23158Re: [S-R] Name Changes GURKO
- Sep 6, 2009Tom,
Bill has presented some very good points on how a historical context is needed in order to understand our genealogical research finds. I think each of us have wondered why our ancestors migrated. The point was brought home to me when a cousin who had gone to our ancestral village before me stated, "Why would they have wanted to leave such beautiful country?" At that time I had no answer. Now with six trips to Slovakia and as many history books on Slovakia read I feel I have some perspective on the question of why.
Bill lists years of "Major document breakpoints". Those points correspond very closely to important historical events in Hungary. While we are all proud of our Slovak roots, one cannot dismiss the historical fact that for 900 years the land that is present day Slovakia was under Hungarian rule. That history had a profound affect on the "why" question.
The vast majority of Slovak immigration happened between 1880 and 1930. The book Round-Trip to America has a chart that showed between 1908 and 1923 225,033 Slovaks immigrated to America. The surprising fact is 57% of them returned home! We are the product of the 43% that stayed. Only three other nationalities had a higher return rate. Interestingly, Magyar (Hungarians) at 66% was one.
Those numbers do not have a context. By reading Slovak history two situations makes one understand something about the "why".
The Slovak peasants each year had to put in so many hours of labor for the local nobility. Plus trying to raise enough to keep themselves alive during the year. The pay for their labor and their farming often did not produce enough to keep the family from starving. In order to make "ends meet" for 400 years Slovak peasants would hire themselves out in the off season in countries all over Europe. They would make enough money to survive and return home. When trains and steamships make it possible to get to America easily and back, they just kept up the long tradition of working elsewhere and returning home.
Another force for immigration was the Hungarian policy of Magyarization. Where by the Hungarians who were 35 to 40% of the population wanted to turn everyone else into a Magyar. This was only possible because the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 gave the Magyars the ability to rule as they pleased. Under Magyarization the Magyar language was the "official" one. As a result you find Slovak names used Magyar spellings. Any school that taught in Slovak was closed. All government paperwork had to be in Magyar. This is when we see the Church Registers are filed in Magyar. Admittedly, for most peasants Magyarization did not have a huge impact. The most immediate would be church run elementary schools that taught in Slovak had to teach in Magyar or close. But it did create an negative atmosphere the peasant would have been aware of. The immigrants in American were often more "politically aware" because of their access to Slovak newspapers in America. When those emigrants returned home they became a force that empowered the Slovak national movement.
Sometimes the history behind the "why" can be very interesting.
From: Bill Tarkulich
Sent: Sunday, September 06, 2009 1:01 PM
Subject: RE: [S-R] Name Changes GURKO
You ask some very dangerous questions, I will give some questionable
1. The microfilms you are looking at are probably 100 years or older. The
White Pages are now. Especially after WW2, there was a lot of migration.
Entire family surnames disappeared from the village, often even the country.
Many of the poorest went to the-now Czech republic to work and never
returned. Movements and marriages outside the villages caused lines to fade
out (hey, I have three girls!)
2. Names were rendered in the "official" language of the church and later of
the government. Understanding the historical context of the times is
essential. Major document breakpoints were early 1700s, 1850s, 19-teens,
after 1918, 1938-45 and 1993.
3. Some names morphed over time. Most did not. There is no "official
morphing guide." There are as many reasons to change names as there are
people. Never extrapolate name A = name B without good evidence.
4. Movement to get rid of Hungarian? I think you mean the Magyar language.
That is a super-loaded question. I will hit and run: First, old documents
will not be changed. They are what they are. It's up to YOU the reader,
the historian to interpret them in the context of the time. Often 100 years
ago, there was no "official" spelling. Heck, most people couldn't even read
and there was no notion of "positive ID". After the Hungary Kingdom was
crushed in 1914, the official language of the government of Czechoslovakia
was Czech and Slovak. Documents after this time were then rendered with the
Hit and run two: Some people adopted the Magyar spelling regardless of
their ethnicity. Magyars always lived in Slovakia and still do. Don't
discount that a Magyar spelling may in fact be a family of ethnic Magyar.
Preponderance of ethnic Magyar remain in southern reaches of Slovakia, so
check a map when looking at possible villages.
5. I would never reach GURKO GURKA are the same. You really should find
the village of origin of your ancestors. That would give you far better
clues where to look.
As you can see, I'm not a fan of chasing names. What is your ancestral
From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
Behalf Of Tom Geiss
Sent: Saturday, September 05, 2009 2:16 PM
Subject: [S-R] Name Changes
When looking through LDS micofilm, I run into HUDEK ,HUDECK KODESCH
Then ,when I go to Slovak White Pages, the only ones that give me any
matches or info are HUDEK and KODESCH.
Also I found SZONOGA, and got no help from the white pages until I
dropped the Z and just wrote it SONOGA.
Is there some movement in Slovakia to get rid of all Hungarian
Also, my ancestors name was GURKO. White pages give me nothing on
GURKO, but several addresses of GURKA. Are these two the same name
with different spellings?
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