Serbu-Sava-and-MariaSava Serbu was born in 1855 in Boian, Bucovina and his wife Maria (née Dumitrashchuk) was born in 1860 also in Boian. In 1899 they emigrated to Canada and spent the first winter in a bordei close to Andrew. They had brought as many household items as they could which included clothing, home spun blankets, cups, wooden spoons, some pots and the top of a shparhut (sparhat). There were seven children in the family, John, Domnica, Frozina, Petre, Nicolai, Mike (Mihai) and Todosia. In the early spring of 1900 they moved to Boian where Sava had already built a small log house. Later in spring when Sava was returning home through melting snow and mud he caught a severe cold which developed into pneumonia and despite Maria’s frantic efforts to save him with known remedies of the day, he died. Since there was no cemetery at Boian, Sava was laid to rest in a home-made coffin in the cemetery at Shandro. Maria was left a young widow with a large family in a strange country. How helpless and lonely she must have felt!

In December of the same year, her second son Peter (Mitru) took sick and complained of a terrible pain in his left arm. He was a mere ten years of age. Maria went to her neighbor to the south, Ion T. Toma and asked for help. She wanted her son taken to a doctor. Ion Toma immediately walked to his father’s place across the snow-covered fields and asked his youngest brother George to assist him. Ion had previously purchased a pair of Indian ponies and the two men proceeded to make a rough sled from poplar trees. They filled it with slough hay, hitched the two horses to the sleigh, then drove to the Serbu home. Maria pro-ceeded to bundle up the young lad on top of the hay and the three of them started their wintry journey to Edmonton. It was bitterly cold and the two men took turns walking behind or sitting on the sled and driving. They followed the trail through the bushes westward, and westward still. Some three days later they arrived on Jasper Avenue and first street. They went to a small clothing store which was owned by a man who spoke Romanian. Ion asked him if there was a doctor or a hospital as they had a very sick boy, who was getting worse daily. The storekeeper told them to follow the trail north-westward to St. Albert where there was a hospital and doctors. So the travellers thanked him and set out again. In time they reached St. Albert and sure enough, there was a hospital.
Mitru was hospitalized and Ion and George T. Toma began their long trek back to Boian. The doctors, a Dr. Whitelaw and his assistants Dr. Park and Dr. Blais decided to amputate the sore arm. Mitru was put to sleep and his arm was removed just above the elbow and when he regained consciousness he asked “Unde e mana?” (Where is my hand?). No one could understand him but there was a young Ukrainian girl who knew some Romanian and explained to him what had happened. But the arm got worse and the pain intensified. In time a second operation was performed and the complete arm from the shoulder was removed. More convalescing, but by May he was up and walking around in the convent. There were a number of French-Canadian lads who stayed there. It was at this time that he was named Peter (Pierre) and he was no longer known as Mitru. He stayed five years at the convent where he went to school and became very fluent in French and English.
At the age of fifteen he went to Edmonton where he worked as an orderly at the newly constructed General Hospital. Two years later he left and worked at various jobs ending up eventually in Midnapore at a time when Father Lacombe was there. Other jobs followed but he still wanted to come back to his family so he made his way to Vegreville and northward to Boian. He was appointed land assessor in the Municipal District of Eagle and he used the money earned to further his education. He attended the Alberta College South in Edmonton where he completed Grade XI. After graduating from Calgary Normal School he taught school at Desjarlais then located in Willingdon where he was secretary-treasurer of both the school and the town for many years.
The author remembers how Pete played baseball for Boian at the picnics and sports days. Although he had only one arm he was able to catch, pitch and bat as well as the best of them. Pete lived to a ripe old age of ninety-five.
All this time Maria Serbu continued farming with the help of her children. In the course of time they all married and left to establish homes of their own. John married Anija Skirka. Domnica married Vasile Coleasca and they had two children, a boy Nick and a girl Vasilca. When this marriage ended, Domnica married George Patinta and they had one daughter Mary. When Domnica was widowed she married Mitru Mereniuk and this marriage resulted in three boys, George, Mike and Stephen. Frozina, the second daughter, married Vasile Lastiwka of Borowich. They raised a family of four boys and two girls, Mike, Nick, Piccola, Elie, John and Anne. Peter married Katie Bandur and they had a son Peter and two daughters, Marian and Patricia. Nick married Domnica Budnitski. They had no children.
Mike being the youngest son took over the family farm and with his wife Katherine developed it into a successful operation. They purchased more land in the vicinity and became very efficient farmers. Mike and Katherine were always involved in the Romanian community and for a few years Mike served as president of St. Mary’s Romanian Orthodox Church at Boian. They lived on the farm until retiring in Edmonton where they still reside. They raised a family of five, Sam, Doris, Steve, John and Evelyn. John was the first person of Romanian origin in this area to earn a medical degree. He is now practising in United States. All the children have families of their own so that Mike and Catherine are deservedly proud of their children and grandchildren.

Birth and marriage records from church books. Boian, Bukovina

Sava Serbul birth record.
Sava was born on Apr, 24 1855. Father – Vasile Sarbul. Mother – Ana. Godfather – Ilie, son of Ion, son of Nicolai Cebotarenco.

Sava Sarbul and Maria Dumitrascuta marriage record. Jan.15, 1878. 
Sava, son of Vasile Sarbul and Ana Suprovich married Maria, daughter of Ioan Dumitrascuta and Catrina Ihnatiuc. Godparents – Ignatie and Teodosia Lazar.
Sava was 23 and Maria 17 year old.

Vasile Serbul and Anna Suprovich marriage record. May 11, 1852.
Vasile Serbul, soldier (regiment Baron Sirkovich 41, Lipetsk infantry) married Anna, daughter of Ilie Soprovich. Vasile was 30 and Anna 22 years old.

Sava and Maria children’s birth records.

Ioan was born on Aug.6, 1879.
Catrina was born on Dec.11, 1880. (+)
Domnica was born on June 27, 1883.
Eufrosina was born on Dec.29, 1885.
Paraschiva was born on May 16, 1888. (+)
Dimitrie was born on Apr.27, 1890.
Nicolai was born on Aug.16, 1892.
Mihail was born on July 5, 1895.
Teodosia was born on March 20, 1898.

Passenger ship lists

Hamburg. May 24, 1899
Halifax. June 5, 1899


Census - 1901
  1. Deborah A. Papanikolaou (s

    this picture is of my grandfather Mike Serbu, his wife Catherine (my grandma) and my great grandma Maria.

    • Jennifer

      So it’s not Sava like the caption says? Just want to make sure I am adding to the right person on my family tree.

      • Deborah

        No Sava had died of pneumonia but that is his wife Maria on the right great grandma..very strong woman…raised the seven children herself…as family moved my grandpa Mike and his wife Catherine stayed on and bought more farmland. That is their first child Doris in her arms …this was told to me by my dad Steve Serbu when we saw this picture.

  2. Like my sister Deborah said, details are right but pic is of our Bunica Katherine and Bunical Mike Serbu

  3. Bunica Catherine and Moshu Mike Serbu with baby Doris Serbu ( nee Bushik) as per my dad Steve Serbu before he passed on

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