John Tarkany, a Prominant Early Cherry Tree Resident

Based on interview of Helen Tarkany Piros (niece of John Tarkany) conducted by her son, Bob Piros in November of 2002.

John and Anna Tarkany with daughter

John and Anna Tarkany with daughter

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.

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3 Responses to John Tarkany, a Prominant Early Cherry Tree Resident

  1. Jack Hobbs says:

    I believe that Anna was originally born a Stultz (Sterz). If so, this would have made sense if her mother’s name was Julia Stultz. She would have had a sister named Mary, and two brothers Joseph, Andrew. Andrew was my Great Grandpa. We are trying to find out where in Hungary Anna would have been from and if there were any information on her brothers and sisters that was available. We only have bits and pieces in my family. Andrew’s older sister supposedly ran a boarding house in Cherry Tree for foreign miners, Andrew supposedly donated the land for the building of the Pilgrim Holiness Church. This is the history running around in our family. Older brother of Anna/Andrew, Joseph Stultz lived in CT with family before moving to Wayne County. Andrew lived in CT until he moved his family to Ethyl, then Godby Branch, eventually Godby Heights near Chapmanville.

    • robert says:


      I remember Mr. and Mrs Stulz (always referred to Brother and Sister Stultz within the congregation) attending the church at Cherry Three and that they drove from Godby Heights to church. Their daughter, Lillian, taught school with my Mother, Virginia Taylor McCormack, at J. B. Ellis School on Mudfork. The two were also roommate one summer taking teacher classes at Marshall College (now University). It might have been Morris Harvey College. Seems to me that Mr. Stultz was referred to as Anton Stultz. (Perhaps I just heard it that way as a child.) I remember them as a very sweet couple and I had heard about their donation of the lot for the church. Mrs. Stulz often brought fresh cut flowers for the sanctuary. My Mother adored them.

      I was aware of a Tarkany/Stultz connection but not in details. I do remember John and Anna Tarkany living across the street from us in the big two story home with a double porch (upper and lower). I believe there were three daughters who were all school teacher. There was an attached store which was not in operation when we moved to Cherry Tree when I was two years of age. The house is still there. I’m pleased that you found the web site.

      Robert McCormack

    • Bob Piros says:

      Jack: You last contacted me in Feb.2011 at which time you
      stated that you would be contacting your cousin Brenda who
      had lots of the records that you seek.
      I have spent a few hours today looking for records for you,
      you will have to do the followup.

      1- Go to,click on records,put in
      Jozsef Steltz,put in Hungary.1st name at top of page
      will have this name.Anna Stultz changed the family name
      when she married John Tarkany in 1904.
      2-The village name where the family lived is
      Bodrogkeresztur,county of Zemplen.You can do a
      search for it to see where its located.
      3- If you want a copy of John & Anna’s marriage
      license you can write to the County Clerk in
      Tazewell VA.Search for address online.
      4- At familysearch you can find both Andrew &
      Joseph’s D.C.They both were coal miners.
      Also you can find the 1930 census which shows all
      of Joseph’s family.They lived in Monaville,WV.
      His wife’s name was Floy. Andrew’s wife was
      Gertrude Keyser.
      5- Stercz was used by Anna when she filled out
      her Hungarian marriage license in 1904.When she went
      to get her license at the clerk’s office she
      changed her name to Stultz.Its possible she never
      knew the family name was Steltz.Both of her parents
      used the Stercz name.