Tekla Holowka

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Name § Marriage and Children § Blackburn Road House


Tekla Holowka (1882-1968) was born in 1882 (perhaps 1883) possibly in Złoczew, Poland. No available documents record her specific birth date. Daughter, Anna’s, birth certificate provides the Złoczew location. However, that same document states that Tekla was 27 years old when Anna was born in October of 1907. That would make her birth year 1880, a date that doesn’t correspond to any other sources such as the decennial U.S. Censuses, death certificate and gravestone.

Louis and Tekla circa 1955


There are numerous anomalies regarding Tekla’s name. Documented variants are:

Name Source
Teta Hladka Anna’s 1906 birth certificate
Tielie Bilick 1910 U.S. Census
Tillie Bilik 1920 U.S. Census
Matilda Billick 1930 U.S. Census
Tillie Hallock (or Hallok) 1932 marriage license for Michael
Tillie Billick 1935 marriage license for John
Tillie Roche 1936 marriage license for Peter
Tekla Billick 1940 U.S. Census
Teckla Sereda 1944 Delayed Birth Certificate for Anna
Matilda Billick 1944 marriage license for Helen
Mathilda Haverlack Helen’s Social Security application
Tekla Holdwyka Donald’s Social Security Application and Claims Index record[1]
Tilda Havaluk Paul’s Social Security application
Tekla Billick 1968 death certificate; gravestone
Tekla  Holoka Michael’s 1996 death certificate

“Holdwyka” seems to be a very unusual surname (if it is, in fact, a name). There are no other occurrences of it in the huge Ancestry.com database. Nor does it appear in a generic search on the Internet. It’s most probable that this is a permutation of “Holoka,” which is likely a variant of the rather common, Holowka,” that appears many thousands of times in the Ancestry.com database often associated with immigrants from Poland, Austria, Galicia, the Ukraine.

“Sereda,” is a very common surname and appears many times in Pennsylvania and Ohio public records at the time of Tekla’s residence in those states. There are even a few “Teckla Seredas.” None of these appears to be Tekla Billick or any relative of her.

“Havaluk,” “Haverlack,” and “Hallock” are not rare names but again none of the occurrences in the Ancestry.com database seem to be Tekla Billick or any relative nor do they intersect with any other nodes of the Billick family tree.

The “Roche” surname seems completely anomalous. It appears to have no relationship to anyone in the Billick family tree, not even to remote in-laws.

Lacking more information, we are left with a mystery of Tekla’s maiden surname.

Given the documented variants of her given name, it seems plausible that she was Matilda, the Polish version being “Matylda.”

Given all these data, I’m inclined to think Tekla’s maiden name was Matylda Holowka.[2]   Both name segments were common among Polish and Ukrainian immigrants.

Marriage and Children

We don’t know when or where Louis and Tekla were married. However, the 1930 Census indicates Tekla was first married at age 20. She was 47 years old in 1930 so she must have gotten married around 1902-03, a period that fits with Walter’s birth in 1903.

  • Walter C. Billick: born 1903
  • Michael C. Billick: born 1906
  • Anna Mae Billick: born 1907
  • John C. Billick: born 1910
  • Peter J. Billick: born 1913
  • Paul Vincent Billick: born 1916
  • Helen Billick: born 1918
  • Donald Michael Billick: born 1920.

In today’s parlance, Tekla would be called a “stay-at-home” mom. There is no indication she had any activities outside the house although she did often attend Sunday services at St. Michael’s Ukranian Church in Rossford, Ohio.

 My childhood recollections are of grandma tending the the very large vegetable plot adjacent to the house. And she seemed to often be in the kitchen watching over some simmering pot on the stove. She often washed her hair with water collected in a rain barrell next to the backyard pump.

Tekla passed away at home on Febraury 2, 1968, at age 86. She is buried in Calvary Cemetery.


  • How did those many surname variants come about?

1026 Blackburn Road House

This is as appropriate a place an any to describe the family’s home at 1026 Blackburn Road, in Toledo.

1026 Blackburn Road; Google Maps photo

☛ I can recall this house from as early as the mid 1950’s, when my parents’ house was built on the adjacent lot (to the right in this photo). Originally, there was an outhouse in the back and a manual pump to draw water. The very back of the lot was a large enclosure for chickens, a hen house where we collected eggs and a few rabbit cages as well. Between the two homes, there were 2-3 apple trees and 2-3 pear trees. To the left, an area that must be about half an acre, Louis and Tekla maintained a very large vegetable garden that grampa tilled with a simple hand-pushed plow.

Inside at the back was a entry-way that I expect was originally a storage area for vegetables. Immediately inside that was a large kitchen. The home was heated by a coal furnace in the basement (the arrival of the coal truck was a big event for us kids). At the front was a living room with an adjacent sitting room that grampa used for an office. Between this front area and the kitchen was the dining room with stairs at the back leading to the upper bedrooms.

During this period, large hydrangeas grew in front of the porch and there were flower beds along the left side of the building.

Blackburn Road was a not-very-well-maintained gravel street between between Sibley and Sawyer Road. It paralleled an old railroad bed that was several feet above the street level with ditches on either side. The western half of this area had been cleared and somewhat leveled. The eastern portion was covered with trees, wild shrubs, vines and poison ivy.

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[1] This same record notes that Donald’s father’s name is “Louis Bilek” and that Donald’s name appears as “Daniel Bilek” in August of 1941. Both of these variants seem odd. Several “Daniel Bileks” appear in Ohio vital records, at least one in the Toledo area so one wonders if there has been some inadvertent comingling of names and records.
[2] “Holowka” is also probably the most viable of the candidate surnames listed here. There are more than 20,000 records associated with this surname (and its variants) in the Ancestry.com database; and hundreds in the Find-A-Grave data. And even a few occurrences in Pittsburgh and Allentown, PA, newspapers of the period.
{last update: 11-Mar-2023}