Rozeta Metes : ” The Musat Family”
The Muşat Family
By Rozeta Metes
The First Generation
George Musat, Sr., the patriarch of the Mus,at family of Canton, Ohio, was born May 14, 1882, the second of five children of loan and Eva (Candid) Musat, in Sambata de Jos, Fagaras County, Transylvania – at that time, a Romanian province under Austro-Hungarian rule.
At age sixteen, George (like many young Romanian men in that province) crossed over the mountain tops into „Old Romania“, going south to Bucharest, the capital. There he found work as a bus boy at the „Carul Cu Bere“ – a restaurant of great fame. America called, however, and on June 18, 1902, he came to Canton, Ohio, where he found fellow „consateni.“ He soon found work at the Carnahan Tin Plate Company, where he learned the trade of cold roller.
In 1905, George went to Martins Ferry, Ohio, where he found work in the same trade. He became one of the founders of the „Invierea“ Society, the first such organization to join the Union of Romanian Societies in America. He also joined the „Caluseri“ group of Romanian dancers in that town. Unfortunately, none of the future family members was ever privileged to see him perform, but a picture does exist!
In 1907, George Musat returned to Sambata de Jos where he married Maria S,uteu, the oldest daughter of Dumitru and Paraschiva Suteu, also of Sambata. Maria had been born there on January 18, 1891, and was sixteen years of age at the time of their marriage. They acquired some land in the village and proceeded to build their own home, building not only from the ground up, but by actually making the bricks of local clay, fired at the end of the village. By 1909, however, it was evident that it was not as easy to earn a living there as it had been in America, so George decided to return to Canton by himself. As they were awaiting the birth of their first child, Maria and the baby were to join him later.
In Canton, George again worked at the Carnahan Tin Plate factory and, in a few years, was promoted to foreman in the Cold Rolling Mill, a position he held for over three decades. Many young Romanian-Americans through the years found their first jobs with „Mr. Musat“ in the Cold Rolling Mill.
In 1912, Maria and their three-year-old daughter, Rozeta, joined him in Canton. In the meantime, George’s older brother loan and two younger ones, Alexandru and Mihai, had also come to Canton. Alexandru returned to Sambata after a couple of years, but loan and Mihai remained. During the World War I years, the three brothers decided to go into the grocery and meat market business. They opened a store at Carnahan Avenue and Seventh Street, diagonally across the corner from St. George Romanian Orthodox Church, in the northeast end of town. The store was attached to a six-room house, and in the yard, there was a small barn transformed into a garage, with a chicken coop at one side. They also purchased, as a residence, a larger house, one block away, on a sizeable plot of land. The two older brothers continued to work in the factory, leaving Mihai in charge of the store while they were at the mill.
In 1916, George became a naturalized citizen of the United States, along with Maria and Rozeta. By 1917, the family had increased with the births of the American-born family members, a daughter Virginia and two sons, John and George.
When brother Mihai Musat was killed in a tragic train and car accident in 1918, George and loan continued the business, while still working in the mill, until John and his wife Eva went back permanently to Sambata de Jos. By then, Transylvania was part of Romania. In the Twenties, when the Carnahan Tin Plate Company closed the plant, George and Maria ran the store full time, the children reporting for duty after school hours, at chores suited to their ages. Things went well for a time. Besides the store, George had built several houses on land surrounding the „big house“, selling two and renting out the third. When the factory reopened by the Davey Brothers, under the name of The Canton Tin Plate Company, it again had need of George as foreman, so Maria again managed the store alone during the hours that George was at the factory.
Following the 1929 financial crash, difficult times set in, especially in the industrial cities. By 1934. the store had become a burden. Many people were out of work over long periods of time and were unable to take care of their evermounting food bills (no welfare in those days). When the amount owed to the store passed the $9,000 mark (at that time, the cost of a very good house), George and Maria realized that keeping the store any longer would be putting them in debt. They leased out the store and eventually sold it, along with the attached house. To the credit of their indebted customers is the fact that most of them did pay their debts when better times came, even though some time had gone by.
In 1935, Maria died of injuries received in an automobile accident. She was only forty-four years old at the time. She was mourned by many who had known her as a kindhearted woman, always ready to listen to the problems of others and to be of help. Long before the term „baby sitter“ entered the vocabulary, she was ready to watch over a preschool child in the store while the mother went to work. One of the family’s lifelong regrets has been that she had not had the years to relish being grandmother to the children that came later; even more, that the children had not been blessed to know her as their „Mama Mare“.
George continued working at the Canton Tin Plate until the company was bought out by Republic Steel and soon closed down. During the later years of World War II, the old company was called into action again, this time in Monterrey, N.L., Mexico. George was then sought out by Sam Davey, one of the company’s previous owners, to go down to Mexico as superintendent of the Cold Rolling Division of the plant, to teach the Mexican workers the cold rolling process. The entire mill had been transported there and a number of Americans with whom George had worked also had gone down. He enjoyed the work there and managed well enough with the language, Romanian coming to the rescue from time to time. He lived there until 1947 when he returned home for reasons of health.
All through his life in the United States, George Muşat was active in Romanian circles, in the Church and in the societies. He had been influential in bringing about union between rival groups and in helping effectuate the union of the LJSRA (The Union of Romanian Societies in America) and the LSRA (The League of Romanian Societies in America) in 1928. As for the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church in Canton, he was among the founders of the parish in 1912 and had been a member of the Parish Councils over the years, as well as president in 1933-1935. Busy as Maria had been with her store duties and the four children, she also had time to be active among the women of the Romanian colony in Canton, working for church dinners with the Ladies Auxiliary of the church.
In addition to their work and activity in the community, they found time for their flower and vegetable gardens. Their ancestral background was well displayed in their love of gardening; a garden was part of their life. For them, as for most of their compatriots, it was not just a hobby, it was something they had to do. Their gardens on Seventh Street always attracted attention. Even decades later, on the old farm the Metes family had purchased for a summer residence, George dared to start planting a garden weeks before Vermonters knew it was safe to do so, and succeeded in having an earlier harvest than anyone else on the hill. Fortunately, the gardening genes of both Maria and George have been passed on to some of their children, in varying degrees.
Neither George nor Maria had been able to have more than a few years of elementary school in the village, but they both had a high regard for education. There were always books and reading material in the house, in Romanian and English, and the children were encouraged in their studies at a time when many young Americans went no further than the eighth grade in elementary school. They expected their children to complete their high school studies, then encouraged them to go on, according to their personal inclinations. Rozeta, at seventeen, chose college – her answer when her parents offered her a choice: „Vrei sa te măriţi, ori vrei să mergi la şcoala?“ The parents’ choice of school was the College for Women, Western Reserve University. She graduated from there in 1930, with a B.A. degree and an Ohio Teachers Certificate. Virginia went to Kent State for two years and earned a Substitute Teaching diploma. John, who had special leanings toward machinery and tools, got involved in machine tools and became a tool and die maker. George chose college, as a result of his eighth grade teachers’ insistence that he sign up for the academic course for high school, instead of the vocational. George attended the University of Cincinnati, School of Engineering, for two years, then transferred to New York University, School of Engineering, for his B.S. degree in Engineering.
Rozeta, Virginia, John and George, the above „second generation“ and their spouses, passed on to their children the opportunities their parents had given them. The Third Generation, the grandchildren of George Musat, Sr., added to the list of institutions to higher learning attended by the Second Generation – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Dartmouth, Miami of Ohio, Case-Western Reserve, Baldwin Wallace, Duke, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, among others.
Maria Musat had died before any of the grandchildren were born, but George Musat, Sr. was granted the years to see and to enjoy all his grandchildren – all born between the years 1936 and 1952. Only the first girl, Baby Rozeta, had not survived. For all others (in chronological order): Jon Sabin, George and Nicholas (Metes), Nick G. Sandru, John G. Musat, George Sandru, Mary Eleanor Musat, Victor Musat and Valerie Musat, Tata Mare was both grandfather and grandmother (for those who had none), loved and respected. For Tata Mare, they were a continual source of enjoyment and comfort. He was „at home“ in all the family residences, as all had been in his, and he was happiest when the youngest ones were around.
In 1958, his last summer, the family gathered around him in Canton, supposedly for a quiet celebration of the 25th anniversary of Rozeta and Jack’s wedding, the first such event in the family. All the second generation family members were present, as were all those of the third generation. The oldest of the latter was then a senior in college and the youngest had just started elementary school. In November of that year, all had come together again for the last goodbye to Tata Mare.
The Second Generation
The second generation, the children of George and Maria Musat, all completed their studies through high school, a trend just beginning among the Romanian-Americans as early as the mid-twenties. Following completion of high school, they went on to pursue their particular fields of interest.
Rozeta, the oldest (the immigrant one), graduated from McKinley High School in Canton, then went on to the College For Women, Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. The first Romanian girl in Canton to graduate from college, she was an active member of the Romanian-American Students Association, organized in 1926. After graduating from W.R.U. with a B.A. degree, majoring in French language and literature, she taught for three years in Dearborn, Michigan. In 1933, she and John Metes (better known as „Jack“) were married in Cluj, Romania. Jack had graduated from the College of Engineering, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and had been one of the founding members of the „Romanian-American Students Association“. In 1931, he was sent to Europe to work in IGE-affiliated companies for one year in France, then for three years in Romania. By the time they were married, he had transferred over to the ITT in Bucharest.
Returning to the U.S.A. in 1935, they settled in New York state, first in Schenectady with the IGE, then in New York City, with the W.R. Grace Company. In 1945, he became export manager for the Clyde Iron Works of Duluth, Minnesota, working in the New York office. His work with Clyde Iron Works often took him out of the country, at first mainly to Central and South America, later also to Canada and Europe, until his retire ment in 1969.
Of their three sons, Jon Sabin, the oldest, was born in Canton but became a New Yorker shortly after. George Sorin and Nicholas Stefan were born New Yorkers, and the three of them attended grade schools and high schools in the big city. Although they had been New Yorkers throughout their early years and their teens (except for summers with Tata Mare in Canton and later in Vermont), they all abandoned the „Big Apple“ after high school for further schooling, the armed services and ultimately for careers in the Far East, New England and the Americas.
Rozeta and Jack lived in New York for forty-five years, involved at all times with the Romanian community activities. At the Saint Dumitru Romanian Orthodox Church, Jack was on the Parish Council as member and as president. He and brother-in-law George Musat were, in 1951, founding members of the „Iuliu Maniu American Romanian Relief Foundation“. Rozeta led the church choir during their years there and was an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary, representing it often at ARFORA Congresses. For fifteen years she worked with the „Romanian National Committee“ – a Free Europe affiliate – as English-language secretary, and as assistant to the editor of ROMANIA, the Committee’s Romanian-language newspaper.
After spending one more decade in New York as retirees, Rozeta and Jack moved to Canton, Ohio, to be closer to brothers and sisters, after the younger family members were no longer near. In Canton, they continued to be active in the Romanian community, especially at the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church. They were happy to have been able to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their wedding in 1983 at the church in Canton, together with 150 guess, ten times more than had been at the wedding itself in Cluj.
Virginia, the second child (but the first American one), went on to Kent State University after high school. She did some substitute teaching in Canton, but then went on to work as a secretary for the Canton Fire Department. She was active in the Romanian youth organizations of the time: the „OCTRA“, the „CARPAXI“ and the church choir, as were many of the young Romanian Americans of the twenties and thirties. In 1942, she married Nick Sandru, Jr., the son of Niculae and Maria Sandru. Nick had studied mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati and, at the time of their marriage, was in the U.S. Army with the rank of Technical Sergeant at Aberdeen, Maryland, soon to be stationed in California. They lived in California for part of the World War II years, then they lived briefly in Cincinnati after the end of the war. Their permanent residence became Canton, Ohio, where Nick worked as a research and prod uct engineer for the Union Metal Company until his retirement.
In Canton, Virginia and Nick followed the traditions set by both the Musat and Sandru parents, by becoming active members of the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church. Nick was on the Parish Council repeatedly throughout the years, as member, treasurer and president, as well as chairman of special committees such as the one involved with the building of the new church complex on 30th Street. Virginia was busy in the Ladies Auxiliary, in dance groups and especially in choir activity and special projects.
Their two sons, Nick and George, were active in the young people projects of the church during their grade school and high school years. Altar boys, Romanian dance group members, Vatra camp – all were part of their activities.
During the late sixties and the seventies, Virginia and Nick were able to enjoy some more distant travel ing, both with their boys and with other family members. In 1967, they ventured to Europe with their boys and with Mr. Nick Sandru, Sr. In Romania, they met with George and Val Musat and their two daughters, Mary Eleanor and Valerie, thus, introducing four members of „generation three“ to Romania. In Sambata de Jos, a three-day celebration gathered together all the Mus,at clan in that area. Together with the visitors from America, fifty-seven people met at Aunt Tenzi’s. The following week, the Sandrus went to Sadu for another three-day celebration, among the sixty-five Sandrus of that village.
In 1974, Virginia and Nick went cross country with Rozeta and Jack to visit George and Val Musat in Los Altos, California. Several years later, they met Rozeta and Jack in Guatemala, then went on to visit Nick and Tina Metes in Honduras. Due to matters of health, most travel later on was nearer to home, usually to visit their son George and his wife in Kentucky.
The entire Canton Romanian community mourned Virginia’s death in 1990, joining the family in its sorrow at losing her after her decade of brave struggle against cancer.
After finishing high school, the third Musat child, John, having already discovered his mechanical abilities by taking apart the family Star truck (and putting it back together successfully), decided to look into the possibilities of Diesel engines and machine tools. During the Depression when many factories were closing, he managed to find work, on and off, at Hercules Motors and at the Walker Dental Laboratory. In 1940, John and Eleanor Botoman, the daughter of Moise and Paraschi va Botoman of Cleveland, were married and lived in Canton at the Musat home.
When World War II broke out, the U.S. Naval Ordinance Plant was established in Canton, Ohio. From 1941 to 1947, John worked there as foreman until the plant closed in 1947. Their first child, Baby Rozeta, born in 1943, died at the tender age of five months in 1944; but they were blessed later with the births of their two sons, John and Victor.
In 1947, John and Eleanor moved to Cleveland where John found work at the Atlantic Tool and Die Company, as a tool and die maker, working thereuntil his retirement in 1981.
In the Romanian community in Cleveland, John and Eleanor were very active, especially with the nationally-known „Sjezatoare Ensemble“, John as president of the group, and in charge of technical matters involving taping of music for the dances; Eleanor giving of her special talents concerning costumes, decorating the stage, and planning the programs until her death in 1985. The Sjezatore Ensemble observed its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1984, proud of the fact that it was the oldest, continually active Romanian dance group in the U.S.A.
John and Eleanor had taken advantage of any opportunity to travel, whether in the U.S.A. or abroad. Trips to New York or Vermont, at the drop of a hat, were normal, but the trip to Mexico, taking John’s father back to Monterrey after they had all attended the wedding of brother George and Valeria in East Chicago, proved them equal to any challenge – just picture five adults in a car, with an almost one-year-old boy, on a two-thousand mile trip!
An especially interesting experience during John’s working years was his participation, as a guide, in two USIA exhibits in Romania. The first in 1963 was devoted to Transportation; the second in 1967 was all about tools. John had a special leave of absence form his regular employer to take part in these exhibits which were considered to be a patriotic development. Eleanor was able to meet him in Romania during the second one, when they were able to visit a number of interesting historic sites and he was able to add to his fine collection of pictures.
One memorable trip was made together with Rozeta and Jack, Val and George to England in 1985. They spent eight days in Southern England by van, with overnight stays at bed and breakfast inns. John and George did all the driving, always correctly on the „wrong“ side of the road, with no mishaps. The rest of the trip was by ship up the Rhine, then by train by Lugano, Florence, Venice, unforgettable Naples and Rome.
That trip remained especially poignant in memory for, five months later, Eleanor died suddenly.
George Musat, Jr., the youngest of the second generation, studied at the University of Cincinnati Engineering School after finishing high school. By transferring to the New York University Engineering School, he also became part of the Romanian community in New York. His first connection with the church was to work on the remodeling of an old brownstone front apartment building into a church complex. (At that time the lowest minimum wage was thirty-five cents per hour, but fares on subways and buses were only a nickel.) The two young students who worked there as laborers received extra recompense when they discovered a hoard of nickels stashed away behind a fireplace they removed.
George graduated in 1942 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He went to work, immediately after graduation, for the Babcock and Wilcox Company in their New York office. By October, he received acceptance of an application he had made earlier to join the Army Air Force. Babcock and Wilcox gave him leave of absence and George ended up in charge of aircraft maintenance of an Air Transport Command Station in Central Africa. After the war ended, George returned to his job at B&W, this time being moved about in different areas.
In 1946, George and Valeria Lup, of East Chicago, the daughter of Moise and Maria Lup, were married. George’s work with B&W called for frequent travel within the U.S. and abroad. It even made them New Yorkers for a few years until he was assigned to the Research and Development division of the company in Alliance, Ohio. This brought them to Canton for good.
In 1974, George was on loan for one year to the Electric Power Research Institute at Palo Alto, an organization formed by electric utility companies in the United States, its purpose being to financially support research in various aspects of producing electric power. George was sent there to help organize the department concerned with combustion and with environmental control.
Wherever they lived, they both had been active members of their community. During the war, Valeria had been secretary to a bank manager and was also in charge of the loan department. She was also active in selling bonds for purchasing ambulances as a „Gray Lady“ in the hospitals and communicated with Romanian members of the armed services. In both communities in which they were established for more than brief periods, George and Valeria were kept busy. In New York, they were active members of the Saint Dumitru Church, George on Council, Val with the Romanian dance group, and both of them in choir. George was also a founding member of the Iuliu Maniu American Romanian Relief Founda tion. In Canton, George and Val continued such activity, greatly expanded to include special projects such as bingo, fish fry, and catering – to mention just a few.
George retired in 1981, having been with Babcock and Wilcox Company for forty years, the last seven of which he had been Director of the Research and Development Division in Alliance. He is credited with twelve patents with combustion devices, as well as with numerous technical papers.
Their two daughters, Mary Eleanor and Valerie, were born New Yorkers but have managed to cover quite a bit of territory in the rest of the country, ever since, including the west coast, east coast and areas in between.