Not much is known about Jan Zmudzin at the moment. He arrived with his wife Rosa in the late 1800's, and lived in the coal mining town of Shamokin, Pennsylvania. After reviewing records at Ellis Island and other places, it would seem that he arrived before Ellis Island was opened in 1892. Jan seems to have come from the Palatine region of Germany/Poland/Prussia. [According to my grandfather, he spoke german, polish, and a little russian.]
While I am trying to compile stories of Jan, the most famous one was how he possibly died (there are 3). He reportedly died either by being struck by lightening, being run over by a runaway beer wagon, or knowing our family a combination of the two.
Legend goes that the name Smoogen came about because the Catholic priest felt the Anglicized spelling would go over better in America than a Eastern European version. Some of Jan's children had the Zmudzin name on their birth certificates.
Here is the text from Um-pa Jan Zmudzin's gravestone pictured above. My parents went to see it in 1999, and found that the sulphur from the Shamokin coal mines had almost decimated the marble to nothing.
TU SPOCZYWA ROSALIA i JAN ZMUDZIN ursie 24 czerwca 1851 dm 3 lupca 1903 prosi O ZOROWAS MARYA
This roughly translates to:
Rest in Peace Rosalia and Jan Zmudzin born 24 June 1851 died 3 February 1903 [O ZOROWAS MARYA unknown. The Zorowas may be a family name or the statement could be a call to Maria, Mother of God.]
After talking to some of our relatives, Jan died a couple of years before Rosa. After Jan died, Rosa went to live with the Kawski family which was next to the store that Agnes and Joseph Butchinski owned in Shamokin. This may have been the same Kawski family that Great Uncle Robert married into.