Based on interview of Helen Tarkany Piros (niece of John Tarkany) conducted by her son, Bob Piros in November of 2002.
John Tarkany was born on June 26, 1881 in Csesznek, Hungary. He worked in the coal mines at an early age with his father George SR. and his brothers, Gabor, George JR. and Mike. The coal companies in the United States sent representatives to Hungary to sign up coal miners to come to America to work in the coal mines. John emigrated to the U.S.A. on the vessel N. Finland and he arrived at the Port of New York in the State of New York on the 9th day of March 1903. He started working for the Pocahontas Fuel Company in Virginia. He married Anna Stercz on July 31, 1904 at the Presbyterian Hungarian Church in Pocahontas. In 1908, John moved his family to Cherry Tree West Virginia and he started working for the Island Creek Coal Company. John worked as a transportation agent going back to Hungary to hire laborers to work in the coal fields. He made good money and he purchased some land in Hungary that was used by other Tarkany members left there. John made many trips back there. He would sign the miners up and then go with them by vessel back to the U.S.A. During the two weeks it took to get to the U.S.A., John would educate the men about the goings on in America.
During the time that he lived in Cherry Tree with his family, John purchased a house and some other lots. He owned a two story house. He also either gave or sold a lot on which the Pilgrim Holiness Church was built. John also had a duplex built on the lot behind the Church. Due to the large influx of coal miners coming to work for Island Creek Coal Company, John was advised that he might be able to make more and easier money by hauling food to the coal miners. In 1918, John opened up a store in Cherry Tree and he started taking orders from the coal mines and miners. At onetime there were some 2,500 miners working for Island Creek; most of them lived in the Holden and Whitman Creek areas. Island Creek Coal Company built the houses for their workers to live in and the miners purchased most of their living items from the company store located in Holden. Communities sprang up all over Logan County. This is how Cherry Tree got started. Some people purchased acres of land and then sold them off in separate lots. As more people came into the area, there became a need for more services. Thus up went stores, gas stations, repair shops and other business enterprises.
During the Depression years, John Tarkany and his wife Anna lost everything that they owned except the two story house. They built a store on one side and Anna sold items from the store and John took orders and made house to house deliverers.
During the time John went back to Hungary he would always take boxes of clothes and other things to give to the Tarkany family members left in Hungary. John died in 1941 and his wife Anna still sent things back to the relatives. Her last letter to them was in 1947 and she told them that since none of her daughters could write in the Hungarian language and that due to her illness no more letters or packages would be sent. When we started our search for family members in 1987 and found the rest of the Tarkany family, they sent us pictures and letters that Anna Tarkany had sent them through the years. They said they had thought that all the Tarkany family members had died. They didn’t know that Anna had died in 1957.