moustache.
1949 – On April 28 of this year Kalyna applied for her Canadian Citizenship. She claimed she was 69 years old, had green eyes and grey hair. She put her address down as Billings Bridge. Their separation must have ended because they are both now living in Billings Bridge.
1951 –This was definitely a sad year for Kalyna. Kalynas husband Michael died in this year. He is buried at Hope Cemetery, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
1954 – Another sad year for Kalyna. Her son John died. He is buried at Our Lady of Visitation, Gloucester, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I believe he married a woman by the name of Doris Arcand. Family lore has it they he and Doris adopted two girls. Or, could they have been hers from a previous marriage.

1942 picture of my great uncle John Prytula.
1958 - Kalyna Geryla died on June 17, 1958.(1) “Mrs. Michael Prytula 11 Julien Street, died in hospital on Wednesday following a lengthy illness. She was 78.She is buried at the Hope Cemetery in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The obituary says she was buried at Notre Dame Cemetery. Hope Cemetery is an extension of Notre Dame Cemetery and is located at 4660 Bank Street.

11 Julien Street. Picture is copywrited, 2010.

Kalyna’s headstone.
Sorry, I can`t get the pics to load.

(1) Her father’s name was found in Kalyna’s obituary found in the Ottawa Citizen June 18, 1958.
(2) Her birth year of 1879 comes from her Citizenship application. Quite often immigrants did not know exactly when they were born. People from war torn countries often had no record of their births. Records were destroyed in wars and by accidental fires or lost, or destroyed by some other means.
(3) This marriage date of Sep. 20, 1894 is the one I chose to use because it has popped up on documents at least twice. It may be incorrect, however. It is unknown if Kalyna ever went to school. We know she could not read and write English when she first came to Canada. Her husband on the other hand probably did go to school, because family lore says he spoke many languages. On Kalynas Citizenship application she states she was married in September or October of 1894. On Michaels Citizenship application he states they were married Oct. 3, 1894.
(4) The information about Jacob comes from his birth record. Also interesting to note is on this record Kalynas and Michaels wedding date is November 20, 1893. This is different from the other dates of Sep. 20 1894.
(5) The information about Henry comes from his birth record. Also interesting to note is on this record Kalynas and Michaels wedding date is Sep. 20, 1894.
(6) His birth date is from his 1948 “Petition for a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship”.