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36232Re: [S-R] Slovaks' genealogy interviews: A rule of thumb?

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  • MGMojher
    Jul 7, 2013
      Thanks for the means and ways you have to do your research. It shows
      that genealogy is not just about "bean counting", as one member put it. My
      approach has been that the "bones" of genealogy is the family trees the
      research creates. But the "flesh" is those stories, pictures, documents and
      visits to Slovakia that bring the trees to life. Excellent work you and your
      family have done.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Tonya Harmon
      Sent: Sunday, July 07, 2013 6:37 PM
      To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [S-R] Slovaks' genealogy interviews: A rule of thumb?

      I thought I would chime in with my experience regarding religion (my Slovak
      family is Protestant) and genealogy research and relatives in Slovakia. My
      family seems to be very different than what's been described by others.
      Over the last 150 years at least, my family has actively researched and
      collected information about the family. They have also made a point of
      actively keeping in touch. Even during WWI, II and through communism, my
      family kept in contact with relatives in Slovakia, Vojvodina, Canada, the
      US, Argentina and Australia. A Shuster family member, a professor, in the
      1950's documented the family tree back to the 1700's when the Suster family
      was first sent to Vojvodina by Queen Maria Teresa. My dad still has the
      huge carefully calligraphed tree that's the size of a car windshield.

      We've also got many photographs dating as far back as 1869 that were kept
      by my great great grandfather, then his daughter, then my grandfather, then
      father and now me. We've been able to identify most people in the pictures.
      My Andel family in Dolny Kubin was the same at taking and keeping photos,
      so we've got hundreds.

      I grew up hearing the oral history of my family, about my great grandfather
      in WWI as a POW and member of the Czech and Slovak Legion, and others about
      gypsies stealing the family's horses in 1906, and a great uncle feeding a
      barking dog hot paprika once. Because my family went to visit relatives
      from the 1960's on, there are many stories about WWII. The Susters were
      partisans, blowing up Nazi bunkers, and some were caught by the Hungarian
      Army and sent to concentration camps. I spent a few years writing all the
      stories down, and interviewing neighbors, friends and relatives.

      We've got many Slovak cookbooks, handwritten and purchased, that were owned
      by my great grandmother and grandmother, and in them I found handwritten
      letters from the 1920's and '30s. Since my great grandmother died in 1941
      decades before I was born, it's wonderful to hear her voice through the
      letters. Other relatives have given me the original birth certificates
      created for all Suster family members in the 1930's, when they changed the
      spelling briefly to Schuster, in order to distinguish themselves from
      Jewish people, I guess. My great grandmother's grave has the Schuster
      spelling. I've got the original offer letter from the church to a relative
      asking him to be the minister in return for the annual salary of 12
      chickens and a goat. My great aunt went to high school in the early 1900's,
      and I've traced back to her school and the people in it. She was one of
      only 2 females at school, and went to school with Fulla and other famous
      Slovak artists and writers of the 20th century. Fulla's grandson actually
      wrote to me when he found my blog. My great grandfather went before her,
      and lived with *Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav for a time.*

      I found these things out in a number of ways:

      1. I tracked down every person I could who immigrated to Canada in 1938
      from the same small town of Pivnica in Vojvodina. I was lucky enough to
      have a family photo of the whole gang of about 35 people who traveled
      together by train and then boat, and then I started looking them up.
      Miraculously, some are still alive today, in their late 90's. I went to
      visit them, asked them to tell me their stories of coming to Canada, and of
      life in Pivnica. I asked to see their photographs, and took pictures of

      2. I blogged about the stories and the names, and people have started to
      contact me from all over the world who are related or who were from the
      same town. I've met some very interesting people and some have become good
      friends. I've collected their stories and pictures too.

      3. I tracked down a local historian of the town through his website that he
      maintains on the history of the place. I translated what he wrote, and he
      actually had stories of the Suster family from the early 1800s, including
      pictures of their houses. He wrote a book on the village a few years ago,
      in Slovak only, and is busy updating it with all the new people and stories
      I've tracked down since. He sent me a church record of Milan Stefanik
      signing in as a guest to the wedding of his brother Igor to a Suster girl
      in Pivnica in 1906.

      4. I am lucky to have a few history buffs on both the Suster and Andel
      sides of the family who still live in the same Slovak villages, and they've
      provided a wealth of information. They've collected military records,
      church records, journals, photos and more. We trade pictures and new
      discoveries every month. On the Andel side, I've visited the church my
      grandparents were married in and had a private tour of the wooden church,
      and heard the stories of how Beethoven used to visit and play there. Those
      kinds of records are being dug up by researchers who are going through the
      church archives dating back over 300 years. My curiosity in this link to
      Beethoven lead me to Google his name and that time and place together, and
      I actually found a book written nearly 100 years ago, in English, about his
      lifelong friendship with the church founder's son. I bought the only copy,
      found online in Paris. I also found letters written between the two of
      them on line, and a piece of music Beethoven wrote for him as a joke, "Duet
      with Two Eyeglasses" (they were both nearsighted).

      5. I went to visit the grave sites in Slovakia and Vojvodina and took
      pictures of every name that sounded familiar. I've been slowly cross
      walking these to the family tree.

      6. I visited local museums and gave family names, and asked if there were
      records on them. At the museum for Pavol O.H. in Dolny Kubin, I found a
      golden leaf wreath with the names of each Slovak village in Vojvodina,
      including Pivnica, dedicated to him through my great grandfather. I'm sure
      there is more to discover at the school across the street where he and my
      great aunt went to high school - haven't visited there yet.

      7. I visited the homes were my relatives used to live and asked to go
      inside, asked questions. One had found an old tax bill behind a piece of
      furniture from 100 years ago. I also visited lots of old people,
      neighbors, churches and asked and asked and asked. It was amazing what I
      learned - more names, stories, addresses, photos.

      My interest in all of this family history started about 5 years ago when a
      photo of a plane crash that my grandfather had kept since 1919, peeked my
      interest. Curious, I finally figured out that it was the crash scene of
      Milan Stefanik, after Googling a bit. But to this day, I still haven't
      figured out why my grandfather had kept the picture, and whether his
      father, an officer in the military at the time, had anything to do with it.

      So the hunt continues...


      On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 10:50 PM, htcstech <htcstech@...> wrote:

      > **
      > Michael (MGMojher) recently wrote:
      > "During my six trips I discovered that genealogy for most Slovaks is
      > limited to those relatives they met in person. So it was rare to get
      > beyond
      > grand-parents."
      > I too found the same thing as it was explained to me that they only knew
      > of
      > relations that they met or otherwise spoken about.
      > The strangest and most telling quote was from the matriarch of my family
      > line who said:
      > "There are lots of Marafkos, but none of them are our relatives."
      > And yet, their neighbour living behind them who was their friend - was
      > also
      > a Marafko but they never considered him to be a relative, even though I
      > could prove to them that this was not the case. There were many instances
      > of this.
      > This very attitude or perception was quite ingrained and actually stopped
      > me from finding and interviewing 'non-relative' Marafkos.
      > For those that have visited, is this a common place problem?
      > Peter M.
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      Tonya Harmon

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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